Idaho, South Dakota and Wisconsin have the nations highest interest rates for payday loans, according to a report released by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The report found rates in those states are high mainly because theyre among only seven states that impose no legal limits on payday loans. The study urges states to limit payments to "an affordable percentage of a borrowers periodic income," saying monthly payments above 5% of gross monthly income are unaffordable.
Payday loans on average take 36% of a persons pre-tax paycheck, according to Nick Bourke, project director at Pew. Without a limit on interest rates, competition among lenders does not tend to lower rates much, according to the research.
In Idaho, payday lenders charge an average 582% annual interest on their loans, followed by South Dakota and Wisconsin (both 574%). In March, an Idaho Senate payday loan bill was signed into law that limits loans to 25% of a borrowers gross monthly income. The bill also allows for setting up interest-free payment plans for consumers hitting a financial snag.
The Idaho Community Action Network, an advocate of payday loan reform, said the bill did little to address the real problem interest rates and fees.
Last month, payday lenders told the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that they will accept new regulation as long as it does not "cripple" the industry and credit availability. Speaking at the time at a CFPB field hearing in Nashville, several payday lenders said they recognized that they should face similar restrictions to those placed on banks by the banking regulators on small-dollar, short-term loans.
The Pew study found that the nations four largest payday loan companies charge similar rates to each other within any given state, usually at the maximum allowed by law. States with higher limits have more stores, but the rates remain higher and competition does not lower them much.
Among states with storefront payday lenders, the lowest average interest charged is Colorado at 129%, which matches its legal limit. The next lowest are Oregon at 156% and Maine at 217%. Fifteen states either ban payday loans or cap interest rates at 36%. None of them has any storefront lenders.