Tennessee a National Leader in Predatory Lending

Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga among Top 10 Cities

Andy Spears


DebtHammer is out with a report naming the top places in the country for legalized loan sharking, and Memphis, TN is number one in America. Also making the Top 10 are Nashville and Chattanooga. Tennessee is truly a national leader in creating a welcoming climate for payday predators and the only state with multiple cities in the top 10. DebtHammer also notes Tennessee is the only state where someone can get a payday loan and place a bet under the same roof.

Here’s the top 10 list:

1.Memphis, Tenn.
2. Jackson, Miss.
3. Las Vegas
4. Baton Rouge, La.
5. New Orleans
6. Nashville, Tenn.
7. Chattanooga, Tenn.
8. Dallas-Fort Worth
9. Houston
10. Birmingham, Ala.

This list represents the worst cities in the country for payday lending. Here’s more on how DebtHammer compiled the data:

DebtHammer compared data from U.S. cities with populations of 500,000 or more to find the top cities with the worst payday lending problems. Rankings were compiled by comparing stores per capita, internet search volumes, loan rollover numbers, interest rates and maximum loan amounts.

DebtHammer on Tennessee Cities in the Top 10:


Before three of the state’s cities made DebtHammer’s list, Tennessee already had its share of problems with payday loans. According to a 2017 study from Metro Ideas Project, Tennessee has the most predatory lenders in the country. Shelby County led with 232 brick-and-mortar predatory lending locations. Shelby County also happens to be home to Memphis, the city DebtHammer found to be the worst city in the U.S. for payday loans.

According to Bank on Memphis data, 40% of the Memphis area is unbanked or underbanked. That’s roughly 90,000 unbanked and 120,000 underbanked families.

Tennessee also holds the dubious honor as the state where the payday loan industry was…



Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .