Installment Loans vs Revolving Credit: What’s Best for You

Imagine a world where your credit choices could be the key to unlocking your financial dreams. The key to those dreams lies in understanding the difference between installment loans vs revolving credit.
Installment Loans vs Revolving Credit: What’s Best for You
Installment loans provide a structured repayment plan and lower interest rates, offering predictability and cost-effectiveness. Revolving credit, on the other hand, offers flexibility and borrowing power for ongoing expenses with credit limits.
In this article

Revolving credit offers flexibility, like a magic credit card with a set limit, while installment loans involve borrowing a specific amount and repaying it through fixed monthly payments. This blog will help you quickly differentiate between installment loans vs revolving credit, allowing you to choose the right credit type based on your goals and circumstances, striking a balance between the two for financial success.

Installment Loans vs Revolving Credit

FeatureInstallment LoansRevolving Credit
Loan TypeBorrow a fixed sum of money repaid in equal installments over a set term.Access a credit line you can borrow against and repay, with the option to borrow again as long as you stay within your limit.
DisbursementReceive the entire loan amount upfront.Access your credit line as needed up to your limit.
RepaymentFixed monthly payments until the loan is paid off.Minimum monthly payments required, but you can pay more or pay off the balance in full each month.
InterestFixed interest rate typically applied to the entire loan amount upfront.Interest calculated only on the outstanding balance each month.
Credit UsageReported as installment debt on your credit report, impacting your credit score.Reported as revolving debt on your credit report, with both available credit and used credit impacting your score. Utilization rate (used credit vs. available credit) significantly affects your score.
Common ExamplesMortgages, car loans, personal loans, student loans.Credit cards, lines of credit, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).
Best forLarge one-time purchases, predictable payments, building credit with on-time payments.Ongoing expenses, flexibility to manage your balance, potential for rewards programs.
ConsiderationsFixed repayment schedule can be inflexible, early payoff penalties may apply.Requires discipline to manage spending and avoid carrying high balances with accruing interest.

What is an installment loan?

An installment loan is a financial product that provides borrowers with a lump sum of money upfront, which is repaid over a set period through regular fixed monthly payments. Unlike revolving credit, where borrowers have a credit limit that can be borrowed and repaid multiple times, installment loans offer a structured repayment plan.

These loans are commonly used for significant expenses such as purchasing a home, financing a car, or funding higher education. They typically come with a fixed interest rate, ensuring the monthly payment remains consistent throughout the loan term. This predictability allows borrowers to budget and plan their finances more effectively.

Responsibly managing an installment loan can positively impact an individual’s credit score. Making on-time payments and fulfilling the loan obligations as agreed demonstrates financial responsibility, which can help improve creditworthiness.

Installment loans are widely available through lenders such as Bank of America and American Express, allowing borrowers to compare terms, interest rates, and repayment options. This accessibility makes installment loans viable for individuals with different credit backgrounds and financial needs. 

What is revolving credit?

Revolving credit is a versatile and advantageous financial instrument, allowing individuals to manage their finances flexibly and conveniently. By obtaining a revolving credit line, borrowers gain access to a predetermined credit limit, enabling them to borrow, repay, and borrow again as much as needed. 

Unlike installment loans, revolving credit features variable interest rates that fluctuate based on outstanding balances and prevailing market conditions. Vigilant balance management is crucial to avoid falling into the potential trap of high-interest debt. 

One crucial aspect of revolving credit is its impact on credit scoring models. Credit utilization, which measures the percentage of available credit currently utilized, plays a significant role. Demonstrating responsible borrowing habits by maintaining a low credit utilization ratio, ideally below 30%, can positively influence one’s credit score. 

It is also critical to keep track of your credit score. For this, one can use highly sophisticated tools such as Beem credit monitoring, which helps monitor credit history and eventually improves an individual’s scores. Also, Beem’s personal loan feature gives you all the information you need on personalized rates to explore loan options ranging from $500 to $100,000, all without impacting your credit score!

Installment Loans vs Revolving Credit: What’s the difference?

