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How to Avoid Using Savings to Pay Off Debt

Paying down debt can be an important financial priority, but should you use your savings in order to do so? While it can be tempting to throw your full efforts into paying off debt, maintaining a healthy savings account for emergencies and saving for retirement are also important financial goals.

Continue reading for more information on why it may not always make sense to use savings to pay off debt and ideas and strategies to help you expedite your debt repayment without sacrificing your savings account.

The Case Against Using Savings to Pay Off Debt

Emptying your savings account to pay off debt could cause you to rely on credit cards to cover necessary expenses, which has the potential to create a cycle of debt. Think of it this way — it can be much harder to get yourself out of debt if you keep using credit cards to cover unexpected costs.

Consider creating a plan to pay off high-interest debt while maintaining or building your emergency fund. This way, you’ll be better prepared to deal with unexpected expenses — like a trip to the emergency room.

How to Start Paying Off Debt Without Dipping Into Your Savings

First off, if you do not have an established emergency fund, consider crafting a budget that will allow you to build one while you simultaneously focus on paying down debt. The exact size of your emergency fund will depend on your personal expenses and income. A general rule of thumb suggests saving between three and six months worth of living expenses in an emergency savings account. Having this available to you can help you avoid taking on additional debt if you encounter unforeseen expenses.

Make a Budget

Now’s a good time to update or make a budget from scratch. Understanding your spending vs. income is essential to help you pay off your debt and avoid going into further debt. You’ll want to review all of your expenses and sources of income and figure out how to allocate your income across debt payments, while still allowing you to save for your future.

Establish a Debt Payoff Strategy

To start, you’ll need to review each of your debts, making note of the amount owed and interest rates. This is important to create a full picture for how much you owe. Next, you’ll need to pick a debt pay-off strategy that will work for you. Here’s a look at some popular debt-reduction plans.

•   The snowball method: With this approach, you list debts from smallest balance to largest — ignoring the interest rates. You then put extra money towards the debt with the smallest balance, while making minimum payments on all the other debts. When that debt is paid off, you move to the next largest debt, and so on until all debts are paid off. With this method, early wins can help keep you motivated to continue tackling your debt.

•   The avalanche method: Here, you’ll list your debts in order of interest rate, from highest to lowest. You then put extra money towards the debt with the highest interest rate, while paying the minimum on the rest. When that debt is paid off, you move on to the debt with the next-highest rate, and so on. This strategy helps minimize the amount of interest you pay, which can help you save money in the long term.

•   The fireball method: With this hybrid strategy, you categorize all debt into either “good” or “bad” debt. “Good” debt is debt that has the potential to increase your net worth, such as student loans, business loans, or mortgages. “Bad” debt is generally high-interest debt incurred for a depreciating asset, like credit card debt and car loans. Next, you’ll list bad debts from smallest to largest based on balance. You then funnel extra money to the smallest of the bad debts, while making minimum payments on the others. When that balance is paid off, you go on to the next-smallest debt on the bad-debt list, and so on. Once all the bad debt is paid off, you can simply keep paying off good debt on the normal schedule. You then put money you were paying on your bad debt towards savings.

Different people may prefer one strategy over another, the key is to select something that works best with your debts, income, and financial personality.

Consider Debt Consolidation

If you have debt with a variety of lenders, one option is to consider consolidating your debt with a personal loan. Instead of making multiple payments across lenders, you’ll instead have just one payment for your personal loan. Consolidating credit card debt is a common use for a personal loan because personal loans typically have lower interest rates than credit cards. Using a personal loan to pay off your credit card balances not only streamlines repayment but can potentially help you save on interest and pay off your debt faster.

Most personal loans are unsecured (no collateral required), which means you’ll qualify for the loan solely based on your creditworthiness. Personal loans for debt consolidation typically have fixed interest rates, so your payments remain the same for the term of the loan. To find the best personal loan for you, it’s a good idea to shop around and review the options available at a few different lenders, including banks, credit unions, and online lenders.

