A payday loan — that is, a cash advance secured by a personal check or paid by electronic transfer is very expensive credit. How expensive? Say you need to borrow $100 for two weeks. You write a personal check for $115, with $15 the fee to borrow the money. The check casher or payday lender agrees to hold your check until your next payday. When that day comes around, either the lender deposits the check and you redeem it by paying the $115 in cash, or you roll-over the loan and are charged $15 more to extend the financing for 14 more days. If you agree to electronic payments instead of a check, here’s what would happen on your next payday: the company would debit the full amount of the loan from your checking account electronically, or extend the loan for an additional $15. The cost of the initial $100 loan is a $15 finance charge and an annual percentage rate of 391 percent. If you roll-over the loan three times, the finance charge would climb to $60 to borrow the $100.
Brian Melzer of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University found that payday loan users did suffer a reduction in their household financial situation, as the high costs of repeated rollover loans impacted their ability to pay recurring bills such as utilities and rent. This assumes a payday user will rollover their loan rather than repay it, which has been shown both by the FDIC and the Consumer Finance Protection bureau in large sample studies of payday consumers 
As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau notes on its site, these loans are typically for small amounts but give lenders access to your checking account or require you to write a check for the full balance in advance, which the lender can deposit when the loan comes due. Worse still, payday loans carry sensationally high interest rates, with some costing as much as 400%. That’s serious money for a cash-strapped consumer, and though state laws and other factors influence charges, you’ll want to enter a payday loan agreement carefully.
Although some have noted that these loans appear to carry substantial risk to the lender, it has been shown that these loans carry no more long term risk for the lender than other forms of credit. These studies seem to be confirmed by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission filings of at least one lender, who notes a charge-off rate of 3.2%.
Payday loans can be very costly. Loan amounts generally range from $50 to $1,000, depending on state laws. Fees also depend on state laws, but the structure might be something like $15 per $100 borrowed, and some states may cap how high the fee goes. Because the loans have such short terms, the cost of borrowing is generally high. A typical payday loan with a two-week term and a $15 per $100 fee has an annual percentage rate (APR) of nearly 400%, according to the CFPB. (Here’s a primer on how interest rates work.)
Find out if you have — or if your bank will offer you — overdraft protection on your checking account. If you are using most or all the funds in your account regularly and you make a mistake in your account records, overdraft protection can help protect you from further credit problems. Find out the terms of the overdraft protection available to you — both what it costs and what it covers. Some banks offer “bounce protection,” which may cover individual overdrafts from checks or electronic withdrawals, generally for a fee. It can be costly, and may not guarantee that the bank automatically will pay the overdraft.
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