Which are the best mortgage lenders?
Every year we survey thousands of members of the public to reveal the mortgage lenders that are leading the way in terms of both deals and customer service.
Based on a combination of our June 2018 customer satisfaction survey results and our own expert deal analysis, the following lenders have been named as Which? Recommended Providers - meaning they're currently the best mortgage lenders out there.
|Provider||Which? verdict||Customer score|
|Principality tops our table for customer satisfaction and can offer mortgages for new-build properties if you have a small deposit.||80%|
|A consistently high scorer in our customer satisfaction surveys, First Direct can also be relied on for some of the best deals around.||77%|
|The UK's largest building society ranks highly for customer satisfaction and offers deals for those with large and small deposits.||77%|
|With a high customer satisfaction score, Skipton says its customers can choose more than one mortgage to suit their individual requirements.||73%|
However, while these providers are great all-rounders, the best mortgage lender for you will depend on your individual circumstances - for example, some lenders are more willing to give mortgages to self-employed homebuyers, while others specialise in guarantor mortgages or solutions for people with a poor credit rating.
Best and worst lenders: full results table
In June 2018 we surveyed 3,572 members of the general public about how satisfied they were with their mortgage lender. Here’s what we found:
Table notes: the average customer score is 70%. Star ratings out of five show levels of satisfaction with each area. Customer scores are worked out using a combination of overall satisfaction and likelihood of recommending the provider to a friend. If two or more brands show the same overall score, they are ranked alphabetically. Providers must receive a minimum sample size of 30 for inclusion in the table. Where a '-' is shown we have an insufficient sample size (less than 30) to calculate a star rating. Sample sizes in brackets: AA Mortgages (30), Accord Mortgages (75), Barclays (382), Chelsea Building Society (42), Clydesdale Bank (34), Coventry Building Society (74), First Direct (76), Halifax (384), HSBC (358), Kensington (40), Leeds Building Society (49), Lloyds Bank (167), Nationwide Building Society (396), NatWest (297), Principality Building Society (32), Royal Bank of Scotland (117), Santander (392), Skipton Building Society (51), The Co-operative Bank/Platform (combined - 58), TSB (94), Virgin Money (75), Yorkshire Bank (39), Yorkshire Building Society (53).
How we identify the best mortgage lenders
In order to be named a Which? Recommended Provider, mortgage lenders must:
- have achieved a top customer score in a Which? customer satisfaction survey;
- consistently offer table-topping mortgage deals over various product types; and
- be fully covered by the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) and FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) banking standards regime.
Which? closely monitors the products and practices of all recommended providers, and reserves the right to exclude any company that does not treat its customers fairly.
You can find out more about our deal analysis and how each lender performed in our individual mortgage lender review pages.
Who are the biggest mortgage lenders in the UK?
According to August 2018 data from UK Finance, the largest mortgage lenders in 2017 were:
- Lloyds Banking Group (including Lloyds Bank and Halifax)
- Nationwide Building Society
- Royal Bank of Scotland
- Santander UK
- HSBC Bank
- Coventry Building Society
- Virgin Money
- Yorkshire Building Society
- TSB Bank
Choosing a major lender can have some advantages - they often offer an extensive range of products and have a larger number of branches available.
But don't think you need to go with one of the big players just because you recognise the name or you're already a customer.
Smaller lenders may offer tailored products that suit your particular circumstances, so it's important to take expert advice on the right mortgage for you.
Which banks offer the biggest mortgages?
When buying a property it’s not just the deposit you need to think about, you also need to consider the size of the mortgage you can get.
Lenders have to stick to strict mortgage affordability rules, which means they have to lend responsibly and ensure you can afford to repay the loan both today and in the future, when rates could potentially go up.
The amount you can borrow will be based on your income, how many dependents you have and certain outgoings like monthly repayments on existing credit card debts and other loans.
Lenders will perform an affordability assessment as well as check your credit history to decide what they can lend to you.
As a general rule of thumb, lenders will usually allow you to borrow up to four times your income, but this can vary greatly depending on the provider you use and their lending criteria.
In our research using online mortgage calculators, we found there can be a difference of tens of thousands of pounds between what the biggest lenders will let you borrow:
|Scenario 1: First-time buyer, single applicant, £35,000 income*||Loan-to-income multiple||Scenario 2: First-time buyers, joint applicants,£75,000 joint income*||Loan-to-income multiple|
|Halifax||£166,250 (joint highest)||4.62||£308,750||4.11|
|Lloyds Bank||£166,250 (joint highest)||4.62||£308,750||4.11|
|Nationwide Building Society||£157,200||4.49||£308,800 (highest)||4.49|
|Royal Bank of Scotland||£140,000||4||£260,000||3.47|
Source: Which? analysis of online mortgage affordability calculators (May 2018)
*Both scenarios were for a £300,000 home and the fictional borrowers had a £25,000 deposit and no dependents or other debts
However, this table only offers a rough idea. You won’t really know how much you can borrow from a particular lender until you apply and undergo a full credit check and mortgage affordability assessment.
Talk to an independent mortgage broker for advice on the right option for you.
How to choose the best mortgage provider for you
The best lender for you won't simply be determined by who's offering the lowest interest rate or biggest mortgage. Identifying the most appropriate type of mortgage - whether it's a fixed-rate, tracker or discount - will be crucial to whether or not the mortgage meets your needs.
You should also check the fees that are attached to the deal, as these can add thousands to what you'll pay overall. For more tips, check out our full guide to finding the best mortgage deals.
You can compare products yourself by checking out the Which? Money Compare mortgage comparison tables.