Minimum and maximum loan periods vary between 1 months and 10 years. Comparison interest rates vary between 6.55% and 60% p.a. Total interest repayments vary between R685.05 and R844.12 over the life of the loan. *Comparison rate is based on an unsecured loan of R20,000 for a term of 3 years. WARNING: This comparison rate is true only for the examples given and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate. These rates can change without further notice. All rates quoted are per annum. For more information regarding fees click on "View fees & additional info +" for each product or contact the provider.
The complete guide to personal loans in South Africa
Every month, over 40,000 individuals search for a personal loan in South Africa. For this reason, CompareLoans brings you the tools you need to make your search easier and simpler. This thorough guide will therefore empower you with the knowledge to make critical financial decisions when considering a personal loan application.
There’s more. Ultimately, going through this guide will give you the confidence to choose a credit that meets your needs and covers any financial gaps you might have. Let’s dive in.
What is a personal loan?
A personal loan is borrowed money received from a financial institution. The term borrow implies that you have to pay back the money. Overall, they have the following features:
- You can borrow between R2000 and R300,000
- You can pay back the money over a period that is between 1 month and 84 months (7 years)
- The funds can be used for general purposes. Some people use them to renovate their home or buy a car while others use them to consolidate debt or cover wedding expenses. It’s all up to you.
Basically, a loan is a contract between you and a lender. The lender agrees to give you a specific amount of money. In turn, you pay back the money over a specified time but with interest and fees on top. Other terms and conditions apply, and these vary from lender to lender.
Definitions for standard terms
Terms relating to the loan
- Principal amount: This is the money that you initially borrowed. It doesn’t include interest payments and other charges. For example, if you borrow R10,000, then this is the principal amount. Also, if you pay off R7,000, then the principal amount becomes R3,000.
- Loan term: This is the time you have to pay off the credit. Personal loan terms typically start from 1 month and go up to 84 months.
- Interest: This is what lenders charge customers for borrowing money. The interest rate is determined by the lender and expressed as a percentage.
- Monthly repayment: This is a payment you make every month to the lender when you pay back your credit. Each monthly repayment goes towards reducing the principal amount as well as covering interest and other charges associated with the credit.
- APR: The Annual Percentage Rate is also referred to as the comparison rate. It includes interest and all other debt charges expressed as percentage rate.
Terms relating to your situation
- Credit history: Your credit report or history shows all the information about the money you have borrowed from lenders in the past. It also shows how you have made your bill payments. South Africans are entitled to one free credit report per year. These can be obtained from any credit bureau such as Compuscan and Transunion.
- Credit score: This is a rating that indicates whether you’re good at paying back your debt or not. It is based on your credit history. For example, a credit score of more than 800 shows lenders that you can be trusted to pay back your credit. However, if your credit score goes below 579, this indicates that you are more likely to default on your credit (ie fail to pay it back).
- Draw down: This is when a lender transfers their money into your account after they approve your application. Once the loan has been drawn down, you’re free to use it as you wish.
- Defaulting: When you default on debt, it means you have failed to pay back your monthly repayments as per the agreement with your lender. Defaulting ultimately leads to a poor credit score and other negative consequences.
How do personal loans work in South Africa?
When you wish to take out a personal loan, the entire process generally involves the following steps:
- Comparing loans – There are different types of credits. Each type offers various benefits and disadvantages as well as different terms and conditions. The first step involves making a comparison so you can choose the best credit for you. Use the calculator on this page to start comparing your options.
- Checking the requirements to see if you qualify – Once you have found the product that fits perfectly into your budget and situation, the next step is to make sure that you have all the information and documents needed for the application process. You should also meet certain requirements such as those concerning age and monthly income.
- Approaching the lender and making an application – If you qualify, you can then make an application with the appropriate lender. This can be done online, over the phone, or through a branch visit.
- Getting approved and agreeing to the terms and conditions – If your application is approved, you have to accept the lender’s offer. This agreement between you and the lender is the credit contract. It covers details such as how much money you’re getting, the interest rate for the loan, and how much time is required to pay it back. Once the agreement is made, the lender transfers money into your bank account, ready for your use.
- Paying back – Typically, a debt is paid off in monthly instalments. The size of each monthly repayment depends on the total cost of the credit. Beside duration and monthly repayments, the other terms and conditions may be involved, such as penalty fees for early repayment.
Types of personal loans
Registered credit providers offer a variety of personal loans. The type that is best for your situation depends on many factors. These include what you want to use the money for, how much you earn each month, and your credit score.
