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The Cost Of A ‘Pay Day’ Loan

(credit: Elizabeth Hur/CBS3)

(credit: Elizabeth Hur/CBS3)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Payday loans are for suckers. Or not.

You’ve heard the ads telling you that you can get the money you need right now. You’ve also heard the warnings against the so-called payday loans, the easy to get, very short term, high interest loans that experts warn can lead to a debt trap – you needed the money to tide you over, and now can’t pay it back so the interest keeps accruing.

Now, a recent survey by Harris Interactive proves what no one’s been saying: 95% of payday loan borrowers said the understood “well” or “very well” how long it would take to pay off the loan and 84% said it was easy to repay the loan.

According to the poll, the most common reason people got payday loans was because of an unexpected emergency like a medical bill or car repair. So assuming that people who get payday loans aren’t stupid or irresponsible, you still need to know your legal rights.

The federal Truth in Lending Act treats payday loans like other types of credit: Payday lenders must give you the finance charge (a dollar amount) and the annual percentage rate – the cost of credit on a yearly basis – in writing before you sign for the loan.

Remember that a payday loan usually carries a MUCH higher interest rate if not fully repaid than a regular loan or even a credit card finance charge. A typical payday loan is about $375 and carries a fee of $56.25, which is a 391% annual percentage rate (APR) for a two-week loan. But you’re smart enough to decide for yourself if it’s a wise investment.