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Best peer-to-peer lending platforms of 2020

Fair credit borrowers and new investors benefit the most from these online platforms.

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Illustration of people in groups
Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending lets you skip the bank by connecting you with investors who fund your loan. It’s best for borrowers who can’t qualify for a bank loan or prefer working with nontraditional financial institutions. And it’s an easy way to dip your toes into investing if you’re new to the game.

P2P loans are available through online platforms, which set the rates and terms and underwrites the loans. Each platform works a little differently. Picking the right one for you can depend on factors like your credit profile and how you plan on using the funds.

Best peer-to-peer lending platforms

How we picked these providers

We looked at factors like rates, terms, fees and turnaround time and how they stood up to other peer-to-peer lenders. We also considered the specific types of loans offered and the eligibility requirements to decide who the platform is best for.

The pool of peer-to-peer lenders is relatively small. This means you might not find the best deal here. If you don’t mind working with a direct lender or connection service, read about our picks for the best personal loans to find an even more competitive deal.

Prosper personal loans logo
Finder Rating: 3.42 / 5

★★★★★

Check my rate
at Prosper personal loans's secure site

Best for debt consolidation: Prosper personal loans

640
Min. Credit Score
7.95%
Starting APR
$40,000
Loan Amount
Prosper is the P2P platform that started it all when it opened its doors in 2005 — in the US, that is. Its personal loans can be a good P2P choice for most uses, but its high debt-to-income (DTI) ratio cap of 50% make it particularly great for debt consolidation. And you can check what rates you might qualify for without affecting your credit score. But it can take up to five business days to get your funds, and its origination fee falls on the high side, even compared to other P2P lenders.
  • Accepts DTI rates of up to 50%
  • Fair credit OK
  • No hard credit check for preapproval
  • High maximum APR of 35.99%
  • Origination fee of 2.4% to 5%
  • Turnaround may be up to five business days
  • You must have at least three open credit accounts to qualify
Loan Amount $2,000 – $40,000
APR 7.95% to 35.99%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 640
Min term 36 months
Max term 60 months
Turnaround Time Up to five business days
Upstart personal loans logo
Finder Rating: 4.15 / 5

★★★★★

Check my rate
at Upstart personal loans's secure site

Best for highly educated professionals: Upstart personal loans

600
Min. Credit Score
8.69%
Starting APR
$50,000
Loan Amount
A group of former Google employees created this platform in 2012 to tap into the market of highly-educated, career-oriented borrowers that are just starting to build credit. Its underwriting algorithm puts weight on your level of education and work experience to help you get you better rates and terms. And it's fast compared to other P2P lenders — you can get your money in as soon as the next business day. But its origination fees are higher than average, and its tight DTI requirements make it less-than-ideal for debt consolidation.
  • Work and education get you better rates
  • Funding as soon as the next business day
  • Fair credit OK
  • Origination fee up to 8%
  • DTI of 18% or lower required
Loan Amount $1,000 – $50,000
APR 8.69% to 35.99%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 600
Min term 36 months
Max term 60 months
Turnaround Time 1 to 3 business days
Peerform personal loans logo
Finder Rating: 3.2 / 5

★★★★★

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at Peerform personal loans's secure site

Best for fair credit: Peerform personal loans

600
Min. Credit Score
5.99%
Starting APR
$25,000
Loan Amount
In 2010, a group of Wall Street executives founded Peerform to give more borrowers access to low-cost financing — even without excellent credit. The platform is designed to cut back on operating expenses, so it can afford to offer a low maximum APR and origination fee while only requiring a credit score of 600 credit score. But its range of loan amounts is small, and it caps out at half what some other P2P lenders offer. Plus it can take several days to get your funds.
  • Fair credit OK
  • APRs starting at 5.99%
  • Live chat on website
  • Loans from $4,000 to $25,000
  • Long turnaround
  • Few customer reviews
Loan Amount $4,000 – $25,000
APR 5.99% to 29.99%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 600
Min term 36 months
Max term 60 months
LendingClub personal loans logo
Finder Rating: 3.6 / 5

