So, you want to get a loan?
Here are some simple tips that will help you make an informed decision about what kind to get, and who to get it from.
First ask yourself: do you really need it?
Can you manage without it?
Is it for something frivolous, like a holiday?
Could you get the money by other means: part-time job, from a relative, the sale an asset?
Don't put a monkey on your back if you can avoid it.
A loan varies according to:
The amount borrowed;
The interest rate;
The type of rate (fixed or variable);
The term (repayment time in months or years);
Associated fees (broker, origination, prepayment etc.);
Insurance required by the lender.
You are buying money for more than it cost the lender. Simple.
It's a mistake to only care about the interest rate; there are also arrangement fees and prepayment penalties to consider. Many 'no fee' credit lines have a pre-payment penalty. This is how brokers and lenders make their money. Work out the total cost of your loan before committing.
To ensure you get the best terms, keep your credit-line as small as possible. Loan officers tend to count the total line of credit available as a liability.
Pay off small debts before the due date. Cancel credit cards you are not using. Consider their interest rates and fees, when deciding which cards to keep.
If your spending is out of control, don't put your home at risk by getting a home equity credit line to pay off your credit-card debts.
Shop for rates when the market is calm. Rates change from day to day, so compare lenders. The quotes you get should all be from the same time period.
Submit a neat application form; it shows you're business-like and efficient. It will be read and assessed by a human being; appearances count.
Only pay up-front fees to well-known institutions, or ones highly recommended by trusted sources.
Don't sign documents without reading them. As soon as possible, before you close the deal, review the documents you'll be signing, and make sure you understand them, so you won't have to sign them in a hurry.
Keep a copy of every cheque you write for your loan. If you call your lender about your loan, make sure you get the full name of the person with whom you speak. Make a note of it. You may be dealing with a large bureaucracy, and will need to refer to this conversation later.
If you find yourself in a dispute with a lender, don't send correspondence to the same address you send your payment. You need to deal with the decision-makers, not the account clerks.
About the author: T. O' Donnell (http://www.tigertom.com/personal-loans-uk.shtml) offers personal loans, advice, an ebook and a loan calculator, in London, UK.