Personal Loans: Interest Rate Comparison

October 12, 2020 | Editorial Team

Personal Loans Interest Rate Canada

When you borrow money, the interest rate determines how much you pay back in total. It’s, therefore, essential to get the most competitive product available to you.

How much you pay on a line of credit will depend on several factors. These include:

  • Your credit score.
  • The type of product.
  • The level of competition in the market.

Your Credit Score

Your credit score reflects your credit history. This creates an obvious challenge if you’re a young adult (or new to Canada). You will not have had a line of credit in Canada, and your credit history outside the country won’t translate to a good Canadian credit score.

Even so, you may still be able to get a loan in Canada. You may, however, have a smaller selection of personal loans available to you.

The Type of Loan Product

Some lines of credit are riskier than others. For example, a mortgage is secured on a property. If the borrower defaults, the lender can sell the property. Personal loans are unsecured. This means they are riskier for the lender and therefore have higher interest rates.

The Level of Competition in the Market

More competition often leads to better deals for borrowers. This leads to lower interest rates on loans.

Why You Should Consider Getting a Personal Loan

Credit cards are a useful way to pay for your purchases. Some people may also find it helpful to be able to carry a balance if necessary. If you regularly use credit cards as a line of credit, then the interest rates can hurt you financially.

Personal loans may be a better option if you want to borrow money for a specific reason, and when you know exactly how much you need. You also need to know what level of monthly payment you can afford. You don’t benefit from the flexibility of credit cards.

You could, however, benefit greatly from the fact that personal loans in Canada can charge much lower interest than credit cards. You might even want to apply for a personal loan to consolidate debt from credit cards.

This is an important decision, so you need to consider all the factors carefully. In particular, you need to balance the possibility of a lower monthly payment with the possibility of varying how much you pay back each month.

Remember, if you fail to make your payment in full each month, you could negatively impact your credit score. This could lead to you having problems if you want other loans in Canada.

If, however, you are confident you can make the full payment each month, then the lower interest rates on personal loans can allow you to pay back the loan amount more quickly.

As you reduce the loan amount, you will have less credit relative to your income. This can help to improve your credit score and your ability to qualify for a better interest rate on a future loan.

A Guide to Personal Loan Providers in Canada

LoanConnect

LoansConnect is a search engine for loans in Canada. It’s quick and straightforward to use, and there are no obligations, so it could be an excellent place to start looking for a loan in Canada.

Pros

  • Straightforward to use
  • Options for people with no/bad credit and/or existing debt.
  • The maximum loan is $50,000.
  • Many different types of personal loans available.
  • Loan funds may be sent quickly.

Cons

  • The selection of loan providers is decent (and Canada-wide) but not complete.
  • LoanConnect cannot guarantee you will be accepted for a loan.

LoanConnect is so fast and easy to use; it’s hard to see a reason for not using it. It’s particularly useful for people with no/bad credit and/or people who need a loan quickly. However, the speed of payments depends on the lender, not LoanConnect.

The general issues with LoanConnect are much the same as with any other service broker or comparison site. LoanConnect can point you in the way of loan deals, but can’t guarantee you’ll qualify for any of them.

Possibly the biggest stumbling block here is your credit score. If you estimate it and get it wrong, there’s a strong chance you’ll be shown incorrect results. It’s therefore strongly recommended to check your credit score before you apply. If you can’t, then err on the side of caution.

Another potential downside to LoanConnect is that it doesn’t cover all loans in Canada. In fact, it doesn’t even cover all loan providers that work with service brokers/comparison sites. On the other hand, it certainly covers enough loan providers to give you a decent range of options, especially if you have no/poor credit.

Overall, the sheer user-friendliness of the LoanConnect website is enough to forgive its few shortcomings. After all, if you don’t find the loan you want, you can move on quickly.

Loans Canada

Loans Canada works along the same lines as LoansConnect. It’s a service that connects borrowers with loan providers rather than a loan provider itself. That said, there are many differences in how the two platforms operate.

Pros

  • Options for people with no/bad credit and/or existing debt.
  • The maximum personal loan is $50,000.
  • A wide selection of loan providers.
  • Payments are usually sent relatively quickly.
  • Helpful community and learning resources.

Cons

  • Not as easy or quick to use as LoansConnect.
  • Loans Canada cannot guarantee you will be accepted for a loan.

The Loans Canada website offers more products and more lenders than the LoansConnect website. This makes it more of a challenge to navigate. It’s not exactly difficult. It’s just not as quick, simple, and generally intuitive as the LoansConnect website.

It’s also important to note that the approval and payments process can also be slower than the approval and payments process at LoansConnect. That said, this depends on the lender and may simply reflect that Loans Canada has a broader selection of loans.

The breadth and depth of choice at Loans Canada could be incredibly helpful if your credit score is low. In this situation, your main priority is often just to qualify for a loan product. This gives you access to funds and starts the process of building up a track record of using credit responsibly. You can then convert your initial loan to a product with a better interest rate.

With all that said, the Loans Canada website does have some nice touches. There is an active “borrower community” that reviews lenders. This allows you to see how other people rate a potential lender’s track record on customer service before you commit to them.

Possibly the top feature, however, is their extensive range of personal finance learning resources. There are tips on how to pay off your current personal loan as quickly as possible. There’s also broader guidance on managing your money. If you’ve never had a chance to learn about personal finance, this is a great place to start.

