Payday loans are a notoriously expensive form of borrowing. But their Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is often unclear at first glance. Many payday lenders express their costs as a flat fee instead of an interest rate. That raises questions like: Are payday loans fixed or variable? What is their real interest rate? Find the answers below, and learn where payday loan rates fit among other types of loans.
Fixed vs. variable loans: What’s the difference?
There are two types of loan rates:
- Fixed: The interest rate locks at the beginning of the loan with no option to increase or decrease.
- Variable: The interest rate can fluctuate during the repayment term, depending on a variety of factors.
Fixed and variable interest rates can both be risky to the borrower, but variable ones are the bigger gamble. Fixed-rate loans can only cause the borrower to miss out on potential savings. Variable-rate loans might jump up in price unexpectedly.
Lenders would prefer to have the ability to raise their rates, especially on long-term loans. They’ll usually give better terms, including a lower initial rate, in exchange for that flexibility.
That means that fixed loans usually start at a higher rate than their variable counterparts.
So are payday loans fixed or variable?
Payday loans are technically fixed-interest loans. A borrower that takes out a single payday loan and pays it off on time should never be surprised by the cost. The lender has no right to add fees that weren’t in the contract, though some predatory lenders may try to bend that rule.
But the sheer cost of borrowing makes paying back payday loans on time difficult. The average payday loan in 2020 had a $375 principal balance. It cost as much as $75, which is an APR of 521%. For context, the average credit card had an APR of just 15% in 2020.
Failure to pay off a payday loan will always lead to additional charges. Payday lenders can punish borrowers who default with penalties, late charges, and even overdraft fees while attempting to collect. More than 90% of payday loan borrowers ended up regretting their payday loan.
Yes, payday loan rates are fixed, in theory. But they’re not affordable, and their costs quickly get out of hand when a borrower defaults.
What are payday loans?
Payday loans are short-term, extremely high-cost loans. They have relatively small principal balances, with many states limiting their size to $500 or less.
Borrowers must usually pay back their original balance, plus the lender’s fee, two to four weeks later, by their next payday. If they fail to do so, the lender can often debit the borrower’s bank account directly or cash in a post-dated check.
Payday loans tend to have much lower than average qualification requirements. Lenders market them as a way to make ends meet for people with bad credit scores or limited credit history.
Usually, payday lenders don’t report their associated activities to credit bureaus. That means that while they’re accessible with bad credit, borrowers usually can’t use them to rebuild their credit scores.
The bottom line
Payday lenders aren’t always transparent about their fee structures or interest rates, but they are technically fixed-rate loans. However, if you don’t pay the loan off in time, the lender can tack on added costs in the form of fees.
Stuck in the payday loan trap?
If you’ve taken out a payday loan and are now struggling to pay it back, DebtHammer is here to lend a hand. We specialize in helping people escape the payday loan trap.
Contact us today, and we’ll work together to pay off your payday loans, once and for all.