If a car breaks down or a freak accident in the backyard results in an emergency room visit, most Americans don’t have the money to pay those bills. Almost 70% of Americans have less than $1000 in savings to cover those emergencies. Waiting for your next paycheck isn’t always an option, especially if you need to pay up to get back to work.
Payday loan companies, like Advance America, could be the answer to keep you on your feet during a crisis. You don’t even need stellar credit to score a loan, but there are some things to consider before signing on the dotted line.
Read on to learn the good, the bad, and the nitty-gritty details in this Advance America review.
About Advance America
Advance America was founded by William Webster and George D. Johnson in the 1990s as an answer to the growing need for loans, even for people with bad credit. Headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Advance America belongs to the umbrella of companies under Grupo Elektra. Webster currently serves as Chairman of the Board.
Over the past twenty years, Advance America expanded services to cover more than 1,400 stores and also provides online applications for 24/7 availability. The company prides itself on a fast, easy process that gets cash to people who need it most.
To secure a loan, you need a government ID and Social Security number plus an active checking account and proof that you have a steady income. The top product options include payday loans, installment loans, title loans, and personal lines of credit.
It’s important to note that Advance America’s website is AdvanceAmerica.net, not to be confused with the political initiative of the same name.
The Pros Of Advance America
There are several positives to working with Advance America to meet your financial needs. The company offers some significant perks for many everyday situations to keep you afloat financially.
- Fast application and funding available
- Multiple loans and services available
- Bad credit is okay
- Various loan amount to choose from, including smaller amounts
- Multiple locations and online applications make the process easy
- Transparency matters
A major selling point for cash advance companies is that they can get you money fast. Traditional financial institutions can take days to weeks to approve funding and get it into your account. Advance America offers same-day or next-day funding to most customers, though the company notes that exceptions apply.
They accept applications at any time, but if you want same-day funding, you need to apply on weekdays (Monday through Friday) before 10:30 am (Eastern Standard Time). Online applications typically receive next-day funding as they are processed twice a day.
Multiple Loans and Services Available
Some cash advance places only offer payday loans, but Advance America provides several loan options and a few additional services. You can find the option that best meets your needs instead of settling for something less.
Bad Credit is Okay
Unlike other loan options, you don’t need amazing credit, or even a good score to secure funding. Advance America works with almost everybody provided you have a government ID, Social Security number, an active checking account, and can prove you have income.
Some services require a credit check, but it may not prevent you from getting the loan. In fact, Advance America notes that people with no credit can secure cash advances and other loan options from the company.
Variable Loan Amounts Available
Advance America likes to offer options, and that includes loan amounts. If you only need a few hundred dollars for new tires on your car, you probably don’t want an $800 loan. You only take what you need, starting at $100, depending on your state.
Note that some states permit you to rollover your amounts, meaning you could extend a payday loan for a few months to catch up. However, it could be costly to do so.
Easy to Access
You can start your application at any store or through Advance America’s secure website. With more than 1,400 stores to choose from and the easy-to-navigate website, it’s a relatively painless and discrete process.
One of the helpful features on Advance America’s site is the loan rates and terms page. It’s set by the state to fit with your state’s requirements, but you can input the amount you need to find out your options and how much each one costs.
Advance America does state that they don’t report to credit bureaus, even if you pay late. The company site indicates that they prefer to work out alternate arrangements for past due accounts.
The Cons Of Advance America
No system is perfect, and cash advance companies, like Advance America, have some significant drawbacks. It’s helpful to have the whole picture, and that means looking at the cons.
- High interest rates
- Illegal in some states
- You don’t build credit
- Could end up in a debt cycle
- You have to give them access to your bank account
High Interest Rates
Fast cash is convenient and helpful in many situations, but you can expect to pay hefty interest on the loan amounts. For example, a $400 payday loan in Washington State would result in a payment of $460. That means the two-week loan would cost you $60 thanks to an annual percentage rate (APR) of 391.07%.
As a comparison, the average cash advance APR for a credit card is around 20%. If you took out a $400 cash advance from a credit card, you would pay less than $10 in interest if you paid it off within a month.
While some consumers have worked their way to debt-free lives thanks to cash advance companies, the triple-digit interest rates have led to more debt for others. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provided guidance and support to prevent consumers from entering a debt trap, but the practice remains illegal in some states.
It’s Illegal in Some States
One major drawback to choosing a cash advance company like Advance America is the growing legal issue surrounding the practice. In light of some predatory practices by some cash advance companies, states have been cracking down on them.
Advance America is not accessible in every state, and many states have passed regulations that limit payday and cash advance loans. For example, in Ohio, you can only get installment loans, title loans, or online loans through Advance America, but in Texas, you can access all services.
Doesn’t Help Your Credit
If you struggle with bad credit, a cash advance may help you access funds, but don’t expect it to improve your score. Even though it’s a loan, it doesn’t factor into your credit score at all. Since they don’t usually pull your credit report to secure the loan, the companies don’t report to the major credit reporting companies.
However, if you don’t repay the loan, Advance America could send it to a debt collector. If the debt collector reports your unpaid loan, then it could actually hurt your credit score even more.
Potential Debt Cycle
As noted above, cash advance companies like Advance America can lead to a debt cycle if you can’t manage to repay the loan in a timely fashion. Coupled with the option to rollover your balance could land you in deeper financial trouble.
