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Bad Credit Loans with Guaranteed Approval (2020) Top Lenders Compare

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It’s an all too familiar occurrence for disaster to strike, causing a sudden emergency to shake up life’s comfort. In these cases, average people may need access to a line of credit. While this isn’t a problem for those with good credit, it can be a struggle for people who already have bad credit to find loans without almost immediately getting turned away by lending organizations.

However, there are some bad credit loans that offer almost guaranteed approval to those who apply for them. While they aren’t offered with 100% assurance that you’ll get the credit you need immediately, they do offer loans to people with bad credit, low income, and other aspects that many other lenders might shoot the same person down for.

If you’re one of those folks, there’s no need to panic just yet. Let’s take a look at some lenders who provide good loans if you already have bad credit.

7 Great Loans for Those with Bad Credit

Below, we’ve organized the seven best loans we could find if you have bad credit. The following is a brief overview of the primary factors considered when choosing a lender, while we go further in-depth below:

If you’ve struggled to maintain a high credit score, you still have options. You’ll need to be very careful however, as a number of lenders will charge enormously high interest rates and take advantage of your poor credit history.

How can you find the best lender for your particular situation? The answer is simple: research. Fortunately, we’ve conducted more than 150 hours of research, by analyzing lenders across more than 25 data points.

Our findings suggest one primary point: while there are a number of options available, the best bad credit loans each have one unique factor which make them appeal to a certain type of borrower. This guide aims to articulate which of the top lenders will appeal to your particular situation — despite having bad credit.

Top Lenders for Borrowers with Bad Credit


The following lenders are our top picks for those with bad credit:

1. CashUSA.com
Best Overall
2. MoneyMutual
Best for Short-Term Loans
3. BadCreditLoans.com
Best for Loans Without Collateral
4. PersonalLoans.com
Best for Speedy Loans
5. CashAdvance.com
Best for Small Loans
6. Avant
Best for Those on the Higher End of “Bad Credit”
7. LendingPoint
Best for Those Actively Improving Their Credit

Bad Credit Loans with Guaranteed Approval

Below, we take a deep dive into the top seven lending platforms for those with bad credit. Each lender has its own pros and cons.

1. CashUSA.com – Best Overall

CashUsa.com logo

Pros

  • Usually provides funds quickly
  • Loan terms vary wildly
  • Decent interest rates for these loans
  • Good loan range
  • No extra fees from CashUSA.com

Cons

  • Requirements can be a bit strict besides credit

CashUSA.com is a phenomenal bad credit lender overall for a variety of reasons. For starters, they offer competitive interest rates between 5.99% and 35.99%; these are high compared to other loans, but decent for those with bad credit.

They are also pretty fast when it comes to actually accessing your funds. You can usually get your cash by the next business day.

The business operates by connecting you to various lenders who might take your case even with bad credit. Loans range from as low as $500 to as high as $10,000, so they work for those with larger and smaller debts alike. They also don’t charge any additional fees for their service.

The downside to all these benefits is that CashUSA has a few strict requirements. For instance, they require you to earn a specific amount of income every month and have a checking account. So they’re not a good choice if you’re unemployed and have bad credit.

2. MoneyMutual – Best for Short-Term Loans

MoneyMutual Logo

Pros

  • Offers loan money quickly
  • Good for short-term loans with lower upper limits
  • Several payment plans available

Cons

  • Somewhat limited availability
  • Hard to determine interest rates or loan terms

MoneyMutual is a service that exclusively provides short-term loans for those with bad credit. As a result, they only allow you to borrow up to $2500 in a single loan. However, they can make your funds available in as little as 24 hours and are extremely easy to apply for – you do it online and can be done in five minutes.

They’re also able to connect you to several lenders that come with a plethora of different payment terms. As a result, you might find a lender that works with your unique financial situation a little more easily than you would with another lending organization. This does mean that nailing down the exact interest rate or loan term ahead of time is tricky.

You may need to go through several of their connectable lenders, for instance, until you find one that works for you. Furthermore, they’re not available in New York or Connecticut.

