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Tailor home loan rates

FALLING interest rates are causing a surge of activity as Mount Isa area residents are looking for ways to save more money on their home loan, says Yellow Brick Road Mount Isa branch principal Steve Williams.

The Reserve Bank kept the cash rate on hold in March following a significant rate cut in February, dropping the rate to a historic low of 2.25 per cent.

Mr Williams said his branch was urging Mount Isa residents to look beyond the cuts and pay attention to where their rate fitted in comparison to the rest of the market. ‘‘Getting an interest rate that’s among the most competitive on the market is one of the best ways to make your financial goals and dreams a reality.”

Steve Williams’ top 10 tips to spend less on your loan and more on your dreams

1. Have a plan: You should plan to own your home as fast as possible, and therefore pay as little interest as possible.

2. Pay attention to the rate: Stay up to date with what the market value is on rates. Consider a $450,000 loan over 25 years. If you had a 4.95 per cent mortgage and refinanced at 4.39 per cent – your repayments would decrease by $147 a month, saving you over $55,000 in interest over the life of your loan.

3. Be prepared to refinance: To save on a mortgage, you must be prepared to go to a lender with a lower interest rate than your current one.

4. Understand the loan term: Shorter loan terms usually mean you pay less interest and pay the debt faster. Let’s say you have a $450,000 mortgage at 4.39 per cent, and you opt for a 25-year loan rather than a 30-year: you’d save $68,100 in interest alone.

5. Repayment frequency is key: The higher the frequency of payment, the slower the interest accrues and the faster you pay off the mortgage. If you pay half the monthly repayment amount fortnightly, rather than monthly, or a quarter of the monthly payment weekly, you end up saving the equivalent of an extra month’s payment each year. Consider an average mortgage of around $450,000 and a 30-year term at 4.39 per cent. You’d save around four years and four months off your loan term and more than $60,000 in interest.

6. Put windfalls into your home loan: Tax refunds, Medicare rebates and work bonuses should go into the home loan, cutting interest and speeding repayment.

7.Have the right loan: Ensure your mortgage allows you to put in lump sum amounts. Many fixed rate loans don’t allow this. If you’re offered an offset mortgage that lets you put your income directly into the loan, make sure this suits you.

8.Do it early: Increasing your repayments and putting in lump sums is most effective when you do it early in the term of the loan.

9. Know your fees: The headline repayment figure in your mortgage agreement is not the only number you should look at. Lenders charge different fees, so be cognisant of any incidentals that may not be captured in the comparison rate.

10. Beware of interest only: Don’t select an interest-only loan if you want to repay it quickly. Always opt for principal plus interest. When borrowers ‘‘set and forget’’ their mortgage, they usually pay too much interest and have the debt longer than they should.

[…]

A Student Loan Repayment Trick That Can Save You Money

It’s common knowledge you can save money by paying off loans and other debts quickly or ahead of schedule. You can also save money by making monthly payments as planned, if you put in a little extra effort and do the math.

The trick? You can change your repayment period to an extended plan (for example, a 25-year instead of a 10-year repayment period) but continue to pay the amount required to be debt-free within 10 years and request the extra payment go toward the principal balance. The amount you overpay reduces the interest you’ll pay over the life of your loan. Here’s where the extra effort is necessary: You should frequently follow up with your loan servicer and check your statements to make sure the extra payment is applied as you instructed.

Perhaps you’ve heard of this tactic — it’s particularly common among homeowners with mortgages — and wondered if it’s something you could do. A Reddit user recently posted about the strategy, saying, “Am I crazy, or can I actually save money by using the extended payment plan for federal loans?”

Not crazy. It’s a smart plan, you just need to make sure you know what you’re doing.

“That post is completely on target,” said Mitch Weiss, a finance professor at the University of Hartford. He frequently writes about student loan issues for Credit.com and has written about this strategy as a good way to save money but also give yourself flexibility. “You can always fall back on that lower payment when you need it. Managing your cash flow is in your hands, then.”

