Best Bank Loans: Direct Lenders Compared

*Skip to Comparison*

Last Update: October 8th, 2016

Compare Bank Loans for Good Credit

About:

Lenders4U primarily covers loans for bad credit, but today we’ll be switching to prime that will see leading banks going head-to-head. In making this switch, this will enable us to compare pricing variations between prime and subprime lending products. Readers intent on credit repair can also get a good idea of what value is possible in the future. This comparison page contains not just the major high street banks, yet also new age banking arms of leading retail brands such as M&S and Tesco. We have also included Nationwide. They are a building society rather than a bank, but it isn’t possible to cover building societies individually since most offer mortgage lending only.

This has been one of the most interesting comparisons to compile since many of those featured command a notable profile alongside holding a rich history. Due to the fierce competitive nature held between several high flying banks, you do tend to see new promotional rates advertised on a frequent basis. These don’t change quite as often as they do though credit card deals, but even still it is likely that we’ll have to run more frequent comparison updates here to keep the content fresh. Uncovering the most competitive pricing is our priority today, but we’ll also take a good look at branch network sizes, customer bases, support days/times etc.

Dominance:

For personal loans, we researched Google’s Keyword Planner tool. Keyword data tallies were collected on how much volume their banking loan was being searched for via Google. Once collected, the top rankings came in as follows: 1) Tesco, 2) Sainsbury’s, 3) Barclays, 4) Santander, 5) Halifax, 6) NatWest, 7) HSBC, 8) Nationwide, 9) Lloyds and 10) M&S. The supermarket chains were dominant and Barclays and Santander were strong performers. It was surprising to see HSBC not ranked higher and RBS finished outside the list in 11th, although NatWest (a division of the Group) faired much better.

Assets and market capitalisation are useful performance measures. HSBC Holdings leads the British charge with a 9th ranking place for market cap and an incredible 3rd ranking position for assets. They are only edged out by 2 Chinese banking giants that highlights their credentials. The second best British performer is the Lloyds Banking Group (BOS, Halifax, Lloyds). Making up the Big Four, we have Barclays and the RBS Group (NatWest, RBS, Ulster). The Spanish giant Santander is also progressing well locally. On the retail side, Tesco is the world’s 3rd largest retailer by profit as well as being the UK’s leading supermarket chain with approx 28.5% market share. M&S was the first British retailer to generate a pre-tax profit of £1 billion.

Eligibility:

On the profile pages we reference fair-to-good credit. A lack of borrowing history or a few missed payments may be ok, but it is highly likely that a default and certainly a CCJ will trigger a decline. Self-employment also isn’t likely to be considered. Banks have of course been super-selective since the financial crisis and some people even struggle to get the green light on overdrafts. You have to remember though that these contracts are unsecured for chunky sums and so the lender has to be thorough. You’ll need to hold UK residency and be aged 18+. Then there is full time employment although there are commonly varying requirements on monthly wages. You’ll usually have to hold a current account with the bank that you are applying with or they may consider outsiders. Most are happy for you to switch across to them. Others don’t make this easy by adding limits such as 3 months before you can qualify for a loan.

Market Size:

We have compared 25 leading banks below. As was noted above, most building societies don’t offer personal loans that is a shame as it would have been interesting to compare each sector. It is worth highlighting that multiple products on this page could be issued by a single lender. As well as their primary brand, HSBC for instance issues loans through First Direct and M&S (the rights were purchased for £580 million). Some may share the same banking licence such as Clydesdale and Yorkshire. Then there are those who may lend through their own licence, but they are within the same family as other banks that may impact qualification within that group.

We Have Compared:
Cost (C1): Total cost of a £1000 loan over 1 and 2 years marked as (1) and (2). The rate of APR is also added in the notes area of each listing.
Cost (C10): As above, but for £10,000.
Customers (CUS): Total banking customers marked in millions. Worldwide tally shown like: (WC: 10).
High Street (HS): How many branches held in the UK. Worldwide tally shown like: (WB: 1000).
Operations (O): Listed opening days with times.
Qualify (Q): Qualification notes. ECO = Existing customers only.
Sums (S): How much can be borrowed.
Terms (T): The selectable repayments in months.

Notes:
– Listings are sorted alphabetically.
– Payout time varies. If you are applying for a loan with your own bank then you should be able to access immediate or next day funding. Otherwise, you’ll usually have to send signed documents and so it could take a week (or longer) before you get paid.
– Prices were taken for 1k and 10k examples since the top interest rates are always provided for sizeable loan sums.
– Profile listings (if clicked through) are commonly addressed as “First Name + Loans”. An example would be “Tesco Loans” rather than “Tesco Bank Loans”. The style that we use is how their product is mostly searched for online.
– To avoid information overload we have sidestepped payment holidays and login details below.

