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10 Easy Online Loans (2020)

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You can find easy online loans if you know where to look. Numerous online lenders have entered the marketplace over the last decade, and most offer great interest rates and relaxed acceptance standards to compete with the pack.

While that may mean less profit for them, it can also mean a better loan for you. Check out our recommendations below and start the research you need to find easy loan approval.

Installment Loans | Cash Loans | Credit Cards | FAQs

An installment loan is the most common type of personal loan. These loans require you to make a series of monthly payments, and they charge an annual percentage rate, otherwise known as APR.

Installment loan terms can range from three months to six years of payments, depending on the lender and the total amount borrowed. Just remember that the longer you stretch out your loan, the more interest you’ll pay to satisfy the debt.

The options below are all part of online lending networks. That means you’ll submit one application to a single network that will send your request to its partner lenders.

Those lenders will consider your application and, within minutes, you may receive one or more loan offers to choose from. The best part about these networks is that several lenders will look at your request and then compete for your business. This may yield you the best loan offer for your credit situation.

  • Loans from $500 to $10,000
  • All credit types accepted
  • Receive a loan decision in minutes
  • Get funds directly to your bank account
  • Use the loan for any purpose

You may qualify for a personal loan of up to $10,000 with CashUSA.com. In some cases, you may be offered a revolving line of credit, which works very much like a credit card. Once you make a payment on a revolving credit line, you can reuse the credit you paid off.

To qualify for a loan, you must be 18 years or older, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and have an active checking account, email address, and phone number in your name. Applicants must also provide proof of at least $1,000 in monthly income, after taxes.

If you meet those requirements, you can fill out a short survey that takes five minutes or less to complete. You could receive one or more offers sent to your email within minutes of applying.

Meeting the criteria to apply doesn’t guarantee loan approval. Although CashUSA has very flexible acceptance requirements, lenders may shy away from approving larger loans for applicants who have damaged or thin credit files.

  • Loans from $250 to $5,000 available
  • Cash deposited directly into your account
  • Get money as soon as tomorrow
  • Bad Credit OK
  • More than 750,000 customers since 1998

CreditLoan.com requires applicants to have an active checking or savings account. You can also only have one open loan through the network’s lenders. Once you’ve paid off your current loan, you’re free to apply for another.

CreditLoan is not an actual lender, but rather a free referral service that connects borrowers and lenders. If approved, the network will direct you to the lender’s website, where you’ll complete the application and finalize your loan.

The network and its lenders typically do not consider applications for consumers who have a pending bankruptcy case. Each lender sets its own interest rates.

If you receive multiple loan offers, be sure to study each one closely, as they likely will not offer the same terms, interest rate, or monthly payment.

  • Loan amounts range from $500 to $5,000
  • Experienced provider established in 1998
  • Compare quotes from a network of lenders
  • Flexible credit requirements
  • Easy online application & 5-minute approval
  • Funding in as few as 24 hours

Bad Credit Loans requires you to be a legal citizen of the U.S. and 18 years or older to apply for one of its loans. You’ll also need to provide a valid email address, working phone number, and bank account details of where you’d like the loan money transferred.

Providing these details doesn’t guarantee approval, but this network lives up to its name and typically provides easy loans for consumers who are in a jam and need a quick loan. And BadCreditLoans.com doesn’t limit itself to personal loan options — you can also apply for an auto loan or a student or business loan.

  • Loan amounts range from $500 to $35,000
  • All credit types welcome to apply
  • Lending partners in all 50 states
  • Loans can be used for anything
  • Fast online approval
  • Funding in as few as 24 hours

PersonalLoans.com offers the largest maximum loan amount among these options with loans of up to $35,000 available to qualified borrowers. The minimum loan amount is $500.

This network specializes in personal loan options that offer a low minimum payment and interest rate, which makes for more manageable debt repayments. And, since this network offers larger loan amounts, it isn’t only reserved for consumers who need a bad credit loan.

The PersonalLoans network is also among the largest of all the online lending networks. Although the group boasts lenders in all 50 states, you aren’t required to work with a lender in your area. The beauty of easy online loans is that you can borrow money from a lender anywhere in the U.S. and set up recurring payments from your checking account or another bank account.

Depending on the amount of your loan and the lender’s terms, you could have between three and 72 months to pay off your loan.

Easy online loans tend to offer quick payouts via a wire transfer to your linked checking account or another bank account. That may work if you have 24 hours to wait for your funds.

Sometimes, though, you need a quick loan that pays out in cash. If this sounds like you, the lenders below may offer just what you need.

Keep in mind that a cash loan often includes a higher interest rate than a traditional online lender. The loan product you receive may be a payday loan that charges astronomical fees if you don’t pay it off on time.

You may find more luck with a traditional online installment loan if you’re looking for a larger loan amount. Most cash loan options tend to cater to consumers who may not have a bank account and need quick cash before payday.

As such, you will likely have a shorter repayment time frame and your total loan amount may be due in one lump sum in as soon as two weeks.

  • Short-term loans up to $2,500
  • Online marketplace of lenders
  • Funds available in as few as 24 hours
  • Simple online form takes less than 5 minutes
  • Trusted by more than 2 million customers
  • Not available in NY or CT

MoneyMutual made its name as a next business day online installment loan option, but the network’s lenders offer in-person cash loan options as well.

You can choose to search only for local lenders when you apply through MoneyMutual. Some of these lenders offer cash pickup options if you qualify. Keep in mind there may be an added service charge for this type of transaction.

The annual percentage rate on a cash loan offer will likely be much higher than a direct-deposit loan because there’s more risk involved for the lender.

Many cash loans don’t require an active checking or savings account for approval. Installment loan providers tend to favor borrowers who have an active bank account because they use it to set up an automatic, recurring monthly payment that helps them collect their money.

