Why Payday Loans Are an Awful Borrowing Choice

In the contemporary financial landscape, an alarming 31% of Canadians admit to feeling overwhelmed by their debt level. A significant percentage of these individuals resort to payday loans as a seemingly quick fix to their financial woes. However, this decision can lead to a slippery slope of long-term financial ruin. This article aims to shed light on the perils associated with payday loans, why they are an awful borrowing choice, and alternative strategies to manage financial emergencies.

Understanding Payday Loans

Payday loans, also known as cash advances, are short-term loans typically ranging between $100 and $1,500. They are often sought by individuals struggling to meet an unexpected payment, especially when their bank account is running low on funds. However, the convenience and immediacy of payday loans come at a staggering cost. The total cost of borrowing can soar to 75 percent of the loan or higher, depending on the amount. This high cost, coupled with the potential for damaging your credit score and trapping you in a cycle of ongoing debt, makes payday loans a dangerous financial option.

How Payday Loans Operate

Unlike traditional personal loans, payday loans operate under a different set of rules. The interest and fees are applied to the short term of the loan, typically two weeks or until the next paycheck, instead of annually. A 15% charge for a 2-week payday translates to an almost 400% Annual Percentage Rate (APR). The charge escalates if you fail to pay back the loan within the specified period.

Some provinces in Canada have specific rules regarding payday loans:

  • Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Ontario offer borrowers up to 62 days to repay their loans.
  • Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan prohibit payday lenders from extending or rolling over payday loans.
  • Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan forbid payday lenders from asking borrowers to sign a form that transfers their wages directly to them.
  • The same provinces require payday lenders to adhere to laws regarding their contact methods and the tactics they can use to secure payment.

The Qualification Criteria for Payday Loans

Payday loans often target individuals with poor credit, offering them high-interest rates. This predatory tactic can deter individuals from seeking healthier financial solutions and encourage them to opt for borrowing, further deepening their financial troubles.

Spotting Scams

While payday loans are available both online and in physical locations, borrowers need to exercise due diligence. Always ensure that you are dealing with a licensed payday establishment based in Canada. Problems could become challenging to resolve if the company is based overseas. Online sites can also act as intermediaries, collecting your personal information only to pass it on to actual lenders. Sharing your bank account information with a third party always poses risks.

The Downside of Payday Loans

The Risk of Dependency on Payday Loans

The convenience and easy accessibility of payday loans can create a dependency. These loans come with high charges; for instance, you might be charged $21 to borrow $100, meaning you’ll be repaying $121. This is only possible if you repay the loan on time. Depending on the borrowed amount, some individuals may need to use their subsequent paycheck to repay the loan, leaving them unable to meet basic monthly expenses. As a result, they fall into a vicious cycle where they rely on payday loans each month to pay bills.

The High-Interest Rates Associated with Payday Loans

The high-interest rates attached to payday loans are an alarming feature. In addition to repaying the borrowed amount, borrowers must also pay an additional charge. If a borrower fails to repay the loan within the agreed period, the interest rate increases every fortnight. For instance, if a $100 loan with a 21% charge isn’t repaid after two weeks, an additional 21% interest is added to the amount, and so forth. This pattern can result in a mounting debt pile, pushing the borrower further into trouble.

The Negative Impact on Your Credit Rating

Payday loans can severely damage your credit rating due to the high-interest rates, making it easy to fall into debt. If these loans lead you into significant debt, you may no longer qualify to receive loans from reputable lenders. It also becomes increasingly unlikely that you’d qualify for a loan for a down payment on a house or to finance a car.

It’s essential to understand that payday loans are not your only option. There are numerous alternatives available if you need help meeting payments. Consider cutting back on unnecessary purchases and creating a detailed budget. If this still doesn’t solve your problem, you could speak with your bank about a loan. While these loans still charge interest, the rates are much lower compared to payday loans. Finally, there is no shame in securing a second job or seeking financial assistance from family members if you’re struggling financially.