Best Bank Loans: Direct Lenders Compared:

Bank of Ireland UK (1783)
Bank of Ireland Loans
(C1): £96.40 (1) £127.80 (2)
(C10): £449 (1) £833 (2)
(CUS): ?
(HS): 35 (NI) | ? (ROI)
(O): Mon/Fri (8.30am/8pm), Sat (9am/2pm)
(Q): Northern Ireland residents only
(S): £1000 to £25,000
(T): 6 to 60
*19.9%. 10k rates differ as: 8.6% (1) 8.1% (2)
*For other UK regions see Post Office and The AA

Bank of Scotland (1695)
Bank of Scotland Loans
(C1): £149 (1) £298.40 (2)
(C10): £261.56 (1) £506.96 (2)
(CUS): 2.8
(HS): 294
(O): Mon/Friday (8am/10pm), Sat (9am/6pm), Sun (9.30am/5.30pm)
(Q): ECO (3 month switch)
(S): £1000 to £25,000
(T): 12 to 84
*29.9% and 4.9%. Same day funding

Barclays (1690)
Barclays Loans
(C1): NA (1) £230.88 (2)
(C10): NA (1) £506.90 (2)
(CUS): 15 (WC: 48)
(HS): 1500 (WB: 7000)
(O): Mon/Sun (8am/11pm) | 24/7 for existing customers
(Q): ECO
(S): £1000 to £50,000
(T): 24 to 60
*22.9% and 4.9%. Same day funding

Cahoot (2000)
Cahoot Loans
(C1): £105.32 (1) £208.88 (2)
(C10): £194.96 (1) £377.36 (2)
(CUS): 750k
(HS): Non
(O): Mon/Fri (8am/8pm), Sat (9am/5pm)
(Q): Same product for all
(S): £1000 to £20,000
(T): 12 to 60
*20.6% and 3.6%. Minimum age is 21

Clydesdale Bank (1838)
Clydesdale Bank Loans
(C1): £123.80 (1) £246.44 (2)
(C10): £182.28 (1) £352.49 (2)
(CUS): ? (2.7 across CB and YB)
(HS): 125
(O): Mon/Fri (8am/8pm), Sat (9am/5pm), Sun (10am/4pm)
(Q): Non-account holders must be 23+ and have a £15,000 wage
(S): £1000 to £25,000
(T): 12 to 60 (80 is possible)
*24.5% and 3.4%. 80 month term requires branch/phone application for £7500+ sums

Danske Bank (2012) (1809: Roots)
Danske Loans
(C1): £99.38 (1) £196.59 (2) | £101.80 (1) £201.51 (2)
(C10): £469.50 (1) £915.55 (2) | £495.17 (1) £966.30 (2)
(CUS): ? (WC: 5)
(HS): 80
(O): Mon/Fri (8am/8pm), Sat/Sun (9am/4.30pm)
(Q): Account holders pay less
(S): £1000 to £25,000
(T): 12 to 60
*19.4% and 8.9%. Existing: 19.9% and 9.4%

First Direct (1989)
First Direct Loans
(C1): £39.93 (1) £77.71 (2)
(C10): £184.41 (1) £356.62 (2)
(CUS): 1.3
(HS): Non
(O): 24/7
(Q): ECO
(S): £1000 to £25,000
(T): 12 to 84
*7.5% and 3.4%. Same day funding

Halifax (1853)
Halifax Loans
(C1): £149 (1) £298.40 (2)
(C10): £261.56 (1) £506.96 (2)
(CUS): 18
(HS): 800
(O): Mon/Sun (8am/10pm)
(Q): ECO (3 month switch)
(S): £1000 to £25,000
(T): 12 to 84
*29.9% and 4.9%. Same day funding

HSBC (1865)
HSBC Loans
(C1): £111.43 (1) £221.12 (2)
(C10): £176.98 (1) £342.17 (2)
(CUS): 16 (WC: 48)
(HS): 1100 (WB: 6100)
(O): Mon/Sun (8am/10pm)
(Q): Same product for all
(S): £1000 to £25,000
(T): 12 to 96
*21.9% and 3.3%. Same day funding

