Best Online Payday Loans: 5 Reputable Lenders + (Better) Alternatives

Payday loans should always be your last resort. They’re shockingly expensive, often bordering on predatory, and tend to trap people in a cycle of debt. But when you’re facing an unexpected expense, payday loans may feel like your only viable option.

Before considering using one, always explore all the other options available.

However, if you’ve already exhausted every other possible option, here are the five best online payday loans.

5 Best Online Lenders

Here are our top picks for fast cash if you’re in a money pinch:

1. RISE Credit

RISE Credit has existed since 2016, so they have enough history to show their character. Their Trustpilot profile is exceptional for a payday lender, and their openness on their website is a refreshing change of pace from those who hide their fees in the disclaimer.

As for the loans themselves, they’re more flexible than typical payday loans. Installment loans are easier to keep up with, and their rates are competitive with other payday lenders in certain states.

Their amounts vary based on your state, and returning customers can be eligible for an increased loan amount depending on their payment history and monthly income.

  • Estimated annual percentage rate: 50% – 299% (based on state and credit and other factors)
  • Estimated repayment terms: 4 to 26 months depending on residency state
  • Estimated principal balances: $500 to $5,000
  • Trustpilot review score: 4.6 / 5 out of 3697 reviews


  • Relatively trustworthy and communicative for a payday lender
  • Competitive rates among other payday lenders, which may improve with repeated use
  • Installment loans are easier to keep up with than payday loans
  • No prepayment penalty or origination fee
  • Offers payment extension options
  • You’ll make monthly payments instead of repaying the entire loan amount from your next paycheck.
  • Offer a seven-day payment extension for those times when you need a few extra days to make your payment.
  • You have five business days from the date you signed your loan agreement to change your mind if you decide that the loan isn’t right for you.
  • They pull a pre-screening soft inquiry on your credit report and don’t affect your FICO score.


  • You may need to undergo a hard inquiry, which can impact credit scores
  • It might be harder to qualify for a loan offer since it’s an installment loan rather than a payday loan and the application process is a bit more detailed.
  • You must wait 1-10 days (depending on the payment method) after paying off your previous loan before you can reapply.
  • Not available in many states
  • Not available to military customers
  • The lender reports your account and payment history to Experian and TransUnion monthly. They may also report to several specialty credit bureaus such as Clarity and Teletrack. Any late payments will affect your credit score.

2. Check Into Cash

A one-stop money shop for payday loans, in-store cash advances, check cashing, money transfers, installment loans, title loans, and a flexible line of credit.

Their loans are available online in 22 states, and their rates generally keep within the averages in each of them.

Check Into Cash loans are available in Alabama, Alaska, California, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

  • Estimated annual percentage rate: Could go as high as 1,000%
  • Estimated repayment terms: 15 days to a few months
  • Estimated principal payday loan balances: $255 to $1,500 depending on the state. But other loans can be as high as $25,000.
  • Trustpilot review score: 4.5 / 5 based on 900+ reviews


  • A flexible and diverse list of loan structures and sizes
  • Reasonably respectable reputation and treatment of customers
  • Available in person as well as online in many states
  • They can turn your gift cards into cash
  • Great customer support


  • Rates are typical of the expensive industry 400%-1000%. Confirm your state’s APR
  • May debit borrower’s bank account directly on payday, potentially triggering an overdraft
  • Not available in all 50 states
  • Check Into Cash doesn’t charge interest on its payday loans. However, they charge a flat fee between $10 to $30 per $100 borrowed
  • Late fees are $25-$30
  • If you are more than 15 days late, you will be charged a late fee of around 5% of the loan amount

3. Speedy Cash / Rapid Cash

Speedy Cash is a Registered Credit Access Business (CAB) in Texas. They have installment loans up to $5,000, payday loans up to $2,500, lines of credit, and title loans up to $25,000 that are only available in-store.

Speedy Cash’s loans aren’t anything special one way or another. They offer traditional and installment payday loans. The terms and rates for both options strictly follow the rules for each respective state.

  • Estimated annual percentage rate: 185% to 729% all terms and rates vary by state
  • Estimated repayment terms: Two to 18 weeks
  • Estimated principal balances: $50 to $26,000
  • Trustpilot review score: 4.5 / 5 out of 8,700 reviews


  • Well-established and long-standing business since 1997
  • Typical rates and terms for the payday loan industry, no hidden fees


  • No extensions for people who can’t pay
  • Allows rollovers, which can be dangerous to some borrowers

4. CashUSA

CashUSA is not a traditional payday lender. The company offers a free service that connects traditional lenders, peer-to-peer lending networks, and other loan options. They offer personal and installment loans across the United States to all credit types through their network of lenders. While CashUSA is not an actual lender, it provides the platform for its lenders and customers to get the best deals. This is a good option if you need a larger amount of money — to cover a medical bill, for example — and it’s unlikely that you can ever repay the full amount on your next payday.

  • Estimated annual percentage rate of their providers: 5.99% to 35.99%
  • Estimated repayment terms: 90 days to 72 months; varies by state and lender
  • Estimated principal balances: $500 to $10,000
  • Trustpilot rating: 2.5/5 stars out of 5 reviews


  • If no lender offers you a loan on your first try, you are more than welcome to submit another request to see if a different lender can provide you with a loan.
  • Easy to use, all online process
  • High level of security
  • Can have multiple competing offers
  • Personal loan specialists
  • They have a robust platform for peer-to-peer borrowing
  • Borrowers can qualify despite poor credit scores


  • Each lender dictates its interest rate, and CashUSA cannot influence its decision
  • Some of the lenders they work with are tribal lenders, some of the most predatory in the industry. Be sure to research any lender before you commit to a loan
  • No mobile app
  • No direct loan
  • Limited loan amount no co-funding options
  • Origination, late payment, and NSF fees all vary by the lender

5. Check ’n Go

Check ‘n Go is a direct lender founded in 1994 and based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Check ‘n Go Payday Loans is available in 18 states across the USA.

