Alternatives to Taking Out a Payday Loan

If you urgently need a financial boost to tide you over, payday loans can start to look tempting. However, with their extremely high interest rates they can quickly become a problem debt. Many people who take out payday loans as a short term measure find they have trouble paying them off. When this happens, interest rates of over 1000% APR (or equivalent in fees) can have plenty of time to bite.

If you are in a difficult situation but want to avoid payday loan debt, there are a number of lower-cost alternatives you might wish to consider.

A Word of Caution

You should think carefully about any sort of credit, and consider all your options before taking on debt. Make sure you know how you are going to pay back, and are confident you will be able to do so. However, as long as you properly consider your situation, these alternatives can prove far more manageable than payday loans.

Bank Overdrafts

If you speak to your bank, they may be able to arrange an overdraft on your account to help tide you over. Banks vary quite widely in how they manage overdrafts, but interest rates should certainly be much lower than on a payday loan. Some bank accounts come with attractive overdraft rates or even a small interest-free “buffer” as perks to attract customers.

Credit Cards

If you have a credit card, you may be able to obtain a temporary increase on your card’s limit if you talk to your credit provider. However, this is definitely an option for those who already know how they will be able to promptly pay back the debt. While credit cards are more affordable than payday loans, they can still be expensive and problematic if debt is allowed to linger. Nonetheless, if you know that you will be able to repay the full amount on time, this is usually decidedly preferable to payday lending.

Credit Unions

Credit Unions have been in the news for a while, with prominent figures who are critical of payday loans touting them as an alternative. These are community-based non-profits, giving members access to loans as well as to current and savings accounts. Loans from a credit union tend to be both more accessible than a bank and more affordable than a payday loan.

Budgeting Loans

This type of lending can be a huge help to those who find themselves in a very tight spot indeed. If you have been claiming working age benefits for 26 weeks or more and are lacking money for essentials, then you might be eligible for a budgeting loan. This is designed to cover the cost of things like rent, food, clothes and furniture. It is interest free, paid directly to your bank account, and will usually have a repayment period of two years.

Church of England Continues to Dabble in Financial Support

Earlier this year, the Church of England hit headlines when the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke out against high-interest payday loans, particularly when given to the poor and vulnerable. Specifically, he vowed to “compete [them] out of existence.” A move into finance might seem unusual for a church, but he advocated that supporting credit unions was a way to help some of the most vulnerable people in difficult times, and therefore insisted that this was the direction the church should take.

 

After an initial flurry of media interest in these surprising and at times controversial comments, things seemed to go quiet. Now, however, it has become clear that this was not because the Church of England had changed its plans or lost interest. Recently, the Church of England website introduced a series of pages providing comprehensive information about credit unions, the services they offer, and why they are an alternative to short-term, high-interest loans that lead many people into debt.

Though the website of a religious body was not, a few months ago, where you would expect to go for financial advice, the information provided is extensive and covers a range of topics based around the issue. This shows that the church remains serious about playing a part in this industry and helping combat personal debt.

Are Credit Unions Really Useful?

Of course, this is now the pertinent question, and the one that decides whether the idea of a Church dabbling in finances is actually likely to succeed. The answer is that, though credit unions are not well-known for many people they could be an extremely useful tool. In particular, they can be useful for the purpose the Archbishop seems most concerned with – averting the need to build up high-interest debts.

A Credit Union will provide many of the same services as banks. They will be run by and for the benefit of the members, with proceeds shared and with the members’ interests put before profit. They also offer loans, which are designed to have reasonable interest rates and to be tailored to match the realistic repayment prospects of the recipient. This makes them a more manageable alternative to the notoriously high rates of payday lenders, and significantly less likely to cause unmanageable debts. With loans below £2000 – the levels that compete with payday lenders – they are considered the best-value option, though above this level they are usually neither better nor worse than standard banks.