At a time when investors are making record low interest rates of little more than 1-2%, there is an opportunity to earn much higher returns through peer-to-peer investing with Lending Club.
And for would-be borrowers, the news is almost as good. They can borrow money from Lending Club investors at rates generally below those offered by credit cards. They can do so without putting up collateral and without all the red tape that comes along with borrowing from a bank.
Note: A few years back Matt used Lending Club to consolidate his debt and has been investing with them ever since paying off that loan. Over the last three years he has averaged an interest rate of over 10% on his investments with Lending Club.
What is Lending Club
Lending Club is a “peer-to-peer” lending company, matching borrowers directly with lenders.
The model removes banks from the process, enabling the borrower to pay a lower interest rate, and the investor to earn a higher rate of return. The company is the first peer-to-peer lending organization to be registered with the Securities Exchange Commission.
The company began operations in 2007 and has originated over $1 billion in loans.
According the company’s website, the latest statistics–as of November 23, 2012–include:
- Loans funded to date: $1,348,306,700
- Interest paid to investors since inception: $114,375,168
77.32% of Lending Club borrowers report using their loans to consolidate debt or pay off their credit cards. Can I get an Amen?
How does Lending Club work
Both investors and borrowers can go to the Lending Club website, sign up and investigate the loan programs available, including loan requirements and grades, interest rates, terms and any other factors connected with the transaction.
Loans sizes range from $1,000 to $35,000 (the maximum loan amount), and are unsecured, personal loans. If a borrower is determined to be credit worthy, Lending Club assigns them a credit grade that determines the interest rate charged. Credit grades are determined by the borrower’s credit characteristics, including credit history and credit scores, loan amount and debt-to-income ratios.
Loan (or note) listings are provided on the Lending Club website that reveal the loan grade, loan amount, and loan purpose. Investors can choose loans to invest in from the listings, deciding, for example, what loan grades and interest rate terms they deem acceptable – then they can save the filters and use them later to find and fund more notes.
How investors benefit from Lending Club
According to the site, Lending Club has over 45,000 investors who have funded more than $1 billion in loans. And they have collected over $114 million in interest payments.
Lending Club Notes ($20,000 denominations) have a net annualized return that is determined by loan grade. For an A note, the net annualized return is 5.66%, ranging up to a G note with a return of 12.07%. The nominal average interest rate is 14.21%, with an average default rate 4%, and an average net annualized return of 9.64% (Matt is currently earning at 10.23%).
Lending Club itself makes money by charging a service fee to investors and a loan origination fee to borrowers, similar to points charged by a mortgage lender.
Investors start by opening a account with Lending Club and depositing their money. They then choose the loans they want, based on the expected rate of return on investment and the level of risk they’re comfortable with. Higher rate loans also carry higher risk, while lower risk loans offer lower interest rates.
How Borrowers benefit from Lending Club
Borrowers can borrow money through Lending Club for less than they’ll pay for most other loans. Since there’s no “middle man” in the Lending Club process, they can see a loan approval in less time and with much less documentation. Borrowers can get debt consolidation loans to pay off credit cards charging, say, 15% with a loan from Lending Club carrying a rate well under 10%.
Which is exactly what Matt did. He consolidated three credit cards and an auto loan, then paid it off in seven months.
Lending Club isn’t a “no other way” lender, and there are some stipulations that keep loans primarily to higher quality borrowers. According to the website, fewer than 10% of loan applications are approved. The credit standards are pretty stiff, with a minimum credit score of 660.
This is because Lending Club likes to deal with borrowers who are going to pay off the loans. Makes sense right?
Some statistics on the profile of the average borrower from the site:
- 715 FICO score
- 14.98% debt-to-income ratio (excluding mortgage)
- 15.21 years of credit history
- 68,831 personal income (top 10% of US population)
- Average Loan Size: $12,159
Even with the high credit standards required by the program, Lending Club offers tangible advantages for borrowers who do qualify.
As mentioned above, 77.32% of Lending Club borrowers report using their loans to consolidate debt or pay off their credit cards. How cool is that?