Best Peer-to-Peer Lending Companies
If you’re in need of a bit of extra money to make a change in your life, personal loans might be worth exploring. Whether you’re looking to start your own small business and need some seed money or are just looking to compare a few different loans with lower interest rates than your existing debts as a form of debt consolidation, there are plenty of reasons for borrowers to look into lenders who can help them on their personal finance journey.
Rather than going through a traditional bank or traditional lenders, it may make sense to look into personal loans instead. Nowadays, there are dozens of lending platforms and catering to consumers who are looking for a straightforward application process and the opportunity to lower their monthly payments to increase cash flow. One of the most popular types of loans out there is actually a subsection of unsecured personal loans known as social lending or peer-to-peer (P2P) lending. These types of loans are generally unsecured and allow consumers to connect with groups of individual investors who help fund the loan request.
Of course, with an increased interest in P2P lending has come an increase in companies and online platforms acting as the middleman between borrowers and peer lenders. From lending sites like Lending Club and Prosper to newer platforms like Peerform, Upstart, and Funding Circle, it’s easier than ever to find and apply for P2P loans online—but it can be difficult to figure out the pros and cons of each option. Read on for an overview of each of these lenders so that you can better determine which option is best suited to your needs.
Overview of the best peer-to-peer lending companies
|P2P Lender||Best For|
|Lending Club||Versatile loans under $40,000|
|Prosper||Flexible, fixed-term options and next-day funding|
|Peerform||Lowest interest rates and transparent fees|
|Upstart||Borrowers who want an increased chance at prime credit and fees calculated on the latest technology|
|Funding Circle||Small business owners in need of working capital|
|Payoff||Individuals looking to tackle consumer debt|
Best peer-to-peer lending companies
One of the first peer-to-peer lenders to hit the market, Lending Club has been around for 12 years and has loaned over three million customers. Their loans can be used for a variety of purposes, with auto refinancing, small business loans, and general personal loans being the most common amongst borrowers.
One of Lending Club’s most beneficial features is how quickly borrowers can qualify for a loan. The application process can be completed via smartphone or online and gets you qualified and connected to an investor willing to loan you money in minimal time.
APR on loans ranges from 8.05% to 35.89% and loans max out at $40,000. You won’t need to worry about prepayment for any portion of your loan or application fees either with Lending Club.
The minimum amount you can borrow is $1,000, making Lending Club a versatile loan option. Whether you’re interested in improving your home, covering medical expenses, or paying for a much-needed vacation, the chances are high that Lending Club has a loan that meets your needs.
One of the major distinguishing characteristics of Prosper compared to some of the other peer-to-peer lending platforms online is the ability to receive your money in as little as one day. Especially if you’re applying for a personal loan because of an emergency, the expediency offered by Prosper can be a major contributing factor to your overall choice between different P2P lenders.
Similar to Lending Club, Prosper offers borrowers a loan for a minimum of $2,000 and a maximum of $40,000. This makes them a great choice for large purchases as well as medical bills and other emergencies. APR ranges from 7.95% to 35.99%.
Prosper gives you the power to choose specific features of your loan. For starters, you have the option of selecting a 3- or 5-year loan type based on your ideal payoff date. Plus, unlike credit cards, you won’t need to worry about interest payments changing since you’ll be locked in with a fixed interest rate.
Depending on your application, you may have to pay an origination fee in addition to the amount of your loan and interest. As such, it’s important to run through Prosper’s online calculators ahead of time to get an estimate for what additional fees you may be charged when taking out a loan.
Like other online P2P lending platforms, Peerform offers a quick and free application process. Peerform is quite transparent about its fees and makes it easy to estimate what sorts of fees you may be charged which can be a major boon when you’re taking on additional debt.
For example, Peerform grades each applicant on a sliding scale from AAA to DDD. If you’re in the range of AAA to A, you’ll qualify for the best rates and fees, while applicants in the B, C, and D range will receive worse rates. Interest rates range from 5.99% to 29.99% depending on your Peerform Grade, while origination fees scale between 1% to 5% of your total loan.
While Peerform offers low-interest rates and a transparent fee structure, it’s worth noting that the amount of your loan is much more limited with Peerform than other online lending platforms. The maximum loan amount you can get from Peerform is $25,000, but you’re required to take out a loan of at least $4,000, so there’s less flexibility in the sorts of things you can use your loan for.
All that being said, Peerform is an ideal option if you’re looking for help with home improvement projects, moving costs, or debt consolidation.
You’ve probably seen Upstart’s ads online or watching TV, as they’re one of the fastest-growing P2P lenders. Like Prosper, Upstart offers most borrowers funding in about one day, which can make it a great option if you need a personal loan fast.
One feature that distinguishes Upstart from other P2P lending companies is the fact that they use artificial intelligence tools to expand your access to better rates based on more than just your credit score. This ultimately results in Upstart approving about a quarter more of borrowers’ applications than other lenders, which can be a big deal if your credit has a few bad marks on it.
Upstart offers APR ranging from 8.27% to 35.99% depending on your credit rating and income, among other eligibility factors. With a maximum loan amount of $50,000, you have the ability to take out a larger loan with Upstart than some of the other P2P platforms listed here, which can wind up being a major deciding factor in your decision.
