Types of Short Term Loans in South Africa

Types of Short Term Loans in South Africa
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Looking for quick cash solutions? At BetterLoans, we understand that life throws surprises, and sometimes you need a little extra help. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on the Types of Short Term Loans in South Africa. Whether you’re facing an unexpected expense or need a cash flow boost, our detailed breakdown will help you find the perfect loan option to meet your needs. Keep reading to discover how you can navigate these short-term financial solutions smartly and efficiently!

Key Takeaways: Types of Short Term Loans in South Africa

  • Variety of Loans Available: Options include payday loans, microloans, and business short-term loans, each catering to different needs and financial situations.
  • Quick Access to Funds: Many short-term loans offer rapid processing and disbursement, often within a day or two, making them suitable for urgent financial needs.
  • Higher Interest Rates: Due to their short repayment terms and unsecured nature, these loans typically carry higher interest rates compared to traditional loans.
  • Impact on Credit Score: Timely repayment can improve your credit score, while defaults or late payments can harm it.
  • Eligibility Criteria: Generally, you must be at least 18 years old, a South African citizen or permanent resident, have a regular income, and possess a valid bank account.
  • Application Process: Applying is usually straightforward, involving an online or in-person application and submission of necessary documents like ID, proof of address, and proof of income.
  • Choose Wisely: Consider factors such as loan amount, repayment terms, interest rates, and lender reputation to find the most suitable loan.
  • Legal Protections: Ensure the lender complies with the National Credit Act, which governs fair lending practices and sets maximum interest rates.
  • Debt Management: If repayment becomes challenging, options like debt counselling are available to help manage and consolidate debts effectively.

Why Would You Need a Short Term Loan?

There are many reasons why people take out short-term loans. Some common situations include:

  • Emergency expenses: If your car breaks down or you have a medical emergency, a short-term loan can help you cover the costs quickly.
  • Cash flow issues: If you’re self-employed or your income varies, a short-term loan can help bridge the gap until your next paycheck.
  • Unexpected bills: If you get hit with a surprise bill, like a high utility payment or a tax bill, a short-term loan can help you pay it off.

In these situations, a short-term loan can be a helpful tool to get you through a tough financial spot. Just remember to borrow responsibly and only take out what you can afford to pay back.

How Does a Short Term Loan Work?

Getting a short-term loan is pretty straightforward. Here’s how it usually works:

  1. You apply for the loan online or in person. The lender will ask for some basic information, like your income and expenses.
  2. The lender reviews your application and decides whether to approve you. They’ll look at things like your credit score and income to determine if you can afford the loan.
  3. If approved, you’ll get the money quickly, often within a day or two. You’ll also agree to the repayment terms, which include the interest rate and how long you have to pay back the loan.
  4. You make payments on the loan according to the agreed-upon schedule. Most short-term loans require you to pay back the full amount plus interest within a few weeks to a few months.

Interest rates on short-term loans can be high, often around 5% per month or more. That’s why it’s important to only borrow what you need and to pay it back as quickly as possible.

Types of Short Term Loans

There are several types of short-term loans available in South Africa, each with its own features and benefits. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common options.

Payday Loans

Description: Payday loans are small, short-term loans that you repay when you get your next paycheck. They’re designed to help cover unexpected expenses or bridge the gap until payday.

Typical terms:

  • Loan amounts: R500 to R5,000
  • Repayment period: 1 to 4 weeks
  • Interest rates: 5% to 30% per month


  • Fast and easy to get
  • No collateral required
  • Can help in emergencies


  • High interest rates
  • Short repayment period
  • Can lead to a cycle of debt if not used carefully


Description: Microloans are small loans designed to help individuals or small businesses who may not qualify for traditional loans. They’re often provided by microfinance institutions or non-profit organizations.

