A licensee that has obtained the required small loan endorsement may charge interest or fees for small loans not to exceed in the aggregate 15 percent of the first $500 of principal. If the principal exceeds $500, a licensee may charge interest or fees not to exceed in the aggregate 10 percent of that portion of the principal in excess of $500. If a licensee makes more than one loan to a single borrower, and the aggregated principal of all loans made to that borrower exceeds $500 at any one time, the licensee may charge interest or fees not to exceed in the aggregate 10 percent on that portion of the aggregated principal of all loans at any one time that is in excess of $500.
To reduce these legal conflicts between states and stanch the supply of unregulated high-rate loans, reformers tried to establish a common regulatory framework by drafting a uniform law to govern small loans. The first draft of the law, known as the Uniform Small Loan Law, appeared in the late 1910s and allowed licensed lenders to make loans of up to $300 (more than $4,000 in today’s dollars) and to charge fees and interest of no more than 3.5 percent per month. The law, drafted by the Russell Sage Foundation and members of the trade association for small-sum lenders, aimed to legitimize the business by drawing in “honest capital,” meaning lenders who were “reputable men” and would charge no more than the maximum rate.
The Center for Responsible Lending found that almost half of payday loan borrowers will default on their loan within the first two years. Taking out payday loans increases the difficulty of paying the mortgage, rent, and utility bills. The possibility of increased economic difficulties leads to homelessness and delays in medical and dental care and the ability to purchase drugs. For military men, using payday loans lowers overall performance and shortens service periods. To limit the issuance of military payday loans, the 2007 Military Lending Act established an interest rate ceiling of 36% on military payday loans. A 2013 article by Dobbie and Skiba found that more than 19% of initial loans in their study ended in default. Based on this, Dobbie and Skiba claim that the payday loan market is high risk.