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Best payday loans and alternatives

Compare the top 7 legit payday loans

Payday loans are meant to get you through tough times — temporarily. These short-term loans are usually paid off within two weeks to a month, and are often in amounts less than $1,000, but the amount is determined by your actual paycheck amount. Most payday lenders don’t charge interest, but instead, charge a flat fee called a finance charge.

While payday loans are convenient and often lack a credit check, they can come at a hefty price. And it can be hard to tell which payday lenders are legitimate.

We’ve narrowed it down to seven of the best, legitimate payday lenders to help you find one that fits your needs. Additionally, we’re listing payday loan alternatives if you want to avoid them altogether.

7 best payday lenders:

Best overall: ACE Cash Express

ACE Cash Express Short-term Loans

Finder Rating: 3.6 / 5 ★★★★★

Offering loan amounts from $100 to $5,000, ACE Cash Express is one of the oldest lenders on this list — in business for over four decades. It has 950 locations across 23 states, and offers online applications in 11 states. ACE is also a member of FISCA and USHCC (organizations that believe in fair lending practices). Additionally, all fees and charges are presented at the beginning of your loan contract so there are no surprises. While not accredited with the BBB, it holds an A+ rating and a 4.5-star rating on Trustpilot, with most users citing a positive experience.
  • Only available in: California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas

Best online payday lender: CashNetUSA

CashNetUSA Loan

Finder Rating: 3.6 / 5★★★★★

CashNetUSA is known for getting borrowers funds the same day they apply, and with loan amounts between $100 and $3,000. If you need cash quickly and want to apply online, it's a decent choice. CashNetUSA is transparent on fees and terms, and offers finance education resources.

Its loan availability varies by state, but it offers payday loans, installment loans and lines of credit. However, it's worth noting that In 2015, it faced some legal action from the Commissioner of Business Oversight in the State of California. Review-wise, sentiments of CashNetUSA are mixed — it has a B rating with BBB and a 4.6-star rating with Trustpilot.

  • Available in: Alabama, Alaska, California, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Best for comparing short-term lenders: LendYou

LendYou Short-term Loans

Finder Rating: 2.5 / 5 ★★★★★

LendYou is a lender connection service that matches users to short-term lenders without a credit check. You may apply for loans from $100 to $2,500, and turnaround time is the same business day or one business day. Requirements vary, since LendYou isn't a direct lender, so the actual loan requirements will depend on the lender you're matched with, and the lender may run a credit check depending on the loan you apply for. LendYou doesn't have a BBB page, so be sure you're visiting the official site before applying.
  • Not available in: Arkansas, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, West Virginia

Best for small loan amounts: Speedy Cash

Speedy Cash Short-term Loans

Finder Rating: 4.45 / 5 ★★★★★

Speedy Cash offers short-term loans, with amounts ranging from around $50 to $500. Funds are issued within one business day on your debit card, in-person or direct deposit. The amount is due by your next paycheck. However, the actual loan amount you can get is largely based on your state.

An online application is available in 27 states, and there are brick and mortar locations in 15 states. You can also apply over the phone. Fees vary by state, but plan to pay $10 to $30 per $100 borrowed. It also offers vehicle title loans and lines of credit. Speedy Cash isn't BBB accredited, but it does carry an A+ rating.

  • Available in: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Best for local availability: Check Into Cash

Check Into Cash Payday Loan

Finder Rating: 4.5 / 5 ★★★★★

Check Into Cash is a legit, licensed payday lender that offers payday loans from $50 to $1,000, and terms are typically 14 days long. Like other payday lenders, Check Into Cash has a finance charge of $15 to $30 per $100 — varies by state. It serves 28 states total, with 22 states having in-store locations. If you apply at a location, same-day funding is available. You can also check fees on its website before you apply. Check Into Cash is accredited by the BBB with an A+ rating, and has mixed customer reviews on Trustpilot with a 3.7-star rating.
  • Available in: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming
For new customers, loan amount can go up to $750 or state maximum.

Best for customer service: Check City

Check City Payday Loan

Finder Rating: 4.3 / 5 ★★★★★

Check City serves 15 states, and fees, loan amounts and terms vary by state. It's a transparent, licensed lender that offers payday loans, installment loans, title loans, prepaid debit cards and much more. Its payday loans typically come with a 31-day term and a $15 to $20 fee per $100 borrowed. Same-day financing is available if you apply at a physical location, online applications are offered in 13 states, and you may also apply over the phone.

Unlike most other lenders on this list, Check City is accredited with the BBB and holds the highest possible score of A+. It also has a 4.6-star rating with Trustpilot, with the majority of reviews citing a great experience and supportive staff.

