Personal loans vs payday loans

Find out the differences between personal loans and short-term loans and how to compare them

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There is a wide range of loan options available to those who are in need of money. Each type of personal finance is suited to a different type of borrower and can be used for different purposes, and this includes personal loans and online cash loans.

In this guide, we break down the key differences between the two and outline their costs in order to help borrowers determine which will be the best loan for their needs and situation.

Are you struggling financially?


If you're struggling financially and would like to speak to someone for free financial advice, information and assistance you can call the Financial Counsellors hotline on 1800 007 007 (open from 9:30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday). If you are suffering financial problems related to the coronavirus pandemic you may be eligible for additional support. Find out more here: https://www.finder.com.au/coronavirus-financial-help

⚠️ Warning about Borrowing

payday-warningDo you really need a loan today?*

It can be expensive to borrow small amounts of money and borrowing may not solve your money problems.

Check your options before you borrow:

  • For information about other options for managing bills and debts, ring 1800 007 007 from anywhere in Australia to talk to a free and independent financial counsellor
  • Talk to your electricity, gas, phone or water provider to see if you can work out a payment plan
  • If you are on government benefits, ask if you can receive an advance from Centrelink: Phone: 13 17 94

The Government's MoneySmart website shows you how small amount loans work and suggests other options that may help you.

* This statement is an Australian Government requirement under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009.

Payday loansPersonal loans
  • Can be a small loan (below $2,000), medium loan ($2,001-$5,000) or a large loan (over $5,000)
  • Usually unsecured
  • Come with higher interest rates and fees when compared to personal loans
  • Loan amounts differ, but you can usually find lenders offering between $5,000 and $100,000
  • Can be secured, unsecured or as a line of credit
  • Interest rates differ depending on whether security is offered, but they usually range between 5% and 16% p.a.

Learn about more of the differences in fees and features in the guide below the table.

Compare payday loans and personal loans

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Maximum loan amount Term of Loan Turnaround time Arrears Fee Costs Fortnightly Repayment (for $1500 Loan)
Sunshine Short Term Loans
$2,000
9-14 weeks
30 minutes - conditions apply
$35
20% of loan amount + 4% of loan amount each month
$396
A small loan up to $2,000 that you repay over 9-14 weeks. Loans approved and funded in as little as 30 minutes.
Nimble Short Term Loan
$2,000
62 days to 9 months
1 hour - conditions apply
$15
20% of loan amount + 4% of loan amount each month
$372
A loan up to $2,000 with terms up to 62 days to 9 months. Centrelink cannot be your primary source of income.
Fair Go Finance Small Loan
$2,000
3-12 months
1 business day
$35
Establishment fee 20% of loan amount + monthly fee 4%
$354
A small loan between $500 and $2,000 that can be funded in 24 hours.
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Data indicated here is updated regularly
$
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Min Loan Amount Loan Term Application Fee Monthly Service Fee Monthly Repayment
Plenti Fixed Rate Personal Loan

From 5.99% (fixed)
6.27%
$2,001
3 to 5 years
From $99 to $499
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate between 5.99% p.a. and 15.89% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible loan with amounts from $2,001 and terms starting from 3 years. Interest and comparison rates calculated for a loan term of 5 years.
Symple Loans Personal Loan

From 5.75% (variable)
6.47%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
from 0% to 5% of the loan amount
$10
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 5.75% p.a. to 25.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Borrow up to $50,000 to pay for what you need.
Harmoney Unsecured Personal Loan

From 6.99% (fixed)
7.79%
$2,000
3 to 5 years
$575 ($275 for loans of below $5,000)
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 25.69% p.a. based on your risk profile.
Apply for a loan up to $50,000 and repay your loan over 3 or 5 years terms.
OurMoneyMarket Personal Loan

From 6.75% (fixed)
6.96%
$2,001
1 to 7 years
1.5–6% of your total loan amount
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.75% p.a. to 20.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
A personalised loan from $2,001 to $75,000 that varies based on your credit history and financial situation.
ANZ Fixed Rate Personal Loan
10.50% (fixed)
11.38%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$150
$10
You'll receive a fixed rate of 10.50% p.a. ( comparison rate 11.38% p.a. )
Apply for up to $50,000 to use for a variety of purposes without needing to add security. Available to self-employed applicants. Note: These rates are available until 31 March 2021. Credit, eligibility criteria and terms & conditions apply.
Alex Personal Loan

