A staff report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York concluded that payday loans should not be categorized as "predatory" since they may improve household welfare.[45] "Defining and Detecting Predatory Lending" reports "if payday lenders raise household welfare by relaxing credit constraints, anti-predatory legislation may lower it." The author of the report, Donald P. Morgan, defined predatory lending as "a welfare reducing provision of credit." However, he also noted that the loans are very expensive, and that they are likely to be made to under-educated households or households of uncertain income.
Payday loans should be used for short-term financial needs only and not as a long-term financial solution. Any advance of money obtained through a payday loan is not intended to meet long-term financial needs. A payday loan should only be used to meet immediate short-term cash needs. Refinancing a payday loan rather than paying the debt in full when due will require the payment of additional charges. Customers with credit difficulties should seek credit counseling before entering into any payday loan transaction.

It is crucial that you repay a payday loan as soon as possible. Many people get into trouble with these types of loans when they are unable to quickly repay the debt. If you can’t repay the loan at the end of the term, you’ll be charged expensive additional fees. It is very costly to be stuck in a payday loan cycle for a long time and can lead to larger financial problems.


Consumer advocates and other experts[who?] argue, however, that payday loans appear to exist in a classic market failure. In a perfect market of competing sellers and buyers seeking to trade in a rational manner, pricing fluctuates based on the capacity of the market. Payday lenders have no incentive to price their loans competitively since loans are not capable of being patented. Thus, if a lender chooses to innovate and reduce cost to borrowers in order to secure a larger share of the market the competing lenders will instantly do the same, negating the effect. For this reason, among others, all lenders in the payday marketplace charge at or very near the maximum fees and rates allowed by local law.[25]
A payday loan (also called a payday advance, salary loan, payroll loan, small dollar loan, short term, or cash advance loan) is a small, short-term unsecured loan, "regardless of whether repayment of loans is linked to a borrower's payday."[1][2][3] The loans are also sometimes referred to as "cash advances," though that term can also refer to cash provided against a prearranged line of credit such as a credit card. Payday advance loans rely on the consumer having previous payroll and employment records. Legislation regarding payday loans varies widely between different countries, and in federal systems, between different states or provinces.
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Say your car broke down and you decide to borrow $300 for the repairs from a payday lender. You’ll write a post-dated personal check for $340 (the amount, plus a $40 finance fee), made payable to the lender. You enter this information online when applying for a payday loan on the internet. The lender then advances you $300 for a set period, usually 14 days. When that period ends, you pay the lender $340 in cash, let them deposit the post-dated check or write another post-dated check for the amount, plus an additional finance fee.


It’s possible to tap into another workplace resource without counting on your boss’s approval: your 401(k). Although traditional advice would have you run for the hills before taking money out of your retirement account, it is actually one of the most cost-effective options. In fact, according to Investopedia, a 401(k) loan should be one of the first options you consider to address a short-term, but serious need for liquidity.
Other options are available to most payday loan customers.[77] These include pawnbrokers, credit union loans with lower interest and more stringent terms which take longer to gain approval,[78] employee access to earned but unpaid wages,[79][80][81][82][83][84] credit payment plans, paycheck cash advances from employers ("advance on salary"), auto pawn loans, bank overdraft protection, cash advances from credit cards, emergency community assistance plans, small consumer loans, installment loans and direct loans from family or friends. The Pew Charitable Trusts found in 2013 their study on the ways in which users pay off payday loans that borrowers often took a payday loan to avoid one of these alternatives, only to turn to one of them to pay off the payday loan.[85]
According to a study by The Pew Charitable Trusts, "Most payday loan borrowers [in the United States] are white, female, and are 25 to 44 years old. However, after controlling for other characteristics, there are five groups that have higher odds of having used a payday loan: those without a four-year college degree; home renters; African Americans; those earning below $40,000 annually; and those who are separated or divorced." Most borrowers use payday loans to cover ordinary living expenses over the course of months, not unexpected emergencies over the course of weeks. The average borrower is indebted about five months of the year.[14]
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In a profitability analysis by Fordham Journal of Corporate & Financial Law, it was determined that the average profit margin from seven publicly traded payday lending companies (including pawn shops) in the U.S. was 7.63%, and for pure payday lenders it was 3.57%. These averages are less than those of other traditional lending institutions such as credit unions and banks.
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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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