Checkmate has over two decades of experience providing a range of alternative financial services. But while it offers multiple types of loans, its limited reach and lack of reviews may mean you’re better off finding a lender that has a more established online presence.
What is Checkmate?
Checkmate is a short-term lender that offers a number of services to its borrowers, including:
Payday loans. Checkmate offers payday loans to residents of California, Colorado and Washington. The exact amount you can borrow and the term you qualify for depends on your state, but in general, you can borrow anywhere from $50 to $700.
Installment loans. You may qualify for up to $2,500 if you’re a resident of New Mexico with a bank account and regular source of income. However, the longer term and larger loan amount usually means you’ll pay a hefty amount in interest and fees.
Auto title loans. Residents of Arizona and California may be eligible for an auto title loan. The exact amount you qualify for will depend on your vehicle and income, but be careful: Auto title loans may be convenient, but if you default, you could lose your car.
Checkmate also offers check cashing services and cash for gift cards.
Payday loans from Checkmate come with a number of features:
Transparent fee schedule. You can find out how much your loan will cost before you apply. Checkmate displays the fee structure it follows for different states on its website and provides a clear indication of applicable fees in a dollar amount as well as an annual percentage rate (APR).
Simple and quick. The application doesn’t take long to complete. If you apply during working hours, you can find out about your application’s status soon after. If approved, you can pick up your loan funds at a Checkmate location.
Bad credit OK. Unlike banks and traditional lenders, Checkmate looks beyond your credit score to make a lending decision. If you have a regular source of income and can demonstrate an ability to repay, you may qualify for a Checkmate payday loan.
Online account management. Checkmate gives you free access to its online payment system. You can use this to view your due date, make a payment or even schedule one for the future.
Minimal reviews. Despite its age, Checkmate doesn’t have many reviews online. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does mean you won’t know how it treats its borrowers before you apply.
Risk losing your vehicle. If you opt for an auto title loan and default, you may lose your car to repossession. This could potentially make your financial situation worse, so be sure you can afford the full cost of your loan when you apply.
Beware of high costs and fees
Checkmate provides a fee schedule that you can use to see the potential cost of your loan. It might not look like a lot, but even the smallest fees can add up and make your short-term loan quite expensive.
Short-term loans should only be used in an emergency, so consider your alternative options first. It can make a difference between a tight budget and a little more breathing room while you get your finances sorted.
Are Checkmate loans safe?
Not only does Checkmate have a secure website and application, but it also follows state-specific payday lending rules in every state that it offers loans.
In addition, it is a member of the Financial Service Centers of America (FiSCA), the Financial Service Centers of Washington (FiSCWA), the California Financial Service Providers Association (CFSP) and the New Mexico Independent Finance Association (NMIFA). These trade organizations work to uphold fair lending practices. Even so, it’s important to carefully read over your loan contract before you borrow to be sure you’re getting a good deal.
What does the Internet say about Checkmate?
Not much. Checkmate doesn’t have a Trustpilot page, and the few Better Business Bureau (BBB) pages it has are all individual locations – making it difficult to tell if any problems that come up are from the branches themselves or Checkmate as a company.
The easiest way to tell if your branch is a good place to borrow is to call or visit. This way, you’ll be able to see how its customer service reps treat potential borrowers. If you like what you see – and don’t mind the high fees – it could be worthwhile to submit an application.
Am I eligible?
In order to apply for a short-term loan from Checkmate, you’ll need to meet some basic eligibility criteria:
You must be a resident of one of Checkmate’s serviced states
You must have a steady source of income
You must have an active bank account
You must be a US citizen or permanent resident
You must be at least 18 years old
How do I apply?
To complete your application, you’ll need to give Checkmate
Your name, phone number, email address and home address
Your bank account number and bank’s routing number
Details from a valid form of government-issued ID
Details about your employment and income
While you can start the application process online, you’ll have to complete it at a Checkmate branch in every state but Washington. If you’re approved, you can visit your nearest Checkmate store to pick up your loan funds.
I’ve got the loan. Now what?
You have to repay the loan in full on or before the due date noted in the loan contract, which is usually your next payday. You can make a payment online or at a branch.
The fees you have to pay toward your Checkmate loan depend on state-specific laws as well as the loan amount.
For example, if you take a $100 payday loan for 14 days in Colorado, you’ll have to pay a finance charge of $20. In California, you would have to pay $17.65. It would change to $15 in Washington.
Depending on the state you live in, you may have to pay additional fees if you don’t repay the loan on time. These can come in the form of rollover fees and collection related fees. Check the costs on Checkmate’s website before you apply to ensure the loan will be affordable on your budget.
Checkmate is a well-established lender that offers multiple loan options to its borrowers. However, the high costs and limited state reach – not to mention the lack of reviews – might turn some people off.
If your bank returns a check or an ACH, Checkmate will charge an NSF fee in accordance with your state laws. If you don’t arrive at a repayment schedule with the Credit Services Department of Checkmate, your account may go to a collection agency. In Washington, you have the option of going on an installment plan.
The Checkmate website has an easy-to-use store locater tool. All you have to do is enter your zip code to view nearby stores.
A short-term loan is a small loan, usually for less than $1,000, that can be used to cover emergency expenses and gaps in a budget. Because they are targeted toward borrowers with bad credit, they tend to have high interest rates. The regulations surrounding short-term loans vary from state to state, so check your state’s laws before you apply with a lender.
Elizabeth Barry is Finder's global fintech editor. She has written about finance for over six years and has been featured in a range of publications and media including Seven News, the ABC, Mamamia, Dynamic Business and Financy. Elizabeth has a Bachelor of Communications and a Master of Creative Writing from the University of Technology Sydney. In 2017, she received the Highly Commended award for Best New Journalist at the IT Journalism Awards. Elizabeth's passion is writing about innovations in financial services (which has surprised her more than anyone else).
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