Best mortgage lenders 2021 UK: Find the best bank for a mortgage
Discover the best bank for a mortgage in the UK using real customer reviews from our customer satisfaction survey.
There are thousands of mortgage deals available from more than 100 mortgage lenders in the UK but the best lender for you is determined by what you’re looking for, your financial situation and which lenders are offering the best deals at the time.
What's in this guide?
- Best mortgage lenders for customer satisfaction in 2021
- Customer satisfaction ratings methodology
- Best first-time buyer mortgage lenders
- Best remortgage lenders
- Flexible and offset mortgages
- Best lenders for specialist mortgages
- Best lenders for buy-to-let mortgages
- Largest lenders by market share
- The biggest mortgage lenders
- Who are the best mortgage lenders? A summary
- How to find the best mortgage lender?
- Best mortgage lenders in the UK by customer satisfaction: A summary
Mortgage lenders can be banks, building societies or specialist lenders and no one type is better than the others. The differences between what they offer mainly come down to cost, the types of borrowers they lend to and their lending criteria but these will all change over time.
The biggest lenders in the UK are Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group (including Halifax), Nationwide Building Society, NatWest Group (including Royal Bank of Scotland) and Santander (according to the latest UK Finance data for 2019).
Although you might like the idea of going with a well-known brand or the one you bank with, if you want to get the best deal you should look at the whole mortgage market. A mortgage broker can help you do this and will have access to deals not available directly from lenders.
Best mortgage lenders for customer satisfaction in 2021
|Overall satisfaction||Customers who’d recommend||Issuer||Review|
|★★★★★||88%||As the UK’s second largest mortgage provider, the building society offers a wide number of products, mainly with fixed rates. Founded in 1846 as a mutual financial institution, Nationwide is run for the benefit of its members, and consistently ranks highly for customer service.||Compare with broker|
|★★★★★||91%||Lloyds offers an extensive number of mortgages, which are predominantly fixed term deals lasting two, five or 10 years. It currently lends on loan-to-value (LTV) ratios of up to 90% and is recommended by nine out of 10 customers in our survey.||Compare with broker|
|★★★★★||88%||NatWest is part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group and has a range of mortgages available, including offset products. Its online features and levels of service were praised by some of the customers in our survey.||Compare with broker|
|★★★★★||88%||The UK’s biggest bank is not one of the UK’s biggest mortgage lenders, with fewer specialist products in its range. But HSBC does offer fixed term mortgages at rates that are consistently among the most competitive.||Compare with broker|
|★★★★★||88%||Now part of Lloyds Banking Group, Halifax offers one of the largest number of mortgages from a single lender, particularly in the fixed-rate space. Not always the top ranked for competitive rates, the bank does poll well for customer service.||Compare with broker|
|★★★★★||87%||This bank mainly offers fixed rate mortgages, along with some tracker products. Barclays often has leading rates, and 87% of the customers we surveyed would also recommend the lender to a friend.||Compare with broker|
|★★★★★||84%||Santander is another provider offering mostly fixed rate mortgages, and often it ranks highly in best-rates tables. The bank’s customer service performance also generally polls well, reflected in the 84% ‘would recommend’ score in our survey.||Compare with broker|
|★★★★★||80%||Virgin Money first began operating as a bank in 2010, developing its mortgage and saving products before its current account. Predominantly online-based, in 2019 the lender was the first in the UK to launch a 15-year fixed term mortgage.||Compare with broker|
|★★★★★||78%||The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is part of the same banking group as NatWest. It has a decent number of mortgage products available, which are mainly fixed terms products, although it doesn’t often have the most competitive rates.||Compare with broker|
|★★★★★||83%||Relative newcomer Habito launched in 2015. It’s a digital-only, whole of the market mortgage broker, which means not only does it have access to mortgages from all different UK lenders, the application process can be carried out online.||Compare with broker|
|★★★★★||77%||Mojo is another online mortgage broker, which works with more than 90 lenders, to give its users access to a range of different mortgage products in the market.||Visit broker|
|★★★★★||76%||L&C is the country’s largest fee-free mortgage broker. With access to over 90 lenders, it’s able to advise on a vast choice of mortgages depending on a borrower’s personal circumstances.||Visit broker|
Customer satisfaction ratings methodology
We asked mortgage holders to rate their satisfaction with the service they had received from their lender, and also whether they would recommend their mortgage provider to a friend. Our independent survey of 893 mortgage customers was carried out in December 2020 – read full details of our methodology here.
We have shown all the star ratings and recommendation scores for the brands listed in the table above, and used these results to decide the winners of our awards (if there was a draw on the star ratings score, we used the “would recommend” percentage as a tie-breaker).
★★★★★ — Excellent
★★★★★ — Good
★★★★★ — Average
★★★★★ — Subpar
★★★★★ — Poor
Best first-time buyer mortgage lenders
You can usually borrow up to 90% LTV but there are specific mortgage products designed for first-time buyers that allow you to get help from family members, usually parents, to borrow up to 100% LTV.
Depending on the product, your parents either use a proportion of the equity in their home or put some of their savings aside as security for the loan, usually to the value of 10% or 20% of the amount you are borrowing.
