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What are secured and unsecured loans?

A secured loan is money borrowed or ‘secured’ against an asset you own, such as your home, whereas an unsecured loan isn’t tied to an asset.

Here, we explain what secured and unsecured lending means, and which type of loan may be right for you.

Secured loans explained

Types of secured loans include:

Your home acts as a form of security for the lender, as they could repossess and sell the property if you fail to meet the loan repayments. For this reason, secured loans typically have lower interest rates than unsecured loans, and you may be able to borrow a larger amount.

The amount a lender is willing to offer you is based on several factors, including:

  • your income
  • any other debts you have
  • if you have any dependants

The maximum amount you can borrow may also depend on your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio – the size of the loan as a proportion of the value of your home.

Unsecured loans explained

Types of unsecured loans include:

With unsecured loans, the lender can’t take away any of your assets, such as your home, if you fail to repay what you owe. However, any late or missed repayments can negatively impact your credit score and your ability to borrow money in the future.

A personal loan is a type of unsecured loan. They can be helpful if you need to borrow money to renovate your home, buy a car, pay for a wedding, or consolidate debts, for example. A credit card or overdraft may be more suitable for short-term borrowing. 

Interest rates vary between lenders and loan types. A lender will decide if they’re willing to lend to you, how much, and at what interest rate, based on things like:

  • your income
  • credit score
  • what you need the loan for

Which type of loan is right for you?

Whether your loan is secured or unsecured will sometimes depend on what you need the money for. For example, a mortgage is always a secured loan.

On the other hand, if you want to pay for a renovation, for example, you may have a choice between a secured loan, such as a home equity loan, or an unsecured loan, such as a home improvement loan.  

Unsecured loans can be handy when you want to borrow a relatively large amount without the risk of losing your home. However, missed payments can still impact your credit score. 

No matter what type of loan you apply for, you need to be able to meet the repayments and factor these into your budget. It’s also important to consider the terms and fees associated with the loan you want to take out. 

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