How Much Can You Borrow From Your Home Equity?

Many homeowners are flush with equity, and tapping 85% or so of it can be tempting. You’re in the money! Your house, though, will be on the line.

Here are things to know before applying for a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC), or cash-out refinance.

Three Ways to Tap Home Equity

You paid off a chunk of your mortgage or all of it, or your home value soared along with the market, but now a wedding, college, remodel, or something else has you wanting to put that home equity to use. Here are three ways to do that.

Remember that converting home equity to cash means you’ll be using your home as collateral.

Home Equity Loan

Home equity loans come in a lump sum. They are often useful for big one-time expenses like a new car or swimming pool and for borrowers who know how much they need and who want fixed payments.

Some lenders waive or reduce closing costs of 2% to 5%, but if you pay off and close the loan within a certain period of time — often three years — you may have to repay some of those costs.

HELOC

A HELOC may be helpful for long-term needs such as home renovations, college tuition, or medical bills.

Borrowers who want flexibility when dealing with, say, a home addition may favor a revolving line of credit over a lump-sum loan.

Again, some lenders waive the closing costs for a HELOC if you keep it open for a predetermined period.

Cash-Out Refinance

A cash-out refinance might be a good choice if you want to borrow more than you’d qualify for with a home equity loan or HELOC. A cash-out refi replaces your existing mortgage with a new mortgage for more than the previous balance. You receive the difference in cash.

Homeowners will often need to have 20% equity left in the home after refinancing. Some lenders will let them dip below that minimum but pay for private mortgage insurance on the new loan.

Some HELOC borrowers refinance before the draw period ends. In that case, the cash can be used to pay off the HELOC.

You can change the mortgage term and aim for a reduced interest rate with a cash-out refi. Closing costs will be required; it’s a new loan.

Recommended: Cash-Out Refinance vs HELOC

What’s the Most You Can Borrow With a Home Equity Loan?

Many lenders will let you borrow 85% of your home equity — the home’s current value minus the mortgage balance — for any purpose.

Lenders will calculate the combined loan-to-value ratio: the amount you’d like to borrow plus your mortgage balance compared with the appraised value of your home.

Most lenders will require your combined loan-to-value ratio (CLTV) to be 85% or less for a home equity loan or HELOC (although some will allow you to borrow 100% of your home’s value).

combined loan balance ÷ appraised home value = CLTV

Let’s say you have a mortgage balance of $150,000 and you want to borrow $50,000 of home equity. Your home appraises for $300,000. The math would look like this:

$200,000 ÷ $300,000 = 0.666

Your CLTV is 67%.

An appraiser from the lending institution determines your property value.

What’s the Difference Between a Home Equity Loan and a HELOC?

A home equity loan, also known as a second mortgage, comes in a lump sum with a repayment term of 10 to 30 years. It typically has a fixed interest rate.

A HELOC is a revolving line of credit that lets a homeowner borrow money as needed, up to the approved credit limit. The credit line has two periods:

•   The draw period, when you can use the line of credit. It’s often 10 years. Minimum monthly payments usually will be interest only on the amount withdrawn.

•   The repayment period, often 20 years, when principal and interest payments are due.

Most HELOCs have a variable interest rate but cap how much the rate can rise at one time and over the loan term. (Some lenders, though, offer fixed-rate HELOCs or allow the borrower to fix the rate on a balance partway through the loan.)

Some HELOCs require you to draw a minimum amount upfront. Some have a balloon payment at the end of the draw period, when the loan principal and interest are due. Ensure that you understand your HELOC’s terms, and when the draw period ends and the credit line is closed.

How Is a HELOC Calculated?

Qualified borrowers are often able to access 80% or 85% of their equity with a HELOC.

Many HELOC lenders require that the homeowner retain at least 20% equity in the home, but a few are more generous.

Is Taking Out Home Equity Right for You?

If you’re aware of the risk, you’ve read all the fine print, and you forecast no job or income loss, tapping home equity can be extremely useful.

HELOCs usually have lower interest rates than home equity loans, but some people prefer the fixed rate and payments of the latter. HELOC rates tend to be a tad higher than mortgage rates, but you probably only have to pay interest on what you borrow during the draw period.

Most cash-out refinances result in a new 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

Approval for a home equity product and the rate you’re offered will depend on your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, home equity, and home value.

Shopping around can yield the best offer.

