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The 7 dumbest ways to borrow money

In a bind? If you borrow from any of these lenders, you'll probably end up worse off.

By Stacy Johnson Sep 21, 2012 11:49AM

This post comes from Angela Colley at partner site Money Talks News.


Logo Money Talks News on MSN MoneyBorrowing money is risky business. Sure, if you're a combination of smart and lucky, the transaction may go smoothly and help you out of a bind. But if you seek help in the wrong place, you could be living the ultimate financial nightmare: the never-ending loan.

Loan (© Tetra Images/SuperStock)Here are some of the worst ways to borrow money and why you should avoid them.


1. Payday loans

Payday loans are small, short-term loans backed by your paycheck. Here's how they work: You apply for a payday loan, listing your next two or three pay dates on the application. After getting approved, you write a postdated check for the loan amount plus interest and fees. On your next payday, the lender collects the balance due, or you can choose to “roll over” your loan until your next payday.

Payday loans appeal to people because they seem fast and easy. Most payday lenders don’t consider your credit history, so people with bad credit can still get approved as long as they have a source of income. And many lenders will give you the cash in just a few days -- or hours in some cases. (Post continues after video.)

But these loans come with a catch - high interest rates and fees. For example,’s list of payday loan laws by state lists the maximum interest rate lenders can charge. Check out some of these terms:

  • Alabama - 17.5%
  • Colorado - 20% of the first $300, 7.5% for the remainder
  • Louisiana - 16.75%

These interest rates may not appear excessive -- they seem similar to credit card rates. But credit cards quote the amount you'll pay over a year, while payday lenders collect their interest in as little as a week. Annualize rates like those above and you're paying triple-digit interest. Florida law, for example, allows only 10% interest, plus a $5 fee for loans from seven to 31 days.  Do that for a year and you could be paying nearly 400%.

Therein lies the danger of the rollover. Many lenders allow customers to extend their loan to the next payday if they pay the fee plus any accrued interest. Since they’re not reducing principal, it's easy to become trapped.

2. Pawnshops

Pawnshops lend you money by holding your stuff as collateral. But as far as rates go, they're not much different from payday lenders. Loans are typically 30 to 90 days, and rates and storage fees can be 10% to 20% per month. If you can't pay the loan when it's due, the shop can sell your collateral, which is generally worth a lot more than the loan amount.

Despite the popularity of pawn-based reality shows, these places are not where you want to go to borrow money -- or sell your stuff, for that matter. If you need to borrow money, there are much cheaper ways to do it. If you need to sell stuff, you’re better off cutting out the middleman and using a site like eBay or Craigslist. (For more, see "Despite TV’s obsession wth pawnshops, they’re still a last resort.)

3. Cash advances from credit cards

While cash advances from credit cards beat payday loans and pawnshops, they're no bargain.

You can borrow up to your credit limit and get the money instantly, either by swiping your credit card in an ATM or by using one of those blank cash advance checks your credit card issuer sends you in the mail.

Banks can charge up to 25% annual interest on cash advances, along with fees from 3% to 5% of the amount borrowed. In addition, unlike regular credit card purchases, you won’t get a grace period. The interest clock starts ticking on day one.

4. Buy-here-pay-here car dealerships

Every day I pass a shady-looking car dealership in my neighborhood. Its sign screams, “No one is refused!” Every day a salesman stands outside holding up a different enticement, like “Bad credit approved” or “Get a car for no money down!” Last week, the sign read, “Trade your old gold for a car!”

This is an example of a buy-here-pay-here car dealership. They're everywhere; according to the Center for Responsible Lending, more than two million cars were sold this way in 2010.

These dealerships often begin the sales process by looking not at cars, but instead at your income and credit. Only when they learn what you can afford are you shown cars. If sign on the dotted line, you could be paying average annual interest rates of 24%. As Stacy said in the video above, that's three to four times the rate of typical used-car loans. And that's not all: The Center for Responsible Lending reports that 30% of these cars are repossessed and resold According to CNNMoney, some of these dealers will repossess a car when the borrower is just one day late on a payment.

In short, many of these lots aren’t really in the business of selling cars. They're in the business of collecting interest -- lots of it.

