Ben Todd | Apr 16, 2017 | 3
Credit Cards Vs. Personal Loans – Which Is The Better Option
Credit card and personal loan articles are common on this website because most people have one or both in their lifetime. We have approached this issue from a number of different angles, so this time we thought we would approach it from a pros and cons stance. This article examines credit cards vs. personal loans and details the upsides and downsides to having a credit card and a personal loan, and we examine each in the context of which it is better to have.
There are four Big Mistakes that some people make that I have highlighted in this article. These mistakes will cause you a lot of suffering if you make them. They are common errors and will significantly damage your financial future.
The Upside Of Getting And Using A Credit Card
Credit Cards Are Handed Out Like Candy
It is a known fact that credit cards are easier to get than personal loans. Many companies are willing to issue credit cards to people who have a terrible credit rating (FICO score). What’s more, the application process is often very quick, the decision process is quick, and many people receive their credit card less than five days after applying.
Your Card Will Be Accepted In Most Places
Credit cards are accepted almost anywhere, especially overseas when traveling to different countries. It is true that some cards are not as widely accepted, but in general, your credit card will be accepted in most places. When it comes to credit cards vs. personal loans, you may save more money using a specially chosen credit card for going abroad, rather than getting a personal loan and converting the money.
Increase Your Purchasing Power With A Credit Card
Credit cards help to boost your purchasing power, such as by allowing you to exploit bulk-buy savings and rare offers. Some people take out a year’s insurance on a car and put in on their credit card because the interest they pay on their credit card is less than the penalty the insurance firm charges on installment payments.
Buy Over The Phone And Over The Internet
You are able to buy online and over the phone with a credit card, you are not able to send cash over the phone or over the Internet without a further intermediate such as PayPal or Transferwise. When it comes to choosing credit cards vs. personal loans, credit cards are ideal for online and telephone shopping.
Most People Should Have At Least One Credit Card
A credit card is fantastic for things such as an emergency or an unexpected expense. One could make a similar argument for a personal loan, but one would have to keep the personal loan money in an account and leave it there while still paying interest in order to repay the loan. The money on a credit card may sit there for years without costing you a thing–only being used when it is needed for an emergency.
Sensible People Are Able To Create Solid Budgets Including Credit
Create your own payments and installments plan when you cannot get financing for something. The seller may only be willing to sell on the spot, and you may pay with a credit card, and then pay off your credit card with installments of your own choosing, (assuming you cover the minimum and then a little extra to slowly pay off the balance).
Some Interest Rates Will Beat The Rates That Finance Companies Offer
Interest rates are a big deal in the credit cards vs. personal loans debate. The interest rates on credit cards are often higher than personal loans, but they sometimes beat the rates you get for finance deals. Instead of taking a finance deal with unfavorable repayment and interest options, you may pay with your credit card and enjoy their lower interest rates and slightly more flexible repayment options.
Build Your Credit History With A Credit Card
If you can handle it, and if you make regular repayments without overdrawing or missing payment, then you may build a positive credit history with your card. Start with a very low credit limit to lower the risk of you falling into massive debt. If you can handle the card and you keep paying off the balance, then your credit history will start looking pretty good.
Monitor Your Expenses And Exploit Your Card
If you use your credit card for expenses and repay the balance at the end of the month, then you may easily monitor your expenses and maybe improve the way you spend so that you spend less and manage your money better. People who are able to repay the balance at the end of the month are also able to exploit their card by accruing points and rewards without having to pay for them.
Some Cards Offer A Lot Of Protection
You may dispute billing errors if you have a credit card. You have more protection if the merchant sells you defective merchandize, or if the merchant bills you incorrectly. Do research into the protection that the card you are signing up for will offer you. It may seem like I am arranging a cop-out when I say do your research, but the fact is that some cards offer a massive amount of protection, and there are numerous stories on the Internet where paying with a credit card has helped people avoid very large losses. On the other hand, I don’t want to promise such protection when I cannot guarantee that every card will offer such strong and secure protection.
The Downside To Getting A Credit Card
The Temptation To Spend Is All-Consuming For Some People X X Big Mistake X X
Having a money on a card is often all the incentive some people need to start spending. Most people are repeatedly taught to spend all the money they have. The sad part is that they honestly believe that they are not susceptible to marketing, and yet they have no money at the end of the month, (i.e. before they are paid). A great many people have maxed out credit cards that they are struggling to pay down because they spend whenever they have money on their card.
A Rolling Balance Is Very Dangerous For Your Financial Future
Rolling a balance over from one month to another is a common occurrence for people with credit card debt. A constantly maxed card is very common, but many people are happy to leave money owing on their card for months. For example, one person may have a $2000 limit, and has only spent $400, but has had that $400 debt for months. Such a person will only pay the minimum balance that pays off the interest owed on the debt. He or she will not pay off the $400.