Recommended: How to Use a Personal Loan for Loan Consolidation

How to Reduce Spending to Pay Off Debt Quicker

Reducing your spending can make more room in your budget for debt payments. Making overpayments can help speed up debt payoff, but it can be challenging to amend your spending habits. To lower your spending, you’ll want to take an honest look at your current expenses and spending habits.

You can start by reviewing your credit card and bank statements to see where your money is going. Next, divide your spending into “needs” vs. “wants” and look for places where you can cut back in the “wants” category. For example, you might decide to cook dinner a few more times a week and get less takeout, cancel a streaming service you rarely watch, and/or quit the gym and start working out at home

You may also be able to reduce some of your so-called “fixed” expenses like your cell phone and internet service by shopping around for a more competitive offer or switching to a less expensive plan.

If you’ve already got a tight budget, the alternative is to increase your revenue stream. Consider a side hustle to boost your income and funnel that additional money toward debt payments. You may even be able to find a side gig that allows you to make money from home.

Paying Off Debt the Smart Way

It can be tempting to throw your savings at debt to avoid racking up expensive interest charges. But draining your savings account — or failing to save at all — in favor of debt payoff might not be a smart strategy.

With little or no savings, you’ll be less prepared for any emergency expenses in the future, which could lead to even more debt. Consider building your savings while paying off debt by creating a budget, cutting your expenses or boosting your income, and finding (and sticking to) a debt repayment strategy.

If you have high-interest credit card debt, you might consider using a personal loan to consolidate your debt. If the loan has a lower interest rate than you’re paying on your credit card balances, doing this could potentially help you save money and pay off your debt faster.

With low fixed interest rates on loans of $5K to $100K, a SoFi personal loan for credit card debt can substantially decrease your monthly bills.

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

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SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). 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.

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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Loan Maturity Date: How to Find It for a Personal Loan

Loan Maturity Date: How to Find It for a Personal Loan

The maturity date for an installment loan like a personal loan is the date on which you’ll be finished paying off your loan. It’s important to mark this day on your calendar, not only to celebrate successfully paying back your debt, but also because it can tell you important information like how much you’ll ultimately end up paying in interest.

Here’s a look at how to figure out the maturity date for your personal loan, and other important loan terms you should know.

What Is the Loan Maturity Date?

The term “maturity date” can refer to loans or investments. In investing, it refers to the day on which you’ll receive the money you invested, for example, in a savings bond or certificate of deposit (CD). You’ll get your investment back, plus any remaining interest that’s due to you.

If you’re a borrower, the maturity date of a loan is the day your lender has scheduled for your loaned funds and any interest to be paid off in full. Provided you’ve made regular and timely payments throughout the term of the loan, you’ll have no further obligation to the lender after the maturity date.

If, for whatever reason, you still have a balance after your loan maturity date, you’ll want to talk to your lender and work out a plan to pay off the remainder of your loan.

Recommended: What Is a Personal Loan?

How Does the Loan Maturity Date Work?

Your loan’s maturity date is a part of your initial loan agreement. You can find it on your loan contract. For example, say you take out a $10,000 personal loan on June 1, 2024 with a 36-month term. The loan maturity date will be 36 months later, on June 1, 2027.

It is possible to pay off your loan early before the loan maturity. This can save you money in interest payments. However, be mindful of whether your lender charges prepayment penalties. These penalties can outweigh the advantages of paying off your loan early.

Length of a Personal Loan Maturity Date

A loan term is the amount of time you’ll have to pay it off before you reach the maturity date, usually calculated in months. You can often find personal loans with terms from 12 to 60 months, and some lenders will offer loans with terms of up to seven years or longer.

The longer your term, the longer you’ll be paying interest, which generally makes these longer-term loans more expensive for borrowers. When choosing a loan, you may want to consider one with the shortest term (and closest maturity date) possible, as long as you can comfortably afford the monthly payments.

Calculating Your Loan Maturity Value

A loan’s maturity value is the sum of the principal plus all of the interest you’ve paid on the loan. The maturity value (MV) formula is:

MV = P + I

Where “P” is the principal amount of the loan and “I” is the loan’s annual percentage rate (APR).

