Top 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Co-Sign a Friend’s Loan

Top 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Co-Sign a Friend's Loan

Co-signing your friend’s loan might seem like a nice thing to do. But it can put many things in your life at risk, including your finances, your credit score and even your friendship. While it’s possible to co-sign a friend’s loan and never face any negative consequences, it might not be worth it. Check out five reasons why you shouldn’t co-sign a friend’s loan.

1. You’ll Be Responsible for the Loan

No matter how trustworthy or wonderful your friend may be, he might end up defaulting on the loan he took out. Anything could happen. Your friend could lose his job or find out that a relative needs help paying for medical treatment.

If your friend can’t pay back the money he borrowed, you would have to pay for the loan if you co-signed it.

2. Your Credit Could Take a Hit

Top 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Co-Sign a Friend's Loan

If you co-sign a friend’s loan and he misses a single loan payment deadline, your credit score could drop. If that happens, it might be harder for you to buy a house or get a low interest rate on a loan in the future.

If your friend fails to pay back whatever he owes, the lender might sue you first. In the lender’s eyes, you are far more likely to pay back the loan since your credit score is probably higher.

3. Your Property May Be at Risk

Sometimes a co-signer will secure a loan with his or her own property. If you (the co-signer) put up your car or house as collateral and your friend doesn’t pay back the loan, you could potentially lose your property.

4. You Could Destroy Your Friendship

If you’re forced to cover the cost of the loan you co-signed, you could end up resenting your friend. After all, it can be difficult to remain friends with someone who put you in a complicated financial situation.

5. It Could Be Harder to Get a Loan Later On

Top 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Co-Sign a Friend's Loan

Co-signing your friend’s loan could make qualifying for another loan more difficult. For example, if you co-sign your friend’s car loan and then you try to take out a personal loan, a lender might reject your application. Co-signing your friend’s loan will affect your debt-to-income ratio (the amount of debt you’re paying off compared to your monthly gross income). A lender might not want to lend money to someone who already has a lot of debt to pay off.

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The Best Cities for Motorcycle Owners – SmartAsset

The Best Cities for Motorcycle Owners – SmartAsset

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According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, as of 2012 there were at least 8.4 million registered motorcycles in the United States (a number that has likely risen in the past four years as the economy has strengthened and auto sales have ballooned). That’s a lot of hogs – about one for every 37 people in the U.S. 

Need a boost to get that bike? Find out what loan options are available to you.

In some states, the concentration is even greater. South Dakota, for example, has one registered motorcycle for every 11 residents.

There are numerous factors that might make some places better for motorcyclists than others. Weather is an obvious one. Going for a ride is a lot more pleasant if it isn’t pouring rain.

Likewise, frigid temperatures can push even the most die-hard motorcycle owner to consider an alternate means of transportation. For many motorcyclists, access to the open road is also important. A few hours of traffic can suck the fun right out of an afternoon joyride.

So what are the best cities for motorcycle owners? To answer that question, SmartAsset analyzed data on every U.S. city with a population of at least 150,000. Along with the weather and traffic congestion in these cities, we also looked at such metrics as the state max speed limit on highways and the number of registered motorcycles per capita. (Read our full methodology below.)

Try SmartAsset’s personal loan calculator to find out how long it would take you to pay off a personal loan.

Key Findings

  • Best rides out west. With its many natural wonders and its long stretches of open road, the American West is something of a playground for motorcycle enthusiasts. It probably comes as no surprise that seven of the top ten cities in SmartAsset’s analysis are out west.
  • Southern California has best motorcycling weather. Seaside cities like Oxnard and Chula Vista have weather that is warm and dry year round. Incredibly, San Diego records zero days a year in which the average max temperature is less than 40 or higher than 90.

1. Fort Collins, Colorado

Why is Fort Collins the best city in the U.S. for motorcycle owners?

First, take a look at the location. Along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and 40 miles south of the Wyoming border, Fort Collins is surrounded by breathtaking scenery and opportunities for great rides. For instance, a loop through the Roosevelt National Forest, up to Laramie, Wyoming, and back down to Fort Collins would cover 220 miles of mountains and valleys in about four and a half hours.

