Have you ever dreamt of traveling the world? Maybe moving across the pond? Many people don’t have the funds to accomplish certain life goals, but there is a way that it can be done.


According to TransUnion, the number of consumers who are using personal loans jumped by 18% between 2013 and 2015. Millennials, in particular, are increasingly relying on them to finance big purchases. Here’s your personal guide to personal loans so you can start living a little.

Credit is Key With Unsecured Personal Loans

The interest rates on secured loans, or loans backed by property, are generally lower than rates on personal loans. Because these rates depend on your credit score, having an adequate score can also make it easier to find a low interest rate.


Banks tend to offer the most affordable rates for personal loans. Sometimes they will even work with you if you have a poor credit score. If your credit score is less than perfect, banks are your best shot if you’re looking for a small loan around $2,500 or less. Equity Bank offers personal loans and an application can be filled out online.


Lenders that cater to good credit sometimes offer low rates to borrowers with high credit scores and steady income. If you fit into this category, compare rates you find online with those from your bank or credit union. Borrowers with average credit scores will find a wide variety of options, including some with extremely high interest rates. Some lenders will consider additional factors such as your job history or debt-to-income ratio.


If you have poor credit, you may have good luck finding a personal loan if you have a cosigner or own property you can use as collateral. If you do find a cosigner, keep in mind that he or she will be affected if you miss any payments. Do your best to honor your agreement and protect both your credit scores.


Avoid payday lenders. Their loans generally come with a 300% APR, and they could charge you unnecessary fees.

What You Need to Apply for a Personal Loan

In order to apply for a personal loan quickly and with ease, here are the documents you’ll typically need to provide:


  • Identification such as a driver’s license or social security card.

  • Verification of address with a copy of a utility bill or other recent mail.

  • Proof of past income with W-2 forms, pay stubs or tax returns.


You may also need to provide information such as your employer’s name, social security number and monthly debt obligations.


After providing this information, the lender will need to know how much money you want to borrow. They will go over options on the time frame to pay it back. Keep in mind, the longer it takes to pay back your loan, the more you’ll have to pay in interest. If you borrow only what you need, you can keep your costs low.

Tips on Finding the Lowest Interest Rate on Personal Loans

There are a few things to consider before you sign the paperwork for a personal loan.


  • Consider a secured loan. If you own your home, consider using it as collateral to try to obtain lower interest rates. But, keep in mind that using your home as collateral means that if you default, you could lose your home.


  • Pay off as much of your credit card balance as you can before you apply. Any outstanding balance on your credit cards will count against you during a credit check, even if you pay your bill in full at the end of every billing cycle.


  • Shop around. Your local bank may have great rates, especially if you have a long relationship. Online lenders can also offer low interest rates if your credit score is high.

Things to Look Out For With Personal Loans

If you ignore the contract, especially the fine print, you could be stuck with terms that aren’t favorable for you. Look for these before you cross your t’s and dot your i’s:


  • Prepayment penalties. Some lenders will charge a fee for paying off the loan before a certain date. Always look for the words “no prepayment penalty” on your contract.


  • Accidental overdrafts. Many lenders ask for automatic withdrawals from your checking account, and can even offer a lower interest rate if you agree. If you link your loan to your checking account for automatic payments, be sure you have enough funds to never overdraft.


  • Scammers. Before you sign up for any loan, particularly online, check out the Better Business Bureau and Federal Trade Commission to make sure the organization is legitimate.


Taking out a personal loan can help you relieve your debt, cover unexpected costs and help you live out your dreams. But, thoroughly go through all of your options before you make a choice.

By finding the lowers interest rates and repaying your debt on time, a personal loan can be well worth it in the end.