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Instant Payday Loans

How do "instant" payday loans work and what are the fees, charges and risks are involved?

Payday loans are expensive forms of credit and shouldn’t be used to fix long-term financial issues. People should avoid payday loans if it will put their budget under strain, as late fees for payday loans can build up quickly and result in debt.

Payday loans are generally seen as “quick fix” solutions, as some lenders can provide funds almost instantly. But as the saying goes, things that sound too good to be true, usually are. The instant nature of payday loans, as well as the lenient eligibility criteria, often come with a hefty price tag.

While the National Credit Act (NCA) caps payday loan interest at 5% per month, service fees at R57 and a limit on initiation fees depending on your loan amount, these are still some of the most expensive financial products on the market, with most lenders charging the maximum amount possible, often with other additional charges.

To find out more about instant payday loans, consult this guide:

Comparison of Payday Loans

Name Product Minimum Loan Amount Maximum Loan Amount Term of Loan Turnaround time
Wonga Short Term Loan
Wonga Short Term Loan
4 days to 3 months for new customers, up to 6 months for existing customers
As soon as possible after an application has been approved
Apply for a first time loan up to R4,000 and have the ability to pay off your loan sooner to save on charges
Lime Quick Loan
Lime Quick Loan
5 to 37 days
By 7 pm on the same day
Borrow from Lime and you can take advantage of its loyalty program, which may cut the cost of future borrowing. Loan approval can take as little as five minutes.
FASTA Instant Credit
FASTA Instant Credit
1 to 3 instalments
Get approval in minutes
Get up to R8,000 in cash, in-store credit or online vouchers with a loan from FASTA. Pay back your loan amount in up to three instalments.
MPOWA Finance Loans
MPOWA Finance Loans
5 weeks
By 5pm on the same day
Apply for a loan of up to R5,000 with MPOWA. This lender offers a very fast online approval process; you could receive funds in your account in just two hours.
Creditgenie Loan Assist
Creditgenie Loan Assist
Varies per lender
Varies per lender
Access to a financial wellness programme and round-the-clock customer support are among the benefits of choosing a personal loan with Creditgenie.
UApply Loans
UApply Loans
Varies per lender
Within 24 hours
Apply for a payday loan in a matter of minutes with UApply. The process can be completed online with no paperwork needed. Choose a loan amount ranging from R500 to R20,000.

Compare up to 4 providers

Bank loan eligibility can be an issue for people with a default listed on their credit report or for people with little or no savings, which leaves them with payday loans from small lenders as their only option during emergencies. Payday loans should ideally only ever really be used in financial emergencies, such as unexpected bills, car repairs or medical expenses, as they are not long-term financial solutions and can worsen debt struggles.

How do instant payday loans work?

It’s important to understand how payday loans work before applying. First of all, it is advisable for applicants to only take up a payday loan if they are in an emergency or ineligible for other types of finance. This is due to their extremely high fees and short repayment terms. For those who are unsure about their situation or are facing financial hardship, there are alternatives to payday loans that they may be eligible for.

The eligibility criteria for a payday loan is more flexible compared to personal loans offered by banks and credit unions. Applicants will usually just need to be over the age of 18, earning a regular income and be able to offer three months of bank history to apply. So if someone has bad credit, a payday loan could be an option. However, lenient eligibility criteria don’t guarantee that a bad credit applicant will be accepted or approved.

All payday loans usually have short repayment period, so repayments can take a huge toll on a person’s budget as repayments are often high as a result. Payday loans offer customers access to a small amount of money, which usually start from R500, but can go as high as R8,000. Although these loans have a much shorter repayment term than other types of loans such as bank loans, they might be useful to those who need money fast or cannot access other types of loans due to bad credit.

Features of instant payday loans

  • Short repayment period. With a payday loan, customers will usually be required to pay the full amount plus fees within a shorter timeframe, which is usually not beyond one year (but with higher loans, may go as high as two years). Small emergency loans may even have a turn-around time as short as 5 days.
  • Fees. Payday loans typically come with very high fees, so it is important for people to borrow only what they need and repay it quickly. Payday loan customers will be required to pay an establishment fee and monthly account-keeping fees which can quickly add up. If you miss a repayment, penalties such as arrears and late payment fees usually apply (and there are no caps to these fees).
  • Loan amount. The maximum amount customers can get on a cash advance is usually limited to R3,000.
  • Application. Payday loans are straightforward to apply for, with lenders offering online applications and fast responses on your loan approval (usually 24 hours). Requirements for a successful application typically include being over 18 years and financially stable. Customers can apply for a small loan even with a bad credit history as long as they can prove that they will be able to repay the loan.

Alternatives to instant payday loans

Payday loans are an option during emergencies, but they tend to be expensive and can end up becoming unmanageable. The short repayment period on such loans also makes them unattractive to many. Here are several alternatives to payday loans:

  • Secured personal loans. If you have an asset such as a house or a car, a secured loan can be a good option to consider if you need money. Lenders will use your asset as collateral to secure the loan, and so therefore may consider an applicant with imperfect credit.
  • Credit repair. If you are having trouble getting a personal or unsecured loan due to your bad credit, you can initiate a credit repair to rectify any errors in your credit file that could be affecting your credit rating. There are credit repair agencies that you can hire to find your credit listings and sort any issues in there.
  • Credit cards. Credit cards are a source of financing, as they allow you to get credit from that you can use for purchases. Before getting a credit card, be sure to check the interest rates and fees on the card and to always pay your balance each month so as to keep your debt down.
  • Debt consolidation loans. Consolidating all your debt into one manageable payment can make it easier to track repayments and save you money on late charges. This is an option if you have many high interest instalment loans or if you have run up all your credit cards – and it can help you avoid bad credit.

If you are struggling financially or think you may be experiencing serious financial hardship, there are further alternatives to payday loans that you may be eligible for.

How do credit histories affect a person’s ability to access payday loans?

Someone’s credit history contains all their financial information, and it is used by lenders to determine if they are likely to default on their repayments. Information about a person’s credit card applications, late bill payments, late loan repayments and bankruptcy notes are among the things a lender will examine in an applicant’s credit file before approving their payday loan application. Having bad credit can deter lenders from lending applicants a loan, especially if that person is seeking financing from bigger lenders, such as banks.

Payday loan providers will ask for bank statements to determine how much someone earns and therefore how much they can lend them responsibly. Lenders use automatic systems to verify a person’s bank statements electronically, but some customers may be required to provide further documentation.

Improving your chances of being approved for other types of loans

Getting your credit card application approved or getting a home or personal loan requires a good credit rating, so here are several things that you can do to improve your credit and get a better chance of securing loans.

  • Consider debt consolidation. Consolidating all your loans into one payment makes it easier to make payments on time, which improves your credit rating while saving you money on late payment fees and other penalties. This could also ensure you manage your payments better, ensuring you improve your credit rating by paying your bills on time.
  • Pay your bills on time. Lenders usually check for red flags in your credit file, which include late bill and loan payments. To improve your credit rating and get approved for bigger loans, you should try and pay all your bills and credit card balances on time.
  • Check your credit file. Checking your credit file can help you improve your rating by rectifying any errors in it i.e. loans incorrectly listed as defaults by lenders. You can order a copy of your credit file personally or have a credit repair company help you with the task of removing any negative marks on your credit file.
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