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Types of Consumer Credit & Loans

Loan contracts come in all kinds of forms and with varied terms, ranging from simple promissory notes between friends and family members to more complex loans like mortgage, auto, payday and student loans.
Banks, credit unions and other people lend money for significant, but necessary items like a car, student loan or home. Other loans, like small business loans and those from the Department of Veterans Affairs, are only available to select groups of people.

Regardless of type, every loan – and its conditions for repayment – is governed by state and federal guidelines to protect consumers from unsavory practices like excessive interest rates. In addition, loan length and default terms should be clearly detailed to avoid confusion or potential legal action.

In case of default, terms of collection of the outstanding debt should clearly specify the costs involved in collecting upon the debt. This also applies to parties of promissory notes as well.
If you are in need of money for an essential item or to help make your life more manageable, it’s a good thing to familiarize yourself with the kinds of credit and loans that might be available to you and the sorts of terms you can expect.

Types of Credit: Open-End & Closed-End Credit Options

The two basic categories of consumer credit are open-end and closed-end credit. Open-end credit, better known as revolving credit can be used repeatedly for purchases that will be paid back monthly, though paying the full amount due every month is not required. The most common form of revolving credit are credit cards, but home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOC) also fall in this category.
Credit cards are used for daily expenses, such as food, clothing, transportation and small home repairs. Interest charges are applied when the monthly balance is not paid in full. The interest rates on credit cards average 15 percent, but can be as low as zero percent (temporary, introductory offers) and as high as 30 percent or more, depending on the consumer’s payment history and credit score. Loans for bad credit may be hard to find, but lower interest rates are available within nonprofit debt management programs, even for credit scores below 500. Closed-end credit is used to finance a specific purpose for a specific period of time. They also are called installment loans because consumers are required to follow a regular payment schedule (usually monthly) that includes interest charges, until the principal is paid off. The interest rate for installment loans varies by lender and is tied closely to the consumer’s credit score The lending institution can seize the consumer’s property as compensation if the consumer defaults on the loan.

Examples of closed-end credit include:

     Mortgages
     Car loans
     Appliance loans
     Payday loans

Types of Loans
Loan types vary because each loan has a specific intended use. They can vary by length of time, by how interest rates are calculated, by when payments are due and by a number of other variables.

Debt Consolidation Loans
A consolidation loan is meant to simplify your finances. Simply put, a consolidation loan pays off all or several of your outstanding debts, particularly credit card debt. It means fewer monthly payments and lower interest rates. Consolidation loans are typically in the form of second mortgages or personal loans.

Student Loans
Student loans are offered to college students and their families to help cover the cost of higher education. There are two main types: federal student loans and private student loans. Federally funded loans are better, as they typically come with lower interest rates and more borrower-friendly repayment terms.

Mortgages
Mortgages are loans distributed by banks to allow consumers to buy homes they can’t pay for upfront. A mortgage is tied to your home, meaning you risk foreclosure if you fall behind on payments. Mortgages have among the lowest interest rates of all loans.

Auto Loans
Like mortgages, auto loans are tied to your property. They can help you afford a vehicle, but you risk losing the car if you miss payments. This type of loan may be distributed by a bank or by the car dealership directly but you should understand that while loans from the dealership may be more convenient, they often carry higher interest rates and ultimately cost more overall.

Personal Loans
Personal loans can be used for any personal expenses and don’t have a designated purpose. This makes them an attractive option for people with outstanding debts, such as credit card debt, who want to reduce their interest rates by transferring balances. Like other loans, personal loan terms depend on your credit history.

Loans for Veterans
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has lending programs available to veterans and their families. With a VA-backed home loan, money does not come directly from the administration. Instead, the VA acts as a co-signer and effectively vouches for you, helping you earn higher loan amounts with lower interest rates.

Small Business Loans
Small business loans are granted to entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs.