What Are Non-Recourse vs Recourse Loans?

By Rebecca Lake · March 26, 2024 · 8 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

What Are Non-Recourse vs Recourse Loans?

Recourse loans are secured loans in which the lender can seize a borrower’s collateral and, if necessary, other assets, should the borrower default on the loan. Common types of recourse debt are auto loans, credit cards and, in most states, home mortgages. Recourse loans are low risk to lenders so they tend to have lower interest rates than non-recourse loans.

Non-recourse loans are also secured by collateral but in this case, the lender can only seize the collateral pledged for the loan; they can’t take any other assets. Non-recourse loans are less common than recourse loans and tend to have higher interest rates due to their higher risk.

Read on to learn more about how non-recourse and recourse loans compare.

What Is a Recourse Loan?

A recourse loan is a secured loan for which the lender can seize more than just the collateral if the borrower defaults. The lender is also able to seize other assets the borrower didn’t use as collateral, including income and money in bank accounts.

How Recourse Loans Work

When a borrower defaults on a recourse debt, the lender can seize not only the loan’s collateral, but can also attempt to attach other assets to collect what’s owed. In essence, the lender has additional recourse to recoup their losses.

Between recourse vs. nonrecourse debt, recourse debt favors the lender while nonrecourse debt favors the borrower.

Examples of Recourse Loans

Hard money loans, which are typically based on the value of the collateral rather than just the creditworthiness of the borrower, tend to be recourse loans.

An auto loan is one example of a recourse loan. If an auto loan borrower defaults on the loan, the lender has the right to seize the vehicle and sell it to recoup its losses. If the vehicle has depreciated, however, and the sale doesn’t cover the loan balance, the lender can ask for a deficiency judgment for the difference. In that case, the borrower’s wages could be garnished or the lender could seize other assets.


💡 Quick Tip: A low-interest personal loan from SoFi can help you consolidate your debts, lower your monthly payments, and get you out of debt sooner.

What Is a Non-Recourse Loan?

A nonrecourse loan is a secured loan for which the lender cannot seize assets that weren’t put up as collateral in the original loan agreement.

How Non-Recourse Loans Work

When a borrower pledges collateral on a secured loan, the lender can take that asset — but no others — if the borrower defaults on the loan. The lender will typically sell the asset to recoup their loss on the loan. The lender has no other recourse than seizing the collateralized asset, even if the sale of that asset doesn’t cover the balance of the loan.

Examples of Non-Recourse Loans

Lenders may be cautious about offering non-recourse loans because it limits their ability to recoup losses in the event of a default. Therefore, loans are typically classified as recourse loans.

Mortgages are classified as non-recourse debt as a matter of law in 12 states, meaning the lender cannot pursue a borrower’s other assets if they default and end up in foreclosure. The financial consequences would likely be limited to foreclosures of the home and damage to the borrower’s credit score.

A lender might be willing to offer a non-recourse loan to an applicant with excellent credit and steady, verifiable income if confident in their ability to repay the debt.

Recourse vs Non-Recourse Loans

Both recourse and non-recourse debt can be secured by collateral, which a lender can seize in the event of nonpayment.

The biggest difference between the two is that the lender is prevented from pursuing other assets owned by the borrower to repay what’s owed on a non-recourse debt. Basically, the lender has no other recourse for repayment of the debt other than the collateral that secures the loan.

Recourse Loan

Non-Recourse Loan

Lender can seize assets other than those put up as collateral Lender can seize only assets that were put up as collateral
Borrower can lose collateralized and other assets if they default Borrower can lose collateralized asset and have a negative entry on their credit report if they default
Loan rate and terms are based on the value of asset used as collateral and creditworthiness of applicant Lender may consider creditworthiness of applicant greater than value of collateral when determining loan rate and terms
Less risky for lenders Less risky for borrowers

Pros and Cons of Recourse vs Non-Recourse Debt

Depending on whose perspective the situation is being viewed from, recourse and non-recourse debt each has benefits and drawbacks.

Pros and Cons of Recourse Loans

Recourse debt is more favorable to the lender than the borrower because this type of debt gives the lender more avenues to collect when a debt goes unpaid.

Approval for recourse loans, on the other hand, may be easier since they pose less risk for lenders.

