Do you consider yourself credit savvy? If so, do you know the difference between secured and unsecured credit? Many Americans do not. They have no idea how lending works, let alone the finer details of our financial system in general. That is unfortunate. A lack of knowledge makes it more difficult to use credit wisely.
All forms of credit can be divided into the two categories of secured and unsecured. In all likelihood, you have experience with both. You may not know it, but it is pretty common for American consumers to utilize both types of credit simultaneously.
Types of Secured Credit
Secured credit is designated as such because there is some sort of asset that secures the loan from the bank’s perspective. If you have a mortgage on your home, the mortgage is secured by your house. What does this mean? It means that your home is a means of security for your lender.
If you decided to stop making your monthly mortgage payments, your lender could foreclose on you. That means the lender can legally take ownership of your home, kick you out, and sell the property at auction to recover the money it loaned you. This ability to foreclose essentially secures the bank’s interests.
Hard money is another form of secured credit. Salt Lake City hard money lender Actium Partners says hard money is typically off-limits to consumers. Rather, it is reserved primarily for investors and businesses. Hard money loans are secured by a variety of assets ranging from real estate to business equipment.
Other types of secured credit include:
- car loans
- home equity loans
- secured personal loans.
Any loan that carries the risk of property being seized and sold in the event of default constitutes secured credit. That is pretty much it in a nutshell. Do you have any secured credit you are currently paying off?
Types of Unsecured Credit
Now that you understand secured credit, it should be obvious that unsecured credit is just the opposite. Unsecured credit is obtained without any hard assets to back up what is loaned. Lenders take a substantial risk by offering unsecured credit instruments.
The most common form of unsecured credit is, by far, the credit card. A credit card represents a type of revolving credit more or less issued on the honor system. When you apply for a credit card, you are promising to pay what you borrow without pledging collateral.
Revolving lines of store credit, payday loans, and traditional personal loans are additional examples of unsecured credit. Lenders rely on credit scores and histories to make approval decisions.
If you have ever wondered why credit card interest rates are so much higher than the rates you get for mortgages and car loans, it boils down to the lack of collateral. The fact that a credit card is unsecured presents more risk to the lender. Where risk is higher, so are interest rates.
When Credit Goes into Default
Collateral makes all the difference when a credit account goes into default. Default on your mortgage or car payment and the lender can seize your property and sell it. Default on your credit cards and there isn’t much the lender can do but take you to court. Even if the lender wins a judgment in its favor, you still control the outcome. You either pay or you don’t.
Credit is an important financial tool in the modern world. Whether you use secured credit, unsecured credit, or both, use all your credit wisely. Use it responsibly as well. Doing so will benefit both you and your creditors.