In the post, the redditor provided a good example. He pays $636 each month on a 10-year repayment plan, and the required monthly payment would drop to $333 a month for a 25-year repayment plan. By continuing to pay $636 a month, the extra money would go toward the principal balance on the loan with the highest interest rate (he checked with his loan servicer, and that’s its policy — you’ll want to check with your own servicer to confirm if this is its policy as well). In the event he can’t afford the $636 some months, he can fall back on the lower required payment, rather than having to go the servicer and explain the hardship and try and work something out (or make a partial payment and get hit with late fees or skip a payment and get a delinquency on his credit report).

The redditor said he used a loan calculator and found that he’d pay off his debt two months faster and save more than $1,000 in interest that the loan would have accrued under the 10-year plan.

“Am I missing something here, or is this a no-risk way of saving $1,100 and 2 months? I mean it gives emergency flexibility AND saves me money?” he wrote.

As dozens of people replied (and Weiss confirmed), the math is correct, but when it comes to student loans, you need to be careful.

“It’s all about execution, and the way that you ensure execution is that you have your directions in writing and you follow up,” Weiss said. Tell your servicer exactly what you want them to do with that extra payment (put it toward the principal balance, and if there are multiple loans, the principal balance of the loan with the highest rate), and make sure they do it. Otherwise, they may take the extra payment as a future payment and just not charge you again until the prepaid amount runs out.

Another Reddit commenter said it took emailing his or her servicer every 48 hours for almost two months to make sure the servicer applied the payment as instructed. Weiss said he’s heard and read about that complaint a lot.

“It was a very constructive string of comments,” Weiss said. “I think this demonstrates how serious an issue this is for so many people and how so many people are taking this so seriously.”

As you pay down your student loans (no matter your strategy), it can help to keep an eye on your credit reports for any inaccuracies or problems that could drag down your credit score. You can get a free credit report summary, updated every 30 days on Credit.com, to track your progress as you get out of debt.

More from Credit.com
How to Consolidate Your Student Loan DebtHow Long Will You Be Paying Your Student Loans?Your Repayment Options for Student LoansFinanceEducationstudent loan […]

Automatic Premium Loan


DEFINITION of ‘Automatic Premium Loan’

An insurance policy provision that allows the insurer to deduct the amount of the outstanding premium from the value of the policy when the premium is due. Automatic premium loan provisions are most commonly associated with life insurance policies, and allows the policy to continue to be in force rather than lapsing.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS ‘Automatic Premium Loan’

Automatic premium loan provisions help the insurer continue to automatically collect periodic premiums rather than sending reminders to the policyholder, and help the policyholder maintain coverage in the case that he or she forgets to send in a check to cover the policy premium. The policyholder may still choose to pay the premium by the regular schedule due date, but if the premium is not paid within a certain number of days after the grace period, such as 60 days, the outstanding premium amount is deducted from the policy cash value. This prevents the policy from lapsing. If the automatic premium loan provision is used the insurer will inform the policyholder of the transaction.

Depending on the policy language, life insurance policyholders may be able to take out a loan against the policy. The loan is taken out by borrowing against the cash value of the policy, with the loan balance deducted from the policy’s cash value if the loan is not repaid. The policyholder will owe interest on the loan, just as with a standard loan. The policy contract’s language may indicate that no loans may be taken out unless the premium has been paid in full.

The automatic premium loan is a loan taken out against the policy, and does carry with it a specific interest rate. If the policyholder continues to use this method of paying the premium it is possible that the cash value of the insurance policy will reach zero. At this point the policy will lapse because there is nothing left to take out a loan against.

[…]

3 Ways to Finance an Engagement Ring

The average engagement ring ran $5,598 in 2013, according to the TheKnot.com. That’s no small chunk of change. While it’s ideal to save enough to pay cash for a ring, there may be times you just can’t — or won’t — wait.