When it comes to borrowing money, it is crucial to understand the fundamental differences between installment loans vs revolving credit. Each option offers distinct advantages and considerations that can significantly impact your financial journey. Here are five ways to help you understand the critical differences between the two.

  1. Structure and repayment: Installment loans provide borrowers with a lump sum upfront, which is repaid over a set period through fixed monthly payments. In contrast, revolving credit offers a predetermined limit allowing borrowers to borrow and repay flexibly. 
  2. Interest rates: Installment loans typically come with fixed interest rates, ensuring consistent monthly payments throughout a fixed loan term. Revolving credit, on the other hand, often features variable interest rates that can fluctuate based on outstanding balances and market conditions.
  3. Credit utilization: Revolving credit plays a crucial role in credit scoring models, with credit utilization being a significant factor. Maintaining a credit utilization ratio below 30% can positively impact your credit scores. On the other hand, installment loans have a less direct impact on credit utilization. 
  4. Borrowing flexibility: Revolving credit offers the convenience of borrowing and repaying multiple times within the credit limit, while installment loans provide a one-time lump sum, making them ideal for specific purchases or projects. 
  5. Financial planning: Installment loans provide a structured repayment plan, making it easier for borrowers to budget and plan their finances. Revolving credit offers more flexibility but requires disciplined management to avoid falling into high-interest debt. 

Installment Loans vs Revolving Credit: Which is better for me?

Choosing the best option between installment loans vs revolving credit requires careful consideration of your financial needs and goals. Start by evaluating the nature of your expenses. If you have a specific one-time purchase or project, an installment loan with its structured repayment plan and fixed interest rates may suit you. It provides predictability and easier budgeting. On the other hand, if you require ongoing flexibility for various expenses, revolving credit can offer the freedom to borrow and repay within a set credit limit. 

Consider your financial discipline as well. If you tend to overspend or struggle with debt management, an installment loan’s fixed payments can help you stay on track. Revolving credit demands careful monitoring to avoid accumulating high-interest debt. 

Additionally, think about the impact on your credit score. Revolving credit utilization significantly affects credit scoring models, so maintaining a low utilization ratio is essential for a positive credit score. If building or improving credit is a priority, revolving credit may provide more benefits. Furthermore, installment loans typically offer lower interest rates. For instance, the average credit card interest rate stands at 23.24% compared to the average 30-year fixed rate offered by installment loans which charge 6.6%.

You can make an informed decision by understanding your spending habits, financial discipline, and credit objectives. Consult with financial advisors or lenders for personalized recommendations based on your circumstances.

Also Know About: Things to Know Before Applying for Personal Loan


Understanding the differences between installment loans vs revolving credit empowers borrowers to make informed financial decisions based on their specific needs and goals. Installment loans provide a structured repayment plan and lower interest rates, offering predictability and cost-effectiveness. Revolving credit, on the other hand, offers flexibility and borrowing power for ongoing expenses with credit limits. 

When choosing between these options, evaluating the nature of expenses, financial discipline, and credit objectives is important. By considering personal spending habits and the impact on credit scores, borrowers can make choices that align with their financial goals and circumstances.

While exploring financial options, innovative platforms like Beem’s Smart Wallet App offer additional tools and features to manage and optimize finances. Beem’s personal loan feature can help you zero in on the kind of loan that suits your requirements best and helps you sail through a financial crunch. Beem’s user-friendly platform provides accessible and convenient financial solutions for users across the USA.

Understanding your spending habits, financial discipline, and credit goals will guide you toward the best option. Incorporating financial tools and services into your financial planning strategy can help you stay on top of your finances, manage expenses and work towards your financial goals with greater confidence and control. 

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Picture of Raman Gujral

Raman Gujral

An achievement-oriented professional, Raman has 10+ years of experience in B2B SaaS and B2C products across Fintech, Telecom, Digital Media, Social Media and Logistics domains. Defining and communicating product vision and strategy, product roadmap development, product positioning, and data analysis, he is also an expert in health insurance and personal loans content.


This page is purely informational. Beem does not provide financial, legal or accounting advice. This article has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide financial, legal or accounting advice and should not be relied on for the same. Please consult your own financial, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transactions.

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