Money 101  >   Personal Loans   >   How are Secured Loans and Unsecured Loans Different?

schedule 6 min read | April 7, 2023

How are Secured Loans and Unsecured Loans Different?

Written by Daniel Azzoli

There are all sorts of personal loans out there with their own specific uses and ways of working. Generally, they can be split into two different categories – secured loans and unsecured loans. Each category differs in terms of their requirements for qualification, interest rates, and repayment terms. Understanding the differences between these two types of loans can help you make informed decisions about which one to apply for if you find yourself needing a personal loan. So, with that in mind, let’s dive into some of the key differences between secured loans and unsecured loans.

What is a Secured Loan?

A secured loan is a type of loan that requires the applicant to provide collateral in order to qualify, amongst other eligibility criteria. A collateral is a valuable asset that can be used to secure the loan and serves as a guarantee that the lender will be able to recover their money in the event that the borrower defaults on the loan. Examples of collateral could be things like a home, a car, or other valuable property.

white house in the fall.

When you apply for a secured personal loan, the lender will likely evaluate your credit history, income, and other financial factors to determine whether you’re eligible for the loan. If you’re approved, the lender will require you to provide collateral that is typically worth at least as much as the loan amount. The lender will then place a lien on the collateral, which means that they have the right to seize it if you default on the loan. So, why would you consider putting an asset at risk? We’ll get into that later.

What is an Unsecured Loan?

An unsecured personal loan is a type of loan that does not require collateral. Instead, the lender may evaluate your credit history, income, and other financial factors to determine whether you’re eligible for the loan. If you’re approved, the lender will provide you with the funds, which you can use for whatever purpose you intended.

In some cases, unsecured loans may have higher interest rates than secured personal loans and they  also may have shorter repayment terms. All of this depends on the type of loan.

Another important difference between a secured and unsecured loan is the amount that you can borrow. With secured loans, you may be able to borrow more money than you can with an unsecured loan. The amount that you can borrow with an unsecured personal loan will usually depend on the type of loan, your credit score, the lender, and other factors.

Pros and Cons of Secured Loans

Let’s take a look at some of the potential benefits of secured personal loans, as well some things to look out for.

1. Longer Repayment Terms

Secured loans typically have longer repayment terms, which spreads out your loan payments. This can make these payments more manageable for borrowers to incorporate into their budgets.

2. Higher Borrowing Limits

Because secured loans require collateral, in some cases, borrowers can typically borrow more money than they could with an unsecured loan. This can make them useful for larger purchases, like homes or cars.

3 Things to Look Out for with Secured Loans

While there are some potential benefits that you might see with secured loans, there are also some things to look out for.

1. Risk of Losing Collateral

If you default on a secured loan, the lender has the right to seize your collateral, which can result in the loss of your valuable asset.

2. Application Process

Secured loans require collateral, which means that the application process can be longer and more complicated than it is for unsecured loans. So, if you need money now for an emergency expense, a secured loan may not be a suitable option.

3. Limited Options for Collateral

Not all borrowers have valuable assets that they can use as collateral, which can limit their ability to qualify for a secured loan.

Pros and Cons of Unsecured Loans

Now, we’ll dive into some of the potential benefits of unsecured loans, and some things to look out for.

1. No Risk of Losing Collateral

Because unsecured loans don’t require collateral, borrowers don’t have to worry about losing their valuable assets if they default on the loan.

2. Application Process

Unsecured loans don’t require collateral, which means that the application process may be faster and less complicated than it is for secured loans. This will depend on the lender you’re working, the type of loan, and certain other factors.

3. Flexibility

Unsecured loans may be a more flexible option in certain instances, as something like a small personal line of credit can be used for a variety of purposes and can be drawn upon when you need it. Keep in mind that they should still be used responsibly and with care. Many types of secured loans will need to be used for a very specific purpose, like a mortgage or auto loan.

3 Things to Look Out for with Unsecured Loans

1. Higher Interest Rates

Because the lender is taking on more risk, unsecured loans typically have higher interest rates than secured loans, which can make them more expensive.

2. Shorter Repayment Terms

Unsecured loans will sometimes have shorter repayment terms than secured loans, which can result in higher payments and a more stringent budget.

3. Lower Borrowing Limits

Since unsecured loans don't require collateral, lenders limit the amount of money they can lend to borrowers. This means that unsecured loans may not be the best option for people who need to borrow a large sum of money.

What Key Points Should I Consider?

There are a few key points to consider when comparing an unsecured vs secured loan and trying to decide what might work best for your situation. These are also things that are important to consider when applying for a personal loan in general. Make sure to factor these into your decision-making process.

1. Risks to the Borrower

With a secured loan, the borrower risks losing the collateral if they are unable to make the loan payments. This can be especially risky if the collateral is a valuable asset, such as a home or car. On the other hand, with an unsecured loan, the borrower is not at risk of losing any collateral, but they may face higher interest rates and fees. There’s risk in either case, so you’ll need to assess what makes more sense for you to ultimately deal with.

2. Credit Score Impact

Both secured and unsecured loans can impact your credit score. If you make your payments on time and in full, both types of loans may help build your credit history. If you miss payments or default on the loan, it can have a negative impact on your credit score.

3. Time to Funding

In general, applying for unsecured loans can be faster than secured loans. This is because secured loans require the lender to appraise the collateral and complete other paperwork as part of the application process. Unsecured loans, on the other hand, typically require less. If you’re trying to get a loan for an emergency situation, this is something that should be considered.

4. Use of Funds

Some lenders may restrict how the funds from a secured loan can be used. For example, if you take out a car loan, the lender may require that the funds be used specifically to purchase a car. With an unsecured loan, you have more flexibility in how you use the funds.

It's important to carefully consider all these factors when deciding whether to apply for a secured or unsecured loan. By weighing the benefits and drawbacks of each type of loan and choosing the one that best fits your financial situation and needs, you can make an informed decision.

Which Loan Type is Right for You?

Deciding whether to apply for a secured or unsecured loan depends on your financial situation and what you plan to use the money for. If you have a valuable asset that you're willing to use as collateral, a secured loan may be an option. However, if you don't have collateral or don't want to risk losing it, an unsecured loan may be a better choice.

two people researching secured vs unsecured personal loans.


In conclusion, secured loans and unsecured loans are two different types of loans that offer different benefits and drawbacks. When deciding which type of loan to apply for, it's important to consider your financial situation, credit score, and the amount of money you need to borrow. By doing your research and comparing different types of loans, you can find the loan that best fits your needs and budget.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information only and does not constitute financial, legal, or other professional advice. For full details, see CreditFresh’s Terms of Use.

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