2012 South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 37 - Consumer Protection Code
Chapter 3 - LOANS
Section 37-3-201 - Loan finance charge for consumer loans.


SC Code § 37-3-201 (2012) What's This?

(1) With respect to a consumer loan, including a loan pursuant to open-end credit, a lender who is not a supervised lender may contract for and receive a finance charge, calculated according to the actuarial method, not exceeding twelve percent per year. With respect to a consumer loan made pursuant to open-end credit, the finance charge shall be deemed not to exceed twelve percent per year if the finance charge contracted for and received does not exceed a charge for each monthly billing cycle which is one percent of the average daily balance of the open-end account in the billing cycle for which the charge is made. The average daily balance of the open-end account is the sum of the amount unpaid each day during that cycle divided by the number of days in the cycle. The amount unpaid on a day is determined by adding to any balance unpaid as of the beginning of that day all purchases, loans, and other debits and deducting all payments and other credits made or received as of that day. If the billing cycle is not monthly, the finance charge shall be deemed not to exceed twelve percent per year if the finance charge contracted for and received does not exceed a percentage which bears the same relation to one percent as the number of days in the billing cycle bears to three hundred sixty-five divided by twelve. A billing cycle is monthly if the closing date of the cycle is the same date each month or does not vary by more than four days from the regular date.

(2) With respect to a consumer loan, including a loan pursuant to open-end credit, a supervised lender may contract for and receive a loan finance charge as provided:

(a) on loans with a cash advance not exceeding six hundred dollars, a maximum charge not exceeding the maximum charges imposed in Section 34-29-140 as disclosed as an annual percentage rate, provided that a supervised lender may impose a finance charge at a rate less than provided in Section 34-29-140, and provided further that the maximum charge shall not exceed the rate posted and filed pursuant to Section 37-3-305;

(b) on loans with a cash advance exceeding six hundred dollars, and on all loans, regardless of the dollar amount, made by Supervised Financial Organizations, any rate filed and posted pursuant to Section 37-3-305; or

(c) on loans of any amount, eighteen percent per year on the unpaid balances of principal.

(3) This section does not limit or restrict the manner of calculating the finance charge, whether by way of add-on, discount, single annual percentage rate, or otherwise, so long as the rate of the finance charge does not exceed that permitted by this section.

If the loan is a precomputed consumer credit transaction:

(a) the finance charge may be calculated on the assumption that all scheduled payments will be made when due; and

(b) the effect of prepayment is governed by the provisions on rebate upon prepayment (Section 37-3-210).

(4) Except as provided in subsection (5), the term of a loan for purposes of this section commences on the day the loan is made. Any month may be counted as one-twelfth of a year but a day is counted as one-three hundred sixty-fifths of a year. Subject to classifications and differentiations the lender may reasonably establish, a part of a month in excess of fifteen days may be treated as a full month if periods of fifteen days or less are disregarded and that procedure is not consistently used to obtain a greater yield than would otherwise be permitted. The administrator may adopt regulations not inconsistent with the Federal Truth in Lending Act with respect to treating as regular other minor irregularities in amount or time.

(5) Subject to classifications and differentiations the lender may reasonably establish, he may make the same finance charge on all amounts financed within a specified range. A finance charge so made does not violate subsection (1) or (2) if:

(a) when applied to the median amount within each range, it does not exceed the maximum permitted by the applicable subsection,

(b) when applied to the lowest amount within each range, it does not produce a rate of finance charge exceeding the rate calculated according to item (a) by more than eight percent of the rate calculated according to item (a).

(6) Notwithstanding subsection (2), if a lender can demonstrate with competent evidence that (a) any failure to post rates properly filed under Section 37-3-305 or failure to properly file these rates under Section 37-3-305 was a result of a bona fide error or excusable neglect, (b) the rates were properly posted or properly filed when the error or neglect was discovered or brought to the lender's attention, and (c) that no other failure to post or file rates has been brought to the lender's attention by the Department of Consumer Affairs or by consumers within the previous forty-eight month period, then the maximum rate of loan finance charges assessable by the lender is the rate previously properly filed with the Department of Consumer Affairs, provided, however, the lender that has failed or neglected to post rates or to file rates is subject to a civil penalty of up to $5,000.00 payable to the Department of Consumer Affairs.

