Whether you prefer to haul your schoolwork to the local coffee joint, or enjoy telecommuting privileges for work, a laptop might be essential for your lifestyle. Unfortunately, even the more affordable laptops cost several hundred dollars. And if you need tons of memory, excellent processing speeds, and other bells and whistles, you could pay $1,000 or more for a new laptop.
If you need a laptop right now but don’t have cash on hand, you may wonder how you’ll pay for it. Can you get a loan for a laptop?
The short answer is yes. You can get a loan for just about anything, if you look in the right place.
If you have excellent credit, a bank might give you a small personal loan, which you could use for a laptop. Or you could check out peer-to-peer lenders like Prosper and Lending Club for a small personal loan.
But before you go this route, but sure you understand all the caveats.
For one thing, most banks — and even P2P lenders — have higher limits on personal loans. It’s just not worth their time to give you a $500 loan. In fact, many places won’t let you take out less than a $5,000 loan.
That may be great if you really need $5,000 or more. But even if you’ve got your eye on $2,000 Alienware laptop, a $5,000 loan is way more than you need. And don’t think you’ll just kick the extra money back into paying the principal, either.
For one thing, you’ll probably get hit with some origination fees up front, and you may have to pay extra fees if you pay off the loan too early.
What Are Some Alternatives?
Taking all that into account, taking out a personal loan to buy a laptop may not be your best bet. If you really need a laptop right away, here are a couple of other options for paying for it.
1. Start with a beater, and work your way up.
Laptops are kind of like cars. If you start by borrowing to buy one, you’re likely to keep borrowing each time you buy a new one. You’ll be so busy paying off the first laptop that you won’t have time to save up for your next one. And since technology becomes obsolete quickly these days, you might just pay off one laptop before you need another one.
You can avoid this situation by saving up first. If you must have a laptop for essential work or school activities, start with a “beater.” Find an old laptop on Craigslist for $100. Or consider a cheap, lightweight option like a netbook or Chromebook. Then, save up for a few months and buy a nicer computer in cash down the road.
2. Use a credit card with a 0% APR introductory rate.
Plenty of credit cards these days have 0% APR introductory rates. You may be able to get one even if you don’t have excellent credit, you just have to shop around. This option gives you some of the benefits of a loan — like being able to get the laptop you want up front and immediately — without many of the drawbacks.
And if you pay enough each month, you may not even have to pay interest on your laptop. For instance, let’s say you take out a card with a six-month introductory APR in July and buy a $1,000 laptop that month. Then, you can just pay at least $167 per month for the next six months.
The laptop will be paid off before you have to start paying interest on your credit card purchases. Then if you chose a card with great rewards, you can continue using the card. Just use it for everyday purchases, and pay the balance in full each month. In the end, you’ll wind up with a new laptop, some credit card rewards, and no interest paid!
So if you need to go into debt to buy a computer, it’s important to research your options, and choose the one that will cost you the least over time. It’s also important to make sure you can afford the monthly payments. Finally, opening a credit card or taking out a personal loan to make a large purchase will affect your credit standing. If you want to know how your laptop loan will affect your credit, Credit.com is one free resource that lets you check your credit scores and gives you an explanation of how your credit history impacts them, as well.
More on Credit Cards:
- How to Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rates
- Tips for Paying Off Credit Card Debt
- How to Get a Credit Card With Bad Credit