If you listen to consumer advocates, you’d think that the only people who ever use payday loans are the working poor. These poor souls walk into a payday lender, not knowing that they are like a sheep marching into a wolf’s den. Some politicians have even made their careers defending the “victims” of payday lending.
The fact of the matter is, however, it’s not just low income people who use payday loans. The average borrower of a payday loan actually earns between $25,000 and $50,000 per year. They are at the lower end of the income scale, to be sure, but they’re usually not the poorest people around.
In fact, payday lenders usually require that the borrowers have a job. They have to provide paycheck stubs in order to get the loan in the first place.
Credit Rating and Score Matter
One of the reasons that people often seek out payday loans is because they can’t get short-term credit elsewhere. In many cases, it’s because their credit score isn’t very good. A payday lender doesn’t check credit ratings or credit scores before they make their loan, making a payday loan an attractive option for folks with less than stellar credit.
So Does Age and Ethnicity
According to one recent study, the average payday loan borrower is relatively young. They also tend to be African-American. Because of this, some opponents of payday loans have actually suggested that the businesses are inherently racist, and they purposely prey on African-Americans. To date, these claims seem to be more about hype than about the facts.
And So Does Military Service
Studies have also shown that military personnel seem particularly apt to use payday loan services, too. In fact, many payday loan businesses have set up near military bases in order to reach that demographic.
This led to legislation that capped the interest rate that a lender can charge military personnel. That cap has been controversial, as opponents argue that military personnel ought to have the same access to lenders that civilians have.