Loan vs. Line of Credit: What’s the Difference?

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Loan vs. Line of Credit: What’s the Difference?

Loan vs. Line of Credit: An Overview

Loans and lines of credit (LOC) are two distinct types of borrowing from lenders available to companies and individuals.

Loans have a non-revolving credit limit, which means the borrower may only use the cash once and then must make principle and interest payments until the loan is paid off.

A line of credit, on the other hand, operates in a different manner. Like a credit card, the borrower gets a defined credit limit and makes monthly payments that include both principle and interest. In contrast to a loan, the borrower has constant and recurring access to the line of credit while it is active.

Loans and lines of credit (also known as credit lines) are approved based on a borrower’s credit rating and financial history, as well as their connection with the lender.

Key Takeaways

  • Loans and credit lines are two sorts of bank-issued debt that serve various purposes; approval is based on a borrower’s credit score, financial history, and connection with the lender.
  • Loans are one-time, non-revolving amounts of credit that a borrower typically utilizes for a defined purpose.
  • Lines of credit are revolving credit lines that may be utilized in whole or in smaller installments for ordinary expenditures or emergencies.

Investopedia / Sabrina Jiang

What Is a Loan?

A loan has a fixed amount depending on the borrower’s need and creditworthiness. A loan, like other non-revolving credit products, is issued as a lump amount for one-time usage, therefore the credit advance cannot be used again like a credit card.

Loans might be secured or unsecured. Secured loans are backed by some type of collateral, which is usually the same item that is used to secure the loan. A automobile loan, for example, is secured by the vehicle. If the borrower fails to meet their financial obligations and defaults on the loan, the lender may seize the vehicle, sell it, and apply the revenues to the outstanding loan sum. If there is an unpaid balance, the lender may be allowed to pursue the borrower for the remainder.

Unsecured loans, on the other hand, do not have any type of collateral backing them up. In most circumstances, loan acceptance is exclusively based on a borrower’s credit history. Because there is no method for the lender to recover their money in the case of a failure, unsecured loans are often for smaller sums and have higher interest rates than secured loans. (The specific rate will also vary on the sort of loan taken out by a person or corporation.)

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Because of the low amount of risk, secured loans often have lower interest rates. Because most borrowers do not want to give up the collateral, such as their house or vehicle, they are more likely to make their payments on time. If they fail to repay the loan, the collateral keeps a large portion of its value for the lender.

Loan vs. Line of Credit
LoanLine of Credit
The borrower has access to the amount loaned only once in one lump sum.A line of credit is a preset borrowing limit that can be used at any time, paid back, and borrowed again.
A loan is based on the borrower’s specific need, such as the purchase of a car or a home.Credit lines can be used for any purpose.
On average, closing costs (if any) are higher for loans than for lines of credit.Credit lines tend to have higher interest rates than loans.
Interest accrues on the full loan amount right away.Interest accrues only when funds are accessed.

Types of Loans

The following are a few examples of popular sorts of loans made available to borrowers by lenders:


A mortgage is a kind of loan that is secured by the real estate in issue and is used to acquire a house or other type of property. To qualify, a borrower must fulfill the lender’s minimal credit and income requirements. Once accepted, the lender purchases the property, allowing the borrower to make monthly principle and interest payments until the loan is completely paid off. Mortgages have lower interest rates than other types of loans because they are backed by real estate.

Automobile loan

Automobile loans, like mortgages, are secured. The security. is the car in issue in this instance. The lender lends the seller the purchase price minus any down payments provided by the borrower. The borrower must follow the loan conditions, which include making monthly payments until the debt is paid in full. If the borrower fails, the lender has the right to seize the car and pursue the debtor for any outstanding amount. Car dealerships or the manufacturer will often offer to act as the lender.

Debt consolidation loan

Consumers may combine all of their bills into one by applying for a debt consolidation loan from a lender. If and when the loan is authorized, the bank pays off any existing bills. Instead of many installments, the borrower is simply required to make one monthly payment to the new lender. The majority of debt consolidation loans are unsecured.

