Please note: high-cost short-term credit is unsuitable for sustained borrowing over long periods and would be expensive as a means of longer-term borrowing.
We compare payday/short-term loans from
Table: promoted deals, sorted by total payable
How much do you need to borrow?
How long do you need to borrow for?
Important information: You should always refer to your loan agreement for exact repayment amounts as they may vary from our results.
What are payday/short term loans?
Payday loans are high-interest loans over relatively short periods of up to a month. As the name suggests, they are designed to tide you over until you receive your paycheck.
Payday loans, along with other short term, unsecured personal loans where the APR (Annual Percentage Rate) is 100% or higher are defined as “High Cost Short Term Credit” by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). You generally won’t see high street banks providing these – a number of new, predominantly online companies like the now defunct Wonga and QuickQuid found success in the early 2000s offering payday loans over the internet.
Are they a good idea?
Payday loans are a very expensive method of borrowing and should only be considered as a last resort. They may not solve your money problems, and they’re not a good idea for borrowing over longer periods, or for sustained borrowing.
Before you apply for one, make sure you’ve considered other options. Is the expenditure that you’re planning absolutely essential? If you can defer a purchase then you could save yourself money in the long run. If you’re struggling to pay a bill, then why not talk to your electricity, gas, phone or water provider to see if you can work out a payment plan? Read more about alternatives to payday loans at moneyadviceservice.org.uk.
How are payday loans different from other types of credit?
Shorter loan terms. Payday loans are designed to be short term solutions to financial shortfalls. Although lenders are starting to move towards longer loans, the norm is around one to six months.
Smaller loan amounts. How much you can borrow depends on the particular lender, but payday loans typically range from £50 to £1,000. For new customers the maximum is likely to be considerably lower.
Less strict eligibility criteria. While payday lenders will always conduct a credit search before approving you, they’re often less interested in your credit rating and more interested in whether or not the loan you’ve applied for would be affordable for you.
Higher rates. Payday loans come with a much higher APRs than almost all other forms of credit. In the UK the Interest and fees are capped at 0.8% per day, but it’s always important to take into account the full cost of the loan before you apply.
How do payday loans work?
Like most lenders, payday or short term loan providers charge interest on the money they lend to you. Interest is a fee for borrowing, and is normally a percentage of the amount you borrow – so if you borrow more money, you pay more interest. If you decide to take out a payday loan you can expect to pay up to 0.8% interest each day – that’s £4 for every £500 borrowed. Every day.
For loans of one month or less, you’ll generally repay the money borrowed (plus interest) in one payment, but for loans of more than one month, you’ll generally pay one “instalment” each month. In the majority of cases, with each instalment you pay off part of the capital (the amount you have borrowed) as well as the interest you have accrued so far. This means that your first instalment would mostly go towards paying interest, while your last instalment would mostly go towards clearing the capital.
Some lenders, however, provide short term loans on an “interest-only” basis. That means that each month you pay only the interest that your capital has accrued, and then in the last instalment you’ll pay the interest and clear the capital. This might seem like a good idea, because all but the final instalment will be smaller than if you were steadily chipping away at the capital, however, the reality is that you’ll pay more interest overall with an interest-only loan (compared to an interest and capital repayment loan at the same rate).
Although the majority of lenders do not charge a fee to apply for these loans, heavy fees can be incurred if you don’t make payments on time. Late payments are also likely to damage your credit rating, and therefore your ability to borrow money in the future. Only consider a payday or short term loan if you’re certain you’re going to be able to meet the repayment schedule.
In most cases, payday loans and other short term instalment loans are repaid using a continuous payment authority (CPA). That means funds will be automatically taken from your account on the scheduled day(s). Some lenders accept payments by other means such as direct debit or a manual transfer.
How should I compare payday loans or short term loans?
When you’re in urgent need of money, even a bad deal can look good. Be sure to compare lenders to get a loan with the best rates that fits your needs. Here are some things to consider:
Loan amounts and durations. Does the lender you’re considering offer the loan amount and term that you require? Don’t forget that new customers are unlikely to get approved for a lender’s maximum available loan. The duration of a loan will normally be determined by the affordability of the individual repayments – in other words, you might want to spread repayment over three months to keep each instalment manageable. Just don’t forget that borrowing for longer generally costs more.
Eligibility. To be eligible for a short term loan you must be a UK resident, at least 18 years old and have a current account. While most lenders will not reject you simply based on your credit score, they will require that you are employed and have a steady income. All those factors plus the amount you want to borrow will be used to decide on your eligibility for the loan.
Interest rates. Interest rates for payday loans can be eye-wateringly high, and are often expressed as a daily fee – for example up to 0.8% per day (that’s £1 per day for every £125 that you borrow).
Fees. Generally payday lenders don’t charge any upfront fees such as “product” or “application” fees (although it’s still smart to make sure), but many will charge up to £15 for a late repayment. There are plenty of other good reasons not to miss a payment however – not least the damage to your credit score.