Next, check out the traffic (or lack thereof). Motorists in Fort Collins spend an average of less than 20 hours per year sitting in traffic, making it one of the 20 least-congested cities in SmartAsset’s analysis. Colorado also has some of the lowest gas taxes in the country, with a state tax of just 22 cents per gallon.

2. Sioux Falls, South Dakota

South Dakota, which is one of the top states for an early retirement, may also be the best state for motorcyclists. Drive along I-90 on any summer day and you are sure to see numerous packs of motorcycles zipping along. The state is home to what may be the world’s largest annual gathering of motorcycle owners, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which in 2015 drew an astonishing 739,000 people.

While that rally is located across the state from Sioux Falls, there are plenty of reasons motorcycle owners will be happy in South Dakota’s largest city. (Sturgis and nearby Rapid City were not included in SmartAsset’s study as their population is less than 150,000.)

The average motorist in Sioux Falls spends just 15 hours per year in traffic, ninth-lowest among the cities we analyzed. Likewise, given the city’s strong economy and low housing costs, motorcycle owners should have some spare income to spend on the upkeep and improvement of their motorcycle collection.

3. Boise, Idaho

Located in central Idaho’s Treasure Valley, Boise is within a day’s ride of many of the country’s most beautiful regions. It is less than eight hours from Yellowstone National Park, less than eight hours from Lake Tahoe and less than eight hours to Oregon’s Cannon Beach. Utah’s Arches National Park is about eight hours and 15 minutes away from Boise.

4. Santa Clarita, California

Santa Clarita is located in Los Angeles County, but unlike in the City of Angels, traffic in Santa Clarita is not a major problem. In fact the average commuter in Santa Clarita spends less than 15 hours per year sitting in traffic. (LA motorists, in contrast, spend 80 hours in traffic.)

While bypassing the bad traffic, motorcycle owners in Santa Clarita still get to enjoy Southern California’s scenic mountain roads and warm weather. The city averages just 23.9 days per year in which precipitation exceeds 0.1 inches.

5. Overland Park, Kansas

Overland Park is the second largest city in the state of Kansas. Of the 171 cities in SmartAsset’s analysis, it has the 14th highest income after housing costs (like mortgage payments and insurance). That means motorcyclists should have spare money to spend on motorcycle repairs and improvements.

Overland Park also has the 16th lowest property crime rate of the cities in SmartAsset’s analysis. There were just 279 auto thefts in the city in 2014, 1.5 for every 1,000 residents.

6. McKinney, Texas

McKinney is about 30 miles north of Dallas, but when it comes to traffic it is a world apart. In fact, the average motorist in McKinney spends just nine hours a year in traffic congestion, according to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. That is lowest of any city in our study. For motorcyclists, it means less time waiting for the car ahead to move and more time on the open road.

Thinking about borrowing money? Here are a few things you should and shouldn’t do.

7. Santa Rosa, California

Located in the heart of one of America’s top wine regions, Santa Rosa is surrounded by beautiful scenery. Motorcyclists have numerous options, whether they want to go for a quick afternoon joyride or take a longer weekend tour. Potential destinations include the Pacific Coast Highway, which is less than an hour away, and Redwood National Forest, which is about four hours away.

8. Oxnard, California

If you love the beach and love your motorcycle, Oxnard may be the place for you. It is located along the Pacific Coast, west of Los Angeles. The city’s weather is stunning. Average maximum temperatures never fall below 60 or exceed 80. In fact, on average the city has just one day a year in which the temperature gets over 90 degrees.

9. Cary, North Carolina

This North Carolina city is the number one city on the East Coast for motorcycle owners. Like the rest of the East Coast, it is wetter than most cities in the west, averaging 76 days per year in which it receives at least 0.1 inches of rain. On the other hand, the climate in Cary is fairly temperate. Maximum temperatures fall below 40 degrees an average of 15 days a year, and rise above 90 degrees an average of 33 days per year.

The area is not lacking for beautiful routes. For instance, the Blue Ridge Parkway, “America’s favorite drive,” is located about three and a half hours from Cary. The North Carolina coast is less than three hours away.

