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Personal Loans

Most lenders will look at your annual income, credit history, and credit history to see if you qualify for a personal bank loan. These requirements can vary from bank to bank, and according to your residency status.

Personal Loan Requirements for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents

Here are some of the requirements Singaporeans and Permanent Residents need to fulfill before they can get a bank personal loan. In general, as long as you are employed, meet the annual income requirement, and have a good credit rating, you shouldn't have too much difficulty getting your loan.

  1. Be between the ages 21 - 65 years old
  2. Have a minimum gross annual income of S$20,000
  3. Photocopy of your NRIC, front and back
  4. Latest 12 months CPF Contribution History Statement
  5. Latest Income Tax Notice of Assessment
  6. Latest computerised payslip

Personal Loan Requirements for Foreigners

Below are some of the requirements foreigners need to fulfill before applying for a personal loan. In general, foreigners need to be Employment Pass holders to qualify for a bank personal loan, as S Pass holders may not meet the minimum annual income requirement. It's best to call the bank of your choice and inquire about your eligibility, as this tends to vary by financial institution.

  1. Have a minimum gross annual income of S$42,000
  2. An employment pass, with at least 6 months validity
  3. Latest computerised payslip or salary crediting to your bank account (in Singapore dollars)

Most bank loans are self-explanatory; what they help you finance can be found in the name. Home loans help you pay for your flat, education loans let you finance your studies, and car loans give you the means to purchase a car. When you take out these loans, you don't handle the cash yourself. The funds go straight to the HDB, condo developer, university, or car dealership, and you make monthly payments to the lending bank.

Personal loans, on the other hand, are far more flexible and can be used for almost any purpose. There are different kinds of unsecured personal loans in Singapore, and how they work depends on the type of loan.

Personal instalment loans are the most common type of unsecured bank loan. How they work is very straightforward: you borrow a lump sum of money from a bank, which is disbursed to your bank account. You are free to use the cash for any reason you wish. You then pay it back in fixed monthly payments over a specified time period. Personal instalment loans are term loans, which means you only get a one-time disbursement of cash. If you borrow S$5,000, you will get this amount up-front, and you are required to pay this off in monthly instalments plus interest, until the end of your loan tenor.

Credit lines or lines of credit combine the flexibility of a credit card and the affordable interest rates of an instalment loan. Like a credit card, it allows you quick access to funds, as often as you want. You can access cash from your credit line by withdrawing from an ATM, writing a cheque from a chequebook linked to your credit line account, or transferring cash to your savings account. And like a personal instalment loan, you pay back exactly what you borrowed through monthly instalments. Credit lines are useful if you have irregular cash flow and need funds to pay for ongoing expenses.

Balance transfer loans, as the name suggests, lets you transfer the existing balance of a credit card onto a new credit card at 0% interest. You then repay the full amount within a short time period, usually ranging from 6 to 12 months; it is up to you how much you want to pay each month. If you still have a remaining balance by the time the grace period is up, regular interest rates of up to 26% will be charged to whatever is left. This type of loan is ideal for paying off credit card balances while saving money on interest rates.

With a debt consolidation plan (DCP), which is made available to Singaporeans and Permanent Residents with unsecured debts 12 times greater than their monthly salary, the bank providing the DCP combine all these existing debts into one loan. The bank will then pay your existing debts for you, and you will then make monthly payments to the bank over a period of up to 10 years.

Personal loans are one of the most misunderstood financial products in Singapore. Many of us are raised in a culture where taking a loan is cast in a negative light, and where borrowers are perceived to be financially irresponsible.

In reality, personal loans are just tools, and they can improve our lives if used in a responsible manner. Think of them as a saw or hammer: they're essential to building a house, but you can also hurt yourself badly if you wield them recklessly.

The responsible way to getting a personal loan is to think about whether you can comfortably repay the monthly instalments. Generally, you should take a loan if the repayments will cost less than 30% your monthly income. So if your monthly income is S$3,000, your monthly instalments must be less than S$900. If your monthly repayments exceed this, you may not have enough cash at hand for your daily expenses and emergencies. So think about this carefully before applying for a loan.

One way to use personal loans for good is by breaking a large payment into smaller, more manageable monthly instalments. Rather than paying S$10,000 at once for a training programme or a big-ticket purchase, you can pay S$199 a month if you stretch the loan tenor to 5 years with an EIR of 7% p.a. Taking a loan will ensure that your cash flow doesn't get interrupted, while allowing you to save for emergencies.

Sometimes, you may need to help out your parents or relatives financially, but cannot afford to drain your life's savings to do so. Under these circumstances, taking a personal loan can be a lifesaver. Rather than using your retirement savings or selling your investments, the loan allows you to cover for these emergencies, then lets you pay everything back in affordable monthly sums. And unlike taking a cash advance on your credit card, which has a high interest rate of 28% p.a., personal loans have lower interest rates of around 6% to 8% p.a. This becomes a great source of relief, and lets you sleep soundly at night.

Always compare loans before applying for one, so you end up with the lowest interest rate, the lowest fees, and the best welcome offers.

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