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Is Interest Rate the Most Important Thing When Picking a Personal Loan?

When we are choosing between loans, we are often led to believe that the interest rate is the most important factor. We might see comparison websites where it is the interest rate that is compared or adverts stating that a lender has low interest which may make us think that it is the best thing to compare. There are other things that we need to be aware of though, as well as the interest rate, when we are choosing a personal loan.

Additional costs
As well as the interest that we pay on a loan, there will be other costs as well. These often include set-up fees or other administration charges. Sometime these are added in to the interest but they might be charged separately. It is good to look into this before you take on a loan. The APR rate will include the costs so this could be a better way to quickly compare loans. However, some of the costs will only have to be paid in some circumstances. For example, if you want to repay the loan early, you might have to pay an early redemption charge or if you miss a repayment there may b a fee associated with this. It is therefore worth finding out what these are and how competitive they are as well as the headline interest rate. You may find that the interest rates are similar but these fees could be quite different and so they could be an important factor when you are making your decision.

You may hope to have a lender that will be flexible. Perhaps you hope that you will be able to make some overpayments on your loan if you can afford it and then pay the loan off early or repay less when you have less money available. You may hope that if you miss a repayment that you will not be too harshly dealt with or you might be able to delay a payment for a while. You may hope that if you income suddenly decreases that they might be able to change the repayments so they are lower but spread them over a longer time period. If you want something flexible then you will have to make sure that your lender is happy with that. Lenders differ massively and so you will not necessarily be able to tell without contacting them directly. Even if they advertise the product as flexible, you will want to find out exactly what they mean by that so that you are sure that it is what you are expecting.

Lenders differ a lot in how they treat their customers. It is good to find out a bit about them and use a lender that you feel you will be able to trust. This does not necessarily have to be one that you have used before but perhaps one that has been recommended to you or that you have read new reviews of. Take some time to do a bit of investigation so that you have an idea of what you are getting into and what your lender might be like. Look at their website to find out more about them and ask others what they think of them as well. You could also look online and see if you can find any reviews or other information about then which might be helpful for you.  If you think you will need to contact them for anything, then you want to be confident that you will be dealt with well and that they will do everything that they can to help you. You could even contact them yourself to find out how they respond and how quickly. You could get in touch with their customer services and ask them a few questions and this will give you an idea as to how they might respond to you once you were a customer.

It is well worth spending a bit of time doing these investigations as you could end up with a cheaper and better service as a result. Although the interest rate is important, there are other factors to consider when you are comparing lenders and so make sure that you do not just go to the one with the lowest rate but that you check out the difference between a selection of them to be sure you get the one that will offer you the best value for money. It is easy to rush into this sort of decision when the best thing that you can do is to take your time and make an informed decision based on careful research. It will take a while but it will be worth it if it means that you save money or that you have a less stressful experience. Hopefully you will be able to achieve both by choosing carefully.

Will a Rise in Interest Rates Significantly Affect Me?

It is not surprising that many people will be worried about what effects an interest rate rise might have on them. With interest rates being low, then there is always a chance that they will go up and it seems more likely to happen than a reduction in rates would. However, it is never easy to predict and so you should be prepared for the rates going up even if you think that it is unlikely.

How a rate rise might affect you

If you have any loans or have borrowed money in any way, then a rise in interest rates could mean that your repayments on these could be higher. If they are on a fixed rate of interest then they will stay the same. However, if they are on a variable rate, then they will be very likely to go up. This means that the amount of interest you will have to pay on them will be more. Therefore, every loan you have on a variable rate will become more expensive. The amount that the cost increases will depend on how much the lender decides to put the rate up. Usually this will be in line with the Bank of England base rate increase, but it could be more and there is a small chance that it could be less.

If you are struggling to make your loans repayments anyway or are only just managing then a rise in interest rates could make things difficult for you. If you are not struggling, then a significant rise could still have an impact on you. If you are looking to borrow money then it will be more expensive, possibly even for fixed rate loans and so this could impact you too. In this instance, using a short term lender such as may be more beneficial as the loans are offered over a much shorter period of time meaning you pay back less in total.

A rate rise can have a knock-on effect though. It tends to slow the rate of inflation meaning that prices do not rise so quickly. This can be useful as if you are paying more out on loan interest as you do not want to have to be paying more for things you are buying as well.

What you can do to prepare

Thankfully there is a lot that you can do to prepare and so hopefully if rates do rise you will be able to easily cope with them. Firstly, it is a good idea to take stock of what loans you do have and whether they are fixed or variable interest. This will allow you to know which items are likely to go up in cost if there is a rate rise. The fixed ones will not go up and the variable ones might. Then you can calculate how much extra you will have to pay if the rates go up. Try estimating how much they may rise or calculate for different percentage rises and you will be able to work out whether you will still be able to afford the repayments or not. This can be handy as you can then prepare if you need to.

If you think that things will be a struggle then it is a good idea to come up with a plan or make changes now. Look at the items that you are spending your money on and think about whether you can cut down anywhere. You might find that You can compare prices and switch to buying some cheaper items or cut back in some areas so that you will still be able to afford the extra payments. If you look at everything that you buy, then you could find that switching to a cheaper energy supplier, insurance company or things like this will allow you to reduce the amount that you are spending without having to change your lifestyle at all. You may also be prepared to buy items at a lower price, perhaps by shopping at cheaper retailers so you can still have as much but just pay less for it.

It could also be wise to see whether you can change your loan to a cheaper lender. There may be fees associated with this though so you need to look into it really carefully. It could be that paying off the loans that you have could help. If you have any spare money you might be able to pay off some of the loan which could mean that you could negotiate making smaller repayments with the lender. Alternatively, you could try to pay it off quite quickly and then you will not need to worry about interest rates as you will no longer owe money. If you have savings, you could use it to pay off all or some of the money that you owe and that would mean that the loans will not be so expensive. If you cannot free up money then you could perhaps look to selling things to raise some. You might also want to think about increasing the hours you work so that you can earn more money. There are lots of options but you will need to find one that will suit you the best.