For example, say you take out a $10,000 personal loan with a 36-month term and 12% APR. In this case P = 10,000 and I = 12%. You can use a personal loan calculator to determine how much interest you will pay on the loan over the 36-month term, then add that to the principal loan amount. Here, the equation would look like:

MV = $10,000 + $1,957.15
In this case, MV = $11,957.15

What Happens at the Personal Loan Maturity Date?

At the personal loan maturity date, you will make your final loan payment. Provided you have stayed up-to-date with all of your payments, you will have fully paid off all of your loan principal and whatever interest you owe and have no further obligation to your lender.

However, this may not be possible if you’ve fallen on hard financial times. If you think you’ll have trouble making any of your loan payments on time, it’s a good idea to reach out to your lender immediately and see if there’s anything they can do to help. They may allow you to pay at a later date.

Recommended: What Happens If You Default on a Personal Loan?

Other Important Information on the Personal Loan Agreement

In addition to maturity, you’ll find other useful information on your personal loan agreement.

Loan Principal

Your loan principal is the initial amount of money that you borrow, and it is the amount you agree to pay back with interest. So if you take out a $30,000 personal loan, the loan principal is $30,000.

The total amount of interest that you pay will be determined by the principal, as well as the interest rate. When you make a payment each month, part of the total is applied to your interest while the remainder goes to your principal. Typically, as you make more monthly payments, a larger portion of your payment each month will go toward the principal, until your loan is repaid in full on the maturity date.

Recommended: What Is an Installment Loan and How Does It Work?

Loan Interest Rates

The interest rate is the amount that your lender charges you to borrow, and it’s the main way that lenders make money. Most personal loans rates are fixed interest rates, meaning the rate will not change over the life of the loan. The average personal loan interest rate is currently 12.21%. But rates will vary depending on your credit score.

Variable rate loans, on the other hand, carry interest rates that are usually pegged to a market interest rate. As a result, they can change over the life of the loan.

There may also be hybrid situations in which a loan starts with a fixed interest rate for a period of time, after which it switches to a variable rate. If market rates have gone down, this can be a good thing for borrowers. But if they’ve gone up, a variable-rate loan could be more expensive than its fixed-rate counterpart.

Monthly Loan Payments

You’ll be able to find the amount you owe each month on your personal loan agreement. Your loan payment should be the same over the course of your loan unless you have a variable interest rate.

The Takeaway

For an installment loan like a personal loan, the maturity date is the day of the final loan payment. This date is set based on the loan’s repayment period — how long you have to repay the loan, including both principal and interest. A personal loan is typically considered to have short- to medium-term maturity, since terms generally run from a few months to seven years.

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.

FAQ

What happens if the loan is not paid by the maturity date?

If your loan is not paid by the maturity date, you’ll need to work with your lender to come up with an extended repayment plan. If your last loan payment is late or your loan is in default, you may face penalties and your credit score may be negatively affected.

What is the maturity date on a loan?

The maturity date on a loan is the date by which a borrower has agreed to pay off the loan principal and interest in full. You generally make your final loan payment on the maturity date.

When is the maturity date on a loan?

The maturity date on a loan is the date when your final payment is due. It is based on the term of your loan. If you take out a personal loan on June 1, 2024 and the loan has a 36- month term, for example, the maturity date will be June 1, 2028.


Photo credit: iStock/Pekic

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). 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.

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 .

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What Are Loans Based on Income?

What Are Loans Based on Income?

There are many different types of loans. And when you need money quickly, it can be challenging to assess the pros and cons of different options. It can also be challenging to assess which loans are right for you if you’re still building credit.

Many loans require a credit check, and your credit score may affect the interest rate and terms you are able to qualify for when borrowing a loan. But what if you have no credit or bad credit? There may be other loans available outside of personal loans from banks. Income-based loans, which evaluate your income as a primary deciding factor, may be an option to consider. These loans could give you the cash you need but also have some potential drawbacks. Here is what to know about loans based on income.