What are the best ways to finance an engagement ring? Here are three, along with the pros and cons of each.

1. Loans From Friends & Family

Grayson Bell was a college student when he decided to propose to his girlfriend (now wife). But with a part-time job as his only source of income, paying cash for a nice ring was out of the question. While discussing the dilemma with his mother, she offered to loan him the money. It turned out to be a smart move. “She had contacts at a prestigious jewelry market in another state,” he recalls. “She was able to get a ring at 60% off the appraised value. It was a great deal and a custom ring specifically designed for my wife.”

Bell and his mother set up a formal arrangement from the beginning, “We created a contract with payment terms, due dates, and when the loan needed to be paid off. I had to pay her back monthly and at least the minimum payment we agreed to. If I missed a payment or it was late, there was interest applied. It was much like a bank loan.”

Bell is a personal finance blogger now, and shares how he dug out of $50,000 in credit debt on his website. But at the time he was just a student who needed to find a way to finance his engagement ring. “All in all, the experience was a good one,” he says. “Looking back now, I realize I should have waited to just save up for the ring, but in my college years, I wasn’t thinking about that or my financial future. I paid off my loan on time and thanked my mother for what she did.”

The advantage of one of these loans is that they can carry an interest rate as low as 0%, and can be very flexible. They don’t appear on credit reports, which can be a plus (or minus — if you need the credit reference to build credit).

The downside? If you can’t make payments there’s likely to be a rift between you and the lender that could strain the relationship with someone you love.

2. In-Store Financing

Most major jewelers offer financing plans, some of which feature 0% interest for a limited period of time. For example, Jared offers interest-free financing for 12 months, or 12 months at 0% followed by low-rate financing for six months. Kay Jewelers offers 12 months interest-free. Blue Nile offers no-interest financing for six and 12 months, or equal payments for 24, 36 or 48 months at 9.9% (the time period depends on the amount financed). Zales offers 0% interest for six, 12 or 18 months, again, depending on the amount charged.

All of these offers require opening a new retail credit card. This new account could affect your credit scores, especially if the line of credit they give you is not significantly more than the amount you charge. That’s because credit scoring models compare your available credit to your balances to get your “debt usage ratio.” If your balances total more than 20% to 25% of your available credit on any individual credit card (or on all of them together), your credit scores may suffer. In other words, if they approve you for a $5,000 line of credit and you spend that much on a ring, your account will be maxed out from the beginning — and that can hurt your scores.

The other big “gotcha” to watch out for is that under some of these plans you may lose the interest-free financing and be charged interest from the date of purchase (often at a high interest rate) if you fail to pay the balance in full by the time the promotional period ends.

3. Personal Loans

A personal loan can be an alternative to opening a new credit card. While you won’t get interest-free financing that way, you may qualify for a loan with a low fixed rate lasting for anywhere from 12 to 48 months. The advantage to this type of financing is that you’ll have a fixed monthly payment, and know exactly how much you need to pay each month until the loan is paid off. In other words, there is no risk that you will see your rate skyrocket if you fail to pay off the balance when the promotional rate expires.

As with all types of engagement ring financing, there are a few things to watch out for, though. Your interest rate will depend in large part on your credit scores; the better your credit, the lower your interest rate. If your credit isn’t strong, you may wind up with a higher rate. (Think of interest as the opposite of a discount on the ring. Instead of paying less, you pay more.) You can check your credit scores for free on Credit.com to see where you stand.

Here are a couple of examples of how much interest can cost you over the term of the loan:

$5,000 loan at 10% for 3 years

Total cost: $5,808.24Payment: $161.34

$5,000 loan at 12% for 5 years

Total cost: $6,673.20Payment: $111.22

(Curious how your debt stacks up? You can see how much it will cost to pay off your credit card debt using the free credit card calculator at Credit.com.)