If you’re applying for a loan without a bank account, the lender has little recourse if you default. Since they’re taking on added risk, you should expect to pay a little more.

  • Loan amounts range from $100 to $1,000
  • Short-term loans with flexible credit requirements
  • Compare quotes from a network of lenders
  • 5-minute approvals and 24-hour funding
  • Minimum monthly income of $1,000 required
  • Current employment with 90 days on the job required

CashAdvance.com is a payday loan option that offers cash pickup locations around the country. Loan terms won’t include a monthly payment. Instead, you’re required to repay your loan in one lump sum — plus interest — within a month, sometimes sooner.

That interest rate is what can make these loans very costly. With rates as high as 2,290%, these ultra-short-term loans can ensnare you into a debt trap if you do not pay it back on time. That’s why CashAdvance.com suggests on its website that you should only use its service as a last resort and in the case of a financial emergency.

Keep in mind that some states do not legally allow payday lenders to operate within its borders. This includes Montana, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Most people who search for easy loans online want to receive their money quickly. But if you can wait a little bit longer, you may be able to find a much better deal through a credit card.

You repay your credit card debt just as you would an installment loan, with monthly payments that slowly satisfy your balance. The best part is that a credit card provides a revolving credit line, so you can reuse your credit once you pay it off.

Best of all, you can avoid interest altogether with a credit card loan by paying your entire balance within your card’s grace period.

The catch is that most easy online loans can wire your borrowed funds to your bank account within one business day. With a credit card, you may have to wait for between seven and 10 business days for your card to arrive in the mail, although some issuers will expedite shipping by request.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★

4.8

  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From TransUnion* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Free online account access 24/7

See website for Details

N/A

25.90% – 29.99%

See website for Details

Bad, Poor Credit

The Surge Mastercard® doesn’t charge processing or setup fees to open your account, but you will be charged an annual fee, based on your credit history. That fee will deduct from your initial available balance.

You can prequalify for this card on the issuer’s website without accruing a hard inquiry that could hurt your credit score. If approved, you’ll receive your card in the mail in seven to 10 business days. Once it arrives, you can activate the card over the phone or online and begin using it immediately.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★

4.7

  • Pre-qualifying today will not affect your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit histories can qualify, even with prior bankruptcy!
  • Mobile friendly online access from anywhere
  • Fraud protection for stolen or lost cards
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.

N/A

N/A

24.9%

$0 – $99

Fair/Good

The Indigo® Unsecured Mastercard® – Prior Bankruptcy is Okay is easy to be approved for but may charge an annual fee based on your credit history. One potential catch with this card is its low initial credit limits, and the annual fee (if you’re charged one) will be deducted from your line of credit upon activation.

Still, if you need a small and easy online loan, this card accepts most applicants and can provide relatively quick access to a revolving credit line, among other features.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★

4.5

  • Prequalify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • Mobile account access at any time
  • Protection from fraud if your card is stolen
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.

  • *Dependent on credit worthiness

N/A

N/A

24.9%

$35 – $99

Bad, Poor Credit

The Milestone® Mastercard® – Less Than Perfect Credit Considered is part of a family of cards offered by Milestone that each has a specific credit limit and interest rate. The Milestone® Mastercard® is the most popular card it offers.

You’ll pay no security deposit or one-time fees when you apply. A variable annual fee and a competitive interest rate make this card a winner for consumers who may have a low credit score.

You can find the card that works best for you by filling out a prequalification form on the issuer’s website, after which you may receive an offer for the card that best matches your needs and credit situation.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★

4.5

  • Checking Account Required
  • Fast and easy application process; response provided in seconds
  • A genuine Visa credit card accepted by merchants nationwide across the USA and online
  • Manageable monthly payments
  • $300 credit limit (subject to available credit)
  • Reports monthly to all three major credit bureaus

N/A

N/A

See Terms

See Terms

Fair, Bad Credit

The Total Visa® Card can offer fast access to a line of credit, but it isn’t the most affordable option on this list thanks to the card’s one-time program fee due at the time of approval. You’ll also have to pay your first year’s annual fee upon activation before you can use your card.

Subsequently, the annual fee increases starting in year two. These charges add up fast, but if you need a bad credit loan or quick access to a small amount of cash, this card may work for you thanks to its lenient approval requirements.

Online loans may not be as intuitive as a traditional loan from a bank or credit union. There’s no need to go to the bank and fill out lengthy forms and wait days for approval.

Instead, online loans can be completed from the comfort of your home and you can receive an approval within minutes. Below we answer common questions about the process and explain how online lending networks have streamlined getting a loan for everyone and every need.

What is an Online Loan?

An online loan works like any other loan you would get from a bank or credit union, only you apply and complete the lending process online. Online loans won’t limit your money search to traditional financial institutions, either.

Thousands of online lenders exist across America. Most have an online presence that allows consumers to apply for loans in a matter of minutes.

Thanks to intelligent underwriting, the same system that allows you to apply for a loan can typically make a credit decision in a matter of seconds. Most people can complete an online loan application and have the money deposited directly into a linked checking account without ever actually speaking to a person.

And, since these independent lenders don’t have the same overhead as large banks, you may be able to find more affordable loans with better interest rates from an established online lender.

Keep in mind that not every online lender has the accreditation needed to operate in all 50 states. If you’ve chosen a lender who isn’t licensed in your state, you’ll likely receive a pop-up notice before you complete your application.

Or you can choose an online loan marketplace and not have to worry about your location because a lending network, like those listed above, will distribute your loan request to all of the partnered lenders on its network that service your area. The lenders know they’re competing against other lenders for your business, which can improve your chances of being approved for a loan with an interest rate that works for you.