Typical terms:

  • Loan amounts: R500 to R50,000
  • Repayment period: 3 months to 1 year
  • Interest rates: 20% to 40% per year


  • Can help build credit
  • Less stringent qualification requirements
  • Can be used for personal or business needs


  • High interest rates
  • Small loan amounts may not meet all needs
  • May require collateral or group borrowing

Business Short-Term Loans (for business)

Description: Business short-term loans are designed to help small businesses cover cash flow gaps, purchase inventory, or take advantage of growth opportunities. They’re typically unsecured and have shorter repayment terms than traditional business loans.

Typical terms:

  • Loan amounts: R10,000 to R1,000,000
  • Repayment period: 3 to 12 months
  • Interest rates: 10% to 30% per year


  • Fast access to funds
  • Can help manage cash flow
  • Flexible usage for business needs


  • Higher interest rates than traditional business loans
  • May require personal guarantee or collateral
  • Short repayment period can strain cash flow
Loan TypeLoan AmountRepayment PeriodInterest Rates
Payday LoansR500 to R5,0001 to 4 weeks5% to 30% per month
MicroloansR500 to R50,0003 months to 1 year20% to 40% per year
Business Short-Term LoansR10,000 to R1,000,0003 to 12 months10% to 30% per year

Advantages and Disadvantages of Short Term Loans

Like any financial product, short-term loans have both advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons.


  • Quick access to funds: Short-term loans can provide fast cash when you need it most. Many lenders offer same-day or next-day funding.
  • Less stringent credit requirements: Some short-term loans, like payday loans or merchant cash advances, have less strict credit requirements than traditional loans. This can make them accessible to people with bad or no credit.
  • Flexible usage: Short-term loans can be used for a variety of purposes, from covering emergency expenses to managing cash flow for a small business.


  • Higher interest rates: Because short-term loans are often unsecured and have shorter repayment terms, they typically come with higher interest rates than traditional loans. This can make them an expensive form of borrowing.
  • Short repayment periods: The short repayment periods of many short-term loans can make it difficult to pay back the loan on time. This can lead to additional fees, penalties, and a cycle of debt.
  • Potential impact on credit score: If you don’t repay a short-term loan on time, it can have a negative impact on your credit score. This can make it harder to qualify for other loans or credit products in the future.

How Short Term Loans Can Affect Credit

Taking out a short-term loan can have an impact on your credit score, either positively or negatively depending on how you manage the loan. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Payment history: Your payment history is the most important factor in your credit score. If you make all your loan payments on time, it can help improve your credit score over time. But if you miss payments or default on the loan, it can have a negative impact on your score.
  • Credit utilization: Credit utilization is the amount of credit you’re using compared to your credit limits. If you take out a short-term loan and it represents a high percentage of your available credit, it can lower your credit score.
  • Length of credit history: Taking out a new loan can lower the average age of your credit accounts, which can have a slight negative impact on your score.

To avoid negative impacts on your credit score, it’s important to only borrow what you can afford to pay back and to make all your payments on time. If you’re having trouble making payments, contact your lender right away to discuss your options.

For more information on managing your credit in South Africa, visit the National Credit Regulator website.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for a short-term loan in South Africa, you’ll typically need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a South African citizen or permanent resident
  • Have a regular source of income
  • Have a valid bank account
  • Provide proof of identification and address

Some lenders may have additional requirements, like a minimum credit score or a certain amount of time at your current job. It’s important to check with the specific lender to see what their eligibility criteria are.

Application Processes

Applying for a short-term loan in South Africa is usually a quick and easy process. Here are the general steps:

  1. Choose a lender and loan product that meets your needs.
  2. Fill out an online application or visit a branch in person.
  3. Provide the required documentation, which may include:
    • Proof of identification (ID book or passport)
    • Proof of address (utility bill or bank statement)
    • Proof of income (payslips or bank statements)
    • Bank account details
  4. Wait for the lender to review your application and make a decision.
  5. If approved, review and sign the loan agreement.
  6. Receive the funds in your bank account.