Recommended: Find out how much it would cost to renovate your home with SoFi’s Home Improvement Cost Calculator.

The Takeaway

How much equity can you borrow from your home? Homeowners who meet credit and income requirements are often able to tap 85% of equity and sometimes more with a home equity loan or HELOC. A cash-out refi is another way to make use of home equity.

SoFi offers a cash-out refinance as well as a flexible home equity line of credit. Access up to 95%, or $500,000, of your home’s equity with a SoFi HELOC.

FAQ

How can I increase my home equity?

Paying off your mortgage faster, refinancing to a shorter loan term, making home improvements, and shedding private mortgage insurance are some of the ways to boost home equity. In a competitive market, your home value may just naturally rise.

How quickly can I get cash from my home equity?

It depends on the product, but closing can take place in as little as two to four weeks.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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Smarter Ways to Get a Car Loan

For most of us, a car is the second biggest purchase we’ll make, next to a home. The average price of a new car in July 2022 was $48,182, according to Kelley Blue Book®, up 12% over last year. But sticker price isn’t the only thing to consider when budgeting for new wheels. There’s also insurance, maintenance, gas, and depreciation.

Depreciation may not be front of mind for many car buyers. But in fact it’s a major factor in determining how to finance a new car. We’ll explain why, review different loan options, and recommend steps you can take to help you get a great deal.

How To Assess the Value of a Car

You may already know what you want in a new car: the gas mileage, capacity, features. Just as important, you know what you can afford. Or do you? Before heading to a dealership, you’ll want to extensively research the cars you’re interested in.

Once you have an idea of the makes and models you want to test drive, there are a number of services that can offer a baseline estimate for the car’s worth. Edmunds offers a True Market Value (TMV®) guide; Kelley Blue Book provides suggested price ranges based on things like year, model, condition, and mileage (particularly useful for used cars). The National Automobile Dealers Association’s guide focuses on dealers’ sticker prices, and Consumer Reports provides detailed reviews and reports about specific cars.

None of these resources will necessarily tell you the exact price you’ll get, but they can give you some context. It may be helpful to look at listed prices for similar cars in your area. You can even call around for price quotes from dealerships and private sellers, so you’re better equipped by the time you walk onto the car lot.

Got a car to trade in? Here’s how to find out how much your car is really worth.

How the Value of Your Car Changes Over Time

A car’s value changes almost from the moment you purchase it: This is called depreciation. Generally, the cost of depreciation is spread over a five-year period. A new car can lose, on average, 60% of its value in the first five years, or about 12% each year.

Some models depreciate more than others. For instance, cars typically depreciate faster than trucks, and midsize cars depreciate more quickly than smaller cars. It’s smart to research the projected depreciation on the makes and models you’re interested in. Lower depreciation could become a deciding factor when all else is equal.

Recommended: SoFi’s Personal Loan Calculator

Car Financing Options

One of the biggest car-related costs is the loan itself. Car loans can come either from a traditional bank or through the dealership. Here are a few car financing options:

Car Loan

Car loans can be offered directly from a bank or online lender, or can be arranged through the car dealer. The average five-year (60-month) loan for a new car had a 4.07% interest rate in 2022, and the average loan amount was $39,340. A strong credit score, along with a solid financial history, can help borrowers qualify for a competitive interest rate. Learn how to find out your credit score for free.

Car loans are “secured” by the car, which means that the car is used as collateral on the loan. Until it’s paid off in full, you don’t own the car outright. So if you default, the lender can seize the car. The qualification process can also be difficult, because banks must verify the collateral (think: more paperwork).

Dealer-Arranged Financing

When getting a loan through the dealership, the dealer typically collects your information and takes it to prospective lenders to find you a financing offer. Car dealerships are good at helping customers get a car loan quickly, sometimes even without great credit. You may be able to sign a loan and drive off in your new car the same day.

Auto Loan from a Private Lender

Banks, on the other hand, may offer more competitive interest rates or more favorable terms when applying with them directly. However, the application process can be more involved and take longer. Usually, borrowers getting financing from a bank or credit union will get pre-approved for a car loan prior to heading to the dealer.

Personal Loan

Another option is to skip car loans entirely and take out an unsecured personal loan. Common uses for personal loans include home repairs, debt consolidation, and other large purchases. On the flip side, a car loan can only be used to pay for a car.