From 6.95% (fixed)
6.95%
$2,100
6 months to 5 years
$0 (waived $295)
$0
You'll receive a fixed interest rate from 6.95% p.a. to 19.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Borrow between $2,100 and $30,000 from 6 months to 5 years. Benefit from no ongoing fees. Note: Waived $295 establishment fee for all applications submitted before 15 February 2021.
SocietyOne Unsecured Personal Loan (2-3 years)

From 6.99% (fixed)
6.99%
$5,000
2 to 3 years
from 0% to 5% of the loan amount
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 17.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 to use for a range of purposes. Benefit from no ongoing fees and no early repayment fee.
SocietyOne Unsecured Personal Loan (5 years)

From 7.99% (fixed)
7.99%
$5,000
5 years
from 0% to 5% of the loan amount
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate between 7.99% p.a. and 20.49% p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 to use for a range of purposes. Benefit from no ongoing fees and no early repayment fee.
CUA Unsecured Fixed Rate Personal Loan
9.39% (fixed)
9.64%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$175
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate of 9.39% p.a.
An unsecured loan from $5,000 with flexible repayments and no monthly fee.
Latitude Personal Loan (Unsecured)

From 7.99% (fixed)
9.24%
$3,000
1 to 7 years
$250 (Loans under $5000 - $140)
$13
You'll receive a fixed rate between 7.99% p.a. and 22.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Apply for what you need from $3,000 and use it for a range of purposes. Repay weekly, fortnightly or monthly. You can check your interest rate before applying with no impact to your credit score.
NAB Personal Loan Unsecured Fixed

From 9.99% (fixed)
10.88%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$150
$10
You'll receive a fixed rate between 9.99% p.a. and 18.99% p.a. ( 10.88% p.a. to 19.83% p.a. comparison rate) based on your risk profile
An unsecured loan up to $55,000 you can use for a range of purposes and pay off over up to 7 years. Note: Majority of customers will get the headline rate of 12.69% p.a. (13.56% p.a. comparison rate) or less. See Comparison rate warning in (i) above.
ANZ Variable Rate Personal Loan
12.99% (variable)
13.86%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$150
$10
You'll receive a variable rate of 12.99% p.a. ( comparison rate 13.86% p.a. )
A flexible loan with amounts starting $5,000 that offers flexible repayments and a redraw facility. Note: These rates are available until 31 March 2021. Credit, eligibility criteria and terms & conditions apply.
NOW Finance No Fee Unsecured Personal Loan

From 6.95% (fixed)
6.95%
$5,000
18 months to 7 years
$0
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.95% p.a. and 17.95% p.a. based on your risk profile
Apply for loans from $5,000 and get a dedicated loan advisor. No security required.
Wisr Personal Loan

From 7.95% (fixed)
8.22%
$5,000
3 to 5 years
$195 (Establishment Fee)
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate between 7.95% p.a. and 19.95% p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 that charges no fees for extra or early repayments. Keep in mind security is required in some cases.
Plenti Variable Rate Personal Loan

From 5.59% (variable)
6.25%
$2,001
1 to 3 years
From $99 to $499
$0
You'll receive a variable rate from 5.59% p.a and 12.89% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible loan with amounts from $2,001 and terms starting from 12 months. Benefit from transparent costs and a rate estimate before you apply.
MoneyMe Personal Loans

From 6.25% (fixed)
7.64%
$2,100
1 to 5 years
from $295 to $495
$10
You'll receive an interest rate between 6.25% p.a. and 19.95% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible personal loan from MoneyMe with access to cash when you need it.
NAB Personal Loan Unsecured Variable Rate

From 9.99% (variable)
10.88%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$150
$10
You'll receive a variable rate between 9.99% p.a. and 18.99% p.a. ( 10.88% p.a. to 19.83% p.a. comparison rate) based on your risk profile
An unsecured loan up to $55,000 you can use for a range of purposes. Benefit from fee-free additional repayments and a redraw facility. Note: Majority of customers will get the headline rate of 12.69% p.a. (13.56% p.a. comparison rate) or less. See Comparison rate warning in (i) above.
CUA Unsecured Variable Personal Loan
11.89% (variable)
12.15%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$175
$0
You'll receive a variable rate of 11.89% p.a.
Borrow from $5,000 with the option for flexible repayments and no monthly fees.
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What's the difference between personal and payday loans?