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Home improvement loan

Home renovation loans may or may not be collateralized. If a homeowner has to make repairs, they may apply for a loan from a bank or another financial organization to undertake improvements that would likely boost the value of their house.

Student loan

This is a frequent kind of loan that is used to pay for eligible educational expenditures. Student loans, often known as educational loans, are made available via government or private lending schemes. They often depend on the income and credit history of the student’s parents rather than the student—despite the fact that the student is liable for repayment. Payments are usually postponed while the student is in school and for the first six months following graduation.

Business loan

Business loans, often known as commercial loans, are unique credit instruments made available to enterprises (small, medium, and large).They may be used to purchase additional merchandise, recruit employees, maintain day-to-day operations, or simply as a financial injection.

Borrowers often pay various loan expenses, such as application fees and loan origination fees, in addition to interest.

What Is a Line of Credit?

A credit line is not the same as a loan. When a borrower is accepted for a line of credit, the bank or financial institution advances them a specified credit limit that they may utilize in whole or in part over and over again. This gives it a revolving credit limit, making it a far more versatile borrowing instrument. Credit lines, unlike loans, may be used for any reason, from routine purchases to exceptional requirements such as vacations, minor repairs, or debt consolidation.

A person’s credit line functions similarly to a credit card and, in certain situations, a bank account. Individuals may use these money anytime they need them, much like a credit card, as long as the account is current and credit is available. So, if you have a $10,000 credit line, you may spend half or all of it for anything you need. If you have a $5,000 balance, you may utilize the remaining $5,000 whenever you choose. If you pay off the $5,000, you will have access to the whole $10,000 again.

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Loans often feature higher interest rates, lower cash amounts, and smaller minimum payment amounts than credit lines. Payments are due monthly and include both principle and interest.

Furthermore, lines of credit often have a far speedier and more substantial influence on consumer credit reports and credit ratings. Only when you make a transaction or withdraw cash against the credit limit does interest begin to accumulate.

Some credit lines may also be used as checking accounts. This means you may use a connected debit card to make purchases and payments, as well as write checks against the account.

Types of Credit Lines

Personal, commercial, and home equity credit lines are the three most popular forms of credit lines:

Personal line of credit

This is an unsecured credit line. This credit vehicle, like an unsecured loan, is not secured by collateral. As a result, they demand a better credit score from the borrower. Personal credit lines often have a smaller credit limit and higher interest rates. The majority of banks provide this loan to borrowers forever.

Business line of credit

Businesses utilize these credit lines on an as-needed basis. The bank or financial institution takes into account the company’s market worth, profitability, and risk. A company credit line may be secured or unsecured depending on the amount of loan sought, and interest rates are often variable.

Home equity line of credit (HELOC)

HELOCs are secured loan arrangements that are largely backed by the market value of your property. A HELOC also considers the amount outstanding on the borrower’s mortgage. Most HELOC credit limits might be as high as 80% of a home’s market value minus the amount still owed on your mortgage.

Most HELOCs have a set draw time, which may range from one to ten years. During this period, the borrower may use, pay, and reuse the money as many times as they choose. Because they are secured, HELOCs often have lower interest rates than personal lines of credit.

Do Loans Have to Be Secured with Collateral?

Loans may be secured or unsecured. Because unsecured loans are not secured by collateral, they are often for smaller sums and have higher interest rates. (Secured loans are secured by collateral, such as the home or automobile purchased with the loan.)

What Are the Disadvantages of a Line of Credit?

Although credit lines, like credit cards, may be used repeatedly, they often feature higher interest rates and lesser monetary limits.

Can a Loan Be Used like a Credit Card?

Because a loan is a non-revolving credit instrument, it cannot be utilized in the same way that a credit card may. The credit advance cannot be utilized again since it is a one-time payment.

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