How Does a Loan Based on Income Work?

Personal loans can be used to pay for nearly any type of expense. In addition to the flexibility for use of funds, other advantages of personal loans include convenience, lower rates than credit cards (typically), and quick turnaround times. Generally, lenders will evaluate an applicant’s credit history in order to make lending decisions.

Loans based on income, also known as income-based loans, work differently. Instead of focusing on an applicant’s credit score and history, these loans take your income into account. While “income-based loans” and “loans based on income” are terms you may see when researching personal loans, these are primarily marketing terms. The companies who use these may be using income as a method of evaluating loan applications, making them an option for borrowers looking for no credit check loans.

With a loan based on income, the lender may ask for proof of income, such as a W-2, paystub, tax returns, and/or recent bank statements. You’ll also need to share personal information on the loan application, such as your address and social security number. But unlike a traditional personal loan, the evaluation may not include a credit check.

Because the lender isn’t considering credit, the terms of the loan may be different from a traditional personal loan. For example, the loan may have a high interest rate or require collateral. Collateral is when you, as a borrower, put up an item of value to back the loan in case you are unable to pay back the loan. This might be something like your car or even your house.

Whether a loan requires collateral determines whether it is a secured or unsecured loan. Both options may be part of an income-based personal loan.

Recommended: Using Collateral on a Personal Loan

Secured Loan

A secured loan is a loan that requires the borrower to put up collateral and can be an option for borrowers with poor or thin credit. These loans can take several forms:

Pawn loan. A pawnshop loan is where you put an item of value up as collateral, such as jewelry or electronics, in exchange for the loan. In addition to collateral, you’ll also have to pay the loan back with interest. If you are unable to do so, the pawn shop will then own the collateral and may sell it. Pawn loans can also be an option for those looking for no bank account loans.

Title loan. If you own your vehicle, you may be able to take out a loan for the valued amount of your car. In a title loan, you physically keep possession of your car, but the lender can hold the title of your vehicle. Interest rates for this type of loan can be very high — up to an APR equivalent of 300% — and can be risky. After all, if your income depends on your ability to drive to work, losing ownership of your car may mean that your ability to work is in jeopardy, too.

Home equity loan. If you own your home, you can borrow against the value of your home’s equity through different types of loans, including cash-out refinance, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or a fixed-rate home equity loan. These types of loans can require a relatively lengthy approval process, and may not be appropriate if you need cash quickly, or if you need a relatively small loan.

Unsecured Loan

An unsecured loan does not require collateral. For this reason, this type of loan poses more risk to the lender. If you do not pay back the loan, the process to get back their money can take a long time, involve the legal system, and may be fruitless if you declare bankruptcy.

That’s why lenders may require a more extensive application, including performing a credit check on the potential borrower. If you, as a borrower, know that your credit history isn’t great or you are still building your credit, you may have fewer unsecured personal loan options.

Still, there may be some available. Knowing the pros and cons, reading the fine print, and having a clear plan for how to pay back the loan can be important in assessing which one is the right one for you.

Payday Loans

One type of loan that might be accessible for people with no or bad credit is a payday loan. This is usually a short-term, high-cost loan that is due on your next payday. Typically, payday loans are relatively small (generally under $500) and some states may have a limit as to how much people can borrow.

Payday loans are, like their name, due on your next payday or when you next get income. A payday loan typically has a relatively high interest rate may have fees as well. To ensure your loan is paid back, the lender may ask for a postdated check or money order. One of the problems with a payday loan is that if you can’t repay it on time and have to renew the loan, you can end up falling into the payday loan cycle. This can cause debt to snowball, and cost a lot of money in the long run.

Alternatives to Loans Based on Income

If you need money quickly, you may have some other options available. These could include:

Using a credit card or credit line. If you have access to credit, utilizing a credit card or credit line could help you through a financial rough patch. But because interest rates can be high, having a plan to pay back what you borrow or taking advantage of a card with a low APR can be a good strategy.

