Websites make small loans available
A slew of online sites, such as Prosper and BillFloat, are becoming alternatives to banks that want to lend you money.
BillFloat dishes out short-term loans for bill payments, such as car insurance or electric utilities. Loans are small -- up to $200 -- and rates range from a 7 percent to 36 percent annual percentage rate, depending on your state. "Our loans are different (from) payday loans because we don't give out cash," says Ryan Gilbert, CEO of BillFloat.com. Instead, payments are sent directly to more than 2,500 billers nationwide.
These loans help consumers avoid costly bank late fees, overdraft charges or pricey loan rates.
With 38 percent of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, "We offer needed relief for short-term crunches. Most banks are ill-equipped to make these loans," Gilbert says.