Payday loans, cash advances and short-term loans are different names for the same beast. No matter what a company calls them, they are short-term loans with extremely high interest rates. In theory, payday loans seem positive. If you do not have enough money to pay pressing bills before your next paycheck, you can receive a cash advance that you pay back on your next payday along with fees and interest.
Interest rates on average range from 300% up to 800%, and you may even see rates over 1000%. APRs represent the interest paid on a full-year loan, but the term of most payday loans is only two to four weeks. Lenders use this logic to justify excessive APRs, because if you pay back your loan within the typical 14-day period, you will not pay those exorbitant rates. However, an alarming number of borrowers find they cannot pay off their loan within such a short term and therefore resort to rollovers, extensions or renewals, which is when interest and additional fees start to build to unmanageable levels.
Unfortunately, some people run into situations where they feel they have no other choice; banks deny their request and they have no friends or family to whom they can turn. If you feel you have no other choice than to take out a payday loan, we urge you to do your research and shop around to find a reputable company that offers the lowest APR and fees. Keep in mind that these high-interest loans are not for planned expenses or frivolous spending.
Many lending companies have received fines or been at the center of lawsuits for illegal lending or harassment. We remove those services from our lineup when underhanded or illegal practices come into light. Our top three services – 100DayLoans, NetLoanUSA and 24/7Loan – are some of the better options if you decide you want a payday loan. For more information on short-term loans and financial advice to help you avoid them, have a look at our articles on Payday Loans.
Before considering a payday loan, you want to know about the lending company and everything you can about interest rates, fees and paying off your loan. Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that many individual states have their own regulations and laws concerning payday loans, and all lending companies are obligated to comply with local laws. Elements such as the loan amount, interest rates and repayment terms vary depending on where you live. Below is the criteria we considered when reviewing payday loan services and the crucial elements you should know before getting a payday loan.
The main features of a loan are also the most important: the amount, interest rates and fees. Because payday loans are intended to be short-term and small, the maximum amount of most payday loans is around $1,000, and most first-time applicants are not approved for the full amount available. A few hundred dollars is more common.
As discussed above, the interest rate (APR) represents the interest paid over an entire year, but the terms of a payday loan almost never go an entire year. Common APRs range from 300% to 800%. Some loan services offer decreasing loan rates over time if you have a good payment history. Some services advertise potential APRs as low as 35%, but this is the exception. Be wary of interest rates over 1,000%. Because the typical term of a payday loan is two to four weeks and APRs represent the interest on a full-year loan, services often express APRs in terms of cost per $100 borrowed for a 14-day loan. These rates generally work out to around $10 up to $30.
Some services on our lineup are direct payday loan lenders, while others process your application and then set you up with lenders with whom you complete your contract and from whom you receive your funds. Most services approve applicants with bad credit and approve payday loans with no credit check, but that is often up to the lender.
Ease of Use
Because a payday loan itself can be tricky, the ease of use in applying for and receiving your funds is something to consider. We looked at the company websites along with the application processes. We also looked at the time frames for approval of your application, which range from instant approval to a few hours. Every service on our lineup offers next-day direct deposits into your checking account, and some services offer same-day deposits if you complete your application by a certain time of day and meet all requirements.
The term for payday loans is typically 14 days, as their purpose is to supplement your finances between normal paychecks. Some services offer longer terms, such as a month or 90 days. Keep in mind that the longer you have your loan, the longer you pay interest.
When payment on your loan is due, the vast majority of payday services automatically debit the checking account into which the service originally deposited your funds. This means that you don't have to worry about processing a payment, but you do need to make sure the funds are in your account to avoid overdraft and late fees. If you can't make your payment when it is due, some services offer an extension. Other services offer a loan rollover, which puts the remainder of your loan onto a new loan contract. Both of these options may come with additional fees and commitments to the lender, so make sure you understand what you are agreeing to before you accept an extension or rollover.
Help & Support
Reliable support with your loan is crucial in case you run into any issues with your loan, especially if you can't make your payment and need to know your options. Most services offer a couple of ways to contact customer service. With most services, you can reach a representative by telephone or complete an online email form. Some services offer live chat as well.
Payday loans are a risky choice because of the high interest rate and short time period in which you can pay them back. We recommend avoiding payday loans. But if you have no other option, at least make sure that you're well educated on payday loans and only agree to interest rates you can handle and terms with which you can comply.