5. Title loans

Like pawnshop loans and payday loans, title loans are small, short-term loans. The difference is that these are backed by your vehicle. Since you’re putting up collateral, most lenders won’t consider your credit history. It seems appealing until you realize you’re handing over the title to your car for a loan that comes with extremely high interest. For example, The Los Angeles Times reported that one lender in California charges an annual interest rate of up to 125%.

6. Direct deposit advance

Believe it or not, many banks now offer what amounts to payday loans. Your bank advances you a portion of your paycheck (for a fee), then withdraws the money automatically the next time you get paid.


Direct deposit advances are a quick way to get cash, but as with payday loans, they can cause major financial troubles. First, you’ll pay a fee. For example:

  • USBank - $2.00 for every $20.00 borrowed
  • Wells Fargo - $1.50 for every $20.00 borrowed
  • Regions - $1.00 for every $10.00 borrowed

According to the Center for Responsible Lending, the average bank direct deposit advance carries an annual interest rate of 365%. As often happens to those who take out payday loans, people living paycheck to paycheck can easily run out of money before their next payday and be tempted to take out further advances, putting them in an endless debt cycle.

7. Friends and family

Borrowing money from someone you know is tempting. After all, most family members won't charge you interest or take your car if you don’t pay them back. The problem? You're risking your relationship if the deal goes bad. As Addison H. Hallock once said, “Before borrowing money from a friend, decide which you need more.”

The bottom line? If you borrow money from any of these lenders, your small problem today could become a huge problem tomorrow. Instead, consider building up an emergency fund to handle unexpected events. For tips on how to get started, check out "25 simple ways to save an extra $1,000."

More from Money Talks News and MSN Money:

Sep 22, 2012 11:11AM
An article written from the perspective of someone with adequate income and good credit to access lower loan rates. The reality is that many Americans have bad credit and are over extended because they have not managed their money well. If you cannot qualify for a lower interest rate because of bad credit and high debt, you are living check to check, and your car breaks down, or an emergency arises, you are short on choices. If these types of loans were eliminated, the poorest sector of the economy would suffer because they would have no access to borrowed money.
These loans charge high interest because they are high risk. Half of these loans will never be collected in full, so the lender has to make up his losses on the payments of the half of the loans that are paid back.
If your brother-in-law wanted to borrow $200 from you, and you know he has not paid back any other relatives he has borrowed from, you would be reluctant to loan him the money. That is a high risk loan.
The moral of the story is to manage your money, live within your means, never borrow money, and make all your payments on time if you do borrow money to live a happier life. Until people can live this way, there will always be a demand for high risk, high interest loans.

Sep 22, 2012 11:24AM
So basially, it's dumb to borrow money.
Sep 22, 2012 11:25AM
This article missed the worst possible loan  (Student Loan) 
Oct 4, 2012 8:34PM
my dad told me along time ago, before he left this "shitty world" that if you loan money to a  friend or family you will surely lose one or the other.   He said,  there are three things in life you "NEVER" loan out ->  (1) your wife  (2) your horse (3) your money.  LOL    After my 20yr marriage, I had no credit to speak of,  every thing was in my husbands name.  So I guess I was up the creek with no paddle.  Sooo it took some discipline, but I saved a little bit of money, that I kept in a "CD" which pays higher interests than a savings acct.  So when ever I am in need of a "LOAN"  I borrow from the bank using my CD as collateral, (this is called a secured loan)  So the bank only charges you about 3% more interest than the interest paid on your CD.  beats what all those loan sharks out there are charging.  So when you pay back your loan,  "You still have your money" safely tucked away for another emergency.    Good luck !!
Sep 22, 2012 1:40PM

Actually the only "dumb" way to borrow money is the way it is done in America now -- too easily.  America has way too much debt, loading down individuals, businesses and government.


Let's get America out of debt.  Let's start paying cash and start saving.  To do that we need the 20% rule for ALL debt in America. That is, If you want to borrow money for any reason: a home mortgage, an auto loan, for a business loan, or for government debt, you MUST have 20% of the loan value as a cash down payment.   No exceptions.


