Wow, here’s an interesting promotion from person-to-person lender Lending Club. They are currently offering a 5% cash bonus if you lend $5,000 or more by February 3, 2008 for both new and existing lenders on top of their $25/$50 sign-up bonus. Here are the details from their announcement:
You will qualify for the bonus by lending $5,000 or more to borrowers between December 14th, 2007 and February 3rd, 2008 (at 11:59PM Pacific time). Your bonus will be 5% of the amount you lend.
For example, if you lend $7,500 Lending Club will credit your Lending Club account with $7,500 * 5% or $375. Funds count as lent once a portfolio (or portfolios) is submitted during the aforementioned eligibility period. The loans do not have to be issued by February 3rd to qualify.
We will notify you of the amount of your bonus by the end of day, Friday, February 8th, 2008, and your account will be credited with your lending bonus by Friday, February 15th, 2008. No special sign-up or tracking is required ? we will run reports on the system to determine bonuses. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask about your bonus.
[...] Lenders can each earn a maximum payout of $20,000 (if they lend $400,000).
A 5% bonus definitely grabbed my interest again after making a few initial test loans. If you haven’t already, check out my LendingClub review to learn more about their setup for person-to-person lending.
At first I got all excited since banks are only paying 5% interest themselves, but then I remembered that LendingClub loans are spread out over 3 years, so it’s not like you are getting a 5% interest bonus each year (that would be sweet!). Instead, 5% spread out over 3 years is like adding roughly an additional 1.65% annual interest to the existing rate set by LendingClub. (Actually, since the 5% is given upfront, it would actually boost your returns even more.) But remember, these are unsecured loans similar to credit cards, and there is a risk of principal loss. Is that cushion worth putting in $5,000 in?
So far all of my existing loans with LendingClub are rated a safe A3-A4 (7.75 to 8.07%). Given that their minimum allowable credit score is 640, and their credit grades run all the way from A1, A2, A3 to G3, G4, G5, I would estimate that such people have credit scores well over 700 as well as other positive criteria like a reasonable debt-to-income ratio. Therefore, I would love so see my return increase to a 9.4 to 10.72% return on high-quality loans. With $5,000 available to spread across 200 loans ($25 each), that would also smooth out the default risk from a few bad loans.
Lending $5,000 for 3 years is a lot of money, but this is the best person-to-person lending deal I’ve found. Hmm… very tempting!