By virtue of being an unsecured loan, personal loans have a very high rate of interest attached to it. So one should consider taking a personal loan only if:
- You do not have an asset/security against which you can get a loan. For e.g. if you have an FD you can pledge, a secure loan might make more sense.
- You have some visibility on your cash flows and are sure that you will be able to repay the EMIs (Equated Monthly Installments) in time. Else you are bound to enter into a debt trap.
- There is an emergency and you need funds immediately. A personal loan can be taken because the processing time is much lesser on account of minimal documentation.
Opt for personal loans only to meet your essential needs which cannot wait. It should be your last resort. Taking it for satisfying leisure needs can prove to be costly i.e. for gambling, buying a new car (a car loan is a better bet with a lower interest) etc.
Before you choose your personal loan:
Calculate the cheapest loan offer: These loans come with very high interest rates ranging from 14% to 25%. Compare interest rates and get the complete picture by understanding the annualized interest rates for each offer. Then figure out the total amount of repayment you need to shell out with all the offers before opting for the loan of your choice.
Processing fee et al: You need to keep in mind the processing fee and other fees that will be levied when you apply for your personal loan.
Prepayment penalty check: Ask upfront if there would be any penalty payments for prepayment of the personal loan at any point in time. More often than not loan consumers tend to pay up their loans earlier than planned to be rid of debt. Hence, it’s important to know if your personal loan offer allows part prepayments. If that is the case, then you should be aware from what time frame in the loan period you can start prepaying and understand the cost you incur due to such prepayments in part or full.
EMI and tenure: Evaluate all loan offers. The first condition for loan offer selection is the total money outflow that the loan will cost. The second factor is the EMI. A loan offer with a lower EMI and a longer tenure may seem attractive, as it could be easy on your purse strings, however not all such loans prove to be cost effective in the long run. Hence, first calculate the total loan cost and then try to opt for a higher EMI, which you can comfortably manage to enable a shorter loan tenure.
Keeping track of your credit history: Especially in the case of unsecured loans, your credit history, which is recorded by CIBIL (Credit Bureau India Limited) plays a critical role in your loan application being accepted. A good repayment track record ensures an instant loan approval but brownie points in the form of more attractive interest rates.
Who is eligible for a personal loan?
The eligibility criteria and their specific details may differ from banks to bank based on their perception of the risks associated with such loans. However, nearly all banks divide the potential borrowers into three categories:
- Salaried individuals
- Self employed individuals
- Self employed professionals
Other factors which are taken into consideration are, age, residence, work experience, repayment capacity, past obligations and place of work.
What documents are required for personal loans?
Personal loans require the least number of documents, making it the fastest to be approved. Typically, financial institutions would require proof of identity, residence, income and also 3 to 6 months of your bank statements. Some banks also require guarantors and the same set of their documents.
Alternatives to a personal loan
As indicated in the beginning of the article if you have access to investments that you can pledge, like shares, fixed deposits, gold, insurance policies etc. you can obtain a loan against them. The interest rates are lower compared to personal loan interest rates.