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RULE §91.720Small-Dollar, Short-Term Credit

(a) General. Credit unions are encouraged to offer small-dollar credit products that are affordable, yet safe and sound, and consistent with applicable laws. The goal in offering these small-dollar credit products should be to help members avoid, or transition away from, reliance on high-cost debt. To accomplish this goal, credit unions should offer products with reasonable interest rates, low fees, and payments that reduce the principal balance of the loan or extension of credit.

(b) Definition. For purposes of this section, small-dollar, short term credit product is defined as a low denomination loan or extension of credit having a term of 12 months or less, where the amount financed does not exceed $2,000. Each credit union is responsible for establishing appropriate dollar limits and terms based upon its size and sophistication of operations, and its net worth.

(c) Limitation. Accessibility and expediency are important factors for many members with emergency or other short-term needs. Therefore, small-dollar credit products must balance the need for quick availability of funds with the fundamentals of responsible lending. Sound underwriting criteria should focus on a member's history with the credit union and ability to repay a loan within an acceptable timeframe. Given the small dollar amounts of each individual credit request, documenting the member's ability to repay can be streamlined and may need to include only basic information, such as proof of recurring income. The aggregate total of streamlined underwritten small-dollar credit products outstanding, however, shall not exceed 20% of the credit union's net worth.

(d) Fees. A credit union may require a member to pay reasonable expenses and fees incurred in connection with making or closing a loan. With respect to expenses and fees being assessed on small-dollar, short-term credit products, the expenses and fees are presumed to be reasonable if the aggregate total is $20 or less. In addition, if the credit union refinances a small-dollar, short-term credit product, it may charge such expenses and fees only once in a 180-day period. Credit unions may also charge a late fee as permitted by Finance Code §124.153.

(e) Payments. Credit unions should structure payment programs in a manner that reduces the principal owed. For closed-end products, loans should be structured to provide for affordable and amortizing payments. Lines of credit should require minimum payments that pay off principal. Excessive renewals or the prolonged failure to reduce the outstanding balance are signs that the product is not meeting the member's credit needs and will be considered an unsound practice.

(f) Required Savings. Credit unions may structure small-dollar credit programs to include a savings component. The funds in this account may also serve as a pledge against the loan or extension of credit.

Source Note: The provisions of this §91.720 adopted to be effective July 11, 2010, 35 TexReg 5807; amended to be effective July 3, 2022, 47 TexReg 3663

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