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Do I need a credit check for a payday loan?

Categories: payday loan, Credit Score

So you’ve been thinking about applying for a cash advance. You need cash fast. You have a reliable source of income. You did a bit of research and it looks like this is the best option for you right now. But you have one question – will your credit be checked if you apply for a payday loan?

Since not all payday lenders are the same, that answer can't be summed up in a simple "yes" or "no", which is why we’ll explain how it works in more detail and show you how you can find out if the payday loan you are applying for will or will not affect your score.


Do I need a credit check for a payday loan

The good news about payday loans (also referred to as cash advances) is the fact that they are known to be one of the easiest loans to get approved for – especially if you don’t have collateral you can pawn, but you do have a reliable income.


However, if you’re in a bind and need to get your hands on some emergency cash fast, but don’t want a credit check associated with the loan you’re applying for, there are a few things you can do to find out if applying will affect your score.


Before we jump right on into answering that question, let’s first explain the nature of this type of loan to make sure you are clear on what it is and how they work.


What is a payday or cash advance loan?

Payday loans are a short-term loan, usually under $500 (depending on state regulations), that’s typically borrowed for two to four weeks. Frequently these types of loans are referred to as deferred deposit loans because funding is based upon your income and is secured by the borrower writing a check for the loan amount and small fee to use as collateral.


The lender gives the borrower cash and holds the check until the customer comes back to repay the loan on their next payday. If the borrower doesn’t come back to repay the loan on the agreed upon due date, the check that was written is then used to repay the loan.


Why would I want or need a payday or cash advance loan?

The purpose of this short-term loan is to provide quick and convenient cash to pay for unexpected expenses. Commons uses of payday and cash advance loans are car repairs, traffic fines, home repairs, and medical expenses such as a copay or deductible. They often provide a less expensive alternative to bouncing a check and having to pay non-sufficient funds (NSF) or late fees. Read more on The Cost of a Payday Loan here.


What do I need to qualify?

The primary criteria a lender will consider when making you a cash advance loan is your income either from your employment, business, or from government payments, etc. and a valid bank or checking account. You don’t have to have a job, but you do need to show sufficient funds coming in to repay the loan. There are also some additional legal requirements such as:

  • You have to be 18 years or older depending upon your state laws
  • You have to provide valid ID
  • You have to provide your Social Security or Taxpayer ID number
  • You cannot be serving on active duty in the military


Additionally, individuals with limited or no credit history can often obtain a payday or cash advance loan. The underwriting standards are more accommodating to individuals with limited credit experience than the standards set for those applying for traditional personal loans.


Will my credit report be checked?

The truth is, when it comes to pulling credit, some lenders may check your credit report while others will not. There are some legal requirements that payday or cash advance lenders have to comply with when making a loan. But to help you get a better idea, here are some of the requirements a lender may include:

  • Checking against the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Specifically Designated Nationals (SDN), Blocked Persons List, and Military Lending Act (MLA) database. Your lender may utilize a service from a Credit Reporting Agency (CRA) to access and check those databases. Lenders also request your Social Security card in order to comply with the revised Military Lending Act (MLA). The MLA requires that lenders check each borrowers Social Security number against a Department of Defense database to ensure that the borrower is not active duty military or a covered dependent prior to making any loan. We do not use your Social Security number to perform a credit check on a pawn loan.
  • Fraud Checks. A lender may utilize a CRA to check your ID and to ensure that you are who you say you are. This helps to protect against someone stealing your ID and taking out a loan.
  • Alternative Credit Reporting Agencies (CRA). Lenders will often look to the Alternative Credit Reporting Agencies since payday loans are made based on a person’s ability to repay and people who take out payday loans usually have a limited credit history for installment loans, credit cards, etc. Examples of Alternative CRA’s include Clarity, Lexis Nexis, Factor Trust, and Microbilt among others. The information they provide is based on data provided by other payday and cash advance lenders, utility payments, cell phone accounts, and public records.
  • Credit Bureaus (CB). The traditional credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union may be used by the lender either directly or as a service to one of the alternative CRA’s. Again, the data obtained from the CB’s will mostly pertain to identify, fraud prevention or the necessary checking of the governmental databases. In some instances the lender may use one or more of the credit scores from the CB like the Vantage Score or the FICO score. Mostly these scores will be used as a minimum floor level, and not so much as a scoring tool, but more as a tool for identify verification or fraud prevention.


