Introduction to High Cost Credit Providers

A "high cost credit agreement" provided by a high cost credit provider is defined in the Consumer Credit Act, 1995 (as amended) (CCA). The "credit" will usually take the form of a cash loan but may also involve the provision of goods on credit from a retailer or the purchase of goods from a catalogue/website. Please see the definitions of "high cost credit agreement" and "credit" in the CCA and included below for further detail in this regard.

High cost credit providers were previously known as “moneylenders” who  held a “moneylender’s licence”. This change of name is due to the Consumer Credit (Amendment) Act 2022.

Under the CCA a person who meets the definition of a high cost credit provider is required to obtain authorisation from the Central Bank in order to provide these services. A person/firm collecting repayments on high cost credit agreements on their own behalf or on behalf of another person/firm must hold a high cost credit providers licence and/or hold the appropriate authorisation from the other person/firm as prescribed by Section 97 of the CCA.  As a result, all persons/firms who intend to operate in this area should ascertain if they fall within the scope of the definition of a high cost credit provider and require authorisation by the Central Bank. It is an offence for such persons/firm to commence the provision of moneylending activities until authorisation as a high cost credit provider has been obtained.

Firms are advised to seek legal advice if in any doubt regarding whether their activities fall within the scope of the legislation. If, having received and considered such advice, firms have any doubt about their status, they are advised to submit an application for authorisation.

A "high cost credit agreement" is defined in the CCA as 'a credit agreement into which a high cost credit provider enters or offers to enter, with a consumer in which one or more of the following apply:

  • the agreement was concluded away from the business premises of the high cost credit provider or the business premises of the supplier of goods or services under the agreement;
  • any negotiations for, or in relation to the credit were conducted at a place other than the business premises of the high cost credit provider or the business premises of the supplier of goods or services under the agreement;
  • repayments under the agreement will, or may, be paid by the consumer to the high cost credit provider or the representative of the high cost credit provider at any place other than the business premises of the high cost credit provider or the business premises of the supplier of goods or services under the agreement;
  • the total cost of credit to the consumer under the agreement is in excess of an APR of 23 per cent, or such other rate as may be prescribed. 

"Credit" includes a deferred payment, cash loan or other similar financial accommodation.

High cost credit providers do not include the following:

  • Credit Unions
  • Friendly Societies;
  • Credit Institutions;
  • Hire Purchase agreements with an APR under 23%;
  • Mortgage Lenders

All firms seeking authorisation as a high cost credit provider will be required to demonstrate to the Central Bank that they are in a position to meet the authorisation requirements set out in the CCA.  Find out more about the authorisation process.

Consumer Credit (Amendment) Act 2022

The Consumer Credit (Amendment) Act 2022 (the 2022 Act) was enacted on 14 November 2022 to amend the CCA. Among other changes, the 2022 Act introduced the following key changes to the sector:

  • Replacing the term “moneylender” with “high cost credit provider”;
  • Replacing one year licence terms with five year licence terms;
  • Allowing repayment books to be maintained online;
  • The introduction of a maximum loan term of 52 weeks (other than running accounts); and
  • The introduction of an interest rate cap on high cost credit agreements as follows:
    • 1% per week simple interest on fixed rate loans, up to a maximum of 48%,
    • 2.83% nominal interest on the outstanding balance per month on running accounts.

Note: The Central Bank’s public register of high cost credit providers is currently being updated to display the new loan products being offered by each high cost credit provider in compliance with the above interest rate cap and will be available to view in full in due course.

High Cost Credit Provider's Licence

High cost credit providers that are authorised by the Central Bank are issued a high cost credit provider's licence. The licence sets out key information about a firm such as its maximum permitted APR and cost of credit, its terms and conditions and any restrictions that have been applied to the firm’s business model. A moneylender's licence is valid for a five year period and must be renewed prior to expiry.

All high cost credit providers authorised by the Central Bank are listed on our Register.

Industry Statistics

The table below sets out some statistical data in respect of the high cost credit sector. While the number of high cost credit providers is based on those firms holding an authorisation at the end of each year, the other figures are based on information provided by high cost credit providers as part of the annual licence renewal application process (prior to the introduction of five year licences). These figures are based on point-in-time data and dependent on each firm’s financial year-end, which in some cases relates to lending for the previous year. Please also note that these firms were referred to as “moneylenders” and their loans were referred to as “moneylending agreements” prior to 14th November 2022

  Number of Licensed high cost credit providers at end of year

Number of Loans Advanced during the year  

Value of Loans Advanced during the year  Number of Consumers at end of year  Value of Loans Outstanding at end of year
 2016  39  417,271  €254,302,560  335,652  €153,151,577
 2017  39  427,203  €266,981,766  350,370 €153,802,178
 2018  38  338,848  €238,791,464  313,176 €139,561,246
 2019  38  339,100  €213,971,720  298,861 €140,541,501 
 2020  36  296,122  €198,120,676  283,143 €141,146,290

Frequently Asked Questions for High Cost Credit Providers

Read our frequently asked questions for High Cost Credit Providers.