Pew studies financial products to understand how they can be made safer and more transparent and to inform the creation of effective consumer protections.

The consumer finance team studies small-dollar credit products, such as payday and installment loans and emerging alternatives, as well as the products that Americans rely on every day to manage their finances, including checking accounts, prepaid cards, and mobile payments. The team also offers technical assistance to policymakers working to ensure a safe, affordable consumer financial marketplace.

Money jigsaw
Issue Brief

Standards Needed for Safe Small Installment Loans From Banks, Credit Unions

Quick View
Issue Brief

Several recent developments have raised the possibility of banks and credit unions offering small installment loans and lines of credit—which would provide a far better option for Americans, who currently spend more than $30 billion annually to borrow small amounts of money from payday, auto title, pawn, rent-to-own, and other small-dollar lenders outside the banking system. Consumers use these high-cost loans to pay bills; cope with income volatility; and avoid outcomes such as eviction or foreclosure, having utilities disconnected, seeing their cars repossessed, or going without necessities. Many of these loans end up harming consumers because of their unaffordable payments and extremely high prices; in the payday and auto title loan markets, for example, most borrowers pay more in fees than they originally received in credit.

Covid-19
Article

Regulators Encourage Small Loans in Response to COVID-19

Quick View
Article

As the scale of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic became clear, five federal financial regulatory agencies in late March took the unusual step of issuing a joint statement encouraging banks and credit unions to offer emergency small loans to struggling consumers.

Small Dollar Loans
Small Dollar Loans
Article

State Payday Loan Reform

Quick View
Article

Pew’s research has found that when states do not implement standards around pricing and affordability, payday and auto title loans cost three to four times more than is necessary to have widespread access to this credit.

Mobile payment
Mobile payment
Issue Brief

Can Regulators Foster Financial Innovation

Quick View
Issue Brief

As businesses and policymakers seek to promote the development of new payments technologies, the need to also ensure safety and efficiency will present a range of challenges to regulators and traditional financial systems.

Our Work

Data Visualization

Ohio a National Model for Payday Loan Reform

Quick View
Data Visualization

Ohio a National Model for Payday Loan Reform

Policymakers in states that allow payday lending should follow Ohio’s breakthrough approach to save their constituents tens of millions of dollars a year and maintain access to credit.