CFSA lenders: Best practices and what to look out for |
community financial services association cfsa payday loan

What is the Community Financial Services Association of America?

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This trade organization also strives to empower consumers.

If you’ve seen the CFSA seal at the bottom of short-term lender sites, you might’ve wondered what it means and just whom this organization represents.

The Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA) is a national trade organization for payday and short-term lenders that also strives to promote laws and protections for consumers.

What is the Community Financial Services Association of America?

Founded in 1999, the CFSA is a trade organization built to protect short-term lenders by lobbying for the right to provide small-dollar, short-term and payday loans to Americans. Though it exists to protect the interests of the industry, it also holds its members to a series of best practices designed to keep short-term borrowers informed through transparent disclosures, truthful advertising and the dangers of taking on too much debt.

But keep in mind that it’s still run by lenders, meaning some of its policies may conflict with consumers’ financial interests.

Which lenders are members of the CFSA?

  • 1-2-3 CA$H
  • Advance America Cash Advance Centers
  • Advance Cash
  • Amscot Financial
  • AT Financial Services
  • Axcess Financial/Check ‘n Go
  • Cash 1
  • Cash 2-U Loans
  • Cash Depot of MS
  • Cash Factory USA
  • Check City
  • Check Into Cash
  • Check on Hold
  • CMM/Cash Tyme
  • Community Choice Financial DBA CheckSmart Financial
  • Consumer Lending Associates
  • Curo Financial Technologies Corp.
  • Dollar Financial Group
  • EC Holding (EmergiCash)
  • EMG Acquisition Group
  • Financial Service Centers of Ohio
  • Harpeth Financial Services (Advance Financial)
  • Instant Cash Advance Corp.
  • Ivy Funding Company
  • JD Finance
  • Speedy Cash/Lending Bear
  • Main Street Personal Finance (ACAC)
  • MoneyKey
  • Moneytree
  • National Check Cashers
  • NCP Finance
  • Northstate Check Exchange
  • Payday America
  • PH Financial Services
  • Power Finance Texas
  • QC Holdings
  • Speedee Cash Management Co.
  • Speedy Cash (Florida)
  • Thrifty Loans
  • USA Cash Services
  • Westrock Financial LTD
  • Xtracash

That’s a long list. Which lenders should I look at first?

We’ve put together a short list of CFSA members we’ve reviewed below.

  • Advance America. A founding member of the CFSA, Advance America offers payday loans, installment loans and auto title loans.
  • Check ‘n Go. Apply for a loan online or in person if you live in an eligible state.
  • Check City. Offers services that depend on your state of residence, but you can count on it being licensed to operate in every state it conducts business in.
  • Check Into Cash. Offers payday loans, auto title loans, installment loans and lines of credit for its online and in-store applicants.
  • MoneyKey. Also a member of the Online Lenders Alliance, MoneyKey operates in less than a dozen states while abiding by laws protecting consumers from predatory lending practices.
  • Speedy Cash. Apply in person or online for a payday loan, installment loan, auto title loan or line of credit with the option to load your approved funds onto a prepaid debit card.

What if the lender I’m interested in isn’t a member of the CFSA?

A CFSA membership might mean something to you when comparing lenders, but it’s not a requirement for transparent practices. Plenty of legit lenders out there aren’t members of the CFSA.

If you’re worried, confirm that a lender’s site includes:

  • Contact information. A legit lender will display their contact information posted clearly online. If you have questions before or after you apply, you shouldn’t hesitate to call or email someone to confirm facts. It can save you time and money in the long run.
  • Transparent terms. Know how much it will cost to borrow before you apply. Every state has different laws about payday loans that businesses need to abide by, so a lender presenting the potential APR and loan cap is a sign of good practices.
  • FAQ section. A reputable lender’s site should include a clearly defined section that answers your most general questions. If it doesn’t, look into a lender that does to avoid signing a loan agreement blind to how it works or what it costs.
  • Reviews and accreditation. Many lenders include reviews on their websites, but a legit lender is also easy to find in an online search, with a good rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Because it’s your financial future on the line, this information can be an important factor when taking out a short-term loan.

Think a lender might be running a scam? Protect yourself by knowing what to avoid

Compare legit online loans

Updated May 24th, 2019
Name Product Filter Values Max. Loan Amount Loan Term Turnaround Time
6 months to 6 years
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Get connected with multiple lenders you might qualify with — even if you have bad credit.
9 to 36 months
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Comes with the option to change your due date so you won’t fall behind on repayments.
1 to 2 business days
Get access to tools to help you plan a career move, make some extra cash or search for a better-paying job.
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Varies by state
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Explore its online education center to get tips on budgeting, how to prioritize your bills and more.
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Its satisfaction guarantee means you can return the full loan amount within 72 hours if you change your mind.
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Plus, get access to check cashing, cell phone top ups, bill pay and more at one of its many storefronts.

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated May 24th, 2019
Name Product Filter Values Max. Loan Amount Turnaround Time Requirements
As soon as the next business day
Regular source of income, verifiable bank account, US citizen, ages 18+
Get connected with multiple lenders you might qualify with — even if you have bad credit.
1 business day
$1,000+ monthly income, direct deposit, US citizen or permanent resident, ages 18+
Get offers from potential lenders in minutes by filling out just one online form.
1 business day
Employed, $800+ regular monthly income, checking account, ages 18+, US citizen
Fill out a simple online form to compare offers from several lenders that may be able to help.
As early as 1 business day
$1,000+ monthly income after taxes, valid checking account
Explore its online education center to get tips on budgeting, how to prioritize your bills and more.
1 business day
Valid bank account, proof of employment or steady income, US citizen, ages 18+
No credit? Past bankruptcy? One of the lenders in its network may still be able to help.
1 to 2 business days
Employed, $1,000+ monthly income after taxes, US citizen or permanent resident, ages 18+
Use its repayment calculator to see how the loan term and amount you borrow affects the overall cost.

Compare up to 4 providers

I heard about the Online Lenders Alliance (OLA). Is this the same organization?

No. But both organizations claim to hold short-term lenders to quality standards, which might be a way to determine if your lender is legit.

OLA mainly comprises short-term loan brokers, whereas the CFSA works mainly with direct payday lenders.

These aren’t firm categories, though. Some lenders, like MoneyKey, we review are members of both. Each organization advertises different best practices for its member lenders, which might help you to feel more confident about your decision.

Find out more about the Online Lenders Alliance (OLA)

What to watch out for

Payday loans can become a source of major debt if you don’t handle them responsibly. When considering a member of the CFSA to service your loan, keep in mind that its best practices listed are in place to protect lenders as well as consumers.

Never rely on one source of information when reviewing a possible lender. Instead, compare costs and repayment terms to make sure you can afford to borrow the loan, and consider the alternatives before you apply.

What are the best practices outlined by the CFSA?

Although many of the best practices listed on CFSA’s site sound like common sense, many disreputable lenders don’t follow the laws or try to skirt them. Because predatory practices can harm consumers and lenders, the CFSA claims to enforce basic ideas about transparency to make it clear what short-term loans should do.

Even if you decide to go with a lender outside the CFSA, keep these best practices in mind when choosing a provider.

Bottom line

When you’re looking for a way to prevent financial disaster, it can feel impossible to find a reputable lender with affordable loans in a pinch. Payday loans have a reputation for predatory practices, but the CFSA is working to change that perception.

You’ll still need to research any lender to confirm it abides by the laws of your state. But knowing that it participates in an organization like the Community Financial Services Association of America might help you determine its legitimacy.

Are payday loans available in my state?

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