Understanding Personal loans and Credit Cards in South Africa

Personal loans and credit cards are two of the most popular forms of borrowing money in South Africa. Both have their own unique advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to understand them so you can make informed decisions about your finances. In this article, we will provide an overview of personal loans and credit cards, their similarities and differences, and tips for choosing the best option for your needs.

What are personal loans?

Personal loans are unsecured loans that can be used for a variety of purposes, including debt consolidation, home improvement, and personal expenses. Personal loans are issued by banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions, and are based on your credit history and ability to repay the loan. In South Africa, personal loans are typically offered at a fixed interest rate, which means that your monthly repayments will remain the same throughout the term of the loan.

What are credit cards?

Credit cards are a form of revolving credit, meaning that you can use them to make purchases and withdraw cash, then repay the amount over time. Unlike personal loans, credit cards do not have a set repayment period, and interest is charged on the outstanding balance. In South Africa, credit cards are issued by banks, retailers, and other financial institutions, and offer a range of rewards, benefits, and incentives, including cash back, travel rewards, and points.

Similarities between personal loans and credit cards

  • Both personal loans and credit cards are forms of borrowing money
  • Both require a credit check and a good credit history to be approved
  • Both charge interest on the amount borrowed
  • Both have late payment fees and penalties

Differences between personal loans and credit cards

  • Personal loans have a fixed repayment period and interest rate, while credit cards have a revolving credit line and variable interest rate
  • Personal loans are unsecured, while credit cards are secured by a cash deposit or personal collateral
  • Personal loans are typically for larger amounts, while credit cards are used for smaller purchases and cash withdrawals
  • Personal loans require full repayment at the end of the term, while credit cards allow you to carry over a balance and make partial repayments

Choosing between personal loans and credit cards

The best choice between personal loans and credit cards will depend on your specific financial needs and goals. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Purpose of borrowing: If you need to borrow money for a specific purpose, such as home improvement or debt consolidation, a personal loan may be a better option. If you need a line of credit for everyday expenses and smaller purchases, a credit card may be a better choice.
  • Repayment period: If you need to repay the loan within a specific timeframe, a personal loan with a fixed repayment period may be a better option. If you prefer more flexible repayment options, a credit card may be a better choice.
  • Interest rates: Personal loans typically have lower interest rates than credit cards, so if you plan to carry a balance over time, a personal loan may be a better choice. If you plan to pay off your balance in full each month, a credit card with a rewards program may be a better choice.
  • Credit score: If you have a good credit score, you may be able to qualify for lower interest rates and better terms on a personal loan. If you have a lower credit score, you may be approved for a credit card with a higher interest rate.

Top Credit Cards and Personal Loan Providers in South Africa

In South Africa, some of the companies that issue both credit cards and personal loans include:

  1. Absa Bank
  2. Standard Bank
  3. First National Bank (FNB)
  4. Nedbank
  5. Capitec Bank
  6. African Bank
  7. SASFIN Bank
  8. Mercantile Bank
  9. Investec Bank
  10. Bidvest Bank

It’s important to note that these banks and financial institutions offer a range of credit cards and personal loans, each with its own unique features, interest rates, and terms. To choose the best option, it’s important to compare the various options and carefully evaluate your financial needs and goals.


In conclusion, personal loans and credit cards are two of the most popular forms of borrowing in South Africa, and each has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. To choose the best option for your needs, it’s important to understand the similarities and differences between the two, and to consider your financial goals, repayment period, interest rates, and credit score.

Visited 2 times, 1 visit(s) today

Stay ahead in the financial world – Sign Up to Rateweb’s essential newsletter for free. Get the latest insights on business trends, tech innovations, and market movements, directly to your inbox. Join our community of savvy readers and never miss an update that could impact your financial decisions.

Do you have a news tip for Rateweb reporters? Please email us at


Personal Financial Tools

Below is a list of tools built to assist South Africans to make the best financial decisions:



South Africa’s primary source of financial tools and information

Contact Us



Rateweb strives to keep its information accurate and up to date. This information may be different than what you see when you visit a financial institution, service provider or specific product’s site. All financial products, shopping products and services are presented without warranty. When evaluating offers, please review the financial institution’s Terms and Conditions.

Rateweb is not a financial service provider and should in no way be seen as one. In compiling the articles for our website due caution was exercised in an attempt to gather information from reliable and accurate sources. The articles are of a general nature and do not purport to offer specialised and or personalised financial or investment advice. Neither the author, nor the publisher, will accept any responsibility for losses, omissions, errors, fortunes or misfortunes that may be suffered by any person that acts or refrains from acting as a result of these articles.