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Personal loans

Get your head around personal loans

No tricky insurance lingo here. Just simple articles on complex topics.

FEATURED

2 May 2017
Personal Loans 101: Everything you need to know

The day has finally arrived. You decided that it is high time you settle down with your long-time partner of 5 years. Time to buy the best grade proposal ring that she has been dying for and plan for the big proposal day. But hold on, that is going to burn a big hole in your marriage funds. You seem short of that few thousands but you do not want to disappoint your beloved partner.

Frequently asked questions

Q: What is a personal loan?

Lending companies and banks provide personal loans to help those who need assistance with funds for easing into investments, consolidating debt or financing car repairs. It could also be used for personal needs like wedding, buying a car or paying bills.

For renovation or education purposes, more specialised loan products are designed to suit these needs. As not all personal loan lenders are the same, one must evaluate what they offer and how they differ before making the right selection. Be it the terms, interest rate or fees, these should be taken into equal consideration.

Q: What are the different types of Personal Loans?

Any loan in Singapore is placed among the category of term loans because they come with a set period and fixed monthly installment payments. If you are borrowing a term loan, you must repay the money you owe by the end of the loan period.

Several banks may have term-loan programmes that can support small businesses with the cash they need to operate on. Smaller businesses may use the term loan to purchase fixed assets such as equipment for its production process.

However, some packages are designated as revolving loans in which a borrower can use his credit up to a set limit whenever he needs it. You can pay only the interest so long as the line is drawn and after you pay off the amount drawn, the credit becomes readily available to be drawn once again. Interest rates charged are usually higher than that of a term loan and the interest rate type can be fixed or variable.

Here are a few types of personal loans you can apply for:

Short Term Loan – This is perfect for those small businesses having some issues with cash flow. Short term loans are seamless solutions for them to get back on track. A lot of people opt for this because it is flexible and easy and credit history checking is loose.

Cash Advance Loan – This is quite like payday loans which means you borrow a certain sum of money before they receive their monthly salaries. You may want to think twice before applying for this type since it usually comes with higher interest rates.

Business Loan – This kind of personal loan has no definite interest rate as it depends on the qualification of the borrower. Usually, funds are given to businesses, groups of individuals or organisations to be paid with specific interest at a scheduled date. Accessible and convenient, business loans are used to solve issues on cash flow within a business.

Payday Loan – Any individual can take advantage of this borrowing scheme that comes with small amount of money but high interest rate. This can be used to resolve urgent financial needs and can be paid within thirty days or during your next payday.

Education Loan – Also called student loan, this is specifically made to help students pay for their school fees and tuition. It can also be used to afford living expenses and other school requirements like books.

Renovation Loan – You might need to make immediate improvements in your kitchen and your money may not be available yet. You can check for renovation loan offers to fund repair, redecoration or enhancement of your homes. Often, this type of loan comes with huge credit ceiling and borrowers can choose different terms of payment.

Vacation Loan – You don’t have to worry in funding your next travel as vacation loans are offered by banks to finance your dream trip. What makes this more awesome is that you can start paying back after you return from the trip.


Personal loan interest rates and other fees

Once you sign up for personal, you need to be aware of the interest rates that come with that debt. Most banks in Singapore peg the annual add-on interest rate at 4.5% to 8.3%. That percentage changes depending on the amount you borrow and the time it takes you to pay the borrowed money back.

Aside from personal loan interest rates, there are other loan-related fees you need to look out for. These fees include the disbursement fee (applies for every time you cash out money on your loan), the pre-payment and late payment fees (applies when you pay your debt before or past the due date scheduled on your loan terms), transactions in foreign currency (the exchange rates used to convert these transactions into local currency may vary day to day and book to book), finance charges for interest rates (if an outstanding balance is not fully or partially paid by the due date, interest will be charged on your amount owed) and the loan modification fee (applies when you want to change some details of your loan).

Q: What is the difference between secured and unsecured loans?

When applying for a personal loan, you need to decide whether between secured or unsecured one. Borrowing money from a secured loan requires a piece of collateral which may be in the form of a home or a car. In such agreement, the lender automatically takes possession of these valuables once you failed to pay according to agreement. Mortgage and car loans fall under this category.

On the other hand, unsecured loan does not require collateral but usually comes with higher interest rates. Student loans, credit cards and personal loans, in general, are considered unsecured loans.

Because of the collateral, secured loans offer faster application and easier approval. People who have bad credit history are advised to choose secured loans to guarantee payment of the money borrowed. In terms of savings, the low interest rates from a secured loan make it a better choice for those in money management woes.

Q: What is debt consolidation?

