You are probably here because you have extra money to invest. The stock market for dummies is risky right now and if you are interested in an alternative with a good return for some of your money, you might look into something called "social lending".
You can get the best interest rates at Lending Club by investing in prime borrowers. Now if you want to get the best interest rates on CDs or bonds, you are going to get a whole 1% or 2% interest at the most right now. Something very low at least that is hardly worth the trouble. This is where peer to peer lending comes in where people like you and me with money to lend are matched with people who want to borrow it at higher rates than you could get at a bank.
Lending Club is one of the big "people to people" lending companies online where you will get a much higher yield on your money than you could anywhere else. In this scenario, you are really acting as a bank and lending out money to people who need it. The Lending Club is the platform that lets the borrowers and lenders come together and work out a deal where both parties benefit.
Here is an example of how the Lending Club website works. If someone needs $10,000 to finish school and is having trouble getting a load in the traditional ways, they can come to Lending Club. If they have a good credit score of greater than the minimum FICO score of 660 and debt-to-income ratios not higher than 25%, among other good credit indicators, they might qualify for the $10,000 loan. They will see what rates they qualify for if accepted and then list their loan request on the website being careful to do a good job explaining their situation and why they need the loan. If you decide to lend money, it is really like you are giving the borrowers unsecured loans as all you are going by is their credit rating and history with Lending Club. There is no collateral put up by the borrower and you have only their good word and particular circumstances to make a your judgment off of.
Loaning money to what they call "prime borrowers" does not come without risk and it is up to each lender to only lend to the people they feel are the best risks and have the most chance of repaying the loan. The reward for this risk, though, is usually a return of between 6.7% and 19.37% which is much greater than you can get anywhere else. If you have some moeny in the bank just sitting there getting that 1%, it could be an option to give Lending Club a try. Of course it is best to be safe and you should never loan money in this fashion that you absolutely need to live on.
Disclaimer: I have not tried peer to peer lending.