No Interest Loans Scheme

The ‘No Interest Loans Scheme’ offers loans at no interest on essential household goods and medical equipment. A NILS loan is for up to $1,500. NILS is run by local community groups like neighbourhood centres or charities. Read this page for more information.

NILS loans are provided through the No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS). This scheme provides individuals and families on low incomes with access to affordable credit to purchase essential goods and services such as:

  • household items (e.g. fridges, washing machines, stoves, dryers, freezers and furniture)
  • some medical and dental services
  • education essentials such as computers and text books
  • car-related expenses.

Loans are up to $1,500. There are no fees or interest. NILS isn’t a payday loan and it’s not a bank loan. NILS works through a process called 'circular community credit'. This means when a borrower makes a repayment, the funds are then available to someone else in the community.

NILS loans cannot be used for:

  • cash
  • rent
  • holidays
  • bills.

Eligibility

To qualify for NILS you must:

  • have a health care card / pension card or earn less than $45,000 per year after tax
  • reside in your current premises for more than three months
  • show willingness and capacity to repay the loan.

How to apply

When you take out a NILS loan, you will deal with a dedicated NILS worker who can tailor the loan and the repayments to your budget and circumstances. The service is free and confidential.

  1. Find your nearest NILS provider and request an interview. You will need to bring some documents that prove eligibility (for example: proof of identity such as your driver licence or Centrelink card; financial information such as bank statements, your latest Centrelink income statement and a copy of your payslips if you are working; a quote for the item for which the loan is for ).
  2. After your interview, your loan application will be assessed.
  3. If your loan is approved, you will need to sign a loan agreement and confirm the repayment terms. Loan funds are then paid to the store or service provider.

What if I don't qualify?

If you’re not eligible for a NILS loan or have other credit and debt issues, contact Fair Trading on 13 32 20. We’ll be able to give you other options like talking to a free and confidential financial counsellor about how to get your finances sorted.

You can also read our page on alternatives to high cost credit.

Indira's story

Indira’s washing machine broke down and couldn’t be repaired. She couldn’t afford a new one and had been doing all the family’s washing in the bathtub for a month when a friend told her about NILS. Indira and her NILS provider examined her budget and worked out a repayment plan for Indira. She chose a washing machine from a catalogue that was in the price range available under the NILS loan and the washing machine was delivered to her home.

Indira is close to making her final repayment and is very pleased with the way she was treated.

Phil's story

Phil needed a new bed for his partner who is disabled. As he was on a disability pension, he couldn’t afford to buy it and he already had some other debts. He visited his local NILS provider to see if he could get an interest-free loan. The NILS worker considered Phil’s budget and his current circumstances and realised Phil couldn't afford the NILS repayments at this time. The NILS worker did give Phil suggestions on how to improve his finances and Phil will soon be in a better financial position to come back to NILS to apply again.

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