10. Chula Vista, California

Take a ride through the Sonoran Desert or down the Coast of Baja California. Check out Cleveland National Forest or Joshua Tree National Park. All of these destinations are just a few hours from Chula Vista. The city also has some of the best motorcycling weather of any city in the U.S. It ranked in the top 15 cities in our study for both its limited rainfall and lack of extreme temperatures.

Methodology

To reach these results, SmartAsset analyzed data on 171 U.S. cities with a population of more than 150,000. Specifically, we looked at the following seven metrics:

  • Precipitation: the average number of days per year in which precipitation exceeds 0.1 inches.
  • Temperature extremes: the number of days per year in which average maximum temperatures are either lower than 40 degrees or higher than 90 degrees.
  • Traffic: the average hours per year lost to traffic congestion for auto commuters.
  • Property crime: the annual number of property crimes (including but not limited to auto theft) per 100,000 residents in each city.
  • Discretionary income: the median income after typical housing costs in each city.
  • Maximum speed: the maximum speed limit on highways of the state in which each city is located.
  • Motorcycle registrations: the number of residents per registered motorcycle for the state in which each city is located.

We ranked each of the 171 cities in our analysis according to those seven metrics. (For state-level metrics, cities in the same state received the same ranking.) We then averaged those rankings, giving half-weight to the two measures of weather and full weight to all other metrics.

The overall index was calculated based on that average ranking. The city with the best average ranking received an index score of 100, while lower average rankings correspond with lower index scores.

Data on temperature and precipitation comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Data on traffic congestion comes from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Data on maximum speed limits comes from the Governors Highway Safety Administration. Data on the number of motorcycle registrations comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Data on property crime rates comes from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local law enforcement agencies. Data on discretionary income comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Questions about our study? Contact us at blog@smartasset.com

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Nick Wallace Nick Wallace studied Economics at the University of Washington. He enjoys getting people thinking about finances by looking at the numbers. Nick is a freelance journalist and data analyst living in Michigan. He still lends his economic and analytic expertise for SmartAsset’s studies.
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The Millennial Guide to Getting a Personal Loan

The Millennial Guide to Getting a Personal Loan – SmartAsset

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Personal loans have made something of a comeback over the last few years thanks to the rise of online lending. According to TransUnion, the number of consumers who are using personal loans jumped by 18% between Q3 2013 and Q3 2015. Millennials, in particular, are increasingly relying on them to consolidate debt or finance big purchases. Here’s a rundown of what 20-somethings need to know about applying for a personal loan.

Online Lenders and Traditional Banks Aren’t the Same

In the past, if you needed to borrow money you had to head to a brick-and-mortar bank to do it. The online personal loan industry has changed all that and millennials have more choices when they need loans. There are, however, some differences to keep in mind.

Because online banks tend to have fewer overhead costs, they can often afford to offer the most credit-worthy borrowers lower interest rates than traditional banks. They may also charge fewer fees. With a regular bank, however, you’ve got the advantage of dealing with a loan officer face-to-face, which may come in handy if you have a question or a problem later on.

Many online lenders also take a different approach when it comes to underwriting. Upstart and SoFi, for example, cater to millennial borrowers and both consider not just your credit score and your income but your long-term financial outlook when making lending decisions. With a traditional bank, your personal merits are less likely to factor into whether or not you’re able to get approved.

Check Your Credit Before You Apply

Even though online lenders may be a bit more flexible, they’re still going to take a look at your credit score when you apply. Considering that some online lenders charge interest rates as high as 36%, you need to know what kind of deal you can expect to get.

Take a look at your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – to make sure your accounts are being reported properly. If you see an error, it’s best to dispute it as soon as possible. Otherwise, it could pull your score down and you could end up with a higher interest rate on a personal loan.

If you’re still in your 20s and you don’t have a substantial credit history yet, you might face an uphill climb to getting a loan. Paying your student loans and other bills on time each month and applying for a secured credit card with a low limit are two effective ways to establish credit. Payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO score so it’s a good idea to focus on that area if you’re aiming to get a personal loan with the best rates.

