Reviewing the UK’s best mortgage lenders

To buy a home, unless you're lucky to be a cash buyer, you’ll need to borrow money from a mortgage lender. You used to have to go to a building society to get a mortgage. These days most banks offer mortgage products for homeowners.

There are over 100 mortgage lenders in the UK. Together they offer over 12,000 different mortgage deals.

We've included reviews for 'major lenders' and 'specialist lenders'.

Major lenders include 'The Big Six’. These are Lloyds (including Halifax), Nationwide, Santander, RBS, Barclays, and HSBC. Together these 6 lenders account for most of the mortgage lending in the UK.¹

Specialist lenders like Kent Reliance and Fleet specialise in mortgages for certain customers. If you have a history of bad credit, you may need to get a mortgage from a specialist lender.

There are also lenders such as Virgin Money, Metro Bank, Clydesdale and Accord. They offer similar mortgages to the Big Six but are a bit smaller.

mortgage lenders market share pie chart

How many mortgage lenders are there?

There are around 100 mortgage lenders in the UK. These are mainly banks and building societies. Some are household names and others are specialists who you might not have heard of.

The biggest mortgage lenders

According to the latest data from UK Finance, these are the top five largest lenders in the UK²:

  1. The Lloyds Banking Group (includes Halifax) - £42.5 billion

  2. Nationwide Building Society - £35.7 billion

  3. Royal Bank of Scotland (includes NatWest) - £30.5

  4. Santander UK - £28.3 billion

  5. Barclays - £23.1 billion

UK Finance ranks lenders based on their market share. This means that the lenders listed here provided the most mortgages in 2018. 

The largest lenders are those that have lended the most.

Choosing a lender should depend on whether they’re the right choice for you and your situation.

Larger lenders do tend to offer a wider range of products and deals. You may find that other smaller lenders can offer something better suited to you.

If you have a more complicated case, like bad credit, you might need to go to a specialist lender for the best deal.

Speak to a mortgage adviser if you’re not sure which lender is right for your situation.

The fastest mortgage lenders

Based on our own data, on average lenders take around 10 days to approve new mortgage submissions.

That's around the same time that it took lenders to approve mortgages before the coronavirus pandemic started in January 2020.

Fastest lenders in March 2021

  • Halifax - 3 days

  • BM Solutions - 4 days

  • HSBC - 7 days

  • Accord - 9 days

  • Santander - 9 days

This data is based on how long it takes mortgage lenders to approve mortgages after we submit them.

Bear in mind that this is an average. Some mortgages will be approved faster, and some might take much longer.

It might take specialist lenders longer to approve applications from self employed or bad credit customers.

If you need your application approved quick consider one of our faster lenders.

Do not rule out specialist lenders who are best suited to your needs if you:

Speak to a mortgage adviser if you’re not sure which lender is right for your situation.

The best mortgage lenders

To decide the UK's best lenders, we compared how satisfied their customers are.

We looked at public complaints data to see how they performed between January and June 2019.

In this time the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) had almost 79,000 complaints across the 31 lenders we’ve focused on.¹

Of these 79,000 complaints, around 60% were officially upheld.

An upheld complaint is when they investigate a complaint to confirm that something went wrong.

We’ve chosen to look at the upheld complaints rather than the number of complaints. This is a more accurate way to see the number of valid and confirmed customer complaints.

Best lenders with the lowest percentage of upheld complaints

  1. Bank of Ireland

  2. Post Office

  3. Aldermore

  4. Atom Bank 

  5. Metro Bank

Lenders with the highest percentage of upheld complaints

  1. Coventry Building Society

  2. Woolwich

  3. Barclays

  4. Ulster Bank

  5. TSB

Finding the best mortgage lenders

When finding you a mortgage, we'll always search the market for the most suitable deal for your situation.

It's useful to know which lenders:

  • get the fewest complaints

  • process applications the quickest

  • lend the most based on your income

Barclays and HSBC took an average of 22 days to process applications for our customers over a 12 month period. This was the longest of the 'big six' lenders. Knowing this might make you want to start the application process sooner.

We've captured data to give you an idea of which lenders are top for these criteria. This can help prepare you for a future application.

Compare mortgage lenders

You can use the data on this page and our detailed lender reviews to compare mortgage lenders.

If your personal circumstances are simple, then you will be able to choose from almost any lender in the UK. You could compare lenders and go with one that will lend you the most or submit your application faster.

There'll be fewer lenders to choose from if you have bad credit.

Or if you want a more complicated mortgage like a buy to let or lifetime mortgage.

Comparing and choosing lenders does not have to be hard. A mortgage broker like Trussle will find out everything about your situation. They'll always make sure they recommend the right lender and mortgage deal for you.

