Beyond Usury: A Study of Credit Card Use and Preference Among Low-Income Consumers
60 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2007 Last revised: 12 Aug 2008
The question of whether to re-impose usury restrictions lies at the heart of the debates over consumer credit regulation. Advocates of interest rate regulations argue that creditors are exploiting low-income borrowers, making huge profits while they lure these families into financial traps from which they can never emerge. Opponents of regulation note the benefits of expanding credit to low-income consumers. This debate has continued for more than two decades, but until now no one has asked the affected families their views about access to credit or what safety features they would welcome. This paper presents original data from a study of low-income women. The findings suggest that usury regulation may be an unnecessarily blunt instrument to provide protection for low-income families, as low-income families themselves can identify credit protection devices that would be more nuanced and more useful.
Keywords: empirical research, credit, credit cards, consumer law, usury
JEL Classification: K12
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