Have unexpected bills or car repairs caught you off guard? Has your budget been stretched too tight this month? If your current finances won’t see you through to your next payday, a short-term loan like a payday loan might be able to help bridge the gap. These loans are available for application conveniently online and you can then receive your funds either by check, direct deposit or by picking up your cash in-store. The application process can take minutes and you can see your funds quickly if you’re approved – in as little as 15 minutes with some lenders. Find out if you’re eligible for a payday loan using our guide below and see how you can apply.
LendUp gives you the ability to apply for a loan online. They offer short-term loans to consumers of all financial backgrounds. They have no hidden fees, clear terms and conditions, and great customer service.
- Min: $100
- Good credit not required
- Application: Instant decision on loan approval
- Loan term: 7 to 30 days
- Must be 18+, 19+ in AL
- APR: Varies depending on the loan terms and your state of residence
- Borrow maximum: $250 for first time borrowers
A selection of loans you can apply for
You can apply for a loan directly through a lender, or you can work with a broker who will help you shop around for a lender. Note that the max loan amount is based on the lender’s max amount. The amount will vary based on your state of residence.
A selection of lender matching services you can apply with
These lender matching services are not lenders, loan brokers or agents for any lender or loan broker. They also do not make credit decisions. They focus on trying to match you with a lender that might be able to provide you the funds you seek. Note that the max loan amount is based on the matching services max amount, but it will vary based on your state of residence. If you proceed with one of these services, confirm that the lender is reputable by checking with your local government.
So, what exactly is a payday loan?
A payday loan is short-term, alternative form of credit that can be accessed quickly and taken out by those with bad credit or on lower incomes. Because they can be accessed by those who need urgent access to credit, or by those who wouldn’t be eligible for traditional loans, you’ll find payday loans have a higher Annual Percentage Rate (APR) than you’d find on other personal loans or credit cards. These kinds of loans are designed to be paid in the short term, with the average loan term being about two weeks to a month and being able to be extended to about six months. As they are regulated at a state level, you’ll find different payday loan interest rates, terms and laws applying depending on where you are.
How are they different from other types of credit?
- Shorter loan term.
Payday loans are designed to be short-term solutions to financial shortfalls, so you won’t find a loan that extends beyond around six months, although this differs by state.
- Borrowers with low credit scores accepted.
Lenders will often not conduct a credit check or will still consider you for a loan if you have bad credit. That being said, you’ll need to have proof that you can repay the loan, say with a steady income, having your bank account in good standing and having identification.
- Higher rates and fees.
Due to their short-term nature and also convenience of access, payday loans across the board come with a much higher APR and fees than other forms of credit. Most states have caps on this APR but some are still very high when compared to other types of credit. Be sure to take into account the cost before you apply.
- Smaller loan amounts.
Again, this differs depending on the state you’re in, but generally you’ll be able to borrow between $100 and $1,000.
Are payday loans legal? Well, it depends!
The legislation for payday loans differs between states. Some states have outlawed payday laws altogether, others have restricted how much payday lenders can charge, and other states have imposed other regulations to protect borrowers. What are considered to be higher cost payday loans are authorized in thirty-two states, while eighteen states plus the District of Columbia place restrictions on the amount lenders can charge you in terms of fees. Other states, such as New York and Arkansas, prohibit payday loans under various laws and regulations. Click here if you live in Las Vegas. If you in live in San Antonio, check out this guide.
So are payday loans actually available in my home state?
Does a payday loan affect your credit score?
Payday lenders generally will not send your information to the three main national credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. However, they may send information on your loans and repayments to some smaller credit reporting agencies, which can still be accessed by mainstream lenders when you are applying for credit. If you don’t repay your payday loan on time, if you miss repayments or make repayments late, you could also find your credit score being negatively affected. The lender may choose to take legal action to bring in unpaid loans, or pass your loan onto a debt collection agency which will impact your score.
Online payday loans – what you need to know
- Make sure the lender is reputable.
This is sometimes hard to determine but is something you will regret doing if you apply with a unreputable lender. Try finding independent third-party customer reviews on other websites or see how easily the lender can be contacted. You should also compare the loan products to other similar ones to see if they are competitive.
- Are they operating legally?
Some payday lenders use online lending as a way to get around state restrictions, so ensure they are acting legally to the best of your ability. You can take a look at our state pages to find out what laws apply in your state.
- Are they displaying the APR?
Lenders are required to display the APR on their sites even if the loan isn’t over a one-year term. This helps you to get an idea of the cost of the loan and lets you compare it to other credit products.
- Applying online and in-store.
Many lenders that accept online applications also have bricks-and-mortar stores that you can apply at or make repayments at. Applying online can be a quicker process and can be more convenient, as the approved funds are sent straight to your checking account, but you need to ensure the payday lender is authorized to loan to people in your state. If they don’t explicitly state this on their website, it’s best practice to ask.
Being approved for a payday loan
How can you make sure you’re approved for a payday loan? At the end of the day, there’s no real sure-fire way to make sure your application will be accepted by the lender. But there are a few ways to give yourself the best chance.
