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Usury is interest that a lender charges a borrower at a rate above the lawful ceiling on such charges; a contract upon the loan of money with an illegally high interest rate as a condition of the loan. Usury is also the act of making a loan at such an interest rate; making a loan at a usurious rate. The agreement, and not necessarily its performance, is what renders a debt usurious.

The three essential elements of usury are: (1) a loan or forbearance of money, (2) an agreement for a return of the money in all events; and (3) an agreement to pay more than the legal rate of interest for its use.

Usury is usually defined by state statutes.

[Last updated in August of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]