Cut existing loan costs
Free calculator shows if you'll save by switching loans
Coronavirus financial worries have caused some lenders to stop allowing new loan applications or increase rates, and almost all have tightened acceptance criteria. Yet there are still low rates available, so cutting the cost of your existing loan is still possible. This guide will show you how to find the best new deal, and features a unique loan-switching calculator so you can see if you can cut your costs.
Please note: This article is about unsecured loans, ie, the type sold by most high-street lenders. The issues surrounding secured loans (where your home may be at risk) are even more complex. So this article is a secured loan-free zone.
If you're struggling to pay an existing loan due to coronavirus, your provider should give you a payment holiday of up to three months, or offer an alternative way to help.
DON'T just stop paying – you must arrange a break with your lender first (you've until 31 October to request it). Provided you've agreed it with your lender, these payment holidays then can't hurt your creditworthiness and won't come with any penalties or charges.
You'll still be charged interest during the payment holiday though, so will likely pay more overall. It's therefore best to only do this if you need to – if you can afford to pay, it's better to keep doing so.
If you have a loan from a peer-to-peer lender, such as Zopa or Ratesetter, the measures above don't currently apply, so it's down to each company to determine the help it offers. See our lender-by-lender loans help for the latest updates, full information and how to apply.
How to cut existing loan costs, step-by-step
Step 1: Call your current lender for a settlement figure
Before finding out if you can save, you'll need to call your existing lender to ask it a couple of questions. This is the big one:
How much would it cost me to pay off my loan right now?
This is what you need to borrow on your new loan. It's the full debt plus early settlement charge (if any); the maximum fee is two months' interest. This is called the settlement figure.
Unless you already know, it's also worth asking what your exact monthly repayments are, and how long the loan has to go (you'll need both pieces of info for the calculator below).
Step 2: Find YOUR new top loan rate
Important: Some lenders ask that you go via our eligibility calculator, not direct
We've agreed to remove direct links to most lenders from this guide. Instead you'll be directed to our Loans Eligibility Calculator (for lenders that let you check eligibility) to check your acceptance odds for many of the cheapest loans, minimising applications and protecting your credit score.
Some lenders requested this so only those more likely to be accepted will actually click the 'apply' button, reducing demand and enquiry calls, as they're already over capacity and need to prioritise coronavirus help for vulnerable people.
If you're looking for a loan, check out the best-buy rates below. We list loans by 'bands' as the rate you could get differs depending on how much you want to borrow.
Though, beware, all the top loans compared below and most in the eligibility checker are representative rates (some providers show guaranteed rates - we're working on adding more). This means only 51% of those accepted actually need to be given these rates. Depending on your credit score, you may pay a lot more.
For full information about the current best deals, read the full Cheap Personal Loans guide.
As we warn above, while you should only borrow what you NEED, a peculiar quirk means you can sometimes pay less by getting a slightly bigger loan. Rates of loans under £3,000 are the most expensive, so always check if it's actually cheaper to borrow slightly more. Specialist Money Transfer credit cards are also far cheaper than the loans below, if you can repay the full balance over 12-18mths.
Important. Specialist Money Transfer credit cards are far cheaper than the loans below. AIB (NI) 12.3% rep APR Apply direct to lender (not in eligibility calc) Hitachi 13.4% rep APR (£2,500-£2,999 only, 2-5 years) Apply via eligibility calculator Cahoot 13.5% rep APR Apply via eligibility calculator
|Important. Specialist Money Transfer credit cards are far cheaper than the loans below, provided you can get a credit limit big enough.|
|Hitachi||8.4% rep APR (2-5 years)||Apply via eligibility calculator|
|Tesco Bank||8.5% rep APR (1-7 years)||Apply direct to lender (not in eligibility calc)|
|AA||8.8% rep APR (AA members)
8.9% rep APR (Non-members)
|Apply via eligibility calculator|
|Post Office||8.9% rep APR||Apply via eligibility calculator|
|Cahoot||2.8% rep APR||Apply via eligibility calculator
|Tesco Bank||2.9% rep APR (1-3 years)
||Apply direct to lender (not in eligibility calc)|
|MBNA||3% rep APR||Apply via eligibility calculator|
|Yorkshire Bank||3.2% rep APR (1-7 years)||Apply via eligibility calculator|
|Clydesdale Bank||3.2% rep APR (1-7 years)||Apply via eligibility calculator|
Important. Certain lenders offer personal loans up to £50,000, though it's a huge commitment, so think very carefully before getting such a large amount. Be VERY sure you can repay it.
If you do plan to borrow, first check with your own bank, as cheap rates for such large borrowing are often for existing customers only. If your bank can't help, next look at the cheapest open market rates.
||3.3% rep APR (£25k-£30k, 1-7 years)
6.7% rep APR (£30k-50k, 1-7 years)
|Apply direct to lender - Existing custs only (not in eligibility calc)|
|Halifax||5.8% rep APR||Apply direct to lender - Existing custs only (not in eligibility calc)|
|Yorkshire Bank||6.9% rep APR (1-7 years)||Apply direct to lender (not in eligibility calc)
|Clydesdale Bank||6.9% rep APR (1-7 years)||Apply direct to lender (not in eligibility calc)|
Step 3: The BIG reveal – check if you can save
Q&A: Cutting loan costs
A standard MoneySaving rule of thumb is always pay off any debts before stashing any money in savings (read Pay off Debts with Savings). In general, this is true with loans too, though due to the repayment penalties you may be financially better off by sticking it in a high interest account and drip-feeding loan payments out of there.
So if the 'total repayment' figure of your loan is £5,000, yet to keep repaying it each month costs £5,100 in total, you only gain £100 by paying it off now. Stashing the loan repayments in a top savings account could earn you more (see Top Savings for the top picks). However, if in doubt of the calculations, always err on the side of clearing your debts.
You may be able to if you have a relatively small loan.
Credit cards are a much cheaper way to borrow than loans; short-ish term borrowing at an equivalent 2%ish APR is possible. Yet if you already have a loan, shifting it to a credit card isn't an easy operation. It is possible, although tricky, to do it though.
Once you've applied for the loan, it's already marked as a 'hard search' on your credit report. So assuming you applied for the cheapest loan for you, then there's no point in not accepting that cash because it's not the money you need. The answer's relatively simple – just apply for another loan to fill the gap. If you haven't been turned down due to a credit score issue, this isn't likely to be too difficult.
Just ensure both loans are still saving you money. If not, use the first to partially pay off the second – every little helps!
Almost every personal loan is at a fixed rate, so the rate and repayments you are given at the outset are fixed over the life of the loan, regardless of what happens to the base rate. Thus there's no impact whatsoever, whether rates rise or fall.
But a change in the base rate will affect those looking to get a new loan, although it's not an exact relationship. As loans are borrowed over the long term, the rates lenders set depend more on the City's predictions of long-term interest rates rather than the actual UK base rate.
That depends on the lender. There are some which will give you the cash instantly (or at least on the same day) if they accept you.