Millions of American households, especially those in the bottom half of the income distribution, use nonbank credit products. This credit, while small in initial denomination, can add up to significant debt burdens for those who can least afford it. Yet, the extensive use of alternative financial sector services indicates that consumers perceive such services to be useful or necessary. This summary provides an overview of research on this sector. It reviews literature on five small-dollar credit products and financial services: auto title loans, pawnshops, payday lending, refund anticipation loans and checks, and rent-to-own borrowing.
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