Ikano Bank UK (2013) (1994: Retail)
Ikano Loans
(C1): £62.24 (1) £122 (2)
(C10): £182.24 (1) £352.40 (2)
(CUS): ? (WC: ?)
(HS): 0 (WB: ?)
(O): Mon/Fri (8.30am/9pm), Sat (8.30am/8.30pm), Sun (10am/1pm)
(Q): Same product for all
(S): £1000 to £15,000
(T): 12 to 60
*11.9% and 3.4%. Next working day funds

Lloyds Bank (1765)
Lloyds Loans
(C1): £138.08 (1) £275.84 (2)
(C10): £263.96 (1) £511.76 (2)
(CUS): 11
(HS): 1000
(O): Mon/Sun (8am/10pm)
(Q): ECO (3 month switch)
(S): £1000 to £25,000
(T): 12 to 84
*27.5% and 4.9%. Same day funding

M&S Bank (1985) (1884: Retail)
M&S Loans
(C1): £95.48 (1) £188.48 (2) | £94.88 (1) and £187.52 (2)
(C10): £187.40 (1) £362.72 (2) | Matched
(CUS): Not disclosed
(HS): 29 | 800 (retail)
(O): Mon/Fri (8am/9pm), Sat (8am/7pm), Sun (10am/6pm)
(Q): Account holders pay less at 1k
(S): £1000 to £25,000
(T): 12 to 84
*18.6% and 3.5%. Existing: 18.5% and 3.5%

Metro Bank (2010)
Metro Loans
(C1): NA
(C10): £417.96 (1) £813.83 (2)
(CUS): 500k
(HS): 39
(O): 24/7
(Q): ECO
(S): £2000 to £25,000
(T): 12 to 60
*7.9%

Nationwide (1970) (1846: Roots)
Nationwide Loans
(C1): £77.77 (1) £152.97 (2) | £72.32 (1) £141.92 (2)
(C10): £245.74 (1) £476.09 (2) | £182.24 (1) £352.40 (2)
(CUS): 14
(HS): 700
(O): Mon/Fri (8am/8pm), Sat (9am/5pm)
(Q): Account holders pay less
(S): £1000 to £25,000
(T): 12 to 84
*15% and 4.6%. Existing: 13.9% and 3.4%. Next working day funds

NatWest (1968) (1658: Roots)
NatWest Loans
(C1): £116.24 (1) £230.96 (2)
(C10): £261.32 (1) £506.48 (2)
(CUS): 7.5 (8.35 with business accounts)
(HS): 1600
(O): Mon/Fri (8am/8pm), Sat (9am/6pm)
(Q): ECO
(S): £1000 to £25,000 | £35,000 (branch)
(T): 12 to 84 (120 for home improvement)
*22.9% and 4.9%. Next working day funds

RBS (1727)
RBS Loans
(C1): £116.24 (1) £230.96 (2)
(C10): £261.32 (1) £506.48 (2)
(CUS): 8 (WC: 14.5)
(HS): 700
(O): Mon/Fri (8am/8pm), Sat (9am/6pm)
(Q): ECO
(S): £1000 to £25,000 | £35,000 (branch)
(T): 12 to 84 (120 for home improvement)
*22.9% and 4.9%. Next working day funds

Sainsbury’s Bank (1997) (1869: Retail)
Sainsbury's Loans
(C1) £65.24 (1) £128 (2) | £64.76 (1) £127.04 (2)
(C10) £171.68 (1) £331.76 (2) | £166.40 (1) £321.44 (2)
(CUS): 1.7
(HS): Non | 1100 (retail)
(O): Mon/Fri (8am/10pm), Sat (8.30am/6pm), Sun (9.30am/5.30pm)
(Q): Nectar card holders pay less
(S): £1000 to £40,000
(T): 12 to 84
*12.5% and 3.2%. Nectar: 12.4% and 3.1%

Santander UK (2010) (1849: Roots)
Santander Loans
(C1): £107.72 (1) £213.68 (2) | £105.32 (1) £208.88 (2)
(C10): £237.32 (1) £459.68 (2) | £210.92 (1) £408.08 (2)
(CUS): 14 (WC: 102)
(HS): 1300 (WB: 15,000)
(O): Mon/Fri (8am/9pm), Sat (8am/4pm)
(Q): 123/Select account holders pay less
(S): £1000 to £20,000
(T): 12 to 60
*21.1% and 4.4%. 123/Select: 20.6% and 3.9%. Minimum age is 21

Smile (1999)
Smile Loans
(C1): NA
(C10): £287.84 (1) £558.32 (2)
(CUS): 500k
(HS): Non
(O): 24/7
(Q): ECO (1 month switch)
(S): £2000 to £25,000
(T): 12 to 60 (84 by request)
*5.4%. Minimum age is 21

