10 things you should know about pay-day loans
Need some quick and easy cash? A payday loan feels easy, but the amount of interest you pay makes these loans an expensive nightmare. Take one out and you risk scarring your finances, and the possibility of paying back double what you borrowed.
What is a payday loan?
Payday loans are designed to be short term loans of £100 to £1,000 that - as their name suggests - are designed to tide you over to the next payday.
They're usually used to meet emergency costs, eg boiler repair, that you otherwise couldn't meet from your monthly salary or savings.
Generally, you will need to agree that the company can take its payment from your debit card on the day your next salary payment falls due, though some lenders will allow you to pay a longer period - often up to six months.
10 Payday loans need-to-knows
- They're high cost, short term loans with more tricks than a Crufts show
Payday loans are short-term lending often used by people to tide them over until payday. They're often very easy to get - some even do it on mobiles while drunk, which makes them feel convenient. But it's that very ease which is the danger. If you don't think about what you're doing, it can be a nightmare.
- Payday loans charge more for a month than credit cards do for a year
Payday lenders usually charge a fee instead of an interest rate. Typically, a £100 loan for a month has a fee of around £25, so you need to repay £125. To put that in context, if you borrowed the same amount on a bog-standard credit card at 20% APR, then provided you didn't miss any repayments, it would cost £20 to borrow £100 for a YEAR - £5 LESS than payday lenders charge for just one month.
- 1,000%+ APRs are mostly meaningless apart from as a welcome scare
If you express the typical charges payday lenders make as APRs most work out as over 1,000%. This is a useful warning against what can be dangerous products, but these APRs are mostly meaningless. That's because if you borrow over a very short term, even a small fee can become an astronomical APR.
- If you're regularly getting payday loans, there's a problem
Payday loans should never be used as a way to fill the gap between your incomings and outgoings in a month. If that's happening to you, there's a fundamental problem that a payday loan will only make worse not better. The most important thing to do is to sort out a budget, to try to balance your costs and income.
It's very easy to get one payday loan for a small amount, then another the next month, and before you know it, you're in a debt spiral, as happened to forumite leopardxgirl:
"About 8 months ago I borrowed around £90 to pay for a train ticket to see my now ex-boyfriend. What a slippery slope that was. I'm now approx £3,500 into payday loans across four payday lenders. I seem to have got myself into a horrible situation where I can only barely afford the interest repayments on these darn things every month."
- If you can't repay it on time, you can't afford to get one
If you do go for a payday loan, the crucial point is that you know how you are going to pay it back. If not, then you can't afford the loan. No matter how desperate you are, the end result will leave you much worse off.
If you feel desperate and that it's your only option, even though you aren't sure you'll repay it, you'd be far better getting one-on-one debt counselling help from a non-profit debt counselling agency.
- Beware borrowing over longer periods
Many payday lenders now give you the option to pay your loan back over three months rather than one. This can help with budgeting, in that you don't have to pay the loan back in one great whack once your next paycheck's arrived.
But, remember, the longer you borrow for, the more interest you'll have to pay - though there is a limit. The price caps on payday loans mean you won't ever pay back more than double the amount you borrowed.
But, don't just rely on this cap. If you're in a situation where you need a payday loan, always, always have a plan for how you'll pay back the money so the costs don't spiral towards that cap.
- Borrowed once? They'll try to seduce you again
If you do repay on time, there's still a big danger lurking. The payday loan company knows you're a 'good' customer - it's successfully made money from you. So it knows if it lends you more money you're likely to be able to repay, making it even more money.
This is a major concern. You may have only taken a £100 loan to pay a few bills until your next payday. Then after repaying, the lender tries to tempt you by offering a larger amount with even bigger charges. Always resist this, even if you're offered a 'discounted fee'! It's often just a ploy to get you to borrow more.
- Payday loans can hit your ability to get a mortgage - even if paid on time
Apply for any credit, and lenders 'score' you to predict your likely behaviour. They use data from credit reference agencies as part of this. But a payday loan on your credit report can have a striking effect. All credit reference agencies differentiate payday loans on your credit report. They're in a different section, so underwriters (who make lending decisions) can tell how much and how often you've used payday loans.
- They'll take your (or parents'/friends') money whenever they want
A common tactic of payday lenders is to ask you to pay using something called a continuous payment authority (CPA, also known as a recurring payment). This is where you tell it the 16-digit number on the front of your card. This gives the lender the right to take a payment whenever it wishes (though payday lenders are now limited to two attempts to collect payment). It can be dangerous, especially if you have other, more important bills to pay.
- Payday lenders can be bad - loan sharks are 1,000x worse!
Payday loan companies, though they may lay traps for you, have a credit licence (check at the FCA Register). So if things go wrong, you have some limited room for recourse. But loan sharks are a completely different beast. They're unlicensed, they break the law, often go knocking door-to-door and at worst use they horrific methods - including violence and threats of violence against the borrower or their family or children - to get their money repaid.
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