3. BadCreditLoans.com – Best for No Collateral Loans

BadCreditLoans.com Logo

Pros

  • Decent loan amount range
  • The application process is quick and easy
  • Doesn’t require collateral
  • Accepts those with any credit score
  • Good loan term variety

Cons

  • Need income and checking account
  • Loan limit might be lower than what you expect

BadCreditLoans is a decent choice if you don’t have any collateral to put up for a bad credit loan or you aren’t interested in putting your house or car on the line for whatever reason.

They offer you loan agreements that can range between $500 and $5000, although keep in mind that they do have loan limits based on your credit score. Those with very bad credit might only be able to borrow up to $1000.

You are required to have a checking account and a source of reliable income, too. If all these requirements don’t dissuade you, you might benefit from an interest rate as low as 5.99%.

Loan terms are also pretty flexible, going between 3 and 60 months. Applying for one of the loans is pretty quick and easy and you should be able to get your cash within the next business day under most scenarios.

4. PersonalLoans.com – Best for Fast Loans

PersonalLoans.com logo

Pros

  • Theoretically, a good lower interest rate is available
  • Good loan term range
  • Lots of variability in loan amounts
  • Typically fast approval time
  • No loan use stipulations

Cons

  • Many in the network have high-interest rates

PersonalLoans.com is an ideal choice if you need a loan quickly and potentially in high amounts. They provide loans between $500 and $35,000, and regardless of what amount you need, you might get it in a single business day.

They typically make loan decisions based on the same day of your application. The only delay is due to how they may need to wire the money to your account.

They also provide relatively competitive interest rates between 5.99% and 35.99%, along with flexible loan terms between 3 and 72 months. You can use the loan however you like without any stipulations from the lender.

They provide a relatively large lender network, so finding someone with a payment plan that works for you is potentially a bit easier than otherwise.

Be advised, though, that there are plenty of more strict lenders within this network that offer interest rates at the higher end of the range.

5. CashAdvance.com – Best for Small Loan Amounts 

Pros

  • Very fast decision on loans
  • Huge network of lenders to choose from
  • Offer very low loan amounts if you only need a bit of cash

Cons

  • Very high interest rates
  • Relatively strict income and employment requirements

CashAdvance is an ideal choice if you only need a small amount of money, particularly for a short amount of time. They welcome those with bad credit and provide loans between $100 and $1000.

Furthermore, lenders within their network make very fast decisions, sometimes as quickly as a few minutes. You should get your money within the next business day.

Of course, all these advantages to quickly getting a few hundred dollars come with the disadvantages that payday loans are known for. You need a required income of $1000 per month and at least 90 days on the job.

In addition, interest rates can be as high as 200% or even go as high as over 2000%. This means you’ll only want to look into this lender if you absolutely need a small amount of cash fast.

6. Avant – Best for Credit on the Border to Fair or Good

Avant.com Logo

Pros

  • Good loan terms
  • Decent loan amount range
  • Good customer service overall
  • Offers credit cards as well
  • Some cards have cash advance options

Cons

  • APR is relatively high, even on the low-end
  • There’s an administration fee

Avant is a lending platform that provides loans to those with fair for good credit more often than not. However, they do accept borrowers who happen to have credit scores that are lower than 600 under the right circumstances. Thus, they’re a good pick if you have credit that’s right on the line and just can’t get another lender to cut you some slack.

They offer loans between $2000 and $35,000 which can be available by the next business day. They do offer relatively high interest rates, though, which range between 9.95% and 35.99%. There’s also an administration fee of up to 4.75% that you should be aware of.

They offer a range of credit cards you can pick up as well for additional lines of credit. The cards come with a cash advance option you might take advantage of, as well.

Their customer service team is top-notch and willing to work with you if you explain your situation. Furthermore, loan terms are usually between 2 and 5 years, which is fairly long.

7. LendingPoint – Best for Those Improving Credit Over Time

LendingPoint Logo

Pros

  • Very flexible in terms of payment dates/schedules
  • Give you the option of refinancing with good payment history
  • Fast at getting your money to you
  • Good upper limit for loans

Cons

  • Relatively high interest rates
  • Not available in West Virginia

LendingPoint is a good choice if you have bad credit but are already taking active steps to improve it. This is because LendingPoint is more interested in your debt to income ratio than your credit score. They have a minimum credit score of 585 and they aren’t available in West Virginia, but they are otherwise a good choice all around.

