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When you were a kid, if your family car broke down and your parents were short on cash, chances are dad would stop by the local bank branch and get a short-term loan for a few hundred dollars to cover the cost of the repair until payday. These types of short-term loans were often called signature loans or "character" loans because the bank relied on the person's good word and reputation. With the globalization of banking, changes to IRS laws surrounding the deductibility of consumer interest, and the proliferation of credit cards, such short-term loans fell out of style, but they are making a comeback. According to the American Banker's Association, nearly one in five loans made by U.S. banks was a nonmortgage installment loan, about double the number in 1998. If you need a short-term loan to help with a one-time expense, check to see if your bank offers them. If not, there are many online lenders to which you can apply. However, many of these operations are fly-by-night shops that charge high upfront fees and interest. Your best bet is to place an application with a known financial institution, one that has a good reputation and is legitimate.