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Payday loans

Payday loans are short-term loans for small amounts of money. They are available from high street shops and internet sites. Payday loans can be easy to get but interest rates are very high. There may be other ways for you to sort out your short-term money problem so think about the alternatives before you borrow from a payday lender.

If you decide to get a payday loan, shop around and compare the interest and charges before you borrow. Make sure you are clear about what will happen if you can't pay it back.

This page tells you about what the lender should do before they offer you a payday loan, how you pay back the loan and what happens if you can't pay. It also tells you how to complain about a payday lender.

Payday loan survey

Tell us about your experience of borrowing from a payday lender. You can help Citizens Advice make sure payday lenders behave fairly and responsibly and follow the rules in future. If you have a complaint about a payday lender, you leave your phone number at the end and someone from the Financial Ombudsman Service will call you back to talk to you.

Payday loan survey

Before you take a payday loan

When you apply for a loan, before lending you any money, a lender should check whether you’ll be able to pay it back. This means that, for example, the lender should check you’ve got enough money coming in each month to be be able pay the loan back.

The lender should also explain the main features of the loan, including how much you will have to pay back, what happens if you do not pay the loan back, that you may be charged extra if you do not pay the loan back on time and that the loan is not suitable or long-term borrowing. The lender should also explain how continuous payment authorities (CPAs) work and how they can be cancelled.

All online adverts for payday loans, and adverts sent by email or text message, must include the following warning ‘Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help, go to www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.’ From 1 July, this warning must be included in all adverts for payday loans.

Paying back a payday loan

Usually you'll be given up to a month to pay back the money you borrowed, plus interest.

The most common way to pay back a payday loan is through your bank debit card. When you get the loan you agree to let the lender take the money from your bank account. This is called a continuous payment authority (CPA).

If there isn't enough money in your account to repay the loan on the agreed date, the lender may keep asking your bank for all or part of the money. Charges will be added for late payment.

However, from 1 July, your lender shouldn’t use the CPA more than twice if they’ve not been able to get the money from your account, and they shouldn’t try to take a part payment.

Stopping the payment

If you cant afford to re pay the loan, you can instruct your bank or card provider to stop the payment being taken. You must do this at least one day before the payment is due.

Extending a payday loan

If you are having problems paying back the loan, the lender may offer you longer to pay. The lender may do this by giving you more time to pay the loan or by rolling the loan over. A rollover works by making a new agreement for the repayment of the original loan. Beware of extending your loan or agreeing to it being rolled over because you will have to repay more money to the lender as you will be charged extra interest, extra fees or other extra charges.

From 1 July, your lender shouldn’t roll over your loan more than twice. Also, from this date, when a lender rolls over a loan, they’ll also need to give you an information sheet which tells where you can get free debt advice.

If you are struggling to pay back what you owe or to manage on your money, get advice.

Top tips

Other ways to borrow short-term

Payday loans are an expensive way to help people over temporary problems. They are not suitable for longer-term difficulties.

A loan from a credit union is more affordable – check if there's a credit union in your area

If you have a bank account, you may be able to agree an overdraft. But be careful of going overdrawn without permission as this can be very expensive.

If you're on a low income and need money in an emergency, you may be able to get help from the Social Fund, from a charity or other help in your local area, for example from a foodbank.

Making a complaint

Most payday loan lenders are supposed to follow a Good Practice Customer Charter. They also have to follow the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules. If they don't follow the Charter or the FCA rules, you can complain.

You should first contact the lender and try to sort things out.

If you are still not satisfied, you can make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). If the lender is a member of a trade association, you can also make a complaint to the association.

Struggling with your money

If you have debts or are struggling to manage on your money, you may like to get help with budgeting or dealing with debts.

Next steps

Other useful information

The Money Advice Service

The Money Advice Service is a free, independent service. Their website (www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk) has lots of useful information about borrowing and managing your money.

Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)

The Financial Ombudsman's website has useful information on how to make a complaint about payday lenders at: www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk

Payday lenders' trade associations

Citizens Advice

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