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Here’s how they work: A borrower writes a personal check payable to the lender for the amount the person wants to borrow, plus the fee they must pay for borrowing. The company gives the borrower the amount of the check less the fee, and agrees to hold the check until the loan is due, usually the borrower’s next payday. Or, with the borrower’s permission, the company deposits the amount borrowed — less the fee — into the borrower’s checking account electronically. The loan amount is due to be debited the next payday. The fees on these loans can be a percentage of the face value of the check — or they can be based on increments of money borrowed: say, a fee for every $50 or $100 borrowed. The borrower is charged new fees each time the same loan is extended or “rolled over.”
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.
Payday loans can be a good tool for quickly and easily borrowing cash during an emergency if you don’t have other financial options. For example, you might use a payday lender for an immediate and temporary financial need such as a medical bill, car repair or other one-time expense. Payday loans are helpful for people who don’t have credit cards or savings available. Because the loans do not require a traditional credit check, they are easy for people with financial problems to obtain.
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For most people, a cash advance (also known as a payday advance) is something associated with a credit card or other line of credit. Many credit card companies make it easy for customers to receive cash advances nearby by using their credit card at a local ATM. The problem with such tactics is that the costs of the advance can add up quickly and you might not even realize what all those costs are. You'll likely pay an ATM fee charged by the bank that runs the machine, and you might also pay a fee to the credit card company for taking the advance, along with finance charges and interest if you don't pay the money back before your next billing cycle. Some credit card companies charge interest on cash advances that is higher than the interest charged on regular balances, which can make for surprising increases in your total balance.
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