If you need cash for an emergency situation, a short-term loan might be the best option. The interest rates are quite high, but if you realize you're going to overdraft your bank account multiple times within a few days, and get fees for each overdraft, then a payday loan might actually be a cheaper option. Make sure you have a plan to pay the loan off when it's due without getting further in debt. To save some money, look for lenders like Speedy Cash that have discounts if you're a new customer or if you pay off your loan early.
There are many terms for this kind of credit — payday loans, cash advance loans, check advance loans, deferred deposit loans or post-dated check loans — which you can get from a variety of sources. Whether you walk into a payday lender’s store or apply online, the process is basically the same: You provide some personal and financial information, request a loan for a certain dollar amount (secured by check or bank account debit authorization), pay a fee for the loan and receive the cash or deposit into your bank account.
Debt settlement programs are generally set up by for-profit organizations, which negotiate with creditors on your behalf to pay a “settlement.” This settlement consists of a lump sum of money that is less than the full amount owed. Debt settlement programs require you dedicate a certain amount of money each month to paying into the settlement, until the full amount is reached.
A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York concluded that, "We ... test whether payday lending fits our definition of predatory. We find that in states with higher payday loan limits, less educated households and households with uncertain income are less likely to be denied credit, but are not more likely to miss a debt payment. Absent higher delinquency, the extra credit from payday lenders does not fit our definition of predatory." The caveat to this is that with a term of under 30 days there are no payments, and the lender is more than willing to roll the loan over at the end of the period upon payment of another fee. The report goes on to note that payday loans are extremely expensive, and borrowers who take a payday loan are at a disadvantage in comparison to the lender, a reversal of the normal consumer lending information asymmetry, where the lender must underwrite the loan to assess creditworthiness.