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Online vs in-store payday loans

If you're short on cash and need to borrow money quickly, you might consider a payday loan.

There are two ways to get a payday loan: online and in person at a store. While your experience will be similar, they do differ in a few key ways. Read our guide below to compare the benefits of each option and discover which may be right for you.

⚠️ Warning: Be cautious with payday loans
High-cost payday loans are unsustainable for borrowing over a continued period of time and are expensive as a means of longer-term borrowing. If you're experiencing financial hardship call Credit Counselling Canada for free financial counselling (Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm at +1 866-398-5999). You may also want to consider payday loan alternatives.

Online vs. in-store payday loan lenders

While either option can get you a payday loan, there are some key differences between the process involved with getting a payday loan online versus getting one at a store.

Online vs in-store support

When you visit a payday loan store location in person, you can interact with a lender and ask questions or clarify any element of the loan’s terms and conditions. This could be helpful if you don’t know how to interpret the information. Many lenders can even give you your cash that same day if you apply in person.

An online loan could be an easier way to quickly get the cash you need to catch up on expenses. However, you won’t have the in store one-on-one session to knead out any inquiries. Instead, you’ll want to be sure that the lender’s site clearly explains your responsibilities and charges, and that there’s a helpline if you don’t understand something. You will usually receive your online loan directly into your bank account in one to two business days.

    Licensed lenders

    When you apply with an online lender, confirm that the lender is licensed to do business in your province. Keep in mind that regulations regarding payday loans vary between provinces and territories.

    Compare online payday loan options

    1 - 2 of 2
    Name Product Loan Amount Loan Term Interest Rate Turnaround Time Serviced Provinces Offer Table description
    GoDay Payday Loan
    $100 - $1,500
    Up to 62 days
    Varies by province
    As little as 2 minutes with INTERAC e-Transfer®
    AB, BC, MB, NB, NS, ON, PEI, SK
    To apply, you'll need to be a Canadian resident over the age of 18 with a valid email address, phone number and an open bank account with a Canadian bank or credit union.
    iCASH Payday Loan
    $100 - $1,500
    7 - 62 days
    Varies by province
    As little as 2 minutes with INTERAC e-Transfer®
    AB, BC, MB, NB, NS, ON, PEI
    Get up to 20% in cash back once your payday loan is fully repaid. Conditions apply.
    Same day cash up to $1,500 for car payments, rent, mortgage, home & appliance repair, and more. 24/7 instant approval and e-Transfer funding. Income of at least $800/month required.
    Maximum borrowing costs of payday loans per province
    Always refer to your contract for exact repayment amounts and costs as they may vary from our results.
    Province Maximum allowable cost of borrowing
    Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario & Prince Edward Island $15 per $100 borrowed
    Manitoba, Saskatchewan & Nova Scotia $17 per $100 borrowed
    Newfoundland and Labrador $14 per $100 borrowed
    Quebec Limit of 35% annual interest rate (AIR)

    Benefits and drawbacks of online payday loans


    • Saves time. The online application process typically takes less than 10 minutes to complete. Once the loan is approved, the funds can be issued within one or two business days.
    • Easy approval. You can usually get approved for a payday loan no matter what your credit score looks like. Lenders are more concerned with your ability to repay your loan.
    • Ability to compare loans. With online lending, you can often compare several loan offers in a short period of time. This can make it easier to search for the best interest rates and terms for your needs.


    • High costs. Online payday loans can be expensive, which makes it all the more important to compare lending terms and interest rates to get more for your money.
    • No early repayment savings. Although online lenders typically don’t charge early repayment penalties, they also usually don’t offer early repayment savings. If you repay your loan early, you will still owe the same amount of interest and fees most likely.
    • Online scams. There are plenty of untrustworthy lenders in the online space looking to take advantage of those who need access to fast cash.

    Benefits and drawbacks of in-store payday loans

    Here are the pros and cons of applying for a payday loan in-person at a store:


    • Physical storefront. Visiting a physical store will provide you with a fair idea of the kind of business a lender runs. Additionally, you will know where to go if you have any questions or problems.
    • In store support. Having an in store specialist to speak to can make it easier to address any issues you have with your loan.
    • Application assistance. Loan applications can be confusing. An in store lender will help you work through the application which could be helpful.
    • Access to money quicker. Applying in store usually means you can leave with your loan the same day you apply.


