6 Things to Consider When Applying For Your First Loan

You should be educated when it comes to applying for your first loan. Follow our guide so you can easily understand and get through the process.

As of December 2017, all debts in the United States totaled a whopping $13.15 trillion. Mortgage loans top the list at $8.88 trillion, followed by student loans at $1.38 trillion. Auto loan debts rank third, totaling $1.22 trillion.

These figures show how dependent we’ve become on consumer loans. After all, they allow us to make huge purchases like homes and cars. Most of us don’t have the cash to pay for these all at once.

But this doesn’t mean a lender will approve your first loan application right away. That’s why it’s important you know what to consider before taking out a loan for the first time.

Don’t worry though, as we’re here to help educate you. Keep reading to learn about first-time loans and what you can do to boost your approval chances!

1. What Type of Loan Are We Talking About?

What exactly do you need the money for? That’s the first and most important consideration when taking out your first-ever loan.

Unless your goal is to become a home owner, then you most likely only need a personal loan. As the term suggests, this loan product is for personal expenses. That could be to cover moving expenses, medical bills, or even buying a car.

In the U.S., most people take out personal loans for debt refinancing or consolidation. As many as 55% of borrowers said they took out a personal loan for this purpose.

But you don’t have any “debt” to consolidate or refinance in the first place, do you? So, it’s possible you need money to pay for moving-related expenses.

What’s more feasible, though, is that you need it to cover medical bills. After all, out-of-pocket medical expenses now average $1,813.

But what if you need a loan to start a business? In that case, consider a business loan for startups.

Not all business loans are only for startups. Your business can also benefit from other types of loans, such as in the case of growth and expansion.

The point here is to determine if your need for a loan classifies as an emergency. Or in the case of a business loan, if it’ll benefit your organization in the long run. If that’s the case, then a loan may be your best option.

2. How Much of a Loan You Need

Once you’ve determined you do need a loan, next is to figure out how much you need. If you have enough time to save up some money, then it’s best you take that into consideration too. That way, you’ll take out a lower loan amount, which means paying less towards interest.

3. How Much You Can Afford to Pay Back (with Ease)

This is much trickier than determining how much you need. When figuring out how much you can afford, you need to look at your finances – both inflows and outflows.

Let’s say you earn $25,000 a year, which is the typical salary of a 23-year-old American worker. That’s about $2,080 every month.

Now, deduct your fixed expenses (like rent or fixed-rate utility expenses) from this. Make sure you don’t forget about your variable expenses (AKA electricity and water bills, transportation, grocery, etc.). It’s also a good idea to set aside something for emergencies or better yet, for savings.

Look at what’s left and compare that with your potential loan payments every month. Is the former greater or less than the latter?

4. Your Credit History

A common misconception is that people who have no loans don’t have a credit history. This isn’t always the case. If you have a credit card under your name, then you’re one of the 220 million U.S. consumers with a credit file.

But what if you also don’t have a credit card?

Don’t worry. There are still loans that you can get even with only a prepaid debit card. These loans, as well as payday loans, are a good option if you need access to funds as soon as possible.

It’s still a good idea to start building your credit history ASAP though. That’s because if you pose the question, “What do you need to get a loan?” to traditional lenders, they’ll tell you a good credit score is one of them.

A good place to start is with secured credit cards and student credit cards. Many credit card companies issue these cards to people with little to no credit. Once you qualify and start using one of them, you’ve already taken the first step to building your credit.

This is one way of figuring out how much you can afford to pay back. It’ll also help ensure you have enough to prevent even more financial setbacks.

5. Your Credit Score

Say you already have a credit history, thanks to your rent or credit card. In that case, you need to know where your credit score stands.

Lenders look at your credit history and score to determine your creditworthiness. If you fare well in both, then they’ll take it as a sign you’ll pay back what you owe them. So, the more impressive your credit, the more chances you’ll have of securing your first loan.

But only knowing that you have a good credit history and score isn’t enough. You have to make sure that it shows up on paper too. That’s why it’s best to request a copy of your report to make sure there are no errors in it.

6. Loan Terms

Loan terms vary from lender to lender, from interest rate to payments to other typical fees. That said, make sure you understand everything before signing the dotted line!

One of the most important terms of the loan you should know is the annual percentage rate (APR). That percentage will tell you of the actual cost of your loan every year. It’s different from the interest rate, since this only goes towards the interest you’ll pay every month.

Also, be on the lookout for loan origination fees, late fees, and failed payment fees. Some lenders also charge prepayment penalties, so that’s another factor to consider.

Better Understanding of Loans Increases Your Chances of Securing Your First Loan

Taking out your first loan doesn’t have to be a nightmare. It does require effort on your part though. Especially when it comes to building credit from scratch and comparing loan offers.

But so long as you consider everything in this guide, you can improve your chances of loan approval. As a final reminder, once you do get your loan, maintain healthy spending habits.