Payday Loans in Tulsa, Oklahoma: Subprime Report
Tulsa is Oklahoma’s second-largest city—behind Oklahoma City—with a population of about 400,000 and a metro area of nearly 1 million. Located along the Arkansas River, Tulsa expanded during the oil boom of the 1920s and 1930s, putting energy at the forefront of its economic and cultural legacy. “T-Town” is home to some of the nation’s most impressive Art Deco buildings, not to mention a lot of tasty barbecue.
Reflecting the trend of many cities its size, Tulsa’s poverty rate is higher than the poverty rate of Oklahoma: 20.3% in the city vs. 16.5% in the state. However, the city’s unemployment rate of 3.9% closely mirrors the state’s 4%. Tulsa County is a bit more prosperous than the rest of the state, with a median income of $50,654 (vs. $48,038 for the state).
Payday Loans in Tulsa
Payday loans are small, short-term loans for individuals. They’re offered in exchange for the borrower writing a check dated in the near future — often the borrower’s next payday.
Here’s how payday loans work:
- The borrower needs money
- The payday lender issues the loan
- In return for the loan, the borrower agrees to:
- Use their future paycheck as collateral
- Pay extremely high interest rates
- Pay high fees
- Give the lender their bank account information
Borrowers can pay back the full loan by the date on the check, or the lender will cash it on that date. Don’t have the money to cover the check when the loan is due? Prepare to pay exorbitant fees. Payday loans have high interest rates and fees — in Oklahoma, a payday loan of $300 has an APR of 396%.
In reality, these loans prey on low-income folks. Often, borrowers must take out a second payday loan to pay off the first, then a third, and so on. Predatory lenders aggressively try to convince people that high-interest loans are their best option in a financial crunch, but that cycle traps people in never-ending debt that’s tough to escape.
There are 75 payday loan storefronts in Tulsa County, with five companies accounting for about half of all stores. Advance America is the largest payday lender in the County, and one of the country’s largest. Oklahoma payday loan agreements are regulated by the Oklahoma Deferred Deposit Lending Act.
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Local Resources to help Tulsa Residents Avoid Predatory Lenders
What situations would drive someone to take out a payday loan?
Maybe you need cash to pay rent or your electric bill. Maybe you need groceries. Maybe an unexpected expense has come up, like an emergency car repair or a trip to urgent care.
Some people take out payday loans to pay off credit card debt, a practice summed up by the phrase, “Robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
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Apparel & Services
Food Consumed at Home
Life and Other Insurance
Pensions and Social Security
Now you know that payday loans are dangerous, what are the alternatives for Tulsans?
Nonprofit credit counseling services in Tulsa can help you develop a budget to get out of debt, sometimes called a Debt Management Plan (DMP). These services cost little to nothing. Look up one at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. The Credit Counseling Centers of Oklahoma has locations across the state, including Tulsa.
Food Assistance Resources in Tulsa
About 100,000 Tulsa County residents qualify as “food insecure.” That’s about 16% of Tulsa.
People who are food insecure have unreliable access to a source of affordable, nutritious food. Food insecurity is more pronounced among single parent households, seniors, and those with financial problems.
Tulsa has resources like food banks and non-profit organizations to help feed families that don’t have the money for groceries. Such organizations often provide other services like financial counseling, job placement, or healthcare.
For immediate resources, Tulsans have options.
- FoodPantries.org lists Tulsa-area food banks.
- The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma has an easy-to-use map of its locations throughout metro Tulsa.
- Iron Gate is a food pantry that has no income requirements to get access to food. It’s located at 501 South Cincinnati Avenue, Tulsa, OK 74103.
Healthcare Resources in Tulsa
The effects of payday lending on Tulsans are so dire that the Tulsa Health Department published an impact study in 2016 linking payday loans to poor health. The report puts it bluntly: “Payday loans are harmful to health.”
Oklahoma’s health insurance exchange, intended to cover those required to buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), has had a difficult time finding carriers in Oklahoma. That’s because Oklahomans, particularly folks who haven’t had insurance, are too unhealthy for insurance companies to make a profit based on the ACA’s criteria.
About 27% of Tulsa County residents have medical debt in collections, with, on average, about $588 of debt. To keep that number from growing, Tulsans have many options for low-cost healthcare. Options include free or low-cost clinics for low-income, uninsured, or underserved individuals who are unable to afford astronomical medical bills.
- Formed in 2002, the Tulsa Area Free Clinic Coalition has a directory of free or low-cost locations.
- For lower-income people, SoonerCare (Medicaid) can cover basic medical benefits.
Tulsa Health Department’s Maternal Child Health Outreach offers services for pregnant mothers
Rent Assistance in Tulsa
Housing is the biggest expense for average Americans, and the story is no different in Tulsa.
Although the Tulsa median rent of $757 sounds like a deal compared to pricier coastal metros, rent still represents 19.4% of monthly income for those making under $20,000 per year. Those in Tulsa with mortgages owe, on average, $1,187 per month, which aligns with Oklahomans overall ($1,156).
Whether you own or rent, sometimes making payments each month can be a burden.
Here are some resources for rent assistance in Tulsa:
- Less than $20,000:19.4%
- $20,000 to $34,999:18.3%
- $35,000 to $49,999:15.2%
- $50,000 to $74,999:17.6%
- $75,000 or more:25.9%
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