Borrowing from friends or family. Sometimes a loan from a friend or family member can be more flexible than borrowing from a lender. It can be a good idea to consider drafting an agreement, even if it’s relatively informal, regarding expectations, any interest agreements, and other conditions.

Selling things. Selling things you no longer need may help you raise cash quickly. Using local online marketplaces can be a quick way to unload things you’re not using and raise money.

Starting a side hustle. While it can take time to onboard onto a new job, applying for part-time jobs could be a potential long-term strategy to access more money. In the short-term, informal jobs such as babysitting, tutoring, or other work could help you raise the cash you need.

The Takeaway

Finding yourself in a financial lurch can be scary. But taking the time to weigh pros and cons of options may be helpful in choosing a sustainable path forward. Understanding the benefits and risks of loans based on income can help you assess whether this type of loan makes sense for your current financial circumstances.

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.


Photo credit: iStock/Khosrork

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). 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.

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 .

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Applying for a Loan Online vs. In-Person: Comparing the Differences & Similarities

Applying for a Loan Online vs In Person: Comparing the Differences & Similarities

As you’re shopping around for the best terms and rates on a personal loan, you may wonder: Is it better to apply for a loan online or in person? While both options can lead you to securing a personal loan, the process and even the fees and rates can differ for an online loan application vs. in-person.

If you need help deciding which option to go with, this guide can help you figure out whether you should look at applying for a loan online vs. in person.

What Is an Online Personal Loan?

An online personal loan is a type of installment loan that you borrow and agree to pay back with interest. Personal loans are usually unsecured loans, which means you don’t have to put up collateral (such as a house) to be able to get the loan. Since unsecured loans pose more risk to lenders, interest rates tend to be higher compared to secured loans.

Personal loans are known for being flexible, and there are several ways to use a personal loan. You can use one to consolidate credit card debt or pay for home renovations, medical expenses, a vacation, a large purchase, or just about any other personal expense.

An online personal loan acts like a regular personal loan with the only difference being that the lender has a presence online. Online loans can come from traditional banks, or they may come from lenders who only operate online.

What Is an In-Person Personal Loan?

Getting an in-person personal loan allows you to obtain a personal loan with the assistance of a bank or credit union employee. They can help you through the process. From collecting documents to submitting your loan application, there’s a lot of attention that an employee can give you when you apply for one of the different types of personal loans.

Applying for a Loan Online vs In-Person

Applying for an online personal loan has never been easier or faster. Technology automates much of the process so you can know what the lender’s decision is fairly quickly — often on the same day.

Beyond the ease with which you can apply for a loan online or in person, there are a number of other factors you’ll want to consider.

Fees

Fees and rates can differ from loan to loan. Shopping around for rates and fees is going to help you compare personal loan interest rates and find the lowest personal loan origination fees and APRs out there.

While you might see low rates for online lenders, you may also be able to negotiate a low rate with the bank representative. Sometimes, having an existing relationship with the bank can help you get a lower interest rate, or even help with getting approved for a personal loan.

Approval Process

When you get to the approval process, an online loan application vs. in-person is going to be faster. This is because technology automates much of the process for approval when you apply online. Sometimes, you can receive a decision — or even funding — on the same day.

With an in-person application, you can expect to wait several days or even longer for loan approval and disbursement. Plus, not as many banks and credit unions allow you to prequalify like online lenders often do, which can give you an idea of your odds of approval and your potential rate without impacting your credit score.

Convenience

If you’re the type that can quickly fill out information online and upload documents with ease, you may just want to apply online. However, if you would prefer some help through the process of applying for a personal loan, you may consider finding a physical location of the bank or credit union instead.

Security

When it comes to security, applying online for a personal loan is as safe as any other online transaction. Yet, that might not make you feel comfortable enough to do it. If you’re not confident in transmitting personal information over the web, you might consider visiting a branch location to apply for a personal loan.

Personalized Support

Support can be seen as more attentive at an in-person branch. You can have your issues heard and the bank employee can explain things like the personal loan principal and the personal loan maturity date so they make sense.

