Small-Dollar Loans

Since 2011, Pew’s small-dollar loans project has conducted extensive research on payday, auto title, and similar loans, and found that the market is plagued by unaffordable payments, deceptive business practices, and excessive prices.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—the federal regulator charged with setting new rules for these types of loans—has proposed a new regulatory framework and is currently working to finalize it. In the near future, states that allow these loans today will have a choice to make: Prohibit such loans entirely or substantially reform them to meet or exceed federal standards.

Pew’s goal is to provide research, recommendations, and technical assistance to help state and federal lawmakers craft policies for a safer, more affordable small-dollar loan marketplace.

Our Work

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  • Payday Loan Facts and the CFPB’s Impact

    Pew has conducted extensive research on the high-cost small-dollar loan market over the past five years. The findings show that although these products offer quick cash, the unaffordable payments lead consumers to quickly take another loan to cover expenses. Twelve million Americans take out payday loans each year, spending more than $7 billion on loan fees. Read More

  • Federal Rules for Small Loans

    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has issued a proposed framework to regulate payday and similar high-cost, small-dollar loans. Overall, the proposal could transform the market in positive ways by requiring most products to become installment loans with smaller, more manageable payments and providing safeguards for consumers. Read More

  • Regulators Should Let Banks Get Back to Small-Dollar Loans

    The payday loan market is past due for reform. Implemented correctly, new regulatory standards will help payday loan borrowers by making these loans safer and more affordable, as well as pave the way for better, lower-cost installment loans from banks. Read More


The share of an average borrower's paycheck payday loans take up.

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Media Contact

Sultana Ali

Officer, Communications