Usually, buying a car with a personal loan is not the best course of action. But there are rare circumstances where it may make sense, such as if you plan on restoring an old car as a passion project. Cars in need of repair can be difficult to finance with a traditional auto loan.

For most car buyers, however, interest rates on any type of personal loan are typically higher than on car loans. Another thing to consider is the repayment period. In general, car loans extend over seven years, whereas a personal loan is repaid in three to five years.

Getting your personal loan approved can take time, but pre-qualification is available. Many people get pre-qualified before going into the dealership, so they have an idea of how much buying power they have.

Awarded Best Personal Loan of 2022 by NerdWallet.
Apply Online, Same Day Funding


Strategies for Getting a Car Loan

As you look for a car loan that meets your needs, here are some strategies that can help.

Do Some Research

Before heading to the dealer, shop around for loans to see the interest rates and terms you may qualify for. Lenders review factors like a borrower’s credit score and financial history to inform their borrowing decisions. So part of your research will go into understanding (and maybe boosting) your credit score.

Recommended: What Credit Score Do You Need to Buy a Car in 2022?

Prepare a Down Payment

A larger down payment can save you money on your loan. Down payments reduce the amount you have to borrow, which reduces what you spend on interest over time. Trading in a vehicle of substantial value accomplishes the same thing, while reducing the down payment you need to put up.

A higher down payment is helpful for another reason: It’ll help you avoid a situation down the road where, due to depreciation, the balance of your loan is greater than the value of your car. This is variously called negative equity, being underwater, or an upside-down loan. To avoid this situation, run the numbers to make sure your down payment (or trade-in) is high enough to offset the expected depreciation on your vehicle.

That said, negative equity isn’t usually a bad thing. It only becomes a problem if your car is stolen or totaled, and the payout from your insurance company isn’t enough to pay off your loan balance. (Gap insurance is designed to cover your remaining debt.) Some drivers are comfortable with being upside-down for a short period, while others prefer not to take a chance.

Consider Getting Pre-qualified for a Loan

Getting pre-qualified for a car loan helps the borrower understand what kind of car payment they can afford. Pre-qualification can also be used as a tool in negotiations with the dealer. In some cases, the dealer may be willing to offer a more competitive financing option.

Just keep in mind that pre-qualification isn’t a done deal: The loan offer is still subject to change.

The Takeaway

For many people, buying a car outright with cash isn’t an option. With an auto loan, the car acts as collateral to secure the loan. A higher down payment can save you money on interest over the life of the loan. It can also help you avoid “negative equity” down the road — where the value of the car is less than the balance of your loan. However, this is only a problem if your car is stolen or totaled, and your insurance company’s payout doesn’t cover your loan obligation. In some circumstances, it’s possible to use an unsecured personal loan to purchase a car, such as when you’re looking for a vintage car to fix up as a passion project.

Why get a SoFi Personal Loan? Borrow up to $100K for a low fixed rate for those who qualify. The online application process is simple, with live customer support available 24/7. And if you lose your job, we’ll temporarily modify your payments.

Learn more about SoFi’s Personal Loans.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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Can You Use Your Spouse’s Income for a Personal Loan?

If you want to borrow a large amount of cash but need to prove additional household income, your spouse may be able to help. You cannot simply list a spouse’s income with, or instead of, your own if you apply in your name alone. However, you can list their income if your spouse agrees to become a “co-borrower” on the loan.

It’s possible to use your spouse’s income on a loan application, but only under strict circumstances. We’ll review the steps you should take to help you get approved.

What Is a Personal Loan?

A personal loan is a type of installment loan that is paid back with interest in equal monthly payments over a term of up to seven years. Personal loan interest rates tend to be lower than for credit cards, making them a popular option for consumers who need to borrow a large amount. Common uses for personal loans include major home or car repairs, medical bills, and debt consolidation.

There are different types of personal loans. Unsecured personal loans are the most common. These are not backed by collateral, such as your car or home.

Recommended: What Is a Personal Loan?

Checking Your Credit

Before you decide whether to include your spouse’s income, gather this information to assess your own financial standing.

Credit Report

Lenders will look at your full credit history to evaluate your creditworthiness, so it’s smart to review your credit report before applying for a loan. You can request a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — once a year through AnnualCreditReport.com.

When you receive your report, review it closely and make a note of any incorrect information. If you see any mistakes or outdated information (more than seven years old), you can file a dispute with the credit bureau(s) reporting the error.

