P2P lending has become a popular way for individuals to borrow and invest money without lining the pockets of the largest financial institutions with outrageous fees and charges. The largest P2P lenders in the UK offer interest rates that are often much lower than what is charged for credit cards or traditional loans from banking institutions. Each of the largest P2P lenders in the UK have slightly different features and knowing the differences between the companies can help direct you to the right one for your needs.
Zopa was the first P2P lending company operating in the UK, opening for business in 2005. Since its inception, the company has processed more than £110 million in loans at rates consistently lower than the best rates offered by traditional lending institutions. There is no prepayment penalty for paying off loans obtained through the company earlier than projected.
Zopa’s underwriting standards are rigorous and nearly half of all applicants are rejected for having an inadequate credit record or attempting to borrow an amount that is too high for their current financial situation. This ensures that investors that decide to lend money through Zopa can choose from a pool of well-qualified borrowers and that the risk of defaults remains low.
YES-Secure opened for business in May of 2010 and uses the networking portion of social lending to its advantage, encouraging borrowers and lenders to communicate using its private social network. The company accepts both prime and sub-prime borrowers and bases interest rate ranges on the credit history of the borrower. The company also accepts young borrowers with little credit history, allowing them to build their credit history with their loan. Average interest rates tend to be around 14.5% for a three-year loan and an arrangement fee of £80 is charged on approved loans.
Opened in October 2010, Ratesetter focuses on the prime borrower market and rejects applicants that have a great deal of past credit problems. Its stringent underwriting requirements have resulted in a current default rate of 0%. Borrowers that are approved by the company enjoy interest rates of between 6.8% and 12.2%, much lower than other lending methods. Both fixed-rate and variable rate loans are available and borrowers are charged a £130 borrower fee plus a £50 credit rate fee for approved loans.