Personal Loans
How Does LendingTree Get Paid?
LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

17 Types of Loans, From Personal Loans to Mortgages and More

Whether you are going to college, getting married, buying a car or house or perhaps have a more uniquely personal expense on the horizon, different types of loans suit different borrowers. It’s wise to familiarize yourself with these types of loans and their finer details, including repayment terms, APRs and credit requirements.

You’ll also increase your borrower savviness by learning about the difference between secured and unsecured debt, as well as fixed and variable interest. So, in order to be ready to borrow the right type of loan when the time comes, let’s answer the following three questions:

What are the different types of loans?

Personal loans can help you improve your credit or finance necessary or voluntary expenses. But there are many other types of loan borrowing that could be a better fit for your needs.

7 types of loans
Loan type Purpose
1. Personal loan Funds for a wide array of personal needs and desires
2. Mortgage Borrow your way to owning a home
3. Student loan Federal, state or privately-issued debt to cover education costs
4. Auto loan Finance a new or used car with the help of a lender or dealership
5. Payday loan Like a short-term cash advance, payday loan involves borrowing against your paycheck instead of the plastic in your wallet
6. Pawn shop loan Agreeing to a shop owner’s terms to pay for various items
7. Small business loan Funding to get your business off the ground or to make improvements

1. Personal loan

Personal loans can be used for a variety of expenses, and they can go by various names (see types of personal loans, below).

Though many of them work similarly, lenders may give them specific, purpose-driven titles and offer varying terms depending on each purpose. For example, LightStream currently offers one type of loan specifically to pay for a wedding, and another purpose-made for financing home improvements — with each loan type having its own interest rate range.

Repayment terms: 1 to 5 years (based on terms listed on LendingTree as of July 21, 2021)

APRs: 5.94% to 35.99% (based on rates listed on LendingTree as of July 21, 2021)

Credit score: 600s, depending on the lender (though a cosigner can help)

2. Mortgage

A mortgage, also known as a home loan, allows you to borrow to finance what is likely to be the biggest purchase of your lifetime. There are various types of mortgages for different borrowers, including first-time home buyers and military veterans. Like with auto loans, failing to repay your mortgage could result in a foreclosure and eviction.

Repayment terms: 15 to 30 years

APRs: Hit record lows in 2020-2021

Credit score: The higher, the better, with the 600s being a common baseline; but a score in the 500s could be enough to secure Federal Housing Administration (FHA) home loans

3. Student loan

Most new and outstanding student loans in the U.S. are federal loans, meaning they are held and managed by the Department of Education. Millions of families have also relied on private or alternative student loans to bridge any remaining gap in their school’s cost of attendance. Student loan repayment is notoriously fraught with pitfalls, making it treacherous for borrowers who aren’t familiar with their options.

Repayment terms: 10 to 25 years for federal loans; 5 to 15 years for private loans

APRs: 3.73% to 6.28% for federal loans (for 2021-2022); 1.04% to 13.49% among top private lenders (as of July 21, 2021)

Credit score: N/A for federal loans; good credit or a cosigner for private loans

4. Auto loan

Borrowing money to pay for an asset that quickly and continuously depreciates in value isn’t ideal. But if you need wheels, an auto loan could be your best remaining option. You could shop around with financial institutions as well as car companies and dealerships. Just keep in mind that your car could be seized if you fail to repay your loan.

Always make equal comparisons by looking at APRs, loan terms and other details of each lender’s quote. If you have excellent credit, you might even qualify for an introductory rate of 0.00%.

Repayment terms: 2 to 7 years

APRs: Average rates for new cars in 2020 ranged between 2.65% and 14.20%, depending on creditworthiness

Credit score: No minimum, but a score in the 600s should keep your APR in single digits

5. Payday loan

A payday loan is designed to advance your wages. You might be tempted to borrow a payday loan to cover an unforeseen expense before your paycheck hits your checking account. Payday loans are typically considered predatory debt, however, because of the short repayment periods and often triple-digit APRs, not to mention fees. You might borrow $500 but end up repaying thousands of dollars.