From the borrower’s perspective, here are some pros and cons of recourse loans:

Pros of Recourse Loans

Cons of Recourse Loans

Approval qualifications may be less stringent than for a nonrecourse loan Lender can seize collateralized asset and other assets if the borrower defaults
Interest rates can potentially be low Borrower assumes greater risk than lender

Pros and Cons of Non-Recourse Loans

A non-recourse loan is more favorable to the borrower in the case of default. In that situation, the lender could only seize the asset put up as collateral, but couldn’t lay claim to any of the borrower’s other assets.

Non-recourse financing is usually riskier for the lender since they’re limited to collecting only the collateral when a borrower defaults. As such, lenders may charge higher interest rates for non-recourse loans and/or require borrowers to meet higher credit scores and income requirements to qualify.

From the borrower’s perspective, here are some pros and cons of non-recourse loans:

Pros of Non-Recourse Loans

Cons of Non-Recourse Loans

Only the asset put up as collateral can be seized if the loan is defaulted on Borrower’s credit can be negatively affected if the lender must write off uncollected debt
Personal assets are not at risk Interest rates may be high

Managing Recourse vs Non-Recourse Loans

Generally, the only reason for a borrower to be concerned about whether they have recourse vs. non-recourse debt is if they’re in danger of default. As long as they’re keeping up with their payments, whether a debt is recourse or non-recourse shouldn’t be an issue.

But if there is a concern about potentially falling behind in paying a debt, then it helps to do some research before borrowing. For example, if trying to qualify for a home loan, asking upfront whether the loan is treated as recourse or non-recourse debt under a particular state’s laws will help in the decision making.

Making a larger down payment, for example, means less a borrower has to finance. Ultimately, though, a borrower should do what is right for their particular financial situation. It may be better for some borrowers to choose a home loan that allows for a lower down payment so they can keep more cash in the bank to cover financial emergencies down the line.

If you’re planning to apply for a car loan, you might consider buying a vehicle that tends to hold its value longer or making a larger down payment. Those could both help you avoid ending up underwater on the loan if you happen to default for any reason.

Credit cards are revolving debt, not a lump sum being borrowed, so the amount owed can change month to month as purchases are made and paid off. Some ways to manage this type of recourse debt include:

•   Keeping card balances low

•   Paying the balance in full each month, if possible

•   Setting up automatic payments or payment alerts as notification of when a due date is approaching

With any type of debt, recourse, or non-recourse, it’s important that you get in touch with your lender or creditor as soon as you think you’ll have trouble making payments. The lender may be able to offer options to help you manage payments temporarily. Depending on the type of debt, that may include:

•   Credit card hardship programs

•   Student loan forbearance or deferment

•   Mortgage forbearance

•   Skipping or deferring auto loan payments

Reaching out before a payment is missed can help you avoid loss of assets, as well as any negative impact on your credit.


💡 Quick Tip: Swap high-interest debt for a lower-interest loan, and save money on your monthly payments. Find out why SoFi credit card consolidation loans are so popular.

Is a Recourse or a Non-Recourse Loan Best for You?

It’s likely you won’t have much of a choice between a recourse and a Non-Recourse loan when looking at financing options. Lenders are likely to offer only recourse loans because they have more options to recover losses if the borrower defaults on the loan.

If you are presented with both options, choosing a recourse or Non-Recourse loan may depend on your financial situation.

•   A recourse loan may be a good option for those with a limited credit history because in exchange for additional avenues to recoup their losses, if necessary, a lender may offer low interest rates.

•   A non-recourse loan could be a good option for an applicant with good credit and steady income, as the lender may consider them a low-risk borrower and not feel the need to have additional assets to secure the loan.

SoFi Personal Loans Rates

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 does recourse mean in lending?

Recourse refers to a lender’s options when recouping losses when a borrower defaults on a loan. With a recourse loan, lenders can recoup defaulted loan balances by seizing both the loan collateral and — when necessary — the borrower’s other assets.

Are you required to pay a non-recourse loan?

Yes, borrowers are required to make payments on both recourse and non-recourse loans.

Are non-recourse loans more expensive?

Non-recourse loans can have higher interest rates than recourse loans because lenders may perceive them as having higher risk.


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.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

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.

SOPL0124017

All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store
SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender