What Is It and What Are the Alternatives

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You get a flat tire. Your pet gets sick. Or you need a root canal right away. If an unexpected emergency pops up, you might need to borrow money quickly to cover the cost — such as with an online cash advance loan.

However, while a cash advance could be a fast option, there are significant drawbacks to it that could cost you.

Here’s what you should know about online cash advances:

What is a cash advance?

A cash advance loan — also known as a payday loan — is a type of short-term loan. You’ll pay fees to borrow the money, even if your repayment term is just a week or two. Then on your next payday, you’ll have to repay the loan as well as the fees in full.

Be careful! While cash advances could help you get money right away, they’re extremely expensive. Cash advance loans typically charge a percentage or dollar amount per $100 borrowed, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The fee ranges from $10 to $30 for every $100 borrowed (fees are commonly 15% per $100 borrowed). For a two-week loan, the fees can equate to an APR of 400% or higher.

Here are a few lenders that offer online cash advances. Note that these are not Credible partners.

Lender Loan amount Fees
Amscot Up to $500
  • Finance charge: $12.00 per $100 borrowed
  • Verification fee: $2
CashNet USA Up to $500
  • Finance charge: $10.00 per $100 borrowed
  • Verification fee: $5
Speedy Cash Up to $500
  • Finance charge: $17.65 per $100 borrowed
  • Verification fee: $5

Check Out: Where to Get a Personal Loan

How is a cash advance different from other loans?

Online cash advance loans Personal loans
Fixed rates Can be 400% or higher 4.99%+ APR*
Loan amount Up to $500
(on average)
$600 to $100,000*
Loan terms Typically until your next pay period
(14-30 days)
1-7 years
(depending on the lender
Time to fund As soon as the next day 1-7 days
Credit check required? Typically no Yes
* With Credible partner lenders

Cash advances differ from personal loans in several key ways:

  • Rates: Interest rates on personal loans tend to be much lower than the rates on cash advance loans. For example, if you take out a personal loan with one of our partner lenders, you might get a rate as low as 4.99%+ APR, while the rate on a cash advance loan could be 400% or higher.
  • Amounts: The average payday loan ranges from $350 up to $500. You can borrow much more with a personal loan. For example, you could get a $5,000 personal loan or even a $100,000 personal loan, depending on the lender.
  • Repayment term: With a cash advance loan, you typically have only until your next pay day (14 to 30 days) to repay your loan. You’ll have much longer to repay a personal loan — usually one to seven years, depending on the lender.
  • Time to fund: Cash advances are usually quick to fund — you could get your money as soon as the next day with an online cash advance or even on the same day if you apply in person. The time to fund for personal loans depends on the lender but generally takes about one to seven days.
  • Credit checks: Cash advance lenders typically don’t run credit checks. Instead, approval is based on your employment and pay stubs. Personal loan lenders, on the other hand, generally do check your credit to determine your eligibility. To qualify for a personal loan with a low interest rate, you’ll likely need good to excellent credit.

Generally, a personal loan is a much less expensive option than a cash advance loan. If you get a cash advance loan, you could end up paying far more than you originally borrowed.

A cash advance loan can keep you in debt: If you can’t repay your loan on time, cash advance lenders typically let you roll the amount you owe into another payday loan — putting you further in debt.

If you decide to take out a personal loan, be sure to consider as many lenders as possible to find a loan with the best rate and terms for your needs.

It’s also a good idea to consider how much the loan will cost you over time. Before you borrow, estimate how much you’ll pay for a loan using our personal loan calculator below.

Enter your loan information to calculate how much you could pay

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With a
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Can you get a cash advance loan with bad credit?

Cash advance lenders typically don’t require credit checks. Instead, your loan eligibility is based on your employment and pay stubs. This means you could likely still qualify for a cash advance loan even if you have bad credit.

However, taking out a cash advance loan is rarely a good idea — especially since you could end up further in debt with the sky-high fees typically charged by cash advance lenders.

Tip: If you have bad credit, you might still be eligible for a personal loan. Several lenders specialize in bad credit loans, which come with better rates and terms than cash advance loans.

Some lenders also allow cosigners on personal loans. Having a creditworthy cosigner could help you get approved or qualify for a lower rate than you’d get on your own.

Check Out: Secured Personal Loans

Credit cards can offer a cash advance — but check for fees

If you have a credit card, taking out a cash advance on the card could be another option when you need money quickly. Cash advances are usually capped at a percentage of your credit card’s credit line.

For example, if you have a $10,000 credit line with a 30% cash advance limit, you could take out $3,000 in cash.

Keep in mind that credit card cash advances typically have a higher APR compared to the interest rate for regular purchases. You might also have to pay a cash advance fee.

For example: Say you take out a $3,000 cash advance using a credit card that charges 24.99% on cash advances. The card also has a cash advance fee of either $10 or 5% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater. In this case, the fee would be $150.

