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Best payday loans and alternatives for 2024

Compare the top 7 legit payday lenders plus some cheaper alternatives

Payday loans are short-term, no-credit-check loans which are paid off on your next payday. They’re aimed at bad credit borrowers and typically range from $50 to $1,000. Most payday lenders don’t charge interest, but rather, a flat fee called a “finance charge” which is $15 to $25 per $100 borrowed – which are equivalent APRs of 300% to 1,300%.

While a payday loan can provide fast cash, they’re expensive. The good news is, there are cheaper borrowing options available – even if you have bad credit. To help you, we’ve narrowed down the best payday loans and alternatives, including payday cash advance apps that are free to use.

7 best payday lenders and alternatives:

Best payday lender

ACE Cash Express Short-term Loans

3.6
★★★★★

Finder score

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In business for over 50 years, ACE Cash Express is one of the oldest lenders on this list and offers payday loans from $100 to $1,500 both in-store and online. It has over 850 locations across the US and offers in–store payday loans in 10 states and online applications in six states.

While convenient and highly rated by past customers – it's expensive. Expect to pay around $25 per $100 borrowed, making it best for emergencies only. While not accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website, it has mostly positive reviews from customers on Trustpilot.

  • Only available in: California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas

Best no-fee payday advances

EarnIn

4.7
★★★★★

Finder score

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EarnIn is a cash advance app that lets you borrow up to $750 of your earned wages before payday with its Cash Out feature. This borrowing limit is higher than most cash advance apps and unlike payday loans, there's no interest or financing fees to use Cash Outs.

To qualify for EarnIn Cash Outs, you need to be employed, have regular direct deposits and earn a minimum of $320 each pay period. You can transfer $100 a day to a linked bank account, or more than $100 per day to an EarnIn card, if you qualify. Regular transfers are available in one to three business days or in minutes for a fee.

  • Not available in: Connecticut

Best for building credit

OppLoans Installment Loans

4.7
★★★★★

Finder score

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OppLoans is a bad credit lender that only does a soft credit check when you apply, which doesn't affect your FICO credit score. While its APRs start at 59% and can reach up to 160% or more – this is still less than what most payday lenders charge, and unlike a payday lender, OppLoans reports your repayments to the three major credit bureaus, which can help improve your credit score.

In spite of its higher rates, the company gets great customer reviews on Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau website. Its known for its fast funding times and customer service, with extended phone support hours on weekdays. However, the short terms of 9 to 18 months may lead to high payments for some borrowers.

  • Not available in: Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia

Best for money management

Cleo

4.1
★★★★★

Finder score

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Cleo is a cash advance and budgeting app with an AI assistant to help keep your spending in check. It's best for people who want to break old money habits and save more. It offers financial targets based on your income and spending habits – with a quirky AI assistant to help you stay on track.

To get 0% interest cash advances with Cleo, you'll need to pay a monthly subscription fee of $5.99, with same-day transfers costing an extra $3.99. And its maximum cash advance is $250, with borrowing amounts ranging between $20 and $70 until you establish a repayment history.

  • Available in all states

Best for free overdrafts

Chime SpotMe®

4.2
★★★★★

Finder score

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If you're an Chime account holder, SpotMe is a no-fee service that allows you to overdraft your Chime Spending account up to $200 on purchases and ATM withdrawals. To qualify for SpotMe, you need to have at least $200 direct deposited into your Chime checking account every month.

SpotMe limits start at just $20, but with regular direct deposits and a positive account history, this limit can go up to $200 over time. Additionally, if you receive your paycheck via direct deposit to your Chime Checking Account, you can get paid up to two days early.

  • Available in all states
Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC. Direct deposit: Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. We generally make these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date. SpotMe: Chime SpotMe is an optional, no fee service that requires a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Checking Account each at least once every 34 days. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member’s Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime’s discretion. Although there are no overdraft fees, there may be out-of-network or third party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe won’t cover non-debit card transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See Terms and Conditions.

Best for comparing short-term lenders

LendYou Short-term Loans

2.5
★★★★★

Finder score

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LendYou is a lender connection service that matches users to short-term payday and installment lenders without a credit check. You may apply for payday loans from $100 to $5,000, and turnaround time is the same business day or one business day.

LendYou isn't a direct lender, so the actual loan requirements and costs depend on the lender you're matched with. The lender may run a credit check depending on the loan you apply for. LendYou doesn't have a BBB page, so be sure you're visiting the official site before applying.

  • Not available in: Arkansas, New Hampshire, New York, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia

Best for higher amounts

MoneyLion Instacash advances

4.5
★★★★★

Finder score

Read review

MoneyLion is a cash advance app that offers higher borrowing amounts than most other cash advance apps and payday loans. MoneyLion's standard borrowing amount is $500 to qualified users, and you could potentially increase this amount to a max of $1,000 by opening a MoneyLion RoarMoney account.

And unlike a payday loan, MoneyLion is totally free to use for standard transfers, with no mandatory monthly fees, interest or financing fees. But if you want your money sooner, a relatively high Turbo transfer fee will apply – making it expensive to use for instant transfers.

  • Available in: Alabama, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Methodology: How we chose the best payday lenders

Finder’s lending experts review legitimate payday lenders against these key metrics to narrow down the best payday loans:

  • Finance fees
  • Loan repayment terms
  • Number of states served
  • Online application availability
  • Repayment flexibility
  • BBB customer ratings
  • Trustpilot ratings

We didn’t include tribal lenders on this list, as they’re not subject to the same laws and regulations as licensed payday lenders. They’re known to engage in predatory lending practices and rely on tribal arbitration to resolve customer disputes.

