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What to check before applying for a loan

If you want to fund home improvements or buy a new car, a personal loan can give you a helping hand.

But before you apply for a loan, there are some things you need to consider.

1. What will the loan repayments be?

Use our personal loan calculator to see at how much your repayments could be and how that may impact your budget. 

If you’re looking at a personal loan with a variable interest rate, remember the interest rate could go up or down. If it were to go up, could you still afford the repayments? If not, consider reducing the loan amount or extending the loan term.

2. What's the term of the loan?

The loan term impacts the amount of interest you’ll pay and the overall cost of the loan. The longer the loan term is, the less your regular repayments will be. But you'll likely end up paying more interest over the course of the loan. Again, you can use our loan repayment calculator to look at how changing the loan term may affect how much interest you pay.

Once you take the loan out, the interest rate given to you will remain for the term of the loan.

3. What exactly are the fees and charges?

Loans are advertised with a representative APR (Annual Percentage Rate) that allows you to compare the available offers from different banks. However, the final interest rate you'll be offered will be determined by: 

  • your financial history
  • your circumstances
  • how much money you want to borrow
  • how long you want to borrow the money for

Look for any additional charges associated with taking out the loan. For example, some lenders may charge an arrangement fee. These, together with the interest rate, can make a big difference to the overall cost of the loan.

With an HSBC personal loan, there is no arrangement fee to pay. 

Explore: How do personal loans work?

4. Is there a penalty for early repayment?

Some lenders will charge you a fee for paying off your loan early. If you feel this is something you might want to do, then finding a loan without this fee could be a key requirement.

With an HSBC personal loan, you can manage your finances the way you want with the flexibility to overpay – free of charge.

5. How's your credit report looking?

Your borrowing and financial history can determine your credit score and whether you're approved for a personal loan. It can also affect the amount of money and interest rate you’re offered. 

Credit reports detailing your financial history are held by 3 credit reference agencies:

  • TransUnion
  • Equifax
  • Experian

It can be a good idea to check your credit report to spot and correct any mistakes on your file. Remember that your credit report won’t tell you whether or not you’ll be approved, as it isn’t the only factor a bank will consider when making a decision. 

6. Is a personal loan the right option?

A personal loan isn’t the only choice available. Are you able to delay the spending and take time to save the money? Even if you can’t save up the whole amount, saving a portion of it will put you in a better position.

7. Is the loan secured or unsecured?

A secured loan is one where you use an asset (such as a car or property) as security for a reduced interest rate. This asset will be at risk if you can’t repay the loan. With an unsecured loan, you don’t provide security, but the amount you can borrow is typically smaller. 

HSBC offers secured loans – in the form of mortgages – and unsecured loans. 

Explore: Secured vs unsecured loans explained

8. Are you ready to apply for a loan?

Getting a quote for a loan won’t usually appear on your credit report, but making an application often will. Too many applications can harm your credit report, so it’s wise to be sure that a particular loan is right for you before you apply.