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

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.

OppLoans Installment Loans

OppLoans Installment Loans
  • Easy online application
  • Quick approval
  • Fast funding
  • Long repayment terms

OppLoans Installment Loans

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

  • Minimum loan amount: $500
  • Maximum loan amount: $5,000
  • Turnaround time: 1 business day
  • Loan term: 9 to 36 months
  • Must have direct deposit and meet minimum income requirements
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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

Rates last updated March 23rd, 2019
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 Max. Loan Amount Turnaround Time Requirements
OppLoans Installment Loans
Installment loans with competitive rates from a top-rated direct lender.
$5,000
1 business day
Must have direct deposit and meet minimum income requirements
Jora Installment Loans
Installment loans with repayment terms up to 30 months, depending on your state.
$2,600
1–2 days
Must have an active checking account, regular source of income and email address.
LendYou Short-term Loans
Apply online with this loan-connection service offering unrestricted short-term loans with fast turnaround.
$15,000
1 business day
You must be a US citizen or permanent resident, age 18+ and have a regular income.
CashUSA Installment Loans
A connection service for quick cash loans up to $10,000.
$10,000
As early as 1 business day
Must have a monthly income of $1,000+ after taxes and valid checking account.
CashNetUSA Loan
Apply for a short-term loan with an easy online application and dedicated customer service.
Varies by state
1 business day
You must be a US citizen or permanent resident, be at least 18 years old and have regular income and a bank account.
ACE Cash Express Short-term Loans
Quick payday, installment and title loans with no prepayment penalty and a 72-hour satisfaction guarantee. Funds can be loaded on an ACE Elite™ Visa® Prepaid Debit Card.
Varies by state
Generally receive the money the next business day
Must be 18+ years old, have a steady source of income and a checking or savings account. Must not be a debtor in bankruptcy.
LendUp Payday Loans
LendUp offers $250 loans for first-time borrowers. Good credit is not required. Visit the site to see more details for your state.
$250
generally receive the money the next business day
Be 18+ years of age and have a checking account that can accept electronic transfers.

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?

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US Payday Loans Offers

Important Information*
CashNetUSA Loan

Apply for a short-term loan with an easy online application and dedicated customer service.

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.

LendYou Short-term Loans

Apply online with this loan-connection service offering unrestricted short-term loans with fast turnaround.

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