★★★★★

Check my rate
at LendingClub personal loans's secure site

Best for auto loan refinancing: LendingClub personal loans

640
Min. Credit Score
10.68%
Starting APR
$40,000
Loan Amount
The second P2P lender to the scene, LendingClub might be the most recognizable P2P lender. It offers a wide range of financing, from healthcare to business loans. But car loan refinancing is where it really shines — even compared to other types of lenders. It claims that customers lower their car loan repayments by an average of $80 per month. And it accepts cars that are up to 10 years old with 120,000 miles.
  • Low starting APR of 3.99%
  • Coapplicants welcome
  • High Trustpilot rating
  • Turnaround of up to 15 business days
  • Not available in every state
Loan Amount $1,000 – $40,000
APR 10.68% to 35.89%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 640
Min term 36 months
Max term 60 months
Turnaround Time As little as 4 days
Funding Circle business loans logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Check eligibility
on Funding Circle business loans's secure site

Best for business term loans: Funding Circle business loans

620
Min. Credit Score
4.99%
Starting APR
$500,000
Loan Amount
Funding Circle was founded in 2010 with the aim of bringing more financing options to growing businesses and high returns for investors. Since, investors have poured some $11.7 billion into over 81,000 small businesses. Its rates are low for a business lender, starting at 4.99%. And you can qualify with fair credit. But it doesn't offer loans under $25,000.
  • Low starting APR of 4.99%
  • Loans as high as $500,000
  • Accepts fair credit
  • High starting loan of $25,000
  • Requires at least two years in business
  • High origination fee of 3.49% to 6.99%
Min. Loan Amount $25,000
Max. Loan Amount $500,000
APR Starting at 4.99%
Fee 3.49% to 6.99%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 620
Minimum Loan Term 6 months
Maximum Loan Term 60 months

Best for veteran-owned businesses: StreetShares small business loans

640
Min. Credit Score
8%
Starting APR
$250,000
Loan Amount
Founded in 2013 by two veterans, StreetShares is one of the few business lenders that specializes in funding business owners who have served in the military. Its Patriot Express line of credit is arguably the closest thing you'll find to the now-defunct SBA Patriot Express loan program. And it offers a wide range of other types of financing. It only requires one year in business and doesn't have any hard credit score minimum. But its rates can run as high as 75% for some borrowers.
  • SBA Patriot Express alternative
  • Offers access to grant programs for veterans
  • Accepts fair credit
  • APRs as high as 75%
  • Origination fee starting at a high 3.95%
  • Not transparent about costs online
Min. Loan Amount $2,000
Max. Loan Amount $250,000
APR Starting at 8%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 640
Minimum Loan Term 3 months
Maximum Loan Term 36 months

Best for entrepreneurs: Kiva business loans

None
Min. Credit Score
0%
Starting APR
$15,000
Loan Amount
Kiva is a nonprofit microlender that specializes in funding entrepreneurs. It offers both peer-funded and direct loans. Its direct loans are interest-free — though you'll have to crowdfund part of it yourself through your own social network. Its P2P loans are funded with $25 investments from the public.

While anyone can invest, you won't make a profit — and might not get all of your money back. The main reward is supporting a cause that you believe in.

  • No minimum credit score
  • Available to entrepreneurs
  • Direct and P2P options
  • P2P loans can come with interest, unlike direct loans
  • No return for investors
  • Potentially long turnaround
Min. Loan Amount $25
Max. Loan Amount $15,000
APR 0%
Interest Rate Type N/A
Minimum Loan Term 1 months
Maximum Loan Term 3 months

What is peer-to-peer lending?

Peer-to-peer lending is a new type of online financing that connects borrowers with investors, who fund the business loan. From the borrower’s perspective, it’s a lot like applying for a loan from a direct online lender.

