The next time you’re listening to the radio or local TV, pay attention to the car sales commercials. Personally, I really get a kick out of some of them. Car salesmen dressed in ridiculous costumes make bold claims such as, “No credit? No problem! Come over to XYZ auto where you can sign and ride for a nickel down!” Sound too good to be true? For those who desperately need an affordable auto loan, it often is. The fine print will likely reveal high interest rates with long repayment periods needed in order to make the payments “affordable.” For financially vulnerable households, money paid in interest could be used for building long-term wealth, paying emergency expenses or reducing high cost debt.

These high-rate, long-term auto loans are similar to payday loans or cash advance offers. While the rates and costs of these services are distasteful to many, what they provide is access to money and credit when mainstream institutions like credit unions and banks fail to act.

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