Will a payday loan or cash advance cause an inquiry on my credit report?

Depending upon the lender, taking out a payday loan or a cash advance loan may indeed cause an inquiry on your credit report. If the lender you choose is a member of Experian, Equifax or Trans Union, when you apply for a payday loan or cash advance loan, the lender may pull a credit report on you and cause an inquiry at one or more of these bureaus.


If your lender is a member of an Alternative Credit Reporting Agency (CRA) like Clarity, Lexis Nexis, Factor Trust or Microbilt, when you apply for a payday or cash advance loan, they may pull a credit report. In doing so, it will cause an inquiry at that CRA. Additionally, if the Alternative CRA is a correspondent or reseller for a credit bureau, there may also be an inquiry at that credit bureau.


However, please bear in mind that these lenders typically do not grant a decision on your application based upon the credit report. It is therefore common for a payday or cash advance lender to only purchase a credit report when a new customer first applies or after a certain period of time (generally 90 days) from the first loan they borrowed from the lender.


Will taking out a payday or cash advance loan affect my credit?

If your payday or cash advance lender purchases a credit report on you, as noted above, it will cause an inquiry at the agency from which it was purchased. Once you take out a payday loan, the loan amount, the terms, and your payments will be reported to the CRA from which the credit report was purchased and to any other CRA’s or credit bureaus where the lender is a member.


When the lender purchases a credit report from a CRA that has a correspondent relationship with a credit bureau, the loan information will generally only be reported back to the CRA, not to the correspondent credit bureau. The only thing the credit bureau will report is the initial inquiry. The CRA will report the inquiry plus the loan information.


Will taking out a payday or cash advance loan hurt or help my credit?

While calculations and statistics used to create a credit score are too complex to explain here, the essence is pretty straight forward. When you apply for credit and pay back your loan for a mortgage, car loan, credit card, or installment loan, it can have an impact on your credit. The same is true with a payday or cash advance loan.


However, with payday loans, your score will only be affected at the CRAs or credit bureaus your lender is associated with at the time of your inquiry. This is why you will often have different scores for the same scorecard (FICO, Vantage) when they come from different credit bureaus.


If you want to know if taking out a payday loan will hurt or help your score, you have to first know where you stand in your credit history. Common factors are used to indicate how recent you have taken out a loan, how frequently you borrow, how often you pay late, or how late you have paid. Lenders may also use various factors to look at how much you have borrowed and paid back, how much you still owe, how much you owe on credit cards, and how much you have available to borrow on credit cards.


Now, keep in mind that every scorecard is different and only the credit bureaus know what goes into the FICO score and Vantage scores. Even your lenders don’t know specifically what is within these models. However, some of the things that do tend to affect these scores and your credit are:


  • Applying for many loans over a short period of time
  • Having several loans over the course of the year
  • Not paying your loan back on time
  • Not paying back a loan at all


If you do any of these things, and your payday lender reports to a credit bureau or credit reporting agency, it will likely hurt your credit and your ability to get another loan.


Like most other loans, any behavior that indicates a willingness to repay a loan or shows a past history of repaying loans will improve a person’s credit and credit score. Behaviors such as:


  • Having a limited number of payday or other credit inquiries
  • Repaying a payday loan when it comes due or beforehand
  • Only borrowing a payday loan for a short period of time, and having no other payday loans for a sufficient length of time afterwards
  • Only having one or a limited number of payday loans at a time.


Even so, these behaviors are not guaranteed to improve your credit or credit score. In many cases, a payday loan is not considered in a scorecard or is viewed by its type as a negative.


However without knowing your specific credit circumstances and the details of the scorecard, it is impossible to say what affect taking out a payday loan will have on your specific credit. Generally it can safely be said that for some scorecards and the credit a person has at some CRA’s or credit bureaus, applying for and borrowing a payday loan or cash advance could improve your credit. To do so, the lender must purchase and report to a Credit Reporting Agency or credit bureau.


Got more questions? We’ve got answers. For over 20 years, Always Money Finance has been a regional leader in providing affordable credit solutions to customers across the southeast looking for a convenient and confidential way to meet their needs. Getting a handle on your money takes time, and Always Money understands. If you’re in a jam and need immediate help, any of Always Money’s small personal loan options may be just what you need to get you going in the right direction.


To get started,

  • Visit a store near you (Click here to find the store nearest you),
  • Call 1-888-618-9217 to get pre-approved over the phone, or
  • Apply Online Now!


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