How to Refinance a Personal Loan

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Refinancing a personal loan or paying off an existing loan with a new one from the same lender, or a different company can go two ways. One is getting a lower interest rate and saving money overall. Another is refinancing to lower your monthly repayments, thus lengthening your loan term. Note that you will most likely pay more overall due to the loan’s interest charges.

How do you refinance a personal loan?

Every lender has its refinancing process. However, refinancing a personal loan generally takes similar steps to take out a new loan. Here are the five steps.

1. Know your credit score

Check with your credit card company or bank, as they usually give out your credit score for free. For example, some lenders look for a credit score of 660 for refinancing, but it may be sufficient to have a score between 580 and 600. Of course, a higher score would garner more favorable terms, such as lower interest rates.

2. Go shopping for terms

Ask your current lender if they are willing to refinance your personal loan. They should also be able to tell you the outstanding amount on your loan, so you’ll know how much to borrow. Go around local lenders and banks to ask for their terms, too. Compare interest rates and loan terms, as well as origination fees. As for origination fees, ensure they don’t go above 0.5% to 1% of the loan amount in total.

3. Send your application

The specific requirements for refinancing vary per lender. But, in general, they may ask for your tax returns and pay stubs. So gather all documents and information and submit your application to your chosen lender. It usually takes hours to a few weeks to get refinancing approved.

4. Pay off the old loan

When the new loan is approved, use the loan proceeds to repay the old loan. Note that your former lender may charge prepayment fees. Confirm your account is closed before proceeding with the new loan to avoid additional costs and penalties.

5. Start paying for the new loan

Day 1 starts with the new loan. Enrolling your new loan in autopayments is best so you don’t miss out on any payment schedule. After all, you want to build your credit score long-term.

When does it make sense to refinance a personal loan?

The short of it is that refinancing a personal loan would make sense if you are going to save money because of it. However, there are cases when it would still be a good idea, even if you’re going to pay more in the long run. Below are a few scenarios that make refinancing a viable option for you.

You don’t like your current rate type 

If the rate type on your existing loan is variable, you may find planning for your repayments very difficult. Refinancing can let you change from variable to fixed APR, letting you get a consistent amount to pay every month.

Your credit score has improved

Improving your credit score is your best bet if you want to qualify for lower interest rates. If, over the years, your credit score has significantly increased, refinancing your personal loan can give you a chance to lower the interest rate on your loan.

There was a decrease in household income

It makes sense to lower your monthly repayments if your income is significantly reduced. Rather than defaulting on your loan altogether due to financial hardship, better to just refinance your personal loan to lengthen your loan term. You’ll end up paying more toward the loan due to interest charges, but it’s a worthy trade-off in this case. 

A balloon payment is coming

Some loans require borrowers to pay a more considerable sum of money at the end of the repayment period. Suppose you cannot afford the balloon payment. In that case, it’s a good idea to refinance the loan to get consistent monthly payments again.

You want to shorten your loan period

Refinancing your personal loan makes sense if your monthly salary allows you to make larger monthly payments. This can let you get over the loan more quickly.

You can pay the fees

Refinancing personal loans comes with costs. For example, your new lender may charge application fees, while your current lender may take out a prepayment penalty for paying off your loan earlier than agreed.

When is refinancing a personal loan not a good idea?

Refinancing a personal loan takes effort and time on your part, so make sure that it actually makes sense to take this step. Below are a few scenarios wherein refinancing may not be a good option.

If you don’t owe that much on your loan anymore

If your balance is minimal, you might as well just finish your repayments quickly instead of incurring new fees and applying for a new loan.

If you’re almost done paying off the loan

Refinancing will extend your loan term, making you pay more interest overall. 

If the interest rate is higher

Factoring in all the fees that come with refinancing, it may not be a good idea to refinance your personal loan if you’re getting a higher interest rate. However, if you can’t afford the monthly repayments of your current loan and a longer loan term is the only solution, it makes sense to take the higher interest rate.

Final Thoughts

Refinancing a personal loan is an excellent way to lower your interest rates and lengthen your loan term to avoid defaulting. However, no matter the reason for refinancing, do your due diligence in shopping for the best terms and making sure that refinancing will do you good financially.

Let our expert lending team guide you through this critical decision-making process. Contact us today, and our friendly staff will gladly assist you.