- What eligibility criteria is set by the lender? There’s no point applying if you don’t at least meet their minimum eligibility – things like minimum age and residency will be required.
- Are you able to take out a payday loan in your state? You need to make sure of this before you start applying.
- What are the credit requirements? Lenders have different standards when it comes to your credit scores – some don’t do credit checks while others will simply accept borrowers with low credit scores. Find out what their requirements are.
- Do you have an active bank account? You’ll need to have a checking account and it will need to be in good standing.
- What is your employment situation? Lenders may require you to be employed.
Lauren takes out a loan
It’s two weeks before her next payday and the worst happens – Lauren’s car breaks down. She relies on her car to get to work and can’t afford to take any time off. She finds out that the repairs will cost $300 but she doesn’t have that amount available in her account.
She has a credit card but it doesn’t have enough available credit on it to cover the whole amount, and she doesn’t like her chances of being approved for another one with her credit score. She looks at her payday options and finds a lender that she can apply for online.
The fees are higher than if she paid on her card – she will be charged $345 which will be due on her next payday – but she works out a budget and sees that she will be able to afford it. She applies for the loan and the money is transferred into her checking account the next business day.
The costs that come with payday loans
What you will be charged:
- A fixed fee based on the amount you borrow. This changes depending on state regulations, but can be anywhere from $10 to $30 for every $100 borrowed.
What you might be charged:
- Rollover fees. If you ‘rollover’ your loan or take out an additional loan with the same lender, you will still owe the original amount you borrowed plus the original fixed fee, and then the fees for the subsequent loan. Rolling over loans is how borrowers can fall easily into debt, so think carefully before doing this.
- Fees for prepaid debit cards. Many lenders offer prepaid debit cards through which you can receive your loan amount and subsequent cash advances or other offers. But be warned, many lenders charge application fees, monthly fees and payment fees for these cards, so check what costs are associated with the card before you sign up for one.
- Late payment fees. If you make a payment late you may be charged a fee by your lender. This is regulated by state law.
- Returned check fees. Also regulated by state law, if a check doesn’t go through your lender may charge a fee.
- Fees charged by your bank. If the lender attempts to withdraw money from your account and there is insufficient funds, your bank may authorize the payment but charge you an overdraft fee. Ensure you have enough money to cover your repayments on the day they are due.
“Why do I hear that payday lenders charge more interest than is stated in their fees?”
When you are applying for a payday loan you will see the amount you want to borrow and the amount you need to repay – this could be anywhere from $10 to $30 for every $100 you borrow. So, the lender may advertise that their fees are around 15-30%. The lender is also required to display the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) clearly on the website so you are able to compare it to other types of credit that have repayment terms over one year or more. Because payday loans have such a short repayment term – usually between two weeks and a month – this brings the APR up quite a bit. For instance, if you take out a loan of $100 and are charged a $15 fee, and your repayment terms are two weeks, that equals an APR of around 390%.
Weigh up the benefits and drawbacks before applying
- Convenient online application. You no longer need to visit the lender in person and deal with complicated forms to apply for a payday loan. Complete your online form and sign the documents electronically.
- Quick turnaround time. Applications usually take minutes and you can find out if you’ve been approved soon after. Depending on how you receive your funds, you can receive your money within one day.
- Receive your funds in your account or pick up cash. Many payday lenders have online operations and physical stores, so you have the option of applying online and then deciding how you receive your funds. Have it deposited into your checking account, get a check, receive the money onto a prepaid debit card or even go down to the store to pick up your cash.
- High costs. Payday loans are notorious for having high APRs – mostly in excess of 300% depending on how much you borrow and what your repayment terms are. Make sure you understand the costs associated with the loan you are taking on.
- Unreputable lenders. Some payday lenders that operate in the online space attempt to get around state regulations that are in place to protect consumers. Make sure the lender you are applying with is trustworthy and is operating legally. You can verify this with your State Banking Regulator or Attorney General.
- Easy to fall into debt. Make sure you don’t take on a loan you can’t afford. Often, you will need to repay the entire loan amount on your next payday, so make sure you have sufficient funds left over to budget for the rest of that pay period.
Payday loan application checklist
The required documents differ between lenders, but generally you will need the following to apply:
- Identification documents and social security number or Alien Registration number or ITIN
- Contact details such as your address and phone number
- Evidence of your income
- Details of your checking account
- Your bank’s routing number (nine-digit number at the bottom of your check)
What payday loan alternatives are there?
Before you hit that ‘apply’ button you should consider the alternative options available to you. If you need a payday loan to cover bills that you owe, you could consider getting in touch with the bill provider or creditor in order to negotiate your debt. They may be able to let you pay off what you owe in installments for a low rate.
If you have an account with a bank or credit union you may be able to take out a loan from them. These are, of course, dependent on the state of your account and your credit history. Other options you can consider include credit cards and pawn loans.
