When you are in the market for a new car, do you buy the first one that you see at the first dealership you visit? If you are shopping for a big screen plasma TV, do you buy the first one you see at the first electronics outlet that you visit?
The correct answer to those questions is obviously "no". When you are shopping for a car, even if you know the make and model of the car you want to buy, you shop amongst various dealerships, possibly even checking things off on an exhaustive checklist to make sure it has all the features that you want, then you spend countless hours haggling with the dealer to make sure you have the best possible price. When you shop for that big screen plasma TV, you look at the sizes, the brands, the warranties, the prices, the rebates, and choose the one that represents the best financial deal possible for you.
But it is very interesting to note that the majority of consumers do not put forth the same amount of effort or diligence when shopping for the best personal loan. What makes this even stranger is the aspect that the difference between two different personal loan programs could potentially add up to hundreds and even thousands of dollars over the term of the loan.
When you are looking for a personal loan, you have a lot more choices available to you than you probably even realize. Of course, you understand that you can get a personal loan from your local bank or credit union, and yes, they sometimes have a "sale" on personal loans with very aggressive rates. If your credit is less than stellar, or let's be frank, if you have bad credit, you can usually get a personal loan from a finance company, although the interest rates are not going to be anything to write home about.
You may even have a well-off uncle or parents who will loan you the money you need at an excellent interest rate or perhaps no interest rate at all. If this option is available to you, it is probably worth pursuing for your economic benefit.
But one of the places few people check out is online personal loans. Perhaps there is a mystique about doing an online personal loan, with visions of shady characters in a 9th floor apartment answering the phone and looking online with old laptops. But nothing could be further from the truth. Many companies have ONLY online loan divisions, and many companies who provide loans as part of their core business are creating online divisions to handle the online inquiries.
Getting a loan online is certainly worth your time and effort to investigate and evaluate when you are doing your comparison shopping. Due to the very low overhead of an online loan company compared to their brick and mortar counterparts, they usually pass on those savings to you in the form of lower interest rates and perhaps even longer terms.
When you are comparing your personal loan options, be sure to look of course at the interest rate being charged. Make sure that you are comparing apples to apples, since the loan payment on a 36 month loan will be obviously higher than the loan amount on a 48 month loan. Also make sure that there is no pre-payment penalty or any penalty for paying off the loan early.
If you are willing to put the same amount of diligence into shopping for a personal loan that you do when shopping for other things, you can save a lot of money, which makes the time you invest into the process more than worthwhile.