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What Is an Unsecured Loan

19 min.

Borrowers usually use secured and unsecured loans to cover expenses like school, travel, and home improvements. However, you should only get unsecured personal loans if you have a good credit score and high income and want a loan without putting up valuable assets as collateral.

What Is an Unsecured Loan

Here, you can learn about unsecured loans to determine if they are right for you.

What is an Unsecured Loan?

Unsecured loans, also known as signature loans or loans of good faith, do not require the borrower to sign up any collateral. Personal loans, student loans, and credit cards with no security deposit are all examples of unsecured loans.

Most of the time, it is easier to apply for an unsecured loan. You can do so with a number of traditional, online, and government-backed lenders.

Because an unsecured loan exposes the lender to a greater level of risk, the lender may demand higher credit scores and interest rates from the borrower to compensate it. When a borrower defaults on an unsecured loan, the lender has no legal grounds to pursue collection actions against the borrower or their assets.

If a borrower loses their job, making them unable to repay their unsecured personal loan as well as their unsecured credit card debt, additional charges accrue. When loan accounts are recorded as late, the borrower's credit score will suffer as a direct result. If anything like this happens, lenders can decide to take the loss on themselves. They can also try to get their money back by getting a court decision, but in order to actually take anything from the debtor, they need to go through the appropriate legal processes first. They can try to get their money back by getting a court ruling.

Types of Unsecured Loans

There are many kinds of unsecured loans, and you can put the money from any of them toward a variety of purposes. Borrowers not only have access to conventional loans with fixed terms, such as personal loans and student loans, but also to unsecured revolving loans, such as personal lines of credit or credit cards.

The following loans make up the majority of unsecured loan options:

  • Unsecured personal loans. Although most personal loans are unsecured, some creditors provide the option to get a secured loan. Unsecured personal loans can be put to use for a wide variety of personal purposes, including everything from unanticipated medical bills to home repair projects and even vacation expenses. Before applying for a personal loan, double-check with the financial institution to ensure the purpose for which your unsecured personal loan will be used is acceptable.
  • Personal lines of credit. A line of credit enables you to withdraw money whenever you require it. They are good for incurring expenses that will be spaced out over an extended period of time, like home improvements. Even though some lines of credit, such as home equity lines of credit, are secured, many lenders offer unsecured personal loan choices for their customers.
  • Unsecured credit cards. Unsecured credit cards allow you to pay for your expenses while earning benefits. You get a credit limit that limits your spending amounts. It is frequently based on the credit score and debt-to-income ratio and often requires an annual fee. Secured credit cards provide options for applicants who cannot qualify for unsecured credit options. They are meant for building credit, and you can upgrade your credit cards to unsecured ones in some time.
  • Student loans. Student loans are almost always unsecured personal loans. They can be federal or private. Student loans guaranteed by the government or offered by commercial lenders both have no collateral attached. However, government-backed lenders can accelerate a loan so that it is due immediately. They also may take a borrower's federal tax refund to reclaim the outstanding loan sum.

Unsecured vs. Secured Loans

The difference between the two is collateral.

Secured loans always require some type of collateral. These can be valuable asset of yours that covers the amount of secured debt. Typically, the role of collateral is vehicles or homes. If borrowers do not want to sign up collateral for a secured loan, they cannot be approved for the loan.

Because house mortgages and car loans always require collateral in the form of the borrower's home or automobile, borrowers never need to worry about taking out an unsecured mortgage or auto loan.

As a result of the reduced risk involved with secured loans for the lending institution, the lending institution is more likely to approve the loan. The interest rates on loans that are secured by an asset are often lower than the interest rates on loans that are unsecured.

In contrast, unsecured loans do not require any kind of security. This umbrella term refers to a variety of credit arrangements, including home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), mortgages, vehicle loans, and best unsecured personal loans.

The sole recourse available to a bank if a borrower cannot repay a loan is to pursue legal action to reclaim the money owed, such as having a wage garnishment. That is why your loan terms will depend on your creditworthiness. It is comprised of your credit score and debt-to-income ratio, which is a percentage of your income to the debt.

How Unsecured Loans Work

Unsecured loans are offered for many purposes, and the loan amounts on unsecured loans typically range from $1,000 to $100,000. The loan terms normally vary from two to seven years, and the annual percentage rates (APRs) can be anywhere from 6% to 36% of the loan's total value.

The amount of the loan, the interest rate, the conditions, and the permitted uses all differ from institution to institution. Thus it is in the best interest of the borrower to shop around for the loan that meets their requirements the best.

Numerous traditional and online lenders offer a prequalification. It enables borrowers to calculate an estimate of their interest rates before filing a loan application and credit checks. Although the process varies from lender to lender, loan applications typically are submitted online. The application procedure is fast because borrowers of unsecured loans are not required to submit collaterals or wait for an appraisal.

After the application for an unsecured loan has been processed, the interest is computed on the total loan amount borrowed and then paid out. When it comes to unsecured credit cards and other lines of credit, the borrower can borrow money as they are required, and interest is only charged on the outstanding loan amount. You are obliged to make consistent monthly payments, and after an initial grace period, the late payments will be reported to the three major credit bureaus.

Pros and Cons of Unsecured Loans


  • A borrower does not have to put up any kind of security, such as a house or a car, to get approved for an unsecured loan.
  • If a borrower fails to make monthly debt payments on an unsecured loan, the lender will not be able to seize any of the borrower's assets.
  • When it comes to making use of an unsecured loan, you have many options to spend the money.
  • The application process for unsecured loans is typically quicker than for secured loans because there is no requirement for an evaluation of collateral.


