How to decide between a personal loan and short-term loan

Need to borrow around $1,000? Find out if you should get a personal loan or short-term loan.

There’s a wide range of loan options available to those who want to borrow money. Each type of personal finance is suited to a different type of borrower and can be used for different purposes — this includes personal loans and online cash loans.

In this guide we break down the key differences between the two, outline their costs and help you determine which will be the best loan when you want to borrow a small amount of money.

Quick snapshot of three main differences

Short-term loansPersonal loans
AmountCan be as low as $200 or a large as $5,000Usually between $1,000 and $50,000
Collateral requiredNone, usually unsecuredCan be secured or unsecured
CostsFixed finance charges based on your loan amount and state of residence, usually comes out to a few hundred dollarsInterest rates range from 4% for excellent credit to as high as 35.99% for poor credit

Compare short-term loans and personal loans

Rates last updated December 12th, 2017
Unfortunately, none of the short term loan providers currently offer loans in your state. Learn more about short term loans in your state to find an alternative.
Name Product Product Description Term of Loan Turnaround Time Maximum Loan Amount
LendUp Payday Loans
LendUp offers $250 loans for first-time borrowers. Good credit is not required. Visit the site to see if available in your state.
7–30 days
generally receive the money the next business day
CashNetUSA Loan
Apply for a short-term loan with an easy online application and dedicated customer service.
Varies by state
1 business day
Varies by state
Check into Cash Payday Loan
With 1,000 branches in 30 states, get $50 to $1,000 in days from this direct lender.
Varies by state
1–2 business days
ACE Cash Express Payday Loans
Quick short term, installment and title loans come with no prepayment penalty and a 72-hour satisfaction guarantee.
Varies by state
Generally receive the money the next business day
Varies by state

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated December 12th, 2017

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Unfortunately, none of the personal loan providers offer loans for that credit score. If you are in urgent need of a small loan, you might want to consider a short term loan.
Name Product Product Description Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR Requirements
Laurel Road Personal Loans
Get a personal loan with no application or origination fees and a rate discount for autopay.
From 5.5% (fixed)
Must be a US citizen or permanent resident with a valid I-551 card. Best for people w/ 680+ credit scores and $60,000+ annual income.
Even Financial Personal Loans
Get connected to competitive loan offers instantly from top online consumer lenders.
From 4.99% (fixed)
Must have a minimum credit score of 580+. Must be 18+ years old and be an American citizen or permanent resident.
LendingClub Personal Loan
A peer-to-peer lender offering fair rates based on your credit score.
From 5.99% (fixed)
You must be over 18 years of age, a permanent resident of the US or an American citizen and have a steady source of income.
Prosper Personal Loan
Borrow only what you need for debt consolidation, home improvements, special occasions and more — with APRs based on your credit score.
From 5.99% (fixed)
Must be 18+ years old, an American citizen or US permanent resident and have a 640+ credit score.
SoFi Personal Loan Fixed Rate (with Autopay)
Borrow up to $100,000 with a competitive APR and no fees.
Good to excellent credit
From 5.49% (fixed)
You must be a US citizen or permanent resident, and 18 years or older.
LendingPoint Personal Loans
Get a personal loan with reasonable rates even if you have a fair credit score in the 600s.
From 15.49% (fixed)
Must have a fair credit score of 600 or better and verifiable income. Must live in a state where LendingPoint services.
NetCredit Personal Loan
Check eligibility in minutes and get a personalized quote without affecting your credit score.
From 34%% (fixed)
Varies depending on your state of residence.

Compare up to 4 providers

What’s the difference between personal and payday loans?

There are several key differences between personal loans and short-term cash loans including:

  • Loan amount. You can usually borrow anywhere from $50 up to $1,000 for a payday loan – some offer loans as high as $5,000. Personal loans come with much higher maximum loan amounts that can be as high as $100,000.
  • Eligibility. Personal loans offered by banks and credit unions have strict eligibility criteria that often includes good credit and a regular income. Cash lenders that offer short-term loans are much more flexible and will consider those with bad credit, those who receive government benefits as income or people who are unemployed.
  • Lenders. Personal loans are offered by banks, credit unions and online direct lenders. Short-term loans tend to be offered by lenders specializing in only that type of product.
  • Cost. Personal loans will be cheaper overall, but you’ll have to have credit in order to be approved. While payday loans have a quick approval process and can grant funds faster, you’ll undoubtedly pay for this convenience.
  • Loan term. Cash loans come with much shorter terms, usually between a few days and a year (depending on the loan amount). Personal loans, on the other hand, come with a minimum loan term of one year and a maximum of between five, seven and some even extend to 10 years.

What’s the cost difference between a personal loan and a short-term loan?

Personals don’t come with APRs higher than 36%. On the other hand, short-term loans can come with APRs in the thousands. It’s important to note that the annual percentage rate calculates yearly cost. If you decide to get a short-term loan and repay it in one month, the actual dollar amount you pay on top of what you borrow may be a better representation of costs.

The cost of a personal loan can be based on your credit history, if you’re offering an asset as collateral, the term length of the loan and more. Payday loan costs vary by state and lender but are often a high-cost product that lends money almost immediately with little to no credit check.

Short-term loan costs

  • For every $100 borrowed, the cost of a payday loan repaid in less than a month is just around $25.
  • For every $100 borrowed, the cost of an installment loan repaid over a few months is just around $15.
  • The average term of a payday loan is two weeks and it can have APRs ranging from 380% to over 1,000%.

Personal loan costs

  • Unsecured personal loan interest rates will be generally be a bit higher than their secured loan counterparts because there is no asset as security attached to the loan. For a $2,000 loan with an 8% APR, you could expect to pay a little over $250 interest.
  • Peer-to-peer loans tend to come with comparable rates that are based on your credit score. Rates can be as low as 5% or as high as 35.99%.

How can I decide which type of loan is right for me?

While there are similarities between the two products, there are big differences as well. Asking yourself the following questions will help you decide which type of loan is right for you:

  • How much money do I need to borrow?
    If you need to borrow between $50 and $1,000, a short-term loan is better suited for you, as personal loans tend to have minimums between $1,000 and $2,000.
  • How fast do I need the money?
    Short-term loans usually have faster turnaround times than personal loans because less is involved in the approval process. If you need money by tomorrow, a short-term loan could be a better fit.
  • How is my credit history?
    If you have good to excellent credit and regular income, you could stand to save money by getting a low interest personal loan rather than a high-cost short-term loan.
  • How much will it cost me?
    Ultimately, it comes down to your monthly payments and total repayment amount. Be sure to compare multiple options and explore those lender’s online calculators to see what’s most affordable for you.

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US Payday Loans Offers

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Slam Dunk Loans

Potentially get approved for a short-term loan through this lender-connection service, even with poor credit history.

LendUp Payday Loans

LendUp offers $250 loans for first-time borrowers. Good credit is not required. Visit the site to see if available in your state.

Check into Cash Payday Loan

With 1,000 branches in 30 states, get $50 to $1,000 in days from this direct lender.

OppLoans Installment Loans

Installment loans with competitive rates from a top-rated direct lender.