Meridian

Meridian is a credit union rather than a bank. As such, it’s owned and run by its members on a non-profit basis. Although it started in Ontario now operates everywhere (except Quebec) through its virtual arm Motusbank.

Pros

  • The non-profit approach can make for low-interest rates.
  • High standard of “customer” (member) service.
  • Digital banking means you can access Meridian personal loans from (just about) anywhere in Canada.

Cons

  • You need a decent credit score to be accepted for a personal loan.
  • Not available in Quebec.

The fact that Meridian only has a physical presence in Ontario is probably going to be irrelevant to most people. After all, how many people will want to go into a branch and make payment in cash?

Meridan also does not (currently) operate in Quebec, which may be disappointing for residents of Quebec. There are, however, other options in this province.

The fact that credit unions are non-profit may, however, be an issue if you have a low credit score. Commercial lenders may offer personal loans to riskier customers. They will set their interest rates high enough, so they make a profit even if some customers default.

Credit unions, however, offer low-interest personal loans to their members. This means they have to set their risk level to reflect this. On the other hand, if you have time on your side, you may be able to get around this by building a relationship with Meridian.

Essentially, you would look to open a chequing and/or savings account with them (or both). Then you would establish a pattern of responsible behaviour. You would also look to build your regular credit score at the same time.

This might be enough to push the needle along far enough for you to qualify for one of their personal loans. Even if you initially get turned down, you can try asking for a manager to review your application. This is not guaranteed to be successful, but it can work.

The more you want to borrow, the more it can be worthwhile to try and qualify for a loan from Meridan. In simple terms, anything you can borrow at such a competitive interest rate reduces the amount you need to borrow at a regular, commercial rate.

Refresh Financial

Refresh Financial aims to help its customers “refresh” their finances after issues that negatively impacted their credit. It’s, therefore, completely the wrong option if you need cash. It may, however, be the most convenient option if your aim is to build your credit score as quickly as possible.

Pros

  • Easy to qualify.
  • An effective way to build up a good credit rating.
  • Loan-repayment schedules can be adjusted to suit your needs.

Cons

  • You have to provide cash rather than receive it.
  • You pay interest on your own money at a fairly high rate.

Refresh Financial’s business model is effectively the mirror image of a regular personal loan company. You put cash in a secured account and then make “loan payments” with interest until you have earned the right to access your own money.

As you make your “payment Refresh Financial will update the credit bureaus accordingly. This means, over time, your credit rating will normalize. Eventually, you should be able to qualify for a regular personal loan, at a regular rate.

Even if you don’t need a personal loan right now, it may be reassuring to know you could easily get one if you ever did. Alternatively, you might want a credit card, or a mortgage – or a new job. Some industry sectors will check a candidate’s personal credit rating as part of the hiring process.

You should, however, ask yourself if the convenience of Refresh Financial is worth the price. It’s not the only lender that works with people who have poor credit. Another lender might give you a regular personal loan. This would protect you from having to lock up your own savings. It might even come in useful if you have an emergency and need extra cash.

Borrowell

Borrowell is a digital-only bank that operates throughout Canada. It has been offering personal loans since 2014 and is now expanding into other areas such as credit monitoring services. That said, personal loans are very much still its core business.

Pros

  • Digital-only, you’ll never be asked to go into a branch.
  • The website is very easy to use.
  • Unsecured personal loans are available up to $35,000.
  • They can offer very competitive interest rates.
  • Allows flexible repayments, including overpayments.

Cons

  • Loan terms are currently limited to five years.
  • You’ll probably need a decent credit rating to qualify.
  • Interest rates are not always the best.

Borrowell can offer competitive interest rates. These interest rates are, however, only likely to be made available to borrowers with a solid credit score. It’s advisable to do whatever you can to improve your credit score before applying for a personal loan from Borrowell.

One interesting feature about Borrowell is that they currently only offer two loan terms. These are three years and five years. This seems a bit strange given their minimum loan is $1,000, and their maximum loan is $35,000.

Three years seems quite a long time to pay back $1,000. By contrast, it might be nice to have longer than five years to pay back $35,000. Presumably, Borrowell only offers more significant personal loans to people who look like they can pay them back within five years.

A nice bonus about working with Borrowell is that being accepted for one of their personal loans make borrowers eligible for free credit monitoring.

The Bottom Line

A regular personal loan is an unsecured loan that you pay back within an agreed term. This makes it different from a credit card, which is a form of revolving credit. In other words, you pay it back and then draw on it again. Personal loans are also different from secured loans. Secured loans are only offered to people who have assets they can use as collateral.

The term “secured loans” refers to more than just mortgages. You can get secured loans on other assets such as cars. In fact, a regular dealer car loan is probably a secured loan that uses your car as collateral.

Because secured loans are backed by collateral, lenders can offer better interest rates. This means that you end up paying less for your loan. Of course, if you default, your asset will be sold to pay your loan. This may not matter much to you if it is a practical item like a car. It may, however, hurt a lot of it is a sentimental one.

If you want a personal loan to consolidate other debt, then remember that headline interest rates are only half of the story. The other half is the length of the loan term. Essentially if your loan has a better interest rate but a longer-term, you may end up paying more overall.