  • If a borrower is late with payments or defaults on their loan, this will have a negative impact on their credit score.
  • In the event of a default, potential consequences include the initiation of legal actions as well as the garnishment of wages.
  • Because the lender is taking a greater level of risk when providing an unsecured loan, the borrower is typically required to have a credit score higher than for a secured loan.
  • The loan conditions and interest rates will be less beneficial, particularly for those borrowers who have less than perfect credit.

Why Should You get an Unsecured Loan?

You should consider obtaining an unsecured personal loan when doing so will improve your current financial circumstances. Nonetheless, you are free to put the money toward whichever purpose you see fit. Commonly cited instances are settling one's unsecured debt and making necessary or desirable modifications or repairs to one's property.

  • Home renovations. An unsecured personal loan can be the best option for you if you need to make improvements or upgrades to your home but do not want to jeopardize the equity you have built up in the property. It is feasible to increase the value of your home by using financing to make any necessary repairs or updates to the property.
  • Debt consolidation. Debt consolidation moves your existing debts into a single, more manageable monthly payment, often at a reduced interest rate. If you consolidate debt with an unsecured personal loan, you may be able to cut down on the amount of interest you have to pay during the life of the loan and have a clearer picture of when the debt will be paid off. Consider filling out an application for a personal loan rather than relying on your savings or health insurance to pay for your medical expenses if you do not have sufficient funds available. Consider all of the consolidating debt options, as there may be more cost-effective ways to finance your medical or other expenses than the one you have chosen.

How to get an Unsecured Loan

Applying for an unsecured loan is simpler than for a secured loan and can typically be done online. There are measures to ensure you will get the best offer from your lender.

To successfully apply for an unsecured loan, you need to consider the following:

  • Determine your credit rating. Personal loan applicants should have a credit score in the range of 610 and 640 to be considered, with the lowest interest rates going to those with a FICO credit score of 720 or higher. Before applying, check your credit score for free using a service. Not only will knowing your score give you an idea of your chances of being approved but doing so also provides you time to work on it before applying for a loan. Unsecured loan lenders give preference to borrowers who can demonstrate that they have a history of making payments on time across a number of different accounts, which can include credit cards, auto loans, and other types of installment loans over a period of years. Aim to have a credit history that is at least two or three years long across two or three different accounts.
  • Check your spending plan. Look at your income and bills carefully after checking your credit report. Even though your collateral is safe with an unsecured loan, late loan payments will still have a negative effect on your credit score, so be sure that any new debt obligations are manageable. The debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is another factor that is taken into account by most lenders. This statistic indicates the share of monthly disposable income that must be applied toward interest and principal payments on a borrower's outstanding debt. For the best chances of getting approved for a new unsecured loan, your DTI should be 36% or lower.
  • Prequalify for loans. Once you have got your finances in order, it is time to start looking for loan providers that will work with your budget. Fortunately, there are a variety of online prequalification tools available from which potential borrowers might select. It is a great way for potential borrowers to get an idea of their interest rates and loan terms before they even apply.
  • Gather documents. Once you have discovered the loan you like and are ready to move forward with it, you can find out how to apply for a loan from the lender. To speed up the application, approval, and funding processes, it is recommended, but not required, to gather any essential evidence, such as tax returns or W-2s, before applying.
  • Apply formally. The final step is to apply for a loan, either online or in person. These days, you may apply for a loan from many lenders online and get funded the same or the next business day. However, the application process might vary from lender to lender, and you may need to speak with a representative about your loan over the phone or in person. There are three different kinds of financial institutions from which you might obtain loans that are not secured.
  • Online lenders. These are typically non-banking organizations that are based on technology and offer a limited selection of lending products, which may or may not include unsecured loans. They are able to give the funds within 24 to 48 hours and often offer interest rates that are lower than those offered by traditional banks or credit unions.
  • Banks. There is a wide variety of financial institutions, both local and national, that provide unsecured loans, such as personal loans. If you already have a working relationship with a financial institution, you should investigate the products and services it offers and think about applying for an unsecured loan through that financial institution.
  • Credit unions. These are organizations that are located in your neighborhood and typically have application processes that may be completed either online or in person. Because membership in a credit union is necessary, you need to determine in advance whether or not you are qualified to join.


What is meant by an unsecured loan?

A personal loan, which is the same thing as an unsecured loan, is far less complicated. You take out a loan from a financial institution (bank or other lending institution) and promise to pay back the principal loan amount plus interest on a periodic basis. Interest rates on unsecured loans are often higher than those on secured loans because the borrower is taking more of a risk.

What is an example of an unsecured loan?

Unsecured loans don't require any sort of collateral to be put up as security. Examples such as credit cards, personal loans, and student loans are rather common.

How does an unsecured loan work?

You take out a loan from a financial institution (bank or other lending institution) and promise to pay back the principal amount plus interest on a periodic basis. Interest rates on unsecured loans are often higher than those on secured loans because the borrower is taking more of a risk.

How do you qualify for an unsecured loan?

In general, they want to see that you have a long track record of prudent credit use (usually a year or more), regular on-time payments, modest credit card balances, and a variety of account types. Your credit scores, which are based on the data in your credit reports, will also be reviewed.

Which is the most common unsecured loan?

Wide varieties of unsecured loans exist. However, personal loans are by far the most common choice. Many unforeseen expenses, including repairs to your home, medical costs, a quick vacation overseas, etc., might leave you strapped for cash, but luckily, personal loans can help.

What is typical of an unsecured loan?

With an unsecured loan, the lending institution has no recourse to the debtor's property in the event of default. This leaves the lender totally dependent on the borrower's income and credit history to get their money back.
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