How long does it take to get a personal loan?

It can take anywhere from an hour to a couple of weeks, depending on the type of loan and lender you go with.

Late repayments can cause you serious money problems. See our debt help guides.

How long does it take to get a loan?

Most lenders can fund your loan within a couple of hours up to a couple of days if you’re approved. While each application is different, the type of lender you borrow from tends to affect your turnaround time more than anything else.

How long does it take to get approved for a personal loan?

Nowadays, it can take as little as a few minutes to get approved for a loan, depending on the lender and loan type. 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 or secured loans, where lenders will need to check the value of your collateral.

How long does a personal loan application take?

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.

How long does it take for a loan to go into my account?

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:

Loans from a major bank

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.

Loans from a credit union

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.

Loans from an online-only direct lender

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.

Loans from a peer-to-peer (P2P) lender

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.

Guarantor loans

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.

What affects the turnaround time on a personal loan?

  • The hours in which the lender funds loans. Some lenders only fund loans during business hours.
  • How prepared you are. If a lender needs to chat with you over the phone or needs to see supporting documentation, then how quickly you respond will have a bearing on the funding time.
  • How “standard” your situation is. If your application is pretty typical, chances are it can be approved by an algorithm. For non-standard situations, an underwriter might need to get involved, which can increase the turnaround time.
  • Your source of income. If you’re self-employed, receive a significant part of your income in benefits or in cash, then the lender might need to take a closer look at your accounts.

What documents will I need when I apply?

5 tips to speed up the application process

  1. Check the lender’s eligibility requirements. Applying for a loan you don’t qualify for means you’ll spend more time trying to find a loan in the long run. Also, if your lender uses a hard credit check, it will temporarily lower your credit score. Look for “eligibility checker” facilities, which can give you a good indication of your chances before you apply.
  2. Look for details of the lender’s turnaround time. Loan companies love to shout about how fast they are, but just be aware that you may need to dig a little deeper to find out the reality behind the marketing speak. If in doubt –
  3. Ask questions. Not sure what details to include where? Asking a customer service representative can ensure you don’t make mistakes that could slow down your application. Plenty of lenders now also have a live-chat feature.
  4. Have your information on hand. Find out what details and documents the lender will ask for and gather them up before starting the application. Having the exact numbers for your salary and monthly outgoings to hand can cut down on the time it takes to fill out the application.
  5. Consider using a connection service if you have bad credit. Bad-credit borrowers might have a harder time finding a lender that considers them eligible. Some online connection services can help you “prequalify” with multiple lenders even if you have a low credit score.

Frequently asked questions

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables has the source: Moneyfacts Group PLC. In other cases, Finder has sourced data directly from providers.
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Head of publishing

Chris Lilly is Head of publishing at finder.com. He's a specialist in personal finance, from day-to-day banking to investing to borrowing, and is passionate about helping UK consumers make informed decisions about their money. In his spare time Chris likes forcing his kids to exercise more. See full bio

Chris's expertise
Chris has written 611 Finder guides across topics including:
  • Loans & credit cards
  • Building credit
  • Financial health

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