How to Get a Secured Loan to Build Credit

Written by Banks Editorial Team
4 min. read
Written by Banks Editorial Team
4 min. read

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A high credit score can save you a lot of money and increase your quality of life. Credit scores impact how much house you can buy, how quickly a landlord accepts your rent application and the car you drive. In addition, lenders will look at your credit score before setting interest rates if you borrow money. A higher credit score results in a lower interest rate, saving you over $100 per month on a large loan. 

Some borrowers use secured loans to build their credit. Increasing your credit score with one of these loans puts you in a better position when you’re ready to apply for a mortgage or auto loan. Many creditors offer secured loans, but some are better than others. We will discuss how secured loans work and some important details to know before applying.

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What Is a Secured Loan?

A secured loan is any loan that has collateral. For example, mortgages and auto loans use the home and car as collateral. It gives the lender extra assurance and results in lower interest rates. A lender can seize the collateral if you stop paying the loan. However, the lender does not have to show up in court to obtain the collateral on an unpaid loan.

You can use cash, investments, personal belongings, and other items as collateral. Lenders will work with you even if you have a low credit score since secured loans have less risk. If you primarily want to take out a secured loan to build your credit, you can use a credit builder loan. This secured loan uses money as collateral, and the lender will report your payment history to the major credit bureaus.

Secured Loan vs. Unsecured Loan: The Differences

Secured loans rely on collateral and minimize the lender’s risk. This dynamic results in lower interest rates and easier access to capital for people with bad credit. Unsecured loans do not require collateral, but lenders will charge higher interest rates in exchange for greater risk. Credit card debt is a well-known example of an unsecured loan. Credit cards don’t have collateral, but they have double-digit interest rates. Creditors can sue you and get you in court if you don’t pay debt long enough.

How Does a Secured Loan Build Credit?

Many borrowers use secured loans to strengthen their credit. Extra points on a credit score can translate into significant savings and opportunities. Secured loan borrowers follow this model to increase their credit scores.

The Lender Sets Aside Money

Creditors use loans to earn a return on their sitting capital. The lender lets you borrow money for your loan. You have to put up collateral, so the lender incurs less risk. Some lenders request specific types of collateral, such as cash or investments.

You Make Monthly Payments

The lender will ask for monthly payments based on the agreed-upon terms. You can lower your monthly payment by asking for a lower principal or extending your loan’s term. Each monthly payment gets you closer to paying the loan in full.

The Lender Reports Payments to Credit Bureau 

The credit bureaus use various factors to determine your credit score, but payment history is the largest category. Payment history makes up 35% of your credit score, and on-time loan payments will strengthen your history. Lenders report your payments to credit bureaus to simplify the process and ensure your credit score increases with each on-time payment. Some lenders have grace periods where they delay reporting late payments. You shouldn’t rely on this benefit, but knowing the limits of a lender’s generosity before working with them is good.

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The Lender Releases the Funds

Once you fully pay off the loan, the lender will release the collateral. You have outright ownership of the collateral after paying the loan. Credit builder loans use cash as collateral, but other secured loans may have different collateral requirements.

Is a Secured Loan Right for You?

Borrowers like secured loans for their lower interest rates and easier access. You don’t need the best credit to access the most secured loans. However, some borrowers may feel anxious about putting down collateral. They may worry about losing an investment due to default or straining their budgets.

A secured loan is best for someone rebuilding their credit who can afford the monthly payments. If you continue paying the loan each month, you will not lose your collateral. A mortgage or auto loan provides you with a useful asset at the end of the loan, while a credit builder loan strengthens your credit score. Secured loans provide great benefits if you can stay on top of monthly payments. If you are nervous about paying off the loan, you should consider a lower loan amount or adding more years to the backend of the loan.

How Do You Get a Secured Loan to Build Credit

Some borrowers do not have high enough credit scores to apply for a mortgage or auto loan. Borrowers who just made the cut may face higher interest rates which can add over $100/mo. to their budgets. You can refinance in the future when you have a higher credit score, but rising interest rates can make it challenging to save money with a refinance. A secured loan can fortify your finances, and you can get your own by following these steps:

  • Choose a Lender: Many financial institutions offer secured loans. You can reach out to banks, credit unions, and online lenders. You can compare rates and requirements to discover the best loan for you.
  • Comply with Loan Requirements: Secured loans require some type of collateral. Some creditors will ask for a minimum cash deposit, while others may ask for other items as collateral. You should also have all of the necessary documents. Lenders may ask for your social security, bank statements, and other financial and legal documents. The requirements vary for each lender and loan product.
  • Review Loan Terms and Details: Check each loan’s length and interest rate. These details can significantly impact how much you pay each month toward the loan. Before accepting a loan, you should consider how much you can fit into your budget.
  • Submit Your Application: Ask the chosen lender for an application and fill it out. Some creditors require borrowers to pay a small application fee.
  • Start Making Payments and Build Your Credit: Each on-time payment gets reported to the major credit bureaus. Payment history is the largest category that influences your credit score. A single on-time payment can improve your credit score. Combine that initial payment with a year of successful loan payments, and your credit score growth can gain momentum.
  • Monitor Your Progress: Frequently check your credit to see how your loan repayments impact your score. You should also monitor other debt, as unpaid credit card debt and other obligations can undo the positive effects of on-time payments for a secured loan. 

Try a Credit Builder Loan Instead

A secured loan gives you access to capital and lets you build your credit score. Before rushing to get a secured loan, you should try MoneyLion’s Credit Builder Loan. This loan does not require a hard inquiry, an event that negatively impacts your credit score. Instead, MoneyLion does a soft pull on your credit which will not affect your score. You can make monthly loan payments knowing your activity will get reported to the major credit bureaus.

Unlike most credit builder loan providers, MoneyLion lets you tap into some of the loan’s principal. You can use these funds to help cover monthly payments for your credit builder loan. MoneyLion also offers a suite of financial products and services designed to improve your credit score, grow your portfolio, and save more money. You can download the MoneyLion banking app to get a credit builder loan and other features.

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