One of the best ways to get signature loans (unsecured personal loans) is to apply at your bank. If you have a long history of an account in good standing with your bank, you may be more likely to get approved for the loan, or to get better terms, because the bank knows you're reliable and therefore you're less of a liability. Other banks and credit unions in the area are also a good bet. But when you're in the market for a loan, it can be easy to be overwhelmed by the options (or the rejections, depending on how it's going that day) and just panic and accept the first offer you get. Try to remain calm and analyze the details so you can avoid these three mistakes that may damage your finances or credit in the future.
1. Applying to lenders who pull multiple hard credit checks
It's best for your credit score if you find a lending institution that uses a "soft pull" credit check to decide if you're eligible and only does a "hard pull" at the end of the process. "Hard pull" is the kind of credit check that shows up on your credit report later, and the more of them you get, the worse it looks to future lenders and the more your credit score goes down. So minimizing hard credit checks is especially important if you're not sure you'll be approved for the first loan you apply for. But even if you're pretty sure of being approved and decide to apply to a lender that does a "hard pull," be sure to do your research online and read reviews of the company. If customers reviews say that applying to that company caused multiple hard credit checks to show up on their credit report, look somewhere else for your loan. Your lender shouldn't need to do more than one hard credit check per loan.
2. Applying to a private loan lender who doesn't report to all three credit bureaus
If you're in a bit of a spot financially, getting a loan from a company that doesn't report to the credit bureaus (or only reports to one or two) may sound like a good thing. After all, that means it won't damage your credit as much if you can't pay the loan back, right? Wrong. If you can't pay the loan back it will go to collections, and the collecting agency will make sure the world knows that you couldn't pay your loan back. On the other hand, if you do pay the loan back, nobody will ever hear about it because your lender didn't report to the credit bureaus. And if they report to just one or two instead of all three, then you have to worry about juggling multiple different credit scores and things can get very confusing.
3. Leaving it to the last minute
If you get a personal loan from a bank or credit union, you'll have to pay it back with interest, but at least you'll be more likely to get a competitive rate. However, if you have a deadline coming up soon and you don't start the loan process early enough, you may eventually realize that you don't have enough time left to wait for a bank loan approval. This situation can then tempt you to take out a payday loan, which costs much, much more money than a bank loan (not something you can probably afford if you're strapped for cash).
If you stay calm and avoid these three errors, you'll be more likely to get a loan that can get you out of your financial hole without digging you into a deeper hole or damaging your future credit.