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Knowing your credit options

There's always the option of borrowing from individuals, such as friends and family, and various specialized institutions. But make sure you know the advantages and disadvantages of each before you do.

Here are your options.

Friends and family

At first glance, the advantages can seem appealing: You can negotiate the interest rate and payment terms with them directly. But a word of caution: If you have trouble repaying them, your relationship could be damaged forever.

Financial institutions

Financial institutions are among the best sources of credit, especially when it comes to personal loans, student loans, mortgages, personal lines of credit, overdraft transfers and credit cards.

Retail stores

Many stores offer their own credit cards. Some also offer financing plans that allow you to pay for your purchases over time or even at a later date. Be careful: If you don't pay your balance in full on the due date, you'll be charged much higher interest rates than a regular credit card.

Loan companies

Some companies specialize in giving out loans, often to people who are turned down by other lenders. Since the risk is higher for the lender, the interest rates paid by borrowers are also higher.

Cheque cashing centres

These are not highly recommended because they charge high fees for cashing your cheques on the spot.

Yourself

Some people can lend themselves funds from their own investments, insurance policies or other sources. For example, the Home Buyers' Plan (HBP) allows you to borrow from your RRSP to purchase your first home.

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