MILITARY PAYDAY LOAN ALTERNATIVES
When you’re in the military and need money immediately for car repairs, travel or other unexpected bills, your options are often limited. Time constraints, lower-than-average pay scales and a mobile lifestyle caused by deployments, training and frequent moves can make it hard to get a traditional loan. The alternative? Many Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines have used a credit card, borrowed from family members or, unfortunately, obtained a military cash advance from a payday loan company.
In 2007, Congress instituted a 36 percent APR cap on payday loans, refund anticipation loans, and car title loans to service members, their spouses and dependents. The Military Lending Act (MLA) has helped reduce the number of military payday loans available outside of military bases, but some storefront and online lenders still manage to find ways around the law. And that’s bad, because according to a study by the Center for Responsible Lending, active-duty military personnel were three times more likely than civilians to use a payday lender or military cash advance service — and one in five had a payday loan. The study also noted that this wound up costing military families more than $80 million a year in fees!
CHOOSE A Better Alternative
In response to the proliferation of payday loan products, several agencies, finance companies and banks developed responsible alternatives to military payday loans that could provide immediate cash to military members and their families. Consider the following when looking for a short-term loan that won’t let you get in over your head.
- Emergency relief funds offered by on-installation agencies that provide interest-free loans, with approval from a commanding officer. This mitigates the need for any military payday loan or cash advance.
- Pioneer Services, the Military Banking Division of MidCountry Bank, offers affordable short-term military loans for all ranks and branches of military. Loans are available from $500 to $10,000 and offer an easy application process, fast access to your money, complete confidentiality and a 15-day, risk-free satisfaction guarantee. Pioneer Services voluntarily complies with the APR rate cap as recommended by the Military Lending Act and the FDIC small dollar loan program.
For more information on finding the right type of loan for your needs, view our financial guide: “The True Cost of Borrowing.”