Several companies, including TrueConnect and HoneyBee, offer cash advance loans to employees. These can be for as much as $2,500, and they have repayment periods of up to three months. You pay a fee of around 5%, up to $50. These loans also have the advantage of being reported to credit bureaus, so they can help you build your credit score. Payday loans aren’t reported to the credit bureaus.
Many countries offer basic banking services through their postal systems. The United States Post Office Department offered such as service in the past. Called the United States Postal Savings System it was discontinued in 1967. In January 2014 the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Postal Service issued a white paper suggesting that the USPS could offer banking services, to include small dollar loans for under 30% APR. Support and criticism quickly followed; opponents of postal banking argued that as payday lenders would be forced out of business due to competition, the plan is nothing more than a scheme to support postal employees.
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PayActiv is one such company, and it has partnered with a variety of employers, including Walmart. It integrates with the employer’s payroll, and employees can withdraw money directly into their checking accounts for a $5 fee. Earnin, which used to be known as Activehours, is a similar program. If your employer uses it, you can withdraw between $100 and $500 per pay period. There are no fees for using Earnin, but there is an option to tip.
According to a study by The Pew Charitable Trusts, "Most payday loan borrowers [in the United States] are white, female, and are 25 to 44 years old. However, after controlling for other characteristics, there are five groups that have higher odds of having used a payday loan: those without a four-year college degree; home renters; African Americans; those earning below $40,000 annually; and those who are separated or divorced." Most borrowers use payday loans to cover ordinary living expenses over the course of months, not unexpected emergencies over the course of weeks. The average borrower is indebted about five months of the year.
Ask yourself if it really is an emergency. Payday loans can be helpful for one-time emergency costs such as medical fees, but are not a good idea for funding unnecessary expenses. Is it possible to wait to repair your car or pay your bills until you receive your next paycheck? A late fee on a bill may be cheaper than a finance charge for a payday loan. Think about other ways to borrow money, keeping in mind they’ll have different fees and pros and cons.
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