The best online lenders comply with all state laws regulating payday loan fees, terms and rollover restrictions. Most websites require you to enter your ZIP code or select your state before they display your loan options with their terms and rates. Because of the patchwork nature of payday loan regulation, some lenders don’t operate in every state. Other lenders only offer certain types of loans in some states, not their full range of options.

We spoke to John Fairbanks at the National Credit Union Administration who told us that “Many credit unions have their own programs to provide small-dollar, short-term loans, either in lieu of payday loans or as a means of helping members get rid of existing payday loans so they can begin to rehabilitate their credit.” Payday alternative loans are available through federal credit unions and have applications fees that are capped at $20 for the entire amount of the loan. State credit unions also offer similar short-term, small-dollar loans.


Though regulated at the state and federal level, there are still payday lenders that attempt to skirt the rules. Some are online-only lenders based in other countries. Other lenders work around state laws by operating out of Native American reservations. Be wary of brokers that offer to connect you with lending partners – this can result in a lot of calls and emails about offers. 
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