HISTORY: 1976 Act No. 686 Section 1; 1980 Act No. 433, Section 2; 1982 Act No. 385, Section 30; 1984 Act No. 261, Section 5; 1985 Act No. 153, Section 2; 1989 Act No. 119, Section 2; 1995 Act No. 135, Sections 9, 10.

(1) In addition to the loan finance charge permitted by this chapter a lender may contract for and receive the following additional charges in connection with a consumer loan:

(a) official fees and taxes;

(b) charges for insurance as described in subsection (2);

(c) with respect to open-end credit pursuant to a lender credit card or similar arrangement, as defined in Section 37-1-301(16), which entitles the debtor to purchase or lease goods or services from at least one hundred persons not related to the lender, under an arrangement pursuant to which the debts resulting from the purchases or leases are payable to the lender;

(i) annual charges, payable in advance, for the privilege of using the lender credit card or other credit arrangement; and

(ii) an over-limit charge not to exceed ten dollars if the balance of the account exceeds the credit limit established pursuant to the agreement between the lender and the debtor plus the lesser of ten percent of the credit limit or one hundred dollars. The over-limit charge authorized by this subitem must not be assessed again against the debtor unless the account balance has been reduced below the credit limit plus the lesser of ten percent of the credit limit or one hundred dollars, and the debtor's account balance subsequently exceeds the credit limit plus the lesser of ten percent of the credit limit or one hundred dollars; and

(d) with respect to a loan secured by an interest in land, the following "closing costs", if they are bona fide, reasonable in amount, and not for the purpose of circumvention or evasion of this title:

(i) fees or premiums for title examination, abstract of title, title insurance, surveys, or similar purposes;

(ii) fees for preparation of a deed, settlement statement, or other documents, if not paid to the creditor or a person related to the creditor;

(iii) escrows for future payments of taxes, including assessments for improvements, insurance, and water, sewer, and land rents;

(iv) fees for notarizing deeds and other documents, if not paid to the creditor or a person related to the creditor; and

(v) fees for appraising the real estate that is collateral for the loan, if not paid to the creditor or a person related to the creditor;

(e) charges for other benefits, including insurance, conferred on the debtor, if the benefits are of value to him and if the charges are reasonable in relation to the benefits, are of a type which is not for credit, and are authorized as permissible additional charges by rule adopted by the administrator;

(f) fees and charges paid to persons registered as mortgage loan brokers pursuant to Chapter 58 of Title 40.

(2) An additional charge may be made for insurance written in connection with the loan, other than insurance protecting the lender against the debtor's default or other credit loss with respect to:

(a) insurance against loss of or damage to property, or against liability, if the lender furnishes a clear and specific statement in writing to the debtor, setting forth the cost of the insurance if obtained from or through the lender, and stating that the debtor may choose the person through whom the insurance is to be obtained;

(b) consumer credit insurance providing life, accident and health, or unemployment insurance coverage, if the insurance coverage is not required by the lender, and this fact is clearly and conspicuously disclosed in writing to the debtor, and if, in order to obtain the insurance in connection with the loan, the debtor, or two of them in the case of joint coverage, gives specific, dated, and separately signed affirmative written indication of his desire to do so after written disclosure to him of the cost thereof with a statement similar to the following appearing in caps, underlined, or disclosed in another prominent manner with the consumer signature required by this section: CONSUMER CREDIT INSURANCE IS NOT REQUIRED TO OBTAIN CREDIT AND WILL NOT BE PROVIDED UNLESS YOU SIGN AND AGREE TO PAY THE ADDITIONAL COST; and

(c) vendor's single interest insurance, but only:

(i) to the extent that the insurer has no right of subrogation against the debtor;

(ii) to the extent that the insurance does not duplicate the coverage of other insurance under which loss is payable to the creditor as his interest may appear, against loss of or damage to property for which a separate charge is made to the debtor pursuant to paragraph (a); and

(iii) if a clear, conspicuous, and specific statement in writing is furnished by the creditor to the debtor setting forth the cost of the insurance if obtained from or through the creditor and stating that the debtor may choose the person through whom the insurance is to be obtained; and

(iv) upon application of the consumer for the insurance or for a transaction in which this coverage may be offered in connection with the purchase of a motor vehicle or with the placement of a motor vehicle as collateral, the following notice printed in no smaller than bold-face 13-point type:

