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How to Apply for an Online Line of Credit

If you’ve ever gone through a period in your life where money was tight, you probably have some idea of how difficult that tightrope can be to walk. Unfortunately, you may also be familiar with the damage that an emergency expense can do to your finances when you’re in that type of position.

So, what do you do when an emergency threatens to derail your finances? Well, your first line of defense in these situations should be your emergency fund. This is a specific savings account set aside strictly to help you handle emergency expenses. The issue is that these can sometimes take a while to build up, and if you’ve been living on a tight budget, contributing to an emergency fund may not have been a priority for you in the past. It’s in these situations that an online line of credit may be able to help.

Today, we’re going to go over what an online line of credit is, some of their potential benefits, and how to apply for line of credit loans online.

What is an Online Line of Credit?

In general, a line of credit is a form of revolving credit that allows you to draw funds up to whatever credit limit you’ve been approved for. As you pay off what you owe, your credit will continue to replenish, and you can keep drawing funds again. As long as you have available credit and your account is in good standing, you can generally access credit whenever you need it.

Person applying for an online line of credit on their laptop.

Like we mentioned, a line of credit is considered to be revolving credit. One of the main takeaways here is that unlike a lot of other types of loans, you’ll have a bit more freedom to choose how much money to use when the need arises. For example, if you have a credit limit of $1,000, you can draw however much money you need between $0 and $1,000 as long as you have available credit. This works differently than something like an installment loan, where if approved, you’ll be a given a fixed lump sum.

It’s also important to note that once you draw funds from your line of credit, the payments you’ll then need to make will be based on how much money you’ve drawn instead of the total amount of your credit limit.

So, how does the online component factor in? Well, while you can apply for a line of credit at a storefront lender, you may also have the option of submitting an application for an online line of credit over the internet. But why would you do this? In the next section, we’ll take a look at some of the benefits of an online line of credit.

3 Benefits of an Online Line of Credit

The experience you have with different financial institutions that offer line of credit loans online is going to vary, but there are certain qualities of online loans in general that you may find beneficial as you look for the right loan. Here are three common ones.

1. Fast Application Process

When you’re facing an emergency expense and time is of the essence, the last thing you’re going to want to do is work your way through a lengthy and complicated application process. With an online line of credit, the application can often be completed in just a few minutes, depending on the financial institution you’re applying with.

2. They’re Convenient

You may not realize how much effort can go into applying for a loan from a storefront location until you actually try to do it. You’ll need to find time between work, family responsibilities, errands, and whatever else you have going on to go to a storefront during their hours of operation. You’ll then need to wait in line to speak to a representative just to start filling out an application. With an online line of credit, a lot of the inconvenience of this process simply won’t apply.

Like we mentioned, the application process is fast and is often done entirely online, although you may need to speak to someone over the phone at some point depending on the financial institution. Either way, you’ll be able to submit an application and sign your agreement without leaving your home. In a lot of cases, you can even start your online application any time of the day or night.

3. It’s Easy to Research and Compare Different Options

An important step in the borrowing process is all the work that comes before actually submitting an application. It’s so important to see what your potential options are, compare their rates and terms, and see what might be available in your state. With line of credit loans online, this process is fairly straightforward.

two people sitting at a table looking at an online line of credit on a computer.

Applying for a loan of any sort is a big decision and could have potentially severe consequences if you don’t approach it carefully. You’ll want to make sure you only apply for a loan you can afford, otherwise you risk doing serious damage to your financial standing.

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Steps to Apply for an Online Line of Credit

If you think an online line of credit is the right option for you, you’ll want to have an understanding of what’s involved before you start the application process. Applying for a personal line of credit from one financial institution may not be exactly the same as it would be with another, but there are still some general things you’ll want to do in advance.

1. Find Out What your Credit Score is

Your credit score may play an important role in determining whether or not you get approved for a loan, what type of loan you get approved of, and the rates and terms of that loan. Because of this, having your score in hand can give you an idea of what you’ll be able to qualify for, and what may be a little out of your reach at the time. To get this information, you can:

  • Buy it from a major credit bureau (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) or purchase it from FICO.
  • Look for an online credit score provider that can give you this information for free.
  • Look at your credit card or loan statements, as certain financial institutions have started to give this information to their customers.

2. Figure Out What You’ll be Able to Afford

Knowing what you can and can’t afford is an incredibly important part of the borrowing process. There may be a number of additional fees you may need to pay on top of paying back what you’ve borrowed, so you’ll need to make sure you factor these into the cost of the loan.

To help you get a better sense of what you’ll be paying, search for a reliable loan calculator online. Enter the necessary information and get a sense of how much your payments will be. Then, you can see if you can fit these payments into your budget before you commit to the loan.

3. Search Out Your Options Online

Like we mentioned before, one benefit of an online line of credit is that it’s fairly easy to compare your potential options. Simply do a Google search of online loans or lines of credit offered in your area, pull up potential options, and flip between tabs to compare what’s in front of you.

4. Organize Your Personal Information

Person looking for their personal information for an online line of credit application.

You’ll likely want the application process to be as fast as possible, so to help things along, try to get organized ahead of time. While these things can vary, here are some pieces of personal information you may want to have handy before applying:

  • Contact information
  • Proof of employment and income information
  • Bank statements
  • Proof of assets
  • Social security number

5. Select an Offer

At this point, you’ll be nearly ready to accept an offer for an online line of credit, but it’s not the time to get complacent. There could even be an expiration date on your offer, but it doesn’t mean you should let yourself get pressured into acting fast.

If you have more than one offer on the table, consider each one carefully. Look into the financial institutions, make sure they’re reputable, and make sure that the offer suits your needs.

An Online Line of Credit may be Right for You

An online line of credit can be helpful in plenty of different cases. Whether you’ve run over a nail in your car and need an emergency repair job for your tire, you’ve got a leaky pipe in your house that needs to be taken care of right away, or you’ve even had to take an unexpected trip to the emergency room, there are all sorts of curveballs that life can throw your way. And these surprises often don’t come cheap.

Having said that, the potential consequences of applying for line of credit loans online without taking the proper precautions is nothing to laugh at. Piling up debt that you can’t afford to pay off can put you in a cycle that becomes harder and harder to get out of as time goes on.

So, while a line of credit online can be a fast and convenient option, it still needs to be approached with caution. Make sure to do your research, find out what you can afford, and pick an option that’s best suited to your situation.

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