Payday loans are often used by people who are in a financial bind and looking for temporary relief until their next paycheck, like many government workers who were furloughed due to the government shutdown this week. In most instances, this option is exercised if no other immediate resources, such as credit cards or funds from a savings account, are available.
Because lenders do not typically run a credit check during the application process, the process of requesting a payday loan does not have an effect on your credit score. Instead, they inquire about your current employment status and source of income. Lenders also mandate that you submit a post-dated check to cover the amount of the loan once funds from your employer are disbursed into your account on payday.
How Payday Loans Can Affect Your Credit Score
In the event that the post-dated check you provided to the payday lender does not clear the bank and you default on the loan, your credit score could take a hit, unless you have another source of funds available (or arrange a payment plan or extension) to cover the balance. Defaulting on a loan often results in the debt being sold to a collection agency and reported to each of the three credit bureaus. Some lenders even go as far as filing lawsuits, which will also show up in the public records section of your credit report if the judge rules in their favor.
What If You Can’t Repay?
If you have taken out a payday loan and realize prior to the due date that you will be unable to remit a timely payment in full, contact the lender immediately to request a payment plan or make other arrangements. Although this will add more interest and fees (which can make the loan even harder to pay off), it prevents the loan from going into default and damaging your credit score for the time being.
On the other hand, if you are considering taking out a payday loan, be sure to exhaust all other remedies available before moving forward. Payday loans are often accompanied by excessive finance charges and fees, which can get you deeper in debt if you repeatedly use them to bail out when financial emergencies arise.
Therefore, it is best to consider the following alternatives before turning to a payday loan:
- Making cuts to the variable expenses in your budget to free up funds;
- Borrowing funds from friend or family member;
- Using a credit card that has a low interest rate;
- Negotiating due dates for other debt obligations with lenders;
- Taking a cash advance from your credit card if the fee is manageable;
- Overdrawing your account temporarily if protection is offered by your bank;
- Obtaining a small loan from your local credit union or financial institution.
If none of these options work for you, be sure to only borrow as much as you can repay.
You should also work towards achieving financial stability so that you can rely on your emergency fund when unexpected problems arise.
Don’t Ignore Your Credit
You may find it difficult to face your credit while you’re having financial difficulties. However, it’s important as ever to stay aware of your credit during times like this so you can deal with any potential problems — including errors, collection accounts or signs of fraud — that can show up on your credit report. It’s also important to keep an eye on your credit score, which can indicate a problem with your credit.
You can obtain your credit reports and credit scores for free, so use those options whenever you can. You’re entitled to your free credit reports once a year through AnnualCreditReport.com, and there are free services and tools out there that allow you to monitor your credit scores (Credit.com’s Credit Report Card is one of them).