Payday Loan Requirements: Things to Know

By Caroline Banton · June 12, 2023 · 6 minute read

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Payday Loan Requirements: Things to Know

Payday loans are also called cash advance loans, deferred deposit loans, post-dated check loans, or check advance loans. They are short-term, high-interest loans. People who use these loans tend not to have access to other types of lending, and this is a last resort to get them through to the next paycheck.

Many states consider these loans predatory because of their high interest rates and financing fees. Some states place caps on the fees and interest rates or ban this type of lending completely.

Read on to find out what a payday loan is, how they work, and other options for those who need a short-term loan or cash advance.

What Is a Payday Loan?

Payday loans, also known as cash advances, are high-interest, short-term loans, typically for $500 or less. They are notorious for having very high interest rates and fees. There are few payday loan requirements, but borrowers typically need to be over 18, have a checking account in good standing, and show that they earn a secure income.

Consumers can find these types of loans through online lenders, apps, and local brick-and-mortar merchants. The loan amount is typically paid back by direct debit once the borrower receives their next paycheck. Alternatively, loans may be secured with a post-dated check.

How Does a Payday Loan Work?

Consumers fill out an application with a lender and show proof of identity, a recent pay stub, and a bank account number if required.

Borrowers have to secure the loan with a post-dated check or agree to have the funds debited from their account when they are paid, usually in two weeks. Loans are usually between $50 and $1,000, and funds are deposited within a day or two. Borrowers can also receive cash.

People with bad credit and access to better financing tend to use these loans to help them get by temporarily. However, payday loan problems are well-known: High interest rates and exorbitant fees can trap someone in spiraling debt if they cannot repay the loan on time.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau states, “More than four out of five payday loans are re-borrowed within a month, usually right when the loan is due or shortly thereafter.” Borrowers then face even higher financing fees and interest rates compounding their debt load.

Many states place caps on the interest rates and fees charged for payday loans; some states, such as New York, have outlawed them completely.

What Are the Requirements for a Payday Loan?

Most working adults qualify for a payday loan. Here are the most common standards.


Borrowers must be at least 18 years of age.

Proof of Income

Applicants have to show proof of income, such as a pay stub.


Consumers may have to show proof of U.S. citizenship.

Bank Account

Borrowers need to have a bank account that is in good standing.

Payday Loan Interest Rates

Depending on the state, interest rates for payday loans can carry a 400% annual percentage rate (APR) or more.

In states that cap interest rates on payday loans, lenders may instead charge a fee that is a percentage of the amount loaned. Finance charges can be between $15 and $30 for each $100 borrowed.

Payday Loan Amounts

Payday loan amounts are usually $100 to $1,000. In some states, a borrower is allowed only one payday loan at a time. Other states, like Texas and Nevada, offer unlimited payday loans for customers.

Alternatives to a Payday Loan

Rather than take out a high-interest payday loan, there are better options for people in a precarious financial situation.

Credit Cards

If the borrower has a credit score, using a credit card is a safer bet than a payday loan. The average credit card interest rate is around 22%, while payday loan interest can be over 400%. However, if the borrower needs the cash to pay bills such as rent or utilities, that is often not possible with a credit card.

Cash Advance Loans

A cash advance loan puts cash immediately into your bank account. These loans are offered by online lenders, such as Earnin or PayActiv. These companies don’t charge loan financing fees but ask for “tips.” So, a borrower might tip between 5 and 15% of the advance. These apps are often marketed as payroll benefits, and they charge membership and service fees.

TSP Loans

A TSP account is a tax-deferred retirement savings and investment plan that offers Federal employees the same tax advantages as a 401(k) retirement plan. If you have a TSP retirement account, you can take out a loan from that plan without having to pay tax or penalties. However, you must pay the amount back to the account within five years with interest (which will be much lower than the interest on a payday loan).

Personal Loans

For consumers with a good credit score, banks and online lenders offer unsecured or secured personal loans. Unsecured loans are not backed by any collateral and will have a higher interest rate than a secured loan, but not as high as a payday loan.

Unexpected expenses can be paid for with a personal loan and at a lower interest rate. Many people take out personal loans to pay off credit card debt because the interest rate on a personal loan is less than the interest rate paid on their credit card debt. Getting approved for a personal loan isn’t hard if you have good credit.

Loan payback terms can be between two to seven years, with loan amounts typically between $1,000 and $50,000. If you manage the payments on a personal loan responsibly, you can build up a strong credit history. That is not the case with a payday loan, which is not reported to credit rating bureaus.

Recommended: What Is a Personal Loan?

The Takeaway

Payday loans are short-term loans that cash-strapped consumers use to get by until their next paycheck. The borrower is expected to repay the loan on their next payday, or they may submit a post-dated check. Interest rates are extremely high because of the risk to the lender that the borrower will default. Unfortunately, this is often the case, and borrowers can find themselves spiraling into debt as interest and fees accumulate. For this reason, many states have banned payday loans.

Payday loans are probably the worst option for quick cash. But a SoFi Personal Loan offers fixed, competitive interest rates on loans from $5K to $100K. And there are no fees ever.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2022 winner for Best Online Personal Loan overall.


What are the requirements to get a payday loan?

Most working adults qualify for a payday loan. A borrower needs to be 18 or over, show proof of income (a paystub) and citizenship, and have a bank account.

Is proof of income a requirement for a payday loan?

A lender requires proof of income because they want to know you have the means to pay the loan back. A recent pay stub or similar documentation is typically enough.

Is taking out a payday loan a good idea?

Basically, no. A payday loan should only be used as a last resort, and if you are sure you can pay back the loan in two weeks. Even then, the interest you will pay will be much higher than a cash advance or a short-term loan from an online lender.

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