If you’re looking for a loan that doesn’t require collateral, a signature loan might be a good option. A signature loan can be used for almost any purpose. Plus, you can receive funds quickly – some lenders issue funds the same business day.
However, like all financial products, these loans have drawbacks. Some lenders charge fees and you may receive a high interest rate. Before applying for a signature loan, review the details of these loans to make sure it’s the right choice for you.
What is a signature loan?
A signature loan is an unsecured personal loan. Unlike a secured loan, this type of loan doesn’t require you to post collateral — something of value, like a bank account or a house — that a lender can seize if you don’t repay the loan. Instead, the loan is secured by your signature, which represents a legal promise to repay the loan funds.
Since the loan is unsecured, lenders generally charge a higher interest rate than secured loans, such as mortgages and car loans. The average interest rate for signature loans is often lower than the average credit card interest rate.
Also, loan funds can be used for almost any purpose, such as medical emergencies, debt consolidation, and major life events.
How does a signature loan work?
When you apply for a signature loan, a lender considers factors such as your credit history, income, and credit score to determine if you qualify for a loan. These factors also help a lender determine your interest rate and loan amount.
If you are approved for a signature loan, a lender will give you a cash lump sum. You then repay the loan amount, plus interest, over a set repayment period that typically ranges from 24 to 60 months or more.
What are the best uses for a signature loan?
The best use of a signature loan depends on your unique financial situation. Here are some scenarios where using one might make sense.
If you have high-interest debt, such as credit card debt, using a signature loan to consolidate debt might be a good financial decision. Debt consolidation involves paying off your existing debts with a new loan. If you qualify for a signature loan with an interest rate lower than the average rate of your current debt, you can save a ton of money on interest.
Signature loans also work well for covering unexpected expenses, such as medical emergencies, auto repairs, and home repairs. If you don’t have emergency funds or the expense is too large to cover, you may be able to receive funds quickly.
Major life events
If you need to pay for an expensive event, like a wedding, moving to another state, or a birthday party, a signature loan could help. Remember to only borrow what you can afford to repay.
Where can you get a signature loan?
You can get a signature loan from several financial institutions, including banks, credit unions, and online lenders.
Traditional banks offer signature loans. If you already have a relationship with a bank, contact their customer service to see if they offer signed personal loans. You may qualify for an interest rate reduction for being an existing customer. Alternatively, you contact a bank by phone to see if they offer unsecured personal loans.
Some credit unions offer signature loans, and the interest rate is often lower than those offered by banks. For example, the average rate for a three-year unsecured personal loan at a credit union was 8.95 percent on June 25, 2021, according to the National Credit Union Administration. In contrast, the three-year average rate on a personal loan at a bank was 10.09%.
To take out a personal loan from a credit union, you must be a member or apply for membership.
Several online lenders offer unsecured personal loans. To find them, you can visit an online marketplace or search for individual lenders. One of the benefits of applying with an online lender is that most allow you to prequalify to check your estimated rates and terms, without hurting your credit score.
Advantages and disadvantages of signature loans
Before taking out a signature loan, be sure to weigh the pros and cons.
- Quick funding. Do you need cash fast? Some lenders may issue your loan funds the same business day or a few business days after loan approval.
- No collateral needed. Since all signature loans are unsecured loans, you don’t have to worry about a lender repossessing your car or foreclosing your home (unless a court grants judgment to the lender) .
- Lower interest rates than credit cards. The average personal loan interest rate is generally lower than the average credit card interest rate. For example, since March 3, 2022, the average personal loan rate is 10.28%.
- Some lenders charge fees, such as application fees, late fees, and prepayment penalties. These fees can significantly increase your borrowing costs.
- Potentially high interest rates. If you have bad credit, a lender may charge you a high interest rate. Some lenders have advertised maximum interest rates above 30%.
- Late payments can hurt your credit score. If your payment is more than 30 days late, it can cause significant damage to your credit score, making it harder to qualify for future loans.
How to get a signature loan
If you think getting a signature loan is right for you, follow these steps to get one:
- Review your credit report. Inaccurate and incomplete information can lower your credit score. Before applying for a loan, review your credit reports to make sure they are accurate. You can view your Experian, Transunion and Equifax credit reports for free each week until April 20, 2022, by visiting with. If you find a credit report error, dispute it with every credit agency that lists it.
- Prequalify with multiple lenders. Compare your loan options by prequalify with as many lenders as possible. After you submit your application, a lender will perform a soft credit check to review your credit, which has no impact on your credit score. If you prequalify, you will receive an estimate of rates and terms.
- Submit a formal loan application. Once you have chosen a lender, complete a loan application. You will likely be asked to provide personal and financial information, such as your name, employer, social security number (SSN), income, and bank statements.
- Sign the loan agreement and receive the funds. If your application is approved, a lender will send you a loan agreement to sign. Read the conditions carefully and sign if you accept them. Then the lender must deposit the funds into your bank account within a few business days.
- Repay your loan. Be sure to repay your signature loan as promised. If you make late payments, you could pay late fees and it could hurt your credit, preventing you from taking out future loans. Sign up for automatic payment or use a spreadsheet to stay on top of your due date.