If you have a limited or no credit history, consider taking some time to improve your credit before applying for a loan.

Credit Score

Next, take a look at your credit score. You can find your credit score for free from Experian, or you can ask your bank or credit card company. The minimum credit score requirement for a personal loan varies from lender to lender. Broadly speaking, many lenders consider a score of 670 or above to indicate solid creditworthiness.

While there are personal loan products on the market designed for applicants with bad credit, they typically come with higher interest rates. If you are less than thrilled with your credit score, you can take steps to improve it.

Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI)

Your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is the amount of debt you have in relation to your income, expressed as a percentage. Ideally, your DTI should be no more than 36%. Lenders prefer that no more than 28% of your debt be housing related (rent or mortgage). If your DTI is too high, you have two options: pay down your debt, or increase your income.

Shop Around Online

Shop around with online lenders to compare the interest rates and monthly payments you’re offered with your income alone. When you’re comparing lenders, keep an eye out for any hidden fees, such as origination fees, prepayment penalties, and late fees. A personal loan calculator shows exactly how much interest you can save by paying off your existing loan or credit card with a new personal loan.

Now that you have a firm grasp of your financial standing, you can assess whether you need to include your partner’s income as part of your application.

Using Your Spouse’s Income

First, the bad news. You cannot simply use your spouse’s income or your combined household income, even with their permission, when applying for a personal loan in your own name.

Now for the good news. If your partner has a strong credit history and income, they can become a secondary “co-borrower” on the loan. A co-borrower can help improve your chances of approval, along with the interest rates and terms you’re offered.

What Is a Co-borrower?

A co-borrower applies for the loan alongside you. Both of your financial information is taken into consideration, and both of you are responsible for paying back the loan and its interest.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of this arrangement.

Pros of Using a Co-borrower

Because co-borrowers have equal rights, the arrangement is well-suited for people who already have joint finances or own assets together. Using a co-borrower allows you to present a higher total income than you can alone. A higher income signals to lenders that it’s more likely you’ll be able to make the monthly loan payments.

Plus, if you manage your loan well, both your credit histories will get a boost over time.

Cons of Using a Co-borrower

Each borrower is equally responsible for repayment over the entire life of the loan. If the primary borrower cannot make the payments, that could negatively impact the credit score of both parties. It’s important to have confidence in a co-borrower’s ability to repay the loan.

The loan will appear on both of your credit reports as a debt, which can affect the ability of one or both of you to get approved for another loan down the line.

Co-borrowers also have equal ownership rights to the loan funds or what the loan funds purchased, so trust is a big factor in choosing a co-borrower.

Applying for a Personal Loan with a Co-borrower

The basic process of applying for a loan is the same no matter the number of applicants. The lender will likely ask both of you to provide certain information up front:

•   Personal info: Photo IDs, Social Security numbers, dates of birth

•   Proof of employment, and your employment histories

•   Proof of income

The lender will then run a hard inquiry of your credit report, which might ding your credit score by a few points. Depending on the complexity of your application, you can expect to get your personal loan approved in one to ten days.

Awarded Best Personal Loan of 2022 by NerdWallet.
Apply Online, Same Day Funding


The Takeaway

You cannot simply list your partner’s income along with, or instead of, your own when applying for a personal loan in your own name. However, if your spouse agrees to become a co-borrower on the loan, both your incomes and credit histories will be considered. This can increase your chances of getting approved, qualify you for a larger loan, or give you access to lower interest rates and loan terms. The catch is that both parties have equal responsibility for paying back the loan, and any late or missed payments can negatively affect both your credit scores.

If you’ve explored your options and decide that a personal loan is right for you, it’s wise to shop around to find the right loan. Consider personal loans from SoFi, which offers loans of up to $100,000 with no fees. Borrowers may receive funding as quickly as the same day it is approved.

Looking to finance your next big move as a couple? Learn more about SoFi personal loan options today.

FAQ

Can my wife use my income for a personal loan?

Your wife can use your income for a personal loan only if you agree to become a co-borrower on the loan application. That gives you equal ownership of the funds, but also equal responsibility for paying back the loan. How your wife manages her loan payments can affect both your credit scores — for better or worse.

Can you use someone else’s income for a loan?