Crunch the Numbers on the Payoff

Personal loans aren’t open-ended, which means you have a fixed amount of time to pay them back. Depending on the lender, the loan term may last anywhere from one to five years.

If you’re in your 20s and you’re not making a lot or you’re balancing student loan payments, you need to be sure that you can afford the monthly personal loan payments. Missing a payment could do serious damage to your credit. Doing the math is also important where the interest is concerned.

For example, let’s say you want to borrow $5,000 to consolidate credit card debt. Bank A offers you a 3-year loan with a 12% simple interest rate while Bank B is offering you a 5-year term at a 10% simple interest rate. On the surface, the lower rate seems like the better deal but if you go with Bank B, you’ll end up paying at least $700 more in interest.

If you’re on the lookout for a loan, using our personal loan calculator can help you figure out the true cost of borrowing.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Lorraine Boogich, ©iStock.com/filo, ©iStock.com/GlobalStock

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She’s worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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The Dos and Don’ts of Borrowing Money – SmartAsset

The Dos and Don’ts of Borrowing Money – SmartAsset

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Taking on debt is a thorny subject. Signing on an affordable mortgage is one thing. Racking up credit card debt on unnecessary purchases? Quite another. Any time you borrow money, you put your finances at risk. That’s why it’s important to do your research before committing to new debt. If you’re not sure whether to borrow money, read our list of dos and don’ts. And if you need hands-on help managing your financial life, consider linking up with a financial advisor.

Do: Comparison shop when deciding where to borrow

Thinking of borrowing money? Don’t just go for the first credit source you can find. Look around for a loan that meets your requirements and leaves you with monthly payments you can actually afford. If you’re not happy with what lenders are offering you, it may be best to take the time to build up your credit score and then try again.

Don’t: Just look at the interest rate

Comparing loans is about more than searching for the lowest interest rate you can get. Look out for red flags like prepayment penalties. Stay away from personal loans that come with pricey insurance add-ons like credit life insurance. These insurance policies, particularly if you decide to finance them by rolling them into your loan, will raise the effective interest rate on the money you borrow. Approach payday loans and installment loans with extreme caution.

Do: Go for “good debt”

Good debt is debt you can afford that you use on something that will appreciate. That could be a home in a desirable neighborhood or an education from a reputable institution that will help your future earning power. Of course, you can’t be 100% sure that your home will appreciate or your advanced degree will pay off but you can take leaps based on thorough research.

Don’t: Go overboard with consumer debt

Consumer debt is generally considered bad debt. Why? Because it’s debt taken out for something that won’t appreciate. You’ll spend the money and get fleeting enjoyment but you’ll be making interest payments for months or years. In other words, it’s generally better to save up for that new tablet or vacation than to finance it with consumer debt.

Do: Keep a budget

Real talk: Anyone who has debt should be on a budget. Budgets are great for everyone, but those who owe money to lenders are prime candidates for a workable budget. Start by keeping track of your income and your spending for one month. At the end of that month, sit down and go over what you’ve recorded. Where can you cut back? You can’t be sure you’ll be able to make on-time payments unless you’re keeping track of your spending – and keeping it in check.

Don’t: Be late

Speaking of making on-time payments: Making a late payment on a bill you can afford to pay is not just careless. It’s also  costly mistake. Late payments lower your credit score and increase the interest you owe. They can also lead your lender to impose late-payment penalties and increase your interest rate, making your borrowing more expensive for as long as it takes you to pay off your debt.

Do: Seek help

If you’re having trouble keeping up with your debt payments or you’re not sure how to tackle a handful of different debts, seek help from a non-profit credit counseling organization. A credit counselor will sit down with you and review your credit score and credit report. He or she will help you correct any errors on your credit report. Then, you’ll work together to set up a debt repayment plan. That may mean you make payments to your credit counselor, which then pays your lenders on your behalf.

Don’t: Throw good money after bad 

Why a non-profit credit counselor? Well, there are plenty of people and companies out there that want you to throw good money after bad. They may offer counseling or they may try to sell you on bad credit loans. At best, they’ll charge you an arm and a leg for advice about debt repayment that you could be getting for free. At worst, they could lead you further into debt.

