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.
Wonga short-term loans: An overview
One of the biggest names in payday lending, Wonga entered administration in August 2018 and isn't offering loans to new customers. If you're considering a payday loan, there are alternative options.
The biggest fish in the payday loans pond, Wonga collapsed in 2018 and is no longer issuing loans to new UK customers. This follows an influx of compensation claims from people who took out a loan before 2014. At the time of its collapse, the lender said customers should continue to make repayments, and “top-ups” wouldn’t be available. We’ve kept this page live for historical purposes. Product information relates to the loans Wonga was offering shortly before it collapsed.
For alternatives to Wonga, see our comparison table of payday lenders.
What's in this guide?
- Key features of a Wonga loan:
- How did Wonga's loans hold up against the competition?
- Is high-cost, short-term borrowing a good idea?
- How did a short term loan from Wonga work?
- What were the eligibility requirements?
- What if your Wonga loan application was declined?
- Does having had a Wonga loan affect your credit score?
- Will a Wonga loan be visible on my credit file?
- Will a Wonga loan affect my chances of securing credit in the future?
- Frequently asked questions
While high-cost short-term borrowing isn’t for the faint-hearted, it can provide the quick, temporary cash you need when an unexpected cash shortfall pops up. Wonga had three different types of loan – allowing custmers to borrow between £50 and £600, over terms from one day to six months.
Key features of a Wonga loan:
What were the different repayment periods?
How did Wonga’s loans hold up against the competition?
You can use the tool below to get an idea of how much the loan that you have in mind might cost today, and compare it to our Wonga loan calculator.
We compare payday/short-term loans from
Is high-cost, short-term borrowing a good idea?
Payday loans, and high-cost, short-term credit are a very expensive method of borrowing and should only be considered as a last resort. They may not solve your money problems, and are not a good idea for borrowing over longer periods, or for sustained borrowing.
Before you apply for a payday or short-term loan, 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 did a short term loan from Wonga work?
Wonga loans were designed for people who felt they were not well served by mainstream finance.
To get a Wonga loan you had to fill out an application form online. First of all you’d need to choose between the three packages, deciding on the amount you wish to borrow, the length you wish to borrow for and the date you wished to pay your loan back by. Wonga would then tell you exactly what you’d be expected to pay back, and when.
You then needed to pass on your personal and work details. Wonga ran a credit check to assess your eligibility. Wonga did not contact your employer.
Your request was then either be approved, declined or referred. If your application was been referred Wonga contacted you within in 24 hours for more details. If approved you’d be sent your loan agreement.
Like most other payday credit lenders, Wonga used a continuous payment authority (CPA) to take payments automatically on the repayment date a customer chose during the application. Customers had the option to repay some or all of the loan early. Doing this will save money on interest.
What is a continuous payment authority (CPA)?
A CPA is a recurring payment in which you give a company permission to withdraw money from your account on a regular basis.
CPA differs from direct debit because it gives the company being paid the ability to withdraw money from your account whenever it wishes, and to take payments of different amounts without consulting you. Most payday loan companies will use a CPA to collect your repayments, however you can cancel this at any point by either consulting with your provider or your bank.
What were the eligibility requirements?
- UK resident
- 18 years or older
- Hold a UK bank or building society account with a valid debit card
- Have a working mobile phone & email address
Did you know?
In 2015 the Financial Conduct authority (FCA) capped interest and fees on all high-cost short-term credit loans at 0.8% per day.
It also capped all default charges at £15 and the total cost (interest, fees) of loans at 100% of the original sum. This means you’ll never have to pay more than double the amount borrowed.
What if your Wonga loan application was declined?
If you had a loan application rejected by Wonga, it wasn’t the end of the road. Here are some steps you could have taken.
Why was my application rejected?
Wonga’s minimum eligibility criteria stated that you must be at least 18 years old, have an active bank account and live in the UK. However, meeting these criteria was obviously no guarantee of success.
Wonga said it would try to include the reasons why an application has been declined on the decision page at the end of an application. Its customer care advisors didn’t have access to any further information beyond what was included on that page, but sometimes this wasn’t enough to satisfy rejected applicants.
The most common reason for being turned down for a payday loan is that the lender isn’t confident that the loan will be affordable for you. This could be down to factors like your level of steady income, your existing financial commitments (including any other outstanding loans) or your credit history. Lenders should only ever lend responsibly, so they’re obliged to weigh up these factors when considering your application.
It takes a lot to put off payday lenders, as these are known to be among the most lenient when it comes to applicants with a poor credit score. Still, if you have been rejected for credit multiple times, missed a lot of scheduled payments, filed for bankruptcy or applied for an individual voluntary arrangement (a formal agreement with your creditors for paying your debts) in recent years, this could be reason enough to decline you.
