News Release

Credit Unions No Substitute for Payday Loans

Even if credit unions offered short-term loans at better interest rates and lending terms than payday lenders — and most don’t — current payday loan customers would still prefer the convenience of payday lenders, a new University of California, Davis, study suggests.

Growth of payday lenders has led to a policy debate about whether credit unions could offer the same short-term loans with less financial burden on consumers, said the study’s author, Victor Stango, a professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management.

“Expecting … credit unions to provide borrowers with lower-priced but otherwise similar short-term loan products is unrealistic,” Stango said.

But National Credit Union Administration data cited in the study reports that only 6 percent of credit unions offer such short-term loans, seeing them as too risky and expensive to maintain. And payday loan customers say they prefer the longer business hours and easier lending requirements of payday lenders, despite the high interest that payday lenders charge (391 percent APR, or annual percentage rate), the study said. This APR is based on a typical payday lender charge of $15 per $100 borrowed for two weeks.

“It seems unlikely that credit unions can viably serve as providers of short-term credit to the customers currently served by payday lenders,” the study concluded. The study, “Some New Evidence on Competition in Payday Lending Markets,” is published in the latest edition of Contemporary Economic Policy.

Payday lending has become widespread during the past 20 years, with 24,000 payday outlets operating physical locations in the United States, plus more online. By comparison, there are about 16,000 banks and credit unions with about 90,000 branches. In data collected in 2009, the study cites industry reports suggesting that between 5 and 10 percent of adults in the U.S. have used a payday loan at least once.

The study further looked at existing data on credit union and payday loan trends and statistics, and interviewed randomly selected credit union representatives. As part of the study, a market research firm also conducted in-store surveys of 40 Sacramento-area payday loan customers.

“Current payday borrowers strongly prefer a higher-priced but less restrictive loan to a lower-priced but more restrictive loan,” Stango said in the study.

To read the study, go to:

About the UC Davis Graduate School of Management

Dedicated to preparing innovative leaders for global impact, the UC Davis Graduate School of Management is consistently ranked among the premier business schools in the United States and internationally. The school’s faculty members are globally renowned for their teaching excellence and research in advancing management thinking. Each year, the school provides a bold, innovative approach to management education to 110 full-time MBA students at the UC Davis campus and more than 450 part-time MBA students in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area. A Masters in Professional Accountancy program launches this fall.

Media contact(s):

Tim Akin, Graduate School of Management, (916) 402-9270,
Karen Nikos, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-6101,