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In finance, unsecured debt refers to any type of debt or general obligation that is not collateralized by a lien on specific assets of the borrower in the case of a bankruptcy or liquidation or failure to meet the terms for repayment.
In the event of the bankruptcy of the borrower, the unsecured creditors will have a general claim on the assets of the borrower after the specific pledged assets have been assigned to the secured creditors, although the unsecured creditors will usually realize a smaller proportion of their claims than the secured creditors.
In some legal systems, unsecured creditors who are also indebted to the insolvent debtor are able (and in some jurisdictions, required) to set-off the debts, which actually puts the unsecured creditor with a matured liability to the debtor in a pre-preferential position.
Under risk-based pricing, creditors tend to demand extremely high interest rates as a condition of extending unsecured debt. The maximum loss on a properly collateralized loan is the difference between the fair market value of the collateral and the outstanding debt. Thus, in the context of secured lending, the use of collateral reduces the size of the "bet" taken by the creditor on the debtor's creditworthiness. Without collateral, the creditor stands to lose the entire sum outstanding at the point of default, and must boost the interest rate to price in that risk. Where high interest rates are considered usurious, unsecured loans are either not made at all, or are made by loan sharks unafraid of the law.
- Unsecured loans
- Also called signature loans or personal loans. These loans are often used by borrowers for small purchases such as computers, home improvements, vacations or unexpected expenses.
- An unsecured loan means the lender relies on the borrower's promise to pay it back. Due to the increased risk involved, interest rates for unsecured loans tend to be higher. Typically, the balance of the loan is distributed evenly across a fixed number of payments; penalties may be assessed if the loan is paid off early. Unsecured loans are often more expensive and less flexible than secured loans, but suitable if the lender wants a short-term loan (one to five years).
- In the UK there are hundreds of different unsecured loans to choose from, so comparison tables have become a popular way of finding out about the different options available. In 2006, according to the Bank of England, 22% of UK households had some unsecured debt with a further 21% having both secured and unsecured debt.
- Credit cards
- Medical bills
- Term Deposits
- Payday loans
- Guarantor Loan
See also