How to apply for a loan
This page provides helpful information about why customers take out loans, eligibility, and the overall application process.
A loan can be the most cost effective way to raise funds in certain circumstances. However it's worth keeping in mind that loans accrue interest, which is added to the original amount you borrow.
Whichever option you choose, do your research, and remember you can get in touch with one of our support team via branch, telephone or web chat to talk about a loan from The Co-operative Bank.
Why take out a loan?
Loans can be suitable for larger, one-off purchases like cars or home improvements. Taking out a loan and spreading the repayments over a manageable time period may be a good way of budgeting.
For smaller amounts that you can afford to pay back in less than 12 months, however, an overdraft or credit card may be a cheaper option.
Loans can also be useful if your needs are time-sensitive. For example, if you have an unexpected, one-off payment to make for a home repair.
But if things can wait until you’ve saved enough money, a loan may be unnecessary.
Consolidating existing borrowing
If you are currently using several different forms of borrowing — such as overdraft, loans or credit cards — bringing them together with a consolidation loan could simplify your financial situation and let you keep better control over repayments.
This may make managing your finances simpler and could lower your monthly costs, but you may end up paying back more in the long term, especially if the interest rate of your consolidation loan is higher than your current borrowing.
Before you apply
The Co-operative Bank doesn't offer financial advice about which products or services will meet your needs. So we recommend that you carefully consider all options, as well as your personal circumstances, before making a decision.
The most important thing to think about is whether you can afford to repay your loan.
Borrowing more than you need means you’ll pay more interest than necessary.
Borrowing more than you can afford also means you may struggle to pay back your loan.
If you’re unsure, use our loan calculator to get an idea of what your monthly repayments could be.
Then follow the steps below:
Make sure you're eligible
Our eligibility criteria are simple.
Before you apply, double-check the following are correct:
- You're 18 or over.
- You're a UK resident.
- You're earning a minimum Gross Annual Income (GAI) of £10,000.
- You're an existing customer having held a Co-operative Bank or smile current account for at least 7 months (Cashminder, Student and Pathfinder accounts are not eligible).
- You've not had any County Court Judgements (CCJs), entered into any Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) or Trust Deeds nor been declared bankrupt within the last 6 years.
- You're not in arrears or have not missed more than 2 payments on any credit agreement in the last six months.
- At least one applicant must be Employed full time, part time, self-employed or retired.
- Consolidating an existing Co-operative Bank loan is subject to having made at least 6 repayments on your present loan.
- To apply for a joint loan account, both applicants must be aged 18 or over, UK residents and reside at the same address.
Check your credit score
We use credit scoring as part of the loan application process. Checking your credit report — and rectifying any errors or issues — before applying may improve your chances of being offered a loan.
The application process
It should take around 10 minutes to apply for a Co-operative Bank loan. During this time, we’ll ask you for the following information.
- Your home address(es) from the last three years.
- Your bank account details (sort code and account number).
- Your employer's name and address (if applicable).
- Your monthly income and outgoings.
- Details of any Co-operative Bank accounts you may hold.
- Once we receive your application, we’ll assess your credit history and financial situation. We’ll then use this information to make our lending decision.
What happens next?
The first thing our team will do is process your application and confirm your eligibility. This will involve checking your credit history and personal details.
Sometimes we may require additional information, but we’ll let you know if that’s the case.
After that, you’ll receive an email to confirm whether we’re able to offer you a loan. This process could be completed on the same working day, but in some cases it could take up to 2 working days.
If your loan application is successful, we’ll send you a loan agreement form within 2-5 working days. You’ll also receive a standing order mandate and some pre-contract information. We may ask for proof of ID too.
Once you’ve read and understood the documentation, you can then sign and send back the loan agreement form and the standing order mandate in the pre-paid envelope.
The money will then be available to withdraw in 3 working days (or 1 working day if transferred to a Co-operative Bank current account).
If your application isn’t successful, we’ll let you know in the same timeframe and we’ll provide guidance on how we made our decision. See below for further information on declined loan applications.
If your application is referred or declined
This doesn’t mean we can’t offer you a loan. A referred application usually means we need to undertake more checks — or request additional information — before we make a final decision.
This means we can’t offer you a loan at this time. Our decisions are based on individual circumstances. If your application is declined, we’ll let know the reason behind our decision and provide guidance about your next steps.
We will also give you details of the credit reference agency which helped process your application.
Improve your chances of being offered a loan
View your credit report
You have a legal right to request a copy of your credit report from a credit reference agency. Checking the report will give you an idea of where you might manage your finances better.
You should also check the report for any potential mistakes made by the credit reference agency. If you spot one, contact them to get it fixed.
Pay your bills on time
Missed payments can remain on your credit report for as long as 7 years. Making sure you pay your bills on time demonstrates that you are a sensible borrower. It also reduces the potential risk you represent to the lender.
Get on the electoral roll
Lenders use the electoral roll to confirm your identity. If you are yet to register, do so — it is much harder to get credit otherwise.
Avoid applying for more credit
If you’re considered to have too many financial commitments, you may struggle to get credit. It may be wise to stop any further applications until your credit file and score have improved.