Where to find a legit payday loan online | finder.com

Legit short-term loans

Before you submit your application, it's always worth checking: is the short-term loan you’re applying for legit?

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Times can be tough, but that doesn’t mean you should settle for just any short-term loan you can find. Payday loans and installment loans aren’t legal in every state, and even if they are legal, lenders usually have to abide by strict regulations. Any lender that isn’t willing to comply with state law won’t be legit.

Finding a legit lender doesn’t have to be difficult. All you need is a good sense of your state laws and a baseline for finding a good deal.

Our top pick: CashUSA Installment Loans

  • Min. Loan Amount: $500
  • Max. Loan Amount: $10,000
  • Turnaround Time: As early as 1 business day
  • Loan Term: 90 days to 72 months
  • Requirements: $1,000+ monthly income after taxes, valid checking account
  • Bad credit is OK
  • No application fee
  • Debt education resources

Our top pick: CashUSA Installment Loans

Explore its online education center to get tips on budgeting, how to prioritize your bills and more.

  • Min. Loan Amount: $500
  • Max. Loan Amount: $10,000
  • Turnaround Time: As early as 1 business day
  • Loan Term: 90 days to 72 months
  • Requirements: $1,000+ monthly income after taxes, valid checking account

What is a legit short-term loan?

A legit payday loan is one that is offered to you legally. The lender needs to abide by the regulations set by your state, even if you are temporarily visiting somewhere else. Short-term loans can be applied for online and in-store but fall under the same regulations.

Generally, short-term lenders have more relaxed criteria than banks and other lenders. You’ll be able to apply for a short-term loan if you have bad credit, are on a lower income or receive government benefits. However, the relaxed eligibility criteria does mean rates and fees are higher than other loans.

Lenders still have to stick to state-mandated APR and can only lend up to the state’s maximum amount.

The 'ability to repay' rule

Lenders must make a reasonable judgment on an applicant’s ability to repay the loan. The lender should assess factors such as income, housing expenses and existing debt in determining if the applicant can reasonably repay the loan.

If a lender doesn’t ask you for any of that information or doesn’t attempt to evaluate if you can afford the loan, the lender probably isn’t legit. Since there are plenty of lenders that check, you should move on and find one that combines good terms with a strong lending ethic.

A selection of legit loans you can apply for today

Check the websites of any providers you’re interested in to confirm they operate in your state of residence.

Updated September 23rd, 2019
Name Product Filter Values Max. Loan Amount Turnaround time Requirements
1 business day
Direct deposit, meet minimum income requirements
Comes with the option to change your due date so you won’t fall behind on repayments.
As soon as the next business day
Regular source of income, verifiable bank account, US citizen, ages 18+
Get connected with multiple lenders you might qualify with — even if you have bad credit.
1 to 2 business days
Active checking account, regular source of income, email address
Get access to tools to help you plan a career move, make some extra cash or search for a better-paying job.
Varies by state
1 business day
Regular source of income, bank account, US citizen or permanent resident, ages 18+
Sign up for its discount program to get access to coupons and deals on everything from dining out to tax services.
Same business day to 1 business days
$1,000+ monthly income, direct deposit, US citizen or permanent resident, ages 18+
Get offers from potential lenders in minutes by filling out just one online form.
Same business day to 1 business days
Employed, $800+ regular monthly income, checking account, ages 18+, US citizen
Fill out a simple online form to compare offers from several lenders that may be able to help.
1 to 2 business days
Bank account, email address, phone number, US citizen or permanent resident, ages 21+
Plus, get access to check cashing, cell phone top ups, bill pay and more at one of its many storefronts.
As early as 1 business day
$1,000+ monthly income after taxes, valid checking account
Explore its online education center to get tips on budgeting, how to prioritize your bills and more.
As soon as the next business day
Checking account with ACH, proof of income, Social Security number, ages 18+
Get rewarded for making on-time repayments with better rates and terms on future loans.

