Community Choice Financial short-term loans review

Payday, installment and auto title loans open to residents of 31 states.

Community Choice Financial and its subsidiaries work with borrowers in over half the US to offer short-term loans. But you might want to read the fine print carefully before borrowing with this company — it recently finalized a settlement with the state of California due to deceptive lending practices.

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Product NameCommunity Choice Financial short-term loans
Loan TermVaries by state
Turnaround TimeAs fast as the same day
RequirementsRegular source of income, valid bank account, US citizen or permanent resident, ages 18+

What is Community Choice Financial?

Community Choice Financial is a short-term lender that offers payday, installment, auto title and motorcycle title loans to residents of 31 states. Its online loans are offered through Cash Central, while its in-store loans are offered by Community Choice Financial or one of its subsidiaries.

Because it works in a wide variety of states with their own regulations, how much you can borrow, rates, fees and terms will vary depending on where you live. You’ll need to check Community Choice Financial’s website for information about the loans available in your specific state. Regardless of where you live, expect APRs in the triple digits — which can mean paying back double or even triple the amount you borrowed.

What states is Community Choice Financial available in?

Community Choice Financial is available in 31 states:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

What are the benefits of Community Choice Financial?

Community Choice Financial provides clear information on the services it offers.

  • More than just loans. The lenders working under Community Choice Financial offer prepaid debit cards, check cashing and other in-store services.
  • Informative security policy. Community Choice Financial has a robust security policy that explains exactly how it collects and uses your personal information — rare for a short-term lender.
  • Wide availability. Community Choice Financial and its subsidiaries are able to offer loans to residents of 31 states.

What to watch out for

Community Choice Financial may have a few transparent policies, but it does have some drawbacks:

  • Faced recent government action. The state of California recently finalized a settlement against Community Choice Financial. It accused the business of overcharging borrowers, running deceptive advertising and cashing checks before the due date.
  • Not always Community Choice Financial. You won’t necessarily be borrowing from Community Choice Financial. Instead, you may have to work with Cash Central or one of its subsidiaries.
  • No general FAQs. Although Community Choice Financial has an FAQ section about its privacy policy, it doesn’t have one about its loans and how they work.

What companies does Community Choice Financial do business as?

Community Choice Financial also operates as:

  • EasyMoney Cash Center
  • CheckSmart
  • First Virginia
  • California Check Cashing
  • Cash1
  • Cash & Go

For online loans, you’ll be redirected to Cash Central.

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Is it safe to apply for a loan from Community Choice Financial?

Possibly, though you should be careful. While Community Choice Financial has a secure website and informative privacy policy, the action taken against the company by the state of California is telling. The lender was ordered to pay $105,000 in penalties and refund approximately $800,000 to former borrowers. There have also been cases where the Community Choice Financial name has been used in scams.

Because of these two points, you should pay extra attention to the lender you’re borrowing from, since there’s a chance it won’t be Community Choice Financial. Read our guide to payday loan scams and understand your contract before signing. This can help prevent you from giving money to the wrong company — and help ensure the fees you pay for your loan are legal in your state.

What do borrowers say about Community Choice Financial?

Community Choice Financial has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 1998 and earns a B+ rating. But as of August 2019, nearly 150 borrowers have filed complaints against the company.

Criticisms center around the lender’s poor customer service and high fees. Many borrowers also complain about being called multiple times a day.

Am I eligible?

Community Choice Financial doesn’t state any specific eligibility requirements, though you typically need to meet the following criteria to take out a short-term loan:

  • Regular source of income
  • Active bank account
  • US citizen or permanent resident
  • At least 18 years old

How do I apply?

You can apply in person at one of Community Choice Financial’s storefronts. Or you can fill out its online application through its partner lender, Cash Central. Just follow these three steps:

  1. Visit Community Choice Financial’s website and click Apply Now.
  2. Select your state and click Continue to Application to be redirected to Cash Central’s website.
  3. Enter information about yourself, your employment and your bank account.
  4. Provide contact details for three references.
  5. Click Submit.

Once you submit your application, Cash Central will contact you to verify your information. If approved, you’ll typically receive your funds in one business day.

What documents do I need to apply?

When you apply, have the following information ready:

  • Bank account information
  • Social Security number
  • Contact details for three references

I got a short-term loan. Now what?

It’s time to start budgeting for repayments. Read over the entire loan contract and make note of the fees you’ll be charged and the due date.

Since you aren’t necessarily borrowing through Community Choice Financial, double-check the name of the lender you should be making repayments to. If you run into any problems or have any questions with your loan, reach out to the customer service team of the lender listed on your loan contract.

Bottom line

Community Choice Financial and its subsidiaries may operate in a slew of states around the US. But it can get confusing knowing exactly what company you’re borrowing from. And its recent government action over unscrupulous lending practices is more than a little disconcerting.

See how it stacks up to other short-term lenders with our guide to payday loans.

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