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What is a Signature Loan?

When consumers need to borrow money to afford major purchases, they often go to their credit union or another lender in search of loan products that can meet these purchasing needs. But many people aren't aware of the different types of loans available to provide this funding—and they also aren't aware of the advantages and disadvantages certain types of loans may offer.

While you may not be familiar with signature loans as a type of financial product, you've probably applied for—and possibly been approved for—these loans in the past. While signature loans aren't available or ideal in every borrowing situation, they could be a great financing option for a number of situations you may face.

What is a Signature Loan?

A signature loan—sometimes referred to as a "good faith loan"—refers to any type of loan that requires a signature, rather than collateral, to process, approve and distribute the loan.

Many types of loans do require collateral to secure the debt being created between the borrower and lender. With mortgages, the home itself serves as collateral, meaning the bank can foreclose on your home and reclaim the property if you're unable to pay your bills. Similarly, auto loans are secured by the vehicles themselves.

But many types of personal loans do not require this collateral, and instead rely on a signature—along with careful vetting of the applicant—to offer assurances that the loan is likely to be repaid.

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What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of a Personal Signature Loan?

For borrowers, the biggest benefit of a signature loan is that it doesn't require collateral. This means you're able to borrow money simply by signing your name on a contract and making a promise to repay what you owe.

Because there's no collateral on a signature loan, these loans are often easier to get processed and approved, assuming you meet the application requirements of the financial institution. It can also help you save money on other forms of debt accruing interest: While signature loans feature higher interest rates than secured loan alternatives, they can still dramatically reduce your total interest paid when compared to the high interest charged by credit cards.

With these benefits, though, there are also certain downsides that need to be considered. These can include:

  • The amount you're able to borrow. As an unsecured loan, personal signature loans may be harder to get approved for by certain institutions.
  • The interest rate you receive for that loan. As mentioned above, signature loan rates will be higher than other types of secured loans that require collateral on that loan amount.
  • The qualifications needed to be approved for that loan. Since signature loans are unsecured, many financial institutions only offer this loan product to borrowers with a strong credit score and financial background.

Where Can I Apply for Signature Loans Near Me?

Ready to apply for a signature loan? You'll need to find a lender that offers this product. Start by calling your credit union to see if they offer signature loans in the amount you're seeking. You can also contact other lenders as you explore your options, gather quotes, and find out how the value of your credit union's loans compares to the rates and terms offered by other lenders.

While some lenders may not offer signature loans, you should still be able to find a number of lenders willing to provide this financial product. Keep in mind, though, that your options for obtaining a signature loan may decline as the dollar amount you're seeking increases.

How to Get a Loan from a Credit Union

Once you decide to apply for a signature loan from your credit union, you'll need to review the credit union personal loan requirements carefully to make sure you have everything you need to apply.

At a minimum, the credit union will likely require the following:

  • Proof of ID
  • Proof of address
  • Your credit score expect the lender to pull your credit report as part of the application process
  • Proof of employment and/or income
  • Recent bank statements

In some cases, the lender will also request a co-signer on your loan to lower the perceived risk of providing a loan without any collateral.
If you aren't currently a member, the credit union will also need you to apply for membership. A credit union representative can help you through the process of meeting these membership requirements and becoming a member of the institution.

When used to consolidate debt or achieve other financial goals, signature loans can be a great financial product that preserves your liquidity and spares you the trouble of committing another major asset as collateral on a loan. Contact your credit union today to find out the current rates for this type of loan.

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