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.

Shop for the credit offer with the lowest cost. Compare the APR and the finance charge, which includes loan fees, interest and other credit costs. You are looking for the lowest APR. Military personnel have special protections against super-high fees or rates, and all consumers in some states and the District of Columbia have some protections dealing with limits on rates. Even with these protections, payday loans can be expensive, particularly if you roll-over the loan and are responsible for paying additional fees. Other credit offers may come with lower rates and costs.
Of course, cash advance lenders have no problem with this. They’re usually more than willing to let you roll over a cash advance loan because that’s how they make their money—the more you roll it over, the more you pay in interest. And the alternative isn’t any better: If you stop making payments altogether and default, the lender can pursue legal action against you and potentially garnish your wages.4
Payday loans are also much more expensive than other methods of borrowing money. In most cases, the annual percentage rate (APR) on a payday loan averages about 400%, but the APR is often as high as 5,000%. APRs for credit cards can range from about 9% to 30%; personal loans generally have lower APRs than credit cards. If possible, it is better to use a credit card or tap into your savings in the event of an emergency.

A 2012 report produced by the Cato Institute found that the cost of the loans is overstated, and that payday lenders offer a product traditional lenders simply refuse to offer. However, the report is based on 40 survey responses collected at a payday storefront location.[43] The report's author, Victor Stango, was on the board of the Consumer Credit Research Foundation (CCRF) until 2015, an organization funded by payday lenders, and received $18,000 in payments from CCRF in 2013.[44]


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When you deal with an online cash advance provider, the entire process is handled via the internet. That means you don't have to go into a physical location or fill out lengthy paper forms. Instead, you complete the application online, are informed of your approval status online or via email and receive your funds via an electronic transfer to your bank account.

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