New Payday Loan Service Charges Zero. Too Good to Be True?

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We often talk about predatory payday lenders, but one company has launched a service with no mandatory fees. Should you use it?

Here at Money Talks News, we’re not big fans of payday loans.

In fact, they suck. They may be worse than you thought. And they most definitely top our list of the dumbest ways to borrow money.

So why are we devoting a whole article to the latest payday lender? Because it works under a slightly different model, one that theoretically doesn’t suck. That’s because it doesn’t require you to pay anything in exchange for receiving an advance on your paycheck.

Money Talks News finance expert Stacy Johnson talked to Ram Palaniappan, CEO for Activehours, to find out more. Watch the clip to see what Stacy thought about the service and then keep reading to decide whether the website will work for you.

Activehours: We’re not a payday loan service

While what Activehours does is lend money against a future payday, they don’t consider themselves to be payday lenders. Instead, they say the service they offer simply allows for better cash flow management.

Here’s part of a statement from an Activehours spokesperson:

The Activehours service allows users to access their pay on demand. We let workers control their own pay day so that they aren’t forced to manage their budget around the pay cycle that their employer decides.

With the app, users can access the pay that they’ve already earned. Activehours simply allows them to access it faster than they can through their employer, who is usually bogged down by outdated accounting and payroll tools. By giving workers more flexibility around when they are paid out for their work, we believe we help people manage their cash flow to better live within their means. If a bill is due and payday is 5 days away, an Activehours user can get access to the money that their employer owes them, and use it to avoid paying a bill late or incurring an overdraft fee which would then eat into their budget.

However you describe it; payday loan or cash flow management app, the service allows you to access cash you’ve earned, but not yet been paid.

The basics of Activehours

At its core, Activehours works on the same principle as a payday lender. Cash-strapped individuals can get a short-term loan to tide them over until their next paycheck arrives.

However, the details are a little different from what you might see from a traditional payday lender. Here’s a rundown:

  • Activehours is available only to hourly workers who have direct deposit and online or computerized time sheets. Uber and Lyft drivers are also eligible.
  • The service verifies time sheets, calculates a “take home” hourly rate and makes advances available based upon hours that have not yet been paid out.
  • Individuals can cash out their available hours as needed. Not all hours will be available initially, and workers may be able to request larger advances once they become established users of Activehours.
  • Money is direct deposited into a bank account. Repayments are automatically withdrawn from the same account.
  • Activehours does not charge any interest or fees. Instead, it asks users to provide a tip, in the amount of their choosing, for the service.Tipping could get costly

That last point is what really sets Activehours apart from the competition. And the ability to choose if and how much to pay for the service could make it seem as though this payday loan is a bargain.

However, that may not always be the case. As Stacy points out in the video, a $10 tip for a $100 loan over a two-week period could end up being the equivalent of paying 260 percent interest. Still, it beats paying a $35 overdraft fee.

If you think you’re going to need to dip into a source of emergency cash on a regular basis, you may be better off finding a low-interest credit card or one with low cash-advance fees (assuming you pay it off as soon as you’re paid). But even that isn’t ideal. And that brings us to our final point.

Time to stop living beyond your means

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