What Happens If You Can’t Repay a Payday Loan

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You got laid off but still need to make rent. You’re short on your car payment and need a little extra help. Your electricity was shut off and you need to find a way to pay your overdue bill to turn it back on.

Sometimes, you need a little cash to get by. So you get a payday loan and make good on your bills. But what happens when you can’t repay a payday loan? Here’s what to do if you get caught in this borrowing pickle.

What is a payday loan?

A payday loan is a short-term loan that’s taken out for a small amount, typically $500 or less. Depending on state laws, you could obtain payday loans in person or online.

You take out a payday loan by writing a postdated check for the full balance, including the fees and interest that will add up by the time the loan is due. You could also authorize the lender to automatically debit the full balance from your bank account on the due date.

Payday lenders can charge hefty fees in exchange for the money you borrow. Mike Sullivan, a personal finance consultant for credit counseling agency Take Charge America, said APRs are roughly 400%. It can be difficult to stay current on your bills and your loan with such high interest.

“A $200 loan for 14 days might require a payment of $235, or $35 [in] interest,” Sullivan said. “Borrowers typically focus on the payment amount and don’t consider the total cost.”

What happens when you can’t repay a payday loan?

Americans spend $30 billion a year to borrow from payday and other small-dollar lenders, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. So if you’ve taken out a payday loan and are having trouble paying it back, you’re not alone. Payday loans disproportionately affect underserved communities, where individuals might not have the resources to use traditional financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions.

“Payday loans are usually taken out by people with very poor credit who cannot find the cash for immediate needs, such as food, gas, or rent,” Sullivan said. “These borrowers do not often have other options for borrowing.”

When you take out a payday loan, many lenders don’t check credit or care about your financial situation. If you don’t have stellar credit, this might sound like a good thing. But it will only put you in deeper financial despair.

“Payday loans are a trap, and there isn’t much a borrower can do once trapped,” Sullivan said. “At some point, these loans often become unbearable, and the borrower defaults.”

Defaulting happens when you can’t pay back your loans on time. This can cause your credit score to plummet, your wages to be garnished, and future loans to have high interest rates. Your loan also could get turned over to a debt collector, who will work to get you to pay back your debt in full. Do your best to avoid defaulting on your payday loans.

What to do if you can’t pay back your payday loan

If you’re struggling to get out of the payday loan cycle, here’s how to pull yourself out.

1. Check your debt

Go over all your debt, from your payday loan to overdue bills. Focus on the ones that have the highest interest rates. With high rates, the longer you take to clear the debt, the more money you’ll end up paying.

2. Extend your repayment plan

Ask your lender for an extended payment plan, which is usually granted if your lender belongs to the Community Financial Services Association of America. You have to ask for an extension before the last day your loan is due, though.

You’ll also sign an amendment to your loan agreement. Read it over and make sure you understand the new terms and interest rates you’re agreeing to. You might be able to get a few extra weeks to repay your loan.

3. Consider a personal loan

Don’t be afraid of big banks, at least not when it comes to personal loans. Payday and personal loans might sound similar, but they’re not the same. Make sure you know the difference between personal and payday loans.

Taking out a personal loan can help you pay off your debt. These loans have much lower interest rates and longer repayment terms than payday loans. If you have poor credit, you’ll be happy to learn that you can even find personal loans for credit scores under 550.

4. Try a credit union

Credit unions and payday loan lenders have a lot in common. You usually can find one near you offering small installment loans that can help you make important payments. Many credit unions have payday alternative loans (PAL) for members.

While you have to be a credit union member for at least a month, you can get anywhere from $200 to $1,000 with terms from one to six months. The interest rate on a PAL is much less than the interest rate on a payday loan, up to 28%.

5. Get help

When you’re in a tough situation, it’s always a good idea to get help, whether it’s credit counseling or a cosigner for a loan. Asking for assistance is a big step in getting on the right track.

You can get help from the National Federation for Credit Counseling. Schedule an appointment with someone who can directly assess your financial situation.

If you’re trying to get a personal loan and your credit score isn’t great, you might want to find a cosigner. A cosigner can be helpful, but remember that the loan will impact both of you. You should both use caution when taking out a loan together.

If you have friends and family who can help you out in a pinch, use their resources. It’s much easier to pay back relatives than a payday loan lender.

Get your freedom back

You might consider a payday loan, but you don’t need it. When you can’t repay a payday loan, there are plenty of alternatives for you to consider. If you’ve already gotten one, take caution and know your rights. Explore ways to pay it back as soon as possible so you’re not trapped in debt.

