Life can be expensive, even for the savviest of savers, and it sometimes helps to have an extra cushion for big-ticket expenses. A personal line of credit available from multiple lenders, can be just that — flexible access to funds for those planned costs that might be difficult to precisely time, or that don't perfectly sync with your compensation schedule.
Like most financial products, though, it’ll require some research to find the best personal line of credit product for your needs. The following tips for can help you in narrowing down your options when looking for the best personal line of credit.
Tips for choosing the best personal line of credit
1. Compare interest rates.
The interest rate on a personal line of credit can have a significant impact on how much you end up paying over the life of the loan. Therefore, it is wise to start your research by understanding what APR means.
What Is APR?
Annual Percentage Rate (or APR) for a personal line of credit refers to how much interest you'll pay on your loan over the course of one year, as well as additional fees. It is one of the best measures of the true cost of the loan. Please note: APR for other financial products may include more than fees and interest.
Typically, a personal line of credit often comes with a variable interest rate — that means the interest rate you start out with on the product can fluctuate over time based on an underlying index, that changes periodically. However, it is possible to find products with fixed rates. A fixed rate personal line of credit may give you a better idea of your monthly payments, as the interest rate will remain the same throughout the life of the loan.
2. Get a full breakdown of the fees.
Additional fees — such as maintenance fees, prepayment penalties or others — is another product feature you'll need to consider. It’s important to get a full picture of all the fees that come with any type of financial product before opting in. You can typically get this information online, by reading product disclosures (i.e., fine print) or by contacting the lender directly.
Depending on the lender, these fees may be folded into your monthly payments once you’ve opened your personal line of credit. Please make sure to read your loan documents for details.
3. Look for convenience and flexibility.
Most people interested in a personal line of credit are looking for fast access to cash for major expenses — like refinancing student loans, buying a car, fertility treatments and more. As such, convenience and flexibility are key. Consider a personal line of credit that lets you combine your existing debt into one convenient monthly payment. Also, look for a personal line of credit product with flexible repayment options, as that can help you in customizing your debt payoff strategy.
4. Seek out testimonials or referrals from trusted sources.
You probably ask for referrals or check reviews for most of the services and products you already use in your life, from doctors and contractors to appliances and more. A personal line of credit should be no different.
Before you choose a lender, be sure to check out testimonials and reviews from other bank clients, realizing that they are speaking from their perspectives. This will help you in getting a better understanding of the customer service and support associated with different products and lenders.
You may want to consider starting with the bank’s website or requesting referrals directly from a banker. Supplement that perspective by asking around in your own network or with a quick online search, as well.
Another helpful source is the Net Promoter Score (or NPS). NPS provides an index that ranges from -100 to 100 and measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company's products or services to others. It measures overall customer satisfaction with a company's product or service, client loyalty and their likelihood to actively refer.
5. Don’t underestimate the value of solid customer service.
While fees and interest rates are important, it’s essential to be aware of the customer service of prospective lenders as well. With any financial product, you’ll want to work with a group of people that you can trust, and who will be readily available to answer any questions you might have.
It’s also helpful when customer service is available in multiple forms (online, phone and email, for example). It’s even better if you can take advantage of a dedicated banker who can work with you throughout the life of your loan.
The bottom line
At the end of the day, choosing the best personal line of credit product involves weighing several options. Therefore, it is wise to analyze your financial situation first and then use the above tips to see which personal line of credit best fits your specific needs.
How can First Republic help?
With low fixed rates, First Republic's Personal Line of Credit rises as a strong contender when scouting for the best personal line of credit.
Whether you are looking to refinance your student loans, cover minor home improvements, buy a car, pay for family planning expenses, current taxes and more, First Republic’s Personal Line of Credit can help.
First Republic’s Personal Line of Credit comes with a two-year interest-only draw period. During the draw period, you only pay interest on what you draw and after the draw period, you will repay the full loan with term options that best suit your financial goals. Learn more about the draw period benefit.
From a client satisfaction standpoint, First Republic’s service model is a disruptor in the banking sector with an overall NPS score of 73. To put this into perspective, the U.S. banking industry average is at an NPS score of 36.
With First Republic, you can take advantage of tailored services from your dedicated banker, who will walk you through the process from start to finish.
If you think you’d benefit from First Republic’s Personal Line of Credit, use this calculator to see your available rate and term options.
Please note, a First Republic Personal Line of Credit is not a student loan, and you may be permanently giving up the benefits of a student loan. This may include certain deferment, forbearance and forgiveness options. Please consider this as you make a decision to refinance student loans and talk to a banker if you have any questions.
Currently, all payments for certain types of federal student loans are suspended until August 31, 2022 per an executive order by the President. Interest will not accrue during this time period.