What Credit Score Do I Need to Get an Online Loan?

There isn’t a magic number that serves as the dividing line that determines whether a loan will be approved or rejected. Different lenders have their individual acceptance standards — and no lender publishes its minimums for acceptance.

That said, you can follow certain guidelines that may help you apply only with lenders that give you the best chance of acceptance. Banks traditionally only want to lend to consumers who have a good or excellent credit score. On a FICO range of 300 to 850, “good” credit constitutes any credit score of 670 or higher.

FICO Score® Ranges

But that doesn’t mean you can’t receive loan approval if you have a sub-670 score. In fact, finding an online loan is easier than you think.

So many online lenders exist today that there’s simply too much competition for consumers who have good credit. Many lenders have to wander outside of their comfort zones to make a profit, which means entering the bad credit loan marketplace.

Most of these lenders partner with online lending networks, which act as a referral source that sends would-be lenders to their doorstep.

MoneyMutual, for example, partners with many bad credit lenders, some of which, according to reviews, have approved loans to applicants with credit scores below 500. BadCreditLoans.com lives up to its name by approving loans for applicants who may have received rejections from traditional lenders.

Just keep in mind that a bad credit loan typically features upfront costs and higher interest rates. That’s why it’s vital to understand the state of your credit score before applying for a loan. Applying for loans you won’t qualify for will only add hard inquiries to your credit report that could lower your score.

What is the Easiest Loan to Get?

There’s strength in numbers. The more options you have, the better your deal.

That’s why online loan networks provide the easiest path to a loan. If you apply for a single loan product from a direct lender, you’re putting all of your eggs in one basket. When you apply through a lending network, you’re submitting a single application to dozens of lenders throughout the U.S.

Direct Lenders vs Lending Networks

Different networks meet different needs. For example, you can consider MoneyMutual for a small personal loan, or you could turn to BadCreditLoans.com for a competitive auto loan or home loan offer. Most networks offer next business day funding.

Each lender has different approval requirements. Some may specialize in bad credit loans, some may give larger loan amounts, others may offer a lower monthly payment.

Many lending networks can return with a loan decision within minutes of your application, no matter what time of day or night you submit your form. It’s important to understand that every loan offer comes from a different lender.

Just as they all have different specialties, they also offer different terms. The loan with the lowest monthly payment could also be the most expensive overall. Examine your interest rate, the overall total needed to satisfy the loan, and what kinds of upfront fees or other penalties may exist during the life of your loan.

What is the Best Online Loan?

This depends on your needs. If you’re looking for a personal loan, you should consider the amount you’ll need and your credit situation.

Our top choice, MoneyMutual, offers a large network of lenders, but only offers short-term loans of up to $2,500.

  • Short-term loans up to $2,500
  • Online marketplace of lenders
  • Funds available in as few as 24 hours
  • Simple online form takes less than 5 minutes
  • Trusted by more than 2 million customers
  • Not available in NY or CT

PersonalLoans.com, on the other hand, offers qualified applicants up to $35,000 and 72 months to repay larger loan amounts.

  • Loan amounts range from $500 to $35,000
  • All credit types welcome to apply
  • Lending partners in all 50 states
  • Loans can be used for anything
  • Fast online approval
  • Funding in as few as 24 hours

These are unsecured loan offers, which means you won’t have to offer an item of value — such as your home or car — as collateral for approval.

Every network’s lenders offer fast approvals and funding. Most provide next business day funding to a linked checking or other bank account. Speed shouldn’t play a factor in choosing the best online loan because most move quickly.

But if the timing isn’t a critical issue, you may want to consider a credit card. A credit card offers a revolving line of credit that you can use over and over. And you can avoid paying interest if you pay the loan off within the grace period.

The only catch is that very few cards allow you to use your new line of credit as soon as you’re approved. That means you’ll have to wait five to 10 business days to receive your card and activate it before you can spend your borrowed funds.

Can I Get a Loan with No Credit Check?

Very few lenders will hand out money without some proof that you can repay the debt. That typically comes from a credit check, where the lender can see your financial history, including any late payments or past defaults.

Without that information, the lender must blindly trust that you will repay your loan. Not many businesses would last if they based their lending decisions on trust and hope.

That said, a few loan options exist that don’t require a credit check. Just be ready to pay a lot more to borrow money this way.

That’s because any lender willing to take that kind of risk wants a substantial payoff for the risk they assume. That payoff for the lender comes in the form of finance fees and high interest rates charged to the borrower.

No Credit Check Loans

The most popular type of no-credit-check loan is a payday loan, otherwise known as a cash advance. These loans are not installment loans. Instead, payday lenders base your loan approval on your verifiable income, which can be done by providing a pay stub or bank account statement.

Instead of making a monthly payment on your loan, you’re required to repay the full amount (plus interest) within a period that ranges from one week to one month.

The annual percentage rate on these loans can climb well into four-figures. And it gets even worse if you don’t pay your loan off on time. One lender once borrowed $400 on a two-week loan and ended up paying well over $12,000 to satisfy the debt.

There’s a reason these lenders often state on their websites that you should only use their services as a last resort. Proceed with caution.

What is a Loan Origination Fee?

Lenders may charge an origination fee upfront for processing a new loan application. These aren’t always standard and not every lender charges origination fees, but most bad credit lenders use them as compensation for the time it takes to process your loan.

Some lenders may charge a flat rate and others may charge you for a percentage of your overall loan total. So, for example, a lender that charges a 1% origination fee would collect $30 on a $3,000 loan.

Some lenders may require this fee in cash, but most will deduct the fee from your loan payout.

Loan Origination Fee Example

Most percentage-based origination fees range between 0.5% and 1% of the total loan amount, though you can sometimes negotiate a lower fee on a larger loan.

