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Loans comparison - an introduction

Plenty of us need to borrow money at some point in our lives.

You may need a lump sum to pay for a new kitchen appliance, or want a loan for a new car.

Whatever your reason, there are plenty of cheap personal loans available, as well as low interest loans and loans from banks.

But rush headlong into borrowing and you risk ending up with a bad loan you don't understand that saddles you with unmanageable debt.

Worse still, you could end up falling for a loan scam.

We're here to cut through the jargon - from unsecured and secured loans, to bad credit loans and loans with no guarantor - and help you find the best place to borrow money, with the best loan rates.

Find the best loan rates with A Spokesman Said's loan comparison tool.

From finding the best personal loans for you to understanding the jargon associated with lending, here's what you need to know before you compare loans online.

What types of loan are available ?

Here's a skinny on the main types of loan you can take out:

  • Personal loans - unsecured money you can use for any purpose. Typically up to £35,000 for periods between one and seven years.
  • Car loans - often secured against the vehicle or unsecured debt. May land you a better deal than car finance.
  • Homeowner loans - borrow against your property. You must own your property outright or have a mortgage to be eligible. Missing repayments may put your property at risk. These are long term loans that allow a borrower to borrow large sums, typically up to around £100,000 for up to 30 years. Also known as secured loans.
  • Bad credit loans - largely unsecured and so more costly. Designed for borrowers with poor credit scores.
  • Guarantor loans - help those with bad credit get better lending terms by allowing a friend or family member to be a guarantor - someone who pays off the loan if the borrower is unable.
  • Debt consolidation - used to pay off any outstanding debts and reduce monthly repayments while extending the loan repayment period. Be careful, though, as using this type of loan to pay off a debt will always cost more than repaying the initial debt itself.

Which loan you are eligible for will depend on a number of factors, including: your credit history; how much you want to borrow and how much you're able to repay each month.

Secured loans and unsecured loans - what's the difference?

Quick bit of jargon busting: secured loans are held against a possession - your car or home, for example - that the lender can sell to get its money back if you default.

Unsecured loans, meanwhile, are offered against credit scores. Also known as signature loans. Most bad credit loans are unsecured. They are a bigger risk for lenders and so carry higher interest rates.

How do I compare loans ?

All you need to do to compare loans is go online and enter in your preferences.

Using our free tool, you can find the best personal loans,car loans or guarantor loans from different lenders, including Tesco Bank and NatWest, choose how much you want to borrow and set the repayment duration.

We'll then show you available deals and find you the best loan rates on the market. You may be asked for proof of address and proof of earnings, so keep this close to hand.

One thing to bear in mind: while comparing won't have any effect on our credit file, being rejected will.

Before you apply for a loan, make sure you have a clear idea of how much you are able to realistically repay each month.

We're with you every step of the way, which is why our money guides contain helpful information to answer your personal finance questions, such as how to choose a mortgage and using a financial ombudsman.

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What does ‘repayment term' mean?

The repayment term is the length of time you have to repay the loan.

The period will vary depending on whether you've taken out a personal or homeowner loan.

Personal loans usually come with repayment terms of between 6 and 120 months, while homeowner loans cover a longer period of between 12 and 300 months.

Make sure you're clear with the lender what the repayment term is before borrowing.

What does ‘total amount repayable' mean?

The full amount you owe, including fees and interest over the loan repayment term. This might change if the APR your lender offers changes.

What does APR mean?

Annual Percentage Rate - the real rate of interest you'll pay over a year, once costs such as fees and admin charges are included. It's the rate that's offered to around half of the lender's customers. Depending on your credit history, you will get a slightly higher or lower rate.

How important is APR when choosing a loan?

APR is important, but there are also other things you should consider aside from simply finding the best loan rate.

Here's quick checklist:

  • Repayment period - typically the longer it is the lower your monthly payments, but also the greater the cost of the loan.
  • How quickly can you get the money? - if you're in a hurry, check how quickly a lender can deposit the money. It can vary from a single day to over a week.
  • Introductory offers - keep your eyes peeled for loans with free benefits, such as vouchers or free travel insurance.
  • Company reputation - Do your own homework - check other customer reviews and ask yourself: have you heard of this lender before?

Why have I been rejected for a loan?

Credit ratings - a financial character reference

The simplest reason for being turned down for a loan is failing a credit check.

Your credit report is a financial character reference that tells companies how risky you are to lend to.

Any black mark - for an unpaid phone bill, for example - will harm your chances of getting a loan.

Here's why your credit score matters and how to check it. We advise you to follow these steps before applying.

If you have a negative mark on your credit file, don't worry. There's plenty you can do to improve it, such as paying off existing debts and using the right credit card. Guarantor loans can also help repair a poor score.

In some cases, a poor credit rating may not even be your fault. Make sure you know how to fight back when your credit rating is wrong.

County Court Judgments will also appear on your credit file and negatively impact your chances of borrowing.

Affordability criteria

There's a chance you've been turned down for a loan because you don't meet the affordability criteria.

This means you're trying to borrow more money than the lender thinks you're able to repay each month.

Too young or old to borrow money?

Depending on the loan, you need to be 18, 21 or 22 to borrow money. Some loans have an upper age limit, typically around 75.

Watch out for scam loan companies

Use A Spokesman Said's tool and you will be able to compare lenders regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

In the wider market, however, there are legions of disreputable companies looking to take advantage of people who need to borrow money.

Many will lure you in by promising to connect those struggling to get a loan with a lender.

The promised loan will often not materialise, but customers will be signed up to a costly subscription service.

One firm called Credit Hub, for example, charged customers £14.99 to become a member of the brokerage.

If you feel you've been the victim of misleading practices by a lender or broker, make a complaint on A Spokesman Said.

We're on your side.

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