How to get out of payday loan debt
Debt can be like quicksand, easy to fall into and difficult to get out of. Not all debt is bad. Certain kinds of debt can be very useful, even essential—home loans and student loans are good examples.
But there is other type of debt that is very risky. Payday loans, for example, fall square into that quicksand pit of riskiness, often sucking borrowers into a trap that is very difficult to escape.
If you are wondering how to get out of payday loan debt, you are not alone. Every year, according to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, 12 million Americans resort to payday loans.
Payday loan tactics
Payday loans have been around for decades, the most modern form of which came about in the 1990s.
Little or no regulation in the lending industry coupled with a scarcity of traditional options paved the way for payday lenders with loan-shark tactics that made getting out of payday loan debt nearly impossible.
Payday lenders offered loans using a borrower’s wages as collateral with a term of just one week and interest rates of 120% or higher. These high-risk loans resulted in wage garnishment and other harsh collection practices, leading U.S. states to implement consumer lending laws.
Payday lenders still exist, but they are not as widespread as they once were. At last check they operated in just 32 states.
One thing that hasn't changed, though: they still charge dangerously high interest rates and astronomical fees that create a vicious cycle of debt for vulnerable consumers.
The average payday loan amount is $375 but ultimately tends to cost borrowers more than $500 in fees on top of the loan principal. Loan terms are still short, often as brief as two weeks, resulting in annual percentage rates that can soar into the triple-digit range.
If you find yourself falling into the trap of a payday loan, keep reading to learn about ways to find debt relief, including how to get out of payday loan debt.
Payday loan consolidation
Consolidation is the primary way for borrowers to dig themselves out of payday loan debt, and there are different ways to accomplish that. Doing so involves the use of good debt that does not carry the kind of risk that high-interest payday loans do.
Personal loans are one of the most versatile types of loans out there, giving borrowers flexibility as to how they can direct the proceeds. Personal loans are a go-to product for various types of debt consolidation, including getting out of payday loan debt.
Borrowers who meet the criteria and qualify for a personal loan can soon be on their way to getting out of payday loan debt. The interest rates attached to personal loans can range anywhere from 6% to 36%, depending on the borrower’s credit.
Personal loans can be issued by traditional banks, credit unions, or online lenders.
Online lenders may have more relaxed lending criteria that favors the those borrowers who are most likely to owe money to payday lenders.
Personal loans are stretched out over a term that can be anywhere from 12 to 60 months. And personal loan amounts can be as high as $100,000, surely enough to help borrowers get out of payday loan debt.
Payday alternative loan
Consumers who are part of a credit union have the option of accessing payday alternative loans to consolidate payday loan debt.
These products have a similar purpose to payday loans in that they are meant to help borrowers get out of a pinch, but they have much more reasonable terms, including lower interest rates and longer repayment periods.
Payday alternative loan amounts don’t exceed $1,000, so there is less risk involved for the borrower. Monthly payments go toward the balance, and repayment terms can extend for up to six months.
This option might be better than a personal loan for those with damaged credit because a credit check is not required. APRs can be as high as 28%, but still much lower than a payday loan.
Credit unions require that borrowers be a member in good standing for at least 30 days before they can qualify for a payday alternative loan, and a borrower might be required to pay an application fee.
In addition to debt consolidation, borrowers have other options.
Extended payment plans
Part of what makes payday loans so risky is the short repayment term. The borrower is often expected to repay the loan with their upcoming paycheck (hence the name "payday loan").
Extended payment plans (EPPs) are programs offered by certain payday lenders, depending on the state in which they operate. These programs are meant to serve as lifelines to borrowers who cannot live up to the payday loan requirements.
An EPP gives the borrower more time to repay the balance, another way of getting out of payday loan debt.
Debt management plan
Borrowers who are willing to work with a credit counselor have yet another option available for getting out of payday loan debt—a debt management plan.
This is a type of financial reorganization in which a counselor may negotiate with the payday loan issuer, and potentially with other creditors, to agree to a loan settlement.
In addition, the credit counselor’s job is to help the borrower create a budget and plan of attack, as well as teach them how to avoid falling into the same debt trap in the future.
Breaking the cycle
Whichever type of debt consolidation a person chooses, it is likely to be less risky than a payday loan.
Mainstream financial products can be the solution to people wrestling with payday loan debt. Whether it's a personal loan, payday alternative loan, or something else, the terms are likely to be far less daunting than those of payday loans.
The key is to avoid these high-stakes loans in the future and not repeat the cycle that can be so dangerous to a borrower.