Consider the above example for the $400 loan. Perhaps you need new tires for your car so that you can get to work. You then pay $460 with your next paycheck. However, that leaves you short on paying the electric bill and getting food. So, you borrow again against your next check. Can you see how easy it is to get ensnared in a cycle of payday loans?
Bank Account Access
You have to provide an active checking account to secure a payday loan, which means giving Advance America access. It may not be an issue for some people, and Advance America is a legit company. However, if you’re not comfortable giving out your banking information, then this may not be an option for you.
Overall Reputation & Reviews For Advance America
If you’re doing an Advance America comparison with other companies, you may want to check out the company’s reviews, and not just the ones on their site. Of all the cash advance companies around, Advance America seems to fare well among consumers across several sites.
Advance America ratings on TrustPilot average to a 4.8 with more than 50,000 reviews. The vast majority of their reviews are five stars. Several customers note that Advance America helped them through difficult situations and lauded the staff for being friendly and helpful.
The Better Business Bureau features 130 complaints about Advance America, mostly referring to scammers posing as representatives for the company. To their credit, the Advance America team responded to several claims indicating the scammer issues and subsequently received confirmation from the customers.
It appears that legitimate customers have a stellar experience with Advance America, but there are significant issues with scammers using the company’s name. Advance America notes that their representatives don’t solicit business, so if somebody calls you pretending to be from the company, it’s probably a scam.
Video Review From An Advance America Customer
Q&A For Advance America
No Advance America review would be complete without a question and answer section to fill in the gaps and help you make the best possible decision.
Which States Does Advance America Operate In?
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
Which Type Of Loans Does Advance America Offer?
As noted above, one of Advance America’s major selling points is the variety of services available. Though you can’t access every type in every state, you have many choices.
PayDay Loans and Cash Advances
Payday loans and cash advances are listed separately on Advance America’s site, but both types are similar and often used interchangeably by other lenders. They are smaller, short-term agreements that get you a little extra money when you need it. Advance America provides a small loan that you repay when you get your next paycheck.
However, not every state permits payday loans, even those listed as cash advances. It’s important to check your state’s requirements before pursuing one.
When you need more money and more time to pay it back, an installment loan could tide you over. You don’t have to pay it all back at once when you get your next paycheck, instead, you pay a little at a time until it’s paid off. Advance America offers various repayment options up to two years.
If you own your car and have the title, Advance America will give you a loan based on your car’s appraised value. You get access to cash without giving up your car.
Personal Line of Credit
You never know when you need a little extra cash at your disposal, so a personal line of credit could come in handy. Apply, get approved, and the line remains open for you to withdraw from as needed until you reach your limit.
You can apply for a loan and receive funding from the safety and comfort of your own home using Advance America’s online loan service. It generally results in instant approval with same-day funding.
According to the website, online loan applications done before 10:30 am can get the money by 5 pm that day. Any applications submitted after 10:30 am would be next day funding.
Advance America partnered with MoneyGram to make it easier to send and receive money. You can choose from several options, including:
- Money transfers
- Bill Pay
- Money orders
- Load prepaid cards
- Inmate services
- Recharge phones
Visa Prepaid Cards
Advance America offers Netspend Visa prepaid cards that you can use anywhere that accepts Visa debit cards. You can register and activate the card online or in stores, and reload it whenever you want.
How Do I Qualify For Advance America Loans & Do They Require A Credit Check?
Advance America allows you to apply in one of their stores or online. For in-store applications, you need to provide the following:
- Government-issued ID featuring a photo
- Proof of an active checking account
- Proof of income, like a check stub, letter from employer, or direct deposit
- Verification of your Social Security Number
- Note that some states require you to present a check for the loan amount as collateral. Advance America notes that the check is not cashed unless you don’t pay.
Online applications look slightly different because you also need a valid, active email address. You still must provide proof of employment and your identity.
If you can provide the above information, you should be approved. While Advance America falls short of saying the company approves everyone, it’s almost impossible to get a denial.
Advance America doesn’t require a credit history for most loan types, however, there may be a credit check required for certain types, like installment loans and title loans. Additionally, the company reports that even if you have no credit history, you could still be eligible for a payday loan or cash advance.
How Much Does Advance America Cost?
Advance America doesn’t charge up-front fees to secure any cash advances or loans. Instead, the company charges interest rates based on the loan type and duration.
Since states set different restrictions, Advance America has unique rates and terms for each state. For example, payday loans and cash advances rates in Texas may be different from those in Nebraska. You can check their site based on your location, but as an example, let’s look at some rates for Texas.
- A 14-day payday loan for $1000 would cost $254.77 in finance charges.
- A six-month, $1000 installment loan would cost $799.79 in finance charges.
- For a $1038 title loan, you would need to repay it in thirty days, and finance charges would come to $179.92.
All three of these loan types have APRs of more than 200% leading to high finance charges. Further, if you rollover your loan into a new one, you could accumulate more finance charges.
Final Thoughts on Advance America
To close out this Advance America review, it’s important to note that cash advance companies have helped hard-working people get through tough times and find a way out of debt. However, it’s important to know what you’re signing up for so you don’t end up surprised by the interest charges when you go to repay the loan.
Overall, Advance America is a legitimate payday loan company with excellent ratings among former clients. You can easily access the rates and terms for your state and each loan type through their website so that you know what to expect. Further, the company seems to work hard with customers to prevent defaults.
If you’re struggling with a crisis, or just need a little extra until you get paid again, a loan through Advance America could be the solution you need. Make sure you understand the interest rates and finance charges before agreeing to a loan.