You can always borrow money these days, but it is crucial to read the small print as the difference between interest rates is enormous and stories of people forced to pay off amounts which are five times the amount of their original loan are not uncommon.
There are also numerous stories on unemployed couples being sold loans, such as the case of Julie and Kevin Davies, reported by the BBC. The couple were already experiencing difficulty in paying off their existing debts of 4,000, when they were sold another 20,000 loan by Lloyds TSB.
Loans of 1,000 to 25,000 can be taken out and repaid over a period typically varying between six months and 10 years depending on your credit history and available finances. Loans are usually secured or unsecured. Secured loans are tied to your house, so you can be forced to sell the house if you are unable to make the repayments. Unsecured loans do not impose the same restriction, though a default on repayments may result in being "credit blacklisted". Once blacklisted, you may get future credit card, mortgages and hire purchase applications rejected, as well as face a potential higher rate of interest for all existing debts.
It is absolutely crucial that you shop around for a loan and not just through the high-street banks. The internet offers a wealth of information available and there are many sites which compare the prices of products, and to really ensure you get a good deal - compare the different comparison sites. In the UK moneyfacts, moneyextra and ( moneynet ) offer price comparison services for a wide range of loans, amongst other financial products. These sites also offer consumer information guides, which you can either print directly off the website or download on to your computer.
Do read all the terms and conditions carefully and ask friends, family and your financial adviser / bank adviser if you don't understand a particular statement. The annual percentage rate (APR) is particularly important and can make a difference of thousands of pounds over the term of the loan.
Unsecured loans can be purchased from building societies and banks, as well as certain high street shops. Unsecured loans may be taken out for something specific or simply to make life more 'comfortable'. The process usually involves:
* Requesting a typical amount for the loan
* Discussion of interest rate (APR) and possible loan payment protection insurance
* A credit check, you may wish to get one of these first, so you know what to expect
* Reading the terms and conditions and then signing the agreement
* Money can then be transferred into your account
In the discussion of secured versus unsecured loans, moneynet explains that although secured loans can offer lower interest rates and repayments, many people do not wish to jeopardise the potential loss of their home in the default of a repayment of a secured loan. In unsecured loans, pay attention to the difference in APR, term of the loan and any additional charges such as an early settlement charge or redemption penalty.