Times are tight. For the first time in a while, you may have trouble paying bills.
What to do?
You may have noticed an icon on the page of your utility statement online for a service called BillFloat.
As the name implies, BillFloat offers short-term loans in small amounts to cover basic household bills (they don't cover credit card payments or mortgages).
It's cheaper than a so-called payday loan, but still an expensive convenience:
- You pay a flat rate for the loan, which includes a 3% interest charge and other service fees. On a $67 bill, you'd get charged $4.99.
- You have about 30 days to repay the loan.
- If you don't repay it, there are no late fees; the interest doesn't mount. You just can't use BillFloat again until you're current.
"It's not revolving debt, like a credit card, explained BillFloat CEO Ryan Gilbert. "It's more like Amex. If you don't pay your Amex bill, you can't use the card."
We ran the BillFloat concept past Gail Hillebrand, senior attorney with Consumers Union and a watchdog in this area. "While it's promising that they're not putting customers on a debt treadmill," she said, "consumers should still look into other options," like finding a cheaper plan, switching services or asking for an extension.
Payback. If you can't pay a bill, what do you do?