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Different Types Of Loans And Loan Options

Oct 31, 2007
A loan is the redistribution of money between a lender and a borrower. As a borrower, you receive an amount of money from the lender, which you will have to pay back later. This service is provided at a cost, referred to as interest, or annual percentage rate (APR).

Installment loans are loans that are repaid in equal monthly payments within a specific period of time. Installment loans come at a cost. This includes the APR (an interest rate) and the finance charge. Cars, furniture, computers or household appliances can be purchased with installment loans. Compare fixed-rate loans, where the interest rate stays the same throughout the loan term, with variable-rate loans, where the interest rate can change during the period of the loan.

Secured loans imply that the borrower offers a guarantee, or collateral, for the loan. The borrower has a claim on this collateral as a repayment source if a loan is not paid pack in cash as agreed. For example, a home mortgage is a secured loan - the bank loans the majority of the purchase price of the home, but retains a lien against the home for as long as the loan is outstanding. Unsecured loans are loans that are not secured by collateral, such as credit cards. Because the lender holds no collateral, unsecured loans hold significantly more risk for the lender, which is usually reflected in a higher interest rate.

Rent-to-Own Services allow you to rent an item for a period of time, in exchange for weekly or monthly payments. These agreements are not loans, so no interest is charged. However, typically you pay 2 to 5 times more than the cost of the same item at a store. For example an electronic store sells a TV for $1,500. A nearby rent-to-own store offers the same TV with a payment plan of 52 payments of $55 every other week. If you multiply 52 weeks x $55 payments, the total cost for the TV from the rent-to-own services is $2,860! If you miss a payment you can lose the item and all the money that you have already paid towards owning it!

Payday loans are cash advances given in exchange for a written check from your bank account. Your check is held until your next payday and then cashed. These loans are costly with a typical payment of $15-$35 for every $100 you borrow. This might not seem like a lot of money but imagine that for a $200 loan you agree to pay back $260 in 2 weeks. You pay $60 in interest which is the equivalent of a 782% annually!

TIP: Before you take out a loan compare fees and interest rates. Make sure you understand if the interest rate can change over the life of the loan. Remember there are alternatives to payday and rent-to-own services. Your community organization, bank or credit union may offer small, short-term loans at more reasonable rates. Paying for an expensive item in three or four installments could save you money! Shop around before you buy and never feel pressured to make a purchase.
About the Author
Your Money & You Staff have written a series of finance related articles. For additional information on related topics, visit Your Money & You.
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