Default Premium

What Is Default Premium?

A default premium is an additional amount that a borrower must pay to compensate a lender for assuming default risk. All companies or borrowers indirectly pay a default premium, though the rate at which they must repay the obligation varies.

How Default Premium Works

Typically the only borrower in the United States that would not pay a default premium would be the U.S. government. However, in tumultuous times, even the U.S. Treasury has had to offer higher yields to borrow. Also, companies with lower grade (i.e., junk or non-investment-grade) bonds and individuals with low credit pay default premiums.

Key Takeaways

  • Payday loans are often a predatory loan with extremely high-interest rates and fees.
  • Companies with poor credit pay default premiums as a result.
  • Lenders seek default premiums for assuring default risk.

Corporate bonds receive ratings from significant agencies, such as Moody’s, S&P, and Fitch. These ratings are based on the revenues the issuers can generate to meet principal and interest payments, along with any assets (equipment or financial assets) they can pledge to secure the bond(s). The higher the credit rating, the lower a company’s default premium. For higher-rated issuances, investors will not receive as high of a yield.

The more revenue a company can generate, or safety it can provide, the higher its credit rating will be.

Investors often measure the default premium as the yield on an issuance over and above a government bond yield of similar coupon and maturity. For example, if a company issues a 10-year bond, an investor can compare this to a U.S. Treasury bond of a 10-year maturity.

Default Premium and Individual Credit Scores

Individuals with poor credit must pay higher interest rates to borrow money from the bank. This is a form of default premium given that lenders believe these individuals have a higher risk of being unable to repay their debts. There can be a significant amount of discrimination in the individual lending market, as evidenced by payday loans.

Special Considerations

A payday loan is a short-term borrowing solution in which a lender will extend a very high-interest credit, based on a borrower’s income and credit profile. Factors that comprise an individual credit score include the history of repaying debts, including completion and timeliness, the size of the debts, number of debts, and possibly additional information such as employment history.

Many payday lenders will set up businesses in more impoverished neighborhoods with populations that are already vulnerable to financial shocks. Although the federal Truth in Lending Act does require payday lenders to disclose their often outsized finance charges, many borrowers overlook the costs since they need funds quickly. Most loans are for 30 days or less, with amounts usually from $100 to $1,500. Often, these loans can be rolled over for even further finance charges. Many borrowers are often repeat customers.

Article Sources
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  1. FDIC. "FDIC Consumer Compliance Manual: Truth in Lending Act." Accessed Feb. 24, 2021.

  2. FDIC. "Part 1002—Equal Credit Opportunity Act (Regulation B)." Accessed Feb. 24, 2021.

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