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Saturday, October 16th
American Auto Title Loan starts out strong, with an easy-to-understand website and a company history that dates back to 2010. While there's no BBB listing for the lender, we were excited to see that there were more than 400 customer reviews elsewhere with an impressive 4.9 out of 5-star average.
Instant quote or just apply
On their main page, American Auto Title Loan advertises two ways to get a loan: instant quote or 100% online application. Our experience with the instant quote was, well, less than instant. We filled in the information about our car's year, make and model, and then we got a message saying we had been preapproved. Great! We're not entirely sure how that could be, given that the form didn't even ask where we live. Unfortunately, it also said we had to wait to get a call from a loan officer to get a loan.
Extremely detailed information required
If you want a faster response, try the 100% online approach. You'll fill in your personal information in much more detail, like your name and address, whether you rent or own, your birthdate, SSN and driver's license number, and so forth. The second page asks for the specifics of the car, and you'll need to have the VIN, title number, license plate number and expiration date, and how much you'd like to borrow. The final page asks for uploaded photos of documents, including the front and back of your car title.
Lots of glitches
But, the process didn't get any better with the online application. We weren't given the ability to choose a vehicle model year after 2019. Thinking that was a glitch of some kind, we called the toll-free number to ask. That took us to some music (without even telling us what company we had reached), and then asked us to leave a message. We're not sure who'd be receiving that message!
Anybody home? Try somewhere else first
We give American Title Loans a 2-star rating mostly because they don't seem to be a scam or actively trying to take your money. But can you actually get a car title loan here? The jury's still out.
If you're considering a car title loan, chances are good that you've come across some unexpected bills. Maybe your car broke down and you need it fixed quickly to keep your job. Or your roof started to leak after a storm and you can't wait on your insurance adjuster to take months to get the claim paid. Many Americans find themselves in trouble and don't have many options for getting money fast. That's where car title loans come in.
How does this type of loan work? If you own a vehicle free and clear, you can use its title as collateral to secure a short-term loan. The good thing is, you don't have to stop using your car: continue to drive it as you usually would, until the loan is repaid in full and you get the title returned to you.
Car title loans are also attractive because they rarely require you to have a great credit history: you're guaranteeing that you'll repay the loan by borrowing against your car's value, so credit isn't really a factor. Of course, that's one of the downsides too: if you don't pay the loan back, you stand to lose your transportation, and you can't borrow more than your car is worth. That's cool if you're driving a Porsche, but if you drive a 20-year-old beater you might not get much out of a title loan.
Another thing to keep in mind is that car title loans usually have really high interest rates: in the triple digits isn't unheard of. You'd be wise to see if other, lower-interest rate personal loans are a possibility before you turn to a car title loan for your cash needs.
So, all that being said, how can you tell which car title loan provider to use? There are a lot of them out there, and some of them are less-than-reputable in the way they treat customers. Here are a couple of factors to check out before you commit to a car title loan:
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