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Secured and Unsecured Loans: Right here's the Distinction

Whether you're trying to buy a home or graduate from college, you may need to get a loan to fund your goals. When looking for your first loan you know that borrowing money is a common practice and you don't need a degree in economics to understand it! Learning more about loans and the different types can help you make informed decisions and take control of your finances.

Loans take many forms, but they all fall into two common categories: secured vs. unsecured loans. Whether or not you are approved for either type of loan depends on your creditworthiness. Creditworthiness relates to how responsible you are to repay debt and whether it is worth or risky to get you new credit. It is helpful to have a clear understanding of your credit before looking for a loan so that you know where you stand.

Now that you are familiar with the role of creditworthiness in obtaining a loan, let's discuss the differences between secured and unsecured loans, the pros and cons of each, and which loan is right for you.

What is the difference between secured and unsecured loans?

The main difference between secured and unsecured loans is how they use collateral. security is when something of economic value is used as security for a debt in case the debt is not repaid. As a rule, collateral is provided in the form of tangible property such as a car, house or other real estate. If the debt is not repaid, the collateral is seized and sold to repay all or part of the debt.

Main difference: A Secured loan requires collateralwhile a unsecured loan no Need collateral.

What is a secured loan?

A secured loan requires collateral as security in case you cannot repay your debts. If secured debt is not paid back, the collateral is taken. In addition to collateral seizure, lenders can start collecting, file negative credit information on your report, and sue you for outstanding debt. This generally makes secured loans more risky for the borrower.

Conversely, collateral reduces the risk for lenders, especially when loans are granted to individuals with low to no creditworthiness or poor creditworthiness. Lower risk means that lenders may offer some leeway in terms of interest rates and credit limits. See the list below for more typical features of a secured loan.

Features of a secured loan:

For borrowers:

Presence of collateral
Usually riskier
A deposit may be required
Can sell real estate to repay loans
Generally lower interest rates
Longer repayment period
Higher credit limits
Easier for those with poor or poor credit ratings

For lenders:

Usually less risky
Lender can take your collateral
The lender can retain ownership of your property until the loan is repaid

Examples of secured loans

The most common use of a secured loan is to finance large purchases such as a mortgage. Typically, these loans can only be used on one specific, intended purchase such as a home, car, or boat. A home equity loan is another example of a secure loan. Some loans such as business loans or debt consolidation loans can be secured or unsecured.

Examples of secured loans

What is an Unsecured Loan?

For an unsecured loan, no collateral is required to secure the amount borrowed. This type of loan is granted on the basis of creditworthiness and income. A high credit score makes an unsecured loan more accessible.

The lack of collateral makes this type of loan less risky for borrowers and much riskier for lenders. If unsecured debts are not repaid, the lender cannot automatically seize the property. You need to collect debt, report negative credit information, or sue. Unsecured loans, because of the increased risk, have features that seek to reduce the risk. This could include higher interest rates or lower credit limits, and you can see more in the list below.

Features of an unsecured loan:

For borrowers:

No collateral required
Usually less risky
Qualify based on credit and income
Stricter qualification conditions
Generally higher interest rates
Lower credit limits

For lenders:

Usually riskier
The lender cannot take ownership immediately if you do so by default

Examples of Unsecured Loans

Common unsecured loans include credit cards, personal loans, student loans, and medical debts. Debt consolidation and business loans can also be unsecured. In either of these cases, no collateral is required and you can repay your unsecured debt.

Examples of Unsecured Loans

Pros and cons to consider

When deciding on the type of loan you need, it is important to consider the pros and cons of each loan.

Secured Loans

Secured loans offer advantages in terms of repayment, interest and loan amount, but have disadvantages in terms of risk and usage restrictions for a borrower.


Larger credit limits
Lower risk for lenders usually means lower interest rates for borrowers
Longer repayment period
Available tax deductions for interest paid on certain loans (e.g. a mortgage)


Risk to borrowers (potential for loss of collateral such as homes, cars, stocks, or bonds)
Specifically for the intended purpose (e.g. a home, but home equity loans are an exception)

Unsecured Loans

Unsecured loans can be beneficial to borrowers in terms of risk and time, but they are a disadvantage when it comes to interest rates and stricter qualifications.


Less risky for borrowers
Useful loan when you don't own property to use as collateral
Faster application process than a secured loan (e.g. a credit card)


A higher risk for lenders usually means higher interest rates for borrowers
Difficult to qualify if you have poor credit or inconsistent income (may qualify with a co-signer)

Take a look at the table below to compare the key pros and cons between secured and unsecured loans.

Secured Loans

Unsecured Loans


• Lower interest rates
• Higher credit limits
• Easier to qualify
• No risk of losing collateral
• Less risky for the borrower


• Risk of losing collateral
• Riskier for borrowers
• Higher interest rates
• Lower credit limits
• More difficult to qualify

Which type of loan is best for you?

After considering the pros and cons of both types of loan, it is helpful to know which is the best in any given circumstance. Here are some common contexts in which one can be better than the other.

A secured loan This may be best if you are trying to make a big home purchase or if you don't have the best bankroll. The item you have purchased can be used as collateral if you do not already have another item. In addition, if you have poor creditworthiness and can be more advantageous with lower interest rates, this loan will be more accessible to you.
An unsecured loan can be best when you have good credit and stable income. A high credit score will help you meet strict eligibility criteria and get better interest rates (as this type is characterized by higher interest rates).

Overall, secured and unsecured loans are useful in different situations. Remember, the main difference is that unsecured loans do not require collateral while secured loans do. Secured loans are less risky for the lender and can allow for some advantageous repayment terms. Unsecured loans, on the other hand, are risky for the lender, and they are often subject to more stringent conditions that seek to reduce that risk.

It is important to make wise financial decisions, such as: B. repaying debts on time and maintaining good credit ratings. A high credit score is key to getting the best terms on a loan. Regardless of your circumstances, determining the type of loan that is best for you will depend on your specific loan and goals. Visit our Loan Center for help deciding which loan is right for you.

swell: Bureau of Financial Consumer Protection

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