Difficulty repaying payday loans

A payday loan can seem like a quick fix when you need cash fast. Unfortunately, it can turn into a debt trap, which feels impossible to escape from.

But don’t despair. There are things you can do.

Download PDF

Get your payday loan under control with these steps


Work out what you can afford to pay

If you’re struggling to pay back money you owe, the first thing to do is to work out what you can actually afford to pay by doing a simple budget. How to work out what you can afford to pay.

If you can afford to pay something
Start paying the amount you can afford and get in touch with your creditor straight away to put a repayment agreement in place.

If you can’t afford to pay anything
Call us on 1800 007 007 straight away for advice.


Cancel or change the amount of the direct debit

Payday loans are paid by direct debits and are timed to be taken from your account as soon as you get paid. You can change the direct debit amount to what you can afford (based on Step 1). If the payday lender doesn’t agree to this lower amount, cancel the direct debit and make payments using another method.

Find out how to cancel a direct debit.


Ask for a repayment arrangement

Ask the payday lender for a suitable repayment arrangement (based on what you can afford) and have it confirmed in writing.

Don’t agree to make repayments you can’t afford!

If the payday lender refuses a repayment arrangement, continue to Step 4.


By law, payday lenders must ensure that you’re able to repay a loan without the repayments putting you into substantial financial hardship. Refer to Know Your Rights below.


If you can’t agree, you can dispute it

If you can’t come to an agreement that you think is fair and affordable, you can have the payday lender’s decision reviewed in the Australian Financial Complaints Authority. This free and independent service gives you an opportunity to explain how, by working with your lender, you can get back on track with payments. Refer to Dispute Resolution (Step 2).


Speak to one of our financial counsellors

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need some help to deal with your financial hardship, you can speak with one of our financial counsellors.

Financial counsellors aren’t judgmental about your circumstances – they’re here to offer you free, confidential and independent advice and assistance.

To speak to a financial counsellor you can:

  • Call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 – open Weekdays from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.
  • Use our live chat service by clicking the chat icon in the bottom right corner of your screen. Live chat is available 9:00 am to 8.00 pm weekdays. If you send a message outside these hours a financial counsellor will get back to you.
  • Make an appointment to see a financial counsellor in your local area – Find a local Financial Counsellor.



There are rules in place to prevent unfair contracts from payday lenders.

Unsuitable loans
It is an offence for a lender to provide you with an unsuitable loan.
A loan may be unsuitable if:

  • It doesn’t meet your requirements and objectives and/or if you couldn’t repay the loan without experiencing substantial hardship
  • More than 50% of your income is from Centrelink and the repayments for the payday loan are more than 20% of your income
  • You already had more than 2 other payday loans in the 90 days before you got the current payday loan
  • At the time of the new loan, you were already in default with an existing loan
  • In these cases, if the loan is unsuitable, it’s possible that you may not have to pay back the fees/charges on the loan

If you feel you’ve been provided with an unsuitable loan, call us on 1800 007 007.

No secured payday loans
Lenders are not allowed to take security for the loan. This means that payday loans can’t be secured by your goods or property.