Your Interest Rate May Bounce Up Very Quickly
Credit cards will charge varying amounts of interest depending upon how you use the card. The best rates are often for making purchases, and the worst are for overdrawing. If you draw money out or do anything that is regarded as a cash advance (such as loading money onto a gambling website), then the interest rate you pay on the debt is often rather harsh. When considering credit cards vs. personal loans, remember that the amount you budget for your credit card may not be the amount you pay in a few months or a few years.
Overdraw And You Will Suffer
If you overdraw, you are often charged a fee, and you are charged a higher rate for the debt you get yourself into. The reason this point gets its own header is because people are often surprised how much their minimum credit card payments go up when they overdraw or miss a payment. Many credit card companies will hide their highest fees and interest rates within the term that states they can charge more if you overdraw or miss a payment.
More Debt Is Offered Over Time
If you have a credit card for long enough without overdrawing or misbehaving, then they may increase your limit. This means that a user may go from starting with $1200 of debt, to $2000 of debt, to $3500 of debt by simply spending the money as the credit limit is increased over time. Many credit card companies have an “opt out” option on their website for this very reason, where users may opt out of having their credit limit increased.
Credit Scoring Companies Do Not Like Too Much Credit Card Debt
Too much debt is never a good thing and it will reflect poorly on your FICO credit history. However, many credit companies look unfavorably on credit card debt more than other types of debt. For example, if you have $5000 or unsecured loan debt, and your friend has $5000 of credit card debt, then credit companies will look more favorably on you and less on your card-holding friend.
There Is A Risk Of Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud is a possibility, though many card companies have safeguards against such things. There is a chance that you will get your money back if you use a credit card and you are defrauded. When considering credit cards vs. personal loans, there is a lot of protection offered for credit cards, but you also have to be vigilant, careful and conscientious to be sure you do not invite crime or disaster.
You May Have Access To Less Money
Credit limits are typically lower than what you get with personal loans. For some people who have a habit of getting into debt, this point may be an upside, but if you need more money, then a credit card is not the way to go.
Credit Card Debt Is The Hardest To Get Out Of X X Big Mistake X X
They are the hardest type of debt to get out of because you can keep spending the money you repay. It is not the credit company’s fault that you spend money on your card every time there is money on it, but credit companies are making huge amounts of money because of people doing just that. Paying back the minimum will still involve years and years of debt, and APR and/or interest rates are typically far higher than they are with personal loans.
The Upside To Having An Unsecured Personal Loan
You Will Eventually Be Out Of Debt
A personal loan will be paid off one day if you simply keep paying the minimum payment. It is one of the biggest upsides to having a personal loan over having a credit card. You can keep paying the minimums on a credit card and stay in debt, but pay the minimum on your loan, and you will eventually clear the balance.
Money Is Accepted Almost Anywhere
Credit cards may be accepted everywhere, but personal loans give you money, which you can use anywhere (assuming that it is correctly converted to the local currency). The money you receive from your loan may go onto a debit card that is not accepted everywhere, but the money is if you draw it out.
Increase Your Purchasing Power With A Personal Loan
You may get a personal loan to help increase your purchasing power. With the extra money, you may buy in bulk or take advantage of rare offers. Some people do not have the self-discipline to keep hold of the money until it is needed, but on the same token, some people do not have enough self-discipline to keep money on their credit card until it is truly needed.
Loans Will Typically Have Lower Interest Rates
Getting a personal loan will often mean lower interest rates than what you get with credit cards. It also means lower interest rates than what you get with finance deals. It is often cheaper to get a personal loan rather than opting for a finance deal. Repayment terms are often more flexible with credit cards, but if you pick loan repayment installments that you can afford–then it shouldn’t be a problem.
You May Build Your Credit History With A Personal Loan
Build your credit history with a personal loan. Start small and pay it back on time. Make regular payments, don’t miss any payments, and stick to a short repayment schedule. Once you have paid off one, you may take out another and do the same again with a slightly larger amount. It is often better if you do this and have a credit card at the same time.
Personal Loans Make Budgeting Easier
A personal loan often has fixed repayment terms. You are asked for a certain amount every month until the balance is paid. A credit card will ask for a certain amount every month, but the amount they ask for may vary depending upon how much you owe the company. It is often easier to budget for a fixed amount than it is for a variable amount.
You Are More Likely To Receive A Fixed Interest Rate
A credit card may charge a different interest rate if for purchases, for overdrawn money, for withdrawn money, and for anything that appears to be a cash advance. This is far less likely with a personal loan, since most companies offer you a fixed rate unless you take action to change it.
A Personal Loan Allows You To Create Your Own Repayment Term
You choose how long it takes to repay your loan. The company may limit how long you have to repay the loan, such as insisting that the loan lasts no longer than six years, but you still have the option of picking how long the loan lasts. If you do not like the term, then you have the choice of refusing the loan and searching for a better offer.
Borrow More Money With A Loan
Typically, you are able to borrow more with a personal loan. When credit companies look at your credit score, they make a judgment on how much you are able to borrow from them. Credit card companies are often more likely to offer you lending facilities, but if a loan company offers lending facilities, they tend to offer more than the credit limit you get with a credit card.
You May Overpay On A Loan To Repay It Earlier
It is possible to overpay on a credit card too, but overpaying on a loan has a more significant impact. Overpaying on a credit card may have little effect on your debt if your subsequent interest debits increase the amount of debt on your credit card. Try to pick a loan company that doesn’t charge extra fees for early repayment.
The Downside To Having An Unsecured Personal Loan
APR Rates Can Be Terrible
That is to say that interest rates may be simply awful. It is true that many people get a worse rate on their credit card than they do on their personal loans, but that doesn’t mean there are not vultures out there who will sting you with a very high rate because you have had a little financial trouble in the past. At times when you really need the money, there are always lending companies that will rip you off with a truly terrible repayment and interest rate. When thinking about credit cards vs. personal loans, do not overlook the fact that some personal loan companies are just as callous as credit card companies.
Payday Loan And High Interest Loans Are The Worst X X Big Mistake X X
Generalizing in this way is a little unfair because some payday and high-interest loans have saved people from losing everything. There are times when getting the money quickly is vital in order to stave off a terrible loss, even if the APR rate is very high, you may lose less through having the loan than not having the loan. Nevertheless, some people dig themselves into tremendous amounts of debt because they have and use high-interest loans.
You May Still Be Defrauded Out Of Your Personal Loan Money
There is a lot said about credit card fraud, but you may just as easily be defrauded out of your personal loan money. The reason that personal loan fraud is less common is because people tend to spend the money from their personal loan very quickly, which leaves a very small window of opportunity for fraud. Whereas, a person with a credit card may have one for years, which is a very wide window of opportunity. If you are defrauded out of your personal loan money, then there is often very little you can do about it, but if you are defrauded
You May Be Tempted To Borrow More
The low interest rates on loans and the availability of money via a personal loan may tempt you to borrow more. It is true that a credit card offers money on a plate that you may spend at will, but personal loans have a similar temptation. In the distant past, I took out a loan with a peer-to-peer company, and they allowed me to take out the loan for the amount I required, but they also offered a very seductive interest rate on a loan that included $2000 more. The amount I paid in interest was marginally more than the amount I was originally going to pay, and I was sorely tempted to borrow money that I didn’t need.
Continuing To Use Credit Cards X X Big Mistake X X
If every consolidation loan would also ban people from having, owning or using a credit card, then the world would be a better place. There are so, so, so many people who take out a consolidation loan, and do not repay their credit cards with it. Worse still, they pay off their credit cards and then go right back to using them. This is a solid and powerful way of landing yourself in more debt than ever before, and it is so easy that warning should be tattooed onto the foreheads of people who make this mistake.
A Personal Loan Can Land You With Higher Monthly Payments
If you simply repay the minimums on your credit card, then you will be in debt for years and years. However, that doesn’t lessen the fact that your monthly outgoings may increase permanently if you have a personal loan over having a credit card. When thinking about credit cards vs. personal loans, remember your monthly outgoings as well as the final amount you will owe. Common sense says that you should prioritize the final amount you will owe, but if your repayments cost more than your budget allows, then you put your financial future in jeopardy.
Consolidating May Save You Less Than You Think
If you are the type of person who pays off his or her credit card balances, then a consolidation loan may save you significantly less than you imagine. As you pay off your credit card, you are charged less interest per month. Calculating your savings based on lower interest payments per month is rather tricky, which is why some consolidation loans may not be worth the effort because you may be saving far less than you think.
Conclusion – There Is No Easy Answer For Credit Cards vs. Personal Loans
Speaking as the writer of this article, I have missed a heck-of-a-lot of points because the issue of credit cards vs. personal loans is very complex and is a very large issue. If I had my way, I would write a book on the subject, or maybe a week-by-week series on the subject. There is no easy answer because both forms of credit have their pros and cons, (as you have seen by this article), and it is up to you to decide which you should choose.
All I can say is that you start slowly and very small because you may have a predisposition for getting into debt, and it is going to ruin your standard of living if you fall into debt that you cannot get out of. If there is any chance that you cannot sensibly handle your debt, then please do not get into it in the first place.