Borrow Smart

Whichever method you choose to finance an engagement ring, review your credit reports and scores before you apply for the loan. And be sure to read the fine print so you understand the terms of the loan. Paying more than you expected is stressful, and you’ll have enough stress planning — and paying for — your wedding!

More from Credit.com
Do You Need a Wedding Loan?What Happens to Your Credit When You Get Married?Credit Card Options for CouplesFinanceCreditengagement ringcredit reports […]

Can HELOC unlock door to second home?

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Dear Dr. Don,
I’m wondering whether my husband and I should refinance our home. The current mortgage is $212,000 at 3.75 percent. We would like a cash-out refinancing, using $50,000 to buy a small house in Mexico. The interest rate on the new mortgage will be at 4.75 percent. We’d pay a higher rate because of our credit scores. The bank’s appraisal of our current home is $345,000. I don’t want to sign the paperwork if this is a bad decision.

Thanks,
— Lucy Loans

Dear Lucy,
I can’t speak directly regarding an investment in Mexican real estate, but I don’t like the idea of using a cash-out refinancing to fund the home purchase.

Instead, you should look into a home equity line of credit or home equity loan to raise the money.

The reason for this approach is twofold. First, why pay extra interest on your $212,000 first mortgage balance to borrow an additional $50,000?

The table below illustrates why you should stick with your current mortgage and use a home equity line or loan to borrow the $50,000. I’m assuming a rate of 6.15 percent for a home equity loan. The rate of 4.81 percent (recently the national average) for a home equity line of credit, or HELOC, would increase savings.

Cost of equity loan vs. cash-out refi

Existing first mortgage$212,0003.75%$7,950Home equity loan$50,0006.15%$3,075Combined$262,000 $11,025 Cash-out first mortgage$262,0004.75%$12,445Amount saved with equity loan $1,420

Secondly, a new cash-out first mortgage will have much higher closing costs than a home equity line or loan. Bankrate’s recent national average for closing costs on a new first mortgage is $2,539. Closing costs on a HELOC should be minimal. The closing costs on a home equity loan should be somewhere between the cash-out refinancing and the HELOC.

A HELOC is an adjustable-rate loan, with interest-only payments during the draw period, usually the first 10 years of the loan. At the end of the draw period, the loan typically becomes an amortized loan, meaning the monthly payment is increased to a level that covers the repayment of the loan balance over the remaining loan term.

A home equity loan is a fixed-rate loan, with amortized payments over the loan term. I’d lean toward the HELOC, but I suggest you work at paying down principal during the draw period.

[…]

Should You Borrow From Your Life Insurance?

If you need money in an emergency, one place to look is your insurance policy. That is, if what you have is permanent life insurance – available as either “whole life” and “universal life ” (see Permanent Life Policies: Whole Vs. Universal).

Unlike term life insurance, which has a set time limit on its coverage period and does not accumulate cash value, universal life does have a cash component, especially later on. “In the early years of the policy, most of the premium goes to funding the indemnity benefit. As the policy matures, cash value increases,” says Luke Brown, a retired insurance lawyer in Tallahassee, Fla., who operates YourProblemSolvers to help consumers with insurance, healthcare and consumer issues. (For details, read How Cash Value Builds In A Life Insurance Policy.)

How Much, How Soon

As cash value builds in a whole or universal life insurance policy, policy holders can borrow against the accumulated funds. Life insurance policy loans have one distinct advantage: The money goes to your bank account tax-free.

Insurers generally make no promises as to how fast or to what extent the cash value will increase. So it’s hard to know exactly when your policy will be eligible for a loan. What’s more, insurers have varying guidelines outlining how much cash value a policy must have before you can borrow against it – and what percentage of cash value you can borrow.

Your policy is likely to have sufficient cash value to borrow against “typically after the 10th year the policy is in force,” says Richard Reich, president, Intramark Insurance Services, Inc. a life insurance agency in Glendale, Calif.

