Many or all of the products and brands we promote and feature including our ‘Partner Spotlights’ are from our partners who compensate us. However, this does not influence our editorial opinion found in articles, reviews and our ‘Best’ tables. Our opinion is our own. Read more on our methodology here.
First Direct personal loans: at a glance
First Direct is one of the top scoring lenders we have assessed. But it has a pitfall – you can only apply for a loan if you have a First Direct current account.
Customers who apply for a First Direct loan online or via the app could get an instant decision on their application and the money transferred immediately. This is quicker than many lenders we’ve reviewed and it can be useful if you need cash quickly.
But, if you’re considering a loan, make sure you only apply if you’re sure it’s the right decision for you and you can comfortably afford the repayments.
NerdWallet Review Rating
See how we rate our lenders below.
Important information: Neither the review nor the star ratings considered the lender’s lending rates or representative APR, and therefore does not reflect how much they charge to borrow with them. The rates on this page have been provided as additional information. Always check and compare a lender’s rates against others on the market when considering a loan. The rate you are offered will be dependent on your personal circumstances, loan amount and term and may differ from the representative APR.
First Direct loans pros & cons
- If approved online, First Direct could pay the money in your account instantly.
- You can apply for a joint loan (but you’ll need to apply by phone).
- You can contact First Direct by phone, live chat or through its app.
- You need a First Direct current account to apply.
- Interest charges may apply if you pay off the loan early.
- You can’t check your eligibility for a loan without affecting your credit score.
The pros and cons featured here are chosen by us based on a combination of our expert opinions from our research of the personal loans market and an exclusive survey of UK consumers conducted on behalf of NerdWallet UK in February 2023 to identify the features of personal loans that people feel are most important. They are unlikely to be the only product features and restrictions that you should consider. Pros and cons are subjective and you should align them to your own personal circumstances. Information was correct at the time of publication but may have changed since.
First Direct loans overview
First Direct was founded in 1989 as a telephone bank. It later expanded into internet banking and is now a division of HSBC UK Bank. First Direct offers a range of products, including current accounts, credit cards and loans.
To apply for a loan from First Direct, you’ll need to have a current account with the bank.
However, you can’t see if you’re eligible for a loan on First Direct before you apply. By contrast, many other lenders we’ve reviewed allow you to check your eligibility so you can see your chances of approval without affecting your credit score.
|Amount borrowable||£1,000 to £50,000|
|Term length||One to eight years|
|Time to get a decision||Instant|
|Time to receive funds once approved||Instant|
|Need to have an account with the provider||Yes|
|Customer support||Phone, live chat, app, social media|
How do we rate First Direct personal loans?
We’ve assessed a selection of UK loan providers and rated each against a set of criteria that take into consideration what loan customers tell us are the most important product features.
Here’s what we review and how the First Direct performs:
|Application process||5 stars|
|Available customer support||4.5 stars|
|Overall (The overall score is weighted in favour of the features borrowers told us they consider most important)||5 stars|
Nerdwallet’s star rating assessment criteria does not include the lender’s product lending rates or fees. Always check and compare a lender’s rates against others on the market when considering a loan.
A flexible loan gives customers a choice of funds, terms and payment options. That means offering a wide range of loan amounts and repayment term options, allowing the borrower to change their payment date and make overpayments, for example.
The best application processes are quick and easy, with clear eligibility criteria, soft checks and multiple ways to apply to suit different customers’ needs.
Available customer support
Good customer support can include clear information on the lender’s website and a customer service team that’s available most of the time and can be reached in multiple ways.
Where First Direct loans stand out
You could get your money instantly
If you apply for a First Direct loan online or in the app and you’re approved, you could get your money straight away. By contrast, other lenders we’ve reviewed may take several hours, or even days, to transfer the money. The process will take longer if you apply over the phone.
You can borrow up to £50,000
The maximum loan you could get from First Direct is £50,000, which is double the amount offered by some lenders we’ve reviewed. This means it could be useful if you need a larger loan, although you shouldn’t borrow more than you need.
Highly rated by Fairer Finance
First Direct is the top scoring lender of all those assessed by Fairer Finance, an independent site that rates personal loans and other financial products. First Direct has a customer experience of 73% for its personal loans, which indicates that you should expect good customer service.
Where First Direct loans fall short
They’re only available to First Direct customers
You can only apply for a loan from First Direct if you have a First Direct current account. So unless you already have an account or you apply to open a new one, you may not be able to get a loan from First Direct. There are other lenders that can accept applications whether you’re an existing customer or not.
You can’t see if you’re eligible before applying
Unlike many lenders we’ve reviewed, First Direct doesn’t allow you to see if you are eligible for a loan before you formally apply. This means you won’t be able to see your chances of approval without affecting your credit score, unlike many other lenders.
First Direct offers unsecured loans of £1,000 to £50,000 that you can repay over one to eight years. The exact repayment terms available may differ depending on the amount you borrow.
This is one of the largest loan amounts offered by the lenders we’ve reviewed, so First Direct may be worth considering if you need to cover a major expense, such as home improvements. But, even if you’re able to borrow a larger sum, you should only borrow the amount you need to avoid taking on unnecessary debt and paying extra interest.
First Direct allows you to apply for a joint loan, although you will need to do this over the phone.