That means if you want to buy a new car that costs $40,000, you must have $8,000 in cash as a down payment.  If you are the real estate raider Samuel Zell and want to buy the Tribune Company for $7.3 billion, no problem Sam, you must have $1.46 billion in cash as a down payment to get the loan.


You say you don't have $8,000 in cash to buy that new car?  That Sam, you don't have $1.46 billion in cash to buy the Tribune Company?  Well start saving it.  Let's stop America from living beyond its means, up to its eyeballs in debt, and causing economic meltdowns like 2007-08.  Instead of false prosperity, let's build true prosperity that discourages debt and rewards saving, for an economically strong America.    





Sep 24, 2012 6:47PM
Really big one missing here - Refund Anticipation Loan - but of course, those are only in the spotlight from February through April.  Bad stuff.
Sep 22, 2012 1:05PM
My sister in-law gets loans like these all the time, and the sad part is, she lives with her parents, constantly broke.
Sep 28, 2012 12:25PM

Unless you have unforseen huge medical expenses and no insurance or not covered by insurance, you should see hardship coming. Even if you get laid off, you should have some money in the bank to hold you over until you impelement a solution before it comes to these kinds of loans.


Ie, you lose your job, put your house up for rent ASAP and rent a cheaper apartment. Live with your parents for a spell until you get a job (any job) that pays the bills while contributing to the household as much as possible (cooking, cleaning, paying utilities). 


Sell your car if you can. put your unecessaries on ebay for sale.


I think people dont react quick enough to hardship. They tend to ride the wave out until in dire need.


If I lost my job or couldnt cover my expenses, Im puting my place up for rent immediately with no hesitation. Shutting down all my utilities (the renter will pay their own) and renting a room somewhere if I didnt have my parents. Luckily I have family but if I didnt I would rent a room somewhere. My car would be sitting in a garage without plates or for sale.


I would look for jobs anywhere I could to keep myself afloat so I didnt have to dip into savings. Unlike people who deplete savings before reacting. 


Nothing in life is gauranteed, Including life.  If you react immediately and prepare as much as you can the financial blow wont be as hard.


Then again thank goodness I dont have kids (by choice)....and I wont until I have a solid 50K in the bank and a tiny mortgage if any and a husband with a job as well!


It sucks that we have to think like this in order to live decent but thats the way it is in 2012!

Sep 22, 2012 7:35AM
Actually, borrowing against your credit card account is not bad, BUT only do it if you have a steady income and know that you can pay it back.  Those with good credit often get offers  to borrow up to a portion of their credit limit at a 2% transaction charge and up to 12 months to pay it off.  A $5000 loan will cost you $100 in a one-time fee.  This works ONLY if you do not put any other charges on that account.  The banks, of course, hope the borrower will do otherwise.
Sep 27, 2012 11:57PM
Ty Tarzan and Janick although your a bit crude thats exactly whats happening here.  Sir you probably have good credit therefore anyone will loan to you/  If you have bad credit and you really need the money guess what NO LOAN,  helloo thats the reality here thats why these high risk places are around.  I know I would pay it back if the bank loaned to me but because of bad credit, and no collateral, heelooo not happening
Oct 4, 2012 10:14PM

I made the big mistake of the payday  loan.....once was enough for me. 


Sep 22, 2012 9:37AM
And if the Banks will not loan to you...If you are faced with late fees and a bad credit report a payday loan is not a bad idea. Just pay it back on time.
Sep 22, 2012 12:02PM
Another useless article written by someone who only knows half as much as they think they do. Their description of payday loans is true for only a portion of lenders. Their analysis of car loans is small minded. If my car becomes nonfunctioning and I don't have the money to buy one for cash, nor do I have the credit to borrow from the bank what is the authors suggestion. It is like the negative description of rent to own. If my refrigerator dies and I only have $100 I have two choices and who is to say which is smarter. I can buy a used unit which may only work one week or possible 10 years, or I can have a rent to own store deliver me a brand new unit with a warranty.
Sep 22, 2012 6:29AM
Sep 22, 2012 1:47PM
I use all of these.They ar great !!!!! I've never repaid a dime, I love beating these company out of there money and cars.
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