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installment loans definition

What is an installment loan?

An installment loan is a loan that is repaid over an amount of time with a set number of fixed monthly payments. Interest rates on these loans and loan amounts may vary depending on various factors including but not limited to:

  • Your financial history (credit bureaus report, credit scores)
  • The term of your loan amount.
  • The amount you borrow
  • The lender and their terms and conditions

What are the types? 

There are four common types of installment loans, and the one you may want to seek can differ based on your current need(s). Here are the four most common types of installment loans:

  • Personal loans
  • Student loans
  • Mortgages
  • Auto loans

Personal loans allow you to pay for unexpected expenses and things that could impact your monthly budget. Student loans are loans that are designed to help students pay for their education and associated fees.

Mortgages are loans in which property or real estate is used as collateral. Auto loans are personal loans used to purchase an automobile. All these different loan types are different variations of installment loans.

Are installment loans payday loans? 

No, Payday loans are small credit solutions around $100 to $1,000 with short repayment terms.

Payday loans also typically have very high interest rates and are paid in one lump sum on your next payday. These loans are typically for people with less than ideal credit and are illegal in some states.

Installment loans are typically for larger amounts from $1,000 to $100,000 with longer terms for repayment, typically 6 to 60 months with low-interest rates. Mortgages are typically for longer terms.

How did installment loans originate?

Installment loans were one of the earliest forms of consumer credit originating in the 1850s. The concept was invented by Singer, a sewing machine company.

Sewing machines were a huge labor saving device that women wanted, although the price point was too high for many of them to afford outright.

To counteract the high price point, the Singer Company offered financing to their customers at one dollar down a week. It was then the concept of installment loans were born.

What are the differences between installment loans and credit cards

Installment loans typically have closed end credit which means they consist of a fixed loan rate and amount. Also payments are usually equal month over month till the balance is paid. Credit cards typically have open end credit that is revolving with interest rates that can fluctuate.

How do installment loans work? 

A lender provides an amount of money within a specified time period for repayment with interest.

For example, Jeff needs a loan for a new car because his old car broke down and needs a new car to drive to work Monday thru Friday.

If Jeff can’t drive to work, he has to take an Uber.

Jeff calculated his monthly budget and found taking an Uber every day isn’t a financially viable strategy.

So, as a long-term financial solution Jeff chooses to apply for an online installment loan to fix his car and is approved for a $3,500 loan with a term of 3 years and an interest rate of 24% resulting in a monthly payment of $137.31.

Jeff now is responsible for paying off his loan in monthly installments of $137.31 until he pays off his loan amount and interest over the term.

Pros and cons of installment loans

Here is a list of some of the advantages and disadvantages:


  • Fixed interest rates
  • Fixed monthly payments
  • Not subject to prime rate


  • Amount borrowed is fixed
  • Potential fees and penalties
  • May need collateral to secure

Where can you get an installment loan? 

If you’re interested in applying for a loan offline you can visit any Mariner Finance branch. If you’re looking to apply for an online personal loan you can visit

Blog posts are for informational purposes only.

†We offer personal loans from $1,000 to $25,000, with loans terms from 12 to 60 months. Minimum and maximum amounts dependent on an applicant’s state of residence and the underwriting of the loan. Loans between $1,500 and $15,000 may be funded online. Loans greater than $15,000 or less than $1,500 are funded through our branch network. Specific interest rates and fees are determined as permitted under applicable state law and depend upon loan amount, term, and the applicant’s ability to meet our credit criteria, including, but not limited to, credit history, income, debt payment obligations, and other factors such as availability of collateral. Not all rates and loan amounts are available in all states. Additional fees may apply to some loan offers; some state required and/or permitted fees may be treated as prepaid finance charges. Any such charges shall be in addition to the loan amount requested and/or approved and shall be fully disclosed to the applicant on his/her loan agreement. Not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rates or larger loan amounts, which may require a first lien on a motor vehicle not more than ten years old titled in the applicant’s name with valid insurance. Our loan by phone and online closing process requires a compatible mobile or computer device on which you can access your email and electronic documents. Not all loan types are eligible for loan by phone or online loan closing.


To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, Federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account. As a result, under our customer identification program, we must ask for your name, street address, mailing address, date of birth, and other information that will allow us to identify you. We may also ask to see your driver's license or other identifying documents.


*The process uses a “soft” credit inquiry to determine whether a loan offer is available, which does not impact your credit score. If you continue with the application process online and accept a loan offer, or are referred to a branch and continue your application there, we will pull your credit report and credit score again using a “hard” credit inquiry. This “hard” credit inquiry may impact your credit score.



California Residents: Loans made or arranged pursuant to a California Financing Law license.

VA Residents – Mariner Finance of Virginia, LLC, Licensed by the Virginia State Corporation Commission, Consumer Finance Company License No. CFI-114.


Mariner Finance, LLC, NMLS No. 166564 (
8211 Town Center Drive, Nottingham, MD 21236. Telephone Number 877-310-2373.

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