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If you carry only credit cards for day-to-day spending, you could find yourself in a pinch when confronted with a cash-only situation, such as buying lunch from a street vendor, veggies at a farmers market or a sandwich at a mom-and-pop deli. In that case, a cash advance might be tempting. Some people also turn to credit card cash advances when they need paper money but don’t have enough in their bank account.
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".
A 2009 study by University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor Adair Morse found that in natural disaster areas where payday loans were readily available consumers fared better than those in disaster zones where payday lending was not present. Not only were fewer foreclosures recorded, but such categories as birth rate were not affected adversely by comparison. Moreover, Morse's study found that fewer people in areas served by payday lenders were treated for drug and alcohol addiction.
In summary, taking a cash advance on your credit card means taking on a very expensive short-term loan. This is almost never a good idea, so consider all other options before using a cash advance. It’s also important to take the fact that you’re thinking about using a cash advance as a sign that your finances need some fine-tuning. You don’t want to end up in this situation again!
In terms of online lending, a cash advance usually refers to a short-term loan that is quickly funded to your bank account after approval. Typically, the amount you borrow for a cash advance loan is relatively small, which often means you can pay it back in only one or two payments. These short-term loans are very similar to what many people call payday loans, but cash advance loans don't always require a single repayment on payday.
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