The charge over their property or their savings can be released after a period of time if certain criteria are met.
As this security is to cover any shortfall if the property has to be repossessed and sold, your parents’ home or savings could be at risk so they should think carefully and take independent legal advice before going ahead.
Most of the lenders offering these mortgages are building societies, which currently include Buckinghamshire, Mansfield and Tipton & Coseley. Barclays’ Family Springboard Mortgage also lets family or friends use their savings to help you borrow 100% LTV to buy a property.
Best remortgage lenders
Lenders offer specific deals for remortgaging (when you switch to a new mortgage deal at the end of your current one). They may offer free valuation and legal fees to encourage you to switch to them but, as always, you should always look at the total cost of the deal over the initial period when comparing them.
Big names you might find offering good remortgage deals include First Direct, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Virgin Money.
Flexible and offset mortgages
Truly flexible mortgages let you overpay your mortgage to save on interest and then underpay or take payment holidays if you need to, although many regular mortgages will let you overpay by a certain amount each year.
Lenders offering flexible mortgages include Accord Mortgages, Chelsea Building Society, Scottish Building Society and Yorkshire Building Society but you may have to pay slightly more for them so you should only take one out if you will use the flexible features.
Offset mortgages let you offset your savings against your mortgage debt so you pay interest on less. This either allows you to make smaller mortgage payments each month or pay your mortgage off early while still having access to your savings if you need them, although they won’t earn interest.
Lenders to consider for offset mortgages include Barclays, Coventry Building Society, First Direct, Scottish Widows and Yorkshire Building Society.
Best lenders for specialist mortgages
If your situation makes it difficult for you to get a regular mortgage – you have a poor credit history for example – you may be able to get a specialist mortgage designed for this purpose, either from a specialist lender or a mainstream one. As your circumstances are likely to be more complex, it’s best to speak to a mortgage broker to find the best deal.
Best lenders for buy-to-let mortgages
If you need a mortgage to buy a property to let as an investment, you’ll need a buy-to-let mortgage. These require a bigger deposit than residential mortgages – 20% to 40% – and usually have higher interest rates and fees. They tend to be taken out on an interest-only basis.
There are specialist buy-to-let lenders but many mainstream lenders offer them, including Barclays, NatWest, Santander and TSB.
Largest lenders by market share
|Mortgage lender||Market share|
|Lloyds Banking Group||15.6%|
|Nationwide Building Society||14.4%|
|Royal Bank of Scotland||12.9%|
|Coventry Building Society||3.7%|
|Yorkshire Building Society||2.9%|
The biggest mortgage lenders
For some time, the UK mortgage market has been dominated by six banks. These are Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide, RBS, Santander, Barclays and HSBC. These six lenders are often known as the “big six”.
In 2018, these six lenders accounted for almost 70% of mortgage lending in the UK.
Who are the best mortgage lenders? A summary
While there is no universal measure of what makes a “best” lender, we believe these lenders stand out from the others.
- L&C: Best mortgage broker
- Halifax: Best for residential mortgages
- HSBC: Best for remortgaging
- First Direct: Best for online customer service
- Newcastle Building Society: Best for first time buyers
- Leeds Building Society: Best for buy-to-let
- Lloyds Bank: Best for low income or low deposit
- Halifax: Best for retirement
Choosing the “best” lender is more about which one offers what you need and what’s important to you.
However, there are definitely qualities that mortgage-hunters typically look for in a lender – such as low-interest rates, low fees and generous terms. Many consumers also want lenders with a great track record in customer service.
In spite of our recommendations, it’s important to do your own research to learn which lenders will work best with your situation.
Many people will search for the best mortgage deal through price comparison websites. These websites will list the cheapest deals based on the criteria you select. However, some lenders don’t appear on these websites and some price comparison websites prioritise affiliate lenders, even if they’re not the best.
Alternatively, you could use a mortgage broker. This individual has expert knowledge of mortgage providers’ lending criteria, which could be invaluable if you have a low income or have unique circumstances. They’ll search for the best deal on your behalf, including those that are only available through broker services, so you can feel confident about being recommended a deal that you’ll actually be approved for. You’ll pay a fee for their services though.
How to find the best mortgage lender?
- Decide on a mortgage type. First, decide whether a fixed rate mortgage or variable rate mortgage is more suited to your plans and budget. This is also a good time to find out what your credit score is and know what loans are available to you. Learn more about credit scores and mortgages.
- Compare different lenders for different mortgages. Compare what different banks and lenders are offering for your chosen loan type and deposit amount. It is also important to always get more than one quote when looking for a mortgage. This will ensure you get a good mix of options from different types of lenders.
- Ask for a key facts illustration. A lender must give you a mortgage estimate by law. This will show you interest rates, repayment costs and closing costs for your potential mortgage. Some lenders also have a mortgage calculator feature on their website where you can receive a quick quote.
- Repeat until you find a mortgage you want. It’s normal to ask for estimates from more than one lender until you find a mortgage you’re happy with.
Best mortgage lenders in the UK by customer satisfaction: A summary
|Mortgage lender||Customers who’d recommend||Rank|
|Royal Bank of Scotland||57%||7|
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