Does Loan Purpose Matter?

By Janet Schaaf · April 04, 2024 · 9 minute read

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Does Loan Purpose Matter?

What a person does with their money is their business, right? Not always. Lenders are indeed interested in how borrowers plan to use the funds they’re loaned — in fact, the reason for a loan is one of the application questions.

But does loan purpose really matter? Yes. In some cases, your loan purpose can impact whether or not you receive the loan, as well as your loan terms.

Here’s what you need to know when it comes to different uses and types of personal loans, and the best reasons to give for the purpose of your loan.

What Is the Purpose of a Loan?

At its most basic, the purpose of a loan is the reason the applicant wants to borrow money. Even though there are many acceptable uses of personal loan funds, including consolidating debt, paying for a large purchase, or covering the cost of a home renovation, the loan application will likely include a section asking why the applicant is requesting the loan.

💡 Quick Tip: Before choosing a personal loan, ask about the lender’s fees: origination, prepayment, late fees, etc. One question can save you many dollars.

Why Does the Purpose of a Loan Matter?

Banks consider a number of factors when evaluating an applicant for a loan, such as the amount asked for and the applicant’s credit and employment history, to assess the potential risk of lending money to an individual.

But the borrower’s reason for needing a loan can be a significant factor, too. One reason why is that many financial institutions have certain limitations on how the money they lend can be used. For example, a lender may not allow the proceeds of a personal loan to be used to pay for college tuition, repay another student loan, purchase a home, or start a business. As a result, the best reason to give when applying for a personal loan is one that the lender allows.

The purpose of the loan you’re seeking can also impact the size of the loan the lender will grant, as well the interest rate and term of the loan.

Recommended: What Are the Common Uses for Personal Loans?

How Does Loan Purpose Affect Your Loan?

Your reason for getting a personal loan not only helps determine whether or not you’ll be approved, but can have an influence on the type of loan you can get, as well as the loan amount, and even the interest rate.

Some lenders focus on loans for certain purposes, such as credit card consolidation, while others offer an array of personal loan products that are each tailored to specific use, such as home improvement loans, medical and dental loans, wedding loans, or IVF loans. Each loan type will have loan amounts and terms designed to fit that particular need.

Does the Purpose of a Loan Influence Interest Rates?

It can. Some lenders may set interest rates based solely on the loan amount, the loan term, and the creditworthiness of the applicant. Other lenders might use those factors, plus have interest rate ranges for different loan purposes. For example, a lender might offer better rates (and longer terms) for home improvement loans than they do for debt consolidation loans.

To make sure you’re getting the best deal, you’ll want to shop around and compare interest rates, terms, and fees from lenders that are offering personal loans that match your needs. It’s also a good idea to review credit requirements, such as your credit score, history and income qualifications to ensure you meet the lender’s minimums.

Recommended: Typical Personal Loan Requirements Needed for Approval

Common Reasons for Getting a Loan

People typically have something particular in mind when they decide to borrow money. And while every person sees themselves and their individual needs as unique, it turns out the reasons for taking out a personal loan tend to fall into some fairly common buckets. Here a closer look at some of the most common reasons for getting a personal loan.

Debt Consolidation

The goal of debt consolidation is to save money on interest payments by consolidating high-interest credit card debt with a personal loan with a lower interest rate. If you have strong credit, you may be able to get a debt consolidation loan for a significantly lower rate than you are paying on your credit card balances.

Medical Bills

While health insurance can help pay for expected and unexpected medical bills, it usually doesn’t cover everything. And even when a medical expense is covered, insurance can still leave you with a significant portion of the bill to pay on your own. If that’s money you don’t have on hand right now, a medical loan can help ease the strain on your personal finances.

If you already have several medical debts, a low-interest personal loan could be a good way to consolidate those payments.

Recommended: How To Pay for Medical Bills You Can’t Afford

Home Improvements

While you might first consider a home equity loan or line of credit to cover a home repair or improvement, in some cases, a personal loan might be a better choice. This might be the case if you only need a smaller amount, or you need cash quickly (say your air conditioning or heating system goes out), since you can often get the funds from a personal loan within a few days.

Home improvement loans are also unsecured, making them less risky than home equity loans or credit lines, which use your home as collateral.

💡 Quick Tip: With home renovations, surprises are inevitable. Not so with SoFi home improvement loans. There are no fees required, and no surprises.

Something Else

There are many other reasons for taking out a personal loan, such as helping a family member, funding a move, or paying for a wedding or funeral.

