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When you’re faced with an emergency — a car repair, a medical bill, or some other unexpected expense — and you don’t have the money to cover it, a payday loan seems like your only choice. Usually not; There are other options that are far less expensive than payday loans.

Discover cheaper alternatives and learn more about the risks of payday loans.

Local alternatives to payday loans

Many communities have charities, nonprofits, and other organizations that can help cover emergency expenses so you don’t have to take out a payday loan.

We’ve found local and regional resources that can help, whether it’s through relief programs or small loans. Select your state below to find options near you.

About these resources

NerdWallet has screened these organizations to ensure they provide assistance with expenses such as rent, transportation, utilities, and other emergencies. Some offer advice and education to help you make sound financial decisions even after the immediate crisis has passed.

Not only do these organizations offer alternatives to payday loans, but they also help stave off a cycle of debt that can trap you for years.

More alternatives to payday loans

If you cannot find a local organization to meet your financial needs, there are others Alternatives to payday loans which are safer and cheaper.

Think how to find quick money: If your needs are relatively small, you may not need to borrow money. There are ways to make quick money by getting creative such as: B. selling replacement electronics or unused gift cards or taking on a temporary part-time job.

Applying for an alternative payday loan: Alternative payday loans allow you to borrow small amounts of money at a lower cost and with a longer repayment period than a payday loan. These loans are offered through state credit unions, although local credit unions may offer similar products. You must become a member of the credit union before you can apply.

Download a cash advance app: Cash advance apps can help you cover an emergency expense by lending you money from your next paycheck before you get it. Some apps charge a small fee to use the service.

See if you can “buy now, pay later”: If you need to buy an important item from a major retailer, there’s a good chance you’re using a Buy It Now payment plan. These plans don’t require a harsh credit check and split your purchase into equal installments, sometimes with no interest.

Consider an emergency personal loan: An unsecured personal loan from an online lender can cover emergency expenses, and some lenders will accept applicants with poor credit (FICO score of 629 or lower). If you submit all the required documents, you can usually receive funds on the day you submit your application or the following day.

How Harmful Are Payday Loans?

payday loan are short-term loans, usually for $500 or less, intended to be repaid with your next paycheck. You can get a payday loan in person from an in-store lender or online by providing proof of income, ID, and a bank account. Payday lenders don’t usually check your creditworthiness, which makes them more accessible to more borrowers.

However, payday loans are among the riskiest loans you can get because they:

Charge high fees: Borrowing costs vary by payday lender, but a typical fee structure is $15 for every $100 borrowed. That’s an APR of 391% – well above the 36% cap that most financial experts agree, this is the highest APR a loan can have and still be considered affordable.

Can create a cycle of debt: Due to their high cost, payday loans can create a debt cycle that is difficult to escape. For example, if you need $100 but owe $115 just two weeks later, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to repay the money. You may need to extend the due date, which means another fee. Do this often enough, and you may end up owing more than you originally borrowed.

Do not build credit: Payments for your payday loan are not usually reported to the three major credit bureaus, which means you cannot use these credits to build credit. A good credit rating is important in order to be able to access cheaper financing options in the future.

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