The whole process can often be completed in a day or two, depending on the lender and the completeness of your application.

Trusted Lenders

If you’re looking for a reputable lender for a short-term loan in South Africa, here are a few options to consider:

  • African Bank: Offers personal loans and credit facilities. Read about African Bank.
  • Capitec Bank: Offers personal loans and credit facilities. Read about Capitec Bank.
  • FNB: Offers personal loans, overdrafts, and credit cards. Read about FNB.
  • Nedbank: Offers personal loans, overdrafts, and credit cards. Read about Nedbank.
  • Standard Bank: Offers personal loans, overdrafts, and credit cards. Read about Standard Bank.

Be sure to compare offers from multiple lenders to find the best rates and terms for your needs.

Tips for Choosing the Right Short Term Loan

With so many short-term loan options available, it can be tough to know which one to choose. Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Loan amount: How much money do you need to borrow? Make sure to choose a loan that offers the right amount for your needs.
  • Repayment terms: How long will you have to pay back the loan? Choose a repayment term that fits your budget and cash flow.
  • Interest rates and fees: Look for a loan with competitive interest rates and low fees. Be sure to read the fine print and understand all the costs involved.
  • Lender reputation: Choose a reputable lender with a track record of fair lending practices. Check online reviews and ratings to see what other borrowers have experienced.
  • Eligibility requirements: Make sure you meet the lender’s eligibility requirements before applying. This can save you time and avoid unnecessary credit inquiries.

When comparing loan offers, be sure to look at the total cost of the loan, including interest and fees, not just the monthly payment. A loan with a lower monthly payment but a longer repayment term may end up costing you more in the long run.

Before taking out a short-term loan in South Africa, it’s important to understand the legal and financial implications. Here are a few key things to keep in mind:

  • National Credit Act: All lenders in South Africa are required to comply with the National Credit Act, which sets out rules for fair lending practices and consumer protection. Make sure your lender is registered with the National Credit Regulator and follows the Act’s requirements.
  • Interest rates: The National Credit Act sets maximum interest rates for different types of loans. For unsecured loans (like most short-term loans), the maximum interest rate is 27.75% per year. Be wary of lenders who charge higher rates than this.
  • Debt counselling: If you’re struggling to repay a short-term loan or other debts, you may be eligible for debt counselling. This is a process where a registered debt counsellor helps you create a repayment plan and negotiates with your creditors on your behalf. For more information, visit the National Credit Regulator website.

Taking out a short-term loan can have a big impact on your finances, so it’s important to borrow responsibly and only take out what you can afford to repay. If you’re unsure about whether a short-term loan is right for you, consider talking to a financial advisor or credit counsellor for guidance.


  1. Can I get a short-term loan with bad credit? 
    Some short-term lenders, like payday lenders, may offer loans to people with bad credit. However, these loans often come with very high interest rates and fees. It’s important to explore all your options and understand the total cost of the loan before borrowing.
  2. How quickly can I get a short-term loan? 
    Many short-term lenders offer same-day or next-day funding, depending on when you apply and are approved. Some online lenders can even deposit funds into your account within a few hours.
  3. What happens if I can’t repay a short-term loan? 
    If you can’t repay a short-term loan on time, you may be charged late fees or additional interest. Your credit score may also be negatively impacted. If you’re having trouble making payments, contact your lender right away to discuss your options.

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*Representative example: Estimated repayments of a loan of R30 000 over 36 months at a maximum interest rate, including fees of 27.5% APR would be R1 232.82 per month. BetterLoans is an online loan broker and not a lender. Our service is free, and we work with NCR-licensed lenders in South Africa. Interest rates charged by lenders can start as low as 20% APR, including an initiation and service fee determined by the lender. The interest rate offered depends on the applicant’s credit score and other factors at the lender’s discretion. Loan amount R500 – R350 000. Repayment terms can range from 3 – 72 months. The minimum APR is 5%, and the maximum APR is 60%.

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