Borrowing money in an organised way
Despite having a negative image, a loan is a good, if often inflexible way to borrow money for things you might not ever afford to save up for. Along with mortgages, loans are a structured way to buy now and pay later; with rates currently between 6% and 12% for an unsecured loan.
Most people think of loans in a very negative way- much more negatively than they think of overdrafts. Maybe it's because we think of loan sharks, or perhaps because loans are associated with being short of cash.
Well, none of this is justified. For starters, compared to an unauthorised overdraft, or many credit cards, getting a loan is a good way to borrow. Credit cards and overdrafts are all based on unpredictable borrowing- you can buy what you want when you want, but you'll pay an accordingly high interest rate.
Loans are unique with mortgages in being structured borrowing, over a fixed term, usually at a fixed rate; and usually for the purchase of something whose shelf-life you know in advance. So, plenty of people buy cars with three and five year loans, because they know the car itself will outlast your commitment to payments.
In our current low-interest environment, loan rates are usually in the 6%-12% range; with the banks nudging the higher boundaries, and some of the newer lenders and supermarkets reaching the bottom end. But if your loan is secured on your house, some lenders, the Halifax for example, will often give you an even better rate.