Ahh, the olden days. Everyone loves to think about them. In many cases, that comes in the form of reflecting fondly on how things used to be. Let’s consider the world of loans and lending, for example. In the olden days, the logic goes, you used to know your bankers and have a good relationship with them. You could walk into a bank, sit down with someone you’ve known for years, and get the loan you need.
Of course, even in the olden days, it wasn’t always that simple. But these days, it really is pretty complicated. We are bombarded with advertisements, on television and online, for all kinds of lending services, from smartphone apps to odd late night cash advance commercials. There are a plethora of options, and a wide variety of scenarios where you might want to take advantage of financing. For example:
- You need an auto loan to purchase a new or used vehicle.
- You need a home loan.
- You need a quick injection of cash to cover a gap in your finances.
- You want to finance the purchase of a particular product or service because it gives you freedom and flexibility, or helps you build credit.
Whatever the case may be, you have plenty of options at your disposal. Here are a few examples.
Banks are still an option.
You can still go into a bank and take out a loan, just like the olden days. Banks have a wide variety of policies and loan options, available discounts, credit requirements, and interest rates. It may seem intimidating to try and get a loan from a big bank, but the plus side here is that the larger banks often have a robust infrastructure and don’t suffer from those odd inconveniences that often plague smaller-scale banks and credit unions. What may feel impersonal to some could feel empowering to others. Having nationwide locations is also a plus.
Credit unions have a community focus.
They are committed to their members, as non-profit institutions. You may be able to get loans with lower interest rates here, and, if you find the right credit union, you will also be able to enjoy far more personalized service and ongoing assistance from the same team members over time than if you bank with one of the industry monoliths.
Credit unions still have loan requirements in place, of course, and it pays to do your homework before choosing one, just as it does with a big bank. The downside to choosing a credit union for your loan and other banking needs is they may have limited hours, locations, and customer service options. As with taking out a loan with a big bank, there are pluses and minuses here.
Online lenders are everywhere.
Literally. You don’t have to have a local branch nearby to hop online and take out a loan from an online lender. What you do have to have is the patience to do your research and find a trustworthy loan provider. It pays to read reviews from reputable sites and to read the fine print carefully. It also pays to be careful with your personal information online and to ensure that any website you visit for finance purposes is secured by SSL – check for the lock icon on the URL bar of the site to be sure, and, again, always research every provider with reviews from multiple sources.
Take Your Time
Whatever option you choose, make sure you keep in mind that loans should not be rushed. Even if you need cash in a hurry, you should still ensure that you choose a reputable, trustworthy, and secure loan provider, and that you don’t get in over your head with interest rates. A loan is a trade-off by necessity, but you shouldn’t have to trade off too much to get the financial flexibility you need. Take your time, do your research, and avoid getting scammed or ripped off. After all, if it’s worth getting a loan, it’s worth doing it the right way.