  • Available in: Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Best for turnaround time: Check ‘n Go

Check 'n Go Payday Loans

Check 'n Go offers payday loans, cash advances, installment loans and prepaid debt cards. The payday loan amounts vary state, and it's available in 27 states. You can apply online or in person, and if you head to a physical location, you could have your funds within a few hours. Online applications are usually funded within one business day. Depending on the type of loan you choose, amounts could be from $100 to $1,500 — and the amount you qualify for largely depends on your ability to repay. Check 'n Go isn't accredited by the BBB, but it does have an A+ rating and mostly positive reviews on Trustpilot.
  • Available in: Alabama, California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont

Methodology: How we chose the best payday lenders

We reviewed dozens of legitimate payday lenders with locations across the US before narrowing it down to the best seven picks. Many borrowers want to avoid predatory payday lenders, so transparency with fees, state availability, fast turnaround times and reputation were deemed the most important factors.

Other weighted factors include BBB accreditation and ratings, customer reviews and complaints, finance charges, number of brick and mortar locations, minimum and maximum loan amounts, and whether the lender offered online applications.

Alternatives to payday loans

Personal loans or cash advances apps may yield a better deal. Personal loans typically allow for higher amounts, longer terms, and lower APRs compared to payday loans. Cash advance apps usually come with low fees or no fees at all, and many have instant funding for low amounts.

  • Cash advance app for instant funding: B9
  • Cash advance app for avoiding overdrafts: Brigit
  • Payday loan alternative for limited fees: SoLo Funds
  • For bad credit personal loans: OneMain Financial
  • Connection service for comparing personal loans: Lendvious
  • Installment loans for over $1,000: OppLoans

8 ways to tell a payday lender is legit

The following should help you find legit payday loans easily:

  • Accredited by the BBB. The BBB is more than a century-old nonprofit organization that helps identify trustworthy businesses. Different short-term lenders across the country have BBB accreditation, and dealing with these businesses provides extra peace of mind.
  • Good rating with BBB. Aside from accreditation with the BBB, a good rating can tell a lot in a glance. A high rating can indicate the business handles complaints promptly, its practices are transparent, has adequate licensing and more.
  • Provides contact details. Take some time to find a lender’s contact details. If a lender provides no more than a contact form or an email address, see how responsive it is before you apply. A legitimate payday lender shouldn’t shy away from providing a physical address, phone support or live chat.
  • Transparent. Direct lenders of legit short-term loans are legally required to be upfront about the fees and charges you have to pay during the loan term, and they adhere to all given maximum limits. The loan contract should clearly set out all applicable fees and charges.
  • Doesn’t guarantee approval. If you encounter a website that claims to provide guaranteed short term loans, you should be wary.
  • Abides by state regulations. With legit payday loans, you don’t have to worry about lenders charging you more than the maximum limits set by the state. Check the regulations in your state to make sure your lender is operating legally.
  • Doesn’t require money upfront. One of the biggest red flags when researching a lender is if it requests money upfront. Origination fees are paid out of your loan amount, and you shouldn’t have to pay anything before you borrow.
  • Checks ability to repay. Payday lenders are no longer legally required to make sure you can afford repayments in all states. But legit lenders will still ask about your monthly income and expenses when you apply.

Are payday loans available in my state?

Bottom line

Whether you’ve decided on a payday loan, installment loan or auto title loan, you may face a bigger expense than you initially expected. Short-term loans are designed to be repaid quickly. If you’re unable to pay on the due date, you’ll be charged more fees and extra interest, which can quickly increase the total cost of your loan.

As with every lending option, always be sure you can repay what you borrow.

Recap of best payday lenders:

Frequently asked questions

We understand that you may be cautious when applying for short-term loans. Here are some of the frequent questions our users have asked.

What is a payday loan?

Payday loans are short-term forms of financing that are typically available in amounts ranging from $50 to $500, depending on your state of residence. And they’re expensive — most come with high fees that translate to APRs in the triple digits.

LEARN MORE: How payday loans work

Can I qualify for a payday loan?

To qualify for a payday loan, you typically need to meet the following criteria at a minimum:

  • Steady job or regular income
  • US citizen or permanent resident
  • At least 18 years old
  • Live in eligible state

LEARN MORE: Find out if payday loans are legal in your state

How long does it take to apply for a payday loan?

Applying for a short-term loan should take around five to 10 minutes, provided you have all the information needed to complete the application close at hand.

Picture: Shutterstock

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4 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    JohnApril 26, 2018

    Can funds be deposited onto Walmart debit card?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezelynApril 26, 2018Staff

      Hello John,

      Thank you for your comment.

      If you’re referring to the Walmart MoneyCard, according to their website, you can add money to the Card from the website of many banks, credit unions and financial institutions with an electronic funds transfer. This means that funds can be deposited into this account through a bank transfer. I hope this helps.


    Default Gravatar
    FrankieApril 16, 2017

    I’m in need of a small loan but don’t have a checking or savings account. Is there any other way around it?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AnndyJune 15, 2017Staff

      Hi Frankie,

      Thanks for your question.

      If you need funds quickly but don’t have a bank account, you may consider getting a payday loan from a lender and have the funds deposited onto a prepaid debit card. You can start comparing debit card loans and checking if you are qualified.

      Please do review the requirements and eligibility criteria when you apply.


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