What Is a Loan?
In finance, a loan is the transfer of money from one party to another with an agreement to return it with interest within a certain time frame. It is generally an unsecured debt, but it can be secured with an asset such as a house or car in the case of mortgages. The lender usually outlines all of the terms in writing before disbursing any money. Loans can be used to fund almost any type of expense or investment. They are commonly used in real estate, for home improvements or renovations, debt consolidation and business ventures.
There are a wide variety of loans available in the market today, each with different terms and interest rates. Taking the time to learn about the various types of loans can prepare you when speaking with lenders and negotiating the best deal possible. Some of the most common loans are credit cards, mortgages and automobile loans.
A loan may be for a specific amount or it may be offered as an open-ended line of credit up to a specified limit, such as overdrafts and credit facilities. Revolving lines of credit are a primary source of financing for consumers through credit cards and overdrafts, but they are also available to businesses through credit cards and credit facilities.
In addition to the principal of a loan, the borrower is required to pay back interest and lender fees in accordance with the loan agreement. This process, called repayment, is typically monthly and in fixed payment amounts. A portion of each payment goes toward the interest, and the remainder is applied to the principal balance. Some lenders charge borrowers a fee for paying off their loans early, called a prepayment penalty. These fees can be a flat rate or a percentage of the outstanding loan balance.
The most common way to acquire a loan is through a bank, credit union or financial institution. This process requires the borrower to fill out an application, provide documentation and receive a decision from the lender. In most cases, a loan is approved, but there are occasions when the loan is denied. Lenders must provide a reason for the denial, and in some cases they will offer an alternative to the borrower.
There are several factors that can affect the approval of a loan, including the borrower’s ability to repay the amount owed, their income level and their creditworthiness. Lenders may also consider a co-signer on a loan, which is an individual who agrees to be responsible for the debt in the event of the borrower’s failure to meet their obligations. In some cases, lending can be abused through predatory practices, such as subprime mortgage-lending or payday lending. Other abuses include borrowers defrauding the lender or misrepresenting their intentions in applying for the loan.