  • Estimated annual percentage rate: 456.25% to 1520.83%
  • Estimated repayment terms: Maximum of 31 days
  • Estimated principal balances: $100 to $865
  • review score: 1.4 / 5 out of 200 reviews


  • Reasonably well-respected and long-lived business since 1994
  • Within average loan rates and terms for the industry
  • There are no credit checks with the three national credit reporting agencies, but they may look at other databases to check your payment history.
  • They will consider borrowers regardless of their employment status if they can prove their ability to repay their obligations


  • Limited access online in many states
  • Loan fee of $25 to $137.07 Calculated APR is 456.25% to 1520.83%
  • Fund the loan within three business days
  • Meager loan amounts
  • Available in only 18 states

5 Factors When Choosing Payday Loans Online

Do your research on the front end of several lenders. You must ensure that your lender is trustworthy before handing over personal information like a Social Security number or phone number. Don’t fill out any loan request or sign any loan agreement until you’ve thoroughly vetted your chosen lender.

1. Online Application Form

The loan application process is straightforward. Eligibility is simple. Your credit history will not matter. All you need to complete the 5-minute application form is your name, date of birth, Social Security number, checking account number, and requested loan amount. You will need to be at least 18 years old and be currently employed.

Some lenders will consider borrowers regardless of their employment status if they can show proof of income.

2. Is the Lender Licensed?

You will want to check if your payday lender is licensed in your state. If they are, double-check with the issuing governing body that their business license is legitimate. It marks the business’s authenticity and minimizes your risk for fraud.

Since tribal lenders are not federally regulated and are self-regulating, they can sometimes have questionable licenses and practices. They can legally charge higher interest rates, even when state laws cap payday loan interest rates.

3. Online Reputation

Read online reviews. Find a different lender if you see many warnings about predatory loans, unfair loan terms, or poor customer service. The social proof in reviews and star ratings helps you shortcut your research and make decisions faster and more confident.

4. Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

Another essential trait to consider is the lender’s typical annual percentage rate (APR) or the cost of money. There’s no such thing as a cheap payday lender. It’s an oxymoron, but some gouge you less than others.

Knowing just the monthly payment amount or the interest rate isn’t enough. Even more important than knowing the interest rate is learning the APR — the total cost you pay for credit as a yearly interest rate. Knowing the APR makes it easier to compare “apples to apples” when considering loan offers.

5. Loan Repayment Terms

Loan repayment terms mean how long you will have to repay what you borrowed or the life of the loan. For a 30-year mortgage, your payments are spread out over 30 years.

You will want to consider what your monthly payments will be and how long the life of the loan is. The longer the life of the loan, the smaller the payments will be but it will have accrued much more interest over the life of the loan.

Taking note of due dates is essential not to get slapped with late fees and possibly harm your credit score.

READ MORE: Step-by-step guide to payday loan consolidation

What to Know Before Taking an Online Payday Loan

Payday loans can be helpful when you need quick cash. However, when you read the fine print, you’ll find that bank loans will always be better. You should only consider payday loans as your last option.

You will want to know the borrowing terms, fees involved, repayment terms and amounts, and the lender’s APR. Since these are generally small loans, you may even want to check human resources or ask your employer for an advance.

Payday Loan Providers to Avoid

Payday loans are bad enough. But when you’re facing a financial emergency, some are significantly worse than others, just waiting to take advantage of your desperation.

These include:

Tribal Payday Lenders

State or federal lending laws do not govern the tribal lenders. They have complete autonomy on tribal land to do as they please. Tribal lenders can use shady lending practices and charge any interest rate, terms, or fees they want. Because they are not regulated by any laws except their own, making them a dangerous lending operation. You are at their mercy.

READ MORE: What is a tribal lender and lenders to avoid

Known Lawbreakers

LendUp was one such company. They were an online direct lender that offered payday loans, installment loans, and credit cards to consumers with less-than-desirable credit scores. They were shut down due to illegal operations. Do a brief search to determine whether a lender you’re considering is facing any legal challenges


Payday loan lenders are evil and have earned a bad reputation as money-draining traps that leave low-income borrowers stuck in a cycle of debt that they’re unlikely to ever escape from. So, do your due diligence and research the company’s reputation online so you don’t become a victim of payday loan scam artists and cheaters.

Payday Loan Alternatives

There are many types of loans and borrowing options to explore and exhaust before resorting to a payday loan. Below are some recommendations.

Pro tip: Payday Alternative Loans are a short-term loan product available through federal credit unions, but without the high interest rates. Rates are capped at 28%. There is no credit score requirement for loan approval. Qualifications are similar to those for payday loans with one key difference: You must join the credit union as a member.

The Bottom Line

When you need emergency cash but have a bad credit score and no savings, it may seem like you have no other choice, particularly when all you need to do is complete an online form and the money can be in your bank account as soon as the next business day.

However, payday loans are never a good idea. They’re designed to trap you in a cycle of debt, forcing you to reborrow repeatedly.

Always exhaust all other options before turning to a payday lender.

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