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  • What To Know About Small-Dollar Loans

Personal loans come in all shapes and sizes. They may help borrowers finance both major and minor purchases, depending on the terms of each loan. If we are talking about the loan amount, this type of financing falls into two groups: small-dollar loans and large-dollar loans. While the latter is often associated with certain requirements that every applicant needs to meet to qualify, a small-dollar loan gives you the option to get fast cash easier and over a shorter period of time.

Small-dollar loans are typically made for less than $2,000 and are repaid on a predictable schedule in the form of regular, equal installments over a few weeks or months. They may be an attractive choice if you are looking for low-cost and short-term financial products from reputable institutions, including banks, credit unions, and online lenders.

Speaking of online banking, many providers offer online applications for small-dollar loans. So, once you have narrowed down your choices, you may apply for this type of loan online, fill out the form, and find out if you have been approved within minutes. But before you go any further, consider the pros and cons of a small-dollar loan to be sure it is the right fit for you.

The Building Blocks of Small-Dollar Loans

Like most other sources of financing, a small-dollar loan consists of four aspects you need to take into account before you take one out: dollar amount, interest rate, repayment period, and loan costs.


Dollar Amount

This type of financing is under the small-dollar loan program, which is part of the Consumer Protection Act. It means that financial institutions are legal to offer people affordable alternatives to high-cost and large-dollar loans Filld. As a result, customers are allowed to borrow up to $2,000 depending on the banking institution, and the money is typically borrowed in increments of $100.

Interest Rate

A percentage rate is a basic factor charged to the borrower for the funds loaned. Your small-dollar loan may show two rates: your annual percentage rate (APR) and your interest rate. The former includes fees associated with the loan (we will talk about it later). 

As of the interest rate, small-dollar loans are usually offered to consumers as much as 36%. This number is still significantly lower than payday loans, which can charge around 300% and 400% in interest. Moreover, borrowers are able to repay small-dollar loans over the course of time instead of by their next paycheck, as it is with payday loans.

Repayment Period

Repayment periods usually vary from loan to loan and financial institution to financial institution. However, technically speaking, since this type of loan is designed to meet immediate financial needs, they are mostly short-term with repayment terms that consist of making three equal monthly installments over three months. That said, some other small-dollar loans may have a repayment timeline of up to two years.

Loan Costs

Aside from the interest rate, a small-dollar loan (and most loans in general) comes with additional charges you need to include in your repayment plan. 

Small-dollar loan fees have fixed rates with no hidden costs. The rates can be as little as a flat fee of $5 for the entire loan, a simple pricing fee such as $12 for every $100 you borrow, or a fixed percentage rate.

Examples of Small-Dollar Loans

Both financial institutions and online lenders offer a variety of small-dollar products, including the following:

  • Installment loans: short-term loans with a fixed APR that you need to repay in a series of equal monthly obligations over a few months.
  • Single payment loans: small-dollar loans that are given in a lump sum of money, which you then repay in regular monthly payments with interest.
  • Deposit advance loans: they allow you to receive up to $500 in advance, the amount, which the bank deducts from your next direct deposit (plus a service fee).
  • Credit cards: low-cost short-term options that are paid back at the end of the statement or grace period and have a one-time fee that typically is 3% or 5% per amount.
  • Overdraft protection services: they are similar to deposit advance loans, where the principal and a service fee are deducted from your account on the due date.

Pros and Cons of Small-Dollar Loans

What’s a good reason to take out a small-dollar loan? When is it a bad idea to go for it? Here are the pros and cons of small-dollar loans to help you clear everything out.


Even though small-dollar loans are considered short-term, they have longer repayment timelines than payday loans and should be paid back over a few months. The interest rate is a fixed rate with no hidden charges. Small-dollar loans are mainly unsecured and require no collateral to take out the money. Last but not least, they are easy to set-up and quick to take-out.


Many financial institutions require borrowers to have an open checking account with them for at least 6 to 12 months. They also do a credit inquiry to decide approval amounts and interest rates for small-dollar loans. Because of that, they can affect your credit score if you stop making payments on time or before the due date.

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