Online support can be hit or miss, depending on the company. This is one area where an in-person experience might make you happier.

Which Is Better: Applying for a Personal Loan Online or In-Person?

If you value personalized attention, you might prefer to apply for a personal loan in person. On the other hand, if you’re tech-savvy and appreciate the speed and savings an online lender can offer, you may prefer to apply for a personal loan online instead.

At the end of the day, you’ll see advantages with each option whether you choose to apply for a loan online or in person. What’s really important is to find a loan with the most competitive terms and the lowest rate.

The Takeaway

Applying online for a personal loan may allow for a faster approval and funding process, plus you can complete the entirety of the application from the comfort of your home. If you’d rather have someone there to walk you through the process, and you have a longstanding relationship with your bank or credit union that you think could favorably impact the terms you receive, then applying in-person might be better. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference — and where you can get the best offer for a loan.

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.

FAQ

Is applying for a loan online safer than applying for a loan in person?

Applying for a loan online is considered as safe as applying for a loan in person. If you’re worried about sharing your personal information online, you can go into a credit union or bank branch and apply in person.

Is there a difference in cost when applying for a loan online vs in person?

Whether you’re applying for a loan online or in person, it’s a good idea to shop around for the best rates and terms. Online lenders may have lower overhead costs and be able to pass those savings on to customers. On the other hand, banks where you apply in person may be able to offer rate or fee discounts for existing customers.

Is it quicker to apply for a loan online or in person?

In most situations, it is quicker to apply for a loan online than in person. Processing is generally faster, too.


Photo credit: iStock/fizkes

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). 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.

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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What Hard Money Personal Loans Are & How They Work

What Hard Money Personal Loans Are & How They Work

You want to flip a house, but you don’t have enough money for a down payment — and your credit isn’t where it needs to be for a personal loan. Or, maybe you’re a small business owner who wants to own a piece of commercial real estate. People who are investing in real estate beyond their primary residence may consider a hard money loan as an option, especially if a traditional mortgage isn’t.

A hard money loan is a short-term loan commonly used by investors, such as house flippers or developers who renovate properties to sell. The loan typically uses the property as collateral. Hard money loans are usually funded by private lenders, individuals, or investor groups, rather than banks.

A hard money loan may make sense on paper, but because it typically has a shorter term than other types of loans and interest rates can be high, paying back the loan can be challenging. Defaulting on a hard money loan could mean losing the property.

What Is a Hard Money Personal Loan?

A hard money personal loan is a type of personal loan that uses collateral. While a mortgage is also a type of loan that uses property as collateral, a hard money loan is very different.

First of all, a hard money loan doesn’t come from a bank. It comes from a private lender, which may be a company or an individual. The loan will likely have higher interest rates and a shorter payback period than a traditional mortgage.

It can also be a much shorter process to be approved for a hard money loan. While a mortgage may take weeks for approval, it’s not atypical to have cash in hand within a few days of a hard money loan application.

A hard money loan also may be more lenient in terms of credit scores or assets than a traditional loan. This can be beneficial for people who are wanting to flip a house or buy an additional piece of property, who may not have enough assets on paper to be approved for a traditional mortgage, or who need a larger down payment than they have.

How Do Hard Money Personal Loans Work?

Hard money personal loans are often advertised to — and used as a tool for — house flippers, but other people may pursue a hard money personal loan as well.

Let’s say someone wants to buy a house to flip, or a piece of land to use as a rental property. They may still be building their credit, or they may not have enough money for a down payment. They may have been turned down for a mortgage, or they may not want to apply for a mortgage, knowing that it’s a time-intensive process and their finances might not be as strong on paper as they know the bank would like.

In this case, the person might turn to a hard money personal loan. Individuals, groups of investors, or private companies may specialize in offering hard money loans. Terms vary but are often less than one year, compared to 20 or more years for a mortgage. But the one constant: If you can’t pay back the loan, then you lose the collateral, which would be the property.

Other things to be aware of regarding a hard money personal loan: Interest rates may be high and the loan term is much shorter than a mortgage. This comes with a fair amount of risk.