Rates, terms and loan amounts similar to what you’ll find elsewhere online and slightly higher than what you’d find at a bank. P2P loans also typically don’t require collateral and have more flexible credit requirements than banks. But they still look at your credit score, income and debts. And you still might have trouble qualifying if your credit score is below 670 or have a debt-to-income ratio above 40%.

The main difference between a P2P loan and one from an online lender is that P2P platforms often charge an origination fee, which can be as high as 8%. These are uncommon with other types of online personal loans. It can also take about five more days to get your loan than your typical online lender.

How does peer-to-peer lending work?

Peer-to-peer lending works by connecting borrowers and business owners directly with investors using an online platform, also called a marketplace. The platform sets rates, terms, fees and loan amounts. It also often underwrites the loan — usually using an algorithm.

After underwriting, investors review borrower applications and fully or partially fund the loan. When the borrower repays it, the investor collects on interest and the platform earns money from interest and the origination fee.

How P2P lending works for borrowers

Here’s the general process you’ll go through when taking out a P2P loan:

  1. Apply. Fill out an online application and submit any required documents through the P2P platform.
  2. Get graded. Platforms typically give you a letter grade, which determines the rates and fees you’re eligible for.
  3. Wait for investors to fund your loan. Investors review your application and your grade and decide to either partially or fully fund your loan. This step can take up to a week.
  4. Get your money. The platform sends the funds directly to your bank account when your loan is fully funded.
  5. Pay back the loan. Typically, you’ll make repayments to the platform, or its servicer. The platform then distributes the repayment and interest to the investors.

How P2P lending works for investors

The P2P investing process typically follow these steps:

  1. Apply. Investors also need to fill out an application on the platform to open an investing account.
  2. Review the grading system. Each platform has its own way of rating the risk and potential returns of certain loans. Typically, a low letter rating means a riskier but potentially more lucrative investment. High letter ratings are less risky but have a lower return.
  3. Build your portfolio. Rather than fully funding one loan, most platforms are designed to let you partially fund multiple loans.
  4. Cash out or reinvest. Each month you should receive part of your investment back plus returns as borrowers repay the loan. You can either withdraw them or reinvest the funds to build your earnings.

The average return for investors hovers around 5% for most of these types of platforms — like LendingClub and Prosper. But others can work differently. For example, anyone can invest in a Kiva loan — but you won’t get any returns.

History of peer-to-peer lending

Peer-to-peer lending is relatively new. The first P2P lender was UK company, Zopa, which launched in 2005. Zopa was shortly followed by Prosper and Lending Club in the US.

The aim was to offer affordable credit to borrowers who couldn’t qualify for a bank loan. It planned to do this by using automated underwriting to speed up the process and cut costs. But P2P platforms experienced a higher-than-expected number of defaults, causing some to close.

The P2P lending market was worth around $231.09 billion in 2017, and is expected to reach $820.7 billion in 2025, according to a 2019 report by Adroit Market Research. Investors generally see an average return of around 5% with platforms like Prosper and LendingClub.

For a more in depth look at its history, read about how peer-to-peer lending got started in the US.

Pros and cons of P2P lending

Peer-to-peer lending isn’t right for everyone. Weigh the benefits against the drawbacks to decide if it’s the best fit for you.

Pros

  • Available to fair credit. Most peer-to-peer lenders have lower cutoff credit scores than banks — and often look at factors that traditional lenders don’t consider.
  • Fast approval. It can take a matter of seconds for a platform’s algorithm to process your application and give you a decision.
  • Risk-free rate check. You can often get an estimate of the rates and terms you’d qualify for based on a soft credit check that doesn’t hurt your credit.
  • Low investor requirements. You generally don’t need to be an accredited investor to participate in P2P lending.

Cons

  • Origination fee. Almost all P2P loans come with an origination fee — which is not always the case with other types of online lenders.
  • Long turnaround. It can take as long as a week to have a P2P loan funded, while other lenders can take as little as a day.
  • Not the most competitive rates. You can often find lower starting rates with direct lenders if you have good to excellent credit.
  • High rate of default. Several P2P lending platforms have had to shut their doors after too many borrowers failed to pay back their loans.

