A payday loan or cash advance is a small, short-term loan (typically up to $500) without a credit check that is intended to bridge the borrower's cashflow gap sport ween pay days. Note, however, that the term cash advance can also mean cash provided against a prearranged line of credit such as a credit card.
The loan is typically given in cash and secured by the borrower's post-dated check that includes the original loan principal and accrued interest. The maturity date usually coincides with the borrower's next pay day. On the maturity date the lender processes the check traditionally or through electronic withdrawal from the borrower's checking account.
Payday lenders typically operate small stores or franchises, but large financial service providers also offer variations on the payday advance. Some mainstream banks offer a "direct deposit advance" for customers whose paychecks are deposited electronically. Some income tax preparation firms partner with lenders to offer "refund anticipation loans" to filers.
As of 2001, payday lending is legal in Canada and in twenty-five of the United States. Elsewhere in the US, a payday lender may affiliate with an out-of-state chartered bank to conduct business.