Pros and Cons of Cash Advances, Payday Loans, Personal Loans, and Earned Wage Access.
In times of financial crisis, when unexpected expenses arise, finding quick access to funds becomes crucial. There are several options available for obtaining money in such emergencies, including cash advances, payday loans, personal loans, and earned wage access (EWA). Each option comes with its advantages and drawbacks, and understanding these differences is vital in making an informed decision. This article will explore the pros and cons of each option, helping you make the most suitable choice for your immediate financial needs.
Cash advances are short-term loans offered by banks, credit card issuers, or alternative lenders. They allow you to borrow money against your credit card’s available balance or credit limit.
Pros of Cash Advances
- Quick access to funds: You can get cash immediately by simply going to an ATM and using your credit card through which the cash advance is provided.
- No collateral required: Cash advances do not typically require collateral, reducing the risk associated with borrowing.
Cons of Cash Advances:
- Pre-approval needed: To be eligible for cash advances, you first need to apply for a credit card which would require you to submit your social security and get your credit score pulled. This would determine what dollar limit you would be eligible for on your credit card and cash advance balance.
- High interest rates: Cash advances carry significantly higher interest rates than regular credit card transactions, typically ranging from 99% to 29.99% , increasing the overall cost of borrowing.
- Additional fees: Lenders may impose additional fees, such as cash advance fees or transaction fees, making cash advances more expensive.
- Negative impact on credit score: Frequent use of cash advances or failure to repay them promptly can negatively affect your credit score.
Offered by payday lenders, these types of loans are short-term, small-dollar loans typically designed to be repaid by the borrower’s next paycheck. While they provide quick access to cash, there are certain risks involved.
Pros of Payday Loans:
- Immediate approval process: Payday loans have a simple and fast application process, providing immediate access to funds, usually on the same day.
- No credit checks: Payday lenders generally do not perform a credit check, making them accessible to individuals with poor credit scores.
Cons of Payday Loans:
- High interest rates and fees: Payday loans come with exorbitant interest rates and fees, potentially trapping borrowers in a cycle of debt. A report from the Center For Responsible Lending showed that in California, the average annual interest rate for a $400 loan was around 460% and up to 662% in Texas.
- Short repayment term: The short repayment period, typically around 2 weeks, can lead to difficulties in repaying the loan on time, resulting in additional fees and charges.
Personal loans are traditional loans provided by banks, credit unions, or online lenders. They involve borrowing a specific amount of money for a fixed term and paying it back in regular installments, including interest. Personal loans can be secured (requiring collateral) or unsecured (based on creditworthiness). They offer more flexibility than cash advances, but their availability and terms depend on your credit history and income.
Pros of Personal Loans
- Lower interest rates: Personal loans often come with lower interest rates than cash advances, making them a more affordable option in the long run. According to a Bankrate study, the average personal loan interest rate is 27% as of July 26, 2023.
- Longer repayment terms: The lender usually provides various repayment terms, typically ranging from 1 to 5 years repayments, which may suit your financial situation, enabling better budgeting and planning.
- Larger loan amounts: Personal loans generally provide access to larger sums of money than cash advances, typically starting at around $10K and often up to $100K, making them suitable for major expenses like home renovations or needed surgeries.
Cons of Personal Loans
- Credit check requirement: Lenders typically perform a credit check when assessing personal loan applications, which can impact individuals with poor credit scores.
- Longer approval process: Compared to cash advances, personal loans often involve a more extensive application and approval process, resulting in longer wait times.
Earned Wage Access (EWA)
Earned Wage Access, also known as on-demand pay or early wage access, is a relatively new concept that enables employees to access a portion of their earned wages before their scheduled payday. EWA platforms partner with employers to offer this benefit, allowing workers to bridge the gap between pay periods. Unlike traditional loans, EWA is not a loan or credit product, as it simply provides access to already earned wages.
Pros of Earned Wage Access:
- Immediate access to earned wages: EWA allows employees to access a portion of their already earned wages, eliminating the need for loans or credit.
- No interest or credit checks: Since EWA is not a loan, it does not involve interest charges nor requires a credit check, making it accessible to individuals with varying credit scores and preventing individuals from falling into a debt cycle.
- Budgeting assistance: EWA platforms often provide financial management tools, helping individuals better manage their income and expenses.
Cons of Earned Wage Access:
- Employer based availability: EWA is usually provided by the employer to their employees. The employee cannot sign–up for an EWA service without the employer being set up first with the EWA provider, therefore limiting access.
- Potential need to educate: Since EWA is money coming from work already performed, the employee’s usual paycheck will have the EWA amount deducted from it, causing a potential “surprise shock” when receiving said paycheck. Employees need to be aware that EWA is not a loan but money deducted directly from their upcoming paycheck.
Choosing the Right Option:
When deciding which option to use—cash advances, payday loans, personal loans, or earned wage access—it is essential to evaluate your specific circumstances and needs. Consider the urgency of your situation, the amount of funds required, your credit history, and the associated costs.
If you have an employer that provides EWA, and the sum you need can be covered by your next paycheck, EWA would be your cheapest and best option. If you don’t have access to EWA, you should first refer your employer to Tapcheck so that everyone in your organization can benefit from it. That being said, if you need money urgently and don’t have access to a daily paycheck, then a cash advance might be more suitable, assuming you already have access to a credit card offering cash advances. For larger expenses and longer repayment terms, personal loans could be a better choice. As for payday loans, they should usually be avoided and considered a last resort due to the unusually high interest rates offered.