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When most people think about taking out a loan, they probably think of their bank, but another lender is growing in popularity….

Covid-19 has had an enormous impact on the nation’s finances. Britons from all walks of life are seeking financial assistance.

Government figures from a recent study show that more than half of all employees working in sectors such as food services, entertainment and construction were furloughed at some point this year. Millions more were affected in retail, healthcare, education, business administration, manufacturing, and in science and technology.

Put simply, it doesn’t matter who you are, the coronavirus will likely have hit your pocket in one way or another.

For many, a loan will be the lifeline they need, putting food on the table, paying for kids’ school uniforms, taking care of car repairs, or making sure the electricity bills are paid in the winter months.

Annoyingly, the banks might not be able to help everyone. Frightened that people will be unable to repay new loans, some high street lenders have introduced stricter rules.

The good news is that there is another, safe and easy way to get a loan. It’s open to everyone, with an asset, without any nerve-wrecking credit checks and no need to prove income.

How to get a loan

Arranging a pawnbroker loan is simple. As long as a customer has an item with some financial value, their local branch of H&T will be able to help.

Most often, customers borrow against jewellery such as watches, gold, diamonds, or other gemstones, but previous clients have been known to use many things, such as art, cars and even a herd of cows!

Those with a suitable asset can contact H&T either online, or by bringing it into one of the local stores. From there, an advisor will take a form of ID such as a driving licence, passport or utility bill and agree the value of the item. A loan can be made within minutes, from £10, all the way up to £50,000.

“With so much uncertainty, there is a huge demand or our services right now,” says Mark Harrold, operations director at H&T Group.

“With such pressure on people’s incomes, communities need support. We want to get the message out there that help is available. We are not a bank, but we offer bank-like services – all with a friendly face and a smile.”

Loans for everyone

In today’s world, pawnbroker loans appeal to people from all parts of society, for a whole host of reasons. There is no typical profile of an H&T customer, according to those who work there.

Phillipa Snowden, a store manager at H&T’s Rotherham branch, recalls conversations with a regular customer who is a diamond collector.

She says: “There is one lady whose husband works overseas on an oil rig and she doesn’t always know how long he will be away. It could be one month, but it could be three. She comes to us when the household funds run dry. As a diamond collector, she knows that if she needs to raise cash, it’s is the easiest way.”

Of course, not everyone is a diamond collector, but the range of customers arranging pawnbroker loans may surprise some.

“We are like a friendly bank,” Ms Snowden says. “We have a wide mix of customers from former professional footballers who have become coaches, to customers who just come in to pour their heart out.”

Repaying the loan

Once a customer decides to repay a loan, they can do so by repaying the principal loan amount plus the interest due. It can be redeemed a day after the loan was made, or up to six months later.

In the current uncertain economic environment, customers may benefit from the flexibility that a pawnbroking loan offers. Those unable to repay their loan at the end of six months can extend the loan by simply repaying the interest. Some may even use this process to pay down the loan over a longer period by repaying the interest and some of the principal over a greater number of months.

What if the worst happens?

From Bank of England forecasts, we already know that millions of people across the country are likely to face uncertainty about their financial position in the months ahead.

However, for those who opted for a pawnbroker loan, they can take comfort that even if even if they are unable to repay the loan, it will have no negative impact on their credit rating whatsoever.

In addition, with their item going to auction, their loan will be completely absolved. For some customers, it may even be in their best interests to let an item go.

Best of all, if an item does go to auction and makes a higher price than the amount at which it was originally valued, the customer will receive this excess money back.

Customer satisfaction

When it comes to taking out a loan, some people simply no longer trust their bank to support them, according to a recent survey. Of those customers who say they are struggling financially, 32% said they had lost trust in their bank since the outbreak of Covid-19.

You might expect the new ‘challenger banks’ to fare better, but a separate poll conducted in November 2019, found that 40% of the population didn’t trust them either.

Yet, customers that have taken a pawnbroker loan with H&T Group have had a much better experience, it seems.

At the time of writing, H&T had 3,336 reviews on Trustpilot with a remarkable satisfaction score of 4.9 out of 5. Reviewers routinely comment on the excellent levels of customer service, competence and professionalism.

The key to this score is hiring only ‘nice people,’ says operations director Mark Harrold.

“We have a chat and see if you’re nice,” he jokes. “It is about creating the best possible experience for the customer.”

If the reviews are anything to go by, the company is achieving its ambitions. And, with the economic outlook remaining uncertain, it’s good to know that help is at hand.

Representative 165.5 %APR

Loans are secured on your items, if the loan is not repaid it will be sold to pay the debt.