Something else to know: This loan isn’t taking money from your own cash value. “You are actually borrowing from the insurance company and using your policy’s cash value as collateral,” says Reich.

No Need to Repay

One attractive aspect of loans against cash value is that you don’t have to repay them – a huge benefit in an emergency.

If you do pay back all or a portion of the loan, options include periodic payments of principal with annual payments of interest, paying annual interest only or deducting interest from the cash value. “Loans have an interest rate like any other type of loan. It tends to be in the 7% to 8% range, which is high in our current environment,” says Reich. Interest will be fixed or variable, depending on your policy.

There is a good reason to repay the loan if you can. “If the loan is not paid back before death, the insurance company will reduce the face amount of the insurance policy when the claim is paid,” says Ted Bernstein, CEO, Life Insurance Concepts, Inc., a life insurance consulting and auditing firm in Boca Raton, Fla.

The accumulated interest can cut deeply into the benefit: “If the policy loan remains outstanding for many years, the amount of the loan grows and grows due to the added interest,” Brown cautions. “That puts the policy at risk of not providing beneficiaries any money upon the death of the insured.

“At the very least, interest payments should be made so that the policy loan does not effectively grow,” Brown adds. That gives you a better shot of having money left to pay out after your death.

When Life Insurance Loans Make Sense

Here are some financial situations when a life insurance loan might be a sensible choice:

You can’t qualify for a standard loan or need cash really, really fast. Because the money is already within the policy and immediately available, it’s a quick source of immediate funds for a new furnace, medical bills or another emergency, with no credit check required. Even if you qualify for a traditional loan from a bank or credit union, a life insurance loan could be a valuable stopgap if you t don’t have time to wait for your application to be processed. When the traditional loan comes through, immediately use it to repay the life insurance loan. You can’t afford your policy’s annual premium. Don’t let a life insurance policy lapse because you can’t afford the payment. A loan can keep the policy in effect as long as the death benefit is greater than the amount of the loan. Your only other loan options have much high interest rates. Before paying a higher interest rate for a loan or pledging additional collateral for a traditional loan, consider taking out a life insurance policy loan, says Bernstein. “Since there are no loan terms such as repayment dates, renewal dates or other fees, compared to traditional loans, life insurance policy loans can be very competitive,” he says.

The Bottom Line

Choosing if and when a life insurance loan is right for you is subjective, Reich says. “You have to look at which is more important; the immediate need for the cash or your family’s need for the death benefit. Understand that any outstanding policy loans will be deducted from the death benefit, resulting in a smaller benefit for your family.”

Before borrowing against your life insurance, it may be helpful to consult a financial advisor to weigh all possible options and outcomes based on your financial portfolio. For more, see What are the pros and cons of life insurance policy loans? and 6 Ways To Capture The Cash Value In Life Insurance.

[…]

Low down payment mortgages back for buyers

Potential homebuyers who don’t have a lot of cash to put down now have a cheaper way to get a loan.

Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced guidelines Monday for loans with down payments as low as 3 percent under a new program largely aimed at first-time homebuyers.

“These underwriting guidelines provide a responsible approach to improving access to credit while ensuring safe and sound lending practices,” said Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt in a release.

Read More The top 10 housing markets for growth in 2015

The loan must be fixed rate, and the home must be a borrower’s primary residence, so this would not apply to investors, according to FHFA officials on a conference call with reporters Monday morning. At Fannie Mae, at least one of the borrowers on the loan must be a first-time homebuyer, defined as not having owned a home in the past three years. Freddie Mac is allowing the low down payment loan for any borrower who meets its underwriting standards.

Full documentation of a borrower’s income and credit history is required, as is mortgage insurance. Freddie Mac will require credit counseling for its borrowers, while Fannie Mae will in certain cases.

