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Georgia has strict laws regulating payday loans — they’re generally illegal unless they meet very specific requirements.
With payday lending, a lender typically takes a post-dated check or your electronic banking information and charges you fees or interest to advance you money before your next payday. But this type of payday lending — which is usually so expensive it can lead to a cycle of debt — is illegal for the most part in the state of Georgia. While out-of-state lenders may provide payday loans, subject to certain exceptions, it can be helpful to know your alternatives.
We’ve rounded up some alternatives to payday lenders in Georgia. Keep reading to see if one of them might be right for your situation.
- Earnin: Good for early paycheck access
- Kashable: Good for loan prequalification
- NetCredit: Good for building credit
- OppLoans: Good for potentially fast funding
Earnin: Good for early paycheck access
Why you may want to consider Earnin: Earnin pays eligible workers for the time they’ve worked before their next scheduled payday and automatically deducts the borrowed amount from their next paycheck. Unlike the other lenders on this list, there are no mandatory fees or interest charges to use the Earnin app to get the money you need. (Instead, you can tip what you think is fair.)
Here are some more details to know before you download the Earnin app.
- Small advance amounts — Earnin is best for relatively small emergencies. When you first start using Earnin, you can only borrow up to $100 per pay cycle. As you use the app over time and establish a track record of successful repayment, Earnin may raise your limit up to $500.
- Accessibility — If you need money fast, Earnin may be a good option for you. Some Earnin users may qualify for the lender’s “Lighting Speed” feature. With this feature, Earnin says your money will be deposited into your bank account within minutes. If you’re not eligible for Lightning Speed, your money will typically be deposited into your bank account within one to two business days.
- Eligibility — Not everyone is eligible for Earnin. To use the Earnin app, you must have more than 50% of your direct deposit sent to a checking account and a regular pay schedule (weekly, biweekly, semi-monthly or monthly). You also must have a fixed work location or an online timekeeping system at work.
- App download required — You’ll have to download the Earnin app to request a loan. The app is compatible with both Android and Apple’s iOS mobile devices.
Kashable: Good for loan prequalification
Why you may want to consider Kashable: Kashable offers personal loans to workers at select employers. (Keep in mind that if you’re a federal employee in the state of Georgia, Kashable won’t be available to you.)
If you have good credit, Kashable will consider you for its lowest interest rates, which are competitive. And you can use its prequalification tool to check your potential for approval and get an estimated interest rate without affecting your credit scores. Just remember that if you officially apply after prequalification, you’ll face a hard credit check — which could still result in loan denial or different loan terms. A hard credit check will also lower your credit scores by a few points.
Here are some more details about Kashable loans.
- Loan amounts — Kashable loans range from $250 to $20,000.
- Interest rates — While Kashable notes the lowest interest rates available on its site, the lender isn’t clear about the higher end of its rates for people who don’t have great credit. The little information available shows that Kashable’s range of rates goes well into a double-digit zone that’s on the high end of traditional personal loans (though still likely a better option than a payday loan).
- Repayment terms — Unlike payday loans, which typically have to be repaid within two to four weeks, Kashable loans have loan terms between six months and 24 months. But keep in mind that your repayments will be automatically deducted from your paycheck.
- Funding time — If you’re approved for a loan, Kashable says it will deposit the funds into your bank account within three business days.
- Availability — Kashable isn’t available to everyone. Only employees of participating employers in certain states qualify for its loans.
NetCredit: Good for building credit
Why you may want to consider NetCredit: If you live in Georgia, you can apply for a NetCredit loan between $3,100 and $10,000, and you’ll have between six months and 60 months to repay the loan. With a longer loan term, you can stretch out your payments. If you’re facing a major expense, like an unexpected home repair, your monthly budget may take less of a hit with a longer loan term. But keep in mind that a longer loan term usually means you’ll pay more interest over the life of the loan.
NetCredit reports your payment activity to the major credit bureaus, which could help you build credit if you make payments on time.
Here’s some more information about NetCredit personal loans.
- High interest rates — NetCredit personal loans can come with interest rates that are much higher than a traditional 24-month personal loan — and above the APR limit that consumer advocates consider reasonable. Even the lender notes that its loans are an expensive form of credit and that there may be cheaper options available elsewhere. Because NetCredit’s rates are high, you’re likely to end up repaying much more than you originally borrowed.
- Origination fee — NetCredit typically charges origination fees. In Georgia, NetCredit charges a 5% origination fee on loans with an interest rate of 36% or less. The fee is deducted from the amount of the loan. For example, if you apply for a $4,000 loan and are approved, NetCredit will charge a $200 origination fee and you’d receive $3,800.
- Loan funding — If your application is approved, NetCredit says you’ll typically receive your money in as little as one business day. That can be helpful if you have an emergency expense.
- Ability to apply for prequalification — Like Kashable, NetCredit lets you check your eligibility for a personal loan by answering a few questions. You can get an estimate without affecting your credit scores.
OppLoans: Good for potentially fast funding
Why you may want to consider OppLoans: Like the other lenders on our list, you could potentially receive your loan funds quickly if you’re approved for a loan with OppLoans. The lender says it will typically issue your money as soon as the next business day.
Here’s some other key information about OppLoans.
- High interest rates — While OppLoans can be a less-expensive option than a payday loan, it still has high interest rates, causing you to pay a lot of money in interest charges.
- Loan terms — OppLoans allows you to borrow up to $5,000, so you can take out enough money to cover a larger expense. While payday loans require you to repay your debt within a few weeks, OppLoans has repayment terms as long as 24 months.
- Eligibility — To qualify for a loan from OppLoans, you must have a regular source of income. If employed, you must have been working for your current employer for at least three months, and you must receive your paycheck through direct deposit. Covered borrowers as defined by the Military Lending Act are not eligible for OppLoans personal loans.
- Ability to apply for prequalification — OppLoans also lets you check your eligibility for a personal loan by submitting some basic information about yourself and your finances. You can get an estimate without affecting your credit scores. But remember that approval and terms are not guaranteed with preapproval.
How we picked these alternatives
To create this list, we looked for lenders that are licensed to work with people in Georgia, and that position themselves as payday loan alternatives or say they may lend to people with bad credit. When choosing lenders, we focused on factors such as how quickly loans are issued, loan amounts, fees, interest, prequalification applications, loan terms and lender transparency.
If you need a small loan, you also may want to consider a payday alternative loan, which is a type of short-term loan offered by certain federal credit unions. With a payday alternative loan, a credit union can’t charge you more than $20 to process your application and there’s a cap on interest rates.
If you have any open credit card accounts, you should also check the APR to see if using a card to cover an emergency expense is a more affordable option for you.