If you made only the $60 minimum payments each month, it would take you 59 months to repay the cash advance. You’d also pay $2,121 in interest charges. Together with the $150 fee, you’d end up paying $5,271 for the cash advance.

Learn More: What You Can Use a Personal Loan For

A personal loan could get you funds the next day with more favorable terms

In almost every case, a personal loan is a much better choice than a cash advance — whether online or through a credit card. On top of lower interest rates, personal loans generally give you a few years instead of a few weeks to pay off the loan — making the payments more manageable.

Plus, depending on the lender, you could get your funds from a personal loan as soon as the next day.

If you decide to take out a personal loan, remember to shop around and consider as many lenders as you can to find the right loan for you. This is easy with Credible — you can compare your prequalified rates from our partner lenders in the table below in two minutes. Some of our partners also offer funding as soon as the next business day after approval.

Lender Fixed rates Loan amounts Min. credit score Time to fund

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9.95% – 35.99% APR $2,000 to $35,000** 550 As soon as the next business day (if approved by 4:30 p.m. CT on a weekday)
  • Rates: 9.95% – 35.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 2, 3, 4, 5*
  • Loan amount: $2,000 to $35,000**
  • Fees: Origination fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Available in all states except CO, IA, HI, VT, NV NY, WV
  • Min. income: $1,200 monthly
  • Customer service: Phone, email
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 550
  • Time to get funds: As soon as the next business day (if approved by 4:30 p.m. CT on a weekday)
  • Loan uses: Debt consolidation, emergency expense, life event, home improvement, and other purposes

Avant personal loans review

*If approved, the actual loan terms that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination, state law, and other factors. Minimum loan amounts vary by state.

**Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33.

axos

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6.49% – 29.99% APR $5,000 to $35,000 740 Next business day
  • Rates: 6.49% – 29.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $35,000
  • Fees: No prepayment penalty
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Available in all 50 states
  • Min. income: Does not disclose
  • Customer service: Phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 740
  • Time to get funds: Next business day
  • Loan uses: Debt consolidation, home improvement, and other purposes

Axos Bank personal loans review

best egg

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5.99% – 29.99% APR $5,000 to $35,000 600 As soon as 1 – 3 business days after successful verification
  • Rates: 5.99% – 29.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 3, 5
  • Loan amount: $5,000 – $50,000
  • Fees: Origination fee
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Available in all states except DC, IA, VT, and WV
  • Min. income: None
  • Customer service: Phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 600
  • Time to get funds: As soon as 1 – 3 business days after successful verification
  • Loan uses: Credit card refinancing, debt consolidation, home improvement, and other purposes

Best Egg personal loans review

discover

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6.99% – 24.99% APR $2,500 to $35,000 660 As soon as the next business day after acceptance
  • Rates: 6.99% – 24.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
  • Loan amount: $2,500 – $35,000
  • Fees: Late fee
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Available in all 50 states
  • Customer service: Phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 660
  • Time to get funds: As soon as the next business day after acceptance
  • Loan uses: Auto repair, credit card refinancing, debt consolidation, home remodel or repair, major purchase, medical expenses, taxes, vacation, and wedding

Discover personal loans review

lendingpoint

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15.49% – 35.99% APR $2,000 to $25,000 580 As soon as the next business day
  • Rates: 15.49% – 35.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Loan amount: $2,000 to $25,000
  • Fees: Origination fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Available in all states except NV and WV
  • Min. income: $20,000
  • Customer service: Phone, email
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 580
  • Time to get funds: As soon as the next business day
  • Loan uses: Home improvement, consolidate debt, credit card refinancing, relocate, make a large purchase, and other purposes

LendingPoint personal loans review

lightstream

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3.99% – 19.99% APR $5,000 to $100,000 660 As soon as the same business day
  • Rates: 3.99% – 19.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 (up to 12 years for home improvement loans)
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $100,000
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Available in all states except RI and VT
  • Min. income: Does not disclose
  • Customer service: Phone, email
  • Soft credit check: No
  • Min. credit score: 660
  • Time to get funds: As soon as the same business day
  • Loan uses: Credit card refinancing, debt consolidation, home improvement, and other purposes

LightStream personal loans review

LightStream disclosure

onemain financial

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18.00% – 35.99% APR $1,500 to $20,000 None As soon as the same day, but usually requires a visit to a branch office
  • Rates: 18.00% – 35.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Loan amount: $1,500 to $20,000
  • Fees: Origination fee
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Must have photo I.D. issued by U.S. federal, state or local government
  • Min. income: Does not disclose
  • Customer service: Phone, email
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: None
  • Time to get funds: As soon as the same day, but usually requires a visit to a branch office