Online mortgage lenders

Online lenders, such as Digital Mortgages, are newer to the market. They often provide residential mortgages. But are digital only so do not use call centres or branches.

You'll need a smartphone available to apply. This applies to all applicants to the mortgage.

The benefits of using an online mortgage lender are that it's often faster. You can also check the status of your application available at the click of a button.

Specialist mortgage lenders

Specialist lenders like Kensington and Aldermore, offer mortgage deals suitable for the self-employed or people with poor credit histories.

It's harder to get a mortgage if you're self-employed. But these days many lenders are more likely to lend money to those in this situation.

You have a higher chance of getting a mortgage with one of these lenders if you have:

  • saved up a good sized deposit

  • a healthy credit rating

  • up to 2 years accounts that show a steady income

Specialist lenders may lend to you even if you do not have a large deposit, perfect credit history, or years of accounts.

If you have bad credit, it does not mean you're not eligible for a mortgage. But it may mean there are fewer lenders willing to assess your application.

If you're worried about your credit rating, it's worth giving your broker a copy of your credit report. They can then look at which lenders might be most suitable to consider when searching for the right deal.

There are lenders who are happy to help those with more severe credit issues. But they often offer less competitive deals with higher interest rates.

There are many lenders who provide mortgages for those using help to buy scheme.

These include Natwest, Nationwide, and HSBC.

You'll need to apply for the equity loan on the government website to get the funding for the deposit.

When picking a lender, your mortgage broker will confirm the details of the equity loan. As well as how this impacts your application and the implication when you remortgage.

Not every lender offers shared ownership mortgages. So if you’re not sure which ones do, it could help to speak to a mortgage broker.

Some lenders that offer shared ownership include:

  • Lloyds

  • Leeds Building Society

  • Nationwide

  • Kent Reliance

Lenders that accept 5% deposits

There are around 90 lenders in the UK. About 1/3 of them offer mortgages for people with a 5% deposit.

These lenders include:

Lenders do not stipulate any special criteria to get this type of mortgage, but you’ll need a good credit score.

Learn more in our 95% mortgage guide.

Only putting down a 5% deposit on a home may seem like the best way to get you on the property ladder faster than you’d hoped.

But there are disadvantages. If you put down such a small deposit:

  • lenders will charge a higher rate

  • your monthly repayments will be higher than they would be with a larger deposit

  • you’ll pay more in total than you would with a larger deposit because of the interest you’ll have to pay

  • most lenders are looking for a close to perfect credit score

Think about it before you decide to take out a mortgage with a 5% deposit.

One of the first things you need to make sure of is that you can afford the repayments. If you’re not sure what they’d be, get some free advice from a mortgage broker.

“A mortgage with a 5% deposit can be a big help, but whenever you’re borrowing money you need to be sure you can pay it back.” - Sam Amidi, a mortgage adviser at Trussle.

Lenders for bad credit

If you have bad credit, you might need to consider different lenders to those applying with a basic case.

You can usually tell if you have bad credit because your credit score will be low. This can be from falling behind on payments or owing money to lenders or credit card companies.

Some lenders might not take your application if your credit history is poor.

This does not mean you will not be able to get a mortgage. But it may take longer to get a mortgage and you will not have access to the best mortgage rates.

We’ve kept an eye on which lenders have lent money to applicants with bad credit.

Our bad credit customers tend to borrow from these 5 lenders. The following lenders have offered the most mortgages to Trussle customers with poor credit.

Our best mortgage lenders for adverse credit

  1. Halifax

  2. Natwest

  3. Kensington Mortgages

  4. Accord

  5. Aldermore Mortgages

More about lenders

Each lender will assess your circumstances against their own criteria. This means the answer will be different for everyone.

Remember to look for the most suitable mortgage deal offered by a wide range of lenders on the market. A mortgage broker, like Trussle, can help you with this.

Lenders will often ask for:

  • 2 months of bank statements and payslips

  • a photo ID

  • an address ID

  • a copy of your credit history - depending on your credit score

Many mortgage lenders specialise in lending to those who do not have the best credit history.

Speaking to a mortgage broker will help you find the most suitable lender for your situation.

Looking at pictures

Get a mortgage with Trussle today

  • Our remortgage customers save an average of £171 a month*

  • Trussle is fee-free for most customers**

  • 5-star Trustpilot rating from over 5,000 reviews

  • 12,000 mortgage deals from 90 lenders

  • Skip the paperwork: apply online any time

*The savings figure is from Trussle mortgage customers in September 2022. **You may have to pay a fee depending on your circumstances and credit history. Learn more.

Your home could be repossessed if you don't keep up repayments on your mortgage.

You may have to pay an early repayment charge to your existing lender if you remortgage.

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¹ UK Finance - Largest mortgage lenders

² FCA - Firm specific complaints data