You see an ad for an online personal loan just about any time you turn on the television. We’ll help you decide if one is right for you.

Before you take out any loan, the single most important thing you do is your research. You should always consider your options carefully, because even small loans are serious commitments.  Here are some quick guidelines for deciding if you should take out an online personal loan.

1. You have income

Loans can sound tempting if you don’t have any cash coming in right now, but new debt will only worsen your situation. Loans of any kind are only a good option if you already have income, but you need a temporary boost.

2. You are able to repay the loan

If you know that you won’t be able to make payments consistently or on time, consider your other options first. Borrowing money you can’t repay will only hurt you in the long run.  Trust us, no one wants that.

3. You don’t have many other debts

Every debt you take on is a commitment that you need to take seriously.  Imagine your income as a watering can. Your rent, bills, and other expenses are all houseplants that need some of that water.  As long as you have as much water as your houseplants need, you’re in the green. But if you try to grow more and more plants with the same amount of water, you’re going to run into problems. Don’t take on more debt than you can handle on your budget.

4. You need a small, fast payout

The biggest advantage of online personal loans is that they’re fast.  Getting a new credit card or a bank loan can take days or even weeks.  If you can’t wait, an online loan might be right for you.

5. You don’t want a bank loan

Online personal loans and bank loans are similar, but they serve different uses.  If a bank loan isn’t a good fit for you, an online lender might be right for you.