You can use someone else’s income for a loan only if they agree to become a co-borrower on the loan. That gives them equal ownership of the funds, and also equal responsibility for paying back the loan. This is a common arrangement between spouses, and between a parent and child.

Can a stay-at-home parent get a personal loan?

A stay-at-home parent with a strong credit history may get a personal loan if they can provide proof of income to show they can make the payments. Without income or a strong credit history, they may need to find a co-borrower. A co-borrower’s credit and income can be used to help the primary borrower qualify for a loan, or access better interest rates and loan terms. However, a co-borrower will have equal ownership of the funds, and equal responsibility for repaying the loan. Using a spouse or parent as a co-borrower is a common arrangement when a stay-at-home parent cannot qualify on their own.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
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Using Collateral on a Personal Loan_780x440

Using Collateral on a Personal Loan

A “secured” personal loan is backed by an asset, called collateral, such as a home or car. An unsecured loan, on the other hand, is not collateralized, which means that no underlying asset is necessary to qualify for financing. Whether someone should pursue a secured or unsecured loan depends on a number of factors, such as their credit score and whether they have assets to put up as collateral.

If you’re planning to take out a loan, it’s important to do your research and find one that best fits your needs and financial situation. Learn more about when someone can and should take out a collateral loan.

Why Secured Loans Require Collateral

With a secured personal loan, a lender is typically able to offer a larger amount, lower interest rate, and better terms. That’s because if the loan isn’t repaid as agreed, the lender can take possession of the collateral. This is not the case with an unsecured personal loan.

Collateral allows secured personal loans to be offered to a wider range of consumers, including those who are considered higher risk. The reason is that the lender’s risk is offset by the borrower’s assets.

Fixed Rate vs Variable Rate Loans

There are other types of personal loans beyond secured versus unsecured. One important distinction is whether a loan has a fixed or variable interest rate. A fixed rate is just as it sounds: The interest rate stays fixed throughout the duration of the loan’s payback period, which means that each payment will be the same.

The interest on a variable-rate loan, on the other hand, fluctuates over time. These loans are tied to a benchmark interest rate — often the prime rate — that changes periodically. Usually, variable rates start lower than fixed rates because they come with the long-term risk that rates could increase over time. You can see what kind of interest rate and terms you might get approved for by using a personal loan calculator.

Recommended: What Is the Difference Between an APR and an Interest Rate?

Installment Loans vs Revolving Credit

A personal loan is a type of installment loan. These loans are issued for a specific amount, to be repaid in equal installments over the duration of the loan. Installment loans are generally good for borrowers who need a one-time lump sum.

An installment loan can be either secured or unsecured. A mortgage — another type of installment loan — is typically a secured loan that uses your house as collateral.

Revolving credit, on the other hand, allows a borrower to spend up to a designated amount on an as-needed basis. Credit cards and lines of credit are both forms of revolving credit. If you have a $10,000 home equity line of credit (HELOC), for example, you can spend up to that limit using what is similar to a credit card.

Lines of credit are generally recommended for recurring expenses, such as medical bills or home improvements, and also come in secured and unsecured varieties. A HELOC is often secured, using your house as collateral.

Recommended: Paying Tax on Personal Loans

What Can Be Used as Collateral on Personal Loans?

Lenders may accept a variety of assets as collateral on a secured personal loan. Some examples include:

House or Other Real Estate

For many people, their largest source of equity (or value) is the home they live in. Even if someone doesn’t own their home outright, it is possible to use their partial equity to obtain a collateral loan.

When a home is used as collateral on a personal loan, the lender can seize the home if the loan is not repaid. Another downside is that the homeowner must supply a lot of paperwork so that the bank can verify the asset. As a result, your approval can be delayed.

Bank or Investment Accounts

Sometimes, borrowers can obtain a secured personal loan by using investment accounts, CDs, or cash accounts as collateral. Every lender will have different collateral requirements for their loans. Using your personal bank account as collateral can be very risky, because it ties the money you use every day directly to your loan.

Vehicle

A vehicle is typically used as collateral for an auto title loan, though some lenders may consider using a vehicle as backing for other types of secured personal loans. A loan backed by a vehicle can be a better option than a short-term loan, such as a payday loan. However, you run the risk of losing your vehicle if you can’t make your monthly loan payments.

