To prevent usury (unreasonable and excessive rates of interest), some jurisdictions limit the annual percentage rate (APR) that any lender, including payday lenders, can charge. Some jurisdictions outlaw payday lending entirely, and some have very few restrictions on payday lenders. In the United States, the rates of these loans used to be restricted in most states by the Uniform Small Loan Laws (USLL),[4][5] with 36–40% APR generally the norm.
We recommend exploring alternatives before getting a payday loan. These are expensive loans with high fees, and they can catch you up in a cycle of taking out new loans to pay off previous ones. Each state regulates payday loans differently – some outright ban them. As such, depending on where you live, the costs vary widely. With this in mind, our pick for the top payday lender is Check Into Cash. It is the most broadly available lender, with stores and online loans available in 32 states. It offers a variety of payday loans, installment loans and lines of credit.
In a profitability analysis by Fordham Journal of Corporate & Financial Law, it was determined that the average profit margin from seven publicly traded payday lending companies (including pawn shops) in the U.S. was 7.63%, and for pure payday lenders it was 3.57%. These averages are less than those of other traditional lending institutions such as credit unions and banks.
As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau notes on its site, these loans are typically for small amounts but give lenders access to your checking account or require you to write a check for the full balance in advance, which the lender can deposit when the loan comes due. Worse still, payday loans carry sensationally high interest rates, with some costing as much as 400%. That’s serious money for a cash-strapped consumer, and though state laws and other factors influence charges, you’ll want to enter a payday loan agreement carefully.

As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau notes on its site, these loans are typically for small amounts but give lenders access to your checking account or require you to write a check for the full balance in advance, which the lender can deposit when the loan comes due. Worse still, payday loans carry sensationally high interest rates, with some costing as much as 400%. That’s serious money for a cash-strapped consumer, and though state laws and other factors influence charges, you’ll want to enter a payday loan agreement carefully.

As an alternative to traditional payday loans, LendUp also has several different types of loans. A traditional payday loan means you must repay the full value of the loan with your next paycheck. That could leave you in a financial tight spot. LendUp offers up to 30 days for repayment. The added flexibility makes it much easier for you to repay these alternative loans without failing to meet other financial obligations.


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.
We spoke to John Fairbanks at the National Credit Union Administration who told us that “Many credit unions have their own programs to provide small-dollar, short-term loans, either in lieu of payday loans or as a means of helping members get rid of existing payday loans so they can begin to rehabilitate their credit.” Payday alternative loans are available through federal credit unions and have applications fees that are capped at $20 for the entire amount of the loan. State credit unions also offer similar short-term, small-dollar loans.

Most bad credit lenders offer fixed and not variable interest rates. With a fixed-rate loan, your interest rate remains the same during the term of the loan. A variable-rate loan, on the other hand, has an interest rate that can fluctuate over time, and it is tied to an index rate. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate will most likely be.
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.
As for federal regulation, the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act gave the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) specific authority to regulate all payday lenders, regardless of size. Also, the Military Lending Act imposes a 36% rate cap on tax refund loans and certain payday and auto title loans made to active duty armed forces members and their covered dependents, and prohibits certain terms in such loans.[66]

While credit counseling agencies spend their time helping consumers get out of debt, these kinds of loans can present unique challenges. “It’s not a traditional loan with set guidelines in terms of how they work with us,” explains Fox. In spite of those challenges, there are things a credit counseling agency can do to help you get out of payday loan debt:


Every state regulates payday loans differently. In some states, including Georgia, they are banned outright. In other states, interest rates are capped to such an extent that they are essentially banned. In total, 18 states ban payday loans. Other states, such as Oregon, have some restrictions in place, but payday lenders still operate in them. Payday loans come with few restrictions in 32 states. Any restrictions in these states tend to focus on the maximum number of loans someone can take out and not on rates.
You can see how rolling over loans can lead to you paying much more than you initially borrowed. If you’re considering a payday loan but are worried about being able to pay it back, look into an installment loan. These tend to have smaller payments spread out over a longer time period. You can also work on improving your credit to become eligible for personal loans or credit cards, which have lower rates and monthly minimum payments.
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