When you take out a loan, you and the lender will have agreed how long you have to repay the full amount. This is usually between 1 and 7 years.
Although you receive the loan in one lump sum, you'll most likely have to repay in monthly instalments.
Exactly how much you pay depends on the size of the loan, the length of the loan term, the interest rate and whether it's a fixed or variable.
Make sure you know what date the payments are due each month. If you miss a payment, you'll be charged a fee and get a hit on your credit report. The more hits, the worse your score.
Most lenders let you choose how to make your loan payments when you first apply for your loan.
The most common ways to repay a loan are by:
Direct debits are a good option because it's the lender's responsibility to take the payment. This makes missing a payment less likely and so keeps your credit score intact.
Breaks from loan payments are known as payment holidays. Some lenders may give you a payment holiday but you must agree it with them first. You'll also need to meet certain conditions and prove you can continue to repay the loan when the 'holiday' is over.
You cannot simply stop paying back the loan without the lender knowing, even if you're planning to restart payments the following month. It will look like a missed payment and hit your credit file hard.
Payment holidays are only a short term fix. Though you may be able to stop repayments for a while, the loan may become more expensive because:
Yes, you can cancel your loan within the cooling-off period. This is 14 days of signing the loan agreement, or when you received a copy in the post (whichever is later).
You must pay back the full loan amount (and any interest due for the time you had the money) within 30 days of cancelling.
There are a number of reasons why you may need to change your loan. For example:
If your personal details change you should let your lender know as soon as possible. Changes include:
The easiest way to do this is to ask your lender how they update their records.
If you need more time to pay back your loan, you could ask your lender to extend the loan term.
This would reduce your monthly payment amounts but will cost you more in the long run because you'll be paying interest on the debt for longer. There may also be a fee to change the term.
In most cases you cannot increase the amount of your loan. Instead, you'll need to either:
The lender will need to check your credit record to be sure you can repay the loan.
Remember, lots of checks on your credit file makes you look desperate for credit and like an unreliable investment.
If you want to fully pay off your loan early, ask your lender for an early settlement amount.
The final settlement amount is only valid for a set period of time, the minimum of which is 28 days. It should contain details of how to pay off your loan.
To pay off part of your loan early, ask the lender for a partial early settlement detailing exactly how much you want to pay off.
Most likely, lenders can charge up to 58 days of interest to cover their losses if you choose to repay all of your loan early.
Your lender cannot charge any extra fees if your loan is unsecured and less than £8,000.
For unsecured loans over £8,000, the most you can be charged is 1%, or 0.5% of the entire amount repaid.
The lender can charge more on secured loans. Taking all extra fees into consideration, be sure that paying the loan off early will actually save you money.
Despite your best intentions, things may crop up that will affect your loan repayments. These include:
You'll still need to make the agreed payments on time.
If you move to another country and stop paying your loan, the lender will report your missed payments to UK credit reference agencies. This means it will show up on your credit report and damage your credit score.
The lender may also hire a debt collection agency in your new country of residence to pursue the debt.
If you plan to emigrate overseas, speak to your lender as early as possible. They may be able to offer some flexibility or even transfer the loan to a branch in your new country.
If you're due to go to jail before your loan is paid off, contact your lender immediately.
Payments do not stop automatically, but you could ask your lender for a payment break until you're released. The lender does not have to agree to this, and they may continue to charge you.
Alternatively, you can appoint someone (normally a family member), to manage your loan while you are in prison. This person will look after the loan for you until you are released.
If you pass away, the outstanding loan balance is taken out of the value of your estate.
Your debts are paid off before any money is passed to your heirs. This is done in the following order:
If there is not enough money in your estate to pay off your loans then the remaining debt will be wiped. However, there are exceptions, such as:
Find out what to do if you think you'll be unable to pay back your loan.
Some lenders may not allow someone else to pay off your loan. Check the terms and conditions or speak to your lender to ask.
Contact your lender to get an up to date loan balance. If you want to pay this balance off, you should ask for an early settlement amount.
Need a loan? Compare loan lenders side by side to find one that is cheap to pay back, lets you borrow what you need and has repayments you can afford.