This article contains links to products or services from one or more of our advertisers or partners. We may receive a commission when you click or make a purchase using our site. Learn more about how we make money.

Compare real payday loans

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

Updated

Fact checked

Editor's choice: OppLoans Installment Loans

OppLoans Installment Loans logo
  • Easy online application
  • Quick approval
  • Fast funding
  • Long repayment terms
Go to site

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

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Filter Values Max. Loan Amount Turnaround time Requirements
OppLoans Installment Loans
$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.
Check Into Cash Payday Loan
$1,000
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.
Fast5kLoans Short-term Loans Connection Service
$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
$15,000
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.
Possible Finance Mobile Installment Loans
$500
As fast as 1 business day
Checking account with 3+ months of banking history, $750+ monthly income, live in eligible state, ages 18+
Borrow up to $500 with just a few swipes — but only for residents of 5 states.
loading

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 finder.com 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?

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and finder.com Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site