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Loan interest rates - how to get low interest loans

Loan interest rates - how to get low interest loans

If you are looking for low rates on a loan you need to think about how much you want to borrow, how long it will take you to pay it back, and where you borrow from.

If you want to find a good loan rate then you will need to shop around to find the loan and interest rate that best fits you needs. You can do this with our online comparison tool.

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Getting the the best interest rates doesn't just depend on who you borrow from, but how much your borrow and for how long too.

If you took out a personal loan of £4,500, would you expect the interest you pay back to be:

  • A - Less than if you borrowed £5,000?
  • B - The same as if you borrowed £5,000?
  • C - More than if you borrowed £5,000?

You might be surprised to learn that the correct answer is 'C'.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that if you were borrowing less money, you'd get a low rate loan. That is not always the case.

Why would I pay a high interest rate for a smaller loan?

When you compare the cost of borrowing money to buy a house – known as a mortgage – and the cost of a personal loan, the rates are not the same. The interest rate on a mortgage is often much lower than the best interest rate on a personal loan. You might think that you would not have to pay high interest rates for a small loan, but lenders set interest rates in a different way, based on how much risk they think they are taking.

Why are loan rates different?

When a lender is deciding whether to give you a loan and how much interest to charge you, they will look at the risk of you not paying it back. If you are borrowing to buy a house, they could get their money back by repossessing your house if you didn’t keep up with your mortgage payments. This is known as a secured loan because the loan is secured against the overall value of your property. It is seen as much less risky for the lender.

If you are borrowing a small amount that is not backed up by the value of your house, the lender has less certainty that it will get its money back. So a personal loan is referred to as an unsecured loan because the lender doesn’t have anything it can claim back if you fail to pay and the loan is not secured against an asset. That is why unsecured loans tend to have higher interest rates, even though the sums of money borrowed are much smaller than the average mortgage.

How are loan interest rates calculated?

When a lender like a bank, building society or loan company is deciding how much interest to charge, it will take into account a number of things:

  • How likely you are to pay the money back
  • How much risk the lender is taking in lending to you
  • Whether you have a good track record of keeping up to date with payments
  • How much you want to borrow
  • How long you want to borrow the money for

If I want to borrow a small amount for a short time - shouldn’t I get a good loan rate?

For a lender, if a customer wants to borrow lots of small amounts of money it could be that they are struggling with their cashflow.

They might see you as being desperate with no savings to fall back on, and less responsible with your personal finances. If they see you as a risky customer, they will lend you less and charge you a higher interest rate on your loan if they do decide to offer you a deal.

Also a small amount of money is unlikely to be backed up by an asset like a house, so the chances of you failing to pay back the money you have borrowed is higher.

Why are loan interest rates different from what is advertised?

Lenders advertise loan interest rates but there is no guarantee that you will be offered the headline low interest rate on your own personal loan.

The interest rate that the lender charged is known as the APR or Annual Percentage Rate.

The APR that a lender sets for a loan shows how much risk the company feels it is taking and how likely they are to get their money back.

Mortgages typically have a high loan amount and lower interest rates, while at the other end of the scale, payday loans are generally for very small amounts but have huge APRs.

In addition, lenders only have to offer the best rates to half of their customers. These lucky customers are likely to be those with the best credit rating. Other customers will be offered a deal but at a higher interest rate because they are seen as more risky.

Loan interest rates – how to find the best low interest loans

When you are looking for a loan, you should start your search by comparing APRs on different loan amounts. You might find that by borrowing more, you can reduce the amount you pay back in interest.

An APR is the annual percentage rate, which is the interest rate of the loan plus any costs such as set up fees.

If you're worried about the temptation of borrowing more money than you really need, you could put the extra money into a savings account or, if there's no penalty, pay the excess back straight away.

What should I look out for when I compare loans?

Things to look out for when doing a loan comparison include:

  • APR
  • The Repayment period
  • Fixed or variable rate
  • Application time

To find the best loan deals, the APR (annual percentage rate) is one of the most important things to look at.

The APR includes the interest and any extra charges like set up fees. The higher the APR, the higher your repayments.

Why are loan interest rates different from what is advertised?

Lenders only have to offer the best advertised representative APR rates to 51 per cent of successful applicants. If your credit rating is not up to scratch you may not qualify.

Why can’t I get the loan that is on display?

The interest rate on your loan – known as the APR – depends on your personal credit rating. There are a number of factors that influence your credit rating:

  • whether you are on the electoral register and how long you have lived at your current address
  • whether you can show that you are responsible with credit, keep within your borrowing limits and repay on time
  • your credit rating has not been affected by county court judgements or other issues around bad debt
  • you have a credit history – if you are very young there may not be much evidence of how you can handle credit even if you are sensible with your money
  • whether you have any other forms of borrowing – lenders can see if you have made a lot of recent applications for credit from other sources

What is the real rate of interest?

The rate of interest, known as the APR includes the interest rate on the money borrowed, plus any extra fees and charges, such as a set-up or arrangement fee, or a transfer fee if you are moving a debt from one lender to another.

What is included in the cost of a loan?

Within the cost of paying back your loan in instalments each month will be the cost of the set-up fee plus any additional services such as insurance.

What will I pay when I get a loan?

You will pay a monthly amount as part of the repayment of the loan. You may also need to pay a set up or arrangement fee but this is usually quoted within the APR.

What can I do to reduce the loan interest rate?

If you want to reduce the loan interest rate in order find a better interest rate there are a number of things you can do:

  • Pay attention to your credit rating – make sure you are on the electoral register
  • Pay your other forms of borrowing on time – that includes mobile phone bills and TV and broadband packages and credit card instalments
  • Don’t make a lot of applications for credit in a short space of time – this will make you appear desperate for cash
  • Don’t borrow the maximum on all your credit cards – lenders like to see that you are not “maxed out” on your cards

How can I find out more?

You can use our comparison tool to find lenders with low interest rates and compare which bank gives the lowest interest rate for a personal loan for you.

If you want to get a loan with low interest rate bear in mind that the best personal loan rates online are available to people with a good credit rating and low risk profile.

You can find out more about loans with our step by step guide on how to compare loans

Compare loans

Compare all sorts of loans from personal loans to debt consolidation loans.

Compare loans

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