Types of Credit: Open-End & Closed-End Credit Options
The two basic categories of consumer credit are open-end and closed-end credit. Open-end credit, better known as revolving credit, can be used repeatedly for purchases that will be paid back monthly, though paying the full amount due every month is not required. The most common form of revolving credit are credit cards, but home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOC) also fall in this category.
Credit cards are used for daily expenses, such as food, clothing, transportation and small home repairs. Interest charges are applied when the monthly balance is not paid in full. The interest rates on credit cards average 15 percent, but can be as low as zero percent (temporary, introductory offers) and as high as 30 percent or more, depending on the consumer’s payment history and credit score. Loans for bad creditmay be hard to find, but lower interest rates are available within nonprofit debt management programs, even for credit scores below 500.
Closed-end credit is used to finance a specific purpose for a specific period of time. They also are called installment loans because consumers are required to follow a regular payment schedule (usually monthly) that includes interest charges, until the principal is paid off.
The interest rate for installment loans varies by lender and is tied closely to the consumer’s credit score. The lending institution can seize the consumer’s property as compensation if the consumer defaults on the loan.
Examples of closed-end credit include:
• Car loans
• Appliance loans
• Payday loans
Types of Loans
Loan types vary because each loan has a specific intended use. They can vary by length of time, by how interest rates are calculated, by when payments are due and by a number of other variables.
Student loans are offered to college students and their families to help cover the cost of higher education. There are two main types: federal student loans and private student loans. Federally funded loans are better, as they typically come with lower interest rates and more borrower-friendly repayment terms.
Mortgages are loans distributed by banks to allow consumers to buy homes they can’t pay for upfront. A mortgage is tied to your home, meaning you risk foreclosure if you fall behind on payments. Mortgages have among the lowest interest rates of all loans.
Like mortgages, auto loans are tied to your property. They can help you afford a vehicle, but you risk losing the car if you miss payments. This type of loan may be distributed by a bank or by the car dealership directly but you should understand that while loans from the dealership may be more convenient, they often carry higher interest rates and ultimately cost more overall.