Total payable. Perhaps the single most important factor to consider, this is the total amount the loan will cost you (provided you don’t miss any repayments). The amount consists of the original amount borrowed plus the interest. Because different lenders structure their loans in different ways, the total payable helps consumers to easily work out which lender would be cheapest for them.
Early repayment. Most lenders don’t charge fees for repaying a loan early, and will only charge you interest for the days on which you borrowed. If you’re planning to make overpayments where possible, and to clear your loan ahead of time, check the lender’s policy on early repayments to make sure you’ll save money by doing so.
When you’re considering any loan, it’s a good idea to work out the total amount you’re going to need to repay. Lenders should be upfront about this figure, and in many cases it’s a more useful figure than the interest rate. A lower rate might not benefit you if the loan term is longer than you need. If there are no penalties for repaying the loan early, and you think you might be able to, then a better rate could outweigh a shorter term.
Some short term lenders now offer promotional codes which let borrowers save money on their loan. You may wish to browse our QuickQuid discount code and Peachy discount code pages before applying with these lenders, for example.
How are payday loans repaid?
The majority of lenders will insist on debiting your account on the day you get paid, using a “Continuous Payment Authority” (CPA).
What is a Continuous Payment Authority (CPA)?
A CPA is a payment arrangement in which you give a company permission to withdraw money from your account on a reoccurring basis. CPA’s differ from direct debits because they give the company being paid the ability to withdraw money from your account whenever they wish, and to take payments of different amounts without consulting you. Most payday loan companies will use CPA’s to collect your repayments, however, you can cancel this at any time by consulting with either your lender or your bank. If you do cancel a CPA, make sure you arrange to make repayments by another means. If you miss a repayment it will affect your credit score, and potentially cost you extra in fees and additional interest.
How to tell if a short term lender is legitimate
The following should help you find legit short term loans easily:
It has FCA authorisation. If the lender you are borrowing from is legitimate it should be in the FCA register.
It gives various active contact details. Take some time to find a lender’s contact details – typically in the footer of its site. If a lender provides no more than a contact form or an email address, see how responsive it is before you apply. A legitimate short term lender shouldn’t shy away from providing a physical address, phone support or live chat.
It’s upfront about costs. Direct lenders of legit short term loans should be upfront about the fees and charges you have to pay during the loan term, and to adhere to all given maximum limits (if a lender’s quoting a rate higher than 0.8% per day, steer clear). The loan contract should clearly set out all applicable fees and charges.
It doesn’t require money upfront. One of the biggest red flags when researching a lender is if it requests money upfront. You shouldn’t have to pay anything before you borrow.
What about brokers?
You may wish to consider using a payday loan broker. Brokers will usually have a panel of lenders that they refer applicants to, so if you’re not successful with one, your application is passed to the next, then the next, and so on. You’ll only have complete a single application form, with the broker, rather than having to go through the process several times with several different lenders.
What is APR?
The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is a measure designed to help consumers compare loans from different providers.
All payday or short term loan providers must calculate the APR of their products and services using the same calculation. It’s calculated based on a one year term (even if the loan is only for one month) which can make already-high rates seem even higher. It also takes into consideration both the interest and charges.
While APR is certainly useful to compare short-term loans and makes it clear how they are much more expensive than other kind of loans, it doesn’t really tell the whole story, especially because the APR you’ll ultimately be offered will depend on your circumstances, on how much you want to borrow and for how long. That’s why it’s important to consider other factors beside the representative APR, such as the total amount repayable.
How much your loan costs depends on how much you borrow, the interest rate charged and the term of the loan. Payday loans are by design an expensive form of credit and are usually geared towards people who have trouble finding credit from more mainstream sources of credit such as banks and credit unions. It’s always important to be clear about the fees and charges involved when taking out a short term loan.
What will I definitely have to pay?
Interest. This will typically be a daily fee equivalent to a percentage of the amount borrowed.
What might I have to pay?
Late payment fees. If you’re late on a payment, you may be charged a fee by your lender. These fees are regulated by the government.
Fees charged by your bank. If the lender attempts to withdraw money from your account and there is insufficient funds, your bank may authorise the payment but charge you an unauthorised-overdraft fee. Make sure that you have enough money to cover your repayments on the day they are due.
What can I use my payday loan for?
Though payday loans can be used for a wide range of purposes, they’re generally designed to cover unexpected expenses. Common uses for payday loans include forgotten bills, car repairs, emergency medical expenses or any other sudden event. Payday loans are unlikely to help when it comes to ongoing financial issues, however.
Here are some common scenarios:
Could a payday loan help?
