One of the most basic decisions when it comes to taking out a new loan, is whether to opt of a secured or an unsecured loan. Before we discuss the advantages and disadvantages, you should know that a secured loan means that if you cannot meet the repayments, the lender has access to an agreed security, such as your home or car, to pay off the loan.
This is the huge draw back of secured loans. The asset they are secured over is usually very important to the borrower. For most people, the two most important assets they own, and are least willing to part with, are their home and their car. Your home can act as security whether it is currently mortgaged or not. The size of the loan will also depend on, among various other factors, the value of the asset. For example, if you home is worth £50,000 it is extremely unlikely that a lender will grant you a loan of £60,000. At the same time, just because you have significant assets to secure the loan, does not mean the lender will lend you the full value of the asset. Factors such as your income, your current indebtedness, and your repayment capacity will also be critical.
Secured loans can be used for any purpose, typically debt consolidation or home improvements. However, since the loan is being secured over your home, many short term uses will inappropriate. While borrowing against your home to invest in home improvements may make sense, borrowing against your home in order to buy groceries and pay your day to day bills would not be so appropriate.
Secured loans, as well as being possibly larger than unsecured loans, will also be likely to have better terms and rates. A lender should be more willing to give you a lower interest rate on a secured loan because his risk is less. Should you default on the loan, he can move in on the house, and sell it. He is therefore, virtually guaranteed not to lose the money he lends you. If the loan is unsecured, it is significantly more risky, as should you become bankrupt, he may end up with nothing. While such outcomes are rare, and hopefully will not happen, they are the bread and butter of how interest rates are set.
Lenders will typically be more willing to lend on a secured basis too, for the same reasons. Therefore, if you find that you cannot get unsecured credit, you may try secured credit as a second option.