The U.S. government enacted several fair lending laws following the financial crisis of 2008 that limits ways in which a lender can receive compensation, including lowering origination fees and other hidden charges.

Will I Need a Checking Account to get a Loan?

Almost every online lender will require an active bank account in your name to consider your application. That’s because these lenders aren’t necessarily located in your area. If you stop making payments, they can’t come knocking on your door to chase your payment down.

But what lenders can do is schedule recurring payments from a linked bank account that will automatically deduct the amount you owe on your due date. This provides some peace of mind to the lender, who typically doesn’t want to rely on you sending in a check or scheduling your own online payment each month.

If you don’t have a checking account but still need a loan, your best bet is to shop your needs to lenders in your area. A local lender is more likely to consider this type of loan request, though you may have to settle for a secured loan.

This means you’ll have to use something of value, such as a vehicle or piece of jewelry, as collateral to secure the loan. That way if you stop making payments, the lender has full authority to liquidate the collateral to satisfy your debt.

Another option is to consider a credit card loan. A few card issuers will consider your application for credit even if you don’t have an active checking account.

If none of those options work, consider setting up a checking account at a local bank or credit union or researching one of the many online banks that make signup easy and rarely have oppressive minimum balance requirements.

The simple act of setting up a bank account can open you to a host of loan options that you otherwise couldn’t obtain.

Can I Get an Online Loan from a Credit Union?

In most cases, the answer is yes. Thanks to the competition from larger banks, most credit unions have invested heavily in technological advances that provide online banking, mobile applications, and other perks to members.

This typically includes access to an online portal where you can apply for a loan. However, these loans are only available to members of the credit union. You can fill out your application on its website, which the system forwards to a loan officer at the credit union.

While the turnaround on these loans isn’t as fast as an online lender that provides a decision in minutes, you should still hear something back within a day or so, excluding weekends and holidays.

The slower response time happens because many credit unions manually underwrite every loan application. That means someone has to look over your application and run a credit check before making a decision and notifying you, whereas most online lenders have technology that does this in a matter of seconds.

If your credit union experiences a high volume of loan applications, you could get stuck in line and have to wait to hear back. High demand could also lower your approval odds if you don’t have good credit.

What Interest Rate Can I Expect to Pay?

Interest rates rely heavily on your credit score and payment history. An interest rate is essentially the payment the lender gets for taking the risk in lending you money. The lower the risk, the lower the fee.

Average Personal Loan APR by Credit Score

If you have an excellent credit score and a history of on-time payments, you may find a personal loan with an interest rate of under 5%. On the flip side, a bad credit score and recent late payments or defaults can land you a triple-digit interest rate on a short-term loan.

Thankfully, most states have laws in place that limit the amount of interest a lender can charge. Depending on your state, you could pay as little as 5% or as much as 25%. Many payday loans operate under different laws that allow them to charge upwards of 1,200%.

Usury laws only apply to the state you live in, not where the loan originated. So, for example, if you live in Florida and accept an online loan from a lender in Delaware, you’re subject to the interest rate laws for the state of Florida.

If you’re ever offered a loan with interest rates that exceed your state’s limitations, report the lender to local government authorities and the Better Business Bureau.

Is a Payday Loan a Good Idea?

A payday loan is almost never a good idea. There are instances, though, where your financial situation may make a cash advance your only option to get out of a jam.

A payday loan is a super-short term loan that’s designed to last between one week and one month. They’re meant to provide financial relief between paydays, hence the name.

These loans often charge three-digit interest rates that could yield interest charges of a few hundred dollars on a loan that lasts only four weeks. And, best-case scenario, that’s all you’ll pay.

Payday Loan Interest Rate Map

This map shows the average interest rate charged for payday loans in each state. Gray states indicate where payday loans are illegal.

The internet is filled with payday loan horror stories from people who borrowed a few hundred dollars for an emergency and ended up paying $10,000 or more to satisfy the debt.

If you cannot pay your loan in full by the agreed-upon date, the lender will offer you a new loan to cover the costs of the old one. This will include penalty charges and a higher interest rate. If you cannot pay that loan off, you’ll have to sign a third loan that will be even more expensive.

The loans will continue to pile up until you can finally pay off the debt.

Although the average payday loan has a two-week repayment period, studies found that the average payday loan borrower carries their debt for five months and spends an average of $520 in fees to repeatedly borrow $375. The average finance fee at a payday loan storefront is $55 per two weeks.

Over the last decade, online loans have increasingly risen in popularity. These fast and accessible loans work on your schedule — you can apply at any time of the day or night and from any location you choose.

And instead of waiting for a loan officer to crunch numbers and check references, your loan decision will arrive within minutes. These easy online loans are a great way to secure a competitive interest rate and loan terms, which makes them winners in our book.

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Bad Credit

Inside the Highly Profitable and Secretive World of Payday Lenders

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Illustration by Sarah Maxwell, Folio Art

When Bridget Davis got started in the family’s payday lending business in 1996, there was just one Check ’n Go store in Cincinnati. She says she did it all: customer service, banking duties, even painting walls.

The company had been established two years earlier by her husband, Jared Davis, and was growing rapidly. There were 100 Check ’n Go locations by 1997, when Jared and Bridget (née Byrne) married and traveled the country together looking for more locations to open storefront outlets. They launched another 400 stores in 1998, mostly in strip malls and abandoned gas stations in low-income minority neighborhoods where the payday lending target market abounds. Bridget drove the supply truck and helped select locations and design the store layouts.