They can offer personal loans up to $25,000 and provide that money upon the next business day. Interest rates are a bit high at 9.99% to 35.99%, but they have a good range of loan repayment terms between 2 and 4 years. 

Most importantly, LendingPoint offers you the option to refinance your loan after making six months of on-time payments. This could allow you to get more money, negotiate your way to a lower interest rate, or even have a smaller monthly payment over time.

Even better, they let you choose your payment due date and will set up your payments on a schedule that works for you.

What Are Bad Credit Loans?

Bad credit loans are, as their names suggest, loans that you can still qualify for even if you have bad credit or no/low credit. This makes them open both to people with low credit scores or those who haven’t built up enough credit over their financial histories.

People can, unfortunately, lower their credit score via a variety of actions, including maxing out their credit cards or failing to make their payments on time. However, the existence of bad credit loans means that these individuals can still have some lines of credit open in the event of an emergency or to help handle their debts.

This being said, bad credit loans often come with several stipulations or strings attached. For instance, many bad credit loans have high-interest rates and various fees.

Predatory bad credit loans are common across the industry. This is why finding “good” bad credit loans is so important.

Bad credit loans can be offered by banks, online lenders, credit unions, and other organizations.

Are There Any Real Guaranteed Loans for Bad Credit?

Even though we’ve talked about “guaranteed” bad credit loans above, there are no actual guaranteed bad credit loans in reality. Loans like the above may be tailored for specific individuals with bad credit or other factors.

But no loan is ever 100% guaranteed – it all comes down to the discretion of the lender. This is why real lenders never claim to guarantee loan approval to anyone, even those with absolutely perfect credit and ideal financial circumstances.

In fact, if a lender ever tries to guarantee that they’ll give you a loan even though you have bad credit, it’s a good idea to avoid them. They’re lying to you, plain and simple.

What Are the Types of Bad Credit Loans?

Bad credit loans come in several different types, some of which were mentioned above.

Secured Loans

Secured loans are those that require collateral to back up the loan amount. Collateral, in this sense, is some kind of physically valued property or an item that has real-world value.

The collateral for these types of loans are usually high-value and necessary items like homes or cars.

As a benefit, secured loans typically offer better rates, higher loan limits, and several other advantages. This is because those who take out secured loans have greater incentives to pay back the loan appropriately. The flip side, of course, is that defaulting on this loan can result in you having to give up whatever collateral you agreed to.

Unsecured Loans

Unsecured loans are the opposite of secured loans. They don’t require any collateral.

Instead, any lending organization determines whether you are approved for an unsecured loan based on your ethereal creditworthiness. These are therefore harder to qualify for if you have bad credit, although they are not secured by any asset, so you don’t risk losing your car or home if you don’t pay. Note that these loans do come with higher interest rates and lower loan limits in most cases.

Payday Loans

Payday loans are another common type of loan available to those with bad credit. These are also often given out by predatory organizations, so watch out.

Payday loans are short-term loans designed to hold people over until their next paycheck. They’re usually offered in amounts of $500 or less. These loans are given out by lenders who don’t normally run any credit checks.

However, they come with disadvantages; interest rates can run as high as 400% and other ancillary fees may be included.

Payday loans should only ever be sought out rarely, as it’s easy to become trapped in a cycle of debt by repaying payday loans with other payday loans. Others get stuck in a cycle by taking out a payday loan just to pay it back with their check, emptying their account once again.

Cash Advances

Cash advances are short-term loans given out by lenders that don’t check your credit. They do require you to show proof of income, and they provide those with bad credit some cash in advance in exchange for a loan with a high-interest rate and several fees. They’re normally used if someone needs to make a big purchase and can’t wait until their payday.

Bank Agreements

Bank agreements are loans given out by your bank. These are typically short term and may enable you to get your finances in order before your next paycheck.

They’re heavily dependent on your banking history and whether you have any money in the banking account – however, they can be much better in terms of interest rates and fees compared to a typical payday loan from a third-party.

