Installment loans, personal loans, consolidation loans, payday loans..what’s the difference? We here this question time and time again. We decided to set the record straight and provide a simple explanation and guide to the different types of loans and what each means. We have also included some other terms you may run into so you can be fully prepared when going out to get your loan.

A personal loan is exactly that…a loan to a person. In other words, this is not a loan to a business. Personal loans can be used for about anything you want, including debt consolidation.

Debt consolidation loans are typically just personal loans used to consolidate multiple debts into one easy to make payment. These are great when you have a whole bunch of payments to make to various creditors. It gets them off your back and allows you to work with just one lender. Just make sure you use it to pay off your debts as the lender isn’t going to look over your shoulder and make you prove you used the loan for that purpose.

These are short-term loans that act as an advance against your paycheck. Interest rates are generally very, very high…200 percent or more! Borrowers should pay back these loans very quickly as late fees and interest can become staggering. On the flip side, they are very easy to get, which is why they are so popular with consumers who have poor credit histories. Make sure you are working with a reputable payday lender as they have often been associated with overseas scams.

These types of loans typically bring borrowers and lenders together to lend and borrow money. Consumers with money they want to invest essentially become the “lenders.” Borrowers typically get an installment loan with a repayment period of 1-3 years. Prosper(which can be found on this site) is a great example of this type of lending.

This is something the lender can take if you fail to pay back your loan. This can often be a car, your home, jewelry or something value that the lender can sell or liquidate.

A secured loan is one where you pledge collateral in order to get a loan. Since there is collateral to at least fully or partially back up the loan, these loans usually carry lower interest rates.

Unsecured loans require no collateral. These types of loans are more risky for lenders so they are typically smaller than secured loans and have higher interest rates.

Most loans are installment loans such as an auto loan. You borrow a specific amount of money and pay it back according to a set payment schedule. Often in the form of monthly payments over a set period of time.

Note: payments can sometimes change on installment loans if, for example, the interest rate changes or there is an introductory period where the payment or interest rate on the loan is lower.

This is simply the amount of time you have to pay back the loan. As with an installment loan, such as an auto, you will often be given repayment terms of 36-72 months


A credit card is a revolving loan. You are given a line of credit with the option of payment as much as little as you want from month to month. You can pay the minimum monthly amount of the entire balance in full.

The annual percentage rate (APR) is the interest rate expressed as a yearly rate. This can be very helpful when comparing loans. However, it’s not the whole picture. Fees can be equally important, so make sure to read all disclosures before you apply for a loan.

Most people who have gone out to get a loan or whom have been denied for a loan have heard this term used. This is simply the process a lender uses to decide whether you are approved for a loan and how much they are willing to lend. In addition, it may also determine the terms of your loan(APR, Fees, etc). This is often done via computerized algorithms although there are still loans that go through manual underwriting where a person is involved in the underwriting process.


    1. To get approved for a loan of $1,000 you will need a credit score of above 500 as well as an income of at least $2,000. Our lenders all have different underwriting hurdles but this is a good place to start.

    1. 671 is high enough to get approved for a $5,000 if you income justifies it. You will probably need an income of at least $3,500/month in conjunction with your credit score to get approved. This will still be a fairly high interest loan so make sure to pay it off as quickly as possible.

  1. I have been accepted by Uber and Lyft. My transportation was sold as salvage in December 2018. I need a vehicle for job. I am trying to secure transportation adequate to help subsidized my disability income. Can you help?

    1. Hi Tonya,

      Sorry to hear about your recent troubles and congratulations on the job opportunities. Getting a loan can be tough but having a job and income to repay financial obligations is a requirement to get approved. The good news is it looks like you have the job opportunities and getting a car loan is often easier than getting a personal loan as the loan is secured by the car you purchase.

      We are not lenders at but we work with many lenders. Honestly, if you have troubled credit, one of your best bets is to work with a local used car company as many of them will loan you money for a car if you have proof of income. Once you are back on your feet, get a car loan from a bank and pay off the used car loan as it will most likely lower the APR you are paying.

      Best of luck!

    1. That’s a tough one Mary. Generally small loans such as that are high interest and you end up on a treadmill of paying back loan minimums at a high APR. We do work with lenders like this but we only recommend them if there is a real emergency.