There are several key differences between personal loans and short-term cash loans:

  • Loan amount. Customers can borrow up to $5,000 from many cash lenders, and some offer loans as high as $10,000. Personal loans come with much higher minimum and maximum loan amounts, with lenders rarely offering loans below $5,000 but having maximum amounts as high as $80,000-$100,000.
  • Eligibility. Personal loans offered by banks and credit unions have strict eligibility criteria that often includes good credit and a regular income from employment or above a certain amount. Cash lenders that offer short-term loans are much more flexible and will consider those with bad credit, those who receive Centrelink payments as income or people who are unemployed.
  • Lenders. Personal loans are offered by banks, credit unions, building societies and standalone lenders. Cash loans tend to be offered by lenders specialising in that type of product.
  • Loan term. Cash loans come with much shorter terms, usually between 16 days and one year (depending on the loan amount). Personal loans, on the other hand, come with a minimum loan term of one year and a maximum of between five and seven years.

What are the risks of payday loans?

  • Unaffordable repayments. Payday loans are an expensive way to borrow money and should only be used as a last resort. Check the size of each repayment and ensure you will be able to pay it on time. Unaffordable repayments can lead to late fees that will only make things worse.
  • High rates and fees. Rates and fees on payday loans are high but there are rules in place so be sure to check your lender is not charging you more than ASIC allows. Also, look at what you would be charged if you are late on a payment or if you default on the loan altogether.
  • Unreputable lenders. All Australian lenders should be accredited by ASIC. Check for a credit licence on the ASIC Register and ensure that the lender is easily contactable.
  • Impact on credit score. Every loan application shows up on credit reports. While lenders might not consider credit history, applying for lots of loans within a short period can have a negative impact on your credit score in the future.

What is the cost difference between a personal loan and a short-term loan?

Online cash loans are heavily regulated by ASIC and lenders are restricted as to what fees and rates they can charge. Personal loans do not have such restrictions as long as they are offered by an Authorised Deposit-taking Institution such as a bank or credit union.

Payday loan costs

  • Short term loans under $2,000 with terms of between 16 days and one year cannot charge more than a 20% establishment fee and a 4% monthly fee.
  • Cash loans between $2,001 and $5,000 with terms of between 16 days and two years are restricted to a $400 establishment fee and an interest rate of 48% p.a.
  • Payday loans over $5,000 or with terms longer than two years cannot exceed an interest rate of 48% p.a., which includes all fees and charges.

Personal loan costs

How can I decide which type is right for me?

While there are similarities between these two products, there are stark differences as well. Asking yourself the following questions will help you decide which type of loan is right for you:

  • How much do you need to borrow?

    Personal loans allow you to apply for a much larger loan amount, while cash lenders usually have maximum amounts of $2,000 (although some lenders will provide loans of up to $10,000).

  • When do you need the money?

    Cash lenders offer a quick turnaround for your loan and can have your approved funds in your bank account within the next business day. Some personal loan lenders offer same-day turnaround for existing customers but the usual waiting time is a few days to a few weeks.

  • How is your credit history?

    Online cash lenders have more flexible eligibility criteria than lenders offering standard personal loans. You may still be able to apply for a cash loan if you have bad credit or a low income. Personal loans come with more stringent eligibility criteria. The majority of personal loan lenders will require you to have good credit and will usually have a minimum income requirement to show you can repay the loan.

  • What can you afford to repay?

    Short-term cash loans come with much higher rates and fees, meaning higher repayments. Your loan will be repaid in a shorter period of time but you need to determine your ability to afford the repayments. Personal loans come with lower rates and fees, and while they are spread over a longer term, they may make for more manageable repayments.

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