Read our guide to find out more about cheap loans and how to search for the best and cheapest personal loan for you.
A personal loan is a sum of money that you borrow from a lender, such as a bank or credit company, which you pay back over a set period of time. In return for having the money upfront you pay the lender an interest rate, plus a portion of the capital you have borrowed at a monthly rate over the term of the loan. The faster you repay the capital you have borrowed, the less interest you will pay in total over the course of the loan.
By the end of the loan term you will have repaid the full amount of the loan. The cheapest personal loans are those with the lowest interest rate and without any extra hidden charges.
A personal loan isn't secured against your home and is also known as an unsecured loan. This makes it more expensive than borrowing via a mortgage, for example as it could potentially be more difficult for the lender to recoup the money they have lent.
If you want to know how to find the cheapest personal loan there are a couple of issues that you need to bear in mind.
Firstly, the amount of money you can borrow will be affected by your income and your credit record
The cheapest loans are available to those who fit all the lender’s criteria, so the top deals do not go to everyone
The low APR you are offered may not be as good as the headline rate advertised
There's no 'one size fits all' – the cheapest loans for you will be different from that offered to other applicants
The coronavirus pandemic has hit many people hard financially. You may have been affected by redundancy, a cut in pay or working hours, or the burden of having to look after other family members.
If you're having difficulty with your loans and debts, loan companies and other providers of personal loans should give you the option to freeze your repayments for three months while you get your finances back on track.
You do need to contact your loan provider if you're struggling to pay – don’t just stop the monthly instalments. This could get you into greater financial difficulty and will certainly adversely affect your credit rating score.
If you do have a payment holiday, it doesn't mean that the loan has stopped or that the interest rate has been reduced. You will still have to repay the full amount and could up paying more overall.
If you can, try to keep up with your monthly payments, and then try not to take on any more debt at the end of the loan period.
More about cheap personal loans: In this guide we answer the following questions:
What are the best loans? - the best loans are usually just the cheapest loans
How to find the best loan rates for cheap loans - know how much you want to borrow, how long for, and shop around
Which cheap loans are best for me? - Consider how much you can afford to repay each month, the quicker you repay the less you will pay, but the larger the monthly repayments will be
Types of cheap loans - car-loans, personal/unsecured-loans and secured loans
Getting cheap loans online - Many loan companies operate exclusively online, this helps them cut costs and provide
Will my credit rating stop me getting the cheapest personal loan? - your credit rating will determine your eligibility for the best unsecured loan rates
The cheapest loans are built around a set of criteria that will be different for everyone. Use our comparison tables to find a loan specialised to your needs, whilst considering low APR loans.
We explain how to find the cheapest loan for you with the lowest interest rate and explain what you need to know before choosing one.
As you can compare the cost of the loan upfront, loans compete almost exclusively on price alone, so the best loans are usually just the cheapest loans with the best loan rates.
However, other things come into consideration to determine the best loans, such as, how flexible a lender is, if you can enjoy any repayment holidays, customer service, how long the term is and how long your application will take.
You can shop around for the cheapest loan rates using our comparison tool. When you have found the best personal loan for you, you can apply to the lender. Be careful not to make lots of applications for credit – this will show up on your credit record and may make you look desperate for money.
Having lots of applications on record will reduce your chances of being approved for loans or other borrowing in the future as lenders will be more wary of you.
Our personal loans comparison service can help you find the best loan rates available to you. To find a cheap loan, we will need to know:
how much you want to borrow
how long you need to repay the loan
From this information, our comparison service will find the cheapest personal loans for you.
When you're looking at your results you will want to find the low interest loans, these are the low APR (annual percentage rate) loans, they have the lowest APR for the amount and repayment period you want.
The APR takes into account the cost of interest on the loan and any set up fees or charges. You should look at the APR and not just the headline interest rate. The APR gives a figure of the overall cost of the loan including any additional charges.
A loan is a big commitment, so when you are looking for the best loan deals, as well as the APR, there are a number of other things to think about:
Can you afford the monthly repayments?
Are your circumstances likely to change in the future in a way that could affect your repayments?
Will this loan have a long-term impact on your credit history if you do not repay it in a timely fashion?
Will the lender allow you to pay back your loan early if you want to?
Is there an arrangement fee?
Can you take a payment break or defer your loan payments if you need to?
Broadly speaking there are three different types of loan you can apply for in the UK:
Personal loans - unsecured loans, normally offered against your credit score. You can borrow small amounts up to £35,000 but the interest rates are sometimes tiered depending on how much you want to borrow
Secured loans - loans which are typically secured against your home, these are more suitable for long term loans in the UK, with payment terms of up to 25 years. The interest rates on these mortgage loans will be lower than a personal loan. However, if you do not keep up with repayments your home would be at risk
Car loans - car loans in the UK can be secured against your vehicle, or can simply be a form of unsecured personal loan
Many of the cheapest UK loans aren't necessarily bank loans. Online loans have emerged as cheap loan competitors in the UK in the past 10 years, meaning many of the UK's cheapest loans are to be found with online specialist companies, or lenders such as, peer to peer loan companies.
If you have had problems in the past, you may not be eligible for the cheapest loans as you will not meet the loan's requirements.
Often the best loan deals are given to people with the best credit ratings – as a result the rate you are offered may be higher than the advertised rate. Sometimes the lender will try and offer an alternative loan with a higher interest rate. This is a good reminder that having a good credit rating can be beneficial for years to come, so if your credit rating is in bad shape you may want to rectify that first.
The rate you’re offered will also vary depending on how much you borrow and how long you want to repay the loan over. Make sure you do another comparison to see if you can find your best cheap loan deal with another lender.