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

RATES (APR)loan amount
7.73% – 29.99% $1,000 to $50,000
6.26% – 14.87%1 $5,000 to $100,000
6.99% – 35.97%* $1,000 to $50,000
56.00% – 199.00%2 $500 to $4,000
5.99% – 24.99%3 $5,000 to $35,000
4.99% – 29.99%4 $10,000 to $35,000
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1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 6.990% APR to 14.865% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 6.255% APR to 12.555% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of September 1, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 6.255% APR assumes current index rate derived from the 1-month LIBOR of 2.08% plus 4.425% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

    To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.See Consumer Licenses.
  2. Minimum Credit Score: Not all applicants who meet SoFi’s minimum credit score requirements are approved for a personal loan. In addition to meeting SoFi’s minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must also meet other credit and underwriting requirements to qualify.
  3. SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Maximum interest rate on loans for residents of AK and WY is 9.99% APR, for residents of IL with loans over $40,000 is 8.99% APR, for residents of TX is 9.99% APR on terms greater than 5 years, for residents of CO, CT, HI, VA, SC is 11.99% APR, and for residents of ME is 12.24% APR. Personal loans not available to residents of MI who already have a student loan with SoFi. Personal Loans minimum loan amount is $5,000. Residents of AZ, MA, and NH have a minimum loan amount of $10,001. Residents of KY have a minimum loan amount of $15,001. Residents of PA have a minimum loan amount of $25,001. Variable rates not available to residents of AK, TX, VA, WY, or for residents of IL for loans greater than $40,000.
  4. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
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Opploans Disclosures

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Opploans currently operates in these states:

  1. To qualify, a borrower must (i) be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; (ii) reside in a state where OppLoans operates; (iii) have direct deposit; (iv) meet income requirements; (v) be 18 years of age (19 in Alabama); and, (vi) meet verification standards.
  2. This information is current as of October 10, 2017 and is subject to change. Opportunity Financial, LLC lends or arranges loans in the following states: Alabama, California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. We do not lend or arrange loans in all states. Opportunity Financial offers line of credit products in: Kansas, Tennessee and Virginia. Please note: This is an expensive form of credit. This service is not intended to provide a solution for longer-term credit or other financial needs. Loans made or arranged by Opportunity Financial are designed to help you meet your short-term borrowing needs. Loan amounts may vary and are dependent upon qualification criteria and state law. Refer to Loan Cost & Terms at www.opploans.com for additional details. Complete disclosures of APR, fees and payment terms are provided within the transaction documents, such as the Loan Agreement. First-time Opportunity Financial customers typically qualify for an installment loan of $1,000 to $5,000 with an APR from 59% to 199%. For example, a $1,000 loan made or arranged by Opportunity Financial with 12 bi-weekly payments of $130 has a 199% APR. After the 12th successful payment, the loan would be paid in full.
  3. Applications processed and approved before 7:30 p.m. ET Monday-Friday are typically funded the next business day. In some cases, we may not be able to verify your application information and may ask you to provide certain documents. Some customers applying for a loan may be required to submit additional documentation due to state law and qualification criteria.
  4. Lower APRs and longer terms when compared to a typical payday lending product. According to the Consumer Federation of America, a non-profit consumer advocacy group, payday loans range in size from $100 to $1,000, depending on state legal maximums and carry an average APR of 400% and an average loan term of two weeks. The maximum APR for a loan offered by OppLoans is 199% and loan sizes range from $1,000-$5,000 with a typical term of six months dependent on the state law.
  5. As of October 17, 2017. Ratings on third-party websites may periodically change; please check the third-party websites for up-to-date reviews and ratings. Google+ Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 1,824 reviews. Facebook Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 270 reviews.
3 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.

Payoff Disclosures

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4 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.

FreedomPlus Disclosures

  1. All loans available through FreedomPlus.com are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loan and rate terms are subject to eligibility restrictions, application review, credit score, loan amount, loan term, lender approval, and credit usage and history. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Loans are not available to residents of all states – please call a FreedomPlus representative for further details. The following limitations, in addition to others, shall apply: FreedomPlus does not arrange loans in: (i) Arizona under $10,500; (ii) Massachusetts under $6,500, (iii) Ohio under $5,500, and (iv) Georgia under $3,500. Repayment periods range from 24 to 60 months. The range of APRs on loans made available through FreedomPlus is 4.99% to a maximum of 29.99%. APR. The APR calculation includes all applicable fees, including the loan origination fee. For Example, a four year $20,000 loan with an interest rate of 15.49% and corresponding APR of 18.34% would have an estimated monthly payment of $561.60 and a total cost payable of $7,948.13. To qualify for a 4.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan of $15,000 with a term of 24 months, and qualify for at least two of the following discounts: (1) add a co-borrower who has sufficient income; (2) use at least fifty percent of the loan proceeds to directly pay off existing debt; or (3) show proof of having at least forty-thousand dollars in retirement savings – contact FreedomPlus for further details.
* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

* Your 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. This rate includes an Autopay APR reduction of 0.5%. By enrolling in Autopay your payments will be automatically deducted from you 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. All loans made by WebBank, member FDIC. Please refer to Upgrade’s Terms of Use and Borrower Agreement for all terms, conditions and requirements.

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