With a joint loan, you can apply with a friend or family member and share the burden of the repayments. You will both be jointly responsible for repaying the loan and, if you miss a payment, this will be recorded on both credit files.
Remember that taking out a joint loan with someone will link your credit files together.
First Direct came out with a good score for “Flexibility”, although some other lenders we reviewed did score higher.
As you repay your First Direct loan, you can ask to change your payment date. But bear in mind you can only change your payment date a maximum of twice in a 12-month period. First Direct says changing your payment date won’t affect the interest you pay, which may not be the case with loans from other lenders we’ve reviewed.
You can make an extra payment towards your First Direct loan without paying any fees. This can help to reduce the amount of interest you pay overall. When you make an additional payment, your monthly payments won’t change but you should pay off the loan quicker.
You can also choose to pay off your First Direct loan in full before the end of the term.
First Direct will apply 28 days’ interest if you pay off a loan with a 12-month term, and an extra month’s worth of interest on top of this for loans with a longer repayment term. Many lenders apply these charges, so First Direct isn’t unusual in doing this.
Even with these charges, paying off your loan early should still mean you pay less interest overall than if you continued to pay it off as usual.
» MORE: How to pay off a loan early
First Direct may allow you to have more than one personal loan at a time. However, if you have two or more loans with First Direct, you will need to call to discuss your options
Be aware that borrowing more will involve new credit and affordability checks as it is treated as a new loan application.
First Direct gets its best score for its application process, although several other lenders we reviewed scored even better.
This is largely because many of these lenders allow you to check your eligibility for a loan before applying, without affecting your credit score, which First Direct doesn’t offer. Checking your eligibility can help you to see how likely you are to get a loan, but with First Direct you have to go straight into the formal application.
You can apply for a loan from First Direct online, via its app or over the phone.
Once you’ve applied, First Direct will run a hard credit check (which will appear on your credit history) and other affordability checks to decide whether to offer you a loan.
Instead of applying for a loan directly, you can also use a loans eligibility service. This sees how likely you are to get a loan across multiple lenders and only involves a soft credit search so won’t affect your score. But before using a service, double check how many lenders it compares and confirm that it only uses a soft credit check.
» MORE: How to get a loan
How long does it take to apply?
Regardless of how you apply for a First Direct loan, you could get an instant decision on your application. However, in some cases, First Direct may need more information so it could take longer to get a decision.
If approved, you could get the money in your account immediately if you applied online or in the app. If you applied by phone, First Direct needs to send the loan agreement by post for you to sign and return before releasing the money. Once it has your signed document, it should send you your loan.
Availability of customer support
First Direct has one of the better scores of the lenders we’ve reviewed when it comes to availability of customer support.
You can contact the customer support team by phone or live chat to ask a general question or to get help on your specific loan agreement. Live chat is available on the website to new customers, as well as through online banking or the First Direct app for existing customers.
You can also get in touch via X (formerly Twitter), although First Direct won’t be able to comment on your individual loan agreement on this platform.
While First Direct doesn’t have any branches, First Direct customers may be able to get some help in a HSBC branch. But, if you have a query about your loan, you’re likely to get a more useful response by contacting First Direct rather than visiting a HSBC branch.
On Fairer Finance, an independent review site that scores providers solely on their personal loan products, First Direct comes out top of the lenders it assesses. It has a customer experience rating of 73%, which is a few percentage points higher than second place.
First Direct has a rating of 4.4 stars on Trustpilot, based on over 19,200 reviews.
On the App store, First Direct gets a score of 4.9 stars based on 1,600 ratings. On Google Play, it has a score of 3.1 stars based on 17,500 ratings.
But bear in mind that these ratings are from First Direct customers as a whole, not just those who took out a personal loan.
This information is correct as of 3 October 2023.
Am I eligible for a First Direct loan?
To apply for a First Direct loan, you need to meet the following criteria:
- Be aged 18 or over.
- Be a UK resident that lives permanently in the UK.
- Have a First Direct current account.
- Earn at least £10,000 a year (before tax).
- Not have been declared bankrupt or been registered for an individual voluntary agreement (IVA) in the last six years.
First Direct loans frequently asked questions
First Direct is highly rated on Fairer Finance and Trustpilot. But the question of whether its loans are good depends on your individual situation. It’s worth comparing First Direct with other lenders to find the best loan for you.
You can overpay a First Direct loan without paying any penalty fees. This should save you money on interest overall.
At NerdWallet UK, we base our reviews and our ‘Best’ pages on the results of surveys we undertook about what was important to people who use these products. This allows us to look at products impartially of any commercial arrangements we have and fairly rate the products on the same set of criteria.
Best means our ‘Best’ and is based only on what products we have aligned to our surveys, which form the basis of our reviews and ratings. This means that there will be other products on the market that we have not included in our ‘Best’ pages. Best does not mean it’s best for you, nor does it mean the ‘cheapest’.
Our reviews may display lenders’ rates. This additional information has not been included in our evaluations but is still very important when choosing a product. Rates offered can depend on circumstances, amount and term. Always check details before proceeding with any financial product.
Product details reflect the information that was available at that time but may have changed since. We strive to give you a review on as many products as possible, but there will be products not included on the market. The review is our opinion, but it does not constitute advice, recommendation or suitability for your financial circumstances.
You can view our full review methodology here.