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Direct Lender Payday Loans: Best Lenders

Searching for a direct lender for payday loans is like setting yourself up for identity theft. Entering “payday loans” on Google will give you about ten million results. Trouble is, they’re mostly third party websites. The websites will request that you apply to their “network of lenders”, and they’ll match you with a lender who can meet your needs. Bad credit? Okay! No income? They can help.

Or not. The third party sites will collect your social security number, employer information, home address, and other personal information. Then what do they do with it? They’ll direct you to another 13 websites that need the same information. In the end, hundreds of people have your social security number, and you have no more cash than you did three hours ago.

To take some of the mystery (and fraud) out of payday loans, we’ve compiled a list of direct lender payday loans. Your application will be sent directly to the company, and you’ll receive a decision from that company alone.

OneMain Financial

This company has been around for about 100 years. It’s gone through a series of acquisitions and was SpringLeaf Financial for a while, but it’s a legit business. You can find it on the NYSE under ticker symbol OMF. OneMain specializes in personal and auto loans, and you can get a loan as low as $1,500 or as high as $25,000.

OneMain has physical branches in 44 US states. You’re probably doing most of your searching on the internet, and you can apply for a loan online, but it’s nice to have the availability of a real person should you have any questions.

Because payday loans aren’t legal in all states, you’ll need to talk to your OneMain loan officer to find out how to pay off a personal loan. For example, if you just need a small loan for car repair, apply for $1,500. OneMain doesn’t usually charge a penalty for paying your loan off early, making it a viable option if you need a payday loan.


LendUp is much newer than OneMain. It was founded in 2012, but since then has expanded to offer credit cards and credit education in addition to their payday loans. They only operate in the states which allow payday loans, though. So if you’re in North Carolina or Connecticut, for example, you won’t be eligible.

LendUp has a unique structure, in that they offer lower interest rates to long term customers. They call it the LendUp Ladder, and as a customer climbs their ladder, their loan structure will change. First, the loans will get larger and interest rates lower. Second, the company advertises that larger loans will eventually report to the credit bureaus. If you’re able to pay off your loan, LendUp states that it could help to improve your credit score.

It’s important to note, though, that in 2016 LendUp was fined by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a California state regulator. Unfortunately, LendUp wasn’t reporting to the credit bureaus as it said it would. LendUp still offers a good direct lender payday loan, but just keep in mind that it may not improve your credit.


CashAmericaToday is what you could consider a “traditional” payday loan. It’s a direct lender payday loan that’s based solely off your

income. They don’t run a credit check, but instead will need some income verification, like pay stubs, tax forms or a phone call to your bank. And yes, they will call your boss to verify your income. They’ll collect all these contacts, as well as personal references and your SSN, and then approve you for a loan.

Now, it’s great that they don’t offer a credit check, right? Well, be careful. Once the company gets your employer’s phone number, you’d better make damn sure you pay them. If you don’t, they’ll be calling. And not just once. They’ll call over and over until finally your boss gets fed up and you find yourself embarrassed, skulking around the office like a slacker who couldn’t pay off his payday loan. Once your boss starts ignoring their calls, they’ll start calling your references.

So the benefit of CashAmericaToday is that there’s no credit check. But the flip side of that is that if you can’t pay, you’ve near about got to sell your soul to get them to stop calling you. This isn’t to make an example of this particular company, either. CashAmericaToday’s methods of collection are similar to a lot of direct lender payday loans. Most which don’t require a credit check are equally aggressive, and may not be worth the shame they inflict if you don’t pay.

Your Credit Union

We like this option the best. In fact, we love this option. Credit Unions are by far the safest, lowest interest direct lender payday loan option. If you’re not a member of a credit union, you can generally find one that you’ll be eligible to join. Criteria for eligibility can include your employer, your county or state of residence, or even family members. For example, if your sister works for Mississippi Public Schools, you’re automatically eligible for an account at MS Public Employees’ Credit Union.

Okay, so the tricky part of credit union loans is that you’ve got to be a member for a predetermined amount of time before requesting a loan. But if you’ve had your account for a while, you can talk to a rep at your local branch about what they offer. Some banks call them a short term loan. Others call them a salary advance. And still others will qualify them as a personal loan, which is paid off through a deduction from your checking account.

Regardless of what the bank calls it, the short term loans usually charge significantly lower interest rates than commercial lenders. There’s no hard credit inquiry in some cases – the bank knows your deposit history, and has the authority to withdraw according to the terms. And memberships at credit unions come with all kinds of other perks, too, like CUDL partnerships for auto loans and even discounted amusement park tickets. Can’t beat that!

These four direct lender payday loans are by no means an exhaustive list. But they’re good examples of the types of loans that are on the market. Keep informed about the loan laws in your state – you can easily research whether they’re legal where you are. And always, always use caution when giving out your personal information. Good luck and happy spending!

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