Can You Borrow Against a 401k

**Borrowing against a 401(k) Plan**

A 401(k) loan, also known as a 401(k) hardship distribution, allows participants to withdraw funds from their plan for certain qualifying expenses, such as purchasing a home, paying higher education expenses, or covering medical costs.


Not all 401(k) plans offer loan provisions. To be eligible, you must meet certain plan requirements and demonstrate financial hardship.

**Loan Terms:**

* **Loan amount:** Typically limited to a percentage of your vested account balance, usually up to 50%, with a maximum of $50,000.
* **Repayment period:** Repayment must be completed within five years, except for loans used for purchasing a primary residence.
* **Interest rate:** The interest rate charged on 401(k) loans is typically lower than market rates.
* **Taxes:** Loans are not taxed when withdrawn, but income taxes and a 10% early-withdrawal penalty apply if the loan is not repaid by the end of the repayment period.


* Access to funds without liquidating investments.
* Lower interest rates than traditional loans.


* Reduced retirement savings.
* Early-withdrawal penalty and taxes if the loan is not repaid on time.
* Default risk if you lose your job or have other financial difficulties.


* **401(k) rollover:** Roll over funds into an Individual Retirement Account (Roth or traditional IRA) to avoid early-withdrawal penalty.
* **401(k) hardship distribution:** Withdraw funds for certain qualifying expenses, but subject to taxes and penalty.
* **Personal loan:** Obtain a loan from a bank or lender, which may have higher interest rates but offers more flexibility in repayment terms.

Loan Options

You can borrow up to 50% of your vested balance, or $50,000, whichever is less. You have up to five years to repay the loan, and you must make at least quarterly payments. The interest rate on the loan will be the prime rate plus one percentage point.

There are two types of loans available:

  • Regular loans are available to all participants in a 401(k) plan. The maximum loan amount is $50,000.
  • Disaster loans are available to participants who have been affected by a federally declared disaster. The maximum loan amount is $100,000.

401k Plans

Not all 401(k) plans allow participants to borrow money. If your plan does not allow loans, you will not be able to get a loan from your 401(k). You can check with your plan administrator to see if your plan allows loans.

Loan TypeMaximum Loan AmountRepayment TermInterest Rate
Regular Loans$50,0005 yearsPrime rate plus one percentage point
Disaster Loans$100,0005 yearsPrime rate plus one percentage point

401k Loan Eligibility

401k loans allow participants to borrow money from their retirement accounts, enabling them to access funds for various purposes. However, not all 401k plans permit loans. If your plan does offer loans, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the eligibility criteria.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Active Employment: You must be actively employed by the company sponsoring the 401k plan.
  • Plan Participation Duration: Most plans require participants to have been enrolled for a specific period, typically 2-3 years.
  • Outstanding Loan Absence: You cannot have any outstanding 401k loans from the same plan or another plan.
  • Borrowing Limits: Plans generally impose a borrowing limit, which is typically 50% of your vested account balance up to a maximum of $50,000.
  • Loan Purpose: Some plans restrict loans to specific purposes, such as purchasing a primary residence, education expenses, or medical emergencies.
  • Creditworthiness: Your employer may review your credit history to determine your eligibility for a loan.
  • Income and Employment History: Lenders may also consider your income and employment history to assess your ability to repay the loan.

Loan Repayment

401k loans typically have a repayment period of 1-5 years, with interest charged on the borrowed amount. Repayments are generally made through payroll deductions. Failure to repay the loan on time may result in tax penalties and distribution of the unpaid balance from your 401k account.

401k Loan Repayment Schedule
Loan TermMonthly PaymentInterest Rate
1 year$833.335%
2 years$426.675%
3 years$290.675%
4 years$233.335%
5 years$200.005%

It’s crucial to carefully consider the impact of a 401k loan on your long-term retirement savings before applying. While loans can provide temporary financial assistance, they may delay your retirement goals and result in higher taxes and penalties.

Repayment Considerations

When borrowing against your 401(k), it’s crucial to understand the repayment obligations:

  • Loan Term: Loans typically have a repayment period of 5 years, but some plans may allow up to 10 years for principal-only payments.
  • Interest Payments: The interest rate on a 401(k) loan is typically prime plus 1-2%. You’ll pay interest on the outstanding loan balance.
  • Repayment Method: You’ll make monthly payments through payroll deductions. The loan amount and interest are deducted from your paycheck before taxes.
  • Automatic Default: If you leave your job, you’ll typically have 60-90 days to repay the loan in full. If you fail to do so, the outstanding balance will be treated as an early withdrawal, subject to income taxes and a potential 10% early withdrawal penalty.

Early Repayment Option

Some 401(k) plans allow for early repayment of the loan. This can save you interest expenses and potentially allow you to access the funds sooner.

Loan AmountInterest RateRepayment PeriodMonthly PaymentTotal Interest Paid
$5,0005%5 years$94.17$384.68
$10,0005%5 years$188.33$769.36
$15,0005%5 years$282.50$1,154.04

What Are the Potential Consequences of Taking a 401k Loan?

Borrowing against your 401k can be a tempting option when you need quick access to cash. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential consequences before you decide to take out a loan.

  • You’ll pay interest to yourself. When you borrow from your 401k, you’re essentially making a loan to yourself. You’ll pay interest on the loan, but the interest will be paid into your own account. This means that you’re not actually making any money on the loan.
  • You’ll reduce your retirement savings. When you borrow from your 401k, you’re taking money out of your retirement savings. This can reduce the amount of money you have for retirement, and it can also reduce the amount of tax savings you receive.
  • You’ll have to pay back the loan even if you leave your job. If you leave your job, you’ll have to pay back your 401k loan within 60 days. If you don’t pay back the loan, it will be treated as a distribution from your 401k, and you’ll have to pay income tax and a 10% early withdrawal penalty on the amount of the loan.
  • You could lose your 401k if you default on the loan. If you default on your 401k loan, your retirement savings could be at risk. The lender could foreclose on your 401k, and you could lose all of the money in your account.

    Before you decide to take out a 401k loan, it’s important to weigh the potential benefits and risks. If you need access to cash quickly, there may be other options available to you that don’t have the same risks as a 401k loan.

    401k loan
    • Can get cash quickly
    • Interest is paid to yourself
    • You’ll pay interest to yourself
    • You’ll reduce your retirement savings
    • You’ll have to pay back the loan even if you leave your job
    • You could lose your 401k if you default on the loan
    Personal loan
    • Can get cash quickly
    • Fixed interest rate
    • Interest rates can be high
    • May have to pay origination fees
    • May not be able to borrow as much money as you need
    Credit card
    • Can get cash quickly
    • No application fee
    • High interest rates
    • May have to pay annual fees
    • May not be able to borrow as much money as you need

    Well, there you have it, folks! Now you know the ins and outs of borrowing against your 401k. Remember, it’s a serious decision that should be carefully considered. If you’re thinking about it, make sure you understand the risks and benefits and talk to a financial advisor if needed. Thanks for reading, and be sure to visit again later for more financial insights that you can use to plan for the future!