But Jared soon fired his wife for committing what may be the ultimate sin in the payday lending business: She forgave a customer’s debt. “A young woman came to pay her $20 interest payment,” Bridget wrote in court documents last year during divorce proceedings from Jared. “I pulled her file, calculated that she had already paid $320 to date on a principle [sic] loan of $100. I told her she was paid in full. [Jared] fired me, stating, ‘We are here to make money, not help customers manage theirs. If you can’t do that, you can’t work here.’ ”

Photograph by Brittany Dexter

It’s a business philosophy that pays well, especially if you’re charging fees and interest rates of 400 percent that can more than triple the amount of the loan in just five months—the typical time most payday borrowers need to repay their debt, says the Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit organization focused on public policy. Cincinnati-based Check ’n Go now operates more than 1,100 locations in 25 states as well as an internet lending service with 24/7 access from the comfort of your own home, according to its website. Since its founding, the company has conducted more than 50 million transactions.

What the website doesn’t say is that many, if not most, of those transactions were for small loans of $50 to $500 to working people trying to scrape by and pay their bills. In most states—including Ohio, until it reformed its payday lending laws in 2019—borrowers typically fork over more than one-third of their paycheck to meet the deadline for repayment, usually in two weeks. To help guarantee repayment, borrowers turn over access to their checking account or deposit a check with the lender. In states that don’t offer protection, customers go back again and again to borrow more money from the same payday lender, typically up to 10 times, driving themselves into a debt trap that can lead to bankruptcy.

Jared and Bridget Davis are embroiled in a nasty court battle related to his 2019 divorce filing in Hamilton County Domestic Relations Court. Thousands of pages of filings and 433 docket entries by April 26 offer the public a rare glimpse into the business operations of Check ’n Go, one of Cincinnati’s largest privately-owned companies, as well as personal lifestyles funded by payday lending.

The company cleared $77 million in profit in 2018, a figure that dipped the following year to $55 million, according to an audit by Deloitte. That drop in revenue may have something to do with the payday lending reform laws and interest rate caps passed recently in Ohio as well as a growing number of other states.


The day-to-day business transactions that provide such profit are a depressing window into how those who live on the edge of financial security are often stuck with few options for improving their situations. If a borrower doesn’t repay or refinance his or her original loan, a lender like Check ’n Go deposits the guarantee check and lets it bounce, causing the borrower to incur charges for the bounced check and eventually lose his or her checking account, says Nick DiNardo, an attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati. After two missed payments, payday lenders usually turn over the debt to a collection agency. If the collection agency fails to collect the full amount of the original loan as well as all fees and interest, it goes to court to garnish the borrower’s wages.

That devastating experience is all too familiar to Anthony Smith, a 60-year-old Wyoming resident who says he was laid off from several management positions over a 20-year period. He turned to payday lenders as his credit rating dropped and soon found himself caught in a debt trap that took him years to escape.

Two things happened in 2019, Smith says, that turned around his financial fortunes. First, he found a stable manufacturing job with the Formica Company locally, and then he took his mother’s advice and opened a credit union account. GE Credit Union not only gave him a reasonable loan to pay off his $2,500 debt but also issued him his first credit card in a decade. “I had been a member [of the credit union] for just two months, and I had a credit rating of 520. Can you imagine?” he says. Smith says he is now debt-free for the first time in 10 years.

Consumer advocates say Check ’n Go is one of the biggest payday lending operations in the nation. But knowing its exact ranking is difficult because most payday lending companies, including Check ’n Go and its parent company CNG Holdings, are privately held and reluctant to disclose their finances.

Brothers Jared and David Davis own the majority of the company’s privately held stock. David bought into the company in 1995, but CNG got its game-changing infusion of capital from the brothers’ father, Allen Davis, who retired as CEO of then-Provident Bank in 1998. Allen sold off $37 million in stock options and essentially became CNG’s bank and consultant.

By 2005, however, the sons were part of a public court battle against their father. Allen accused Jared and David of treating his millions in CNG stock as compensation instead of a transfer from his ex-wife (and the brothers’ mother), sticking him with a $13 million tax bill. In turn, the brothers accused Allen of putting his mistress and his yacht captain on the company payroll, taking $1.2 million in fees without board approval, and leading the company into ventures that lost Check ’n Go a lot of money. Several years of legal fighting later, the IRS was still demanding its $13 million. CNG officials did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Jared and David split $22 million in profit from CNG in 2018 and, according to the Deloitte audit, CNG’s balance sheet showed another $42 million that could be split between the two brothers in 2019. Jared, however, elected not to receive his $21 million distribution “in order to create this artificial financial crisis and shelter millions of dollars from an equitable split between us,” according to Bridget’s divorce filing.

Worse, she claims, Jared said they would be responsible for paying taxes out of their personal accounts rather than from CNG’s company earnings, making her personally responsible for half of the $5.5 million in taxes for 2019. She believes it wasn’t happenstance that $5.5 million was wired to Jared’s private bank account in December of that same year. Bridget has refused to sign the joint tax return, and Jared filed a complaint with the court saying a late tax filing would cost them $1 million in penalties and missed tax opportunities.

“For the duration of our marriage and to the present, Jared has full and complete control of all money paid to us from various investments we have made in addition to our main source of income, CNG,” Bridget wrote in her motion. She suspects that Jared, without her knowledge or consent, plowed the money for their taxes and from other sources of income into Black Diamond Group, the fund that invests in the Agave & Rye restaurant chain. Beyond the original restaurant opened in Covington in 2018, “they have opened four other locations in one year,” she wrote, including Louisville and Lexington. (The ninth location opened in Hamilton this spring.) Agave & Rye’s website touts its Mexican fare as “a chef-inspired take on the standard taco, elevating this simple food into something epic!”

