Warning: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help moneyhelper.org.uk | Representative APR 89.9%
Warning: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help moneyhelper.org.uk

What happens if I can’t pay a payday loan?

Learn which steps to take if you can't make payments on your payday loan.

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Many things can affect your ability to make payments on a payday loan, from losing your source of income to other essential expenses eating up your budget. There are many people out there who discover they can’t pay payday loans and there is no shame in asking for support or guidance.

Steps to take if you can’t pay your payday loan

If you can’t pay your payday loan, there are steps to take to improve your situation. We’ve listed these below and in further detail, later on, to help you get back on track. 

  • Seek free and impartial financial advice 
  • Get in touch with the lender 
  • Ask the creditor to freeze the interest and charges on your credit account 
  • Refuse to roll over your payday loan 
  • Cancel your CPA (Continuous Payment Authority) 

1) Get help – Seek out free and impartial debt advice 

It’s important you speak to a free and impartial, not-for-profit debt advice service as soon as you realise you will struggle to keep up with your payday loan payments. There are a range of free services out there to support you and help you get back on your feet financially. We’ve provided a list of these in our Payday Loans Debt Help guide, click here to view this. 

These services can talk through your finances on the phone, by email or over live chat, helping you work out where you can free up money to put towards your debt, how to prioritise your debts, and how to talk to creditors to get a plan in place that works for both of you. Some debt advice services can also set up a Debt Management Plan (or DMP) for you and will liaise with your lenders on your behalf. Watch out for them charging a fee for this, however StepChange in particular offer this service for free. 

You can also: 

2) Notify the lender 

It’s a good idea to speak to your lender as early as possible once you know you won’t be able to make a repayment on time. This means contacting their customer services team and notifying them that you are struggling with your repayments. They may be able to make suggestions or offer some form of help so you can get back on track – but this all depends on the lender. 

Your lender must treat you fairly and give you a reasonable amount of time to repay what you owe. They should also point you towards where you can get free and impartial debt advice. 

If you have already missed a payment, you may have incurred a late payment fee and could still be accruing interest on your loan, increasing your balance. Don’t panic. These fees and charges will be included in any repayment plan you set up with a lender to ensure everything is covered. 

3) Consider refusing to roll over your payday loan 

Rolling over a payday loan may seem like a tempting option in the moment when you’re unable to make your payment,  but it could leave you in a worse situation further down the line. It’s likely when you contact your payday loan provider that they’ll suggest doing this, but with the added interest, you will end up owing more than you originally anticipated. Remember that since 2014, payday lenders are unable to roll your loan over more than twice if you do decide to go down this route – which does help to limit how much more you can end up paying. All lenders must also adhere to an overall cost cap where you can never pay back more than the amount borrowed in fees and interest. 

4) Consider cancelling the continuous payment authority 

It’s important you prioritise your essential bills and money for food, rent or your mortgage and energy bills are the most important. If you want to ensure the payment for your payday loan isn’t going to impact your ability to cover these costs you could look into cancelling your continuous payment authority so that the lender can’t take money from your account that you’d earmarked for other essentials. 

Most lenders, do not work with direct debits or standing orders. Instead, your repayment is set up via continuous payment authority or CPA. This means the lender can use your debit card to collect the money you owe and doesn’t have to make a request to your bank as they would with a direct debit or standing order. It also means that if a CPA payment is declined, you won’t incur a refused payment fee from your bank as you would with other means of payment. 

If you wish to do this, you should notify the lender that you want to cancel CPA on your account, at least one day before your payment is due. It’s a good idea to also call your bank to let them know. Make a note of the time and date when you did this for future reference. If the money is still taken after you’ve cancelled your payment and it was done in plenty of time, then you can dispute the payment with your bank and they must refund you by law. 

5) Ask your creditor if they’ll freeze the interest and charges

If you are having financial difficulties, you can also ask the lender to freeze your charges and interest. While they’re not required to do this, they should consider it. You may need to provide evidence of your financial situation to get them to agree to freeze anything but it’s worth the hassle if it means knowing where you stand and having a fixed balance to work out how to pay. 

Once these things are done you can then follow the plan you and a free debt service have put together. If you have a repayment plan in place that reflects your financial situation and means that you are still making progress towards clearing your balance, albeit over an extended period, then the lender should agree to this – especially if you have the backing of a debt advisory service. 

Frequently Asked Questions Information Hub

  • Many people immediately worry about bailiffs and court summons if they are unable to make a payment on a loan.

    If you miss a payment, a lender will contact you by a combination of phone calls, emails or letters asking that you make your payment, or get in touch with them to discuss your situation.

    It’s important to note that they are not allowed to call your place of work without permission or discuss your debt with anyone but you unless you authorise somebody else to speak on your behalf.

    If you do not pay, your account will first be marked as in arrears, and you may receive some formal communication to this effect. Lenders have an obligation to accurately report information about your account with them to Credit Reference Agencies.

    A communication, called a Notice of Sums in Arrears, may be sent to you as an email or through the post. If your account remains in arrears, then your lender may default your account, which will be reported to the Credit Reference Agencies. You should receive a letter called a Notice of Default when this happens, notifying you.

  • If you don’t believe a lender is not treating you fairly by handling your requests as they should or is not abiding by the guidelines set out by the FCA then yes, you can complain.

    You should always raise your complaint directly with the lender first and ask that they come back to you as quickly as possible. The FCA rules say that a lender must acknowledge your complaint promptly, where possible attempt to resolve within 3 business days or provide you with a resolution within eight weeks where this isn’t possible.

    If after this time you have not had a satisfactory response, then you can escalate your concerns to the Financial Ombudsman Service who is able to settle disputes between lenders and their customers.

  • If you don’t believe a lender is handling your requests as they should or is not abiding by the guidelines laid out by the FCA around debt collection then yes, you can complain. 

    Raise your complaint directly with the lender first and ask that they come back to you with a resolution within eight weeks. If after this time you have not had a satisfactory response, then you can escalate your concerns to the Financial Ombudsman Service who is able to settle disputes between lenders and their customers. 

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