A variable rate means that the interest you'll pay on your personal loan will not be set in advance. Instead, your lender may raise or lower your interest rate.
You can compare different variable rate personal loans at RateCity. This can help you work out which personal loans may best match your financial situation.
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Advantages and disadvantages of a variable interest rate
When you compare personal loan interest rates, what you see may not end up being what you get. Variable interest rates can rise or fall, which can make managing a personal loan trickier than with a fixed rate.
If your lender cuts rates, you may end up with lower monthly personal loan repayments. This could leave extra money in your budget to spend, invest or save.
You may also be able to put this money back into your loan by making extra repayments. Getting ahead on your personal loan brings you closer to paying it off and making an early exit. This can further reduce the total interest you’ll pay on the loan.
However, variable interest rates can also rise. Higher rates can mean more expensive monthly personal loan repayments. This can leave you short if you haven’t budgeted accordingly.
What is a comparison rate?
Choosing the lowest interest rate doesn’t always mean getting the cheapest personal loan deal. Even if your lender doesn’t raise its rates, a low interest personal loan that charges high fees could be more expensive overall than a personal loan with higher interest rates and lower fees.
Each personal loan has a Comparison Rate, which combines its advertised interest rate with its standard fees and charges. This helps give a more accurate guideline of each loan’s overall cost.
Remember that some nonstandard fees may not be included in a personal loan’s comparison rate. Plus, the comparison rate doesn't account for extra features and benefits that could make a personal loan more appealing to you.
How can you use a variable rate personal loan?
Like other personal loans, you can use variable rate loans for many purposes. You could make a major purchase, like buying a car or boat. You could also pay for big expenses, such as holidays or medical bills. Many people love the flexibility of variable interest rate loans.
Some lenders only offer personal loans for specific purposes. It’s important to check what your lender will and won’t accept before you apply.
How can I use a personal loan for debt consolidation?
Debt consolidation is a popular use for personal loans. If you owe money to several lenders, managing multiple repayments each month can be a struggle. You may also pay interest on each debt at a different rate, and it all adds up.
You could use a personal loan to consolidate these debts. You can use the money from the personal loan to clear your other debts, so you’ll only have the personal loan to manage. This means you'll now have just one repayment to manage per month. You'll also be charged interest once per month, at one rate. This could be much simpler to manage and cheaper to afford than before.
What are the features of variable rate personal loans?
As well as interest rates, there are other features and benefits to think about when comparing variable rate personal loans. These include:
- Secured/unsecured personal loans
Secured personal loans are guaranteed by the value of an asset you own. This could be a car, equity in a property, or savings in a term deposit. This extra security can help reduce the lender’s risk, so you can enjoy a lower interest rate. However, if you default on your repayments, you’ll lose your security asset. Losing your car or home like this can make money troubles much more stressful.
You can also get an unsecured personal loan, which doesn't require a security asset. However, these loans tend to be riskier to lenders, so they often have higher interest rates.
- Extra repayments
If your lender cuts your personal loan's variable interest rate, your monthly repayments will go down, leaving more money in your budget. Some lenders will let you add this money back onto your personal loan as extra repayments. Paying extra off your personal loan can bring you closer to exiting your loan early, and reduce the total interest you’ll pay.
That said, some lenders charge fees for making extra repayments on personal loans, or for exiting a loan early. These fees tend to be more common for fixed rate personal loans, though they sometimes also apply to variable rate personal loans.
- Redraw Facility
Imagine you’ve been making extra repayments onto your personal loan. Now imagine there was an emergency, and all your extra cash was tied up in your personal loan. What would you do?
For situations like this, some lenders offer a redraw facility with their personal loans. This lets you take the extra repayments back out of your personal loan when you need money in the bank.
A redraw facility can help make your personal loan more flexible. You can pay more onto your personal loan and shrink your interest charges, confident that you can access this money again if you need it, subject to the lender’s terms and conditions.
How do I compare variable rate personal loans?
When you’re looking at different personal loans, it’s important to compare more than just the interest rate. Variable interest rates may rise or fall, and though the comparison rate includes standard fees, there may be other charges to consider.
Remember to also look at the features and benefits of different personal loans. Think about what they could do for you, and work out if these loans would suit your needs before you apply.
Can I get a variable rate personal loan with bad credit?
When you apply for a personal loan, the lender will perform a credit check. If you have a good credit history, your loan application is more likely to be accepted. But if you’ve had money troubles in the past, you may have bad credit. This could stop your application from being accepted.
Having a loan application rejected can make a bad credit situation worse, so it’s important to be careful. You can request one free copy of your credit report per year, to check if there are any errors. If you’re having debt trouble, you can contact a free financial counsellor by calling the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.
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Frequently asked questions
Can you refinance a $5000 personal loan?
Many personal loans, much like home loans, can be refinanced. This is where you replace your current personal loan with another personal loan, often from another lender and at a lower interest rate. Switching personal loans may let you enjoy more affordable repayments, or useful features and benefits.
If you have a $5000 personal loan as well as other debts, you may be able to use a debt consolidations personal loan to combine these debts into one, potentially saving you money and simplifying your repayments.
Should I get a fixed or variable personal loan?
Fixed personal loans keep your interest rate the same for the full loan term, while interest rates on variable personal loans may be raised or lowered during your loan term.
A fixed rate personal loan keeps your repayments consistent, which can help keep your budgeting consistent, without worrying about ending up out of pocket if your rates were to rise. However, on a fixed loan you’ll also potentially miss out on more affordable repayments if variable rates were to fall.
What is the average interest rate on personal loans for single parents?
