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.
The propensity for very low default rates seems to be an incentive for investors interested in payday lenders. In the Advance America 10-k SEC filing from December 2011 they note that their agreement with investors, "limits the average of actual charge-offs incurred during each fiscal month to a maximum of 4.50% of the average amount of adjusted transaction receivables outstanding at the end of each fiscal month during the prior twelve consecutive months". They go on to note that for 2011 their average monthly receivables were $287.1 million and their average charge-off was $9.3 million, or 3.2%. In comparison with traditional lenders, payday firms also save on costs by not engaging in traditional forms of underwriting, relying on their easy rollover terms and the small size of each individual loan as method of diversification eliminating the need for verifying each borrower's ability to repay. It is perhaps due to this that payday lenders rarely exhibit any real effort to verify that the borrower will be able to pay the principal on their payday in addition to their other debt obligations.
To prevent usury (unreasonable and excessive rates of interest), some jurisdictions limit the annual percentage rate (APR) that any lender, including payday lenders, can charge. Some jurisdictions outlaw payday lending entirely, and some have very few restrictions on payday lenders. In the United States, the rates of these loans used to be restricted in most states by the Uniform Small Loan Laws (USLL), with 36–40% APR generally the norm.
In the more recent innovation of online payday loans, consumers complete the loan application online (or in some instances via fax, especially where documentation is required). The funds are then transferred by direct deposit to the borrower's account, and the loan repayment and/or the finance charge is electronically withdrawn on the borrower's next payday.
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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