If you are someone with an outstanding credit card debt, you may be able to cut your interest payments significantly by applying for a loan from a credit club.
Interest rates may have been ultra low levels for quite some time, but not for everyone. They have been near zero for Wall Street, where hedge funds can borrow at record low rates to finance all sorts of carry trades. They have been in low single digits for qualified homeowners who can roll over their mortgages at lower rates.
But not for non-qualified homeowners and people with a large outstanding credit loans, which can run north of 25%.
That’s certainly a lucrative business for credit card companies. But with the gap between savings rates and credit card rates so wide, there is plenty of room for peer-to-peer lending whereby people with excess funds can lend money directly to people short of funds.
And credit clubs like Lendingclub (NYSE:LC), which went public last week, provide the platform for the efficient and effective matching of the two sides, helping cut interest payments for borrowers substantially, depending on credit scores.
Here is how it usually works.
You fill in an on-line application with a credit club, which presents it to possible lenders. Once lenders accept your offer, the funds are transferred to your bank, so you can pay your credit balance. Then, the lending club collects the interest payments from you and passes them on to savers, collecting a fee from both sides.
Credit clubs and peer-to-peer lending aren’t a new idea. Nonetheless, the huge gap between savings rates and consumer loan rates and the growth of the Internet have created the right conditions and circumstances for credit clubs to compete effectively against traditional financial intermediaries like banks and credit unions. Unlike banks, credit clubs do not have a huge bureaucracy that consumes the difference between lending and borrowing rates. And they can pit peer lenders against each other to cut lending rates.