Planned vs Unexpected Expenses

Some expenses can be expected and planned for accordingly, while others come up out of nowhere and require a sudden influx of cash. Either way, a personal loan can be a convenient way to finance these expenses without disrupting your savings or relying on high-interest credit cards.

What to Consider

Planned expenses, such as home renovations, weddings, or vacations, can benefit from a personal loan’s predictable repayment schedule. You can budget for the monthly payments and avoid dipping into your savings or using high-interest credit cards. However, you’ll want to factor the cost of the loan into the total cost of your purchase or project to see if it makes sense to finance it now or wait until you have enough savings.

Unexpected expenses, on the other hand, by nature arise suddenly and without warning. Medical emergencies, car repairs, or home repairs are examples of unexpected expenses that may require immediate financial assistance. Personal loans can provide a quick source of funds to cover these expenses, but it’s essential to carefully review the terms and conditions of the loan.

Smaller vs Larger Expenses

How much money you can get with a personal loan will depend on the lender, your credit score, income, debt-to-income ratio, and other factors, but the max amount you can typically get ranges from $500 to $100,000. This wide range can make a personal loan a viable source of financing for both small and large expenses.

What to Consider

When using a personal loan for smaller expenses, it’s important to borrow only what you need and can afford to repay. You generally want to avoid taking out any more than needed, as this can lead to unnecessary debt. It’s also a good idea to compare loan offers to find the most competitive interest rates and terms.

For larger expenses, such as home renovations or debt consolidation, personal loans can provide a lump sum of money with a fixed interest rate and repayment term. This can help you budget for the expense and avoid the pitfalls of high-interest credit card debt. But be sure to compare loan offers and choose the one that best suits your needs.

Recommended: 11 Types of Personal Loans & Their Differences

One-time vs Ongoing Expenses

Personal loans can also be used to cover one-time expenses, such as a major purchase. They can also be used to cover ongoing expenses, like a wedding, medical bills, or a home renovation. However, for ongoing expenses, you might want to consider a personal line of credit as opposed to a personal loan.

What to Consider

Funds from a personal loan are disbursed in one lump sum, and interest is paid on that sum according to a fixed repayment schedule.

If the loan purpose is an expense that is ongoing or variable, a personal line of credit might make sense financially, since interest is only charged on the amount drawn at any one time, and money borrowed can be repaid on a more flexible basis. Lines of credit tend to come with variable instead of fixed interest rates, however, so the overall amount due may be hard to predict.

Loans To Pay Off Other Loans

A common use for personal loans is to consolidate high-interest debt. By taking out a personal loan to pay off other loans or credit card debt, you can potentially lower your overall interest rate and simplify your monthly payments.

What to Consider

When using a personal loan to pay off other loans, consider any origination fees or prepayment penalties associated with the new loan. It’s also important to calculate the total cost of the new loan, including interest rates and fees, to ensure that it offers a better financial solution than your existing debt. Additionally, consider your repayment ability to ensure that you can comfortably afford the new loan payments.

Personal Loan Approval

The length of time from application to personal loan approval can vary by lender. On average, approval can take up to three business days for an online lender and up to seven business days for a bank or credit union. Some online lenders, though, offer same-day approval.

Some things that can make this a quicker process are making sure your credit report is free of errors and having required documents ready when the lender requests them. Loan applications that don’t have unusual circumstances, e.g., self-employment income verification or a high debt-to-income ratio, are more likely to be approved faster than those that do.

Once a personal loan application has been approved by the lender, the funds may be made available to the borrower in just a few days or up to a week, depending on the type of lender. Some online lenders may disburse funds the same day as approval.

The Takeaway

There are, indeed, different types of loans for different purposes. Applicants may have their own reasons for wanting a loan, but lenders will want to know what the funds will be used for. There may be certain loans better suited to certain funding needs than others, and a lender will likely want to make sure the loan suits the purpose.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Personal Loan overall.


Why is it important to know the purpose of a loan?

Lenders may want to know the purpose of a loan so they can assess the risk of lending. Also, some lenders have limitations on how the money can be used. Borrowers will also want to consider the purpose of a loan to make sure they apply for the right type of loan for their needs.

What are examples of the purpose of a loan?

There are many reasons why people apply for personal loans. These include: debt consolidation, medical and dental expenses, IVF treatment, home repairs/improvements, weddings, large purchases (like appliances or furniture), car repairs, and more.

What happens if I use my loan for a different purpose?

Some loans are meant to be used for a certain purpose, such as auto loans or mortgages. Personal loans, however, can be used for many purposes, and a lender may not check to see if the funds are being used as intended on the loan application. But it’s a good idea to review the loan application to understand any restrictions on the use of the funds.

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