  2. I have over 20 credit card i am trying my best to paid them off i am considering closing them after paiding them off. I asking what would be a good stargazing process…my credit score is 601…i also have over 30 hard inquiry can i dispute them

    1. Hi Margaret,

      Yes…you should pay these cards off and close the accounts as you do so. You should only have 2 credit cards open at any given time and you should never use more than 30% of the spending power on those cards. Hard inquiries can definitely hurt your credit score. The good news is if you avoid having your credit pulled over the next 6 months it should rebound.

  3. I need a $5000 loan for a car repair and late bills. My heater is not working right. My credit is 574 and I can’t get a loan.

    1. Hi Patricia,

      With that score getting a loan will be difficult…and even if you do get a loan it will be a high APR. Do you have a family member that will cosign for the loan with you? I can’t stress this enough…before taking out any kind of loan you need a realistic idea of a repayment plan for that loan.

  4. The worse part is that it wasn’t that bad until I went with a guaranteed loan company that let loan companies hit my credit so many times that I got fraud alerts and I paid verification fee of $40 and another fee of $100 for them to hurt me more. That should not be allowed. Why can they do that. Guaranteed and then make things worse and then not give you the loan

    1. Sorry to hear that Patricia! There is really no such thing as guaranteed. Anyone who tells you that is probably going to take you for a ride. Often if you apply for a loan in person it’s advisable to bring in a recent copy of your credit report so that a loan officer can tell you if the odds of approval are good before they do a hard credit pull.

  5. i need a loan to consolidate . i and my husband are both on social security. our income is less now because i no longer have my long term disability.

  6. Hi My credit score is around 630 never been late on any loans I need to consolidate some loans my income is around 6500mo does this score still put me in the high rate category what are the chances I will qualify for around $10,000 to pay off debt or what is the credit score criteria.

    1. Ho Osvaldo,

      Your credit range would be considered Poor/Fair. It’s hard to say what the odds are that you will get approved for a loan as there are a lot of things that go into the underwriting of loans/approvals. You can try debt consolidation but usually they need a minimum of 15k.

  7. My spouse and I are on social security disability, gross yearly income combined is $39,200. Bought a house in my name only FHA 30yr fixed in July 2017. Moved in August, first mortgage payment due was Sept 1st. End of August only vehicle started having issues. Broke down…it was old 2003 van…turned out electrical system fried. Had to get new vehicle with no money to put down and with just getting a new mortgage… Took out a payday loan a few months before bought house. Had to keep paying off and reloaning every month.Also have 2 credit cards one have had about 1yr and other just got in Dec 2017…was paying balances on both, then maxing both out just to pay bills every month on time. After all bills each month we are lucky to have 300$ to buy food, household items, gas in vehicle. We have 3 kids(2 are special needs, go to school 40 minute drive away). Constantly have to go to Dr appointments, pick up from school for behavioral issues ect) plus have court and other professionals involved) so have court fees to add into the bills now monthly for 2 special needs kids. We get no government assistance other than medicaid for the kids and medicare for us…still have to pay for copays ect every month on meds. So we have been going to foodbanks just to get by each month. Tried for a personal loan to pay off both credit cards and payday loan but my debt to income ratio is too high now because the mortgage, car, payday loan and both credit cards are all in my name. My husband is not on of these debts. His credit was non existent from always paying cash. So we got Fingerhut freshstart accounts…we needed to get winter coats for our kids and didnt have hundreds of dollars to purchase them plus he needed to build some credit. We had to get all new furniture when we moved including beds for our kids( we bought 3 futons on sale at walmart for under 300$) and went to Rent a center and got a 2 piece sectional. The sectional doubles as our bed because we can’t afford a bed for us. Plus because we had a rental house that the lease ended in August and our house was purchased in July I had double utility bills for both places as well. Gas, electric, water, and cable all were due so we are drowning. I pay everything so we dont have late charges but need to pay off so much to get ahead.which is why I tried getting a large enough personal loan. Need to pay off both credit cards, payday loan, rest owed on sectional, the consumers electric added my previous final bills to my current bill and put us on a payment plan so I pay 195 a month…however my balance is close to 900 and my monthly bill in my current home is always more than 195 so it just keeps adding to it. And of course the fingerhut balances are about 120 each for both of us. Just need a large enough loan to pay all this at once and have just one payment each month on the personal loan. Then we would be back on track. The car also has full coverage insurance and of course a large monthly payment so the car alone each month plus insurance is 750$,…my van I had owned plus only had minimum coverage so that on top of everything else just killed us financially. Really need a personal loan that will cover everything. I know I can make the payments and be back on track if we could just get one. My husband can be on the personal loan now and his credit is 665 and mine was 640 maybe less now since we have maxed out cards and only paid the minimum payment on both this month. We got a personal loan of 677 to pay the payday loan off however this doesnt help with anything else. Our loan rate was great at 10% so that’s a plus and its only for 6 months. Just wish we could have gotten a larger loan to take care of everything at once. Even a 200$ a month payment on a large loan would put us in a great place with all the other things taken out of the picture. We would have money for all bills, loan payment, food, housestuff, gas for car, car maintenance and even start putting emergency funds back and start getting our children clothing and possibly buy a bed set for ourselves. We have just had a string of bad luck and with a little help could get back on track financially. Not sure if you guys can help with this type of thing but if its possible we could really utilize it. At this point I think a loan of 10k would put us back on track and give us a cushion for emergencies. Otherwise we are just stuck.