Fannie Mae has a 3 percent down payment product already through state housing finance agencies, but this loan may go through any lender interested in the program. At a conference in November, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said his bank would not participate in a low down payment program and reportedly suggested that if borrowers didn’t have 10 percent to put down, they should probably rent. That was before these details were announced.

“[Mr. Moynihan] made those comments several weeks ago as a broad characterization,” said Bank of America spokesman Terry Francisco on Monday. “We will evaluate this program.”

Read More Self-employed? Good luck getting a mortgage

Fannie Mae, which is significantly larger than Freddie Mac, will also offer a cash-out refinance through the program, but only on existing Fannie Mae loans, and the amount of the cash out is limited to the lesser of 2 percent of the loan or $2,000. It is designed to help cover closing costs only. Freddie Mac is offering a no cash-out refinance.

Fannie Mae’s minimum FICO credit score cutoff is 620, while Freddie Mac’s is 660, but both are subject to so-called, compensating factors, so if a borrower has a credit score on the low side, he or she may need to show more assets to mitigate the added risk.

The move to offer these low down payment loans is clearly in response to an industry cry that credit is too tight and stifling demand from first-time homebuyers. These buyers, usually up to 40 percent of the homebuying market, have been stuck at less than a third of today’s market. Income growth has not been keeping pace with rising home prices, and as rents continue to rise, potential buyers are having a much tougher time saving for a large down payment.

Read More Unsteady incomes keep millions behind on bills

Fannie Mae will allow these loans starting Dec. 13, while Freddie Mac will begin underwriting for loans with settlement dates beginning March 23, 2015.

FinanceLoansFreddie MacFannie Mae […]

What is a collateral assignment of life insurance?

A:

A collateral assignment of life insurance is a conditional assignment appointing a lender as the primary beneficiary of a death benefit to use as collateral for a loan. If the borrower is unable to pay, the lender can cash in the life insurance policy and recover what is owed. Businesses readily accept life insurance as collateral due to the guarantee of funds if the borrower were to die or default. In the event of the borrower’s death before the loan’s repayment, the lender receives the amount owed through the death benefit and the remaining balance is then directed to other listed beneficiaries.

The borrower must be the owner of the policy, but not necessarily the insured, and the policy must remain current for the life of the loan with the owner continuing to pay all necessary premiums. Any type of life insurance policy is acceptable for collateral assignment, provided the insurance company allows assignment for the particular policy. A permanent life insurance policy with a cash value allows the lender access to the cash value to use as loan payment if the borrower were to default.

Alternately, the policy owner’s access to the cash value is restricted in an effort to protect the collateral. If the loan is repaid before the borrower’s death, the assignment is removed and the lender is no longer the beneficiary of the death benefit. Insurance companies must be notified of collateral assignment of a policy, but other than their obligation to meet the terms of the contract, they remain disinterested in the agreement.

[…]

Before You Take That Cash Advance

Wouldn’t it be nice if you always had plenty of money to pay all of those pesky charges that come out of nowhere and blindside you? Unfortunately, cars break down, kids need money for a trip, and let’s not forget about that root canal.

When those unexpected expenses show up, where does the money come from? Ideally, your emergency fund will provide the cash. If that’s not an option, you might consider a cash advance.

How Cash Advances Work

A cash advance isn’t a single type of loan but a category that includes payday loans, cash loans against your credit card and others. A payday loan is a short-term loan against your upcoming paycheck. The lender gives you cash; when you get paid, you pay back the loan. Local lenders and national franchises offer payday loans.

A cash advance against your credit card allows you to receive cash much like a normal credit card charge. Each card issuer has different rules and features. Some allow you to withdrawal cash from ATMs while others send blank checks.

The Problem with Cash Advances

No loan is completely customer friendly and cash advances are no exception. In fact, many have exceptionally high interest rates. If you’re planning to use your credit card to borrow cash, you’ll pay an average of 24.4% – about 6% higher than the interest rate charged on regular purchases. See The 4 Worst Reasons For a Cash Advance.

