Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Unexpected emergencies can happen to all of us. Your house might need urgent repairs, the car could break down suddenly or a relative might need help. In almost all household emergencies, you are going to need access to funds to fix things or simply to tide you over. For most people who don’t have substantial amounts of cash available in a savings account, borrowing will be the only way to cope.
The temptation will be to either reach for your credit card or to apply for a new one. Credit cards represent a simple and no-hassle way to access thousands of pounds in borrowing quickly and easily. You simply use them as you would your debit card and either pay off the entire balance within a month or make the minimum payment and accrue interest on the outstanding amount.
But although credit cards are a simple way to borrow money, they do come with a number of financial health warnings that you should consider before you start racking up significant sums on your Visa, MasterCard or American Express account.
Cash loans are a good alternative to credit cards if you need to borrow a significant amount of money. Although it might take a little longer to get access to the funds you need, you may end up paying less in interest as well as having a clearly defined repayment schedule which will help you when it comes to budgeting and forecasting your household finances.
Credit cards – Many credit cards are offered with what appear to be very attractive interest rates. While 0% offers dried up in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, these are starting to make a comeback with a number of the larger banks offering zero rate credit cards. But don’t be in any doubt – these headline figures hide a much more complex picture: 0% APRs are often only offered on balance transfers (so you’ll need to have an existing balance on another card to take advantage of these rates) and there are usually administration fees - which can be as high as £100.
The low interest rates are usually only offered for a specific period – normally six months but sometimes for as long as 18. After the introductory period is up, your card balance will h switch to a variable APR with many cards having very high interest rates – sometimes in excess of 30%.
Cash loans – With a cash loan you will generally know exactly how much you’ll be repaying in interest over the term of the loan. That makes planning your household finances and budgeting accordingly much simpler. Many cash loans have a fixed APR, meaning that your repayments will not change throughout the course of the loan and many of them have lower interest rates than those charged on credit cards which are out of the introductory 0% period.
Access to cash
Credit cards – If you have a household emergency – be it a fire, the failure of an essential piece of equipment or the discovery of some sort of structural problem – the chances are that you are going to need somebody else to carry out the work for you. Few, if any, tradesman accept credit cards – they are going to want paying either by cheque or in cash.
You can get cash out on a credit card but you’ll find that you rack up large charges – or “cash advance fees” – in the process. The credit card company will also charge you a separate interest rate on a cash advance meaning that you won’t get a 0% offer on it. And you will be limited to the amount you can withdraw each day meaning that if you need a large amount quickly, a credit card may make this rather difficult.
Some credit cards come with something called credit card cheques. But don’t be fooled – these are not like the cheques you use with a current account. You’ll be charged a cash advance fee and higher interest rate on them meaning that you could rack up large fees if you need to write one for a significant amount.
Cash loans – With a cash loan, you’ll know how much you want to borrow and will be able to negotiate an interest rate on that amount. Once you’re approved, the money will usually be paid into your bank account within days or hours and you’ll be free to use it as you wish. That means that you’ll be able to write a cheque for the work you need carrying out without worrying about cash advance fees or other administration charges.
Credit cards – Using credit cards may be easy but unless you are very disciplined, you can end up racking up large amounts on more than one of them when you start spending beyond your means. That may be OK when times are good or when you are paying low interest rates on some or all of them, but it gets harder when you’ve maxed out several cards and find yourself paying hundreds of pounds in interest charges every month just to stand still.
With credit cards, once you’ve used up all the introductory offers you can get and your credit rating starts to suffer, you’ll find that you are more likely to have an application for a new card declined. When this happens, you won’t be able to transfer your balances on existing cards onto a new one and you will be stuck with high interest rates on more than one card.
Cash loans – If you’ve got a number of debts and are paying more in interest than you would like, you might like to consider a cash loan to consolidate your debts. It will allow you to pay off some or all of your balances and reduce your repayments with a single monthly amount. You will also have a fixed term for repaying it meaning you can plan accordingly.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer in the financial sector – working with a selection of companies including technology-led finance broker Solution Loans, who were consulted over the information contained in this piece.