What is Peer-to-Peer Lending?
Peer-to-peer lending was historically about connecting borrowers with individual investors who could fulfill their loan requests. Even though commercial investors typically fill that role in today’s lending landscape, P2P lending platforms can still be a smart choice for borrowers who can’t qualify for more traditional financing.
What is peer-to-peer lending?
Peer-to-peer lending, also known as P2P lending, is historically a form of lending in which individual investors fund loans rather than a financial institution. However, these days, commercial investors commonly fill that role.
In either case, an online platform coordinates the administrative process of funding your loan and connecting you to investors. It does this by distributing your loan application to investors, transferring the money to you once your application is accepted and repaying the investors as you pay back your loan.
This method of lending is typically more lenient than applying for funding through traditional avenues, making it a good fit for those who may not be able to qualify for a bank or credit union.
Where to find peer-to-peer loans
While peer-to-peer lending looks a little different these days with commercial lenders funding most loan applications, it’s still possible to find reputable P2P companies. Here are a few lenders that still offer these types of loans:
|Credit score required
|8.99% - 35.99%
|24 to 60 months
|$2,000 - $50,000
|1.00% - 7.99%
|9.57% - 35.99%
|24 to 60 months
|$1,000 - $40,000
|3.00% - 8.00%
|7.80% - 35.99%
|36 and 60 months
|$1,000 - $25,000
|0.00% - 12.00%
How peer-to-peer lending works
While the peer-to-peer lending platforms don’t fund your loan directly, these companies do connect borrowers with investors. Plus, they facilitate the lending process from start to finish. Here’s a closer look at what you can expect:
How do you qualify for peer-to-peer lending?
The exact criteria necessary to qualify for a loan will depend on the peer-to-peer lending platform that you choose to use. That said, the eligibility criteria used will likely be similar to a bank loan and may include, your credit score, employment status, income information and identifying documentation, like your Social Security number (SSN).
In addition to filling out an application, you may be asked to provide the following documents:
- Tax forms, such as W2s or 1099s
- Previous tax returns
- Recent pay stubs
- Recent bank statements
- Copies of your government-issued ID
Since personal loans are unsecured debt, meaning that they do not need to be backed by any collateral, the interest rate that you’re given will depend largely on the strength of your credit profile. Generally, those with good or excellent credit scores are often given the best rates.
How to apply for a peer-to-peer loan
While each peer-to-peer lending platform is unique, the application process generally looks something like this:
- Complete an application: First, you’ll need to fill out an online application with the peer-to-peer lending platform. You’ll have to provide your personal information as well as your income, employment status and credit score. This process generally takes only a few minutes.
- Review your options: Next, you may receive a borrower rating based on your application details and credit score. You typically must also submit qualifying documents, including proof of income. If you qualify for a loan, you’ll have the opportunity to look over the available loan terms and select the best one for you.
- Wait for investor approval: At this stage, you’ll learn if one or more investors are interested in funding your loan or if you were denied a personal loan. If investors commit to funding your loan, you may need to provide additional details regarding your finances, as well as specified documentation to verify your identity, income and employment.
- Sign your loan agreement: If all the information you supplied checks out, your requested loan may be approved. Within a few days, the amount you’re borrowing will be deposited in your bank account. The exact timing depends on your investor and peer-to-peer lending company.
What fees come with peer-to-peer loans?
The most common type of fee associated with peer-to-peer loans is an origination fee. This administrative fee is typically subtracted from your total loan balance. Although amounts can vary, these fees are generally expressed as a percentage of your total loan amount.
You may also be subject to late fees if you do not make your monthly payment on time. Missing payments can also cause your credit score to drop if you’re more than 30 days late as that’s when late payment information is usually reported to the credit bureaus.
How can you use a peer-to-peer loan?
How you can use your loan varies depending on the peer-to-peer platform you use. Typically, companies will outline how you can and cannot use a peer-to-peer loan.
While the purposes of these loans are often flexible, it’s wise to research ahead of time to make sure your intent for your loan aligns with the company’s policies. For instance, some companies may have state restrictions in place.
With all that in mind, there are generally three types of loans that can be funded through a P2P lending platform:
- Personal loans: Personal loans can be used by individuals to fund large purchases, like medical expenses or home improvement projects. They can also be used for debt consolidation.
- Business loans: Business loans are mainly used to cover business expenses, such as providing funding to cover working capital costs or financing equipment purchases.
- Student loans: As the name suggests, student loans are primarily used to finance postsecondary education costs.
Peer-to-peer lending pros and cons
While peer-to-peer loans may prove beneficial for some consumers, it’s not a one-size-fits-all form of credit that will work for everyone. Here’s what to keep in mind as you weigh your options:
|More lenient qualifying requirements: You may have an easier time getting approved for a peer-to-peer loan versus a loan with a traditional bank if you have a low credit score or thin credit history
|Longer funding times: It may take longer to get approval and receive your funds with a P2P lending platform since the platform must first approve you and then find an investor willing to fund your loan
|More flexibility: P2P lenders may offer more flexibility in loan use than traditional lenders, including for business use
|Fewer options: You may have fewer options for lenders than you would find with a more traditional lending scenario.
|Few fees: You can typically repay your peer-to-peer loan early without incurring a prepayment penalty, similar to traditional personal loans
|State restrictions: P2P loans may not be available in some areas because they don’t have legislation that supports peer-to-peer lending