Editor's choice: Max Cash Title Loans
- No bank account required
- No prepayment penalty
- Bad credit OK
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Without a checking or savings account, your loan options may come up short. But alternative services could be a way for you to bridge a financial gap without the need for your local bank.
Without a bank account you’re generally limited to short-term loans. Auto title and pawn loans typically require collateral, while other options don’t.
|Lender||Loan type||How it works||Eligibility||Cost|
|BTCPOP||Bitcoin loan||Create an account to post a listing for a peer-to-peer personal loan. Investors then chip in to fund your loan.||Required information: name, email address, ID verification.||15% (As low as) APR|
|Moneytree||Payday loan||Visit a branch to complete a short application.||Must live in ID, NV or WA with verifiable income, an address and phone number.||$16.50 per $100 borrowed in Idaho and Nevada. In Washington, it’s $15 per $100 borrowed up to $500 and $10 for each $100 above $500.||Read review|
|Axos Bank||Personal loan||Complete an online application||Credit score of 680+, DTI 45% or under, savings account that accepts Fedwire transfers||6.5% to 25% APR, including a 5% origination fee||Read review|
|Regional Finance||Personal loan||Prequalify online, then pick up approved funds at a local branch.||Live in a state serviced by Regional Finance, have a credit score of at least 550, be a US citizen or permanent resident, be at least 18 years old.||Varies by state. Loans are secured by personal collateral to keep costs low.||Read review|
|Capital Good Fund||CDFI loan||Apply online for $300– $2,000 and receive your funds on an ACH-capable prepaid debit card.||Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Delaware or Florida resident, regular source of income, no current bankruptcies, unpaid child support or mortgages.||10% to 24%, depending on the loan type. No fees.||Read review|
|Dollar Loan Center||Installment loan||Apply for $100 to $5,000 online which you repay over 15 months. Get your money in cash.||Over 18, no open bankruptcies, regular income, access to Nevada or Utah.||Varies by state||Read review|
Yes. But it will likely cost you more than the average personal loan. That’s because many of your options fall into the category of short-term loans. These loans come by many names: payday, auto title, pawn, debit card and signature loans. What makes them expensive are fees and APRs that can top out at 700% or more.
A checking account, however, opens the doors to stronger lenders and could help you potentially qualify for competitive rates, if you have good credit.
When reviewing your application, some lenders like to see how much money you have to get an idea as to how you handle your personal finances. A bank statement can easily provide this information.
Bank accounts also make it easier for lenders to transfer your requested funds quickly. These days, most lenders use the electronic Automated Clearing House (ACH) to disburse your loan and collect repayments. ACH works only between bank accounts.
Beyond this, a bank account can show lenders that you’re financially healthy and not a borrowing risk. The less of a risk you are, the better the chance you have for approval and competitive rates.
There’s no one “best” loan out there. Answer these questions to find out where you might want to start looking.
Do you own a car that you’d be willing to use as collateral?
Do you own bitcoin?
Are you willing to consider opening a bank account?
This short-term loan option allows people who might not meet personal loan requirements to borrow against the value of their car. You can often take out 25% to 50% of your car’s value, though it’s possible to find loans for up to 90% of its resale price. Some lenders don’t require a bank account if you apply in person.
With a title loan, you put your car’s title up for collateral, rather than the vehicle itself. This means you’re able to drive it around while you’re repaying your loan.
If you aren’t able to pay it back, however, you’ll lose ownership of your car. This is a real risk: A May 2016 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau study found that a fifth of all title loans ended in repossession — and a third ended in default.
Collateral makes you less of a risk to your lender, which often means stronger rates than you’d find with a payday loan. But these loans are still expensive and face state regulations.
Like with payday loans, consider calling ahead to make sure you can qualify without a bank account.
A high APR on a payday or title loan might not cost much if you can repay it on time. But it can become expensive if you choose to roll over your loans or take out a new loan to pay it off later.
The cycle of debt is real: A 2014 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau study found that borrowers renew more than 80% of payday loans issued in the country. It also found that people who regularly take out payday loans are likely to stay in debt for at least 11 months at a time. This leaves many Americans paying several times the amount they borrowed.
Before taking out any loan, ask yourself how likely it is that you can repay your loan on time. If you struggle with your finances, consider contacting a credit counseling agency before taking on a loan.
A credit counselor can explain your options and help you come up with a recovery plan. Start with the Department of Justice’s list of government-approved credit counseling agencies.
Rather than sell and buy back your personal items, some pawn shops let you put up your valuables for collateral on a loan. With a pawn loan, you borrow a percentage of your item’s resale value — typically 25% to 60% — repaying it in cash, after which your items are returned.
Rates tend to be high, though they’re negotiable, and depend on your state’s laws and your relationship with the shop. Typically, you have a few months to pay it off.
By definition, these loans don’t involve sending cash to a bank account. Instead, your lender loads your funds onto a prepaid debit card in your name, which you can pick up at a store or receive by mail. You’ll need proof of a bank account to qualify though. The convenience here is that you don’t have to have funds deposited or withdrawn from your bank account if you don’t want to.
These cards can encourage repeat borrowing, offering an easy way to sign up for future loans. Some even allow you to earn rewards like you would with a credit card.