Do: Automate

If you have debts to pay off then automation can be your friend. Setting up automatic transfers for your bills and your loan payments will remove the temptation to overspend, to make only the minimum payment or to skip a payment altogether. If you can afford it, set up automatic savings while you’re at it. The sooner you start saving for retirement the better. Just because you’re still paying off your student loans doesn’t mean you should defer your retirement savings until middle age.

Bottom Line

Most of us will borrow money at some point in our adulthood. These days, it’s easier than ever to borrow money online and take on debt quickly. The choices we make about when, how and how much to borrow? Those can make or break our finances. Before you take on debt, it’s important to ask yourself whether that debt is necessary and how you will pay it back. Happy borrowing!

If you want more help with this decision and others relating to your financial health, you might want to consider hiring a financial advisor. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with top financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

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Amelia Josephson Amelia Josephson is a writer passionate about covering financial literacy topics. Her areas of expertise include retirement and home buying. Amelia’s work has appeared across the web, including on AOL, CBS News and The Simple Dollar. She holds degrees from Columbia and Oxford. Originally from Alaska, Amelia now calls Brooklyn home.
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3 Things Startups Should Know About Using P2P Loans

3 Things Startups Should Know About Using P2P Loans – SmartAsset

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Starting a new business requires a certain level of commitment. You’ll also need to have access to plenty of money. Startups often have a hard time qualifying for business loans. But peer-to-peer (P2P) lending could be a financing option worth considering if you can’t get funding elsewhere. Here’s what you need to know about using P2P loans to kickstart a business.

Check out our personal loan calculator.

1. You May Have to Apply for a Personal Loan

Getting a personal loan to support a business isn’t the same thing as getting a business loan. That’s something to keep in mind since borrowing limits for personal P2P loans may not be as high as they are for business loans.

Lending Club, for example, lets you borrow up to $40,000 for a personal loan. But the maximum borrowing limit for business loans is $300,000. If you want a business loan, your company needs to be at least two years old and you need to have at least $75,000 in annual sales.

If you can’t qualify for a business loan, you may need to take out more than one personal loan. But by taking on more debt, it may take longer for your business to become profitable.

2. Lenders Will Look at Your Personal Credit History

When you’re trying to get a personal loan through a P2P lender, your odds of being approved hinge solely on your personal credit history. Every P2P lender has its own credit rating system for borrowers. Finding someone who’s willing to loan you money may be difficult if you have bad credit.

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Before you start shopping around for a loan, it’s best to learn about the credit requirements that different P2P lenders have. Then you can check your credit reports and scores to see how you measure up. If your score is lower than you expected it to be, you might want to put off launching your business. The higher your credit score, the more appealing you’ll be to P2P loan investors (and you’ll probably have access to better loan terms).

3. You’ll Be Personally Responsible for What You Borrow

Getting a personal loan to fund your new business will be one challenge. Another will be paying back what you borrow. If your business doesn’t do as well as you’d hoped, that won’t change your responsibility to the P2P lender or the investors who funded your loan.

If you default on the loan, your lender may sue you. And your personal assets could be seized (depending on the way your business is structured). Before you commit to a P2P loan, you’ll need to know exactly what you’ll be risking if things don’t work out.

Related Article: How to Get a Personal Loan

Final Word

As you’re comparing P2P lenders, it’s important to pay attention to interest rates and fees. Compared to banks, peer-to-peer loans often come with higher rates, which increase the cost of borrowing. If you want the best deal on a loan for your new business, it’s best to shop around.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/alvarez, ©iStock.com/danielfela, ©iStock.com/PeopleImages

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She’s worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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How to Start Investing in Peer-to-Peer Loans – SmartAsset

How to Start Investing in Peer-to-Peer Loans – SmartAsset

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Back in the day, if you needed a personal loan to start a business or finance a wedding you had to go through a bank. But in recent years, a new option has appeared and transformed the lending industry. Peer-to-peer lending makes it easy for consumers to secure financing and gives investors another type of asset to add to their portfolios. If you’re interested in investing in something other than stocks, bonds or real estate, check out our guide to becoming an investor in peer-to-peer loans.

Check out our personal loan calculator.

