Not only have personal loan rates increased by an average of 1.7% over the past year, lenders have also made some significant changes to the way that they offer personal loans.
Unsurprisingly the personal loan market has not escaped the effects of the credit crunch. In 2008 alone we have seen 27 changes to personal loan products.
In the majority of cases, these have been increases across the board, with personal loan lenders combining large one off rate increases with gradual small rises the overall effect does not favour consumers looking for extra borrowing.
Anyone who takes out a £5000 personal loan over three years will find themselves paying up to £386 more than if they had taken out the same loan at the same time last year.
But it is not only the mortgage market where we are seeing product withdrawals. In the last 12 months we have seen 12 personal loan lenders drop out of the personal loan market. These were a combination of new lenders and some well known institutions, including MBNA, RAC, Norwich Union and Virgin Money.
The more you borrow the more you pay
Personal loan lenders also seem to be clamping down on those who borrow more. Traditionally the more you borrow on a personal loan the lower the APR. More recently however, we have seen lenders increasing the rate offered on the higher loans. In some cases, the rate on the higher tier has actually gone above that of the tier below.
This change is another way lenders are tightening up, ensuring that we only borrow as much as we need, not a penny more.
Personal pricing and credit rating
Over the last year we have seen personal loan lenders reassessing how they offer personal loans too, with more and more lenders adopting personal pricing or a credit rating assessment.
This is not necessarily bad news for the borrower. Whereas before a prospective borrower was either accepted or declined, now those lenders that offer an APR dependent on a credit rating will offer an alternative rate to those borrowers who otherwise could have been declined.
But what it does mean is that it is increasingly difficult to work out what the best deal is. If you look at our best buys for example, from the top six rates offered on £5000 over three years, four are dependent on credit rating. According to the industry standard, only 66% of applicants have to be offered this rate, effectively leaving those with poorer credit ratings with higher rates.
This amendment is yet another sign that we are all too dependent on borrowing and are willing to accept a higher rate to ensure we get the funds.
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