Whatever happened to the bridging loan?

I was paying a cheque into my local branch of the TSB (Trustee Savings Bank for those of you who don’t remember what it was before Lloyds TSB) when a woman who’d already got to ‘checkout number four, please’ asked the bright-faced counter clerk if it was possible to get an express clearance on a small cheque that, for reasons she did explain but won’t go into here as it bored both me and the clerk at the time, she needed available in her account before the weekend.

If you’re looking for instant cash, let me tell you now, express cheque clearance no longer exists at your high street branch! The only thing the clerk could offer was a service that you, paying customer, could stump up for that would confirm if there were funds available in the payee account so there would be no hitch; you can, however, no longer pay to get your cash any faster. Amazing. No wonder, when people need cash in a hurry, they turn to short term loans online.

The customer in branch didn’t like that answer, not one little bit. From her demeanour, she looked like the type of person who was used to getting what she wanted and wasn’t about to change the habit of a lifetime, now.

Said customer then went on to ask bright-faced clerk about a ‘bridging loan’. Silence met the question. Overhearing this, one of the more senior members of staff came to the other side of the counter window alongside bright(er)-faced clerk, who was obviously in need of a hand with the terminology.

As it transpires, the bank did offer an instant decision, immediate cash advance loan, but the minimum amount was by far in excess of what said customer was looking to borrow and she was almost mortified when senior clerk mentioned that the application should all be dealt with online, via their online personal banking system.

It also seems that some customers are more equal than others and your interest rate may depend on your creditworthiness and the bank’s assessment of your ability to pay. Grumbling, said customer (who’s used to getting what she wants but this time so didn’t) turned quick-sharp from the counter, ne’er to be seen again (well, not whilst I was there, anyway).

If said customer had been approachable, I would have taken the time to tell her about short term loans. Being of a curious nature, I checked out the facts and figures myself when I got home. For the amount the clerk quoted to pay for the ‘express’ cheque clearance that isn’t, or a loan for the minimum amount (based on my credit rating; I cannot vouch for said customer’s), a instant cash loan that I could have ‘within the hour’ and pay back within a few days because I knew that the cheque would cover it, cost a lot more from the high street (forget APR, I’m talking actual amount of hard cash to repay) than it would have done had I taken out a instant cash loan online from any one of a number of short term loan providers.

So, when you see an advertised high street rate of 6.9% and then get the shudders when you see an online instant cash loan APR of 4,214%, do not make the assumption that you will pay back any more for the latter (providing you stick to the terms you set) than you would at one of the ‘big four’ banks. Here, my friends, endeth the lesson.

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