There are a lot of loans out there. From brightly colored buildings with sign spinners to catchy radio jingles to advertisements in your mailbox, it seems like they’re everywhere. So how do you know what type is right for you? Some things you need to consider are, how much money you need, how long you’ll need to pay it back, and how much interest you can afford to pay over the length of the loan.
The difference between a payday loan and an installment loan
When faced with unexpected emergency expenses, people in need often turn to options such as payday loans or installment loans. Both are options that can get you money quickly and are available to people with less-than-stellar credit, but that’s about where the similarities end.
In contrast to the swiftly repaid payday loans are installment loans, in which recurring payments are made until the principal and interest are both paid off. These loans take place over years rather than weeks, giving borrowers more time to pay them off. In addition, you can see what your repayment schedule will look like in advance and begin adjusting your budget accordingly from the start. Types of installment loans include student loans, mortgages, and debt consolidation loans—they are extremely common.
Because they are not tied so directly to your next paycheck, installment loans can often offer you a larger principal. While a payday loan is often less than $500, an installment loan can be several times that. For instance, you could borrow $2000 and take a year to pay it back rather than paying back $500 in the span of two weeks. It’s much easier to come up with a debt repayment strategy when the loan payments are manageable.
Installment loans are more reliant on credit scores than payday loans, as they use these to determine what interest rate to offer. While those with poor credit will usually receive higher interest rates than those with better credit, the rates will almost certainly be better than those of payday lenders. In addition, many lenders of installment loans will use soft credit checks that don’t negatively impact your credit score. Helix uses Clarity Services, an alternative credit bureau, which will not impact your credit score.
In addition, successfully making payments on an installment loan can help your credit. Demonstrating an ability to make consistent payments on debt makes up 35 percent of your credit score. So making monthly payments on a personal installment loan could actually improve your credit score over time, leading you to receive a better interest rate next time you need a loan. If you aren’t sure what your credit score is, you might want to find out before shopping around for an installment loan. Legally, you can request one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) annually.
You can acquire an installment loan from a variety of lenders, but you might want to look into a smaller bank or credit union. These might have better interest rates than larger banks or might offer you a discount if you already do business with them. You can also get an installment loan from an online lender, which can be useful when time is a key factor. For example, if you sign a loan agreement with Helix before 11 a.m. Central on a business day, the money could be in your account by 5 p.m.
No matter the rate, interest can really add up. While a series of smaller payments might be more manageable, a longer repayment term might mean paying more interest in the long run. If you have a windfall and can pay the loan back faster, however, it could mean paying less interest overall. And even if you do pay a large amount of interest, what you’re really buying is time—time to get your finances back in order, rather than falling victim to the cycle of debt associated with predatory payday loans.
Payday loans are extremely short-term loans, usually $500 or less, that are due on your next payday. With payday loans, sometimes called cash advance loans or check advance loans, a lender gives you the initial sum and you pay them back—plus fees and interest. You’ll be paying everything back in one lump sum rather than recurring smaller payments. And if you have a late payment or insufficient funds in your account on the date your repayment is due, you can expect more fees to be added to your bill.
With these loans, you will be required to write a postdated check or authorize the creditor to remove the funds from your account. If you don’t have enough funds to pay the loan back within the mere weeks before your next payday, you could be facing severe overdraft fees.
But since there’s no chance of the payday lender not receiving repayment, they usually are not concerned with credit scores. This might make these loans seem like an appealing option if you have poor credit, but don’t count on it getting you a decent interest rate. Payday loans are notorious for sky-high interest rates no matter what and are one of the most expensive ways to borrow money. If borrowers are unable to pay back the payday loan, they might have to “rollover” the debt, paying off what they can and taking out a new payday loan to cover their new debt. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 80 percent of payday loans are rolled over or followed by another loan within 14 days. This tendency of payday loan users to take out a series of subsequent loans is sometimes called a circle of debt, and it can be hard to escape.
Payday loans are often provided by smaller credit merchants that approve and disperse money onsite, although they may be available online as well. An application often involves showing pay stubs to give them a good idea of your anticipated income. They use this to determine how much of a principal, or borrowed amount, to offer you. While some payday lenders don’t check your credit at all, they also might check your credit history with a hard credit inquiry, which requests a borrower’s full credit report from a credit-reporting agency. A hard credit inquiry can have a negative effect on your credit score, albeit a small one, and stays on your credit report for two years. Someone who has multiple hard inquiries and applications for credit in a short amount of time, however, can expect to see a much greater deduction to their credit score.
According to a study by Pew Charitable Trusts in 2016, nearly 12 million Americans take out payday loans annually, despite the risks. The average payday loan borrower is in debt for five months of the year thanks to rollover payments. The endless fees certainly don’t help this situation. In fact, many of the practices of payday lenders are considered so predatory they are only able to legally operate in 36 states.