Upstart prides itself on being on the cutting edge of lending and personal finance technology. As such, they’re constantly implementing new features that offer lenders the opportunity to really get the most out of their lives financially.
Unlike other lenders on this list, Funding Circle is explicitly focused on offering small business loans and working capital to entrepreneurs looking to start their own business or take a new one to the next level.
Funding Circle offers a few different funding options to entrepreneurs based on filling out just one single application. From SBA loans to lines of credit or cash advances, Funding Circle has been helped close to 100,000 business owners over the past decade.
The amount of capital you can apply to receive from Funding Circle ranges from $25,000 to $500,000, depending on your needs and other factors. The lowest APR rate you’ll receive with excellent credit is 12.18% with the highest APR coming in at around 30.12%.
One thing to note is that your company needs to have been in business for at least three years in order to qualify for working capital from Funding Circle.
Just as Funding Circle is specifically interested in helping small business owners, Payoff is targeted at helping consumers pay off debt. They believe in their mission so wholeheartedly that they also offer financial literacy resources to help you stay out of credit card debt once you’ve paid it off.
Payoff has a few specific structures that make it ideal for paying off your credit cards. Beyond offering you one manageable fixed payment each month, Payoff also doesn’t charge late fees on payments made past your deadline. All of this helps you boost your FICO score while getting out of debt and saving more money.
Payoff loans are offered in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $40,000 and APR on loans ranges from 5.99% - 24.99%. Origination fees range from 0% to 5% of your overall loan, depending on a few different factors including your credit score and the terms of your loan.
If you have credit card interest piling up, lowering your APR is crucial to getting out of the rut your debt has created in your personal finances. As such, a P2P lending platform like Payoff, which offers the lowest APR (even on the high-end and tied with Peerform on the low-end!) of all of the companies on this list can be key to getting out of and staying out of debt.
Summary of P2P lending companies
|P2P Lender||Minimum Loan||Maximum Loan||Annual Percentage Rate (APR)|
|Lending Club||$1,000||$40,000||8.05% to 35.89%|
|Prosper||$2,000||$40,000||7.95% to 35.99%|
|Peerform||$4,000||$25,000||5.99 % to 29.99%|
|Upstart||$1,000||$50,000||8.27% to 35.99%|
|Funding Circle||$25,000||$500,000||12.18% to 30.12%|
|Payoff||$5,000||$40,000||5.99% - 24.99%|
Do rate estimates impact your credit score?
Most of the P2P lenders on this list offer free estimates based on the information you supply regarding your annual income and other financial details, and these estimates won’t impact your credit score. That being said, in order to fully qualify for a P2P loan from any company, your credit will need to be run which can negatively hurt your credit score for a few months.
Are P2P loans reliable?
As a borrower, yes, P2P loans can be a straightforward way to receive financial assistance in the form of an unsecured personal loan. That being said, if you’re interested in using P2P loans as an investor, your mileage may vary in terms of how reliable your borrower is at paying you back. Ultimately, if you’re investing in P2P loans and lending money to others using any of these platforms, it’s a good idea to diversify your assets and really understand a borrower profile before agreeing to lend your money to them, just in case they do wind up defaulting.
Why should (or shouldn’t) you use peer-to-peer lenders?
Depending on your financial situation, there are some definite pros and cons to peer-to-peer lending websites as opposed to traditional lenders like banks.
For starters, interest rates are generally significantly lower through P2P lenders than through banks and are especially lower when compared to the high APR on most credit cards. This can be great if you’re struggling with the repayment of your debt since paying off older debts by consolidating multiple credit lines in to a single personal loan with lower interest. As such, a P2P loan can ultimately allow you to take control of your personal finances and boost your credit score much quicker than paying each debt off individually using the avalanche or snowball method.
Another benefit of using a P2P lender is that unlike some small business loans or other lending programs, eligibility requirements may be a little laxer. If you’re worried about your FICO score, lack of credit history, or creditworthiness, you may fare better with a P2P lending company than a traditional bank.
Even considering all of these benefits, there are some situations when it doesn’t make great sense to take out a loan from a P2P lending platform. For example, if the origination fee for the peer-to-peer loan is high or negatively impacts the duration of your loan repayment, it may make less sense to take out a personal loan from a P2P lender.
Beyond considering origination fees, it’s also important to look into the loan terms to see if there are any other clauses that could limit the way you pay back the loan. For example, some lenders may have rules against paying down your loan under certain circumstances which could result in you paying more in interest even if you have the cash on hand to pay down your loan faster.
The bottom line
Ultimately, whether or not you take out a personal loan is dependent on a variety of factors. While some of these will be unique to your situation (such as your credit score or the kind of interest rate you’re looking to get), other aspects that might impact your decision include what you’re planning on using the money for or how much you’re looking to take out via loan.
Doing research into each lender is the first step to making the right decision about taking out a personal loan, and the above overview and tables should help you narrow your choices down to two or three lenders who best match your unique circumstances. By planning appropriately and weighing the pros and cons, you’re bound to make the right choice of P2P lenders and set your finances on the path to success.