What Is Peer-to-Peer Lending?

Peer-to-peer lending is the borrowing and lending of money through a platform without the help of a bank or another financial institution. Typically, an online company brings together borrowers who need funding and investors who put up cash for loans in exchange for interest payments.

Thanks to peer-to-peer lending, individuals who need extra money can get access to personal loans in a matter of days (or within hours in some cases). Even if they have bad credit scores, they may qualify for interest rates that are lower than what traditional banks might offer them. In the meantime, investors can earn decent returns without having to actively manage their investments.

Who Can Invest in Peer-to-Peer Loans

You don’t necessarily have to be a millionaire or an heiress to start investing in peer-to-peer loans. In some cases, you’ll need to have an annual gross salary of at least $70,000 or a net worth of at least $250,000. But the rules differ depending on where you live and the site you choose to invest through.

For example, if you’re investing through the website Prosper, you can’t invest at all if you reside in Arizona or New Jersey. In total, only people in 30 states can invest through Prosper and only folks in 45 states can invest through its competitor, Lending Club.

Certain sites, like Upstart and Funding Circle, are only open to accredited investors. To be an accredited investor, the SEC says you need to have a net worth above $1 million or an annual salary above $200,000 (unless you’re a company director, an executive officer or you’re part of a general partnership). Other websites that work with personal loan investors include SoFi, Peerform and CircleBack Lending.

Keep in mind that there may be limitations regarding the degree to which you can invest. According to Prosper’s site, if you live in California and you’re spending $2,500 (or less) on Prosper notes, that investment cannot be more than 10% of your net worth. Lending Club has the same restrictions, except that the 10% cap applies to all states.

Choose your risk profile.

Becoming an Investor

If you meet the requirements set by the website you want to invest through (along with any other state or local guidelines), setting up your online profile is a piece of cake. You can invest through a traditional account or an account for your retirement savings, if the site you’re visiting gives you that option.

After you create your account, you’ll be able to fill your investment portfolio with different kinds of notes. These notes are parts of loans that you’ll have to buy to begin investing. The loans themselves may be whole loans or fractional loans (portions of loans). As borrowers pay off their personal loans, investors get paid a certain amount of money each month.

If you don’t want to manually choose notes, you can set up your account so that it automatically picks them for you based on the risk level you’re most comfortable with. Note that there will likely be a minimum threshold that you’ll have to meet. With Lending Club and Prosper, you can invest with just $25. With a site like Upstart, you have to be willing to spend at least $100 on a note.

Should I Invest in Peer-to-Peer Loans?

Investing in personal loans may seem like a foreign concept. If you’re eligible to become an investor, however, it might be worth trying.

For one, investing in personal loans isn’t that difficult. Online lenders screen potential borrowers and ensure that the loans on their sites abide by their rules. Investors can browse through notes and purchase them.

Thanks to the automatic investing feature that many sites offer, you can sit back and let an online platform manage your investment account for you. That can be a plus if you don’t have a lot of free time. Also, by investing through a retirement account, you can prepare for the future and enjoy the tax advantages that come with putting your money into a traditional or Roth IRA.

As investments, personal loans are less risky than stocks. The stock market dips from time to time and there’s no guarantee that you’ll see a return on your investments. By investing in a peer-to-peer loan, you won’t have to deal with so much volatility and you’re more likely to see a positive return. Lending Club investors, for example, have historically had returns between 5.26% and 8.69%.

Related Article: Is Using a Personal Loan to Invest a Smart Move?

But investing in peer-to-peer loans isn’t for everyone. The online company you’re investing through might go bankrupt. The folks who take out the loans you invest in might make late payments or stop paying altogether.

All of that means you could lose money. And since these loans are unsecured, you can’t repossess anything or do much to recoup your losses.

You can lower your investment risk by investing in different loans. That way, if someone defaults, you can still profit from the loan payments that the other borrowers make. But if you don’t have enough loans in your portfolio you’re putting yourself in a riskier predicament.

Final Word

If you’re looking for a way to add some diversity to your portfolio, investing in peer-to-peer loans might be something to think about. There are plenty of benefits that you can reap with this kind of investment. Before setting up an account, however, it’s important to be aware of the risks you’ll be taking on.

