Are payday loans your only option?

Payday loan companies make it all too easy to get cash in a matter of minutes, without giving people a full grasp of the cost and consequences.

So if you go down this route you could end up escalating the cost of your purchase considerably and potentially end up in financial hot water.

There's no doubt that your options are likely to be more limited if you need to borrow money at short notice. However, it's important not to let the necessity for speed cloud your judgement or you could face hefty costs.

No matter how little time you have, consider your options and make an informed decision about the alternative that's going to cost you the least in the long run.

1. Friends & family

It is easy to restrict your choices to products on offer from banks and other lenders, however borrowing money from a close friend or family member could be a relatively cheap and quick way to get the money you need.

Of course, you will need to find someone who is willing and able to lend you the money. However, once you've done this you should also make sure you agree terms for when you'll repay them and if you'll pay any interest.

Read our guide: Lending to Friends: How to Make Sure You Get Your Money Back for more information on what you and your friend or family member need to consider before you borrow.

2. Use an existing credit card

Using an existing credit card can sometimes prove to be a cheap and convenient way to borrow money quickly.

If you have a choice then use the credit card that charges the lowest interest rate on purchases so that you minimise your interest costs as much as possible.

If you find that you don't have a sufficient credit limit then you may be able to extend the credit limit that same day, so you're not left waiting for access to the funds or if you have several existing credit cards spread the cost between them.

If you don't have a sufficient credit limit you could look at splitting the cost between a number of existing credit cards if needs be. This is preferable to exceeding your credit limit as this will attract charges and damage your credit rating.

To keep your costs down, you may also want to apply for a 0% balance transfer card or life of balance transfer card so that you can move the balance to a cheaper home rather than leaving it on your existing card to earn interest.

It makes sense to apply for a 0% balance transfer credit card before completing any transaction so that you know whether or not you can do this and how much your borrowing is going to cost.

One thing worth noting is that using a credit card to withdraw cash can be very expensive, especially if you're unable to pay if off quickly, so compare your options before proceeding to make sure you can't borrow cash cheaper elsewhere.

3. Authorised overdraft

If you need cash or don't have a credit card available then asking your bank to either extend or provide an authorised overdraft could be a quick way to access the money you need quickly.

Most authorised overdrafts are applied at midnight on the same day you apply, so while you may not be able to access the cash immediately if you can wait until the next day you should be able to withdraw the money then with no issue.

Remember, while an authorised overdraft is a convenient and flexible way to borrow through your current account it is also likely to prove quite costly if used for long periods.

What you may not realise is that current account overdraft can be just as expensive as a payday loan you have the wrong type of account, and like payday loans, they may charge an arrangement fee just to set it up.

If you decide to apply for an overdraft facility make sure that you know in advance the costs involved and make a plan to pay if off as soon as possible. For more information read our guide to working out the cost of your overdraft.

Other options

There are a number of other alternatives available to you - like money transfers and social lending. Read our article: The Best Way to Borrow When You Need Money Fast for more information.

If you are left with no alternative and can't delay the reason why you need to borrow, then you may need to consider a payday loan.

However, you will need to ensure that you will be able to repay the loan on time and without the need for further borrowing or you could find yourself having to continue to borrow more and more.

Remember, with interest rates sometimes exceeding 5,000% using a payday loan is an extremely expensive way to borrow money and should only be used as a last resort, if you have any other alternatives pursue them before applying.

If you do need to go down this route you can compare payday loans to find the cheapest short term lender using our payday loan comparison table.