    • Longer process. Unlike an online loan that requires only a few clicks, in store loans typically take more time to apply for. If you’re comparing loans, you’ll also need to visit various lender locations in person.
    • Fewer options. Unlike getting an online loan, in store loans limit your options to your geographic area. If you live in a small town, this could be problematic, as you may have to travel to another city to find a variety of lenders.

    How to decide which loan option is best for you

    When looking for a payday loan, it’s not enough to look for a low monthly payment plan or the cheapest interest rate. Before signing on the dotted line, here are a few things to take into consideration:

    • APR and fees. The annual percentage interest rate (APR) represents the true cost of a payday loan and tends to be around 400% APR or more.
    • Required creditworthiness. While banks and credit unions usually require that you have a good credit score, payday loan lenders typically approve people with less than good credit. These lenders are more concerned with your ability to repay your loan.
    • Repayment terms. When signing a payday loan contract, read the repayment terms carefully. The loan will need to be repaid within a specific period of time, often the day after your payday. Terms generally extend from 7 to 31 days. In addition, be aware of any fees you will have to pay if you make a late repayment.
    • Provincial regulations. Confirm that your lender is abiding by any provincial regulations in place. These regulations tend to determine the maximum amount that can be charged in fees per $100 borrowed. Some provinces regulate the amount of loans you can take out at one time as well.

    Can you get a payday loan without having a bank account?

    Yes, you can, although only some lenders will offer this option. If you find a lender that does not require you to have a bank account to receive a payday loan, there are generally two ways you’ll be able to receive your loan:

    • Prepaid debit card. Lenders will either mail the card to you or let you pick it up at a nearby location after your loan has been approved.
    • In store cash pickup. After applying for the loan in person and being approved, you’ll receive cash for your loan.

    Prevent being scammed with an online payday loan

    Loan scammers are known to set up websites that offer payday loans with quick and easy approval, low interest rates and a guaranteed right to cancel. These sites can make a loan sound like your best option by far, however this is how they successfully find victims who fall for the scam.

    Even if the loan and website appear legitimate, it’s essential to research the company you’re looking to apply with. We’ve researched and compiled a list of payday loan providers in Canada here that you can easily browse through and read our full reviews on for each.

    Know the warning signs

    Here are a few warning signs that should raise red flags about an online lender:

    • Ungrammatical, unclear writing on the website. If the lender can’t clearly describe the loans and conditions of what they’re offering, look elsewhere.
    • Requires advance fees or taxes. Never transfer any funds before you are approved for a loan, even if the lender insists.
    • Incredibly low interest rates. If a lender offers an interest rate that’s much lower than you find elsewhere, it could be a scam.
    • Quick decision deadlines. If you’re pressured to make a decision quickly, go with another lender.

    Tips to avoid getting scammed

    • Do your research. A quick online search may bring up reviews and articles about the lender written by real customers, which can give you a general idea of their legitimacy.
    • Ask questions. Ask for the lender’s full business name, address, licensing information and registration in order to hold the lender accountable. If these questions are avoided or ignored, this should raise red flags and you should choose a different lender.
    • Don’t email private information. Never email your Social Insurance Number, credit card or bank account details. Enter this information into a secure website only. If a lender asks you to email them, go with another lender.

    Learn how to protect yourself from a payday loan scam

    Bottom line

    A payday loan can be helpful when you need money in an emergency. Both online and in store loans are easily accessible, assuming you meet the basic requirements and you have the necessary information on hand. However, before you settle on a lender and a loan, be sure to do your research and compare your payday loan options to ensure you find the best loan for your needs.

    Are payday loans available in my province or territory?

    Payday loans are available in all provinces and territories across Canada. You should be aware that payday loans are regulated by individual provinces, which means costs and fees can vary. Ensure that any lender you choose abides by the laws of the place you live.

    Find out how much lenders can charge across Canada

    Frequently asked questions

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