How It Works



   How Payday Loans Work

Payday loans are short-term cash loans based on the borrower's personal check held for future deposit or on electronic access to the borrower's bank account. Borrowers write a personal check for the amount borrowed plus the finance charge and receive cash. In some cases, borrowers sign over electronic access to their bank accounts to receive and repay payday loans.

Lenders hold the checks until the next payday when loans and the finance charge must be paid in one lump sum. To pay a loan, borrowers can redeem the check by paying the loan with cash, allow the check to be deposited at the bank, or just pay the finance charge to roll the loan over for another pay period.



  • Step 1

    Requirements to Get a Payday Loan

    All a consumer needs to get a payday loan is an open bank account in relatively good standing, a steady source of income, and identification. Lenders do not conduct a full credit check or ask questions to determine if a borrower can afford to repay the loan.

  • Step 2

    Payday Loan Industry

    Payday loans are made by payday loan stores, check cashers, and pawn shops. Some rent-to-own companies also make payday loans. Loans are also marketed via toll-free telephone numbers and over the Internet.

  • Step 3

    Protections for Service Members and Dependents

    Federal protections for service members and their families took effect October 1, 2007. The Department of Defense regulations apply to payday loans, car title loans and tax refund loans. Lenders are prohibited from charging more than 36 percent annual interest including fees; taking a check, debit authorization or car title to secure loans; and using mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts for covered loans.

  • Step 4

    Coercive Collection Tactics from Check Holding

    Basing loans on personal checks leads some lenders to use coercive collection tactics. Some lenders threaten criminal penalties for failing to make good on checks. In some states lenders sue for multiple damages under civil "bad check" laws.