Awarded Best Personal Loan of 2022 by NerdWallet.
Apply Online, Same Day Funding


Pros and Cons of Using Collateral on a Personal Loans

Using collateral to secure a personal loan has pros and cons. While it can make it easier to get your personal loan approved by a lender, it’s important to review the loan terms in full before making a borrowing decision. Here are some things to consider:

Pros of Using Collateral

•   Can help your chance of being approved for a personal loan.

•   Can help you get approved for a larger sum, because the lender’s risk is mitigated.

•   Can help you secure a lower interest rate than for an unsecured loan.

Cons of Using Collateral

•   The application process can be more complex and time-consuming, because the lender must verify the asset used as collateral.

•   If the borrower defaults on the loan, the asset being used as collateral can be seized by the lender.

•   Some lenders restrict how borrowers can use the money from a secured personal loan.

Qualifying for a Personal Loan

Common uses for personal loans include paying medical bills, unexpected home or car repairs, and consolidating high-interest credit card debt. With secured and unsecured personal loans, you’ll have to provide the lender with information on your financial standing, including your income, bank statements, and credit score. With most loans, the better your credit history, the better the rates and terms you’ll qualify for.

If you’re considering taking out a loan — any kind of loan — in the near future, it can be helpful to work on improving your credit score while making sure that your credit history is free from any errors.

Shop around for loans, checking out the offerings at multiple banks, credit unions, and online lenders. Each lender will offer different loan products that have different requirements and terms.

With each prospective loan and lender, make sure you understand all of the terms. This includes the interest rate, whether the rate is fixed or variable, and all additional fees (sometimes called “points”). Ask if there is any prepayment fee that will discourage you from paying back your loan faster than on the established timeline.

The loan that’s right for you will depend on how quickly you need the loan, what it’s for, and your desired payback terms. If you opt for an unsecured loan, it might allow you to expedite this process — and you have the added benefit of not putting your personal assets on the line.

The Takeaway

Using collateral to secure a personal loan can help borrowers qualify for a lower interest rate, a larger sum of money, or a longer borrowing term. However, if there are any issues with repayment, the asset used as collateral can be seized by the lender.

The right choice will vary depending on the borrower’s financial situation, including factors like the borrower’s credit score and history, how much they want to borrow, and what assets they can use as collateral.

Looking for a personal loan that doesn’t require collateral? Check out SoFi personal loans, which have competitive rates and no fees. Apply for loans from $5K to $100K.

With a SoFi personal loan, you can get approved online — in as little as 60 seconds.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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How Does a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Loan Work?

How Does a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Loan Work?

Thrift Savings Plans (TSPs) are retirement plans for federal employees and members of the uniformed services. They offer the same kinds of benefits and tax advantages that private employers can offer their employees through a 401(k).

Like 401(k)s, TSPs allow savers to take out loans from their own savings. Borrowing against your retirement can be risky business, so it’s important to understand the ins and outs of TSP loans before you make a decision.

What Are Thrift Savings Plan Loans?

A TSP loan allows federal workers to borrow from their retirement savings. They must pay interest on the loan; however, that interest is paid back into their own retirement account. In 2022, interest rates were 3%, typically lower than the rate private employees pay on 401(k) loans.

Before you can borrow from your account the following must be true:

•  You have at least $1,000 of your own contributions invested in the account.

•  You must be currently employed as a federal civilian worker or member of the uniformed services.

•  You are actively being paid, as loan repayments are deducted from your paycheck.

•  You have not repaid a TSP loan in full within the last 30 days.

How Do Thrift Savings Plan Loans Work?

There are two types of TSP loans. General purpose loans may be used for any purpose, require no documentation, and have repayment terms of 12 to 60 months.

Primary residence loans can only be used to buy or build a primary residence. They must be repaid in 61 to 180 months, and they require documentation to qualify. You cannot use primary residence loans to refinance or prepay an existing mortgage, add on to or renovate your existing home, buy another person’s share in your home, or buy land only.

Recommended: A Guide to Personal Loans to Buy Land

Pros and Cons of a Thrift Savings Plan Loan

As you weigh whether or not it’s a good idea to borrow from your retirement savings, consider these pros and cons.

Pros of a TSP Loan

Chief among the advantages of borrowing from a TSP are the relatively low interest rates compared to most other loans. Consider that the average interest rate for personal loans is 9.41% according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve.

What’s more, repayment is simple, coming from payroll deductions. There is no penalty for paying back the loan early. And you don’t need to submit to a credit check to qualify for the loan.