Regulations Governing Payday Loans

The Covid-19 pandemic has adversely impacted many Canadians, particularly the most vulnerable, who often rely on payday loans to survive. To offer some protection, governments have introduced regulations to cap interest rates and fees on payday loans. These laws aim to ensure that workers and families who depend on these services can keep more of their income.

Every province except Newfoundland and Labrador has legislation governing payday loans. Such regulations include:

  • In British Columbia, charges are capped at 17% of the principle, a maximum of 50% of the borrower’s take-home pay can be lent, the borrower can cancel the loan by the end of the following day, only one loan at a time is allowed, and lenders have limited access to the borrower’s bank and employer.
  • In Alberta, charges are capped at 15% of the principle.
  • In Saskatchewan, there’s a 23% interest cap, a 30% cap on defaulted loans, a 50% borrowing limit, and a licensing fee of $2,000 per location.
  • In Manitoba, there’s a 17% cap for two weeks and a 5% cap for subsequent loans.
  • In Ontario, there’s a 15% cap on loan charges.
  • In Quebec, annual interest is limited to 35%.
  • In New Brunswick, there’s a 15% cap on loan charges, the borrower may cancel the loan within 48 hours, only 30% of the borrower’s take-home pay can be lent, only one loan can be taken at a time, and all lenders must be licensed.
  • In Nova Scotia, there’s a 19% cap on loan charges.
  • In Prince Edward Island, there’s a 25% cap on charges for two weeks.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador follow federal regulation with a 60% cap since they don’t have their legislation.

Avoiding the Use of Payday Loans

The best strategy to avoid the pitfalls of high-interest loans is to refrain from applying for them altogether. There are plenty of options available if you need help meeting payments.

Analyzing Your Financial Situation

Firstly, consider cutting out unnecessary purchases and drawing up a detailed budget. If you are working towards escaping debt, build an emergency fund that you can use instead of a payday loan. Typically, saving an amount between $500 and $1,000 is an excellent starting point. If you can diligently save this amount, you can use this fund to handle emergencies without going into debt.

Communicating with Your Creditors

If you’re behind on payments, you can ask your creditors for more time to settle your bills. Before your account is sent to collections, contact the company and request an extension. You may also be able to change your due date to better align with your pay schedule.

Exploring Other Sources of Income

If extending your payment period isn’t an option, always try to find another source for borrowing money, such as:

  • Friends or family members.
  • Your church may have funds set aside for needy parishioners.
  • Some apps allow you to access your paycheck early.
  • You can approach your employer for an advance or cash in on vacation days.
  • Speak with your bank or credit union about a loan; while this still charges interest, the rate is lower than that of payday loans.
  • A cash advance from a credit card offers better rates.
  • A home equity loan.
  • Borrowing from retirement or life insurance may work, but beware of the tax implications.

Finally, getting a second job is becoming the norm in today’s landscape. In the age of side gigs, numerous opportunities are available.

Recognizing a Dire Financial Situation

If you can’t find another source of money to cover the current emergency, then you probably already realize that your financial situation is in severe trouble. With no savings and no other credit, every purchase is a struggle. It’s easy at this point to sink deeper into debt, either by rolling over loans (using one loan to service an older one) or just taking on more of them at higher interest rates. If you’re at this stage and require help, consider seeking professional advice.

By filling out a quick debt relief form, you can get professional help to assess your situation and develop a step-by-step debt relief plan. This will help you regain control of your finances and work your way out of debt.


In conclusion, payday loans serve as a quick fix that can lead to long-term financial ruin. These loans, while easy to obtain, come with high fees and interest rates that can trap individuals in a cycle of debt. If you find yourself resorting to payday loans to meet basic expenses, consider seeking professional advice to improve your financial situation. Remember, payday loans are not the only option, and exploring other avenues can lead to healthier financial habits and freedom.

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