"NOTICE: THE INSURANCE COVERAGE YOU ARE PURCHASING IS FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE CREDITOR. IT WILL NOT REIMBURSE YOU FOR DAMAGES TO YOUR VEHICLE, BUT IT MAY PAY THE CREDITOR FOR THE DAMAGES IF YOU CANNOT PAY. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO PURCHASE INSURANCE THAT WILL REIMBURSE YOU FOR DAMAGES TO YOUR VEHICLE EITHER THROUGH THE CREDITOR IF OFFERED BY THE CREDITOR OR THROUGH YOUR OWN AGENT."

This notice must be signed by the applicant evidencing his acknowledgment of having read the notice, and be separate and apart from any other form used in the application;

(d) noncredit term life insurance; provided, that the person soliciting the sale of such insurance is properly licensed as required under South Carolina insurance laws and the lender is properly licensed as an agency as required under South Carolina insurance laws and clearly and conspicuously discloses to the insured, prior to the consummation of the insurance purchase, the right to cancel and provides the insured at that time with a form in duplicate signed by the insured. This form shall clearly and conspicuously state in a manner that achieves a grade level score of no higher than seventh grade on the Flesch-Kincaid readability test:

(i) that the purchase of this insurance is not a condition of any loan or extension of credit by including the following language: The purchase of this insurance is not required to obtain credit and will not be provided unless you sign this form and agree to pay the additional cost.";

(ii) that the interest rates and charges do not depend upon the purchase of this insurance;

(iii) that the insured has the option to pay the insurance premium from his own funds or to pay the premium with a portion of the loan proceeds;

(iv) the premium and a description of the coverage, including the face amount, term of the coverage, and any exceptions, limitations, or restrictions;

(v) that the insured may cancel this insurance by mailing a signed request to cancel, together with the policy, to the lender or the insurance company within thirty days after receipt of the policy and, that in the event of cancellation by the insured within thirty days after receipt of the policy, the insured will be promptly refunded the entire premium for such insurance;

(vi) that the insurance laws of South Carolina apply with respect to any type of termination other than as contained in subitem (v) of this item (d) and that the policy should be consulted for more information;

(vii) that the insurance is not tied to the loan in any manner and that if the loan is terminated, the insurance will remain in force unless it is otherwise terminated under the terms of the agreement between the debtor and the insurer;

(viii) the name, address, and phone number of the lender; and

(ix) the name, address, and phone number of the insurance company and the process to be followed in submitting a claim.

The noncredit term life insurance must be underwritten by an insurance company which is properly licensed as required under South Carolina insurance laws. In addition, the noncredit term life insurance must be filed for approval prior to use in accordance with South Carolina insurance laws, and the terms and conditions of the transaction must comply with any other applicable provisions of the South Carolina insurance laws.

If the creditor contracts for or receives a separate charge for insurance, the amount charged for the insurance may not exceed the premium to be charged by the insurer, as computed at the time the charge to the debtor is determined, conforming to any rate filings required by law and made by the insurer with the Director of the Department of Insurance.

Any attempt to tie the sale of the noncredit term life insurance to any loan or extension of credit or otherwise to coerce the debtor into purchasing the insurance is prohibited, and any party engaged in the tying or coercion is subject to penalties in accordance with Section 37-5-202.

(3) With respect to an assumption of an existing obligation, the lender may, in addition to the other authorized charges, charge an assumption fee not exceeding the lesser of four hundred dollars or one percent of the unpaid balance of the debt at the time the assumption transaction is consummated whenever the primary collateral securing the credit is real estate or a residential manufactured home and not exceeding the lesser of fifty dollars or one percent of the unpaid balance of the debt at the time the assumption transaction is consummated whenever the primary collateral securing the credit is personal property other than a residential manufactured home.

HISTORY: 1976 Act No. 686 Section 1; 1982 Act No. 385, Section 31; 1986 Act No. 444, Section 2; 1988 Act No. 614, Section 2; 1989 Act No. 164, Section 2; 1991 Act No. 142, Section 10; 1994 Act No. 363, Section 3; 1996 Act No. 326, Section 3; 1999 Act No. 66,Section 23; 2004 Act No. 234, Section 2, eff May 11, 2004.

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