There are also financial advances and credit available from community assistance programs, non-profit groups and even some employers. You could also consider asking for a loan from family and friends. Remember that a payday loan is a very high-cost financial product so should only be taken out after your other options have been exhausted.
The questions you’ve asked us about payday loans
How can I apply for a payday loan?
The application process will differ between lenders and will also depend on what state you are in. Those offering online loans will require you to fill out an online application and then submit your documents online, and then sign an online contract. Applying in-store requires you to bring in your required documents and sign your contract in person.
How do I make sure the lender I'm applying with is safe?
Firstly, make sure they check what state you are applying from to ensure they are complying with state regulations regarding payday loans. You can also take a look at third-party customer reviews on other websites to see other people’s experiences with them. How easily are they contacted and how easy is it to find real information about their loans? This is also a good way to check how reputable they are.
Will a payday lender check my credit score?
Most payday lenders won’t check your score, but some will. Generally low credit scored are accepted either way so long as you show you are able to repay your loan. You can check the eligibility requirements and application terms before you apply.
Do I have to fax any documents or visit the lender if I apply online?
Generally, no. Most online lenders will have systems in place whereby you can submit all your information electronically and even sign your contract online. If you don’t want to visit a storefront to pick up your cash you can opt to have the amount deposited into your checking account.
How do I repay my payday loan?
Repaying a loan will depend on the lender you apply with. Generally, you will need to provide an ACH authorization for the lender to take the repayment amount from your checking account on the due date. If the lender also has a physical loan office you may be able to write a personal check to make your repayments. Make sure you know what repayments are due when, as some lenders may only set up a renewal fee on the day your loan is due meaning you still have money owing. In some cases you may get 3 months or more to repay your payday loan.
What is an ACH authorization and do I need to sign one?
An ACH authorization is something that you sign to give the payday lender permission to withdraw the repayment amount from your checking or savings account. You will need to sign this authorization unless the lender lets you make repayments via check. Before you sign the authorization make sure you know how much will be debited and on what dates, whether this amount will repay your loan or just renew it, and also how to revoke the authorization (by law it must state this).
Is there such a thing as a guaranteed loan?
While many lenders and brokers offer the feature of a “guaranteed payday loan” it’s not true that they can offer these types of loans. They will need to assess your credit rating, your income, your FICO score among others. Ensure you meet the criteria before applying for a guaranteed loan.
How long do I have to repay my loan?
This depends on the repayment terms set by the lender, but it will generally be on your next payday. Typical loan terms are between two weeks and one month. If you need a longer time to pay off your loan, it might be worth considering a bad credit installment loan instead of a payday loan.
I have an emergency, can I use a payday loan?
Sometimes life can throw you a curve ball and you may not have the cash to pay for this. If this sounds like you, then you can consider applying for an emergency payday loan.
Can taking out a payday loan damage or improve my credit score?
Payday lenders generally do not report to the three main national credit reporting bodies – Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union, so taking out one of these loans is unlikely to have a positive or negative effect on your credit score unless you have trouble with your repayments. Keeping that in mind, sometimes payday lenders send your repayment information to smaller credit reporting agencies, so that information can still be accessed by mainstream banks and lenders.
What do I do if I'm having trouble repaying my loan?
You’ll firstly need to speak to your lender to ask if they offer any form of payment plans or extended repayment terms. You can check the regulations imposed in your states to see if this is a requirement. If your lender starts placing undue pressure on you to take out subsequent loans to cover the first, you can submit a formal complaint against them.
Can my payday lender garnish my wages?
This can usually only happen if the lender or a debt collector obtains a court judgment. This will need to result from you failing to repay the loan and then disputing the lender or collector after you’ve been sued to collect the losses. If someone is threatening to garnish your wages and you are unsure if they are able to do so, it would be best to seek legal advice.
Why won't lenders consider me for a loan because of the state I live in?
States have varying regulations in place to protect consumers when it comes to payday loans. In some states it’s illegal whilst in others it’s regulated or restricted. Lenders, online or otherwise, have to comply with these regulations when they consider you for a loan, so the state you live in will play a part in whether you are eligible.
Can I rollover my payday loan?
States have different regulations in place regarding waiting periods and rollover loans, so it depends where you applied for the loan. You will generally need to pay a fee to delay the paying back of your loan.
How often can I get a payday loan (cash advance)?
This will be regulated on a state by state basis — be sure to check before you apply. Repeatedly taking out payday loans could lead to a negative debt spiral. It’s always important to compare your options before applying.
Can I still get a direct deposit advance from my bank?
These types of loans were offered by major banks and were very similar to a payday loan. Direct deposit advances have been discontinued by the majority of lending institutions, if you need more information find out how deposit advances compare to payday loans.
I share my car with my partner, can I get an auto title loan on it?
This can be a tricky situation. We’ve written a guide to getting a car title loan with a shared vehicle.
I received a phone call from a payday lender asking for money. What should I do?
Recently in the USA there has been reports of payday companies calling Americans and demanding they may a payment for a loan they may have taken out. If you receive one of these calls you should contact your local government.