Because they’re risky and costly, consider payday loan alternatives, such as cash advances on your credit card.

Repayment terms: 7 to 120 days

APRs: Average rate approaches 400%

Credit score: Not a factor

6. Pawn shop loan

Perhaps the most traditional form of a secured loan, a pawn shop loan involves yielding a piece of property (such as jewelry or high-priced electronics) for short-term cash. When the borrower repays their debt on or ahead of schedule, the shop owner returns the property. If the borrower doesn’t repay the debt, the shop owner may sell the item after a certain period has elapsed, making this a risky proposition.

Your credit is not factored into the loan, and repayment terms and interest rates vary by pawn shop.

7. Small business loan

If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, you might borrow to fund your next big idea or simply maintain operations. Like with many of the other types of loans on this list, small businesses loans are available from banks, credit unions and online lenders. And you could qualify whether your business is a sole proprietorship or limited liability company (LLC) in your garage or a smaller corporation.

Repayment terms: 3 to 300 months

APRs: Vary widely by lender and other factors

Credit score: 680 to unlock lower-rate loans, though scores as low as the 500s could be enough for loans with higher rates and fees

What are the different types of personal loans?

Here are some of the most popular types of personal loans and what you need to know about each.

Common types of personal loans
Loan type Purpose
8. Credit builder loan A secured loan that helps you to build positive credit history
9. Debt consolidation loan Combine multiple debt accounts, ideally with a lower interest rate
10. Holiday loan Can help cover the cost of gifts and other holiday expenses
11. Home improvement loan Used to pay for home improvement projects and repairs
12. Medical loan Can cover the cost for medical treatment or living costs while you’re recuperating from an illness or procedure
13. Vacation loan Allows you to cover the cost for a vacation
14. Wedding loan Helps you pay for your big day and related expenses
15. Recreation vehicle and boat loans Financing for the toys in your backyard or nearest body of water
16. Pool loan Funds to build or repair the concrete pond on your property
17. Family loan Skip the bank and, despite the risks, consider borrowing directly from a family member or friend

8. Credit builder loan

A credit builder loan is intended to help you do just that — build your credit. Whether you’re trying to establish a credit history or repair one that has been less-than-stellar, a credit builder loan gives you the opportunity to show lenders that you are a responsible borrower by making timely payments on the loan.

Once approved, the amount of the loan is placed in a savings account, which is held by the bank and is not at your disposal. You make monthly payments on that amount, and once you’ve paid it all back, then you receive the funds along with interest or dividends in some cases.

As long as you make all your payments on time and in full, you’ll likely get a boost to your credit score. Most credit builder loans are small — from $300 to $1,000 — and range from six to 24 months. They’re typically much easier to get than other personal loans as there’s little risk to the financial institution in granting you one. Note, however, that in some cases you’ll be charged an administration fee for such loans.

9. Debt consolidation loan

Debt consolidation loans allow you to roll multiple debts into one with a new interest rate and repayment term. The key perks to a debt consolidation can include:

  • Repaying your debt with a lower interest rate
  • Shortening or extending the amount of time you’re in debt
  • Getting a fixed interest rate when you may have had a variable rate
  • Reducing the number of debt payments you make each month
  • Switching to a preferred lender with better customer service

In most cases, when you’re approved for a debt consolidation loan, the lender will deposit funds into your bank account. You’ll then use that money to pay off your old debts (though in some cases, the lender will pay off your creditors directly). Depending on the lender, you could borrow from $2,000 to $35,000 or more.

Depending on your credit and the type of debt you’re carrying, debt consolidation loans can help you repay your debt at a lower rate. When comparing your loan options, pay attention to loan APRs, or annual percentage rates. This rate represents the interest rate plus fees, and is a more accurate representation of your cost of borrowing.

The best rates are offered to borrowers with excellent credit and finances. These borrowers may also consider a balance transfer credit card as a potentially more affordable way to consolidate or refinance credit card debt. If you have bad credit, however, a debt consolidation loan may not be a viable way to save money over repayment, unless you have debt with exceptionally high rates.