OneMain Financial personal loans review

prosper

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6.95% – 35.99% APR $2,000 to $40,000 640 As soon as one business day
  • Rates: 6.95% – 35.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 3, 5
  • Loan amount: $2,000 to $40,000
  • Fees: Origination fee
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Available in all states except IA, ND, WV
  • Min. income: None
  • Customer service: Phone, email
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 640
  • Time to get funds: As soon as one business day
  • Loan uses: Debt consolidation, home improvement, vehicles, small business, new baby expenses, and other purposes

Prosper personal loans review

universalcredit

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10.97% – 35.93% APR7 $1,000 to $50,000 580 Within one day, once approved9
  • Rates: 10.97% – 35.93% APR7
  • Loan terms (years): 3 to 5 years 8
  • Loan amount: $1,000 – $20,000
  • Fees: Origination fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: A U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Not available in AR, DC, IA, KS, ME, SC, VT, WI, WV
  • Customer service: Phone, email
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 580
  • Time to get funds: Within one day, once approved9
  • Loan uses: Debt consolidation, pay off credit cards, home improvements, unexpected expenses, home and auto repairs, weddings, and other major purchases

7Personal loans made through Universal Credit feature APRs of 10.97%-35.93%. All personal loans have a 4.25% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Information on Universal Credit’s lending partners can be found at https://www.universal-.credit.com/landing/lendingpartners

8Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification and review process. You may be asked to provide additional documents to enable us to verify your income and your identity. You may be required to have some of your funds sent directly to pay off your credit cards. This rate includes an Autopay APR reduction of 0.5%. By enrolling in Autopay your payments will be automatically deducted from your bank account. Selecting Autopay is optional. Annual Percentage Rate is inclusive of a loan origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. Personal loans made by Universal Credit’s lending partners. Information on Universal Credit’s lending partners can be found at https://www.universal-credit.com/landing/lendingpartners. Please refer to Universal Credit’s Terms of Use and Borrower Agreement for all terms, conditions and requirements.

9​Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank or designated account within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes the transaction. From the time of approval, funds sent directly to you should be available within four (4) business days. Funds sent directly to pay off your creditors may take up to two (2) weeks to clear, depending on the creditor.

upstart

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5.94% – 35.97% APR $1,000 to $50,000 580 Within a day of clearing necessary verifications
  • Rates: 5.94% – 35.97% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 3, 5
  • Loan amount: $1,000 to $50,000 ($3,005 minimum in GA; $6,005 minimum in MA)
  • Fees: Origination fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Available in all states except IA and WV
  • Min. income: Does not disclose
  • Customer service: Email
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 580
  • Time to get funds: Within a day of clearing necessary verifications
  • Loan uses: Debt consolidation, credit card refinancing, home improvement, and other purposes

Upgrade personal loans review

upstart

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8.27% – 35.99% APR4 $1,000 to $50,0005 580 As soon as 1 – 3 business days6
  • Rates: 8.27% – 35.99% APR4
  • Loan terms (years): 3 to 5 years4
  • Loan amount: $1,000 to $50,0005
  • Fees: Origination fee
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Available in all 50 states
  • Min. income: $12,000
  • Customer service: Phone, email
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 580
  • Time to get funds: As soon as 1 – 3 business days6
  • Loan uses: Payoff credit cards, consolidate debt, take a course or bootcamp, relocate, make a large purchase, and other purposes

Upstart personal loans review

4The full range of available rates varies by state. The average 3-year loan offered across all lenders using the Upstart platform will have an APR of 25.79% and 36 monthly payments of $37 per $1,000 borrowed. There is no down payment and no prepayment penalty. Average APR is calculated based on 3-year rates offered in the last 1 month. Your APR will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will be approved.

5This offer is conditioned on final approval based on our consideration and verification of financial and non-financial information. Rate and loan amount are subject to change based upon information received in your full application. This offer may be accepted only by the person identified in this offer, who is old enough to legally enter into contract for the extension of credit, a US citizen or permanent resident, and a current resident of the US. Duplicate offers received are void. Closing your loan is contingent on your meeting our eligibility requirements, our verification of your information, and your agreement to the terms and conditions on the www.upstart.com website.

Your loan amount will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will qualify for the full amount. Loans are not available in West Virginia or Iowa. The minimum loan amount in MA is $7,000. The minimum loan amount in Ohio is $6,000. The minimum loan amount in NM is $5100. The minimum loan amount in GA is $3,100.

6​If you accept your loan by 5pm EST (not including weekends or holidays), you will receive your funds the next business day. Loans used to fund education related expenses are subject to a 3 business day wait period between loan acceptance and funding in accordance with federal law.

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All APRs reflect autopay and loyalty discounts where available | LightStream disclosure | Read more about Rates and Terms

About the author

Kat Tretina

Kat Tretina is a contributor to Credible who covers everything from student loans to personal loans to mortgages. Her work has appeared in publications like the Huffington Post, Money Magazine, MarketWatch, Business Insider, and more.

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