Advance America loan review: High interest rates for payday loans

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In a Nutshell

Advance America is a large lender that offers payday loans, installment loans and title loans for people who don’t have great credit. While loans from Advance America can be funded quickly, sky-high interest rates and fees make these loans a last resort that you should avoid if possible.

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Pros Cons
People with bad credit may be approved High interest rates
Potentially fast funding Payday loans don’t help you build credit
Small loan amounts available Not available in all states

What you need to know about Advance America loans

Advance America is a large lender that offers online loans and in-person lending at more than 1,900 physical locations. It offers payday loans, installment loans, title loans and personal lines of credit to people with less-than-perfect credit.

Payday loan amounts can start at as little as $100, but both the minimum and maximum loan amounts can vary by state.

High interest rates

Interest rates at Advance America can be very high. Rates vary by loan type and state, but still often exceed triple digits. For example, payday loan interest rates in California come with an annual percentage rate, or APR, that equates to around 460%.

Interest rates for installment loans can be a bit lower, but some still have APRs higher than 200%. 

Short loan terms

Advance America’s payday loans are short-term loans due on your next payday, typically within two to four weeks. Extending these loans for a longer period can be very expensive.

Installment loans from Advance America have longer terms available, ranging from 12 months to 36 months.

Good credit may not be needed

You may qualify for an Advance America loan even if you don’t have good credit. The company’s payday loans, also called cash advances, require a government ID, Social Security number, proof of income and an active checking account to apply, and may require a credit check. Installment loans do require a credit check, though.

A closer look at Advance America loans

Advance America says it has issued 124 million loans over 20 years. Here’s a closer look at some other important features of Advance America.

  • Many physical locations: Advance America has 1,900 locations across the U.S.
  • Not available in all states: Payday loans are illegal in some states. Depending on your local laws, Advance America may not operate where you live.
  • Potentially fast access to cash: If you take out a payday loan at a physical location, you may be able to leave with cash in your hand. Online applications made by 10:30 a.m. EST on weekdays may be funded to your bank account the same day. Advance America says approval decisions are made in minutes.
  • Rollovers may be available: Depending on your state, you may be able to renew your payday loan and extend it for a number of months. While this may seem like a benefit, the fees and interest can be incredibly costly.

Who an Advance America loan is good for

If you can avoid a loan that charges an APR in the triple digits, you should. Payday loans are expensive and should be used only as a last resort when you need cash and don’t have other options.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warns that payday loans can often become debt traps, with people taking on new debt to pay off the old debt.

But it’s not always realistic to forego payday loans. If you decide to apply for a high-interest loan from Advance America, it’s important to be aware of the potential costs over time and create a budget to ensure that you can repay the loan.

Understanding payday loans and your options

How to apply with Advance America

Applying for a loan from Advance America is fast and easy. The in-store and online application processes are very similar.

Here’s what you’ll need to provide to apply for a payday loan or installment loan from Advance America. If you’re applying for an installment loan, you may need to provide more information.

  • Government ID
  • Proof of income
  • Checking account
  • Social Security number
  • Personal check (for in-store applications)
  • Valid email address (for online applications)

To apply in person, bring the required information to an Advance America location near you. For an online application, you can enter the info on the Advance America website.

Not sure if Advance America is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

Payday loans aren’t for everyone. If you’re struggling financially and looking to borrow, consider a payday alternative loan first. Here are some other lenders you might want to consider.

  • Avant: Avant may be a good choice if you have fair credit and want a lower interest rate than you’d typically find with a payday lender.
  • LendUp: People looking to graduate from payday lending may want to look at LendUp for its responsible-borrowing incentives.