Advance America Review: Are the High Interest Rates Worth It?
Advance America specializes in lending money to people with poor or no credit. You can get fast cash at over 1,900 of its locations or online, and choose from payday loans (also referred to as cash advances by the company), auto title loans, lines of credit and installment loans.
Like most payday lenders, Advance America charges exorbitantly high interest rates for its products — as high as 533% APR in some cases. In fact, we wouldn’t recommend Advance America unless you have no other options, and if you have a clear plan to repay the loan and your bills on time.
Read this Advance America review to learn more:
- Overview of Advance America loans
- Where to find Advance America loans
- Is Advance America a good choice?
- 5 alternatives to an Advance America loan
- FAQ: Advance America
Overview of Advance America loans
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Payday loans from Advance America are meant to be short-term bridge loans to tide you over to your next paycheck. The downside is that they charge such high fees that when your next paycheck does arrive, you’ll have to pay a hefty chunk of it back to Advance America — thereby making it even tougher to get ahead financially with your next paycheck.
Advance America’s payday loans are structured similarly to payday loans from similar lenders. If approved for a loan, you’ll typically get a small amount of cash (up to a few hundred dollars or so depending on your paycheck). Then, the next time you get paid in two to four weeks, you’ll repay the loan. If you can’t repay the loan, Advance America may offer you the ability to roll your payday loan over into a new loan — but be careful, since this is how people become trapped into a cycle of debt.
How to apply
You can apply for an Advance America payday loan either online or by visiting a local store. You’ll need a few things:
- Your Social Security number
- Government-issued ID
- Checking account
- Proof of income (such as a pay stub)
- Blank personal check (if applying in-store)
- Email address (if applying online)
Advance America locations within each state also have their own requirements, so you may need to provide other documents as well.
If you need to make a larger purchase than what you can repay with your next paycheck, an installment loan is a better option. For example, if you need to pay for a large car repair, a medical bill or a home repair, an installment loan that you can pay back with predictable, regular payments over time may fit into your long-term budget better than a payday loan.
An Advance America installment loan functions as a personal loan you might get from another lender, except it charges much higher interest rates and offers fewer choices for how much you can take out and how long you have to pay it back.
That said, unlike many other personal loan lenders, it may be easier to qualify for a loan with Advance America because they specialize in working with people who have less-than-perfect credit.
How to apply
If Advance America installment loans are offered in your state, you can apply for an installment loan either online or in store. You’ll need to provide such things as: your Social Security number, a government-issued ID, a checking account and proof of income.
Car title loans
An Advance America car title loan works a bit differently than its other loans. It’s a secured loan, meaning that you’ll pledge your car’s title as collateral in order to get lower rates on your loan (compared with Advance America’s other loan products).
This type of loan isn’t available in every state, but if it is, you’ll need to complete the application process in person since the Advance America staff will need to inspect your car. In addition, you’ll need to own your car’s title outright, so if you’re still making payments on your car this won’t be an option for you.
Going with a car title loan can give you slightly cheaper rates than a payday loan, although it’ll likely still be more expensive than choosing another loan product with another lender. In addition, you’ll need to be totally committed to making your payments on time, since a lender can repossess your car if you fail to make your payments on a car title loan.
How to apply
First, you’ll need to check on Advance America’s site whether car title loans are available in your location. If they are, you’ll need to drive your car to the nearest Advance America location and have it inspected by staff.
You’ll also need to provide: your vehicle’s title, proof of insurance and registration, and proof of your income and residence. You’ll also need to provide your Social Security number and a government-issued ID.
Lines of credit
If approved for an Advance America line of credit, you’ll gain access to a set amount of money that you can withdraw as you need it. If you don’t need any money, you don’t have to take out anything, so it’s handy to have as a backup in case of emergencies. That said, this product functions more like a credit card than a personal loan.
Unlike a credit card, however, you won’t be able to simply charge expenses to it. If you need cash, you’ll either pick it up from a local store or have it deposited straight into your bank account as soon as the same banking day.
How to apply
Advance America doesn’t specifically state that you need sort of proof of income to qualify for a line of credit. (Still, it wouldn’t be wise to apply for a line of credit without a plan to pay it off.) As far as requirements go, all you need to qualify is:
- Social Security Number
- Government-issued ID
- Checking account
- Email address.
You can apply for an Advance America line of credit either online or in person at a location, assuming that the company does offer lines of credit in your location. You only need to apply for a line of credit once in order for it to remain open; in other words, you don’t need to reapply every time you withdraw money from it.
Where to find Advance America loans
Advance America loans are not available nationwide. And the types of loans, the amount you can borrow and costs vary based on the state where you’re applying for a loan.
Is Advance America a good choice?
This depends on your situation. In general, the answer is “no.” Because Advance America charges such high fees, it’ll be tough for most people to get back on track financially after taking out one of these loans. If you’re already in a place where you’re having trouble making ends meet between paychecks or getting a loan with bad credit, opting for an Advance America loan might ease things in the short term but make it more difficult in the long term.
Most people choose Advance America because getting cash is quick, and you don’t need a perfect credit score to qualify. But you’ll pay for that convenience in the form of ultrahigh interest rates, so it’s generally best to consider other choices first.
The only time we would suggest applying for an Advance America loan is if you’ve exhausted all other options, and if you have a clear plan in place for repaying the loan while keeping up with your future obligations. This means:
- Being able to repay the loan in full on by its due date (if not before)
- Having enough money left over to pay your bills and other financial obligations after repaying the loan with your next paycheck.
Still, there are many other better options than Advance America, even if you have bad credit or need money fast. For example, you consider finding a loan that allows cosigners.
5 alternatives to an Advance America loan
- Shop personal loans: It is possible to find personal loans with lenders that charge interest rates that are as high as Advance America’s — even if you have bad credit. Granted, they may still charge triple-digit interest rates, which means they’ll still be an expensive form of credit.
- Temporarily reduce other costs: Consider cutting something out of your budget temporarily, whether that’s decreasing your auto insurance deductible for a few months, cutting cable or visiting a local food pantry to get your groceries.
- Borrow from a family member or friend: We only recommend this one if you’re committed to paying back your loan according to a written, signed and agreed-upon schedule. You don’t want to jeopardize your relationships over money. But if done right, this can be a no-cost option.
- Join a credit union and apply for a Payday Alternative Loan (PAL): Some credit unions offer a cheaper version of a payday loan. PAL requirements vary, but you will need to have been a member of the credit union for at least one month before applying.
- Sell your old stuff or pick up a side hustle: If you have things of value, such as extra electronic equipment or jewelry, you can try selling them for cash on Craigslist, OfferUp, the Facebook Marketplace, etc. And if not — try a side hustle by offering services, such as cleaning services, driving for Lyft or transcribing audio files.
FAQ: Advance America
- Is Advance America legit? Yes, it is a legitimate payday loan lender.
- What happens if I don’t repay my loan? This depends on the type of loan you have. If you have a car title loan, Advance America is allowed to repossess your car. Advance America can also hire debt collectors to pursue you, or take you to court for auto title loans or any of its other loans.
- Why are Advance America loan options so different depending on where you live? Each state sets it own payday loan laws, such as how much you’re allowed to take out and at what interest rates, which Advance America must comply with. In addition, Advance America requires you to come into a local office for auto title loans, and if there isn’t one near you, then this won’t be an option in your location.
- How soon can I get money from Advance America? If you apply for a loan within the store and are approved, you can get cash in as little as 15 minutes during the same visit. Otherwise, if you apply online, the money can be deposited into your account on the next business day.