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Amanda Dixon Amanda Dixon is a personal finance writer and editor with an expertise in taxes and banking. She studied journalism and sociology at the University of Georgia. Her work has been featured in Business Insider, AOL, Bankrate, The Huffington Post, Fox Business News, Mashable and CBS News. Born and raised in metro Atlanta, Amanda currently lives in Brooklyn.
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How to Start Investing in Peer-to-Peer Loans

How to Start Investing in Peer-to-Peer Loans – SmartAsset

Tap on the profile icon to edit
your financial details.

Back in the day, if you needed a personal loan to start a business or finance a wedding you had to go through a bank. But in recent years, a new option has appeared and transformed the lending industry. Peer-to-peer lending makes it easy for consumers to secure financing and gives investors another type of asset to add to their portfolios. If you’re interested in investing in something other than stocks, bonds or real estate, check out our guide to becoming an investor in peer-to-peer loans.

Check out our personal loan calculator.

What Is Peer-to-Peer Lending?

Peer-to-peer lending is the borrowing and lending of money through a platform without the help of a bank or another financial institution. Typically, an online company brings together borrowers who need funding and investors who put up cash for loans in exchange for interest payments.

Thanks to peer-to-peer lending, individuals who need extra money can get access to personal loans in a matter of days (or within hours in some cases). Even if they have bad credit scores, they may qualify for interest rates that are lower than what traditional banks might offer them. In the meantime, investors can earn decent returns without having to actively manage their investments.

Who Can Invest in Peer-to-Peer Loans

You don’t necessarily have to be a millionaire or an heiress to start investing in peer-to-peer loans. In some cases, you’ll need to have an annual gross salary of at least $70,000 or a net worth of at least $250,000. But the rules differ depending on where you live and the site you choose to invest through.

For example, if you’re investing through the website Prosper, you can’t invest at all if you reside in Arizona or New Jersey. In total, only people in 30 states can invest through Prosper and only folks in 45 states can invest through its competitor, Lending Club.

Certain sites, like Upstart and Funding Circle, are only open to accredited investors. To be an accredited investor, the SEC says you need to have a net worth above $1 million or an annual salary above $200,000 (unless you’re a company director, an executive officer or you’re part of a general partnership). Other websites that work with personal loan investors include SoFi, Peerform and CircleBack Lending.

Keep in mind that there may be limitations regarding the degree to which you can invest. According to Prosper’s site, if you live in California and you’re spending $2,500 (or less) on Prosper notes, that investment cannot be more than 10% of your net worth. Lending Club has the same restrictions, except that the 10% cap applies to all states.

Choose your risk profile.

Becoming an Investor

If you meet the requirements set by the website you want to invest through (along with any other state or local guidelines), setting up your online profile is a piece of cake. You can invest through a traditional account or an account for your retirement savings, if the site you’re visiting gives you that option.

After you create your account, you’ll be able to fill your investment portfolio with different kinds of notes. These notes are parts of loans that you’ll have to buy to begin investing. The loans themselves may be whole loans or fractional loans (portions of loans). As borrowers pay off their personal loans, investors get paid a certain amount of money each month.

If you don’t want to manually choose notes, you can set up your account so that it automatically picks them for you based on the risk level you’re most comfortable with. Note that there will likely be a minimum threshold that you’ll have to meet. With Lending Club and Prosper, you can invest with just $25. With a site like Upstart, you have to be willing to spend at least $100 on a note.

Should I Invest in Peer-to-Peer Loans?

Investing in personal loans may seem like a foreign concept. If you’re eligible to become an investor, however, it might be worth trying.

For one, investing in personal loans isn’t that difficult. Online lenders screen potential borrowers and ensure that the loans on their sites abide by their rules. Investors can browse through notes and purchase them.

Thanks to the automatic investing feature that many sites offer, you can sit back and let an online platform manage your investment account for you. That can be a plus if you don’t have a lot of free time. Also, by investing through a retirement account, you can prepare for the future and enjoy the tax advantages that come with putting your money into a traditional or Roth IRA.

