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Most lenders can approve and fund your loan within a couple of hours up to a couple of days. While each application is different, the type of lender you borrow from tends to affect your turnaround time more than anything else.
Nowadays, lenders generally approve or disapprove applications using an algorithm, rather than a human being who assesses your situation (known as an underwriter). A common exception to this rule is non-standard (read “bad credit”) loans, where specialist lenders look at more than just your credit score and may even want to chat over the phone before getting out their “approved” stamp.
Most personal loan applications will take less than 15 minutes, regardless of whether you’re applying for a regular personal loan or a short-term loan. However, the precise time it takes to complete a loan application will vary between different lenders, and will also be affected by the personal details and documents you need to provide as part of the process.
Once your application has been given the green light, the actual funding is simply a question of how quick the lender’s processes are – for example whether they can transfer funds on a non-business day. This varies based on the type of loan you’ve applied for, and the lender itself:
Typically funded in: 30 minutes – 2 business days (existing customers); 2-5 business days (new customers).
UK banks don’t have the best reputation for efficient customer service, especially if you catch them outside of the hours 9-5, Monday to Friday. However, getting a loan from the same bank that holds your current account may actually be the fastest option available to you.
The bank has already verified your identity, and if you have a good track record with it, you may in fact already be effectively pre-approved for loans up to a certain amount. If you apply through your online banking or app, then a good bank should auto-complete much of the application form on your behalf, and you could receive the funds in a matter of minutes. If you opt for a big bank that you aren’t an existing customer of, then the process is likely to take a couple of working days.
All sound pretty good? Well, the trouble is the big banks also don’t have a good reputation for offering competitive rates – after all they’re probably hoping that loyal customers simply won’t shop around for better deals elsewhere.
Typically funded in: 1-5 business days.
Credit unions are an alternative to traditional banks and high-street lenders, and offer similar products and application processes. However, unlike a regular bank, credit unions are non-profit financial institutions designed to benefit its members, and you may receive more personalised customer service.
You can generally apply for a credit union loan online or at a branch. When you apply for a loan through a credit union, you’ll generally have to complete an application similar to those required by the big banks. This means it’s likely to take anywhere from 1-5 business days to apply and get approved for a credit union loan.
It can then take up to a couple of weeks for your credit union to fund your loan.
Typically funded in: 1 hour – 1 business day.
These companies are all about a “friction-free” user journey, and have carved out a space in the market by being faster and cheaper than the big banks. They also know that a significant number of their customers will apply for a loan after work, so many – but not all – can issue loans outside of normal working hours.
Expect a slick application process, an instant decision and fast funding.
Typically funded in: 30 minutes – 1 week.
Peer-to-peer lenders involve a platform (read “website”) where lenders and borrowers are brought together to invest or borrow money at bank-beating rates – at least that’s the theory.
Again, you can expect a slick application process and an instant decision, but funding times can vary hugely, depending on the platform’s business model. While some peer-to-peer platforms pool investor funds and then dip into that general pool to issue loans, others match a single investor with a single borrower (anonymously) – in which case the borrower has to wait for a willing investor to come along.
Typically funded in: 1 business day – 2 weeks.
Guarantor loans almost always involve a human underwriter assessing applications, rather than an algorithm alone.
There are a few extra hoops to jump through since there are really two people applying together, but it’s important to understand that how long a guarantor loan takes to turn around largely comes down to how organised the applicant and guarantor are. One lender we spoke to said they could fund a loan in 45 minutes. If you’ve prepped your guarantor beforehand, and both you and your guarantor are available to respond to any communications from the lender, you’ll be in for a much quicker turnaround time.
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