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Prosper, one of the pioneers of “peer-to-peer” or “marketplace” lending, connects borrowers with investors who choose to fund their loans.

Prosper doesn’t fund loans with its own money, but instead evaluates applicants and charges a fee to match investors with borrowers. It also services all loans originated through its platform.

The minimum credit score required to qualify for a Prosper loan is 640. Though it doesn’t have minimum requirements for income or length of credit history, Prosper generally lends to customers with good credit profiles.The company says its average borrower has:

  • a credit score of 705
  • an income of $83, 000
  • a minimum of three open lines of credit

Prosper assigns all borrowers a grade by analyzing internal data about past borrower behavior and combining it with traditional credit data such as credit scores and debt-to-income ratios. Your grade (which you can see) determines the interest rate you receive and lets investors decide whether to fund your loan.

The lender has a partnership with credit bureau Experian, so it pulls borrowers’ credit information from that company. (To check if your Experian credit report is accurate before you apply for a loan, get your free annual copy.)

Prosper’s application process

The application process for Prosper is more involved than other online lenders’. Here’s an overview:

  • To get started, you fill out a brief personal loan application on Prosper’s website for the desired loan amount.
  • When you submit the form, Prosper performs a soft credit check, which won’t affect your credit score. This allows them to give you loan options with specific interest rates, fees and loan terms.
  • After reviewing your loan offers, you can pick the one that’s best suited to your needs.
  • Then you’ll fill out a more detailed application and agree to the site’s lending terms and disclosures.
  • Prosper will then put your loan up on its site for investors to fund. Investors won’t see any of your personal information.
  • While your loan is up for funding, Prosper will conduct a three-stage verification check of your income, identity and other data, which may require you to provide additional documents. Your listing will indicate how much of your information still needs to be verified. The more you have verified, the more credible your listing appears to investors.
  • If investors fund 70 % or more of your loan, you can borrow that amount. If you don’t make it across the 70% threshold, you can set up a new listing. (Listings stay on Prosper’s marketplace for a maximum of 14 days.)
  • Once your loan is fully funded and you’ve been verified, Prosper initiates a hard credit check (this could affect your credit score).
  • The money is transferred to your account, minus the origination fee.

The entire process — from application to funding — typically takes three to five days, but it can take longer depending on how quickly you provide your documents.

What makes Prosper different

As one of the oldest and largest online lenders, Prosper has a good reputation in the field. The San Francisco company made its first loan in 2006 and has facilitated more than $5 billion in loans.

Prosper is also planning to expand its services. In 2015, the lender purchased BillGuard, a personal finance management app that lets people monitor their credit scores and cash flow. The app’s features will be used to help borrowers stay on top of their finances in the future, a spokeswoman says.

Investors usually fund loans quickly on Prosper’s site, but borrowers also have the option to ask family and friends to invest in their loan. Prosper will send an email to the contacts you provide, asking them if they’d like to support the borrower. And fellow borrowers can also choose to invest in your loan.

Prosper loans aren’t as flexible as some other online lenders’; borrowers cannot adjust their payment schedule, and they will be charged a late fee if they fail to make a payment.

Here’s what else you need to know before applying for a Prosper personal loan:

Prosper’s credit standards

  • Minimum credit score required: 640
  • Minimum gross income required: None, but generally high
  • Minimum credit history: None, but generally several years
  • Limitations: Aimed at good-credit borrowers
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 50% (excluding mortgage)

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