If you've found yourself in a credit crunch, you may be considering taking out a payday loan or cash advance to help you cover bills until your next payday. These loans can be very useful when it comes to covering an urgent bill or expense in between pay periods.
However, if you are a current member of the Armed Forces, obtaining a payday loan may be more difficult than anticipated. Read on to learn about the special restrictions on military personnel and payday loans, as well as other ways you can obtain quick cash if you are a service member.
Can members of the military obtain traditional payday loans?
Since 2007, it has been illegal for payday lenders to offer these loans to active military members. In the past, because of the common paycheck delay when members of the military first enlist, as well as pressing financial and family obligations, military members have frequently taken out these types of loans to help cover expenses before the first check comes in.
However, some unscrupulous lenders charged predatory interest rates that helped these borrowers dig a hole of debt from which they could only emerge with great difficulty. As a result, Congress passed an act that limited the amount of interest that any lender could charge a member of the military, as well as imposing other requirements on military lenders. As a result, most traditional payday lenders are unable to offer these loans to members of the military.
What short-term lending options are available to members of the military?
Although most traditional payday loans are not available to military members, there are other types of short-term loans that have been designed to fill the niche left behind. Under the 2007 law, no lender may charge a member of the military more than 36 percent in interest. In addition, any other charges that are included in the loan must be made explicitly clear to the borrower at the time the loan is made. Many of the payday loans previously offered to military members would carry stiff fees and penalties if the loan was not repaid in time.
The new types of military payday loans are lower interest than previous payday loans, and offer less restrictive repayment terms. Although you'll still receive funding in exchange for a personal check (that won't be cashed until payday) or access to your electronic banking information, you won't be charged high interest rates or additional fees other than those that are set out in writing at the time you receive the loan.
What is the best loan option for you?
The ideal loan or line of credit primarily depends on the purpose of the funds. For a short-term need, such as a car repair or utility bill that can't wait until your next payday, a military payday loan may be your best option. If you have a credit card that offers cash advances, this can also be a viable option -- however, check your interest rates carefully. In some cases, a military payday loan may actually be offered at a lower interest rate than your credit card, and you may have more time in which to repay the loan.
For more long-term needs, such as medical bills or home renovations, you may wish to look into a home mortgage refinance, home equity loan, or personal loan. These loans are generally offered at lower interest rates than short-term loans or credit card advances. However, the application and approval process is more lengthy and requires more documentation -- so if you need cash today, you may find yourself better served by using a payday loan.
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