Like other types of personal loans, the average interest rate for personal loans for single parents changes regularly, as lenders add, remove, and vary their loan offers. The interest rate you’ll receive may depend on a range of different factors, including your loan amount, loan term, security, income, and credit score.
How much can you borrow with a bad credit personal loan?
Borrowers who take out bad credit personal loans don’t just pay higher interest rates than on regular personal loans – they also get loaned less money. Each lender has its own policies, but you’ll find it hard to get approved for a bad credit personal loan above $50,000.
What is a bad credit personal loan?
A bad credit personal loan is a personal loan designed for somebody with a bad credit history. They have higher interest rates than regular personal loans and are also harder to access.
Can I repay a $3000 personal loan early?
If you receive a financial windfall (e.g. tax refund, inheritance, bonus), using some of this money to pay extra onto your personal loan or medium amount loan could bring you benefits, such as reducing the total interest you’re charged on your loan, or clearing your debt ahead of schedule.
Check your loan’s terms and conditions before putting extra onto your loan, as some lenders charge fees for making extra repayments, or early exit fees for clearing your debt ahead of the agreed term.
What is a personal loan?
A personal loan sits somewhere between a home loan and a credit card loan. Unlike with a credit card, you need to sign a formal contract to access a personal loan – however, the process is easier and faster than taking out a mortgage.
Loan sizes usually range from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, while loan terms usually run from one to five years. Personal loans are generally used to consolidate debts, pay emergency bills or fund one-off expenses like holidays.
How long does it take to get a student personal loan?
Completing an online personal loan application can often take anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour. Depending on your lender, processing your personal loan application may take anywhere between 1 and 24 hours. If your personal loan application is approved, you may receive the money in your bank account the following business day, or even the same day, in some cases.
Do student personal loans require security?
While some personal loans can be secured by the value of an asset, such as a car or equity in a property, student personal loans are often unsecured, with higher interest rates.
Some lenders also offer guarantor personal loans to students. These loans have lower interest rates, as a guarantor (usually a relative of the borrower with good credit) will guarantee the loan, taking on the financial responsibility if the borrower defaults.
What are the pros and cons of personal loans?
The advantages of personal loans are that they’re easier to obtain than mortgages and usually have lower interest rates than credit cards.
One disadvantage with personal loans is that you have to go through a formal application process, unlike when you borrow money on your credit card. Another disadvantage is that you’ll be charged a higher interest rate than if you borrowed the money as part of a mortgage.
What do credit scores have to do with personal loan interest rates?
There is a strong link between credit scores and personal loan interest rates because many lenders use credit scores to decide what interest rates to offer to potential borrowers.
If you have a higher credit score, lenders will probably classify you as a lower-risk borrower. That means they’ll be keen to win your business, so they may offer you a lower interest rate.
If you have a lower credit score, lenders will probably classify you as a higher-risk borrower. That means they might be concerned about you defaulting on the loan and costing them money. As a result, they might protect themselves by charging you a higher interest rate.
Can unemployed single parents get personal loans?
It can be more difficult for unemployed borrowers to successfully apply for a personal loan. Most lenders require borrowers to have a regular income available to cover the cost of loan repayments. If you’re self-employed, or if less than half of your income comes from Centrelink, you may not be eligible for some personal loan offers – consider contacting the lender before applying. >
Are there low doc personal loans?
Self-employed borrowers may be eligible for low doc personal loans, which require less documentation in their application process than many other personal loan options.
It’s important to remember that though low doc personal loans may require less paperwork, you may need to provide additional security, or pay a higher interest rate.
What is an unsecured bad credit personal loan?
A bad credit personal loan is ‘unsecured’ when the borrower doesn’t offer up an asset (such as a car or jewellery) as collateral or security. Lenders charge higher interest rates on unsecured loans than secured loans.
What can I use a bad credit personal loan for?
Generally, bad credit personal loans can be used for one or more of the following purposes:
- Debt consolidation
- Paying bills
- Buying vehicles
- Moving expenses
Some lenders restrict how their bad credit personal loans can be used as part of their commitment to responsible lending – be sure to check before applying.
Can I get a fast loan if I’m unemployed or on Centrelink?
Even if a lender has no credit checks, they will usually still need to confirm you can afford to repay a fast loan on your income before they’ll approve your application.
If 50% or more of your income comes from Centrelink payments, you may find it more difficult to have a fast loan application approved. Consider checking with the lender before applying to confirm if they lend to people on Centrelink.
How do I consolidate my debt if I have bad credit?
The worse your credit history, the harder you will find it to consolidate your debts, because lenders will be less willing to lend you money and will charge you higher interest rates.
However, people with bad credit histories can make debt consolidation work by following this three-step process. First, find a lender willing to give you a bad credit personal loan – this process will be simplified if you go through a mortgage broker or use a comparison website like RateCity. Second, make sure the interest repayments on your new loan are less than the repayments on the loans being replaced. Third, instead of spending those savings, use them to repay the new loan.
Is it hard to improve your credit score?
It can be hard to improve your credit score, as it usually requires sacrifice and discipline, but hard doesn’t necessarily mean complicated. There are nine steps you can take to improve your credit score, most of which are simple to follow.
As a general rule, the lower your credit score, the more remedies you can apply and the greater the scope for improvement.
What is bad credit?
A person is deemed to have ‘bad credit’ when they have a poor history of repaying debts.
Can I get an easy/instant personal loan?
Some lenders are able to approve applications over the internet and within minutes. However, there is a catch. People who take out easy/instant loans generally pay higher interest rates and are restricted to lower amounts than people who follow a traditional borrowing process.