Often, you see APRs listed for payday loans as high as 600%. Because you pay the loan back in two weeks to a month, the APR serves mostly as a gauge of how expensive the loan is. Payday loans charge a finance fee, which ranges from $10 to $30 for each $100 you borrow. We chose to include this fee rather than APRs to give you a better idea of how much you’ll end up paying if you decide to get a payday loan.

A recent law journal note summarized the justifications for regulating payday lending. The summary notes that while it is difficult to quantify the impact on specific consumers, there are external parties who are clearly affected by the decision of a borrower to get a payday loan. Most directly impacted are the holders of other low interest debt from the same borrower, which now is less likely to be paid off since the limited income is first used to pay the fee associated with the payday loan. The external costs of this product can be expanded to include the businesses that are not patronized by the cash-strapped payday customer to the children and family who are left with fewer resources than before the loan. The external costs alone, forced on people given no choice in the matter, may be enough justification for stronger regulation even assuming that the borrower him or herself understood the full implications of the decision to seek a payday loan.[25]
4. Stay on top of your payments. Commit to a loan length that you know will work for your budget. For instance, if your loan length is three years, do the math and see if you can manage to pay it off in two. If there are no prepayment fees, you’ll save on the interest. However, if you can’t, your credit won’t be affected negatively and you’ll still be adhering to the terms of the loan. 

Keep in mind that even the best payday lender is still extremely expensive, and you should try to find other options before visiting one. Fees vary depending on state regulations. In some states, such as Oregon, you pay around $13 for every $100 you borrow. In other states, such as Texas and Wisconsin, Check Into Cash charges $25 for every $100 you borrow. This puts the lender at about the industry average for payday loan fees. It doesn’t appear to take advantage of states with less stringent payday lending laws like Utah. We didn’t see fees greater than $25, which, while expensive, isn’t the highest we saw in our research.

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