When shopping around for personal loan options, many people look for a loan that doesn’t require them to put up any sort of collateral, such as their house or their car. You may want to look into signature loans if you are in this situation. You can use these loans for almost anything you’d like — debt consolidation, an unexpected expense, or even a much-needed vacation. Applying for a signature loan is a simple process but requires some planning.

Compile Your Documents

Lenders need some of your pertinent information in order to determine which signature loans are best for you. Having your information ready to go can be incredibly helpful during this process. Pay stubs, tax returns, your housing agreement (rental or owned), and bank account statements are all documents that lenders may ask for.

Check Your Credit

Your credit score is one of the first things a lender looks at when considering your application. It gives a lender an idea of your credit history and your reliability for repayment. Because signature loans are unsecured, they typically incur higher interest rates. The better your credit score, the more likely you will be offered lower interest rates and higher loan amounts.

Shop Around

It might be tempting to take the first loan offer you receive, but it’s always a good idea to look at more than one lender to ensure you’re getting the best rates. Keep in mind that applying for these loans will result in hard inquiries on your credit report, which could ding your score if you apply for several loans at once. Try to only apply for loans you are confident you qualify for and keep your application period brief.

Study Loan Terms Carefully

It’s important to make sure you thoroughly understand the terms of your loan before you sign any documentation. Look for any fees that might add on to your total loan’s cost, such as origination or late fees. Another potential pitfall to check for is a prepayment penalty. Knowing the terms of the signature loans you’ve applied for could potentially save you some money.

Once you have found a loan that meets your needs and has acceptable terms, you can move forward and agree to the loan. Be sure to know when the first repayment is due and make all of your payments on time. Setting up automatic withdrawals from your bank account can help with this. With some prior planning and careful attention, you could be on your way to a personal loan that works for you.