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Let’s imagine for a moment that you’re shopping for a car. You go to the nearest dealership of a brand that you like, you take a look around: what are the deciding factors that influence whether or not you might drive off the lot in a new vehicle? Price, certainly, but not price alone. There are many considerations to make: gas mileage, storage, maybe the placement of that one cup holder just doesn’t feel right. You have to make sure that your needs will be met, not just in the present but also a long way down the road.

It’s the same story with loans and other related financial products. There are some key pieces of information to make sure you understand, analyze, compare and contrast to make sure that any given loan fits your current lifestyle, your long and short-term financial needs, and your future goals. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the most important factors that will define the type of loan that’s right for you.

Rates

The item that ranks first on most people’s checklists when finding the right loan is the rate. Simply put, how much is it going to cost (in interest payments) to borrow the money you need? Different loan products have different average rates, so it is important to research not only general rate trends, but those in your specific market area. It’s also the case that the better your credit score may be, the better rates you may be able to qualify for. So, consider the value of timing when comparing loan offers. Would it be worth holding out a bit on borrowing if you have a surefire plan to improve your credit score first?

Terms

The time dependent aspect of most loans is what can make them so beneficial to many borrowers – but also creates huge problems where debt mounts quickly if borrowers begin to become unable to service their obligations. Depending on the type of loan product you need and your existing financial health, it may be better to opt for a fixed, steady repayment at a consistent rate over a long period of time, or to pay back the loan more rapidly at a variable rate that adjusts according to the market conditions. Is a lower monthly payment worth a higher cost of borrowing in the long run? Holding on to debt for too long can destabilize your finances as the cost of interest adds up, but so can being surprised by a significant change in your repayment amount from month to month.

Flexibility

In addition to the regular repayments on your loan, it is useful if a loan also allows additional lump-sum or regular repayments. That way, if your finances allow it, you have the ability to repay the loan ahead of time. Look for a lender that is willing to work with any changes in your financial wellbeing, either positive or negative, rather than penalizing you with early repayment fees and other additional costs.

Service

In the end, getting a loan is all about making sure you can meet your financial needs. However, it’s of considerable worth to most borrowers to be able to have a stress-free experience when dealing with their lender of choice. Life and finances can change quickly, and your lender should be willing and able to work for you, not just for their earnings on your payments. Being able to do things like review your balances and credit score, set up automatic repayments, inquire about changes and make them without penalty, and so forth are all important things to consider. After all, you’re going to be in this financial relationship for a relatively long while – why not make it an amicable one?

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