Compare up to 4 providers

6 ways to tell a short-term lender is legit

The following should help you find legit short-term loans easily:

  • Better Business Bureau accreditation. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is more than a century-old nonprofit organization that helps identify trustworthy business. Different short-term lenders across the country have BBB accreditation, and dealing with these businesses provides extra peace of mind.
  • 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 are before you apply. A legitimate short-term lender shouldn’t shy away from providing a physical address, phone support or live chat.
  • Fees and charges. 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.
  • 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.
  • Use money for any reason. Legit short-term lenders don’t place any stipulations on how you can use loan funds as long as you’re using the money for a legal reason. If your lender tries to dictate how you can use your loan funds, it might not be legit.
  • 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.

How to protect yourself from payday loan scams

Are payday loans available in my state?

Are these payday lenders legit? Find out now

ACE Cash Express
Check City
Check Into Cash
SWIFT Money Loans

Even legit short-term loans can be costly

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.

More considerations before you apply

Take some time to go through the loan’s terms and conditions, as this document tells you how much you may have to pay in different circumstances such as rollovers and late payments. Some states don’t allow you to refinance a loan or take out more than one within a given period of time.

You’ll also have to pay additional fees if you make a late payment, and your lender may report your missed payments to credit bureaus. Reconsider applying if you think you may have troubles repaying your borrowed funds.

Don has a costly vet bill

Man playing with dog in a yard next to the seaImagine this scenario: Don knows how costly payday loans can be, but after receiving a large bill from the vet, he realizes he has no other choice but to take one out. Rather than applying with the first one he finds, Don chooses to compare different lenders.

He checks his state laws and finds that some are offering much more than they’re legally allowed. Others claim that they don’t conduct credit checks or have guaranteed acceptance.

Don passes over these and instead picks a lender that clearly outlines its fees and has a good customer service line. He borrows $200 and works the extra cost into his budget for the next month.

Bottom line

Knowing what to look for in a legit lender is just as important as understanding common scams. Once you’ve checked over your state laws, know how much you need to borrow and have an idea how to repay, start comparing your options to be sure you’re getting a good deal.

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37 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    orteganaMay 8, 2019

    I received a call for an installment loan… but since my credit score is low they said will make a deposit to my account and that I have to send it back through the store Walmart, to increase my credit it did not make sense to me is it normal?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangcoMay 9, 2019Staff

      Hi Ortegana,

      Thanks for leaving a question on our page. There are a lot of lenders out there that run their business differently and one you mentioned is very unique. I suggest reading about personal loan scams on this page before pushing through with the lender who is offering this to you. As a friendly reminder, review the eligibility criteria of the loan before applying to increase your chances of approval. Read up on the terms and conditions and product disclosure statement and contact the bank should you need any clarifications about the policy.

      Hope this was helpful. Don’t hesitate to message us back if you have more questions.

      With care,

  2. Default Gravatar
    TimothyFebruary 25, 2019

    What if we don’t have an banking account? Can i still get a loan. I’m struggling with bills and I have a 2 year old. I have a stable job. Please help me.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      johnbasanesFebruary 26, 2019Staff

      Hi Timothy,

      Thank you for reaching out to Finder.

      We are on the right page for you to check the available lenders that could assist you in your state. Please indicate the state you are in on the table provided on the table to see your options. Once the results are populated, you may want to check on the “Requirements” column to see which lender does not require a bank account to apply. Kindly review and compare your options on the table displaying the available providers. Once you have chosen a particular provider, you may then click on the “Go to site” button and you will be redirected to the provider’s website where you can proceed with the application or get in touch with their representatives for further inquiries you may have.
      Before applying, please ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria and read through the details of the needed requirements as well as the relevant Product Disclosure Statements/Terms and Conditions when comparing your options before making a decision on whether it is right for you.Hope this helps!


  3. Default Gravatar
    ToyaOctober 11, 2018

    Is arrowhead advance a good legit loan

    • Default Gravatar
      joelmarceloOctober 11, 2018

      Hi Toya,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

      Unfortunately we do not have information about Arrowhead Advance directly from finder. However, we have general guide to determine if loan company is legit or not. Please click HERE for more info.

