A payday loan (also called a payday advance, salary loan, payroll loan, small dollar loan, short term, or cash advance loan) is a short-term unsecured loan, often characterized by high interest rates.
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The term "payday" in payday loan refers to when a borrower writes a postdated check to the lender for the payday salary, but receives part of that payday sum in immediate cash from the lender. However, in common parlance, the concept also applies regardless of whether repayment of loans is linked to a borrower's payday. The loans are also sometimes referred to as "cash advances", though that term can also refer to cash provided against a prearranged line of credit such as a credit card. Legislation regarding payday loans varies widely between different countries, and in federal systems, between different states or provinces.
To prevent usury (unreasonable and excessive rates of interest), some jurisdictions limit the annual percentage rate (APR) that any lender, including payday lenders, can charge. Some jurisdictions outlaw payday lending entirely, and some have very few restrictions on payday lenders.