    1. Jessie,

      Thanks for taking the time to reach out. This all sounds like a tough situation! I don’t think another loan is what you really need here. It sounds like you are on the dreaded credit hamster wheel. We just published an article on this kind of problem. Have you ever thought of debt consolidation/restructuring? This might help you get a fresh start.

    1. Hi Rasta,

      It sounds like a loan is not a promising solution here. Paying bills with loans is a sure fire way to end up on the “dreaded credit hamster wheel”. Have you thought about debt consolidation/restructuring? Do you have a monthly budget to help keep you on track with your expenses?

  8. Credit score little over 600, need a loan of $2000. What do you suggest?


    1. Hi Nikki,

      As long as you are employed and have an income that can support your loan payment, there are lenders that can probably help. Do expect higher APRs though, based on your credit score and credit risk.

    2. Hi my name is Ty. I have an emergency situation. And need about $4500. My income is about 1550 mo. with a fair credit rating. Please recommend a lender who’s willing to help. This is URGENT. My email is Thanks!!

      1. Tyrone,

        Monevo and Lending Tree would be good places to start your search. Best of luck!

  9. I need a 2k loan, I have terrible credit and have every since I became disabled. They have now decided that both of my hip replacements are being recalled and I’m working with attorney’s on that. However, after being disabled for 10 years I’ve come up with 7 different business plans that intertwine together. I’ve presented part of the plans to some investors and they were thrilled with the ideas. I do need to incorporate or at a minimum get an LLC and have done my homework on the cost of this. The goal is to get off of Disability, but I have to be able to move at my own pace. Therefore the business plans. Given my age I don’t want to start from the ground up, but have been looking at turnkey businesses with all of the licenses in place. Sure I could use more capital but 2k is enough to get all of the main foundation up and running, with money coming in. As most of these businesses are not only turnkey but fsbo with owner financing.

    I am in the process of moving forward with this business even without the money which is risky to say the least. But investors have already been purchasing commercial, residential, and agricultural land in multiple states. Which when in full swing will bring at a minimum of 30-50 jobs per cluster of businesses and in some cases more depending upon expansion within the States that we move into.

    But at this point NO ONE will lend me any money because of my credit history over the last 10 years since I’ve been on disability. No one looks at the fact that I was an IT Manager prior to becoming disabled and the Dr.’s put me on so much Morphine that I could hardly hold my head up let alone think clearly. And that was just one medication out of 12. Now I have a clear head most of the time but some damage was done, as you would expect, but I do not want to sit here and live off of disability when I can be out there making a real living. Paying my bills like I used to be able to before when I had a real income.

    I know how bad my credit report is and started working with Lexington Law, I worked with them for 6 months. My credit was in worse shape after that than it was before and it took my food money each month for the hornets nest to get stirred up. Now I have people coming after me that hadn’t thought about me for years. Not that they weren’t on my list of people to pay back, because everyone that I have ever owed money to ever is on a spread sheet and they may have written it off but I didn’t and one day they will get paid back in full with interest.

    If you have any suggestions as to which direction to turn it would be greatly appreciated. Oh, and those hip replacements that are in the process of being recalled. There will be a sizable payout per hip as they are putting metal shards into the blood stream which isn’t a good thing and have been doing it for a number of years, and that isn’t even what my disability is I have deterioration of the spine which the hips being a problem has caused many difficulties as you can imagine.

