No or low interest loans
If you're in financial trouble or have a bad credit history, you
might think a payday or quick cash loan is your only option. There
are other ways you can get money without having to pay back much
more than the amount you borrow.
How no interest loans work
The No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS®) provides people on low
incomes access to safe, fair and affordable access to credit. The
scheme offers loans of up to $1,500 for essential goods and
services. Loans are not for cash. Repayments are set up over 12 -
18 months. There are no interest charges or fees.
You can use NILS to buy:
- essential household items such as whitegoods (like fridges and
washing machines), computers or furniture
- health items such as wheelchairs or asthma pumps
- to pay for car repairs (although these loans are only available
to people who live in areas where there is little or no public
NILS providers are based in community centres and other local
organisations across Australia. To be eligible for NILS, you must
have a Centrelink healthcare or pension card (or qualify for one).
You must also show that you can and are willing to repay the loan
within 12 or 18 months.
To find your nearest NILS provider, visit the Good
Shepherd Microfinance website or call 13 64 57.
The StepUP program offers fixed-rate, unsecured personal loans for amounts
between $800 and $3000. There are no fees or charges and the
interest rate is low. The loans can be used for essential personal,
household and domestic goods and services such as second-hand cars,
computers and medical and dental treatment.
Money is a community finance hub operating in Queensland, South
Australia and Victoria which helps people manage their money and
access no interest or low interest loans (such as NILS) to purchase
household goods. The service also provides tips about buying
energy-efficient products and getting the best price on goods
through a buying service. Good Money is not-for-profit and does not
Case study: Indira bought a new washing machine with a NILS
Indira couldn't afford to
buy a new washing machine when her old one broke down. When a
friend told her about NILS, she went to her community centre to ask
about the scheme.
She showed the NILS loans adviser her Centrelink pension card
and other documents to apply for the loan. The adviser helped her
work out how much she could afford to repay. Indira chose one of
the washing machines available through the program and it was
delivered to her house. She is about to make her last repayment on
the loan and is very happy with her new washing machine.
Matched savings programs
Some community organisations have savings programs that match
you dollar for dollar on the amount you save. They can really help
you get back on track with your money.
AddsUP is a matched
savings plan open to people who have successfully repaid one NILS
or StepUP loan. Once you have saved $300, the bank will put in a
dollar for every dollar you save, up to a total of
$500. Please note that this program is currently being
reviewed by the National Australia Bank and Good Shepherd
Microfinance. It will be temporarily unavailable from 30th April
Saver Plus helps families on low incomes
develop a savings habit, build assets and improve their financial
skills. You set a savings goal and receive support and education to
help you achieve it. When you reach your goal, your savings are
matched, dollar for dollar, up to $500.
Important: MoneySmart does not lend money
ASIC's MoneySmart website does not lend money or arrange loans but
is happy to answer
your questions about loans and money. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
ASIC's Infoline on 1300 300 630.
Having trouble paying your
If you're having trouble paying a water, phone, gas or
electricity bill, don't get a loan, instead contact your utility
provider. Most companies have hardship officers who can help you
work out a plan to pay the bill in instalments. See problems
paying your bills and council rates for
the steps you can take.
Some charities provide vouchers to assist with electricity
debts. Contact your local community organisation to find out
You can also talk to Centrelink to see if you can get any
financial assistance or perhaps a low income concession card. If
you're eligible for Centrelink payments, you may be able to get an
advance payment. The amount available varies depending on the type
of payment you receive. For some payments it is between $250 and
$500. For other payments, such as pensions, it is between 1 and 3
week's worth of payment. You'll have to pay this money back to
Centrelink over 6 months, but it may help cover a temporary
shortfall and you won't have to pay interest or fees.
If you are struggling to deal with a number of bills or debts,
with debt for advice.
Renting things may cost you in
the long run
If you don't have enough cash to pay for something upfront,
paying for it a little at a time by renting it might seem like a
good idea, but the weekly instalments can quickly add up and you
could end up paying more than you bargained for.
Work out the real cost of renting things for your home.
Rent vs buy calculator
There are better ways to get the money you need
than borrowing money at high cost. Check out all your options and
avoid getting into debt.
Last updated: 25 Oct 2018