Tesco Bank (1997) (1919: Retail)
Tesco Loans
(C1): £94.40 (1) £186.56 (2) | £92.48 (1) £182.72 (2)
(C10): £187.52 (1) £362.72 (2) | £182.24 (1) £352.40 (2)
(CUS): 7.6
(HS): Non | 3370 (retail)
(O): Mon/Fri (8am/8pm), Sat/Sun (9am/5pm)
(Q): Clubcard holders pay less
(S): £1000 to £35,000
(T): 12 to 120
*18.4% and 3.5%. Clubcard: 18% and 3.4%
*Prices with £50 next day courier service. 1k: £142.28 (C1), £232.72 (C2), £144.40 (N1), £236.56 (N2). For 10k: £232.24 (C1), £402.40 (C2), £237.52 (N1), £412.72 (N2)

The Co-operative Bank (1872)
Co-op Loans
(C1): NA
(C10): £287.84 (1) £558.32 (2)
(CUS): 8 (across all sectors)
(HS): 300 | 4900 (retail)
(O): 24/7
(Q): ECO (1 month switch)
(S): £2000 to £25,000
(T): 12 to 84
*5.4%

TSB Bank (2013) (1810: Roots)
TSB Loans
(C1): £132.92 (1) £265.28 (2)
(C10): £211.28 (1) £408.80 (2)
(CUS): 4.6
(HS): 630
(O): Mon/Sun (8am/10pm)
(Q): ECO (3 month switch)
(S): £1000 to £25,000
(T): 12 to 84
*26.4% and 3.9%. Same day funding

Ulster Bank (1836)
Ulster Bank Loans
(C1): £116.24 (1) £230.96 (2)
(C10): £340.16 (1) £660.80 (2)
(CUS): 1.9
(HS): 70 (NI) | 130 (ROI)
(O): Mon/Fri (8.30am/7.30pm), Sat (9am/2pm)
(Q): ECO (6 month switch)
(S): £1000 to £25,000
(T): 12 to 84 (120 for home improvement)
*22.9% and 6.4%. Next working day funds

Wesleyan Bank (1993) (1841: Roots)
Wesleyan Loans
(C1): £72.32 (1) £141.92 (2)
(C10): £412.76 (1) £803.60 (2)
(CUS): Not disclosed
(HS): Non
(O): Mon/Fri (8am/6pm)
(Q): Same product for all
(S): £1000 to £25,000
(T): 12 to 84
*13.9% and 7.8%
*Prices with CHAPS after forms. £87.32, £156.92, £427.76, £818.60.

Yorkshire Bank (1859)
Yorkshire Bank Loans
(C1): £123.80 (1) £246.44 (2)
(C10): £182.28 (1) £352.49 (2)
(CUS): ? (2.7 across CB and YB)
(HS): 165
(O): Mon/Fri (8am/8pm), Sat (9am/5pm), Sun (10am/4pm)
(Q): Non-account holders must be 23+ and have a £15,000 wage
(S): £1000 to £25,000
(T): 12 to 60 (80 is possible)
*24.5% and 3.4%. 80 month term requires branch/phone application for £7500+ sums

Comparison Insights:

Cheapest Bank Loans (/£1000 for 1 and 2 Years):

1) First Direct: £39.93 (1) £77.71 (2) | (0.011%)
2) Ikano: £62.24 (1) £122 (2) | (0.017%)
3) Sainsbury’s: £64.76 (1) £127.04 (2) | (0.018%/0.017%)
4) Nationwide: £72.32 (1) £141.92 (2) | (0.020%/0.019%)
5) Wesleyan: £72.32 (1) £141.92 (2) | (0.020%/0.019%)

Cheapest Bank Loans (/£10,000 for 1 and 2 Years):

1) Sainsbury’s: £166.40 (1) £321.44 (2) | (0.005%/0.004%)
2) HSBC: £176.98 (1) £342.17 (2) | (0.005%)
3) Ikano: £182.24 (1) £352.40 (2) | (0.005%)
4) Nationwide: £182.24 (1) £352.40 (2) | (0.005%)
5) Tesco: £182.24 (1) £352.40 (2) | (0.005%)

Notes: Daily interest rates are shown to 3DP. The best available prices are listed above (for banking customers, loyalty card holders etc).