Who is peer-to-peer lending best for?

Peer-to-peer lending can be a great starting place for borrowers, business owners and investors who are new to the game.

For borrowers

Peer-to-peer loans are best for borrowers who are building their credit, but are solidly invested in a career. These platforms typically rely less on credit score than a traditional lender and use other data to evaluate your creditworthiness, like your work and education history.

For business owners

P2P business lending platforms are ideal for business owners who have fair credit and have struggled to qualify for traditional bank loans. They typically have less-strict credit and revenue requirements, as well as a more streamlined application process.

For lenders

Peer-to-peer lending is best if you’re used to earning returns on a CD or high-yield savings account and are ready for a slightly higher return. You don’t need to be an accredited investor to qualify — you can sometimes even use a retirement account to invest.

When to consider other types of lenders

Taking out a P2P loan might not be the best choice if any of these situations ring true for you:

  • You have bad credit. Even with more relaxed credit requirements, you typically need at least a 640 credit score to qualify with most platforms.
  • You have an emergency expense. You might have to wait a week or more for investors to fund your loan. Consider a direct online lender instead if you need money tomorrow.
  • You’re in serious debt. You likely won’t qualify if your monthly debt payments are worth more than half your income or revenue.
  • You can’t pay fees. Most P2P lenders charge origination fees, so you might want to look elsewhere for a personal loan without fees.

What types of P2P loans are available?

Peer-to-peer lenders generally specialize in:

  • Unsecured personal loans. Peer-to-peer loans generally don’t require collateral and you can use them for any legitimate purpose, including debt consolidation.
  • Medical loans. Some lenders like Prosper and LendingClub offer funding through healthcare facilities to fund medical procedures.
  • Car or home loan refinancing. Some platforms also won’t fund a new vehicle or home loan, but might let you trade in your current balance for a better deal.
  • Home improvement loans. Providers like Prosper also offer funding specifically for home improvements.
  • Business loans. Lenders also offer P2P business loans for small businesses. These business loans can help grow your business or get it up and running.

3 alternatives to P2P lending

Borrowers who can’t qualify or want to skip the relatively high rates and fees might want to consider these alternatives.

  • Direct online lenders. Direct online lenders work a lot like P2P lending platforms, but with lower rates, fewer fees and a faster turnaround. Some might also have more forgiving credit and income requirements.
  • Community bank loans. Community banks often offer low-cost loans to borrowers who have less-than-perfect credit. If you’re unable to meet the requirements for a P2P lender, this could be a better option.
  • Credit union loans. Credit unions have a similar philosophy as P2P lenders — they’re owned by their members, rather than a board of directors. And this allows them to offer loans to a wider credit range at lower rates than your typical big bank.

Is peer-to-peer lending safe?

Generally, yes as long as your lender uses SSL security on its online application. Look for the lock feature to make sure the site is secure — and scroll down to the bottom of the page to look for other security badges.

You can make sure the lender you’re working with is legit by reading online reviews and looking out for lawsuits against the lender. Our guide to spotting personal loan scams can tell you what to watch out for.

4 questions to ask when comparing peer-to-peer lenders

Make sure you’re ready to borrow with these four questions:

    1. Am I eligible? Make sure you meet basic credit, income or revenue requirements — or even fill out a prequalification application to see if you make the cut.
    2. What’s the APR? This tells you how much your loan will cost in interest and fees over one year and is the easiest way to compare offers from different lenders.
    3. What’s the origination fee? Most P2P lenders charge a fee before handing you over the funds, which it either adds to or subtracts from the loan balance.
    4. Does it fit my budget? Use our monthly payment calculator to find out if the rates and terms you qualify for are affordable.

How can I benefit as an investor?

