Tag Archives: pawn shops

The Latest Short-Term Loan “Deals”

OK, there should really be a sarcasm font on this. When I say “best deals” it’s actually the so-called best of horrible ways to borrow.

However, millions of Canadians look for short-term money every month. And they’re not just people who are down and out.

I filed my income tax return last Monday. I’ll have the refund cheque in my hands by early next week. That’s incredibly fast, yet millions of people can’t wait even a week (with direct deposit)? H&R tax refund advance rates are 15% on the first $300 and 5% on the rest. So on a $2,000 refund, they’re taking $130 to save you a week of waiting. That’s nuts and translates to an annualized interest rate of 338%.

They’re everywhere, but an Edmonton pawn shop is advertising a special on the radio: Only 25% if you redeem the item you pawned within two weeks. That’s supposed to be a deal? It’ll cost you $125 to get $500 for two weeks. That’s an annualized interest rate of 650%.

There’s a new website advertising nationally called lenddirect. The ads show a lot of smiling people that they can now get a convenient loan with just a few clicks online. The tiny tiny print shows the interest rate of 46.93%. On a $10,000 loan over five years, that’s $16,100 interest.

Not to be outdone, Money Mart has now expanded from the payday lending business model to also offer installment loans up to five years and $15,000. Their ads and website heavily harp on the fact that they have no hidden fees. Well, that’s reassuring. But you need to dig a long way down their website links in order to find the interest rate: It’s 59.9%. On that same $10,000 installment loan, your five year payments would be $528 and borrowing $10,000 costs you $21,700 interest. Yes, borrow $10,000 – pay back almost $32,000!

Borrowing from any of the short-term lenders really does make things worse – much worse, and not better. Sure, today you have a few bucks to relieve some financial stress, but it comes at a staggering price of a ton more debt and stress down the road. There are always alternatives, such as an overdraft, take a cash advance from your credit card, get an advance on your pay or holiday pay, borrow from a family member, or just be late on the bill that you have to pay today.

Tricks and Gimmicks Everywhere

I have to confess: Stupid gimmicks, traps and tricks, and misleading ads drive me crazy. But it seems that right now there are a bunch of them around designed to separate you from your money:

Right now, there is a BC car dealer, and one in Ontario on my Facebook page, advertising that they’ll give you 250 airmiles when you purchase a vehicle from them.

Does anyone know what you’re really getting? The wholesale value of an airmile is about 1 ½ cents! That translates to less than $4 of value. On your end, 250 redeemed airmiles gets you around $30 of gas coupons. Let me see: You’re spending $20 or $30,000 and the extra incentive is $30? Are you kidding me? But I wonder how many people chase the points and think it’s some kind of good deal.

There’s an ad for a pawn shop chain with the claim: We’re another kind of bank. THAT is one big stretch. I know the industry wants to clean itself up, and promote itself away from their current image, but a pawn shop is not a bank – give me a break.

Nationally, and it may just be marketed in the US on television, there is now a huge promotion to buy a 24 karat gold coin. They claim it’s a limited edition $50 value for $9.95. Wow – that sounds like a deal…on the surface, especially with the gold mania that’s gone way beyond reasonable and rational.

However, in the ad they mention that the coin contains 14 mg of pure gold. OK, most people know what an ounce is. But hands up if you know what 14 milligrams are? I didn’t think so. At the current value of gold, that 14 mg is worth 78 cents, because it’s 0.000494 ounces.

The ad goes on to claim that this is an incredible investment. How is that? 78 cents worth of actual gold for ten bucks is an investment? It may be shiny, but it’s not all gold.

But a gold fever is a gold fever, and lots of companies are taking advantage of it. In Boca Rotan Florida you can actually find a vending machine that will sell you gold. Just insert your credit card, make your so-called investment selection and buy it, just like you would out of a candy vending machine.

Gold is the only safe investment says one advertisement. Oh, really? As though investing in good growth mutual funds with a long track record hasn’t historically averaged around 12%?

Tim Horton now has an ad campaign designed to get people to automatically re-load their gift cards through their bank account:” Could I get one of these and one of those and get my friend here whatever he wants.” A pre-loaded gift card is like a credit card. Tim Horton, and everyone else in the small cash purchase industry, knows that you’re likely to spend way more money with a card instead of cash!

With a pre-paid card, or credit card, McDonalds average purchase increases 47%, and vending machine purchase per person increases 178%. Small wonder these companies want you to use anything but cash!