As investments, personal loans are less risky than stocks. The stock market dips from time to time and there’s no guarantee that you’ll see a return on your investments. By investing in a peer-to-peer loan, you won’t have to deal with so much volatility and you’re more likely to see a positive return. Lending Club investors, for example, have historically had returns between 5.26% and 8.69%.

Related Article: Is Using a Personal Loan to Invest a Smart Move?

But investing in peer-to-peer loans isn’t for everyone. The online company you’re investing through might go bankrupt. The folks who take out the loans you invest in might make late payments or stop paying altogether.

All of that means you could lose money. And since these loans are unsecured, you can’t repossess anything or do much to recoup your losses.

You can lower your investment risk by investing in different loans. That way, if someone defaults, you can still profit from the loan payments that the other borrowers make. But if you don’t have enough loans in your portfolio you’re putting yourself in a riskier predicament.

Final Word

If you’re looking for a way to add some diversity to your portfolio, investing in peer-to-peer loans might be something to think about. There are plenty of benefits that you can reap with this kind of investment. Before setting up an account, however, it’s important to be aware of the risks you’ll be taking on.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/bymuratdeniz, ©iStock.com/M_a_y_a, ©iStock.com/sirius_r

Amanda Dixon Amanda Dixon is a personal finance writer and editor with an expertise in taxes and banking. She studied journalism and sociology at the University of Georgia. Her work has been featured in Business Insider, AOL, Bankrate, The Huffington Post, Fox Business News, Mashable and CBS News. Born and raised in metro Atlanta, Amanda currently lives in Brooklyn.
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Source: smartasset.com

3 Things Startups Should Know About Using P2P Loans – SmartAsset

3 Things Startups Should Know About Using P2P Loans – SmartAsset

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Starting a new business requires a certain level of commitment. You’ll also need to have access to plenty of money. Startups often have a hard time qualifying for business loans. But peer-to-peer (P2P) lending could be a financing option worth considering if you can’t get funding elsewhere. Here’s what you need to know about using P2P loans to kickstart a business.

Check out our personal loan calculator.

1. You May Have to Apply for a Personal Loan

Getting a personal loan to support a business isn’t the same thing as getting a business loan. That’s something to keep in mind since borrowing limits for personal P2P loans may not be as high as they are for business loans.

Lending Club, for example, lets you borrow up to $40,000 for a personal loan. But the maximum borrowing limit for business loans is $300,000. If you want a business loan, your company needs to be at least two years old and you need to have at least $75,000 in annual sales.

If you can’t qualify for a business loan, you may need to take out more than one personal loan. But by taking on more debt, it may take longer for your business to become profitable.

2. Lenders Will Look at Your Personal Credit History

When you’re trying to get a personal loan through a P2P lender, your odds of being approved hinge solely on your personal credit history. Every P2P lender has its own credit rating system for borrowers. Finding someone who’s willing to loan you money may be difficult if you have bad credit.

Get your free credit score now.

Before you start shopping around for a loan, it’s best to learn about the credit requirements that different P2P lenders have. Then you can check your credit reports and scores to see how you measure up. If your score is lower than you expected it to be, you might want to put off launching your business. The higher your credit score, the more appealing you’ll be to P2P loan investors (and you’ll probably have access to better loan terms).

3. You’ll Be Personally Responsible for What You Borrow

Getting a personal loan to fund your new business will be one challenge. Another will be paying back what you borrow. If your business doesn’t do as well as you’d hoped, that won’t change your responsibility to the P2P lender or the investors who funded your loan.

If you default on the loan, your lender may sue you. And your personal assets could be seized (depending on the way your business is structured). Before you commit to a P2P loan, you’ll need to know exactly what you’ll be risking if things don’t work out.

Related Article: How to Get a Personal Loan

Final Word

As you’re comparing P2P lenders, it’s important to pay attention to interest rates and fees. Compared to banks, peer-to-peer loans often come with higher rates, which increase the cost of borrowing. If you want the best deal on a loan for your new business, it’s best to shop around.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/alvarez, ©iStock.com/danielfela, ©iStock.com/PeopleImages

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She’s worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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Source: smartasset.com