Home Equity Loans for Bad Credit

Home equity loans are a type of secured loan that uses your home equity as the collateral and are distinct from mortgage loans, although it’s easy to get them mixed up. They give you a lump sum of money to be paid back over time in fixed monthly installments. These can be easier for people with bad credit to acquire because the debt is secured by the mortgage rather than by credit score.

HELOCs

HELOCs, or home equity lines of credit, are loans that are based in value on your home’s equity. Like the above loan, they’re also secured by the equity of your home.

They’re somewhat like credit cards in that they let you borrow a set amount whenever you need and come with variable interest rates. HELOCs are sometimes used by those looking to invest in other property or get enough money to secure another valuable item like a car. 

What’s the Easiest Loan to Get with Bad Credit?

The easiest bad credit loans to get, by far, are payday loans or loans from other no credit check organizations. Easiest, of course, does not mean the best by any measure. The trade-off to the advantage of having access to an instant line of credit or a bundle of cash is that the loans often come with several costly strings attached.

For instance, payday loans and similar loans like them usually come with very short repayment periods, high interest rates, or lots of extra fees that you have to pay when the bill comes due.

How to Get a Personal Loan with Bad Credit

It’s entirely possible to get a personal loan with bad credit. However, you should still do a lot of research to figure out the best loan you can take out.

Firstly, you should check your credit score. Free credit reports can be requested from your credit union or from websites such as AnnualCreditReport.com.

These resources perform soft credit checks rather than hard, so they don’t lower your credit score. You also get one free credit report every year from each main credit reporting agency.

Next, you should make sure you have enough income to progressively repay the loan. This may take some budget calculation.

You never want to take a loan with bad credit if you can’t pay it back in the foreseeable future or on schedule. This will only result in your credit score lowering even further.

After that, compare various bad credit personal loan options like we did above. You should always take advantage of the available bad credit loans that have the most favorable interest rates and lowest (or no) fees.

Furthermore, it’s a good idea to take advantage of loans that you may “prequalify” for. Some lenders let you check whether you’ll qualify for their loan without checking your credit ahead of time. This can prevent your credit score from tipping even further and will let you shop around for rates or loan amounts without committing to anything.

Finally, always look into secured loans whenever you have bad credit and need some extra financing flexibility. The fact of the matter is that secured loans are much more accessible if you have bad credit, even if the consequences of not repaying the loan are more dramatic.

Do You Need Collateral to Get a Bad Credit Loan?

You don’t always need collateral in order to get a bad credit loan, as explained above. Only secured loans necessarily require collateral – HELOC loans and home equity loans are variations of secured loans. You can still get unsecured loans, payday loans, and cash advances even if you don’t have any collateral.

Can You Get a Bad Credit Loan if You’re Unemployed?

This depends greatly on the lender in question. Some lenders have more specific requirements and may demand and employment history and reliable income if they are to give you any money. Others may accept borrowers without an employment history or without a current job.

However, it’s usually easier to get a loan if you are unemployed if you also have some collateral to back your loan up (i.e. a secured loan). It’s also easier to get a bad credit loan if you’re unemployed if you nonetheless have a history of employment – for instance, if you’re only temporarily in between jobs but were working for the previous six months.

Other lenders may demand that you are employed and that you have some work history with the organization in question. For these lenders, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been employed for a week; most lenders who want you to be employed in the first place only care if you have around 90 days or so of employment history with the same company.

Are Bad Credit Loans Risky?

There is technically risk in any kind of loan you take out, not just bad credit ones. However, bad credit loans carry additional risk inherently because they presume you already have bad credit. It’s a lot easier to tank your credit score when you already have bad credit than it is when you have excellent credit.

By taking on a loan, you are willfully taking on the chance that you will increase your debt over time if you don’t manage to pay your bills promptly.

However, bad credit loans carry an additional factor of risk – the lenders themselves. Because those in need of bad credit loans are often undereducated in the areas of finance or don’t make much of an income already, predatory lenders and scammers frequently target at-risk populations. 

Therefore, it’s always important that you properly vet a company before taking a bad credit loan from them.

Can You Get A Bad Credit Loan Without a Credit Check?