10. Holiday loan

Holidays are typically joyful times, but they can also be expensive. There are gifts to buy, festivities to attend and a host of other holiday happenings that can add up and create stress.

According to a 2019 LendingTree survey, 61% of Americans reported they were dreading the December holidays because of the associated costs. For gifts alone, a typical consumer expected to spend $602.65, and that number jumped to $850.38 if they had children under 18. On top of that, there’s often the cost of travel, parties, decorations and more that people rack up in the name of happy holidays. To help ease some of that stress and cover holidays costs, some consumers turn to holiday loans.

Ideally, you should save up for these expenses ahead of time, but when that’s not possible or you don’t want to dip into savings, holiday loans could bridge the gap. As with any loan, though, you want to make sure you don’t borrow more than you can repay. Unfortunately, far too many people do — 1 in 5 survey respondents were still paying off debt from the previous year’s holiday season.

11. Home improvement loan

For most people, your home is your largest asset, so you want to keep it in good working order and as updated as possible to protect your return on investment. Home improvements and repairs can be pricey though, which is why some homeowners seek out home improvement loans.

Take a new roof, for example. While prices vary widely based on the size of your home, type of roof and where you live, the national average rings in at $6,626, according to HomeAdvisor, a marketplace for home improvement and maintenance services — but not everyone has that kind of cash sitting around.

Your typical home improvement loan is unsecured and, as long as you have good credit, can be easy to get. However, if you’re more comfortable with a secured loan, or want to minimize interest charges, a home equity loan could be a more affordable option.

12. Medical loan

Medical expenses can quickly add up, and if you’re unable to pay, you may consider a medical loan to cover them or to take care of living expenses while you recover.

A word of caution about medical loans, however: In many cases, medical providers will provide payment plans with more attractive terms than medical loans, such as no-interest plans. They also may be willing to negotiate when it comes to price. In any case, it’s a good idea to do some investigating before you take out a medical loan to make sure it’s the best option possible (plus, you should also note that you may also have to pay an origination fee for a medical loan).

13. Vacation loan

A vacation loan may be just what you need to help you escape the daily grind and get away, while putting off paying for it until another day. But while the memories you make may be priceless, repaying a vacation with interest can be pricey, depending on your loan terms. In general, it’s wiser to save ahead for vacation costs.

You might choose a vacation or travel loan, however, if you’d prefer to hold onto savings for emergency costs or if you’re attending a special event like a wedding on short notice.

14. Wedding loan

The national average wedding cost in a pandemic-affected 2020 was $19,000, a steep drop-off from recent years according to wedding planning website The Knot. For couples who are unable to pay for these still significant wedding costs out of pocket, a wedding loan can be one financing option. Similarly, you can also find honeymoon loans.

One downside to a wedding loan, however, is the fact that personal loans are for fixed amounts. If you borrow too little, for example, you’ll have to take out another loan or charge a credit card to cover additional costs. For that reason, a personal line of credit or credit card could be a more practical financing option, as you can borrow on a rolling basis.

15. Recreation vehicle and boat loans

Whether you’re seeking a motor home or a motor boat, you might need help financing it. Personal loan lenders typically allow you to borrow for this purpose. Just be sure to compare apples-to-apples APRs as you shop around among lenders and RV and boat sellers that may have their own in-house loan options.

Also, keep in mind that buying used RVs and boats on credit could be difficult or expensive. Lenders typically award lower interest rates on RV and boat loans when the vehicle being purchased is less than five years old.

Like with other personal loans, if your credit or cash-flow is suspect, consider budgeting yourself into a stronger borrowing position. The right RV loan will be available once your finances are ready.

16. Pool loan

Pool loans can help you fix up or improve your backyard playground. Top-notch personal loan lenders almost always lend for this borrowing purpose. You should also compare rates and terms with the local or national pool installation companies that offer financing options.

But before borrowing, take a step back to understand affordability. If you’re not confident you’d be able to afford repayment on a larger loan for that sparkling in-ground pool, for example, you might settle for an above-ground option. Also, account for swimming pool maintenance costs that can easily add up once your new pool is installed. A loan calculator can do this math for you.