A payday loan is even higher. Paying $15 to borrow $100 may not seem outlandish, but because of the short loan duration that works out to an average annualized rate of more than 400%.

But why worry about the annualized rate if the loan only lasts about two weeks? Because the loan is almost always rolled over. According to a recent study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), 80% of all payday loans are rolled over with 14 days of the previous loan. In fact, most loans are renewed multiple times throughout the year. For more on these problems, read Beware of Payday Loans.

Cash advances against a credit card are less pricey, but seldom used. A 2013 study by the CFPB found that only 3.1% of active credit card account holders took cash advances. Still, you’re likely to roll this loan into future months, too, costing yourself even more in interest payments.

How Necessary Is the Loan?

Cash advances, used sparingly and responsibly, can be an acceptable way to pay for that emergency repair or overdue bill – providing the loan isn’t constantly rolled over. If the fees associated with a late payment are higher than those of the cash advance, the cash advance is probably more cost effective.

Used once or twice a year, cash advances aren’t alarming. But if you find them turning into a habit, it’s time for a closer look at how you’re managing your money.

The Bottom Line

Cash advances are a Band-Aid solution that actually make the underlying situation worse by digging regular users deeper into debt. As CFPB Director Rich Corday explains, “The stress of having to re-borrow the same dollars after already paying substantial fees is a heavy yoke that impairs a consumer’s financial freedom.”

Statistics show that cash advances are addictive; most people who take them don’t use them just for random emergencies. If you find you regularly need a cash advance to make ends meet, drastic spending changes are in order.

Confront the problem: Ask for help from creditors, sign up for income-based payment plans where applicable and let utility companies know of your financial struggles. There’s help available other than cash advances.

Once you get back on a firmer financial footing, look ahead. If you don’t already have an emergency fund, find a way to start one. Check out Building An Emergency Fund and look at Investopedia’s tutorial Budgeting Basics.

[…]

How can I borrow money from my life insurance policy?

A:

While borrowing from your life insurance policy can be a quick and easy way to get cash in hand when you need it, there are a few specifics to know before borrowing. Most importantly, you can only borrow against permanent or whole life insurance. Term life insurance, a cheaper and suitable option for many people, does not have a cash value and expires at the end of the term, generally anywhere from one to 10 years.

A whole life policy is more expensive but has no expiration date. The term lasts the lifetime of the insured. While the monthly premiums may be higher, the money paid in to the policy exceeding what is needed for the death benefit is invested by the life insurance company, creating a cash value after a few years. The whole life policy essentially has two values: the face value, or death benefit, and the cash value that acts as a savings account. Once the money invested increases the amount of the death benefit, the tax-free cash value can then be borrowed against. It is also important to understand that the policy loan is not taken out of your death benefit, but borrowed against it, and the insurance company is using your policy as collateral for the loan.

Unlike a bank loan or credit card, policy loans do not affect your credit and there is no approval process or credit check since you are essentially borrowing from yourself. When borrowing on your policy, no explanation is required about how you plan to use the money, so it can be used for anything from bills to vacation expenses. The loan is also not recognized by the IRS as income, therefore it remains free from tax. However, the policy loan is still expected to be paid back with interest, though the interest rates are typically much lower than on a bank loan or credit card, and there is no mandatory monthly payment.

Even with low interest rates and a flexible payback schedule, it is still important for the loan to be paid back in a timely manner. Unless it is paid out of pocket, interest is added to the balance and accrues whether the bill is being paid monthly or not, putting your loan at risk of exceeding the policy’s cash value and causing your policy to lapse. Insurance companies generally give many opportunities to keep the loan current and prevent lapsing. However, in the event of a policy lapse, taxes must be paid on the cash value. If the loan is not paid back before the insured person’s death, the loan amount plus any interest owed is subtracted from the amount the beneficiaries are set to receive from the death benefit.

[…]