Need money but don’t have the cash?
If you haven’t built up a rainy day fund for unexpected expenses, or are trying to consolidate debt, taking out a personal loan or line of credit are great options over using a credit card, which usually comes with steep fees for cash advances.
“For someone who needs cash, or ability to access cash, a credit card really doesn’t work as well for that,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst and senior vice president at Bankrate.com.
If you take out a personal loan or line of credit, remember the usual caveats about borrowing apply, warns McBride. Both personal loans and lines of credit come with varying terms and interest rates and that the money you receive eventually needs to be repaid.
Here are some things to consider before taking out either.
Roughly 24 million Americans are likely to use this type of loan this year, according to Bankrate.
A reason why they may be so popular is because you get a lump sum right upfront, perfect for a situation where you need money quickly.
You also may be able to save money by getting a much lower interest rate, McBride said.
“For people with strong credit, rates are really competitive.” It’s often much cheaper than the 15 percent you would be paying on a credit card.
Personal lines of credit
A personal line of credit can be used as a safety net for borrowers who have expenses that pop up in stages.
“A line of credit is open-ended, like a credit card. You have lots of flexibility in when and how much you borrow or repay,” McBride said.
In this case, you only take what you need, and pay it back over time at a set interest rate.
You generally can’t get a line of credit unless you have equity or value in something, most often a home.
While lines of credit may be great options for getting cash, McBride says don’t let them replace good old-fashioned savings accounts.
“Do not use them as a substitute for emergency savings,” he said. “Having your own money means you control your own destiny.”