17. Family loans

In some cases, you might decide to skip the bank, credit union or online lender and its interest rates by really keeping your finances under one roof. Borrowing a family loan from those closest to you could be the right choice, particularly if you need only a small amount of money and can easily repay it quickly.

Just keep in mind that mixing money with family relationships could do serious harm. That’s enough to scare off most of us: More than 3 in 10 Americans would rather go into debt than borrow from a loved one, according to a December 2020 survey by LendingTree.

Another alternative option is to borrow from existing accounts, such as a retirement account or life insurance policy. In the case of raiding a retirement account, don’t put your golden years in jeopardy. Weigh the pros and cons before proceeding.

Other borrowing options to consider
  • Credit card: With the plastic in your wallet, you aren’t forced to borrow a certain amount. You could borrow as needed, however, up to your credit limit. It’s always a good idea to zero your credit card balance each month so that you don’t pay the double-digit interest rates associated with Visa, American Express and other creditors.
  • Line of credit: A credit line works just like a credit card, but you could open one directly with your bank, credit union or other financial institution. Credit lines also only charge interest on the money you borrow, but prepayment is your best option.

What type of loan should you borrow?

Whether you’re looking to finance a “need” or a “want,” there are many different types of loans. And although it might be obvious to you what type of loan to borrow, you might not be 100% sure about the specific loan terms.

Here’s a look at two major aspects of personal and other loan types: whether they’re secured or unsecured, and whether they carry fixed or variable interest rates.

Unsecured vs. secured loans

When it comes to the different kinds of loans, they all fall into one of two categories: unsecured and secured. An unsecured loan doesn’t require collateral in order for you to be eligible. A secured loan does require collateral, such as your car or a savings account, and its value could affect how much you’re eligible to borrow.

Unsecured loans are harder to obtain and interest rates can be higher, as lenders rely heavily on your credit and other financial information to determine your loan eligibility. The better your credit score, the better the interest rate you’re likely to get. In general, a score in the high 600s or higher is most desirable. If you have poor credit, you’ll likely have a tougher time getting an unsecured loan with a reasonable interest rate, if you qualify at all.

Secured loans, on the other hand, could be easier to get, since your collateral lessens the risk for lenders. They also typically come with more favorable terms than unsecured loans. The downside to secured loans, however, is that if you’re not able to pay the funds back, you risk losing the personal property you put up as collateral.

Unsecured Secured
  • No collateral required
  • Borrowing amounts based on your creditworthiness
  • Can be obtained even if you have poor credit
  • Often have more favorable terms than unsecured loans
  • May be difficult to obtain if you don’t have good credit
  • Interest rates are typically higher than those of secured loans
  • Must already have something of value to put down as collateral
  • Value of collateral can affect extended loan amount
  • Your personal property is at risk if you can’t pay the loan back

Fixed vs. variable rates

Whether your loan is unsecured or secured, there’s the matter of interest, which is your primary cost to borrow the money. A fixed interest rate means the rate remains the same for the life of the loan. In contrast, a variable interest rate means the rate will change over the life of the loan in response to the ups and downs of a financial benchmark determined by the bank — typically the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) or the Prime Rate. (LIBOR will be phased out by the end of 2021, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and could be replaced by the Secured Overnight Financing Rate or SOFR.)

Most types of loans come with fixed interest rates, but the rate you receive for either will be based on your credit score. Again, the higher your credit score and stronger your finances, the lower the interest rate you can expect.

Fixed interest rates allow you to know just how much the loan will cost you in its entirety and allow you to budget accordingly. Variable interest rate loans may save you money if interest rates go down, but if they go up, they could end up costing you more. While they do have ceilings to protect borrowers from astronomical jumps in the market, those ceilings are generally set quite high.

Fixed Variable
  • Payments won’t increase
  • Predictable payments allow for budgeting ease
  • Payments may decrease
  • No savings if industry rates dip
  • Payments may increase
  • Unpredictable payments can make budgeting challenging



Get personal loan offers from up to 5 lenders in minutes