Compare cash advance alternatives to payday loans

Cash advance apps when compared to payday loans are often a cheaper and better solution if you’re in need of a small amount of cash to get you by. Start by choosing your state of residence to see providers in your area. Then narrow down your options by turnaround time, costs and more to find the best for your budget and financial goals. Select Compare for up to four products to see their benefits side by side.

Name Product Filter Values Max. amount per pay period Turnaround time Costs
EarnIn
Finder Score: 4.7 / 5: ★★★★★
EarnIn
Get up to $100 per day or $750 per pay period.
1 to 3 business days, or same-day for a fee
Free to use or instant with a fee as low as $3.99.
No mandatory fees, no interest and no credit checks. Subject to EarnIn terms & conditions.
Chime SpotMe®
Finder Score: 4.2 / 5: ★★★★★
Chime SpotMe®
Up to $200
Same day
No fee
Access fee-free overdrafts up to $200 when eligible. Plus get your paycheck up to 2 days early with direct deposit. See Chime terms and conditions.
Cleo
Finder Score: 4.1 / 5: ★★★★★
Cleo
Up to $250
3 to 4 days standard transfer. Same day with $3.99 express fee.
$5.99 monthly membership fee to access cash advances
Automatically monitor your spending plus access cash advances up to $100 at a time.
Sorbet
Not rated yet
Sorbet
Based on the amount of accrued PTO
2 to 5 days
No fee
Tap your unused PTO for a cash advance so you can access that money early. Available in: CO, FL, IL, MA, NY, NJ, TX, VA, OR, AR, NE, TN, ME, CT, WV
Go to site
Dave ExtraCash
Finder Score: 4.2 / 5: ★★★★★
Dave ExtraCash
$500
Up to 3 business days, or instant for a fee
$1 monthly membership fee and express delivery from $3 to $15 fee
Borrow up to $100 to avoid hefty overdraft fees.
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8 ways to tell a payday lender is legit

The following should help you find legit payday lenders more easily:

  • Accredited by the BBB. The BBB is more than a century-old nonprofit organization that helps identify trustworthy businesses. A high business rating (A+) can indicate the business handles complaints promptly, has adequate licensing and more. However, if it isn’t accredited you can confirm legitimacy using other review sites like Trustpilot.
  • Provides contact details. If a lender provides no more than a contact form or an email address, see how responsive it is before you apply. A legitimate payday lender shouldn’t shy away from providing a physical address, phone support or live chat.
  • Transparent. Direct lenders of legit short-term loans are legally required to be upfront about the fees and costs over the loan term, and must adhere to maximum limits. Your loan contract should clearly set out all applicable fees and charges.
  • Doesn’t guarantee approval. If you encounter a website that claims to provide guaranteed short-term loans, it may be a scam. No legit lender will guarantee approval before you submit an application.
  • Abides by state regulations. With legit payday loans, you don’t have to worry about lenders charging you more than the maximum limits set by the state. Check the regulations in your state to make sure your lender is operating legally.
  • Doesn’t require money upfront. One of the biggest red flags is when the lender requests money upfront. Origination fees are paid out of your loan amount, and you shouldn’t have to pay anything before you borrow.
  • Checks ability to repay. Payday lenders are no longer legally required to make sure you can afford repayments in all states. But legit lenders will still ask about your monthly income and expenses when you apply.

Are payday loans available in my state?

Bottom line

With a payday loan, be prepared to cover the fees and pay it off quickly. If you’re unable to pay on the due date, you’ll be charged more fees and extra interest, which can quickly increase the total cost of your loan.

Even if you have bad credit, there are other – and often cheaper – options for accessing quick cash, including cash advance apps and alternative bad credit lenders, like OppLoans.

Recap of best payday lenders:

Frequently asked questions

We understand that you may be cautious when applying for short-term loans. Here are some of the frequent questions our users have asked.

What is a payday loan?

Payday loans are short-term forms of financing that are typically available in amounts ranging from $50 to $500, depending on your state of residence. And they’re expensive — most come with high fees that translate to APRs in the triple digits.

Can I qualify for a payday loan?

To qualify for a payday loan, you typically need to meet the following criteria at a minimum:

  • Steady job or regular income
  • US citizen or permanent resident
  • At least 18 years old
  • Live in eligible state
  • Have a valid US bank account

How long does it take to apply for a payday loan?

Applying for a short-term loan should take around five to 10 minutes, provided you have all the information needed to complete the application close at hand.

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4 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    JohnApril 26, 2018

    Can funds be deposited onto Walmart debit card?

      AvatarFinder
      JhezelynApril 26, 2018Finder

      Hello John,

      Thank you for your comment.

      If you’re referring to the Walmart MoneyCard, according to their website, you can add money to the Card from the website of many banks, credit unions and financial institutions with an electronic funds transfer. This means that funds can be deposited into this account through a bank transfer. I hope this helps.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

    Default Gravatar
    FrankieApril 16, 2017

    I’m in need of a small loan but don’t have a checking or savings account. Is there any other way around it?

      AvatarFinder
      AnndyJune 15, 2017Finder

      Hi Frankie,

      Thanks for your question.

      If you need funds quickly but don’t have a bank account, you may consider getting a payday loan from a lender and have the funds deposited onto a prepaid debit card. You can start comparing debit card loans and checking if you are qualified.

      Please do review the requirements and eligibility criteria when you apply.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

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