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Borrow money for anything from home improvements to holidays

When it comes to loans, you're spoiled for choice: there's a huge range of products to choose from, and competition is fierce - which means if you shop around, you can get an excellent deal. However, before you apply it's important to know what you're signing up for.

Loans should be simple: you need cash, so you borrow some from a bank. Easy! Unfortunately it's a little bit more complicated than that, especially these days. There are personal loans, secured loans, car purchase plans, home improvement loans and flexible loans, all of which are available from a wide range of lenders and at dramatically different interest rates.

When you're shopping for loans, it's important to know what you need. Homeowners get lower interest rates, but the loan is secured on their house - so if you end up in arrears, you could end up homeless. Flexible loans work more like credit cards and enable you to keep borrowing or to pay back large sums when you're flush; car purchase plans make it easy to drive a new car -but there's a big lump payment at the end of the term. Holiday loans usually need to be paid back within two years, and so on.

The lower the interest rate - described as an Annual Percentage Rate, or APR - the less your loan will cost, but you should look for other things too. Can you take a payment holiday if you're short of cash? Is there a penalty for early repayment? Choose carefully and you could save a lot of cash. helps you find the best loans companies for your specific needs, and gives you background information on the various types of loans available in our loans articles, more loans articles and still more loans articles.

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