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Understanding Current Personal Loan Interest Rates

November 27, 2018 · 4 minute read

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Understanding Current Personal Loan Interest Rates

Most consumers are aware of major types of loans, like mortgages, auto loans, and student loans. But there’s another type of loan that’s becoming increasingly popular as consumers seek out attractive rates and terms: personal loans. Though this kind of loan may enjoy less brand recognition, personal loan rates have become more competitive, and more popular as a result.

Average personal loan balances are expected to rise to nearly $8,000 by the end of this year, even as delinquency rates remain low.

Rising balances mean more money is available to customers who qualify for a personal loan and could use a cash infusion—or want to take advantage of competitive personal loan rates by using them to pay off existing loans at a lower interest rate. But what does it mean for the economy?

Take a superficial glance at household debt in the U.S., and you’ll notice that our current debt has exceeded 2008 levels. A closer look, however, makes it clear that the borrower profile in 2017 is much healthier than it was a decade ago. There is less housing debt now, and more loans are going to borrowers with good credit.

At the same time, bankruptcy has reached record lows, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York report released in May 2017.

And those personal loans? In order to figure out if they’re right for you, you need a comprehensive understanding of personal loan rates, including how they’re calculated, and whether they’re compatible with your financial timeline. Here’s some more info on personal loan rates.

How Personal Loan Rates Are Determined

Lenders use several factors to determine the interest rate on a personal loan, including details about your financial background and about the loan itself. What kind of financial questions can you expect?

Well, when lenders talk about a borrower’s creditworthiness, they’re usually referring to elements of your financial background such as your credit history, your income and employment, how much debt you already have, and whether you have a cosigner.

The loan terms can also affect the rate; for example, the size of the loan or how long you want to take the loan out for often affects personal loan rates. (Loan term is something borrowers should be thinking about as well. A longer loan term might sound appealing because it makes each monthly payment lower, but it’s important to understand that a longer-term loan may cost you significantly more over time due to interest charges.)

While borrower qualifications and loan type are the main factors lenders use to determine personal loan rates, borrowers also need to consider another essential question: Which lender is the best fit when they all offer different personal loan rates?

Average Personal Loan Interest Rates

The average interest rate for two-year personal loans from commercial banks was 10%, as of May 2017. Though there are several factors that determine personal loan rates (see more on this above), one of the big ones is credit history. A lower credit score generally means you can expect a higher interest rate on your personal loan.

If the interest rate is higher, the terms of your loan are likely to be less favorable, because taking out a personal loan with a higher rate means you’ll ultimately have more money to pay back than someone who takes out the same loan with a lower rate.

Borrowers with poor credit may face a loan rate as high as 36% APR, which in many cases is the highest rate that can legally be applied to personal loans.

How to Calculate Personal Loan Rates

There are many personal loan calculators available online, but you need some basic information about the kind of loan you’re looking for before you can use any of them. Loan calculators typically ask for your desired loan amount and loan term, and they may ask you to put in other details, such as your ideal interest rate and loan start date, your location, or your estimated credit rating.

Once you put in the requested information, the calculator can tell you your estimated monthly payment and possibly the total payment due, the payoff date, and the personal loan rate you’d be likely to get.

To find out how a SoFi personal loan can save you money by helping you pay off high-interest debt, the SoFi personal loan calculator can help. No matter which loan calculator you use, keep in mind that these are rough estimates and may not match the actual rates you receive when a lender has conducted a more complete loan review.

How Personal Loan Rates Compare to Home Equity Rates

A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, requires homeowners to put up their homes as collateral so they can access a revolving line of credit. It has traditionally been an adjustable-rate loan, meaning the interest rate changes and can rise during the repayment period.

The loan can be used for expenses such as large purchases or home renovations. HELOC borrowers can borrow up to their approved credit limit (which usually amounts to most of their home’s equity, depending on their qualifications) and pay interest on the amount they withdraw.

For personal loans, typically borrowers don’t need to put up a home or other collateral to get the money, and they can choose a fixed or variable rate. A HELOC loan is a secured loan, which means it requires collateral, whereas a personal loan is typically an unsecured loan, which takes collateral completely out of the equation.

If you’re unable to pay back a secured loan, the bank can seize your collateral, which in the case of a HELOC loan is your house. Therefore, a personal loan can be safer because you don’t have to put valuable collateral on the line.

Apply for a SoFi personal loan today. We offer loans with zero fees and low rates.


The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
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