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Guide to Cross-Collateralized Loans

By Jacqueline DeMarco · May 13, 2022 · 5 minute read

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Guide to Cross-Collateralized Loans

One type of loan that isn’t often discussed is cross-collateralized, also known as cross-collateral loans, which is a type of secured loan. If someone is looking to take out multiple loans through the same financial institution, it’s important that they understand what cross-collateralization is and when it can happen.

So, what is a cross-collateralized loan? Keep reading to find out.

What Is Cross-Collateralization?

Cross-collateralization involves a borrower using an asset they already used as collateral on a loan as collateral again for a second loan. Collateral is an asset that acts as a loan guarantee. If the borrower fails to make their loan payments, the lender has the option to seize the collateral or to force the sale of the collateral to recoup its losses.

In short, cross-collateralization involves using the same collateral for one loan to serve as collateral for another loan at the same time.

Recommended: Using Collateral on a Personal Loan

How Does Cross-Collateralization Work?

The way that cross-collateralization works is that the same form of collateral is used to back more than one loan. The collateral used needs to guarantee the loan value. For example, if someone takes out an auto loan, the car (which equates to the value of the loan) is used as collateral. For cross-collateralization to work, that car also needs to be worth the same or more than the value of the second loan.

A common example of cross-collateralization is a second mortgage. If someone takes out a second mortgage on their home, the home is going to be used as collateral for both the primary mortgage used to purchase the home and the new second mortgage.

While cross-collateralization can involve using the same type of asset against one another, it doesn’t have to happen this way. For example, a lender can use a borrower’s car as collateral for a new loan that isn’t an auto loan, even though the car is already being used as collateral for the auto loan.

When Is Cross-Collateralization Used?

It’s more common to come across cross-collateralization in practice at credit unions and auto lenders. Unlike banks, credit unions are owned by the members of the credit union. To help protect this group against various losses, credit unions often use cross-collateralization to gain some extra security. Credit unions tend to have more favorable loan terms than larger financial institutions and banks, and members may secure those better terms by agreeing to cross-collateralization.

An example of this would be if a credit union member wants to finance their car through their credit union. Fast forward six months, and they want to take out an unsecured loan with a low-interest rate. The reason the credit union can offer an unsecured loan to the member at such a great rate is because they are actually securing the loan with the existing collateral from the member’s car loan.

The lender is legally obligated to disclose cross-collateralization, and the borrower must consent. It’s important to ask about cross-collateralization practices when taking out a new loan, however. A lender could include a clause in the loan agreement allowing it to cross-collateralize any collateral you used on any loan with that lender, and the wording in such a clause can vary by lender.

Once a form of collateral is being used to secure multiple loans, the borrower can’t sell that collateral. This means that a borrower who thinks their vehicle is securing only their auto loan may be unable to sell the vehicle if it is acting as collateral for another loan, whether or not the lender informed them verbally that cross-collateralization was happening.

How Can You Get Out of Cross-Collateral Loans?

Getting out of a cross-collateralized loan without paying it off in full can be very difficult. And it may not be as simple as transferring the loan to another lender. It’s usually quite challenging and expensive to move a cross-collateral loan to another lender, which can leave a borrower stuck with whatever rates and terms were offered to them when they took out the loan. That’s why it’s a really good idea to read the fine print of any loan agreements before signing and confirming whether a bank or credit union plans to start a cross-collateral loan.

Pros and Cons of Cross-Collateral Loan

Pros

Cons

Typically easy to qualify for Larger risk of losing collateral
Potentially low cost Tied to just one lender
Allows borrowers to leverage existing assets Unfavorable terms may unchangeable without a change in lender

There are some major advantages and disadvantages associated with cross-collateral loans that are worth taking into consideration before signing any loan documents.

Benefits

Some of the benefits of a cross-collateral loan include:

•   Ease of qualification. Because cross-collateral loans are secured, they can be easier to qualify for than unsecured loans, for which the lender takes on more risk. Applicants with low credit scores may find it easier to qualify for this type of loan than some others.

•   Lower cost. General cross-collateral loans tend to be less expensive than unsecured loans. This type of loan tends to come with lower interest rates, which could equal savings over the life of the loan, and longer repayment terms, which could lower monthly payments but increase total interest cost.

•   Allows borrowers to leverage existing assets. Cross-collateral loans use an asset that is already trapped in an existing loan, and allows the borrower to get more value out of it by using it to ensure more loans.

Drawbacks

There are some serious downsides associated with cross-collateral loans that are worth thinking carefully about.

•   Larger risk. If the borrower isn’t able to repay their debts, the lender can seize the asset acting as collateral.

•   Tied to just one lender. With a cross-collateral loan, multiple of the borrower’s assets are being financed through one lender which can make it hard and expensive to ever switch to a lender offering more favorable terms.

•   Unfavorable terms. Collateralized loans, especially cross-collateral loans, can have stricter terms to meet in order to protect the lenders on subsequent loans.

Cross-Collateralization and Bankruptcy

Cross-collateralization can become particularly complex during bankruptcy. For example, a borrower of a cross-collateral loan (using their car as collateral) who files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will be required to either reaffirm the debt or surrender their car. If they choose to reaffirm the debt and that loan is with a financial institution that has secured other sources of debt to the car, then they will need to pay off all of those debts in order to keep their car. Don’t forget, that borrower may not even be aware that some of their loans were cross-collateralized.

How cross-collateralization affects bankruptcy depends on the type of bankruptcy filed. Anyone dealing with cross-collateralization complications during bankruptcy may find that consulting a bankruptcy attorney will help them determine what their next steps should be.

Recommended: Getting Approved for a Personal Loan After Bankruptcy

Applying for SoFi’s Personal Loans

For someone looking for an alternative to a cross-collateralized loan with their existing bank or credit union, taking out an unsecured personal loan through a different financial institution may be one option to consider. Personal loans can be used to finance a variety of purchases, with the exception of higher education expenses and home purchases, typically.

SoFi Personal Loans offer fixed rates, no fees, and a variety of repayment terms.

Check your rate on a personal loan from SoFi

FAQ

Is cross-collateralization legal?

Yes, cross-collateralization is legal. Many banks and credit unions practice cross-collateralization.

Who can and can’t cross-collateralize?

Borrowers who already have a secured loan at a financial institution may qualify for cross-collateralization. Lenders don’t always inform borrowers verbally that they are participating in cross-collateralization, so it’s worth confirming whether or not this is happening before taking on a second loan through the same lender.

Can you get out of cross-collateralization?

A major downside of cross-collateralized loans is that once a borrower has multiple sources of debt through the same lender that are cross-collateral loans, it can be difficult to move them to another lender. Paying off the loan is usually the best option for getting out of this type of loan.


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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.

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