Generally, these are the types available:
- Secured – This credit type allows you to borrow money when you use a valuable asset such as your car or home to guarantee the credit. By using collateral, you can borrow more money and secure lower interest rates and fees. However, you risk losing the asset if the loan is not paid back as agreed.
- Unsecured – These credits require no security or guarantee, and they are for general purposes.
- Debt consolidation – You can use this type of credit to pay off your existing accounts. This leaves you with only one easy-to-manage account that might save you on interest and other charges.
- Lines of credit – These come with a maximum credit limit. How much you pay back depends on how much you have used. Lines of credit are also for general purpose use.
- Student loans – These help you pay for your education and other related expenses.
- Overdraft – If your bank balance is low, you can still withdraw a limited amount of money from your account.
What can I use a personal loan for?
Before taking out a credit, most people often want to know if they can use the money for a specific purpose they have in mind. Some lenders will ask you to provide a reason for taking out the credit. This helps them to guide you towards taking the right credit for your situation. Typically, you can use them to:
What are personal loan interest rates in South Africa?
The lender determines the interest rate for your personal loan. When you agree to the terms of the contract, you also agree to this set interest rate. The maximum interest rate in South Africa is around 27.50% per annum as per the National Credit Act Regulation.
Interest rates vary from lender to lender. However, they can be defined as either fixed or variable. Typically, your lender will start charging you interest from the date that the loan is drawn down into your bank account.
Fixed-rate vs. variable rate
You can either get a credit with a fixed interest rate or a variable rate. Fixed interest rates remain at the same percentage throughout the life of your loan. On the other hand, variable rates can either go up or down at any time. Variable rates behave like this because they’re affected by the Prime Market Rate (PMR).
The PMR is the rate at which banks borrow money from the South African Reserve Bank. When you apply for a credit, the bank charges the prime market rate plus an extra percentage, and this is called interest.
In general, fixed rates are safer because you always know how much your monthly instalments will be. This allows you to budget ahead of time. On the other hand, when you choose a variable rate for your credit, you take a chance that the interest will go down, which will lower your repayments.
However, it’s difficult if not impossible, to tell what will happen in the future. The interest rate can also go up, leaving you with larger monthly repayments.
Check the interest rate and additional fees
CompareLoans comparison table clearly show the interest rate for each registered credit provider. Click on ‘View fees & additional fees’ to get an estimate of the total cost of your personal loan.
What is the difference between standard interest rate and comparison rate?
You have likely seen the term APR or Comparison Rate in your search for the best personal loans in South Africa. APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate, and thus, this number is always expressed as a percentage. The difference between the rate of interest and the APR can be understood in two points:
- The interest rate is what you get charged for borrowing money from a lender.
- The Annual Percentage Rate includes interest plus other charges.
The charges included in the APR depend on the lender but are likely to include a service fee and a monthly admin fee. For this reason, the APR is always higher than the interest rate. Furthermore, when comparing credits, it is more effective to use the APR since it represents the credit’s total cost. Comparison interest rates generally range from 6.5% to 60% per annum.
Should you get a personal loan?
When an emergency or urgent expense comes up, applying for a credit may be your only solution. You can even use the personal loan funds to further your goals and improve your quality of life.
That being said, as a general rule, it is always best to avoid taking out a loan, when possible.
An important example: Calculating the total cost of a personal loan
The total cost depends on several things:
- Interest rate – If you have a good credit score, you can get a lower interest rate and vice versa.
- Fees and other charges: These mostly include an initiation fee and a monthly service fee.
- Loan term & amount: A longer term and credit size contribute to a higher total cost.
- Credit insurance: Insurance is often required to cover you in case of specific situations where you’re no longer able to pay off your credit.
Here’s an example that shows the estimated total cost of a personal loan:
- Amount: R50 000
- Term: 60 months (5 years)
- Initiation fee: R1 207.50
- Monthly admin fee: R69
- Maximum interest rate: 24.75%
- Maximum APR rate: 29.3%
- The total cost of the loan: R95 842
The example is only an estimate, and the final costs will vary between lenders and from case to case.
Personal loan calculator for monthly repayments
CompareLoans has an easy-to-use calculator that lets you calculate what each monthly repayment will be for your chosen amount. Take a look at our featured registered credit providers in the comparison tables above. You’ll be able to see the monthly instalment for each lender for the same amount. Try it and stay informed on what you can and can’t afford.
Which loan should you choose?
