Peer-to-peer lending institution Prosper is offering a $50 bonus for new lenders who sign up for for the service and bid on two loans. Peer-to-peer lending is an interesting way for people to qualify for loans and to lend money to others. In an economy where savings account interest rates are under 3% or 2%, it’s tempting to put cash to better use through these direct loans. There is a possibility to earn much more than you would by putting cash in a savings account as long as loans are chosen carefully and you’re willing to accept risk.
There is something appealing about working outside the banking system. Peer-to-peer lending takes a specific power of the financial industry and puts in the hands of individuals.
I tried Prosper a few years ago. A friend of mine was looking to consolidate his credit card balances, but was looking for a better option that putting several thousand dollars onto one high-interest card. His plan was to apply for a loan on Prosper and use the funds to pay off his credit cards. He would then only need to worry about one payment each month with a lower total payment and a lower interest rate than what he would likely get with a credit card.
When he asked me about Propser, I offered to help him out by bidding to provide a portion of the funding for the loan. The idea of being an investor appealed to me, but unfortunately, the state of Texas prevented him from participating on Prosper at that time. It is my understanding that he would qualify only for an interest rate higher than allowed by the state.
My adventures with Prosper ended before they began. And I won’t be able to get started. As I began to research investing in a portfolio of loans at Prosper and bidding on individual loans, I was greeted by this message:
Unfortunately, at this time lenders in New Jersey are not able to bid or transfer money to Prosper. If you have portfolio plans, they have been paused. You may transfer money out of your Prosper account as they become available from loan payments.
If you reside in a state where Prosper is allowed to do business, consider signing up for an account and qualifying for the $50 bonus. What is your experience with Prosper?
Updated May 29, 2014 and originally published October 30, 2009.