Pros and Cons of Hard Money Personal Loans

As with any personal loan, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of the loan. It can also be a good idea to consider what-ifs, and how you might pay back the money if the original plan doesn’t work. Here, some pros and cons to think about before applying for a hard money personal loan.

Pros of a hard money personal loan

Cons of a hard money personal loan

Receive money fast Short loan payback period
Flexibility in terms of credit score and overall financial picture High interest rates
Can use hard money for whatever you need the money for Possibility of losing property if you cannot fulfill the terms of the loan

Personal Loans Versus Hard Money Loans

The primary difference between an unsecured personal loan and a hard money loan is that a hard money loan is secured. Both are personal loans, but using collateral for a personal loan means the loan is secured.

Collateral can be anything of value. But in the case of a hard money loan, it’s in the form of property. A personal loan typically does not require collateral. If you were unable to pay back a personal loan, the lender could not take away your house, for example. Both types of personal loans have specific terms and conditions, and both can provide cash relatively quickly. However, many personal loans are backed by a bank or other financial institution.

Hard money loans

Personal loans

Backed by a private individual or company Backed by a bank or other financial institution
Credit checks and financial picture play a limited role in approval Credit check plays a large role in approval
Provides cash Provides cash

Is a Hard Money Personal Loan Right For You?

Hard money personal loans may be an option for certain financial needs. But, as with any personal loan, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons, and consider what-ifs. Questions to ask may include:

•   What other avenues can I follow to raise the money I need?

•   What happens if I don’t pursue this loan?

•   If I do get this loan and plan to do a specific thing with it, what happens if that specific thing doesn’t happen the way I anticipated?

•   Can I afford this loan, including interest?

•   Could I afford this loan if my financial circumstances changed?

These questions can help you assess worst-case scenarios. You also may want to ask your potential lender any questions you have as well.

Recommended: Personal Loan Alternatives and Options

Hard Money Personal Loan Alternatives

There are potential alternatives to hard money personal loans. Some may require collateral, and others, like a personal loan, may not. Each comes with pros and cons. Your financial situation may also determine which loans you might be eligible for. If you’re building your credit, you may not have access to certain loans.

Credit Cards

If you’re purchasing land or property, you likely need cash. But for other purchases, using a credit card could be an option. If you don’t need a lump sum of money, using the line of credit that a credit card offers may work well for making periodic purchases.

However, credit cards may have high, variable interest rates. Plus, the more of your available credit you use, the higher your credit utilization ratio, which could impact your credit score.

Recommended: What Is A Personal Line of Credit & How Do You Get One?

Personal Loans

Can you buy land with a personal loan? You could. Generally, once you’re approved for a personal loan, you receive money in your account and can then use it for virtually any purpose. Some people use personal loans to pay for renovations or other home improvement projects.

But it could be challenging to get mortgage approval if you were planning on using a personal loan for a down payment, for example. A personal loan may affect mortgage eligibility.

Recommended: Do Personal Loans Affect Getting a Mortgage?

HELOC

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a type of revolving debt. For example, if you apply for a HELOC and are approved for $10,000, you can draw up to $10,000. Once that money is paid back, you can draw from it again for the set period of time defined in the terms of the loan.

A HELOC is a popular option for people who are doing home improvement projects. They may not need a lump sum of cash but may have ongoing expenses. Generally, interest rates on a HELOC are variable, not fixed.

Since a HELOC is a loan secured by the borrower’s home, there is a risk of losing the home if the loan is not repaid.

Recommended: How Do Home Equity Lines of Credit Work?

The Takeaway

For some people, hard money personal loans can allow them to realize their real estate goals. But hard money loans typically have high interest rates and short payback periods, which can make them risky. It can be a good idea to carefully weigh the pros and cons of a hard money loan.

A SoFi Personal Loan may be an alternative to consider. Since unsecured personal loans from SoFi do not require collateral, they could be a good option for those just entering the real estate market. 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.


Photo credit: iStock/JLco – Julia Amaral

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). 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.

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 .

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