State laws limit the amount of interest a lender may legally charge borrowers, although there are quite a few exceptions to these limits. For instance, most state limits on interest rates only apply to loans without a written contract; and even then, many of these state laws do not apply to home mortgages or consumer credit (which would include most credit cards). When securing credit online, consumers often agree to higher rates by simply clicking on a user agreement associated with several pages of legal jargon. This is why most consumer credit cards carry a much higher interest rate than the statutory limit in most states.
In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court's 1978 Marquette National Bank v. First of Omaha Corp. ruling that national banks may charge the highest rate allowed in their home state, regardless of where the borrower lives. Even local banks are permitted to "import" higher interest rate limits from other states with higher limits.
Statutory Interest Rate Limits in New Hampshire at a Glance
New Hampshire imposes a 10 percent interest rate limit on loans that lack a written contract, with various exceptions.
|Legal Maximum Rate of Interest||10% unless differently stipulated in writing (§336:1)|
|Penalty for Usury (Unlawful Interest Rate)||-|
|Interest Rates on Judgments||Determined by state treasurer as the prevailing discount rate of interest on 52-week U.S. treasury bills at the last auction preceding September in each year, plus 2% points rounded to the nearest tenth (§336:1)|
|Exceptions||Educational institutions (§195-F:15); public utility (§374-C:14); pawnbrokers and small loans (§399-A:3); home mortgage loan (§398-A:2); consumer credit (§358-K:1)|
A Brief History of Usury Laws
Laws limiting interest rates are traditionally referred to as usury laws. The term usury dates to the Middle Ages, when it applied to any kind of money lending that involved the accrual of interest. Any kind of interest was once frowned upon regardless of the actual rate, and thus called usury, but the term eventually was used only to describe excessive interest rates or deceptive lending practices.
Note: State laws are always subject to change at any time through the enactment of newly signed legislation, decisions from higher courts, and other means. You should contact a New Hampshire consumer law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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New Hampshire Interest Rate Laws: Related Resources
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