    I have been advised that I will be before a judge within 90 days, and then a judgement will be made. And if there are no penalties to pay off the loan in advance that would certainly be my goal. Then no more capital should be needed as the investors see the returns on their investments and the companies grow, as they will, the uniqueness of this business and the fact that we are determined to help our local businesses be profitable as we profit by utilizing local businesses as suppliers, potential clients, neighbors, and provide housing for our employees. We have some pretty big goals to meet both short term and long term.

    And all that I’m asking for is $2,000 to get the foundation set in place with a year and a half to pay it back. I’m positive that the APR will be high which will make the payment higher. But, with all of my being I know that this will fly. I’ve talked with enough financial people, accountants, and college admission adviser’s to read their body language to know that they are excited at the prospect of this cluster of businesses coming to fruition, that they are asking to keep in contact just to see how we are progressing over the next 6 months. That is exciting all in its self.

    Again any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank You So Much,

    1. Paula,

      Stories like yours truly break our hearts. We are not a lender so there is not a lot we can do to get you a loan except offer some advice on how to improve your credit. It sounds like you are on the dreaded credit hamster wheel and it’s a tough thing to get off of for sure. Please make sure your credit report has no inaccuracies and read our guide to good credit. Hopefully you can take somethings away from it. Please also take heart in the fact that you are not alone. Credit issues plague over 50% of Americans and the number is growing every day.

  10. So I am in need of a $60,000.00 personal loan to consolidate all of our bills into one, what is my best course of action to take? Currently my credit score is 661.

    1. Todd,

      It’s tough to say whether or not you will get approved for that amount. We are not a lender and all of our lenders have different underwriting. That being said, their are debt consolidation companies that will negotiate down your current debt although you will take a credit hit if you do that. Lot’s of options here and you would be wise to explore all of them. In addition, don’t apply for a loan that you don’t think you will be approved for as a hard credit pull will also drop your credit score a few points.

  11. I really need a loan ASAP!!! I have bad credit & from what I understand, my FICO score is 0!!! That is according to ClickFreeScore, I believe. Now, I just got a call today, saying I was approved for a loan up to $8000!!!! The loan is from a company called “Dale Finance,” they told me I can do a lower amount, because I don’t need quite that much. So they told me I could do a loan for::
    ~Loan Amount::
    ★$5000 @ ★11.2% Interest Rate for ★48 Months with ★$129.71 for Monthly Payments.
    Here’s what I’m mainly wondering they told me I have a choice between 2 types of loans 1 – an “Unsecured Loan” & 2 – a “Secured Loan”. This is what they told me I would need::
    ~Unsecured Loan::
    ★Need 2 Co-Signers &
    ★At Least – 1 of the Co-Signers has to have 2 things::
    *700+ or Higher Credit Score & have a Take Home Income of $3,000+ or Higher
    (I DO NOT have ANYBODY to Co-Sign a loan for me, if I did, I wouldn’t be looking online for a loan, I would just ask that person to borrow me the money. Do you know what I mean?) Now, for the “Secured Loan” this is what they said I need::
    ~Secured Loan::
    ★Need to add on “PPI” (Payment Protection Insurance) to the loan I want. There’s 1 thing::
    *$199.99 – Is the amount of the One Time Payment for the Insurance, (which needs to be paid before they can start the transfer of the $5000 into my account.)

    Is this or do you think this is legit??? Or is it a SCAM that I’ve come across, AGAIN??? I’ve always heard that you should never pay anything up front for a loan. If a “Loan Company” says you have to pay money up front, it’s usually a SCAM…. I’m really thinking about paying the $199.99 to get the Insurance started, so, they can start the transfer of my $5,000 loan to my checking/prepaid debit card account.

    1. Hi Nicole,

      FICO score ranges are from 300-850. A FICO score of 0 is not possible. Please start by going to reputable website like to get your actual credit score…totally free of charge. Also, make sure that does not have you signed up for a free trial that will begin to charge you after a given period of time.

      Before taking out a loan always read all the terms and conditions very carefully and make sure you understand all fees associated. In addition, PPI is generally used to help pay off debts in case of injury…it has absolutely nothing to do with your credit score.

      Please read our guide to good credit and make sure you have a rock solid repayment plan before taking out any type of loan. If not, you will be stuck with just another bill.

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