You often hear that payday loans are something people turn to when there’s an emergency expense like a car accident or medical emergency. That’s not necessarily true. In a study on payday loans, the Pew Charitable Trust found that 69 percent are used to pay for recurring expenses like utilities, food or other bills. The average borrower uses eight loans a year, which last about 18 days each.
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You can’t always predict when an emergency will occur, but you can prepare for it. Ideally, you should keep enough money to cover your household expenses for two months or more in a savings account. If that goal is too high, aim to save at least the amount of one paycheck. It is also a good idea to have a few credit cards available for unexpected costs.
Payday loans are unsecured personal loans targeted at people who need money fast but don’t possess the type of credit or collateral required for a more traditional loan. Usually the only requirements to qualify for a payday loan are an active bank account and a job. Companies like MaxLend, RISE Credit, and CashMax have made an art out of providing high-interest loans to people who feel desperate and out of options.
In the more recent innovation of online payday loans, consumers complete the loan application online (or in some instances via fax, especially where documentation is required). The funds are then transferred by direct deposit to the borrower's account, and the loan repayment and/or the finance charge is electronically withdrawn on the borrower's next payday.
Income tax refund anticipation loans are not technically payday loans (because they are repayable upon receipt of the borrower's income tax refund, not at his next payday), but they have similar credit and cost characteristics. A car title loan is secured by the borrower's car, but are available only to borrowers who hold clear title (i.e., no other loans) to a vehicle. The maximum amount of the loan is some fraction of the resale value of the car. A similar credit facility seen in the UK is a logbook loan secured against a car's logbook, which the lender retains. These loans may be available on slightly better terms than an unsecured payday loan, since they are less risky to the lender. If the borrower defaults, then the lender can attempt to recover costs by repossessing and reselling the car.
In 2014 several firms were reprimanded and required to pay compensation for illegal practices; Wonga.com for using letters untruthfully purporting to be from solicitors to demand payment—a formal police investigation for fraud was being considered in 2014—and Cash Genie, owned by multinational EZCorp, for a string of problems with the way it had imposed charges and collected money from borrowers who were in arrears.
You’ll have to repay the loan on your next payday, which can be up to 30 days from the date you get the loan. Most lenders require your bank account information so they can debit the repayment amount directly on the given due date. If you apply in-store, you can provide a post-dated check at the time of application. Some lenders allow you to make early repayments via credit cards, MoneyGram and Western Union.
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Payday loans can be paid back from money borrowed from a different source, such as a credit union or family member. Alternatives to payday loans don’t erase the debt, but they may have more agreeable terms and interest rates. A variety of different loans are available for numerous financial scenarios. One could be useful in helping you escape the payday loan trap if your credit qualifies you.
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