Yes, some bad credit lenders will offer you a loan without a credit check. However, keep in mind that many of these companies are the above-mentioned scammers or predatory companies that don’t check credit for reasons other than the goodness of their hearts.

For instance, many of these lenders charge absolutely exorbitant fees or extremely high interest rates. These can often go upwards of 300% or even more. Always be wary of lenders that offer loans without credit checks of any kind – after all, they could always make a soft credit check without hurting your credit.

What About Without a Checking Account?

Yes, you can sometimes find bad credit loans without a checking account. These are usually cash advances or payday lenders.

However, your options are much more limited than if you do have a checking account. A checking account is a sign that lenders use for creditworthiness and to gauge your general ability to pay them back for the loan.

Additionally, many lenders only offer money through direct deposit, meaning you need a checking account if you want to receive the funds in the first place.

How Can You Tell if a Bad Credit Loan is a Scam?

We’ve talked a lot about how various bad credit lenders might be predatory or otherwise scamming you in some way. There are ways to tell whether a lending organization is potentially a scam.

One of the best ways to identify a “bad” bad credit lender is if they offer “guaranteed loans without approval”. Most reputable lenders worth their salt will likely want at least a soft check of your credit in addition to other personal income information, like your employment history and your monthly income rate.

If lenders don’t want this information, there’s a high likelihood that it doesn’t matter to them, which means that they expect you to default on the loan and collect money via more payments in the future.

You should also make sure that the lender in question is registered in your state of residence. The Federal Trade Commission requires this for all official lenders, so if they aren’t registered, they aren’t legit: period.

Another big way to spot a predatory lender is if they use annoying or otherwise intimidating advertising methods. If they constantly call your phone or are soliciting door-to-door, don’t bother taking them up on their offer.

They’re always trying to get people to sign up for bad loans and can’t be trusted to be legitimate. These are also usually accompanied by generally pushy salesmen who “won’t take no for an answer”.

Bad lending organizations can also be spotted if they demand “prepayment” fees. These are charges that are separate from the normal origination, appraisal, or application fees you can expect from a legitimate lending organization.

Prepayment charges are demands for cash or debit cards upfront – chances are that this is just a scam and the company is trying to scoop money out of its victims’ pockets before leaving them out to dry.

Predatory lending organizations can be spotted with other, more conventional means, too. For instance, if their website is insecure, it’s probably not worth your time and may even be open to hacking or other malicious cyberactivity. Secure websites begin with “https” and will have a padlock symbol in the address bar above the screen.

Additionally, bad lending organizations may forgo a physical address entirely. Always stay away from a lending organization that can’t be found in the real world. 

How Does Credit Affect Lending Decisions?

Credit can be “good” or “bad” based on the type of information the credit bureaus receive in a report.

Bad credit information is any information that would be unattractive to a prospective lender. Credit cards that are maxed out or close to being maxed out, late payments, defaulted financial obligations, or filing for bankruptcy are all easy examples. Good credit information is the reverse of all the above events: credit cards that are free and rarely used without being paid off immediately after, on-time payments, etc.

How does a lender decide whether you have good or bad credit? It all depends on your overall credit score. What a lender considers to be a good or bad credit score can, of course, vary. But, in general, credit scores are arranged as follows:

  • 300-579: poor
  • 580-669: fair
  • 670-739: good
  • 740-799: very good
  • 800-850: excellent

It can take several years to go from poor credit to good or very good credit. This is why it’s a good thing to start building up a good credit history as soon as you can.

A foundational aspect of building credit is, well, not letting your credit drop any further. Sometimes this can happen without any fault of your own, through identify theft or cyber attacks. The best way to prevent this is through an automated credit monitoring service which will notify you if anything strange takes place.

How Can You Fix Your Credit to Get a Better Loan?

Bad credit loans are always intended to be short-term solutions while people improve their credit scores and eventually find their way back to creditworthiness. Fixing your credit to get better loans takes a lot of time and some hard work, but there are multiple ways in which you can make this happen.

First and foremost, pay every bill you have on time. Building up a history of timely payments will eventually inform credit agencies that you have the ability to pay your debts reliably and on time. Most billing entities these days allow you to set up automatic payments – take advantage of these tools whenever you can.

