Receiving a Bad Rap: Payday Lenders Get All the Criticism

Payday lenders loan money to individuals at interest rates determined by the amount and length of the loan. If a payment due date needs to be extended, then the borrower is charged additional fees. Traditional banking institutions and credit unions do the very same thing- not to mention, they selectively deny service to large segments of the population. So why are payday lenders the only ones getting so much bad press?

Payday Loans May Not Be That Expensive

Across the United States, payday lenders average a $20 charge for every $100 loaned. While this may sound high at first, consider the alternatives offered by a bank. Nationally, the average insufficient check fee (when the bank clears a check even when there isn’t enough money in the account, making the account balance negative)


Fees are tacked on to payday loans if they can’t be paid back in time. Typically, loans renew every two weeks. In contrast, if a bank account is negative for 30 days, most banks will close the account. And then will send the account holder to a collections agency for the negative balance. Most people would welcome higher fees if the alternative was losing their checking account and having a collections charge placed on their credit report. A mark that could end up costing thousands later on in higher interest rates due to a lower credit score, compared with perhaps $100 in extra loan fees. Many payday lenders offer additional services, like check cashing and money orders, similar to banks. Even on these counts, payday lenders can often be easier to deal with and more affordable.

Payday Lenders Serve a Larger Audience

If the explosion of payday lending services on the scene means anything, it’s that they are filling a need that has long gone unrecognized (or been outright ignored) by banks. While lending money is a primary source of profits in the banking world. They usually are not interested in small or short-term loans; they prefer to focus on mortgages, auto loans, student loans, and the like. Additionally, banks are rarely willing to do business with people who don’t have good credit.

Payday lenders, on the other hand, recognize that everyone hits upon hard times. Most only require some proof of employment, no credit checks in order to provide an immediate loan. Yes, it’s true that payday lenders largely serve a poorer segment of the population. That’s only because the banks have been turning those same people away.

The biggest indication that payday lenders may not be that bad is the significant number of people who continue to flock to their doors. Consumers now have more choices. They have made it clear that the $200-billion-a-year payday lending industry is becoming an attractive alternative to many banking institutions for some needs.