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Payday Loans Explained

Chances are, at some point you’ve needed a few extra dollars to float you until your next paycheck. Who hasn’t, right? But hopefully, you’ve steered clear of payday loans.

Also known as paycheck advances or cash advances, these predatory loans should never be an option if you’re crunched for cash.

People take out payday loans to borrow against their future paychecks, but it’s unbelievably costly. If you need, for example, $500 to fix your car right away, you’d write a post-dated check to the cash advance office, but you’d also need to tack on $15 for every $100 you want to borrow. So right off the bat you’re writing a check for around $575. That works out to a triple-digit annual interest rate, sometimes as high as 300-400%.

Besides the obscenely high interest rates, payday loans are nauseating because they prey on the “unbanked,” that is, the Americans who don’t have bank accounts. For these people, the process becomes a vicious circle as the average borrower takes out 11 loans a year. At those rates, you can only imagine how easy it is to fall behind.

If you need cash quick, there are always better alternatives to payday loans. First, establish a bank account, manage it well and apply for a line of credit or overdraft protection. Consider banking with a credit union, which typically have great rates. And there’s always the option of asking for an advance from your employer.

Bottom line? No matter what, stay away from payday loans.