Are you wondering which type of personal loan you should choose? Taking a look at your circumstances can help you figure out the best credit type for you. Consider the following factors:
- Your credit score – If you have a bad credit score, a short term or payday loan might be easier to obtain. Payday lenders may not carry out a credit check when you apply. However, a good credit score gives you access to lower interest rates.
- What do you want to use the money for? – If you wish to use the loan funds for something specific like a car or a motorbike, there are vehicle finance providers who cater for this type of credit. They offer lower interest rates if you use the car or motorbike as a security. If you want to pay off existing debt, then a debt consolidation might work more in your favour.
- Do you own an appropriate asset you can use as security? – If you want a general-purpose credit and you have an asset such as a car, getting a secured loan might save you on interest.
- How much do you want to borrow? – If you are borrowing less than R8,000, most lenders usually offer this amount of credit in the form of short term and payday loans.
- Do you wish to take out another credit in the future? – An overdraft or a line of credit allows you to get extra funds while reserving the option of a personal loan for when you really need it.
How do you qualify for a personal loan?
General requirements include:
- Minimum age of 18 years;
- You should be employed or self-employed;
- You must be earning a regular, monthly salary or income; and
- Having South African citizenship or a South African residence permit.
What documents do you need to apply?
- A valid South African ID;
- 3 months’ payslips or bank statements;
- Proof of residence, e.g. water bill; and
- For a secured loan, you need documents that show proof of ownership for the asset you’re using to guarantee the credit.
How do you make a personal loan application?
Before applying, it is important to go over your options one last time:
- How much do you want to borrow?
- Which monthly repayments are affordable for you?
- Are you choosing a secured or unsecured loan? This depends on whether you already have an asset or you plan on using the credit to purchase an asset. If not, then an unsecured loan may be a better option.
- Are you choosing a fixed-rate or a variable rate loan? If you want to budget accurately, a fixed-rate loan is the best choice because your repayments don’t change during the credit’s duration. On the other hand, a variable interest rate may offer favourable interest rates should the interest rate go down.
Once you have determined the best credit offering from among our featured registered credit providers, simply click ‘Go to Site.’ This takes you to the lender’s website and their direct application page. Fill out the form provided with your personal, financial, and employment details and submit it. Next, wait for the lender to contact you with an offer. Once you and the lender reach an agreement, the funds are then deposited into your account.
Frequently asked questions
What is the main difference between payday and personal loans?
Payday loans are short term credits involving smaller amounts (less than R10,000). They generally have to be paid back within six months. In contrast, personal loans are longer-term (up to 84 months), and you can borrow more (over R300,000).
Do I have to take out a credit protection plan ?
Some lenders require you to also take out credit insurance when you get approved for a credit. Credit insurance covers you in case of death, permanent disability, retrenchment, or other unforeseen circumstances.
Which financial institutions offer the best personal loans?
Reputable and registered credit providers are regulated by the terms of the National Credit Act. Check first to make sure your lender is registered and licensed. At CompareLoans, we only showcase registered credit providers.
Can I extend my credit term if I’m struggling with my monthly repayments?
Changing the terms of your credit is referred to as debt restructuring. If you are struggling with your payments, you can talk to your lender to see if you can extend the term and lower your interest rate and monthly repayments.
Why do my monthly repayments keep changing?
If your loan has a variable interest rate, your repayments will be affected every time the interest rate goes either up and down. If an increased interest rate is making your monthly repayment unaffordable consider talking to your lender about restructuring the debt.
I need money urgently, how quickly can I get a personal loan?
If you have an emergency, first check with your lender on how soon you can access the funds. When you apply online, the whole process can become faster. If you have all your documents ready and meet the lender’s lending criteria, you may be able to receive the funds on the same day. Delays can drag an application out for days or even weeks.
What do I do if my application is not approved?
Keep in mind that a lender can turn down your application if you don’t meet their eligibility criteria. If this happens, you can find a different credit that you qualify for, or work on improving your eligibility. For example, having a good credit score can increase the chances of having your application approved. Learn more here.
How do I improve my credit score?
If you have poor or bad credit, paying off your existing debt helps. Find out more on this topic here.
What happens if I fail to pay back my loan?
For secured loans defaulting means you risk losing the asset you used to guarantee the credit. For unsecured loans, defaulting lowers your credit score. Also, you can face legal action.
Can I get a loan if I have bad credit or if I’m blacklisted
Loans for bad credit are available at higher interest rates. In some cases, lenders require some form of security before the credit is approved. Moreover, you will still need to demonstrate that you have a sufficient income to cover the cost of the debt.
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