Usury Definition

Usury used to mean the charging of interest or fees on loans-any interest or any fees! Sometime around the mid-1500s the meaning of the word changed to indicate the charging of excessive interest or fees. Of course since the mid-1500s, politicians have been arguing about the meaning of ‘excessive’. It breaks down into two camps: if you have a lot of money to loan out, nothing seems excessive; if you need to borrow money, everything seems excessive.

In the US, states get to determine how much interest can be charged before a loan gets to be usurious (that means illegal). In some states, usury laws are reasonable-in other states, they basically don’t exist. Some limited federal usury laws apply only to banks. The banks claim this puts them at a disadvantage against other financial institutions like payday lenders. Seems that the banks are managing to scrape by, though.