To fix a fault on your car, costing around £400
To fix your laptop, costing around £100
To replace a broken heating element, costing around £100
£50 each month to top-up your income and tide you over
No, it wouldn’t be suitable
To spread the cost of a new £600 sofa over 10 months
No, it wouldn’t be suitable
Are payday lenders regulated by the government?
The rise of payday loans brought about a number of unscrupulous lenders, which were exploiting borrowers with extortionate interest rates, fees and penalties. In 2014 the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) took over regulation of this area and brought in new rules to rein in outrageous lending practices.
Interest cap of 0.8% per day. Interest and fees must not exceed 0.8% per day of the amount borrowed. That’s £4 per £500.
Fixed default fees capped at £15. If borrowers fail to make a payment on time, the default charge must not exceed £15.
Total cost cap of 100%. Borrowers must never have to pay back more in fees and interest than the original amount borrowed.
Rollover cap. Under the new FCA rules you will only be able to roll over your loan twice.
Your questions about payday loans
First off, make sure that a payday/short term loan is definitely how you want to proceed. Because of the high interest rates involved, only take the loan if you’ve exhausted other options.
Next you should compare lenders and loan durations to find the cheapest loan that would be comfortably affordable for you. You can get an idea of the repayments using the table above.
Once you chosen a lender (and checked that you’re eligible to apply) the entire application will usually take place online. First off you’ll need to give the lender enough details to run a credit search (like your address history for the last three years). In many cases the lenders won’t be put off if you have bad credit, but they do have to make sure that the loan would be affordable for you.
If you’re formally offered the loan and you draw it down, make a note of the terms and the repayment amounts (and dates) and ensure you will have enough in your account to repay your loan.
If you need any assistance the lender will be able to answer questions you may have. Crucially, if you find yourself struggling to make a repayment, you should contact the lender as early as possible – this is the best way to protect your credit record and avoid getting into severe financial difficulties.
These lenders offer incredibly streamlined online application processes that usually lead to in an instant decision. You’ll need to provide up to three years of address history to enable a credit check, plus details of your income and outgoings.
Payday and short term loan companies will often be able to look beyond poor credit, but will need to make sure that they only offer you a loan that would be affordable.
In rare cases, you may be asked to proved additional documentation.
Some short term lenders in the UK will request access to your online banking. This sometimes requires you to provide your login details (if you don’t trust the lender, then don’t do this) or may alternatively require you to log into your internet banking to give your bank permission to legitimately share transactional data with a specific third party (your bank will verify that the lender is authorised, before securely sharing your data).
Payday and short term loans are typically for sums between about £50 and £1,000. One of the main factors that dictates how much you can borrow is how much you can afford to repay each month (or week, or fortnight). Lenders might not be dissuaded by bad credit, but they will care about affordability.
If you opt to borrow over a longer timeframe, you can usually reduce the size of each repayment – potentially making the loan more affordable – but this will push up the overall cost. Bear in mind that if it’s the first time you’re using a lender, they’ll want to start fairly small. Similarly, lenders may see a longer loan term as a greater chance for a borrower to default.
The majority of lenders will take the necessary funds from your account on the same day you get paid, but won’t take the money directly from your pay. In other words it won’t show up on your payslip – your pay will land in your account and then shortly after the payment will be deducted from your account.
It’s usually incredibly quick, with some lenders promising “instant” loans. Realistically it can take as little as 15 minutes, although some lenders are slower outside of office hours.
Many payday lenders allow you to pay out your loan early without any extra fees associated. You will still have to pay the full amount associated with your credit contract. Contact your payday loan credit provider if you need to organise an early payment.
This is often possible, at the lender’s discretion. Payday loans are regulated by the government and designed to be a “stop-gap” solution to financial problems. There are restrictions around “rolling over” loans. If you find yourself needing more than one payday loan, you should consider other forms of credit or seek debt counselling. You can read more about alternatives to payday loans at moneyadviceservice.org.uk and also in our own comprehensive guide.
If you make all of your repayments on time then a lender may approve you for another loan. Some lenders have benefits for repeat borrowers such as increased borrowing amounts, quicker funding or slightly better rates. But keep in mind these loans are not a long-term solution, and if you frequently need to borrow money then you may need to consider a longer term borrowing option or a more stable line of credit. It may help to lower your expenditure each month to overcome your cash shortfall.
UK payday loan companies use a secure online system. Payday loans applications are generally carried out on a secure online application form to help protect your privacy. These system uses a 128-bit secure server and SSL encryption to ensure your personal information cannot be stolen. To verify your income, some payday lenders will need a snapshot of your account for the past 90 days. The services involved are safe and secure and only provide a “read-only” view of your account. There are no personal details transmitted and no access to any other information besides your financial history is needed.
Chris Lilly is a publisher at finder.com. He's a specialist in credit-based products including business and personal loans, mortgages and credit cards, and is passionate about helping UK consumers make informed decisions about their borrowing. In his spare time Chris likes forcing his kids to exercise more.
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