Need a loan? Now might be a good time to apply.
- Personal loans are a great way to consolidate credit card debt, pay for home repairs, and manage unexpected large expenses.
- Currently, personal loan interest rates are more favorable for qualified borrowers.
- There are steps you can take to get the best interest rate, including improving your credit score, finding a co-signer, and shopping around with different lenders.
If you’re thinking about getting a personal loan, now might be the time to apply. From August 29 to September 3, average interest rates on three-year personal loans fell 10.04%, while the rate on a five-year loan fell 4.56%. When you take out a personal loan, you get a lump sum of money which can then be used for whatever you want. Personal loans can be a good way to fund credit card debt consolidation, home repairs/renovations, or unexpected expenses if you don’t have enough money to cover them. So what steps should you take if you want to get the best personal loan rate possible?
1. Work on your credit score
Paying attention to your credit score and improving it is number 101 in personal finance. As someone who is spending this year improving their overall financial situation, including their credit score, I can tell you that it’s not as daunting as it sounds. Getting and maintaining a good credit score boils down to a few actions anyone can take:
- Check your credit score regularly. You can go crazy with the normal fluctuations in a credit score, so it’s not necessary to check every day or week, but it’s a good idea to use a consumer credit monitoring service to check your score, especially before using credit. Maybe you’re considering applying for a new credit card, buying a house, or in this case applying for a personal loan. Your credit score puts you in a range of numbers from poor to excellent, and this will determine the personal loan interest rate you qualify for.
- Check your credit report at least once a year. It’s also a good idea to review your credit report (and you can access your credit report for free from all three major credit bureaus via AnnualCreditReport.com) to check for errors, such as old accounts that you’ve paid but still appear as open or overdue on your report. If you find any errors, you can file a dispute with the credit bureau that has it on file.
- Pay your bills in full and on time. Paying your bills on time represents the largest percentage of your FICO score, at 35%. Personally, I’ve found it helpful to write a full month’s worth of bills at a time on a wall calendar, so I can cross off the bills as I pay them. There are many techniques for getting your bills and budget under control, so see what works for you.
- Keep your credit utilization rate low. Your credit utilization ratio is the percentage of credit you have compared to the amount you use. For example, if you have a credit card with a limit of $5,000, but you carry a balance of $2,000, your ratio is 40% because you are using 40% of your available credit. It is generally recommended to keep this figure below 30%. Therefore, if you plan to apply for a personal loan in the near future, pay off some of your existing debt to lower your ratio.
2. Have someone else apply with you and co-sign the loan
If you’ve improved your credit score, but it’s still not high enough to qualify for the best loan rates on your own, you can ask someone to apply with you. This could be a spouse or family member with better credit. The other person’s credit and income will be considered along with yours, allowing you to get a better interest rate. However, co-signing a loan for someone else is a big risk, so don’t be offended if the person you’re asking says no. They put their finances on the line if they co-sign. And not all lenders will offer loans with a co-signer, so do your research.
Find out: These personal loans are the best for debt consolidation
More: Prequalify for a personal loan without affecting your credit score
3. Consider a secured loan
If your credit needs help, you may be able to get a more favorable interest rate on a personal loan by applying for a secured loan. Secured loans are secured by collateral that the lender can take and sell if you don’t repay the loan, to recover their losses. So if you need cash and can offer your car as collateral, you may be able to get an affordable loan. Just be sure to keep track of these payments, because you don’t want to lose your car or other collateral.
The final step to getting the best possible personal loan interest rate is to shop around with a group of lenders. A good place to start is to target the best lenders for your credit score level and see what they offer when it comes to interest rates. Many lenders have easy-to-use online pre-qualification tools that will be able to give you a rate without hurting your credit score (when you’re ready to make an actual application, the lender will do a thorough credit check, which will have a impact on your credit score). Sometimes lenders offer special promotions and discounts that you may qualify for.
If you need money, a personal loan can be a great way to borrow. But do your best to improve your credit score, consider all your options for loan types, and research the best deal before you borrow money.
The Ascent’s Best Personal Loans for 2022
Our team of independent experts have pored over the fine print to find the select personal loans that offer competitive rates and low fees. Start by reviewing The Ascent’s best personal loans for 2022.