The CFSA has a long list of best practices to help consumers find a short-term loan that works for them.
If you’ve been browsing short-term lender websites and seen the CFSA seal at the bottom, you might be wondering what it means and what this organization represents. Our article will outline what you need to know about the Community Financial Services Association of America, how borrowing with one of their lenders could benefit you and what to watch out for.
What is the Community Financial Services Association of America?
Founded in 1999, the Community Financial Services Association of America, or CFSA, is a trade organization run by lenders that have developed a code of best practices in order to provide short-term loans to consumers while combatting the high costs and debt spiral.
Its mission is to keep payday lending legal while informing consumers of the possible negative impacts. But keep in mind that it’s still run by lenders, meaning some of the policies may conflict with consumers’ financial interests.
Which lenders are members of the CFSA?
- 1-2-3 CA$H
- Advance America Cash Advance Centers, Inc.
- Advance Cash
- Amscot Financial
- AT Financial Services
- Axcess Financial / Check ‘n Go, Inc.
- Cash 1
- Cash 2-U Loans
- Cash Depot of MS, LLC
- Cash Factory USA
- Check City
- Check Into Cash, Inc.
- Check on Hold
- CMM, LLC / Cash Tyme
- Community Choice Financial DBA CheckSmart Financial
- Consumer Lending Associates, LLC
- Curo Financial Technologies Corp.
- Dollar Financial Group, Inc.
- EC Holding (EmergiCash)
- EMG Acquisition Group, LLC
- Financial Service Centers of Ohio
- Harpeth Financial Services DBA Advance Financial
- Instant Cash Advance Corp.
- Ivy Funding Company LLC
- JD Finance, Inc
- Speedy Cash / Lending Bear
- Main Street Personal Finance / (ACAC, Inc.)
- Moneytree, Inc.
- National Check Cashers
- NCP Finance
- Northstate Check Exchange
- Payday America
- PH Financial Services, LLC
- Power Finance Texas
- QC Holdings, Inc.
- Speedee Cash Management Co. Inc.
- Speedy Cash, Inc. (Florida)
- Thrifty Loans, LLC
- USA Cash Services
- Westrock Financial LTD
- XTRACASH, LLC
That’s a long list. Which lenders should I look at first?
Here’s a short-list of CFSA members we’ve reviewed:
- Advance America. Advance America offers payday loans, installment loans and auto title loans to their customers and is one of the founding members of the CFSA.
- Check ‘n Go. You can apply for a Check ‘n Go loan online or in-store if you live in one of its eligible states. Check ‘n Go offers additional services in its store locations including check cashing.
- Check City. Check City offers a number of services depending on your state of residence, and you can count on it being licensed to operate in every state it conducts business in.
- Check Into Cash. Check Into Cash offers payday loans, auto title loans, installment loans and lines of credit for its online and in-store applicants.
- MoneyKey. MoneyKey is a member of the Online Lenders Alliance in addition to the CFSA. Though it only operates in less than a dozen states, it’s dedicated to abiding by the laws protecting consumers from predatory lending practices.
- Speedy Cash. You can apply in-store or online for a payday loan, installment loan, auto title loan or line of credit through this lender. You could have the option to have your approved funds loaded onto a prepaid debit card.
What if the lender I’m interested in isn’t a member of the CFSA?
Although a CFSA membership is a good place to start when you’re comparing lenders, it’s not a requirement for transparent practices that work with instead of against you. There are plenty of legit lenders out there that aren’t a member of the CFSA. If you’re worried, here are some things to remember when checking out a lender’s website:
- Contact information. A legit lender will have their contact information posted clearly on their website. If you have questions at any point in the process, whether it’s 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. You should 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 will likely have a clearly-defined Frequently Asked Questions section that should answer your most general questions. If it doesn’t, look into a lender that does. You should never go into a loan agreement blind to how it works or what it will cost.
- Reviews and accreditation. Many lenders have reviews on their websites, but a legit lender will also be easy to find in an online search and have a good rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). This makes it easy for you to decide if you want to work with them, and since it’s your financial future on the line, this is one of the most important factors when taking out a short-term loan.
Legit online loans you can apply for today
I heard about the Online Lenders Alliance (OLA). Is this the same thing?
No, these are not the same organizations, but they both hold short-term lenders to quality standards and can be a good way to know if your lender is legit.
These aren’t firm categories, though. Some of the lenders we’ve reviewed are members of both, like MoneyKey mentioned above. The organizations have different best practices, but when a lender is a member of either group, you can be confident that it abides by quality standards that try to protect consumers from other, more predatory payday lenders.
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 the best practices listed below are put in place to protect lenders as well as consumers.
Never rely on one source of information when reviewing a possible lender. You should always 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 the CFSA website may seem like common sense, there are a number of disreputable lenders who don’t follow the laws or try to skirt them. These predatory practices are harmful to the consumer and to other lenders, and so the CFSA has listed basic ideas regarding transparency in order to make it completely 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.
When you’re looking for a way to prevent financial disaster, it may seem impossible to find a reputable lender with affordable loans in a pinch. Payday loans are known to be predatory and out to steal from you, but the CFSA is working to change that image.
You’ll still need to do your background research and confirm a lender is abiding by the laws of your state, but knowing that it participates in an organization like the Community Financial Services Association of America is a good place to start when it comes to verifying legitimacy.