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Why are Payday Loans So Dangerous?

Payday loans can be of the most dangerous debt types to take on, particularly if unable to repay on-time or deal with the high interest rate. Here are some alternatives.

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At first glance, payday loans may seem like the ideal solution to a temporary financial problem. If you encounter an unexpected expense that can’t wait until your next payday, such as a broken washing machine, a payday loan could provide quick and easy access to funds.

However, due to their high interest rates and fees, even the cheapest payday loans can become very expensive if you don’t repay on time. This can tempt borrowers to take out another loan to pay off the first, leading to a dangerous cycle of debt.

Here at Consolidation Expert, our experienced team has put together a complete guide to payday loans, including what makes them so dangerous, and the potential alternatives you could turn to. Read on to discover what payday loans are, how they work, and the impact they can have on your long-term financial wellbeing, as well as some potential alternatives to explore.

Key Takeaways:

  • Payday loans are a type of short-term, high-cost credit typically used to borrow small amounts (up to £1,500).
  • They are typically marketed as a fast way to access cash for unexpected expenses, and are designed to be repaid upon the borrower’s next payday.
  • Payday loans often have significantly higher interest rates and fees compared to other types of loans and credit.
  • The short repayment terms and high interest rates can lead to a cycle of debt, where you take out another loan to pay off the first. Over time, this can be extremely dangerous for your finances.
  • It is important to prioritise your financial wellbeing and consider whether alternative options to payday loans may be more suitable.

What Is a Payday Loan?

Payday loans are short-term, high-cost loans that can provide quick access to funds for unexpected financial emergencies. They are designed to cover small, one-off expenses (usually up to £1,500) that cannot wait until your next payday. This may include things like car repairs or a broken washing machine.

The borrower applies through a lender, who will conduct a credit check and affordability assessment. If approved, the funds are usually transferred quickly–often within one working day. The borrower must normally repay the full amount, plus interest and any fees, by their next payday. Some payday loans have slightly longer terms, but they are generally meant to be repaid quickly, often within a month.

While payday loans can be convenient, they can come with a significant amount of risk if not repaid on time. Their high interest rates and fees, combined with the short repayment terms, can lead to financial difficulties for some borrowers.

Understanding the Cost of Payday Loans

The interest rates on payday loans can be much higher than other forms of credit, such as credit cards and personal loans. Additionally, borrowers may face additional fees and unexpected charges, making the cost of borrowing even more expensive.

In 2015, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) introduced regulations for payday loans to protect consumers from unfair practices. Here is a breakdown of the legal caps on payday loan charges:

Costs Associated with Payday Loans Legal Limit According to FCA Regulations
Daily interest 0.8% per day of the amount borrowed
Default fees Capped at £15
Total cost of the loan Capped at 100% (borrowers must never have to repay more in fees and interest than the amount borrowed)

The regulations also limit the number of times a payday loan can be rolled over to two. Rolling over a loan involves extending the term, typically for a fee. Additionally, lenders are required to conduct affordability checks to ensure that borrowers can repay the loan.

When considering taking out a payday loan, it is important to calculate the total cost of borrowing, including any fees and charges. It may be worthwhile to explore alternative options that may offer lower interest rates and fees.

Payday Loans and the Cycle of Debt

While FCA regulations have helped to reduce the cost of payday loans, they are still one of the most expensive options for those in need of funds.

As a result, they come with significant financial risk: the high interest rates and short repayment terms may lead borrowers into a cycle of debt that can be challenging to break. Here is an illustration of how it works:

  1. A person takes out a payday loan to cover an unexpected expense.
  2. Due to the loan's high interest and fees, the borrower might be unable to repay it by the due date.
  3. To avoid defaulting on their payment, they may roll over or extend the loan, incurring further costs.
  4. If they still cannot repay it, they may take out a new payday loan and use it to pay off the first.
  5. As they have borrowed more than before, they may continue to struggle to pay it off, taking out further loans to manage the growing debt.
  6. The accumulating debt may create difficulties in meeting basic needs, such as paying for housing costs and food, encouraging reliance on more payday loans.

Eventually, borrowers may become trapped in a dangerous pattern of having to borrow money to repay prior debts and cover other necessary expenses.

