How Do Payday Loans Work?

Loans are an essential part of the modern economy. For most people, buying something like a car or home just isn't possible using out-of-pocket cash. Borrowing money - whether as a quick personal loan or a 30-year mortgage - allows you to make those big purchases and pay off the amount over time. But if you're trying to raise quick cash to make ends meet, a payday loan may be your best option. Easy payday loans have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially among people with no credit or inadequate credit. So what are payday loans, and are they a smart financial move for you? We'll break it all down in this comprehensive guide.

Chapter 1

What is a Payday Loan?

Short-term loans  designed to cover your immediate financial needs until your next payday

The specifics of payday loans can vary, but they generally describe short-term loans designed to cover your immediate financial needs until your next payday (hence the name). Unlike most other loans, payday loans have immensely shortened terms. Payments for them are usually due within two weeks or close to your next paycheck date.

Payday loans  tend to come with high annual interest rates

Payday loans, also referred to as cash advance loans or check advance loans, tend to come with high annual interest rates. It’s not uncommon for the annual percentage rate to be in the triple digits. These loans generally do not require any collateral, making them an unsecured type of personal loan, though some lenders may take your future wages as collateral. You could apply

for an online payday loan or go in-person through a payday lender at a physical branch, depending on where you live. Upon approval, you receive the payment in the form of cash, check, or through a direct deposit into your bank account.

To complete a payday loan application, you are required to provide paystubs from your employer showing your current income. Your loan principal is typically based on a percentage of your predicted income. At the time of application, the direct lender of the guaranteed payday loan may also do a hard credit pull to check your credit score and credit history, affecting the terms of the loan. Note that this depends on the lender.

Chapter 2

How Much Can You Get from a Payday Loan?

Most lenders will offer amounts from $50 to $1,500

The exact amount that you can get will vary based on where you live. Different states have laws that regulate how much you can borrow and the amount that lenders can charge in interest and fees. But generally speaking, payday loans are a small-dollar loan designed for immediate needs, meaning most lenders will offer amounts from $50 to $1,500. The average payday loan is about $350 on a two-week term.

Currently, 32 states have capped maximum loan amounts on payday loans.

Delaware, Idaho, and Illinois have maximum caps at $1,000, giving them the country’s highest max caps.

California and Montana have the lowest payday loans set at $300.

Maine, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming have no maximums on their payday loans. Other states, including New Mexico and Nevada, will limit payday loans to 25 percent of your monthly income.

Possible Finance offers up to $500 within minutes

Possible Finance’s payday loan alternative offers up to $500. Upon approval, you can usually receive this within minutes on a debit card or in one to two business days in your bank account.

How Do You Pay Back a Payday Loan?

These loans must be repaid in a single, lump-sum payment due on the borrower’s next payday. A borrower can also pay back the loan once they have received income from a pension, Social Security, or another source. Specific due dates are set in original loan agreements, but they are typically set two to four weeks from the initial loan date.

The repayment itself can usually be made in several ways. Most common is a post-dated check the borrower writes for the full loan amount, including all fees. You can also pay off the loan with:


A check written on your next payday

Electronic payment through the lender’s website

Direct debit from your checking or savings account

Another form of credit

With Possible Financerepay your loan with four equal payments in installments over eight weeks

If you do not submit a payment by the due date, your lender may cash the check or electronically withdraw money from your bank account.

With Possible Finance’s payday loan, you can repay four equal payments in installments over eight weeks. This includes a 30-day grace period with alternative payment methods and no charges for late fees.

Chapter 3

Do Payday Loans Affect Your Credit Score?

Generally, payday loans do not have any initial effect on your credit score. Traditional payday loans are not reported to the three major credit reporting agencies, so they will not show up on credit reports. Some lenders may check your credit when they set the loan terms. Hard credit pulls can harm your credit score, but any individual credit check is generally negligible. They otherwise will not show up on your credit report even after accepting the loan.

Payday loans are not reported to the three major credit reporting agencies

However, that all changes if you become delinquent on your payday loan. Falling behind or consistently being late on payments result in your lender selling your account to a third-party collection agency. These third-party agencies usually report delinquent accounts as “collection accounts” to the credit reporting agencies. Payment history is one of the most significant factors that influence your credit score, so an account that goes into collections will undoubtedly harm your rating. This information can stay in your credit file for years and have a lasting effect on your credit.

Unlike traditional payday loans, Possible Finance does reports to credit bureaus to help you build up your credit. While this does mean that your credit score may potentially dip if you miss payments, Possible’s terms are designed to help you gradually improve your credit, even if you don’t have credit or have poor credit when you start.

A Possible loan doesn’t use your credit score.

Chapter 4

Pros & Cons of Payday Loans

Knowing if a payday loan is right for you and your financial situation often comes down to weighing out the pros and cons.

Pro: They are easy to access.

Probably the most notable advantage to payday loans is that they are relatively easy to access. Going through cash lenders, you can apply for a payday loan and receive the respective funds within just 24 hours. The application process itself can take mere minutes, where traditional loans can take a few days to go through approval. At Possible Finance, you can even apply for a payday loan alternative through an app on your phone.