Debt consolidation is a refinancing program to help customers consolidate all unsecured debts or credit facilities usually at a lower interest rate. Debt consolidation is a scheme for customers to transfer all his debts from different lenders into one credit account.

Q: What to look out for when applying for a personal loan?

Finding the best personal loan deal is easy if you understand what kind of financial agreement you are getting into. You should take not of the considerations below to make sure that your next financial obligation will resolve your cash flow woes and not the other way around.

What type of lender is offering the loan? – Moneylenders, credit unions, banks and other types of finance companies can provide you with immediate funds. However, lenders differ in terms and interest rates. Credit unions don’t require strict screening for borrowers while banks implement a more stringent screening process. These two also offer lower rates of interest as compared to pawnshops and moneylenders.

What is the APR and interest rate? – APR or Annual Percentage Rate and interest rate depend on your credit profile as a borrower. If you have good credit scores, then lenders charge lower rates. Traditional forms of personal loans are installment based which reduces the principal amount borrowed each time you pay until the entire credit is repaid in full. When applying, compare the advertised interest rate against the effective interest rate.

Why is Credit Score necessary? – Credit scores are important for lenders to assess your capacity to pay. Banks and credit unions go beyond the score as they also evaluate your entire credit history and profile. If your score is low, you might be entitled to apply for secured loans. Monitoring your credit health and regularly paying for your loans will ensure a better loan opportunity for you in the future.

What is the loan repayment period? – Repayment periods are measured in terms of weeks, number of days, months or even in several years. Different kinds of personal loans also vary in terms of debt duration. Check how long you can pay for the full amount of borrowed money depending on your capacity and convenience.

Is the loan bundled with another facility? – Some banks and other forms of lenders offer accompanying facility on your personal loan especially if you have an impressive credit profile. You may get personal loans bundled with secured overdraft or car financing. Depending on your need, check for the benefits each bundle offers before signing your loan contract.

Finding the best personal loan deal is easy if you understand what kind of financial agreement you are getting into.

You should consider the following ideas below to make sure that your next financial obligation will resolve your cash flow woes and not the other way around.

Q: Are there fees and charges involved?

Borrowing money doesn’t come free. Processing your loan involves a certain amount of fee to be deducted upon receipt of the money. Some lenders even include the first repayment and interest amount on the initial deduction. It helps to know what fees are involved with the application so you can manage your money accordingly.

Interest Rates

Interest rates are the charges bank imposes on your loan. Applied interest rate (AIR) refers to that flat or actual charge towards the full amount of money your borrowed in relation to the duration of the loan. On the other hand, effective interest rate (EIR) reflects the extra charges imposed on your account for loan processing and approval. EIR is the true total cost of the loan which every borrower should know about.

Other Fees

Aside from the interest rates, borrowers may also be charged with other fees including:

Early repayment fees – Lenders let you pay repayment charges in case you want to settle your date earlier than your agreed period. There are certain conditions by which these early repayment fees apply based on your loan contract.

Late repayment fee – Financial advisors have always discouraged missing any payment deadlines because lenders charge fees that will add up to your monthly obligation. Due dates are set for you to put conscious effort in repaying obligations as agreed.

Cancellation fee – Lenders allow for the cancellation of loans and use of other products if you pay the balance along with fees that go with the termination.

Processing fee – This is charged to the borrower for the processing of application for loan. The fees cover the processes including credit checks, administrative costs and property appraisals. A processing fee may be automatically deducted from the full loan amount Annual fee – This is charged to the borrower based on the average annual scheduled unpaid principal balance. Annual fees are due each month but is billed and collected on annual basis.

Loan conversion fee – You may have initially borrowed money with a floating interest and now you want to change it to fixed interest rate so a conversion fee will be charged to facilitate the process. The conversion fee is usually 2% of the loan outstanding balance.

Q: Who can apply for a personal loan?

Singaporean Citizens - Most loans in the country are offered to Singaporean citizens, typically between 21 and 70 years old. Some institutions also allow foreigners from certain countries to apply for bank personal loans.

An applicant also needs to file documents that prove his residence and identity, or government-issued IDs and clearances. In addition, proof of employment and employer details, financing requirements, your NRIC copy, the CPF statements submitted over the past 12 months and your latest original computerised payslip are needed. These details determine the maximum amount of money you can borrow. Banks also want their personal loan clients to have landline phones at home or in the office for verification purposes

Foreigners - Any foreigner in the country should have a minimum income of $42,000. You should be able to present a photocopy of your Passport, Employment Pass, original payslip and Latest Income Tax Notice of Assessment.