Understanding the Ins and Outs of Installment Loans

Jan 11, 2024

Absolutely! Loan terminology can indeed get confusing with various names used interchangeably. Take "payday loans," for instance; they're akin to "short-term loans," "personal loans," "term loans," or often simply referred to as a "loan." This naming diversity extends to installment loans, also known as "personal loans," "term loans," and occasionally as "short-term loans."

But what distinguishes an installment loan as an installment loan? How does it relate to business loans? Let's dive into these inquiries and more to understand the distinctions and connections between installment loans and their relevance in the realm of business loans.

What constitutes an installment loan?

An installment loan furnishes the borrower with a lump sum of money upfront, repayable in regular installments across a predetermined period.

This structure also leads to its alternative name, the term loan. When the repayment term spans a short period, often just a few months, it may be categorized as a short-term loan. However, most installment loans involve larger sums repaid over several months or years. Generally, the loan's size correlates with the repayment term, with larger amounts usually requiring longer repayment periods.

What's the repayment process like for an installment loan?

Typically, installment loans involve monthly repayments set at a fixed amount. These payments cover a portion of the principal borrowed along with the accrued interest. With most installment loans, there's flexibility to pay more than the required monthly installment, enabling the surplus amount to reduce the principal balance.

What range of loan amounts is typically offered with installment loans?

The sum available through an installment loan hinges on various factors, including the lender's provisions and the borrower's credit profile. Generally, installment loans cater to larger sums compared to single-payment "payday loans" and other short-term options. These amounts can range widely, from hundreds for individual consumers to hundreds of thousands for businesses, contingent upon the specific installment loan type and the borrower's creditworthiness.

Does a personal loan always fall under the category of an installment loan?

A personal loan refers to any loan intended for personal consumer use, distinct from business or commercial purposes. Although some individuals and companies might label their installment loans as personal loans, not all personal loans are structured as installments—and conversely, not every installment loan falls under the category of personal loans!

Do small business loans typically fall into the category of installment loans?

Various forms of small business funding exist, yet the phrase "small business loan" commonly denotes an initial lump sum extended by a lender, repayable across a predetermined period. Hence, the term "small business loan" frequently aligns with an installment loan, specifically tailored for business purposes rather than consumer use.

What other varieties of installment loans exist?

Different types of installment loans encompass auto loans, student loans, home improvement loans, debt consolidation loans, and mortgage loans. The structure of an installment loan is widely utilized due to its versatility, offering a diverse range of applications and uses.

Which offers a superior option: online installment loans or those from a bank or credit union?

Deciding between an installment loan from a bank, credit union, or online lender often boils down to personal choice or eligibility. Online installment loans are frequently lauded for their quicker application and approval process compared to banks or credit unions. They also tend to accommodate customers who faced challenges securing approval from traditional brick-and-mortar lenders.

What advantages and disadvantages come with installment loans?

The prevalence of installment loans stems from their straightforward structure. Both the borrower and the lender find it easy to establish and comprehend the terms of issuance and repayment. Given their ubiquity, the pros and cons of installment loans closely mirror those of various funding options available.


  • Borrowers can access substantial sums for significant purchases or investments.
  • Payments remain consistent and fixed for the loan's duration.
  • Early repayment often allows borrowers to save on interest costs.


  • The loan might entail additional fees besides the interest, which could be considerable.
  • Missed or delayed payments could harm the borrower's credit score.
  • Sometimes borrowers may require more funds than initially provided.

How do secured and unsecured installment loans differ from each other?

A secured loan necessitates collateral, allowing the lender to seize it if the borrower defaults. This decreased risk often allows lenders to provide larger amounts or lower interest rates. In contrast, unsecured loans, lacking collateral, usually result in higher interest rates.

The classification of a loan as secured (collateralized) or unsecured (non-collateralized) often hinges on the installment loan type. For instance, mortgage loans are secured using the home as collateral, and similarly, most auto loans operate under a secured structure.

In contrast, personal loans predominantly fall under the unsecured category. These loans heavily depend on a borrower's credit score for eligibility. They often pose a greater challenge for approval and carry higher interest rates, reflecting the increased risk for lenders compared to secured loans.

What are the differences between an installment loan and a credit card?

Installment loans diverge from credit cards in their operational framework. With an installment loan, the borrower receives the entire borrowed sum upfront, repaying gradually on a set schedule. Conversely, a credit card operates as a form of revolving credit, granting approval for a credit line up to a specified limit. Users can access this credit line as needed, reducing available credit with each transaction and replenishing it as they repay. This setup makes installment loans more suitable for larger one-time expenses, while credit cards are better suited for ongoing, regular expenses.

Is it possible to obtain an installment loan with poor credit?

Obtaining approval for a loan can be challenging if you have a poor credit score. However, there are certain types of loans that are tailored to individuals with less-than-perfect credit. These lenders may be able to approve customers who have been declined for more traditional loans.

Is it possible to obtain an installment loan without undergoing a credit check?

Most reputable lenders conduct a credit check before granting credit or funding. However, many lenders offer pre-approval, pre-qualification, or an eligibility assessment before this credit check occurs and before the borrower commits to an application.

Usually, when borrowers inquire about a credit check, they're concerned about whether it involves a hard credit inquiry, impacting their credit score, or a soft credit inquiry, which doesn't affect it. Lenders often use soft credit inquiries for pre-approval decisions. Once the application process is completed, a hard credit inquiry is conducted for final approval, appearing on the consumer's credit report.

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