What is a Loan

Writer and editor - Bryan Robinson | Updated on 2023-03-05

A loan is a type of debt. A lender lends money to a borrower, and the borrower agrees to pay the money back over time, usually with interest. The loan can be for a specific amount of money, or it can be “open ended,” meaning the borrower can take out additional money as needed up to a certain limit.

What is a Loan?

Like all debt, a loan involves the borrowing of money. The person or entity borrowing the money is called the borrower, and the person or entity lending the money is called the lender. The borrower pays the lender interest on the loan.

Types of Loans

A loan is a sum of money given to an individual or entity with the expectation that it will be repaid at some future point, usually with interest. There are various types of loans available, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages.

The most common types of loans are:

  • Secured Loans: A secured loan is one in which the borrower pledges some form of collateral (e.g. a house or car) as a way to reduce the risk for the lender. If the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender can seize the collateral and use it to repay some of the outstanding balance.
  • Unsecured Loans: An unsecured loan is one in which no collateral is pledged. This type of loan is often more expensive for the borrower, as the lender takes on more risk. A personal loan is often an unsecured loan.
  • Fixed-Rate Loans: A fixed-rate loan has an interest rate that remains constant over the life of the loan. This type of loan makes budgeting easier, as borrowers know exactly how much they will need to pay each month.
  • Variable-Rate Loans: A variable-rate loan has an interest rate that can fluctuate over time, depending on economic conditions. This type of loan may have lower interest rates at first, but they can increase over time, making budgeting more difficult.

How do Loans Work?

The terms of the loan — including the interest rate, maturity date, repayment schedule, and collateral (if any)—are typically set by negotiations between you and the lender. Promissory notes or other written agreements may be involved. Loans can be for a specific amount of money (known as closed-end credit) or they can be revolving loans where you can borrow the money again after you’ve paid it back (known as open-end credit).

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The Benefits of Loans

Loans can be a great way to finance a large purchase, such as a car or a house. They can also be used to consolidate debt or to pay for unexpected expenses.

Access to Capital

The main benefit of taking out a loan is it gives you access to capital you may not have otherwise. This can be used for a variety of purposes, including starting or expanding a business, covering unexpected expenses, or consolidating other debts. Loans can also help you improve your credit score by showing you can responsibly manage debt.

Improved Cash Flow

One of the main benefits of loans is they improve your cash flow. When you take out a loan, you receive a lump sum of money that you can use to pay for expenses or invest in your business. This can help you keep your business running smoothly by giving you the funds you need when you need them.


There are many benefits to taking out a loan, including the flexibility it provides. With a loan, you can borrow the money you need and repay it over time. This can be helpful if you need to make a large purchase, such as a new car or home, or if you need to consolidate debt.

With a loan, you can also choose the repayment schedule that works best for you.

No matter what type of loan you choose, make sure you understand all the terms and conditions before signing any paperwork.

The Risks of Loans

Loans can be a great way to get the money you need for a large purchase, but they come with a lot of risks. If you can’t make your payments on time, you could end up in debt, or even lose your home. Before you take out a loan, make sure you understand the risks involved.


Debt is when you owe money to someone else. It can be in the form of a credit card balance, a personal loan, or a mortgage. Debt can have a big impact on your life, so it’s important to understand the risks before you take on any debt.

The biggest risk of taking on debt is that you may not be able to repay it. This can lead to defaulting on your loan, which will damage your credit score and make it difficult to get loans in the future. It can also lead to wage garnishment, which means that your employer will withhold a portion of your salary to repay your debt.

Another risk of taking on debt is you may end up paying more in interest than you originally borrowed. This is because lenders charge interest on loans, and the longer you take to repay your loan, the more interest you will accrue. This can make it difficult to get out of debt, so it’s important to only borrow what you can afford to repay.

Taking on too much debt can also be a financial burden, making it difficult to afford other expenses like food or housing. It can also cause stress and anxiety, which can negatively affect your health.

If you’re considering taking out a loan, it’s important to understand all of the risks involved before making a decision. Be sure to shop around for the best rates and terms, and only borrow what you can afford to repay.

Interest Rates on loans

An important factor in any loan is the interest rate. This is the amount of money, above the principal, that you will pay for the privilege of borrowing money. The higher the interest rate, the more you will pay in the long run. Here are some things to consider when thinking about the interest rate on your loan.

The first thing to understand is that there are two types of interest rates: fixed and variable. A fixed interest rate means that your payments will not change over the life of your loan. This can be helpful if you are on a tight budget and need to know how much your payments will be every month.

A variable interest rate means that your payments can change over time. This can be helpful if you think that rates may go down in the future and you want to take advantage of that, but it can also be risky if rates go up.

The second thing to consider is what type of loan you are getting. Some loans have higher interest rates than others. For example, credit cards typically have higher interest rates than mortgages loan. This is because credit cards are considered a higher risk for lenders since they are unsecured loans (meaning there is no collateral like a house or car to back up the loan).

The third thing to consider is your credit score. If you have a high credit score, you will usually qualify for lower interest rates than someone with a lower credit score. This is because lenders see people with high credit scores as being less likely to default on their loans (not pay them back).

In general, it is best to try to get the lowest interest rate possible so that you can save money in the long run. However, you also need to consider other factors like fees and terms when choosing a loan so that you end up with one that meets your needs and helps you reach your financial goals.

Collateral and loans

Collateral is an asset that a borrower offers as security for a loan. If the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender can seize the collateral and sell it to repay the loan. Common types of collateral include real estate, vehicles, jewelry, and artwork. For a personal loan one could also get a guarantor or co-signer.

Bryan Robinson

Bryan Robinson
Writer and editor

Bryan Robinson is a finance writer with expertise in lending and their interest rates, fees, contracts and more.
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