      Please send me a message if you need anything else. :)


  4. Default Gravatar
    MissyJune 23, 2018

    I’m looking for a loan options that are not a scam and are legit I looking for a loan before mon June 25 it’s a emergency do you have and suggestions or help

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangcoJune 24, 2018Staff

      Hi Missy,

      Thanks for contacting finder.

      You can check this page to find out how to borrow money fast.
      Please know that all information on our website is legitimate and not scam.

      Hope this helps.


  5. Default Gravatar
    BellaMay 16, 2018

    I’m trying to find out if trust loan network is legit or a scam before I give them any information that could leave me bankrupt. Can someone please help?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniMay 16, 2018Staff

      Hi Bella,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      As a friendly reminder, while we do not represent any company we feature on our pages, we can offer you general advice. TrustedLoanNetwork only deals with lenders that follow responsible lending practices. Your application is processed in a secure environment and connected with a lender that is best suited to your needs.

      You may want to read more about TrustedLoanNetwork’s review page with finder in this page.

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great day!


  6. Default Gravatar
    StanFebruary 20, 2018

    I have a Important Infornation letter from Social Security that states I have been approved for disability payments, but have yet to receive any funds. I’m at bare bones now, and I need money badly. Can I use this letter as enough guarantee of ability to repay the loan? I expect to start getting the money soon, but they’re taking a long time to get back to me.
    Thank you,

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaMarch 28, 2018Staff

      Hi Stan,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder.

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation. I hope all things would get better for you soon.

      Regarding your question, it is really up to the lender. However, in most cases, they need other documents aside from the Social Security letter that you received. They need to ensure that a borrower can surely make the repayments.

      However, you may still want to try. Explore the options on our page and click on the “Go to site” green button to initiate your loan application.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!


  7. Default Gravatar
    KeishaJanuary 28, 2018

    Is there a payday loan that I could borrow from living in New York, I needed to borrow less than a thousand dollars my credit is not the best but I do a stable job. I just want to be able to pay my bills and still be able to pay back on payday

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      HaroldFebruary 4, 2018Staff

      Hi Keisha,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      While payday loans aren’t legal in New York due to NY Banking Law 373. There are loan-connection services that can help you find a suitable loan. Another option available for you are tribal loans but you have to note of its interest rate and fees which are usually high. You may also want to check resources available to you locally. You can check this page for other alternatives to payday loan.
      Please check the eligibility criteria and make sure that you meet them before applying for a loan.

      I hope this information has helped.


  8. Default Gravatar
    KalaJanuary 8, 2018

    I received a message through what seemed to be through Facebook and messenger saying i could put in a application through white rock Loans , I’m just wondering if there legit b4 i go through with it. Please help

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RenchJanuary 8, 2018Staff

      Hi Kala,

      Thanks for reaching out to us. Please note that we are not affiliated with any company we feature on our site and so we can only offer you general advice.

      Unfortunately, we don’t have information about White Rock Loans and it’s also not in our list of loans from our comparison reviews/pages.

      A “legit” payday loan is one that is offered to you legally, meaning the lender abides by all regulations set by your state, even if you are temporarily in somewhere else. Short term loans can be applied for online and in-store, but all fall under the same regulations.

      You’re actually already on the correct page on where you can compare your options by entering your state.

      Please click the name of your preferred lender to find out the details and the minimum eligibility. You may then click the green “Go to Site” button to submit your loan application online.

      Best regards,

  9. Default Gravatar
    LeandingJanuary 4, 2018

    Say my loans ready just pay a 120$ documation fee? Is this right

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoanneJanuary 5, 2018Staff

      Hi Leanding,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      Direct lenders of legit short term loans are 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.

      You may also research further if a lender asks you to put down money before you get your funds. For your reference, here are the usual list of fees or cost that usually comes with payday loans.

      Best Regards,

  10. Default Gravatar
    Welderholt@yahoo.comDecember 6, 2017

    Are they a legit company

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RenchDecember 6, 2017Staff


      Thanks for your inquiry. Please note that we are not affiliated with any company we feature on our site and so we can only offer you general advice.

      Yes, they are legit lenders. You may click each lender that you prefer to know more through our review pages and also check their eligibility criteria before you apply.

      Best regards,

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