Most lenders offering debit card loans are payday lenders, meaning that the same payday restrictions apply. If you’re applying online especially, call ahead to make sure your lender legally operates in your state.
If you don’t have a bank account, another option might be to repay a term loan entirely in bitcoin, thanks to lending platforms like Btcpop. Here, investors fund your loan and collect on repayments, rather than a bank or online lender.
Already an expert in crypto? You’ll understand the risks better than someone who’s new to the game. Otherwise, this borrowing option might not be for you.
Why not? For one, bitcoin is not a stable currency. Its value changes by the minute, and the federal government treats it as a type of security, like stocks or bonds. It’s impossible to predict how much your coin will be worth tomorrow, let alone when your loan is due.
Bitcoin is also in a regulatory gray area in the US. To make things even more complicated, most bitcoin lenders are headquartered abroad. Fewer restrictions can allow lenders free reign to practices that are illegal in the US, leaving you vulnerable to scams.
“Payday loans” have become a catch-all phrase for any short-term loan that doesn’t require collateral. These loans are designed for people who can’t qualify for a personal loan due to bad credit or a missing eligibility requirement — like a bank account.
If you apply in person, some lenders let you pick up and repay your funds in cash or by money transfer.
Knowing which payday loan you should apply for depends on how much money you need. If you need more than $1,000, a traditional payday loan might be the way to go — you pay it back in full the next time you get paid plus a fixed fee.
Payday loans aren’t legal in every state. Even if they are, each state — and sometimes each city — has its own regulations that might prevent lenders from offering no-bank-account loans.
Confirm your state’s rules and find lenders through our payday loans directory.
Some Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) offer payday loan alternatives that don’t require a bank account. For example, the Rhode Island-based Capital Good Fund allows borrowers to have loans loaded on a prepaid debit card. CDFIs are nonprofits with a mission to serve economically disadvantaged areas, so you might be able to find an affordable loan than a title or payday loan.
The downside is they can be hard to find and might take longer than a more expensive lender. Since these are local institutions, most only serve a handful of states — if at all — so you’ll have to look nearby. But if you have the time, the savings could be worth the extra work.
If you don’t qualify for a checking account at your local bank — or just don’t want to pay their fees to open one — you have alternatives.
A 100% free checking account is rare — typically, withdrawing money overseas or replacing a credit card can still cost you. But some banks offer checking accounts with no monthly, ATM or even overdraft fees. It’s even possible to find a bank that doesn’t charge a fee for international money transfers.
Because each bank has its own requirements, make sure that you’re eligible for such an account. You might need to meet a minimum income or opening deposit — though that can be as low as $5 at a credit union.
Some lenders are willing to work with borrowers who have only a savings account, as long as it can accept your disbursed funds. You generally won’t have to meet as many requirements or pay monthly fees. In fact, you could earn a small amount of interest on the funds you keep there.
Having a savings account opens up your borrowing options slightly. But regular withdrawals might also come with fees, making it difficult for you to use it as a checking account.
You may have avoided getting a bank account because banks can charge high fees and it can be difficult to manage if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. But you can actually save money if you find the right bank. A bank account can open you up to better loan options with lower APR and fees. It also can help you manage your monthly bills and make payments easier.
Before you open an account, assess your needs to see which bank works best for you. Some offer no monthly fees or minimum balance, while others are good for travel offering free international ATM withdrawals. Explore your options before you decide on a bank account.
If you find a bank account that’s right for you, follow the steps to opening an account:
For opening an account online you’ll need to scan any documents and make the deposit using a debit or credit card or make a transfer from another account.
Whether online or in person, you’re required to fill out an application. In order to approve your account, the bank runs a credit check, checking on your banking history. If you’re approved you’ll be given your account and routing number along with other account information.
Remember that opening a bank account is allowing someone else to care for your money — so be sure you understand the bank’s policies and fees. Read through any paperwork looking for extra fees and when your funds are available for withdrawal.
Once you make your initial deposit, register for direct deposit, autopay and keep up with what you spend so you don’t overdraw your account. Most banks have online accounts or apps where you can check your balance, pay bills and more.
Even if you don’t have a green card, you might be able to open a bank account. Many banks are willing to work with you as long as you meet other requirements. Generally, you’ll need to at least provide your passport or other government-issued ID, proof of address and your tax ID number. You might also need to show proof of income.
If you’re an international student, you can often open a bank account with proof of enrollment and your immigration papers. In this case, you aren’t required to prove any income.
If you don’t have a bank account, you’re not alone — though you’re part of an exclusive club. According to the FDIC, only 0.7% of Americans live in households where nobody has a bank account.
Underbanking, however, is more common: Nearly 20% of Americans have a bank account but also rely on other financial products like money orders, check cashing or payday loans.
According to the 2015 FDIC household survey.
It’s possible to get a loan without a checking account. Your main options are auto title loans, pawn shop loans and bitcoin loans.
But you might want to reconsider your bank account options before you apply. Most competitive lenders require borrowers to have an active checking account to verify your finances and have a place for deposits and repayments.
Image source: Shutterstock
You must live in Alabama, Arizona, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, South Carolina or Utah to get a title loan through LoanMart. If you don’t live in one of those states, explore other loan options.
LoanMart title loans are not available in California.
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