Just to point out that since we compiled this comparison page, several banks have changed their prices and so this list has continually changed. What has remained clear is that First Direct are way ahead for those looking for £1000. Sainsbury’s has faced competition at £10,000, but they remain in the top spot and they importantly provide the cheapest APR of every lender studied (3.1%).

Customer Base: Halifax

Halifax has incredibly notched up 18 million customers. In their early days they were the market leading building society and today they have been one of the most successful banks for current account switching. Their Group is also the largest mortgage and savings account provider. They aren’t as visible on the high street as their rivals though with 800 branches. The local customer base of HSBC is 16 million and they have 48 million worldwide. Barclays interestingly also has 48 million worldwide, but their UK tally is a little smaller at 15 million. Santander are certainly a rising force in British banking. They have already attracted 14 million locally and they boast the largest worldwide tally of 102 million. Nationwide matches their 14 million user base.

Customer Support on Sunday: Barclays, BOS, Clydesdale, Danske, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Ikano, Lloyds, M&S, Metro, Nationwide (Existing), Sainsbury’s, Smile, Tesco, The Co-operative, TSB, Yorkshire

All of those listed provide phone support on Sundays. One minor point is that Nationwide only offers Mon-Fri help for first time applicants, but for existing customers their phones are manned 24/7. Whilst loan applications may be processed on Sundays, most of those listed require documents by post. BOI’s Post Office/The AA open 7/7.

Customer Support Provided 24/7: Barclays (Existing), First Direct, Metro, Nationwide (Existing), Smile, The Co-operative

Less banks as you can see provide customer support around the clock. Barclays and Nationwide are only 24/7 for existing customers.

Easy Qualification for New Customers: Cahoot, Danske, HSBC, Ikano, M&S, Nationwide, Santander, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Wesleyan

No need to be an existing customer with the above banks. Plus BOI’s Post Office/The AA.

Experience: NatWest

NatWest dates back further than anyone. They were formed in 1968, but through past merges their origins head back to the year 1658 through the Smith’s Bank of Nottingham. The oldest survivor is Barclays (1690). Also of note is BOS (1695), RBS (1727) and Lloyds (1765). This year (2015) Lloyds celebrated their 250th year in operation. This is an incredible feat and yet they aren’t even one of the very oldest banks here that highlights just how much experience is held across this market.

Flexibility: Tesco

Tesco offers the widest spread of repayment options from 12 up to 120 months (1 to 10 years). The RBS brands (NatWest, RBS, Ulster) also offer 120 months, but this is when the loan is taken for home improvement purposes only (otherwise the limit is 84). HSBC also offers a notable term limit of 96 months. Across the wider sector the norm is maxed at 84 months (7 years). The importance of terms at this level (and beyond) is critical if you are borrowing a chunky loan sum such as £20,000. With all of the products compared, you should be able to settle up at any time.

High Street Network: Post Office/BOI

BOI essentially now has the largest network since they lend for the Post Office who has 11,500 shops. The big banks run as: NatWest (1600), Barclays (1500), Santander (1300), HSBC (1100) and Lloyds (1000). Collectively, the RBS Group has 2500 and the Lloyds Banking Group has just over 2000. On the worldwide stage, Santander has 15,000, Barclays has 7000 and HSBC has 6100. Factoring branches across sectors, The Co-operative has 4900 although only 300 of these are banking outlets. Tesco also has a sizeable network of 3370 retail shops.

Same Day Loans: Barclays, BOS, Clydesdale, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds, TSB, Yorkshire

We are covering web to payout here and not branch to payout. Speed is an important service feature and fortunately there are several options to choose between. It is important to note that you will need to hold a current account with them or be willing to join. It is easy enough for them to initiate same day turnarounds since they already have all of the essential details on the user’s financial circumstances, their work etc through the held current account. This makes it easy for them to make the funds available immediately after approval. 24/7 Same day bank loans are available from Barclays and First Direct. The others noted all operate 7/7 and so you can receive same day loans on Sundays with all parties. Applications will have to be approved during operational hours. Underwriting times may slightly differ to customer support hours. You can switch current accounts to the 24/7 solutions (Barclays and First Direct) with ease since there are no switching delay periods imposed. The process should however be smoother with Barclays since they have 1500 UK branches that you can head into with your ID, passport etc to run through the switch.

Sums (Smallest): Most Are Matched

A wide selection of banks start at £1000. No one heads lower than this.

Sums (Largest When New): Barclays

The Barclayloan has the highest potential sum of £50,000. However, to qualify you must hold a current account with them. Sainsbury’s offers £40,000 and there is no need to hold an account on that side.

Sums (Largest When Returning): Barclays

As above.