Cons of a TSP Loan

Despite the benefits, borrowing from a TSP is often considered a last resort due to certain disadvantages.

First and foremost, when you borrow from your retirement you are removing money from your account that would otherwise benefit from tax-advantaged compounding growth.

If you leave your job with an unpaid loan, you will have 90 days to repay it. Fail to meet this deadline and the entire loan may be reported as income, and you’ll have to pay income taxes on it.

TSP loans are not reported to the credit reporting bureaus, so they don’t help you build credit.

Does a Thrift Savings Plan Loan Affect Your Credit?

TSP loans are not reported to the three major credit reporting bureaus — TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian — so they do not affect your credit score.

Recommended: How Do I Check My Credit Score Without Paying? 

How Long Does a Thrift Savings Plan Loan Take to Get?

Applying for a TSP is a relatively simple process. You can fill out an application online on the TSP website . There is a $50 processing fee for general purpose loans and a $100 fee for primary residence loans. Borrowers who are married will need spousal approval before taking out a loan.

Once the application is approved, borrowers receive the loan amount via check within eight to 13 days.

How Much Can You Borrow From a Thrift Savings Plan?

The minimum you have to borrow with a TSP loan is $1,000. Rules for determining your maximum are rather complicated. You’ll be limited to the smallest among the following:

•  Your own contributions and their earnings in your TSP.

•  $50,000 minus your largest loan during the last 12 months, if any.

•  50% of your own contributions and their earnings, or $10,000, whichever is greater, minus your outstanding loan balances.

According to these rules, $50,000 is the most you can borrow, and you may be limited to as little as $1,000.

Should You Take Out a Thrift Savings Plan Loan?

Because a TSP loan can have a lasting effect on your retirement savings, be sure to exhaust all other loan options before deciding to apply for one. If you are experiencing financial hardship or poor credit has made it hard for you to qualify for another type of loan, a TSP may be worth exploring.

Thrift Savings Plan Loan Alternatives

Before choosing a TSP loan, take the time to research other alternatives.

Credit Card

Credit cards typically carry very high interest rates. The average interest rate is around 14.56%, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve. That said, if you use a credit card to make a purchase and pay off your debt on time and in full at the end of the billing cycle, you will not have to pay interest on your debt.

Credit cards only get expensive when you carry a balance from month to month, in which case you’ll owe interest. What’s more, the amount of interest you owe will compound. In order to carry a balance, you must make minimum payments or risk late penalties or defaulting on your debt.

Recommended: Differences and Similarities Between Personal Lines of Credit and Credit Cards

Passbook Loan

Passbook loans allow you to borrow money at low interest rates, using the money you have saved in deposit accounts as collateral. That money must remain in your account over the life of the loan. And if you default on the loan, the bank can use your savings to recoup their losses.

Signature Loan

Unlike passbook loans, signature loans do not require that you put up any items of value as collateral. Also known as “good faith loans,” signature loans require only that you provide your lender with your income, credit history, and your signature. Signature loans are considered to be a type of unsecured personal loan.

Personal Loan

A personal loan can be acquired from a bank, credit union, or online bank. They are typically unsecured loans that don’t require collateral, though some banks offer secured personal loans that may come with lower interest rates.

Loan amounts can range from a few hundred dollars to $100,000. These amounts are repaid with interest in regular installments.

Personal loans place few restrictions on how loan funds can be spent. Common uses for personal loans range from consolidating debt to remodeling a kitchen.

The Takeaway

For borrowers in a financial pinch, TSP loans can provide a low-interest option to secure funding. However, they can also have a permanent negative impact on retirement savings, so it makes sense for borrowers to explore other options as well.

SoFi offers low fixed interest rates on personal loans of $5,000 to $100,000. There are no fees, and borrowers only pay principal and interest.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2022 winner for Best Online Personal Loan overall.

FAQ

What does TSP loan stand for?

TSP stands for Thrift Savings Plan, a retirement account the federal government offers to its civilian employees and members of the uniformed services.

What is a TSP loan?

A TSP loan allows Thrift Savings Plan holders to borrow from their retirement account. Loans are repaid automatically through payroll deductions, and interest payments are made back to the account.

How long does it take to get a TSP loan?

It takes eight to 13 days to receive a TSP loan from the time of application.


Photo credit: iStock/SDI Productions
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