FAQs

Can I get a personal loan if I am 18?

Turning 18 is a major life milestone, and the world becomes your oyster. Unless you’re lucky enough to have parents willing to bank-roll your adventures, chances are you’ll need to apply for a personal loan. 

But you’ll need to tick some boxes first and being aged 18 or over is one of them. Australian lenders require you to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident, have a job or regular source of income and be over the age of 18 before you apply for a personal loan.  

Some lenders might have extra lending criteria, and most won’t lend money if you’re an international student or if your only source of income is Austudy, Youth Allowance or Newstart.

No credit history? No problem! 

If this is your first personal loan, chances are you don’t have any personal finance history yet, also known as ‘credit history’, which means you won’t have a credit score. Without a credit score, lenders tend to view you as a ‘risky’ borrower because there’s no report card available that evaluates how well (or badly) you’ve handled your debts and repayments in the past.

Applying for a personal loan without a credit score can be a little tricky, but don’t lose heart. Follow this guide and you’ll soon be seeing your own big idea come to life.

Will I be approved?

If you can show that you have the means to make regular repayments on your personal loan without going into financial difficulty, you’ll have a better chance of being approved. Here are 5 ways to prove you’re a trustworthy borrower:

  1. Have a secure job with a regular income (it doesn’t need to be full-time).
  2. Make sure your income is high enough to easily meet the repayments for the loan you want.
  3. Show that you save money from your income each month.
  4. Make sure there’s no history of late payments on your bills (this includes Afterpay).
  5. Save for a deposit in a high-interest savings account.

All of these things will help improve your chances of having your personal loan approved. 

Proof of life 

Before agreeing to loan you the funds for your dream (and by ‘dream’ we mean ‘budget’), the lender will want to be sure you have a stable home and job. Basically, they want to know you’re not a flight risk. Makes sense, right? 

Make sure you gather together the paperwork you need to show the following:

  • 100 points of ID. For example, your driver’s license, passport, Medicare card, etc.
  • Proof of residence, such as council rates or a utility bill, etc.
  • Proof of income, such as recent payslips, current bank statements and a letter from your employer stating your employment details.
  • Assets, including property or other vehicles that you own.
  • Liabilities, including any other debts or loans in your name, such as credit cards.
  •  Contact details for people who can authenticate these details, such as your employer, landlord or accountant.

Number crunch! 

Next, take the time to work out how much you can afford to pay each month on top of your current expenses. You can crunch the numbers on this useful calculator on the MoneySmart website. Once you have a particular personal loan in mind, make sure you’re aware of all the loan features and hidden costs including:

  • The loan amount
  • The interest rate
  • The repayment period
  • Additional fees such as establishment, upfront late payment, account keeping, early exit and monthly administration fees

Guaranteed security

a guarantor application could improve your chances of being approved for a personal loan if you have no credit score yourself. This means they co-sign the loan and agree to accept responsibility for the repayments if you default for any reason. Your guarantor acts as a type of security, making it less risky for your lender to loan you the funds. 

You might even be able to borrow a larger amount and secure a lower interest rate if you have a guarantor on your personal loan, which means you’ll save money over the life of the loan. 

But remember, it’s a big responsibility for both of you. If you can’t make repayments down the track, your guarantor will need to foot the bill, which could damage your relationship or impact family dynamics. 

Peer-to-peer lending

When you’re researching student personal loans, it pays to look beyond the ‘Big Four’ banks. Online lending platforms, also known as peer-to-peer lenders, often provide a faster approval process and lower interest rates than traditional lenders. 

This type of lender, also known as ‘peer-to-peer’ lending or marketplace lending, allows you to seek a loan from a private lender. All P2P lenders set their own loan requirements and terms. 

It’s a good idea to check the comparison rates of various lenders to make sure you find the best loan to suit your needs. Comparison rates do the hard maths for you by rolling together the interest rate, upfront fee and service fee into one percentage figure. It gives you a more accurate understanding of the cost of your loan. 

Financial comparison sites like Canstar, Ratecity, InfoChoice and Mozo can help you find and compare the best deals on car loans quickly and easily, including loans offered by P2P lenders.

Banks and credit unions 

Some banks and credit unions offer personal loans specifically for students, while others will simply offer their regular personal loan products. You probably have a long history with your bank through your savings accounts, which might help if you have no credit history. 

A traditional personal loan from a bank or credit union can be secured or unsecured.

Secured personal loan: This type of loan is usually secured by an asset. This means if you can’t make repayments, the lender can take the asset and sell it to recover the cost of the loan. 

Unsecured personal loan: An unsecured personal loan usually has a higher interest rate than a secured personal loan. This is because an unsecured loan does not require an asset to be provided to secure the loan, so it is considered riskier for the lender. The lender assesses your credit score and income to approve the loan.

Fixed or variable interest rate?

When you apply for a personal loan, you have the option to choose between a fixed or variable interest rate. 

It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of both loan types so that you can make a decision that’s safest for your financial situation.

Fixed Interest Rate

Simply put, a fixed interest rate never changes, meaning your repayments remain the same for the life of the loan. 

Pros:

  • You know exactly how much your repayments are each month.
  • You can plan and budget with certainty, knowing your repayments won’t change.
  • You’re protected from future interest rate rises.

Cons:

  • If the market interest rate falls, you pay more interest with a fixed rate.
  • Some lenders may insist upon a shorter lending period.
  • Fixed rate personal loans may not have a redraw facility.
  • If you want to pay back your loan early, you could be stung with a higher early repayment fee. But remember, Plenti will never charge you fees or penalties for paying your loan back early. 

Variable Interest Rate

A variable rate rises and falls with the market interest rate as it responds to current economic conditions. This means you could end up paying more or less for your personal loan, depending on the market rate.

Pros:

  • If the market rate drops, you could pay less for your car loan overall.
  •  Most lenders offer longer repayment terms with a variable interest rate.
  • You may have the option to make additional repayments which could save you money over the life of your loan.
  • You may be able to redraw from any additional repayments you have made if you need some extra cash along the way. 

Cons:

  • If the market rate rises your repayments increase.
  • Interest rate rises are unpredictable and could make it harder to budget and make plans for the future. 

Choosing between a fixed or variable interest rate is an important decision that could have a big financial impact down the track. Some people prefer the predictability of a fixed rate personal loan, while others prefer the flexibility of a variable rate.

Build your credit history

There’s no doubt about it, having a positive credit report makes it much easier to get approved for a personal loan. The good news is it’s easy to build your credit history and you don’t need to take out a credit card to do it. Simply by paying your bills on time, such as mobile phone and electricity, you will start to build a positive financial report. Think about setting up direct debit payments for these bills so that you always pay on time. 

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