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Compare real payday loans

Plenty of websites offer short-term loans, but how do you know if you're dealing with a real lender?

Editor's choice: Fast5kLoans Short-term Loans Connection Service

Fast5kLoans Short-term Loans Connection Service logo
  • Wide range of loan amounts
  • Variety of loan terms
  • Quick process
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A short term loan, also referred to as a payday loan, can help you get through tricky financial situations, and getting one can be straightforward if you meet some basic criteria. While you can find multiple options online, not every lender that offers short term loans is a real lender. Some of these operate as intermediaries or loan matching services, while others are simply there to scam borrowers.

Fortunately, there are plenty real and legitimate short term lenders in the US. In the states where payday loans are legal, you can expect lenders to abide by all relevant state regulations. Here’s how to find real payday loans and lenders, and how to avoid the ones merely looking to take your money.

What is a “real” short term loan?

Simply put, a real short term loan is one you get through a direct lender. A direct lender has its own underwriting department and makes its own lending decisions.

This is in contrast to a loan matching service or an aggregator that collects your information and passes it on to a pre-selected bunch of lender. This can lead to you receiving scores of unsolicited offers, some of which might be scams. Searching online is also likely to turn up dubious operations alongside the legitimate ones.

With a real short term loan, you can expect to find out if the lender approves your application almost immediately. If approved, you can expect access to funds soon after. The time it takes depends on the lender you choose as well as whether you apply in-store or online.

A selection of real short term loans you can apply for

Name Product Filter Values Loan amount Turnaround time Requirements
OppLoans Installment Loans
$500 to $5,000
1 business day
Direct deposit, meet minimum income requirements, live in eligible state
Comes with the option to change your due date so you won’t fall behind on repayments.
$1,000 to $25,000
2 to 3 business days
Be employed, have a US bank account, live in a state where Stilt operates, hold one of the following visas: F-1 and OPT, H-1B, H4, O-1, L-1, TN, J-1, DACA or be a US citizen.
No green card? You could still qualify for a personal loan.
Fast5kLoans Short-term Loans Connection Service
$100 to $35,000
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.
LendYou Short-term Loans
$100 to $2,500
Same business day to 1 business day
$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.

Compare up to 4 providers

How can you identify a “real” short term lender?

Distinguishing a real short term lender from a potential scammer is easy if you go through the following steps:

  • Interest and fees. A real payday lender has required licenses and permits in place, and is operates in accordance with applicable laws. Such lenders will display their interest rates and fees clearly. You also won’t have to worry about hidden charges.
  • No guarantee of approval. If you encounter a website that claims to provide guaranteed short term loans, you should be wary. While it is true that most short term lenders have more relaxed lending criteria than banks, they always look at a borrower’s ability to repay before approving the loan.
  • Loan amount. State regulations govern the maximum amount you can borrow through a payday loan. If you find a payday lender that’s providing loans beyond this limit, you can be certain that it’s operating outside the law.
  • Reputation. Seeing what previous borrowers have to say about any short term lender should give you some indication of how good or bad it may be. Don’t limit yourself to reviews on the provider’s website, because these can be faked. Use Google to find comments about the provider on other sites, or use a source such as where reviews and short term information are provided as well as being able to find lenders.

Tips to identify a “real” short term lender online

These clues can help you be confident that you’re dealing with a real online short term lender:

  • The fine print. Review the website of any short term loan provider before submitting an application. Look for any mentions of affiliates or lender partners to know whether you’re dealing with an aggregator or a loan matching service.
  • License information. You can expect a real short term lender to display its licensing information on its website, you will also find details of relevant accreditations. Real lenders have to abide to payday loan regulations in the states they operate.
  • Contact details. Look for contact details no matter which short term loan provider you select. If you find no more than an email address, you might want to consider moving on to your next option. Some direct short term lenders offer customer service via live chat and some offer support over the phone. Look for a physical address for the lender’s headquarters or registered office as well. If a website operates from outside the country, it can remain out of the reach of US law enforcement agencies.

Is there anything to consider before applying?

If you think you may not be able to repay the loan or that you might make your repayments late, reconsider applying for the loan in the first place. This is because you may have to pay additional fees and the lender can report your late or defaulted payment history to credit bureaus.

Before the lender sends you the funds, it will give you a loan contract. Go through this document carefully because it tells you how much you may have to pay as fees.

Frequently asked questions

Are payday loans available in my state?

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