If you’re looking to get involved in peer-to-peer lending as an investor, you may benefit from some of the following positive points:

  • Returns. Many investors have returns of around 5% for a short-term investment.
  • Opportunity to diversify. You choose how much to fund per loan and can spread your risk among multiple borrowers.
  • Easy for first-time investors. P2P lending is lower stakes and can be easier to navigate than diving into the stock market.
  • Different accounts available. You can have multiple account options with some providers, including retirement accounts or standard investment accounts.

Bottom line

Peer-to-peer lending can be a great opportunity for borrowers, business owners and investors who are new to the game. It’s easier to qualify with a limited credit history, and you don’t need to be a seasoned investor to get returns. But it might not offer as good of a deal as other options.

You can find out how P2P loans compare to others with our guides to personal loans and business financing. Or check out how the returns compare with our guide to investing.

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10 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    AmySeptember 10, 2018

    I am in desperate need of a loan up to 5,000 for debit consolidation. I have tried every where my credit score isn’t the best and I know that’s what is hurting me. I just need someone to look past that an give me a chance. So I can get back on my feet.

    • Default Gravatar
      joelmarceloSeptember 11, 2018

      Hi Amy,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

      Sorry to hear you are going through difficult times. Debt consolidation is one way to manage repayments and reduce debt if you have more than one account on which you pay interest. By moving all the separate balances into one account, you can start to reduce your liability by paying one monthly repayment instead of several. While many lenders require you to have a positive credit history to take out these loans, there are some who approve debt consolidation loans for those with bad credit if you click HERE.

      Cheers,
      Joel

  2. Default Gravatar
    CandiceJanuary 23, 2018

    I’m in desperate need of $4000 to buy a car.. I had a credit score of around 630 6 months ago but it’s 454 now because I have lived with a man for 4 years that WILL NOT work.. I’m on Disability.. I am sick..they think I have celiac disease..my mom got a loan for me but as always she never follows through..my husband is abusive.. I just need a break.. Is there someone who can help me??

    • Default Gravatar
      joelmarceloJanuary 23, 2018

      Hi Candice,
      Thanks for leaving a comment on finder.com. You may still be eligible for a loan even if you are on Disability pension. Please note that laws that apply to loans may vary from state to state so make sure you choose your state from the dropdown HERE.

      If you need further help, please send us a message anytime.

      Cheers,
      Joel

  3. Default Gravatar
    kdogDecember 19, 2017

    Hello! I would like to start rebuilding my credit..my score is right at 590 to 600. Exp even had me at a 623. So, I did get a capital one journey card, 300.00 limit. Can I get a personal loan anywhere with this score? Or should I give up until I have established better history with this new card?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RenchDecember 20, 2017Staff

      Hi,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Your overall credit score is determined by many variables, including your credit utilization rate. To indicate to lenders that you’re a responsible borrower, only carry a balance with a utilization of 30% or less. For example, if your credit limit is $1,000, keep your balance below $300, which is 30% of your limit. You can get helpful tips on this page on how to improve your credit score and how credit score works.

      While on this page, you can make use of our personal loan calculator to give you an idea.

      Best regards,
      Rench

  4. Default Gravatar
    BenitaAugust 16, 2017

    I have low credit score defaults and I’m on fixed income monthly I would like to and need to take a loan however these facts of plow credit score and defaults have not been approved and I do not have a bank account so how can I or will I qualify for a loan

    • Default Gravatar
      AshAugust 16, 2017

      Hi Benita,

      Thank you for reaching out to us.

      You can refer to these pages to compare your options for Personal Loans and Cash Loans.

      Before applying, kindly make sure that you have met the eligibility requirements of the Lender and have reviewed the details of the loan.

      I hope this information helps.

      Let us know if there is anything else that we may assist you with.

      Cheers,
      Ash

  5. Default Gravatar
    ChydikeMarch 24, 2017

    How can I borrow a loan for a small business?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      HaroldJuly 12, 2017Staff

      Hi Chydike,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      Should you need a business loan for you may want to consider the options here.

      I hope this information has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

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