Friday, 24 August 2018

Things to Take Care of while Applying for Personal Loan

Personal loan is an instant short term solution for cash strapped individuals. If you just search for “Personal loan” on Google you will get numerous options of lenders willing to offer loans at attractive interest rates. Some advertisements are so appealing that people simply get carried away and take the offer without finding out the important details. Here are some important things that one must take care of while applying for a personal loan.
Purpose of loan- The one key decision that one must make is whether to take a loan at all or not. One must draw a line between essentials and luxuries. While taking a personal loan for medical emergencies, education or repairing a house makes sense, one must not use it to finance a vacation abroad or invest in share market. Personal loan interest rates are usually very high, hence these loans must be take only in times of urgent need.
Research for options- One must not only compare the offers on personal loans provided by different banks, but also evaluate other options like a top up home loan or loan against property. Find out the interest rates, tenures offered, prepayment charges and other terms of various types of loans to get the best deal.
Check your credit score- Banks pull your credit report to assess whether you are a reliable borrower. They reject your application if you have a low credit score or else charge exorbitant interest rate to cover for the risk. It is wise to check your credit score before applying for the loan, so that you know your likely prospects of getting the loan sanctioned. If you have a low score, take some immediate steps like paying off your credit card debt to improve the score by a few points. A high score can be used to one’s advantage for negotiating for a lower interest rate.
Type of interest rate- Find out whether the bank charges a flat interest rate or reducing balance interest rate. Flat interest means that the borrower pays the interest on the entire loan amount for the entire tenure of loan. Reducing balance means that the interest is charged only on the outstanding loan amount. So as the EMIs get paid and the principal amount reduces, the interest payable also reduces. Flat interest rates are typically offered at a lower rate, but that does not mean that your total interest cost is less. Sometime reducing balance rate method results in lower cost of borrowings even if the rate is slightly higher.
Other charges- Apart from the interest rate, one must also find out about the processing fees and prepayment charges that a bank levies. Processing fee is usually 1-2% of the loan amount. Include it in the total cost of borrowing to compare the options you have. If you are struggling with cash flows find out how much late payment fees does the bank charge if you miss the deadline of paying the EMI amount. Prepayment fee is another charge that many banks levy in case you wish to prepay the loan when you have sufficient cash available. If you want to close the loan as soon as your cash situation improves then assess this cost before you make a choice.
Read the terms and conditions carefully- Sometimes the relationship manager hides a lot of things, just so that he can close the deal. Read the terms and conditions yourself before you sign the dotted line. You must know what you are agreeing to as the agreement becomes legally binding.
Avoid add on offers- Sometimes banks try to sell additional products with the loan like life insurance policies. Don’t believe them when they say you do not have to pay anything for it. It’s just that you do not pay anything upfront. The premium for such policies gets added in the EMI amount.
Borrow only what you need- Personal loan is a very expensive form of debt. Borrow only the amount that you need and not what you are eligible for. Bank executives use various sales strategies to get you to borrow a big amount. Do not give into such tactics. Why pay an interest on the amount that you don’t need?
Make sure you can afford the EMIs- Since personal loans usually have a shorter tenure and a high interest rate, the EMIs put a strain on one’s monthly budget. Do an honest assessment and borrow money only if you are sure of your capability to service the EMIs. Any missed or delayed payment will not only attract penalty but also pull down your score.

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