There are many lenders available to us and it can be hard to work out which is reliable. We all want to make sure that we can rely on the lender, both to stick to their terms but also to value us as customers. We can easily find so many scare stories about people being a by lenders that it is not surprising that we get suspicious and wonder whether we will be mistreated too. There is never a guarantee that things will go completely smoothly, but there are checks that you can make to improve your chances of picking a lender that is reliable.
It is likely that you will have had previous experience of dealing with some banks and building societies. Consider those experiences and whether they were positive or negative. Even if you were not using them to borrow money you will still have got a fee for what they were like to deal with regards to how they treat their customers.
Check with friends, family and colleagues
It can also be wise to ask people you know about their experiences. If you are taking out a specific type of loan, such as a mortgage then ask who they are with and what they think of them. They will be happy to help you and will not be biased as they have no reason to be. If you are not sure about discussing with them the specific type of loan you need, perhaps you are a bit worried about telling them you are borrowing money, then just ask them about financial institutions in general and you may still learn some really interesting information.
If they are for or against a particular lender then ask them why. They may have a reason which is not important to you. For example, they may like one because it has a local branch, when you prefer to bank online or they may use one because they have a relative that works for the company and that Is not really a good reason for preferring a particular lender. It is more important to find out how they were treated as a customer and if they would trust the lender and borrow form them again.
Read their website
It is always useful to go to the website of the lender and read up more about them. You will hopefully be able to find out more about how long they have been in existence, how the company works and what sorts of products they have. You can get a good feel for a company just by looking at the website. It is often hard to describe what you like and dislike but it can hinge on how friendly and helpful they seem. If the website is easy to use and has lots of information that can make you feel warmer towards them compared to a sparse website which is hard to navigate.
Speak to their customer services department
Although the website will give you some idea, the customer service department is who you will be likely to be dealing with if you have any queries and concerns. You want to make sure that they are polite and friendly but also capable of answering your questions satisfactorily. Therefore, it is wise to contact them before taking out a product to see what you think of them. Ask them a few questions about the product you are interested in using the method that you would prefer to contact them if you had a product with them. There are usually options such as online, email, telephone or going into a branch and so think about which you will find to be the best. You will then be able to judge them on how quickly they get back to you and how well they answer your questions. If you do this with several lenders you will be able to compare them.
This seems like quite a bit of work but it will allow you to gather information that you can use to help you to decide. It may not take that long either, but will depend on how many lenders you are choosing between. It is important to get it right though as you want to get the best from your lender. Beware of looking at ratings on websites and just going for their highest ranked. It is important to realise that we all have different ideas about what makes a good lender for one thing, and the person who ranked them may feel differently to you. So, although it can give you an indication of what one person thinks, it does not tell much about what you will think. If there are reasons or a review of the lender then this could be much more helpful.