A payday loan can be thought of as a loan that acts as an advance on your salary. They differ from the traditional personal loan you get from a bank because they are:
Traditionally, payday loans were offered by cheque cashing businesses as an additional service, but more recently a proliferation of online lenders have emerged, which has made it easier than ever to get one. However, the big downside is the cost of borrowing this way.
While it's worth remembering that an APR is designed to reflect the cost of borrowing over a year (something that a payday loan is not designed for), it does highlight just how expensive this method of borrowing is.
But in contrast to other forms of borrowing, payday loans can be quicker and more convenient to apply for. Money can be in your account within hours, with a minimal application process.
In addition, several websites have 'sliders' that let you see how much you repay for borrowing, so you can clearly see how much you'd have to pay back. Others give you the flexibility to choose the repayment term, too, and allow you to pay back what you borrow early without extra charge.
Because of the very high rates, and the target market for this type of loan, strict new rules have been brought in to help protect customers.
Payday lenders are now capped at charging a customer no more than 100% of the amount borrowed in interest, fees and charges. Lenders are now also more limited in how many times they can access a borrower's bank account to repay an outstanding loan.
A payday loan may be suitable for you if you are hit with a sudden one-off expense and can't find the money quick enough anywhere else.
But as we said previously, a payday loan is an extraordinarily expensive way to borrow money, so should only be seen as a very last resort.
Needing to borrow from a payday lender can also be symptomatic of a larger problem with your finances. At the less extreme end it signifies that you haven't enough saved to cover life's little emergencies (our guide to saving an emergency fund can help with this), but in more extreme cases, it could be the result of a debt problem that a payday loan could make much worse.
Payday loans are marketed on convenience (you can usually apply online and get your money the same day). However, the high APRs mean that they should be thought of as a last resort, rather than as an easy option.
Consider these alternatives:
If you're a member, see if your credit union can help: some credit unions can offer a short-term loan, which will have a far lower interest rate. However, you'll need to be a member of the credit union already, and possibly have some savings with it too.
Make sure that payday loans don't become a habit:
Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.