Secondly, you should begin paying down your debt as much as possible. Every free cent you have that isn’t dedicated to savings or necessities should be spent on paying down your debt.

Credit agencies use many tools to calculate your credit score. One of the most important aspects is your debt to income ratio – this measures how much debt you have compared to how much money you bring in.

Tilting this ratio greater into the favor of your income is an excellent way to increase your credit score. For motivation, it often helps to eliminate smaller debts and gradually build up to larger chunks of money.

Don’t forget to look into debt consolidation – it might help you manage your various bills and even take out fewer loans to stay afloat. Leveraging one of the best loans for debt consolidation can actually lower the amount of interest you’ll pay in the long run.

There are also plenty of credit score boosting programs you can take advantage of.

For instance, some special credit cards exist to help you boost credit by reporting every on-time payment you make to all the major credit bureaus. Other programs may allow you to add various payments, like payments to your phone or utility companies, to your credit history. This is essentially padding your score, but it’s all worthwhile in the end.

Further, you should always close any credit cards you never use. All the credit bureaus like accounts that have long payment histories. If you aren’t using a credit card, there’s no payment history for you to benefit from, and it may even passively lower your score over time.

Similarly, don’t open too many credit cards at once. Keep only the cards you plan to use.

Opening credit cards from anyone requires a hard check of your credit score, which lowers it by a set amount. If you already have bad credit, you can’t afford these negative points.

It can also be worthwhile to check your credit report personally and fix any errors you see by contesting them with your credit bureaus. In many cases, credit bureaus will fix errors if you put up enough of a fight, even if they don’t find evidence that there’s an error.

If there aren’t any errors, there’s still a chance you’ll be able to fix your credit. There are a number of top credit repair companies that will actually write customized letters to credit bureaus on your behalf.

Alternatives to Bad Credit Emergency Loans

If you have bad credit and are looking into an emergency loan, you may not necessarily need to stick with one of the predatory organizations we’ve been warning you about. There are some alternative paths to debt relief you can look into.

For instance, charities, religious organizations, and nonprofits all exist explicitly to help people who are in need. If you require emergency assistance, one of these organizations might be able to lend a hand. This is especially true if you are a demographic protected by the organization or if you are already a member of the organization itself (for instance, if you’re a member of a church).

Your employer or your bank may be able to give you an emergency loan, or a paycheck advance in the case of your employer. This is even more true if your employer knows you personally and is run by people who don’t belong to a big corporate entity (like a “mom and pop” store).

Don’t discount the avenues available to you from friends or family, of course.

If your need for emergency money is driven by a huge bill, like a medical bill you didn’t anticipate, don’t panic. You can often set up a payment plan or work with the hospital or medical center to figure out a way to balance the book. These organizations aren’t out to get you and understand that life sometimes comes at you with multiple curveballs.

Regardless of which path you take to handle your financial needs, you should immediately begin building up an emergency fund as soon as you are in the black and out of debt. Emergency funds, nest eggs, or whatever else you want to call them can prevent you from sliding into debt once again in case disaster strikes.

Then you should also take any good habits you learned from paying back your debt to avoid falling into debt once more as soon as your credit cards are freed up.

Summary

Bad credit loans can be lifesavers, but only if you find lenders that are worth your time and already fragile credit score. With the wrong lender, you could easily throw your financial situation into even greater jeopardy. But the right bad credit loan can help you turn everything around.

Hopefully, one of the above options we described is a great choice for your needs. We think that each of those lenders offers good opportunities to those committed to improving their credit and making the best of their situation.

Don’t forget the alternatives we outlined if you need fast cash and aren’t really sure about taking out a bad credit loan. There are almost always other options.

Still, be sure to let us know if you have ever used one of the above lenders. We’d be happy to hear about your experience. Good luck!

All reviews, research, news and assessments of any kind on The Tokenist are compiled using a strict editorial review process by our editorial team. Neither our writers nor our editors receive direct compensation of any kind to publish information on TheTokenist.io. Our company, Tokenist Media LLC, is community supported and may receive a small commission when you purchase products or services through links on our website. Click here for a full list of our partners and an in-depth explanation on how we get paid.

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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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