Pro: They have fewer requirements than other loan types.

Traditional loans usually require a lot more in the application process, including a Social Security number, photo ID, proof of income, a credit check, and verification to repay the loan at the end of the term.

Requirements for a payday loan are generally more lenient. To apply for a payday loan, you must be at least 18 years of age and have:

A Social Security number or other government-issued identification

A job or other regular source of income

An active bank account

Note that the exact requirements can vary from state to state. Some state laws will have more intense requirements as a means of protecting you. Along with the above, Possible Finance has a few additional requirements for its payday loan alternative. We require that your linked checking account has:

About three months of history

Income deposits of about $750 per month

A positive bank balance

Pro: They (usually) do not require a credit check.

Most payday lenders are not required by state law to make a credit check, and they generally don't do so. This is a benefit because, as we mentioned above, too many hard credit checks can bring down your credit score. No credit check also means that you do not necessarily need good credit to get approval for a payday loan.

Pro: They do not require collateral.

Unlike mortgages, auto loans, and car title loans, payday loans are unsecured, meaning they do not require collateral. This means that the lenders cannot seize an agreed-upon piece of personal property as repayment if you fail to repay your loan.

That said, most payday lenders still have access to your bank account as an agreed condition of the loan. These lenders also have other means of collecting payment if you default, like enacting lawsuits or selling your account to collection agencies.

Con: They have high interest.

One of the most significant drawbacks to payday loans is their extremely high interest rate, making them drastically more expensive than other types of loans. The typical personal loan will charge interest ranging from 4 to 36 percent, while a credit card typically charges 12 to 30 percent interest. Payday loans charge about 400 percent interest on average, although some states and lenders may charge upwards of 700 percent interest. Possible Finance maintains a lower APR of about 150 percent on most loans.

Possible Finance maintains a lower APR of about 150 percent on most loans

For example, a two-week payday loan with a fee of $15 per $100 equates to an APR of about 400 percent. For a $500 payday loan, you would be paying an extra $75, for total loan repayment of $575.

Con: They are difficult to pay back.

Unsurprisingly, it is common for a payday borrower to have trouble paying back their loans because of the steep costs involved. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, about 20 percent of borrowers default on their payday loans, either on their first loan or after reborrowing. Over 80 percent of payday loans get rolled over or reborrowed within 30 days.

Part of this problem is due to the application process. Traditional lenders first confirm that you can repay the loan while still meeting necessary, everyday living expenses before loan approval. Payday lenders, on the other hand, do not go through this process, which can result in an endless cycle of debt. 

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, about 20 percent of borrowers default on their payday loans, either on their first loan or after reborrowing. 

Unlike these predatory lenders, Possible Finance ensures that you can safely borrow money without harming your current finances. We want to be certain that you can still meet all your necessities and everyday expenses while repaying the loan.

Con: They may not help you build credit.

Payday loans are a good option for those with low credit because their approval does not depend on your credit score. At the same time, traditional payday loans don’t improve your credit at all, because most lenders do not report to the major credit bureaus unless something bad happens (e.g. you default or go to collections). If you’re trying to build your credit score with a payday loan, choose a lender like Possible that reports to all three major credit bureaus.

Con: Payday lenders can access your bank account.

The terms of most payday loans allow lenders to access your bank account if you do not pay on the due date. Alternatively, lenders can have you write a postdated check that they can cash. However, they can cash the check or withdraw money regardless of whether you have enough money in your account, leading to added overdraft fees or insufficient fund fees from your bank. The lender can also charge returned or failed payment fees, resulting in even more repayment issues.

Chapter 5

Is A Payday Loan Worth It?

This is ultimately your decision to make. Payday loans are useful if you need cash immediately, especially if you have low credit or have trouble getting approved for other loans. And in theory, the costs may be manageable if you can repay the loan on time. However, given the high expenses and the potential for predatory lenders, you need to be extra careful about your decision. It’s important to work with a trusted lender or seek alternatives.

Chapter 6

Payday Loan Alternatives

The good news is that you do have a wide range of alternatives to payday loans. Start with a typical personal loan or small consumer loan. If you have less-than-adequate credit, you might be looking at a high interest rate — but the rate will be significantly lower than the 400 percent you'd pay for a conventional payday loan. Some lenders specifically work with potential borrowers who have bad credit. Personal loans can take more time for approval, and the requirements can vary based on the lender.

If you are a member of a federal credit union, you may be able to apply for a payday alternative loan (PAL). These are nearly identical to payday loans. However, the interest rate is considerably lower, with a maximum APR of 28 percent. The repayment period also occurs over a much longer period of one to 12 months. However, these are not offered by every credit union.

Possible Finance also offers a unique payday loan alternative with fairer terms designed to help you build credit over an extended repayment period. To learn more about payday loans along with Payday Loan Debt Assistance, visit Possible Finance.

Need Cash? Get up to $500* with Possible.