Finding the cheapest personal loan deals

New car, overseas adventure, home renovation, upcoming wedding, baby on the way...there’s plenty of reasons to take out a personal loan.

So if you’re looking for a loan that will help you pay for your upcoming expense without breaking the bank, this guide is for you. We’ll run you through some of the top ways to land yourself a cheap personal loan deal to help you keep more money in your pocket in the long run.

Let’s start by talking about the obvious - interest rates and fees:

Interest rates

Headline rate: When you begin your personal loan comparison you’ll soon notice that there are two main types of interest rates that will be displayed next to the product information. Firstly you’ll see the headline interest rate, which is the rate you will be charged by the lender for taking out the loan. While this is a good indication of whether the personal loan is a competitive package, don’t forget to check with the comparison rate is.

Comparison rate: By law lenders need to show the comparison rate next to the headline rate. The reason is because it gives you a better idea of how much the personal loan really costs when some of the fees are merged with the headline rate. But keep in mind the comparison rate only uses a set equation e.g $30,000 paid back over 5 years. So you may want to run the numbers using our personal loan repayments calculator to ensure the personal loan is the best for your scenario.

Personal loan fees

Application fee: Payable when you apply for the loan, a personal loan upfront fee could be anywhere between $0-$700 depending on the provider. Generally, the reason lenders may charge an upfront fee is to cover some of their administration costs e.g running a credit check on you. If a loan comes with a high application fee, you’ll want to ensure that the savings you make from the low interest rate (and or competitive features) are worth it.

Ongoing fee: The same applies for any regular fees that you’ll be charged over the life of the loan, as these could add up to big bucks in the long run. But thankfully, with most providers the ongoing monthly fee isn’t too dear sitting at around $10.

Break cost fee: Some fixed rate loans these days come with an extra repayments facility, which allows you to pay extra on your loan ultimately meaning you will pay it off sooner. But the thing you’ll need to watch out for is fixed rate loans can come with a break cost fee, which is a pricey fee charged if you try to pay off the loan early.

Other things to look for in a personal loan

While a low rate and features are extremely important, make sure the personal loan you take out comes with the flexibility to help you pay it off sooner. Here are some features to consider:

Extra repayments: Finding a personal loan that comes with the option of making extra repayments should be high on your priority list. For example, say you take out a loan for 5 years and score a work promotion after 2 years but when you go to make extra repayments, you discover that the loan doesn’t allow additional payments. That would be more than a frustrating scenario! So when you look for a cheap personal loan deal, make sure it allows you to make fee free additional repayments, so you have the flexibility to pay the loan off when you come into extra money.

Redraw facility: Let’s give you another scenario. You make extra repayments on your loan but then bam your car breaks down and you need to throw down a few thousand for repairs. If you don’t have the cash handy, a redraw facility allows you to draw upon the additional repayments. Just keep in mind while a redraw facility can come in handy, you will end up paying more in interest and will extend the life of the loan by redrawing.

Flexible repayments: Some personal loans only allow you to set up your repayments monthly. So if you get paid weekly or fortnightly it’s worth taking the time to check that the cheap personal loan also comes with repayment flexibility e.g allows you to choose between weekly, fortnightly or monthly repayments. It might even be a thrifty option to set up your repayments fortnightly, as you’ll pay back a month moreover a year period. Let’s run some numbers. There are 26 fortnights in a year, so if your repayments are $500 you will pay back $13,000 over a year. By comparison paying $1,000 over 12 months you’ll only pay back $12,000.

Scoring the best personal loan deal

Now that you’ve got an idea of what to look out for, here are some tactics for scoring a cheap personal loan deal:

1. Secure your loan with an asset

For the borrowers out there that own assets like expensive household items, property or a car, did you know you may be able to use these as security for the loan? Putting up an asset as collateral means if you forfeit on the personal loan the lender can seize the asset and sell it to recover their loss. This obviously makes you a less risky borrower. In return you’ll get a much cheaper personal loan deal.

For instance, at the time of writing one major bank was offering a competitive 8.49% interest rate with its secured loan, by comparison its unsecured loan had a much higher rate of 13.75%. To really put things in perspective, our personal loan comparison calculator shows on a $15,000 loan the lower rate loan would save you $2,364 in interest over a 5 year period.

2. Bundle products

Another method you could use for scoring yourself a cheaper personal loan deal is bringing some of your other banking products to the table like your credit card, savings account or bank account. You may find the lender will be willing to bring down the interest rate or wipe the personal loan application fee for borrowers that bundle.

3. Look outside the major banks

Are you comfortable with managing your personal loan online? Then it’s worth considering a personal loan from a challenger brand. Today there are many online only personal loan and peer to peer providers offering competitive personal loan deals to Aussie borrowers.

Without the huge costs that the banks incur like paying dividends to shareholders and the cost of branch upkeep and staff, these lenders are able to pass on cheaper personal loan deals than the big banks.

Personal loan comparison steps

Want to kick off your personal loan search? Simply follow these 3 easy steps:

Step 1: Use a comparison tool - See what’s out there in the market by punching your details, like how much you’re looking to borrow and how many years you want the loan for, into our personal loan comparison calculator.

Step 2: Create a shortlist - Our personal loan calculator allows you to select the products you like and compare them side by side. As mentioned above, don’t just compare the deals by the headline interest rate, but also check the comparison rate to ensure you’re hunting down the cheapest deal for you.

Step 3: Kick off your application - Once you’ve found a personal loan deal that you’re happy with, click on the ‘go to site’ tab to be taken directly to the provider’s website to fill out your application online.