In his response, Jared wrote, “We have very limited regular sources of income.” He says he isn’t receiving any additional distributions from CNG, the couple’s primary source of income, “and this is not within my control. The company has declared that we would not make any further distributions in 2020 given economic circumstances. This decision is based on a formula and is not discretionary.” Agave & Rye helped produce $645,000 in income for Black Diamond in 2020 but has paid out $890,000 in loans, he says. Through August 31, 2020, he wrote, the couple’s “expenses have exceeded income from all sources.”


The divorce case filings start slinging mud when the couple accuses each other of breaking up their 22-year marriage and finding new partners. Jared claims Bridget began an affair during their marriage with Brian Duncan, a contractor she employed through her house flipping business. Bridget, he says, paid Duncan’s company $75,000 in 2018 as well as giving him a personal gift of $70,000 that same year. Jared says she also bought Duncan at least one car and purchased a house for him near hers on Shawnee Run Road for $289,000, then loaned money to Duncan. Jared says Duncan has been late in repaying the note.

While Bridget says Duncan has been drug-free for several years, he has a rap sheet with Hamilton County courts from 2000 to 2017 that runs five pages long. It lists a half-dozen counts of drug abuse and drug possession, including heroin and possession of illegal drug paraphernalia; assaulting a police officer; stealing a Taser from a police officer; criminal damaging while being treated at UC Health; more than a dozen speeding and traffic violations; a half-dozen counts of driving with a suspended license; receiving stolen property; twice fleeing and resisting arrest; three counts of theft; two counts of forgery; and one count for passing bad checks.

Bridget has fired back that Jared not only is hiding his money from her but spending it lavishly on vacations, resorts, and high-end restaurants with his new girlfriend, Susanne Warner. Bridget says Jared gifted Warner with $40,000 without Bridget’s knowledge, then declared it on their joint tax return as a “contribution.” Bridget’s court filings include photocopies of social media posts of Jared and Warner globetrotting from summer 2019 to summer 2020: vacation at Beaver Creek Village in Avon, Colorado; cocktails at High Cotton in Charleston, South Carolina, and dinner at Melvyn’s Restaurant and Lounge in Palm Springs, California; getaways at resorts in Nashville and at a lakefront rental on Norris Lake ($600 per night); in the Bahamas at a Musha Cay private residence ($57,000 per night), at South Beach in Miami, and at a private beach at Fisher Island; in Mexico at Cabo San Lucas; in the U.S. Virgin Islands at Magen’s Bay and on a private yacht ($4,500 per night); in California at Desert Hot Springs, the Ritz-Carlton in Rancho Mirage, and Montage at Laguna Beach; and in the Bahamas at South Cottage ($2,175 per night).

For her part, Bridget has gone through some of the top lawyers in town faster than President Trump during an impeachment—six in all, two of whom she’s sued for malpractice. She sent four binders of evidence to the Ohio Supreme Court, asking for the recusal of Hamilton County Judge Amy Searcy and claiming Searcy was biased because of campaign donations from Jared and his companies. Rather than deal with the list of questions sent to her by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, Searcy stepped down. Two other judges have since stepped into the fray, and in March Bridget filed for a change of venue outside of Hamilton County, arguing she can’t get a fair trial in her hometown. At press time, a trial date had been set for June 28 in Hamilton County.

The poor-mouthing in the divorce case has reached heights of comic absurdity. Jared claims he’s “illiquid” because he didn’t get his distribution from CNG in 2019. Bridget has received debt collection notices for the nearly $21,000 owed on her American Express card and a $735 bill from Jewish Hospital. There’s no sign yet that anyone is coming to repossess her Porsche, which according to her filings has a $5,000 monthly payment. Each party has received $25,000 a month in living expenses, an amount later reduced to $15,000 under a temporary legal agreement while the divorce case is being sorted out. Court filings show that Jared’s net worth is almost $206 million and Bridget’s is $22.5 million.


In the early 1990s, Allen Davis was raising eyebrows at Provident Bank (later bought by National City), and not only because of his very unbanker-like look of beard, ponytail, and casual golf wear. He was leading the company into questionable subprime home loans for people with bad credit and a frequent-shopper program for merchants, though the bank’s charter barred him from getting involved in full-blown predatory lending practices. With guidance and funding from his father, Jared, at age 26, launched Check ’n Go in 1994 and became a pioneer in the payday lending industry. Jared and his family saw there were millions of Americans who didn’t have checking or savings accounts (“unbanked”) or an adequate credit rating (“underbanked”) but still needed loans to meet their everyday expenses. What those potential customers did have was a steady paycheck.

Conventional banks share a big part of the blame for the nation’s army of unbanked borrowers by imposing checking account fees and onerous penalties for bounced checks. In 2019, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation estimated there were 7.1 million U.S. households without a checking or savings account.

The Davises launched Check ’n Go on the pretext that it would “fill the gap” for people who occasionally needed to borrow money in a hurry—a service for those who couldn’t get a loan any other way. But consumer advocates say the real business model for payday lending isn’t a service at all. The majority of the industry’s revenue comes from repeat business by customers trapped in debt, not from borrowers looking for a quick, one-time fix for their financial troubles.

Ohio’s payday lending lobbyists got a strong hold on the state legislature in the late 1990s, and by 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray could rightfully claim in a campaign ad that “Ohio’s [payday lending] laws are now the worst in the nation. Things have gotten so bad that it is legal to charge 594 percent interest on loans.” His statement was based on a 2014 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The frustration for consumer advocates was that Ohioans had been trying to reform those laws since 2008, when voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative placing a 28 percent cap on the interest of payday loans. But—surprise!—lenders simply registered as mortgage brokers, which enabled them to charge unlimited fees.