Over time, this can become extremely financially damaging, and may negatively affect the borrower’s credit score. As a result, they may be denied access to more affordable credit options in the future.

Alternatives to Payday Loans

Due to the risks associated with payday loans, potential borrowers should approach them with caution, and consider alternative financial solutions if possible. Here are some common alternatives that may be available to those considering a payday loan:

  1. Personal loans: Banks, credit unions, and online lenders may offer personal loans with longer terms and lower interest rates compared to payday loans.
  2. Credit cards: For short-term needs, a credit card may provide a more affordable option, especially if it has a low or 0% introductory interest rate.
  3. Credit unions: Some credit unions in the UK offer affordable short-term loans designed as alternatives to payday loans.
  4. Arranged overdrafts: This is an agreement with a bank that allows you to spend more money than you have in your account, usually with lower fees than payday loans.

If you have multiple payday loans or other debts, a debt consolidation loan may also be a viable choice. This is a type of loan that can help you combine what you owe into one manageable payment. The interest rate on a debt consolidation loan is often lower than the average rate on payday loans. Additionally, compared to other types of personal loans, they are typically more accessible to those with poor credit.

It is important to explore all your options and choose the one that best fits your financial situation. Don’t hesitate to seek professional financial advice before making a decision.

For Payday Loan Consolidation, Apply Online With Consolidation Expert Today

In conclusion, while they may seem like a quick and easy solution to financial struggles, even the cheapest payday loans could lead to a dangerous cycle of debt. It is crucial to understand the true cost of borrowing and the potential consequences before making any financial decisions, and explore alternative options where possible.

If you are struggling with multiple debts and are interested in a consolidation loan, contact Consolidation Expert today. We offer a free online initial eligibility check that will not harm your credit score. We may be able to help you regain control of your finances and avoid the trap of payday loan debt.

Representative 14.8% APR

We are a broker, not a lender.

Representative Example: Borrowing £15,000 over 60 months, repaying £355.28 per month, total repayable £21,316.57.

Total cost of credit £6,316.57.

Interest rate 14.8% (variable).

The lenders on our panel offer loans for 12-360 months, with rates from 4.7% APR to 42.6% APR.

The Representative Example is based on all loans paid out by lenders between 1st Jan 2022 and 31st Dec 2022.


Payday loans, even the cheapest ones, can be dangerous for your finances. Due to their high interest and short repayment terms, they carry risks that could potentially lead to a cycle of debt. Over time, this can have a negative impact on your financial well-being.

Many borrowers find themselves trapped in a cycle of debt when taking out payday loans. If they are unable to repay the loan on time, they may feel obligated to take out additional loans to pay off the existing debt, leading to further financial difficulties. Falling into this cycle can have serious consequences for individuals and families.

Payday loans typically have lower values than other types of loans. In the UK, the amount you can borrow with a payday loan typically ranges and varies depending on the lender and your individual circumstances.

Payday loans have a legally capped interest rate of 0.8% per day in the UK, so no payday loan company is permitted to charge more than this. The APR (which includes fees and other charges) can vary depending on the lender and loan terms, but you should never have to pay back more than twice what you borrowed.

The most common way of applying for a payday loan is online, through various lenders. You’ll usually need to provide proof of identity, income and address, and a valid UK bank account. It’s important to read the terms and conditions carefully before applying.

In the UK, you can legally roll over a payday loan up to two times. This allows you to extend the term of the loan, giving you longer to pay it off. This typically means that additional fees and interest will apply, making the loan more expensive overall.

If you fail to repay a payday loan, you may incur a default fee (capped at £15), and the lender will report the default to credit reference agencies, affecting your credit score. You may also be chased for the debt, either through debt collection agencies or legal routes.

If you have an issue with a payday lender in the UK, you can file a complaint directly with the lender and, if unresolved, escalate it to the Financial Ombudsman Service. This will only be an option if the lender is registered with the FCA, so be sure of this before applying for a loan.

There are several potential alternatives to payday loans that are more affordable and less risky. Options such as personal loans, credit unions, and debt consolidation loans can sometimes provide financial assistance with lower interest rates and fees than payday loans. It’s important to carefully consider your financial needs and choose the option that best suits you.

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