If you’re unemployed or lack a regular income, this could have contributed to you being rejected. Bear in mind that a poor credit score could also occur due to a lack of borrowing activity, not just a history of reckless borrowing.
Wonga stated that it would “never guarantee approval based on previous usage alone”, and so could decline your application even if it had approved you in the past.
So what next?
Ultimately, it may be that a payday loan would be a bad choice for you at this stage. The good news is that there’s plenty of excellent free advice out there for people facing debt. Consider seeking debt advice from the government’s Money Advice Service and check out our guide to dealing with debt.
You can be comforted by the fact that payday lenders each use different criteria to decide your eligibility for their products, and there are dozens of lenders to choose from in the UK.
However, if you were declined by Wonga, your credit record may be in a sorry state. You can find out if this is the case at no expense. Plenty of companies, including Experian, can let you see your credit report. Once you have this, you can identify if there are aspects of the report that are likely to be putting off prospective lenders, and try to build a positive credit history.
Your credit score isn’t the “be all and end all”, but it’s definitely a factor. Most payday lenders will focus more on your ability to repay a loan rather than your credit score, but it varies between lenders. Don’t go submitting a series of applications in quick succession, though, because each time you submit an application for credit, your credit score takes a small hit.
Look for lenders which offer an “eligibility checker” or “soft search” facility, which will give you a better idea of your likelihood of success, without affecting your credit score, before you actually hit “Apply”.
There are also other products aimed at people with bad credit that you might want to consider, such as guarantor loans (where a friend or relative promises to step in should you fail to make a repayment), credit-builder credit cards (cards designed to build a positive credit history, with low credit limits that are regularly reviewed) or logbook loans (secured on a vehicle).
Should I apply for another loan?
If you were been rejected for a loan, there’s nothing stopping you from reapplying, but if nothing’s changed, the outcome is likely to remain the same. Most payday lenders will offer you a smaller or shorter loan if they aren’t happy to provide the loan you originally requested, so if that didn’t happen, it’s advisable to first address whatever caused the application to fail.
Dos and don’ts
- Waste your time contacting Wonga’s customer service to find out why your application was rejected. It doesn’t know any more than you do about why you were declined.
- Make multiple applications for credit in a short space of time – this is likely to damage your credit score further.
- Apply for a payday/short-term loan unless you’re certain you can afford it.
Ultimately, being declined by Wonga would have been pretty frustrating, but there are other avenues to explore in order to be approved for credit.
Does having had a Wonga loan affect your credit score?
There are three widely used credit reference agencies (CRAs) in the UK, and lenders go to one or more of these companies to get an idea of how creditworthy you are. The companies all take a slightly different approach, and that means that you don’t have one single, definitive “credit score“. Your rating is likely to be broadly similar across the three CRAs however.
When you applied for a Wonga loan, while the decision process was largely instant and automated, Wonga always ran an “application search”, also known as a “hard search”, which would have been logged by CRAs on your credit file for up to two years.
However, what matters most is the timeliness of your repayments. If you pay your debts back on time, this could actually have a positive effect on your credit score. If you default on a payday loan, this could be disastrous for it.
Will a Wonga loan be visible on my credit file?
When you apply for a loan, the lender will run a full credit search. This will be logged on your credit file for up to two years along with the details of the company that requested the search. It’s normal for a “hard” credit search to have a very slight negative effect on your credit score. The good news is that it’s widely believed this negative impact can be erased through a few months of sensible financial behaviour (paying bills on time, for example).
For this reason, you shouldn’t submit an excessive number of applications for credit in too short a space of time. Doing so would also be a red flag to companies looking at your credit record, as it could suggest severe financial troubles.
Each repayment, or missed repayment, will also be recorded on your credit file. Provided you pay back the loan in full and on schedule, your credit score should only be positively affected. Prospective lenders want to see that you can take out a loan and pay it back responsibly – after all, if you’ve never taken out a loan they have no idea whether you’d pay one back.
Will a Wonga loan affect my chances of securing credit in the future?
We’ve looked at how a Wonga loan could affect your credit score (which any prospective lender is going to be interested in), but how else might a Wonga loan affect your chances of getting a mortgage, personal loan or credit card down the line?
It is possible that a lender could simply be put off by seeing a payday loan in your credit file. Mortgage brokers have admitted to turning down applicants for this reason. By contrast, Halifax has openly stated that it treats payday loans like any other form of unsecured personal loan.
If you have outstanding debt with a loan or credit card company, this will also be taken into consideration when your credit record is being assessed. All responsible lenders have a duty to check that a loan would be affordable for the borrower, by looking at both the borrower’s income and their financial commitments.
Frequently asked questions
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