The Davis family and five other payday lending companies controlled 90 percent of the market back then, an express gravy train ripping through the poorest communities in Ohio. The predatory feeding frenzy, especially in Ohio’s hard-hit Rust Belt communities, prompted a 2017 column at The Daily Beast titled, “America’s Worst Subprime Lender: Jared Davis vs. Allan Jones?” (Jones is founder and CEO of Tennessee-based Check Into Cash.) In 2016 and 2017, consumer advocates mustered their forces again, and this time they weren’t allowing for loopholes. The Pew Charitable Trusts joined efforts with bipartisan lawmakers and Ohioans for Payday Loan Reform, a statewide coalition of faith, business, local government, and nonprofit organizations. Consumer advocates found a legislative champion in State Rep. Kyle Koehler, a Republican from Springfield.

It no doubt helped reform efforts that former Ohio Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger resigned in spring 2018 amid an FBI investigation into his cozy relationship with payday lenders. Rosenberger had taken frequent overseas trips—to destinations including France, Italy, Israel, and China—in the company of payday lending lobbyists. In April 2019, Ohio’s new lending law took effect and, since then, has been called a national model for payday lending reform that balances protections for borrowers, profits for lenders, and access to credit for the poor, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. New prices in Ohio are three to four times lower for payday loans than before the law. Borrowers now have up to three months to repay their loans with no more than 6 percent of their paycheck. Pew estimates that the cost of borrowing $400 for three months dropped from $450 to $109, saving Ohioans at least $75 million a year. And despite claims that the reforms would eliminate access to credit, lenders currently operate in communities across the state and online. “The bipartisan success shows that if you set fair rules and enforce them, lenders play by them and there’s widespread access to credit,” says Gabe Kravitz, a consumer finance officer at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Other states like Virginia, Kansas, and Michigan are following Ohio’s lead, Kravitz says. Some states, such as Nebraska, have even capped annual interest on payday loans. As a result, Pew researchers have seen a reduction in the number of storefront lending op­erations across the country. Even better, Kravitz says, there’s no evidence that borrowers are turning instead to online payday lending operations.

Cincinnati is one of five cities chosen for a grant to replicate the success of Boston Builds Credit, an ambitious effort that city launched in 2017 to provide credit counseling in poor and minority communities by training specialists at existing social service agencies. The program also encourages consumer partnerships with credit unions, banks, and insurance companies to offer small, manageable loans that can help the unbanked and underbanked improve their credit ratings. “Right now, local organizations are all kind of working in silos on the problem in Cincinnati,” says Todd Moore of the nonprofit credit counseling agency Trinity Debt Relief. Moore, who applied for the Boston grant, says he’s looking for an agency like United Way or Strive Cincinnati to lead the effort here.

Anthony Smith is thankful that he’s escaped the downward spiral of his payday loans, especially during the pandemic’s economic turmoil. “I’m blessed for every day I can get paid and have a job during these difficult times, just to be able to pay my bills and meet my responsibilities,” he says. “I’ve always kept a job, but until now I’ve had crappy credit. That doesn’t mean I’m a bad guy.”

Can others worth millions of dollars say the same?

Inside the Highly Profitable and Secretive World of Payday Lenders Source link Inside the Highly Profitable and Secretive World of Payday Lenders



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What’s Questionable Credit and Can I Get a Car Loan With It?

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Questionable’s definition means that something’s quality is up for debate. If a lender says that your credit score is questionable, it’s likely that they mean it’s poor, or at the very least, they’re hesitant to approve you for vehicle financing. Here’s what most lenders consider questionable credit, and what auto loan options you may have.

Questionable Credit and Auto Lenders

Many auto lenders may consider questionable credit as a borrower with a credit score below 660. The credit score tiers as sorted by Experian the national credit bureau, are:

  • Super prime: 850 to 781
  • Prime: 780 to 661
  • Nonprime: 660 to 601
  • Subprime: 600 to 501
  • Deep subprime: 500 to 300

The nonprime credit tiers and below is when you start to get into bad credit territory and may struggle to meet the credit score requirements of traditional auto lenders.

This is because lenders are looking at your creditworthiness – your perceived ability to repay loans based on the information in your credit reports. Besides your actual credit score, there may be situations where the items in your credit reports are what’s making a lender question whether you’re a good candidate for an auto loan. These can include:

  • A past or active bankruptcy
  • A past or recent vehicle repossession
  • Recent missed/late payments
  • High credit card balances
  • No credit history

There are ways to get into an auto loan with questionable credit. Your options can change depending on what’s making your credit history questionable, though.

Questionable Credit Auto Loans

If your credit score is less than stellar, it may be time to look at these two lending options:

  • What Is Questionable Credit and Can I Get a Car Loan With It?Subprime financing – Done through special finance dealerships by third-party subprime lenders. These lenders can often assist with many unique credit situations, provided you can meet their requirements. A great option for new borrowers with thin files, situational bad credit, or consumers with older negative marks.
  • In-house financing – May not require a credit check, and is done through buy here pay here (BHPH) dealers. Typically, your income and down payment amount are the most important parts of eligibility. Auto loans without a credit check may not allow for credit repair and may come with a higher-than-average interest rate.

Both of these car loan options are typically available to borrowers with credit challenges. However, if you have more recent, serious delinquencies on your credit reports, a BHPH dealer may be for you. Most traditional and subprime lenders typically don’t approve financing for borrowers with a dismissed bankruptcy, a repossession less than a year old, or borrowers with multiple, recent missed/late payments.

Requirements of Bad Credit Car Loans

In many cases, your income and down payment size are the biggest factors in your overall eligibility for bad credit auto loans. Expect to need:

  • 30 days of recent computer-generated check stubs to prove you have around $1,500 to $2,500 of monthly gross income. Borrowers without W-2 income may need two to three years of professionally prepared tax returns.
  • A down payment of at least $1,000 or 10% of the vehicle’s selling price. BHPH dealers may require up to 20% of the car’s selling price.
  • Proof of residency in the form of a recent utility bill in your name.
  • Proof of a working phone (no prepaid phones), proven with a recent phone bill in your name.
  • A list of five to eight personal references with name, phone number, and address.
  • Valid driver’s license with the correct address, can’t be revoked, expired, or suspended.

