Thanks to the Internet, it is now easy to apply for a loan online. “You can have it calculated around the clock from the comfort of your own home, apply for and conclude,” says Julia Topar of the Federal Association of German banks in Berlin. In a number of financial institutions, this is even completely paperless with the video-Ident method.

Picture: Credit 

“Online loan offers, especially from direct banks, often offer better conditions than the offers from branch banks,” explains Annabel Oelmann from Verbraucherzentrale Bremen. The interest rates are often well below those of the branch banks. The reason: The direct banks do not incur any costs incurred when closing a branch. If you see a cheap loan offer on the Internet, but should not act hastily.

Compare several offers

“It is advisable to obtain several online loan offers tailored to your own living situation and to compare them with each other,” advises Oelmann. In online comparison portals, it must be noted that the conditions advertised there are calculated on the basis of ideal-type factors. Often, they differ from the financial starting position of the potential borrower. The actual conditions often only arise if the bank has documents about the creditworthiness of the consumer.

When making an online loan request, interested parties have to answer a questionnaire on their PC. The providers want to know, for example, how high the income of the prospective customer, whether his employment contract is limited and how high the monthly rent is. Also in demand is insurance, installment payments and savings contracts. The financial institutions may inquire with the credit agency Schufa about the creditworthiness of the prospective buyer explains Stephanie Pallasch of the Stiftung Warentest.

“The Schufa inquiries, however, have no impact on the creditworthiness of customers who only seek credit,” says Pallasch.

Procedure for online application

If a bank decides to make a loan offer to an interested party, then the offer comes as an email. Attached to it is a pdf file containing a form. In it the credit details are listed. “When comparing multiple offers you should definitely pay attention to the annual percentage rate,” recommends Topar. It indicates the total cost of a loan. The bank must also provide information on the number and frequency of installment payments and collateral required, such as wage assignment.

If the interested party agrees to the offer, he has a legal right of withdrawal. “That means that the contract can be revoked within two weeks after the revocation instruction and the contract deed without giving reasons,” says Topar. In the case of an extended return option, the loan agreement can be returned until the 30th day from the beginning of the withdrawal period. Then the borrower must pay back the amount already paid plus the reported daily rate.

Watch out for these tripping hazards

Caution is required when the bank urges the conclusion of a residual credit insurance. Such a policy may be useful if it is intended to secure a real estate loan. “With loans at a low level, however, they are almost always unnecessary and make deals more expensive,” emphasizes Pallasch. Consumers should also be skeptical when advertisers advertise loans unbureaucratically and without collateral. They usually pay for this through an interest premium and are therefore more expensive than banks that demand collateral.

Even if the words “fast relief” are advertised, then consumers should be cautious. Credit intermediaries are often behind such advertising. But it is not them who lend the loans – they just pass on the requests to the banks. Only the financial institutions decide on the lending. This is also true if allegedly no collateral needed, the Schufa entries are irrelevant. “Experience has shown that loans are virtually never given without a corresponding credit rating,” emphasizes Oelmann.

It also advises that, in principle, it should abstain from making offers that must be paid before the loan is granted. Credit intermediaries can only claim reimbursement if a loan is approved on the basis of their commitment and paid out to the borrower. Such payment must be agreed in writing and must also be included in the credit agreement. Lovers should be critical if intermediaries charge for alleged expenses. However, they may only be asserted if they can be proven to have arisen during the lending and were agreed in advance in writing. “Every loan has its price,” emphasizes Oelmann. That is why it is important to take a close look at the comparison of different offers.

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