The payday lending industry argues that conventional interest rates for lower dollar amounts and shorter terms would not be profitable. For example, a $100 one-week loan, at a 20% APR (compounded weekly) would generate only 38 cents of interest, which would fail to match loan processing costs. Research shows that, on average, payday loan prices moved upward, and that such moves were "consistent with implicit collusion facilitated by price focal points".
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The propensity for very low default rates seems to be an incentive for investors interested in payday lenders. In the Advance America 10-k SEC filing from December 2011 they note that their agreement with investors, "limits the average of actual charge-offs incurred during each fiscal month to a maximum of 4.50% of the average amount of adjusted transaction receivables outstanding at the end of each fiscal month during the prior twelve consecutive months". They go on to note that for 2011 their average monthly receivables were $287.1 million and their average charge-off was $9.3 million, or 3.2%. In comparison with traditional lenders, payday firms also save on costs by not engaging in traditional forms of underwriting, relying on their easy rollover terms and the small size of each individual loan as method of diversification eliminating the need for verifying each borrower's ability to repay. It is perhaps due to this that payday lenders rarely exhibit any real effort to verify that the borrower will be able to pay the principal on their payday in addition to their other debt obligations.
Although some have noted that these loans appear to carry substantial risk to the lender, it has been shown that these loans carry no more long term risk for the lender than other forms of credit. These studies seem to be confirmed by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission filings of at least one lender, who notes a charge-off rate of 3.2%.
For instance, if a looming credit card or other loan payment is jeopardizing your ability to pay for basic expenses, see if you can work out a deal. “If you’re having trouble making your monthly payments, call your lender to ask for more time,” suggests Natasha Rachel Smith, consumer affairs expert at rebate website TopCashback. “You’d be surprised how willing they are to work with you on your payment schedule. … It pays to be transparent.”
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