The payday lending industry argues that conventional interest rates for lower dollar amounts and shorter terms would not be profitable. For example, a $100 one-week loan, at a 20% APR (compounded weekly) would generate only 38 cents of interest, which would fail to match loan processing costs. Research shows that, on average, payday loan prices moved upward, and that such moves were "consistent with implicit collusion facilitated by price focal points".
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Nobody likes being in debt, but it’s even worse when it seems like there’s no way out. Twelve million Americans turn to payday loans every year, spending $9 billion on loan fees, according to a recent report by the Pew Charitable Trusts, because few of these loans are paid off by their due date. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau notes more than 60% of borrowers end up trapped in payday loan debt, rolling over the loan so many times that they end up paying more in fees than their initial loan amount.
Though payday loans can be used for a wide range of purposes, they’re generally designed to cover unexpected expenses. Common uses include forgotten bills, car repairs, medical expenses or any other sudden event. You shouldn’t use payday loans to fix long-term issues in affording your credit, for day-to-day expenses or for a big-ticket item like a car or house.
Many of the lenders in our network stick with in-house debt collection practices rather than selling your debt to an outside collection agency, and they will never sue you or threaten criminal charges against you. Your lender may attempt to collect your debt via email, postal mail, telephone, or text message, and they may offer you a settlement so that you can repay your debt over time. All of our lenders are required to adhere to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act which protects you from harassment. You can contact your lender for more information about its specific policies.
Though regulated at the state and federal level, there are still payday lenders that attempt to skirt the rules. Some are online-only lenders based in other countries. Other lenders work around state laws by operating out of Native American reservations. Be wary of brokers that offer to connect you with lending partners – this can result in a lot of calls and emails about offers.
That’s all it takes! Most people are able to complete the application for an online payday loan within just a few minutes. Lending decisions are made promptly, ensuring you do not have to spend a lot of time wondering and worrying about your approval; if your loan is approved, you could have the funds deposited into your account within just a few hours.
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States have varying regulations in place to protect consumers when it comes to short-term loans. Payday loans are illegal in some state, while other states regulate or restrict them. Lenders, online or otherwise, must comply with these regulations when they consider you for a loan, so the state you live in will play a part in whether you are eligible.
If your employer works with any of these companies, it’s a good option to take advantage of their services since they are less expensive in the long term than a payday loan. Still, if you find yourself taking advantage of these services regularly or your employer doesn’t offer them, you may want to look at your finances, make a budget or look for additional ways to earn income.
Several factors determine how much you can borrow, but your credit isn’t one of them, as the phrase “no credit check” indicates. (“No credit check” and other terms like “fast cash” and “easy” are usually the main selling points in payday loan ads and part of what makes them appealing to borrowers, though new rules proposed by the CFPB in 2016 require short-term lenders to measure a consumer’s ability to repay in certain instances.)
The CFPB has issued several enforcement actions against payday lenders for reasons such as violating the prohibition on lending to military members and aggressive collection tactics. The CFPB also operates a website to answer questions about payday lending. In addition, some states have aggressively pursued lenders they felt violate their state laws.
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.
Editor’s Note: Top Ten Reviews recommends avoiding payday loans as much as possible and suggests looking for alternatives before getting one. If you are looking for a payday loan to pay bills or other expenses, we recommend exploring getting a personal loan. Before applying for a payday loan for an emergency expense, we recommend considering a cash advance on your credit card or an overdraft line of credit. If you’re considering a payday loan because you have inconsistent paychecks, we recommend checking out some new apps that help even out paychecks. Many credit unions offer payday alternative loans that are less expensive. If you already have payday loans and continue to roll them over, we recommend contacting a credit counseling agency.
Several states have specific laws that regulate the lending industry. Known as “usury laws,” these regulations define permissible lending terms and rates. Some states also have laws that regulate the amount a payday lender can lend to consumers and how much they can charge for the loan. Other states like New York ban payday lending outright. These laws vary widely. Payday lenders often work around these regulations by partnering with banks based in other states, such as Delaware. It is important to read the fine print on the payday loan offer and understand your consumer rights.
The best online lenders comply with all state laws regulating payday loan fees, terms and rollover restrictions. Most websites require you to enter your ZIP code or select your state before they display your loan options with their terms and rates. Because of the patchwork nature of payday loan regulation, some lenders don’t operate in every state. Other lenders only offer certain types of loans in some states, not their full range of options.
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