Lines of credit

What is a line of credit

A line of credit is a type of loan that lets you borrow money up to a pre-set limit. You don't have to use the funds for a specific purpose. You can use as little or as much of the funds as you like, up to a specified maximum.

You can pay back the money you owe at any time. You only have to pay interest on the money you borrow.

To use some lines of credit, you may have to pay fees. For example, you may have to pay a registration or an administration fee. Ask your financial institution about any fees associated with a line of credit.

Interest on a line of credit

Usually, the interest rate on a line of credit is variable. This means it may go up or down over time.

You pay interest on the money you borrow from the day you withdraw money until you pay the balance back in full.

Your credit score may affect the interest you'll pay on a line of credit. It tells lenders how risky it is to lend you money. Usually, the higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate on your line of credit will be.

Getting money from a line of credit

To access money from a line of credit, you may:

Paying back a line of credit

You'll get a statement showing the amount owing on your line of credit each month. You must make a minimum payment each month. Usually, this payment is equal to the monthly interest. However, paying only the interest means that you'll never pay off the debt that you owe.

Pros and cons of a line of credit

Before taking out a line of credit, compare the pros and cons.

Pros of a line of credit

Cons of a line of credit

Learn more about managing your money when interest rates rise.

Choose the right line of credit for you

You can apply for a secured or unsecured line of credit. Make sure that the line of credit meets your needs. If your lender is a federally regulated bank, they must offer and sell you products and services that are appropriate for you, based on your circumstances and financial needs. They also must tell you if they’ve assessed that a product or service isn’t appropriate for you. Take the time to describe your financial situation to ensure you get the right product. Don't hesitate to ask questions and make sure you understand the line of credit you have or want.

 Secured line of credit

With a secured line of credit, you use an asset as collateral for the line of credit. For example, the asset could be your car or your home. If you don't pay back what you owe, the lender can take possession of that asset. The advantage is that you can get a lower interest rate than with an unsecured line of credit.

Home equity line of credit (HELOC)

A home equity line of credit is a type of secured credit where your house acts as collateral. It usually has a higher credit limit and lower interest rate than other loans and lines of credit.

Unsecured lines of credit

With an unsecured line of credit, the loan isn't secured by any of your assets. Some types include personal lines of credit and student lines of credit.

Personal line of credit

A personal line of credit may be used for unexpected expenses or consolidating higher interest rate loans. Interest rates are usually lower than for credit cards and personal loans.

Student line of credit

A student line of credit is specifically for paying for post-secondary education.

Student lines of credit can be used to help pay for basic expenses, such as tuition, books, and housing.

Learn what to consider before using a student line of credit.

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