Why use a loan instead of credit
Let’s be honest: Credit cards are pretty fun. They are incredibly practical, allowing you to store anything you want with a single swipe or by placing a chip. Each purchase earns more points or miles that can optionally be redeemed for perks like cash back or free international flight.
But if you’re not using them responsibly and paying off your entire balance on time, misusing credit cards is an easy way to take on expensive debt and lower your credit score.
Credit cards are not the only way to access money. Personal loans are a less immediate, but often less risky, line of credit. There is absolutely a time and place to use credit cards, but sometimes personal loans are the better option of the two.
When personal loans are better than credit cards
1. When you need cash up front
“The ideal reason to use a personal loan rather than a credit card is when you need to make a large purchase that could use up to half or more of your available card credit and you don’t plan to pay it back. balance immediately, ”says Michael Cetera, Senior Credit Analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com. “Putting this level of spending on your credit card could have a negative impact on your credit score.”
Splurges like new computers, furniture, or upgrading your mattress can cost more than you might have on hand. However, many retailers will be offering financing through an in-store credit card with an introductory APR of 0% – an opportunity you should definitely grab if you know you’ll be paying the full balance during the introductory period.
However, for large purchases that don’t have such convenient financing options, like a medical procedure, car repair, or home improvement, a personal loan will give you cash so you can move forward with necessary expenses.
2. You want a lower interest rate
Personal loans are specifically designed to pay off over the long term, so their interest rates are tailored to be fair and conducive to paying down debt. Although the APR of your personal loan is highly dependent on your credit score, but can easily be less than 10%, while the Average credit card APR is 17.72%. Credit cards don’t make sense as long-term revolving debt unless you have an introductory 0% APR offer.
3. You cannot pay off the balance quickly
The higher interest rates on revolving credit card balances are a huge drawback to financing large purchases on a credit card. If you know you won’t be able to pay off a balance for a long time, financing a purchase with a credit card will cost a lot more in the long run than paying it off with a personal loan.
4. Are you worried about the impact on your credit score?
“A heavily weighted factor when it comes to your credit score is your usage rate, which is the percentage of credit you have outstanding compared to the total amount of credit you have,” says Lauren Anastasio, Financial Planner at SoFi. “Having a large credit card balance, regardless of the interest rate, will likely increase your usage rate, which can dramatically lower your credit score.”
Taking out a personal loan will affect your credit score when your lender does a thorough investigation, but it will quickly revert to its previous number if you make regular payments. However, revolving debt on your credit card, especially close to 30% or more of your total available credit, can lower your score and keep it going until you start paying it off.
“In general, installment loans (personal loans, mortgages, auto, student loans, etc.) are more favorable for your credit than revolving debt (lines of credit and credit cards),” says Anastasio. “Installment debt is considered less risky than revolving debt. Having installment debt on your credit history can actually be helpful in increasing your score.”
5. You want to have a structured payment schedule
One of the biggest differences between credit cards and personal loans is how they are disbursed and, therefore, how they are paid off. The credit card reimbursement is based on the current balance held, which may increase based on your expenses and interest on an outstanding balance. They only require a minimum payment each month to cover interest charges. You can take as long as you want to pay off a credit card balance, but the longer you take, the more interest you pay.
Personal loans, however, only pay you cash in one lump sum and come with a built-in repayment plan. You know exactly how much you will have to pay back each month, you know how much will go to interest and how much will go to principal, and you know the exact date when you will be finished paying.
Cetera describes personal loans as “a way to discipline yourself to pay off the loan. Credit cards are open-ended loans, which means you don’t have to pay them off at some point. A personal loan has a duration – it could be six months, it could take three years – and you will make fixed payments.This timeline can be advantageous for people who would otherwise have trouble paying off their credit card debt.
6. You want to consolidate other debts
Credit card offer balance transfers for borrowers who want to transfer debt from one card to another. However, this only makes sense when the card you are transferring to has an APR period of 0%. Otherwise, you would be paying a much higher interest rate on the revolving balance than you would with a personal loan.
Personal loans are best option for debt consolidationbecause they offer lower interest rates, fixed payment plans and alleviate any pressure on your debt ratio.