There are so many different options when it comes to finding a suitable finance option in 2016. So what do you do? It could be argued that going direct is always the best option, but is it? In this age of competition is going direct to your bank or building society limiting your ability to get the best loan for you. Brand will always play a role when choosing which products and services to go for, but if this loyalty doesn’t go 2-ways then are you just shooting yourself in the foot?

Below we outline 5 great ways to apply for finance, allowing you to find a loan that fits your bespoke needs.

1. Comparison Websites

Now, believe me, comparison websites are not without their floors. There are also multiple types of comparison sites to further complicate the matter. For the sake of this article, let’s focus on the ones that do some level of filtering for the customer based on credit history. These will give you a broad understanding of what is available and are a fantastic first step.

Most of the time you will get a score out of 10, or a percentage, chance of being accepted for a loan. However, keep in mind they are not 100% accurate. I have seen first-hand these comparison tables giving a 0/10 likelihood of acceptance. Then, when applying direct, they get approved. But as mentioned above, while not completely accurate they give you a great overview of where you stand in your ability to get a loan.

It makes sense to use several these websites to get a good idea of what’s available.

2. Credit History Monitoring Products

Consumers can now access Credit Monitoring services for free in most cases. Of course, they must make money somehow, and they do this by matching your credit profile with financial products like loans and credit cards.

If you have some time, signing up for ClearScore or Noddle would be a fantastic way to first get an understanding of your credit before applying for a loan. They also give the benefit of allowing you to see what could be negatively effecting your chances of being approved by giving you access to your full credit report.

3. Traditional Loan Broker

Loan Brokers are, in a way, like comparison websites. However, they will offer a more complete, customer driven decision. You are able to speak to a call centre agent over the phone to understand exactly what is going on, what the lender options are, and the next steps required to get something finalised.

So, if you are a technophobe, or just prefer to speak to a human about your options, a loan brokerage could be a great first step.

4. Search Google

If you know what you are looking for, a simple Google search will often yield some good results. Google prides itself in offering the most relevant results based on your searches. This can be good for narrowing your options when you know the product you want. For example, if you know you want a Guarantor Loan, searching for “Guarantor Loans” will bring you up some of the more popular lenders and comparison websites to help you on your way.

5. Money Forums

Looking for a great deal? There are many large money websites that offer their visitors the chance to have conversations on their forums. People will often post great deals they’ve found, problems they’ve had with specific lenders, and almost everything else as well. While it is worth noting that these websites will have some more “militant” community members. Believing “all borrowing is bad” or “an interest rate above 1% is evil and unacceptable”… Overall they are a very natural and consumer driven way of learning about the ideal loan product for you.

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