Logbook loans, guarantor loans, “pay weekly” shops such as BrightHouse – these may sound attractive if you are short on cash but have a poor credit rating or have been refused a payday loan. But this sort of debt can end in disaster if you have money problems.
This article looks at bad credit loans, how they create a lot more problems than they solve and what alternatives might work better for you.
And it has links to help you complain if you already have some of these loans and are feeling stuck. If your lender didn’t check you could afford one of these loans, you may be able to get a refund of the interest on it, which would be a big help.
If you have a car, logbook loans may seem like an easy way to borrow money quickly, with no credit checks at all.
But borrowing from Varooma, Carcashpoint, Mobile Money, Logbook Loans, Auto-Money, Loans2Go and other loans secured on your car can prove extremely expensive in practice.
The interest rates are high and there can be a long list of extra charges which aren’t clear when you borrow the money. Citizens Advice has seen people who were charged £12 for making a payment on time!
Logbook loans aren’t normal bank loans at all – legally they are “Bills of Sale” – when you take one out you are actually selling your car to the lender.
If you miss a payment, the lender can take your car without even going to court first. If you depend on your car to get to work or if you are disabled, this means you are in a very vulnerable position.
You can’t get help to set up an affordable monthly payment if things go wrong – with logbook loans you are trapped into the high payments or you will lose your car.
As a result, when someone can’t afford the high repayments they often feel they have no alternative but to borrow more from the logbook lender. These lenders helpfully deluge you with offers to extend your loan after you have repaid a few months. That then makes the problem worse – people can get trapped in this cycle for years.
One reader has said:
I currently have a logbook loan with about 18 months left to pay off. I am up to date with the payments at present. I have rolled this over 4 times now and paid about £2500 in interest so far on a £1000 loan.
Practical help – if you have a logbook loan or have repaid one with difficulty, look at this page Refunds for large bad credit loans. if you have repaid the loan, you may be able to get all the interest refunded. If you still have the loan, you may be able to get the interest removed so you only repay what you borrowed.
2023 – many fewer logbook loans
Many lenders have stopped or reduced the number of loans. Varooma went into administration. Some other lenders are still in business but no longer offer logbook loans.
Guarantor loans are expanding rapidly as it becomes harder to get payday loans. Amigo is a major provider of guarantor loans in Britain, with extensive advertising on daytime TV aimed at people with poor credit ratings. Other lenders include UK Credit, TFS, George Blanco, Buddy Loans and Bamboo.
These guarantor lenders love to say how much lower their interest rates are than payday loans. But as Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis points out, “comparing yourself with the market’s dirtiest, doesn’t make you clean.”
If you borrow £3,000 at 49.9% for 5 years, you will be repaying an eye-watering £8,000.
The cap on payday loans, so you can never pay more interest than you have borrowed, doesn’t apply to guarantor loans as they are over a year long.
Many guarantors don’t understand what they are getting into and would struggle themselves with the repayments on these loans. Your parents may own a house, but their actual pension income may be low and they would struggle to make the loan repayments.
And often a guarantor doesn’t know just how bad the borrower’s situation is, so they don’t have enough information to make a properly informed decision.
I hope the FCA, who regulates these lenders, will change the regulations for guarantor loans to give guarantors extra information before they commit to such a big risk. But until that happens – if you are asked to be a guarantor, say No. If you really want to help a relative, you give them a loan yourself.
If you have bad credit and need a loan, don’t get a friend or family member involved in your financial mess. Talk to a debt adviser instead. Because guarantor loans turn into a nightmare if you lose your job or have your hours cut or see your rent hiked.
Guarantor loan lenders sometimes market themselves as a good way to rebuild a poor credit score – they aren’t – they are expensive, dangerous for your credit rating and for your guarantor.
Practical help – if you have borrowed using a guarantor loan, read How borrowers can ask for a refund for a guarantor loan. If you are the guarantor there are several reasons why you can ask to be removed as the guarantor.
In the summer of 2019, Financial Ombudsman statistics showed that the Financial Ombudsman was agreeing with the customer in a massive 83% of guarantor loan complaints.
2023 – all the major lenders have given up
Amigo and NSF(George Banco and Trust Two) are no longer giving guarantor loans. Buddy Loans and TSF have gone into administration.
“Pay weekly” shops
Companies such as BrightHouse and Perfect Home advertised “affordable weekly payments” and no deposit as a simple way to buy household goods such as TVs, laptops or furniture. You may not think of these shops as selling expensive loans at all, but that is exactly what “pay weekly”, also called “rent to own” or “rent to buy” are – and they are used by over 400,000 people in Britain in 2016.
The shops emphasise the weekly payments which can sound small, not the total cost you end up paying:
- their price often includes delivery, installation, and very expensive insurance, whether you need them or not;
- interest rates between 65 and 95% are usually charged on top;
- the cheapest washing machine at some of these shops could cost over £1,000 if someone paid weekly over three years. But a similar machine with similar service cover only costs £350 in a normal shop.
In April 2019, the regulator brought in new rules that will mean that these shops can’t charge as much for some good as they have been doing.
2023 – the big lenders have gone
BrightHouse, the largest pay weekly retailer, went under in 2020. Perfect Home in 2022.
If you want to buy white goods or furniture look at Fair For You – a pay weekly online shop with a lot of major brand goods but they work on a not-for-profit basis and their total costs are often less than half what you would have paid at BrightHouse.
The worst part – these loans stop you getting help with your debts
If you have unsecured debts such as credit cards, bank loans or even payday loans, there are a lot of options for dealing with money problems.
- you could get a payment arrangement with a lender.
- or you could get a Debt Management Plan set up where the interest is frozen and you only make one payment a month.
- if just freezing interest isn’t enough, there are insolvency options such as a Debt Relief Order.
But none of the poor credit loans discussed here can easily be included in a payment arrangement, a DMP or in insolvency because the lender will simply repossess your car or furniture or go after your guarantor.
So you are trapped by these expensive debts. Which is of course what the lenders want…
These loans are being sold to people who have little spare money, often reliant on benefits, but those are exactly the sort of people who find it hard to afford the high-interest charges. The quoted weekly or monthly payment may sound manageable to someone who is desperate, but it becomes a huge burden when it continues over a long period.
So these three sorts of loans make money difficulties both more likely and harder to resolve – a vicious circle.
Last updated 2023