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 your needs. You can do this with our online comparison tool.
Getting the best interest rates doesn't just depend on which lender you borrow from, but how much you borrow and for how long.
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's not always the case.
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 aren't 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 wouldn't have to pay high interest rates for a small loan, but lenders set interest rates differently, based on how much risk they think they're taking.
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 and whether they can recover their money. 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's seen as much less risky for the lender, so they are comfortable charging a lower interest rate.
If you're borrowing a small amount that's 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. This is because the lender doesn’t have anything it can claim back if you fail to pay, and the loan isn't secured against an asset. That is why unsecured loans tend to not offer low interest loans. They have higher interest rates, even though the sums of money borrowed are much smaller than the average mortgage.
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're 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
For a lender, if a customer wants to borrow lots of small amounts of money it could be that they're struggling with their cash flow.
They might see you as being desperate with no savings to fall back on, and less responsible with your personal finances. If a lender sees 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 at all.
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 and the lender will have no other way to recoup its money.
Lenders advertise loan interest rates, but there's no guarantee that you will be offered the headline low interest rate on your own personal loan.
Lenders only have to offer the best advertised representative APR rates to 51 per cent of successful applicants. Where your credit rating isn't up to scratch, you may not qualify for that rate.
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's taking, and how likely they are to get their money back.
Mortgages typically have a high loan amount and lower interest rates, equal to low interest loans. 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.
When you're 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.
Things to look out for when doing a loan comparison include:
The Repayment period
Fixed or variable rate
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.
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 hasn't been affected by county court judgments or other issues around bad debt
you have a credit history – if you're very young there may not be much evidence of how you can handle credit, even if you're 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
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're moving a debt from one lender to another.
Within the cost of paying back your loan, there will also be the cost of the set-up fee, plus any additional services, such as insurance.
You will pay a monthly amount as part of the repayment of the loan. Any applicable set up or arrangement fee, will usually be quoted within the APR.
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 and have bills in your name
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
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.