Depending on your individual situation, you may need fewer or more items to apply for a bad credit auto loan. However, preparing these documents before you head to a dealership can speed up the process!

Ready to Get on the Road?

With questionable credit, finding a dealership that’s able to assist you with an auto loan is easier said than done. Here at Auto Credit Express, we want to get that done for you with our coast-to-coast network of special finance dealerships.

Complete our free auto loan request form and we’ll get right to work looking for a dealer in your local area that can assist with many tough credit situations.

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Entrepreneur Tae Lee Finds Her Fortune

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By Jasmine Shaw
For The Birmingham Times

Birmingham native Tae Lee had plans last year to visit the continent of Africa, the South American country of Columbia, and the U.S. state of Texas.

“I was going to stay in each place for like four to six weeks, and then COVID-19 happened,” she said. “So, I just was like, ‘You know what, I’m just gonna go to Mexico and stay for six months.’”

Once home from Playa Del Carmen, located on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, the 33-year-old entrepreneur put the final touches on “Game of Fortune: Win in Wealth or Lose in Debt,” a financial literacy card game for ages 10 and up.

“We created ‘Game of Fortune’ because we realized there was a gap in learning the fundamentals of money,” said Lee. “We go through life not knowing anything about money and then—‘Bam!’—real life hits. Credit, debt, and bills come at us quick!”

Lee believes the game “gives players a glimpse of real life” by using everyday scenarios to teach them how to make wiser financial decisions without having to waste their own money.

“I feel like [financial literacy] can be learned in ways other than somebody standing up and preaching it to you over and over again,” she said. “You can learn it in ways that are considered fun, as well.”

Which is why “we want the schools to buy it, so we can give students a fun way to learn about financial literacy,” she added.

Lee, also called the “Money Maximizer,” is an international best-selling financial author, speaker, coach, and trainer who is known for her financial literacy books, including “Never Go Broke (NGB): An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Money and Freedom” and the “NGB Money Success Planner High School Edition.” The Birmingham-based financial guru focuses on creating diverse streams of income in the tax, real estate, insurance, and finance industries.

For Lee, it’s about building generational wealth, not debt.

Indispensable Lessons

Lee got her first glance at entrepreneurial life as a child watching her mother, Valeria Robinson, run her commercial cleaning company, V’s Cleaning. Robinson retired in 2019.

“My grandmother had a cleaning service, too,” said Lee. “So, even though I didn’t start out as an entrepreneur, watching my mom and grandma do it taught me a lot.”

Lee grew up in Birmingham and attended Riley Elementary School, Midfield Middle School, and Huffman High School. She then went on to Jacksonville State University, in Jacksonville, Alabama, where she earned bachelor’s degree in physical education. She struggled to find a career in her field and became overwhelmed by student loans.

“My credit and stuff didn’t get bad until after college,” she said. “I was going through school and taking money, but nobody told me, ‘Oh, you’re gonna have to pay all of this back.’”

Before embarking on her extensive career in money management, Lee had not learned the indispensable lessons that she now shares with clients.

“‘Don’t have bad credit.’ That’s all I learned,” she remembers. “Financial literacy just wasn’t taught much. I learned the majority of my lessons as I aged.”

In an effort to ward off collection calls and raise her credit score, Lee researched tactics to strategically eliminate her debt.

“I knew I had to pay bills on time, and I couldn’t be late with payments,” she said.

Lee eventually began helping friends revamp their finances and opened NGB Inc. in 2017 to share fun, educational methods to help her clients build solid financial foundations.

“People were always coming to me like, ‘How do I invest in this?’ and ‘How do I do that?’ So, I said to myself, ‘You know what, people should be paying to pick your brain.’”

Legacy Building

While Lee enjoyed watching her clients reach milestones, like buying a new car with cash or making their first stock market investment, she was also designing “Game of Fortune” to teach the value of legacy building.

“The game gives players the knowledge to build generational wealth, not generational debt,” she said. “It gives you a glimpse of life, money, and what can truly happen if you mismanage your coins.”

Using index cards to create her first “Game of Fortune” sample deck, Lee filled each card with pertinent terms related to debt elimination and credit and wealth building. She then called on a few friends to help her work through the kinks.

Three of her good friends—Barbara Bratton, Daña Brown, and Sha Cannon—were just a few of the people that gave feedback on the sample deck.

“From there I met with Brandon Brooks, [owner of the Birmingham-based Brooks Realty Investments LLC], and four other financial advisors to fine-tune the definitions and game logistics,” Lee said.

Though Lee was unable to land a job in physical education after graduating from college, she now sees her career with NGB Inc. as life’s unexpected opportunity to teach on her own terms.

“Bartending and waitressing taught me that working for someone else was not for me,” she replied. “In order to get the life I always wanted, I had to create my own business.”

In her entrepreneurial pursuits, Lee strives to be an open-minded leader who embraces the need for flexibility.

“COVID-19 has shown me that in entrepreneurship you have to maneuver,” she said. “When life changes, sometimes your business will, too. You may have to change the path, but your ending goal can be the same.”

“Game of Fortune: Win in Wealth or Lose in Debt” is available and sold only on the “Game of Fortune” website: gameoffortune.money. To learn more about Tae Lee and Never Go Broke Inc., visit taelee.money and nevergobroke.money or email tae@taelee.money; you also can follow her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/nevergobrokeinc) and Instagram (@nevergobrokeinc).

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