Getting a tribal loan is one thing, but specifically searching out and getting a tribal installment loan, that's entirely different. If you've followed me for any time you know that there is a massive variation from the majority of tribal loans to a small batch of about eight or nine companies.
This smaller group of lenders offer the Native American tribal loan, which for many consumers is the closest they will come to anything resembling a bank loan for the rest of their lives.
Does that sound overly dramatic? Well, it's not because banks are now finished with the unsecured personal lending game. More appropriately, they are just out of the lending game altogether. Unless you have 20% to put down on a mortgage and a strong income then you can just forget getting a loan for a house.
It's harder to get a loan on a car, it's more difficult to get a credit card, private loans for school debt have basically vanished at this point. But of all the debt structures that have been curtailed since 2008 the market for unsecured loans (that's signature loans, personal loans, installment loans) has dried up faster and more deliberately than all the others.
That leaves us with the sad lot of Native American loans. And more specifically it leaves us with the installment lenders because I will not include tribal payday lenders in this list. I really don't even consider the payday lending crowd as actual lenders. Getting a loan for 14 calendar days is just a joke, it's not going to solve any problems or help anything. These payday clowns like to talk about getting short-term funding in order to save their checking account from being closed or turning the lights back on if the electric bill has continued to go unpaid for 60 days, and on and on. It's just a big lie. Maybe these situations are true in 25% of the cases and to be honest I think that's a stretch, but let's give them 25% of the time.
That means in the other 75% of the time we just have people who want to spend money and they know they can get the money quite simply by signing some digital document and the funds will show-up the next morning in their account. Then they go have a fun weekend and then they are in debt for the next several months as they continually rollover their supposedly short-term loan. No thanks, that's why those products and companies will not even be listed here.
Below are the top five installment loan companies that are funded through Native American lending businesses. The list is totally unscientific, it's just derived from my analysis and experience...
1) Plain Green Loans - this company is better than the rest because they will loan up to $3,000 and they will charge about 59% APR. In the world of tribal lending it just does not get any better than this. I know, it's not very good if this is "the best" tribal lender but it's a fact so it shows you just what we are dealing with in terms of company policies and interest rates here.
2) Mobiloans - you can only borrow up to $1,500 with this lender, which technically isn't an installment loan company since they offer the line of credit product. But I have included them under the header of installment lender because that's how most customers treat them. Even though the customer has the option of pulling money out slowly and bit by bit, most just take the full amount of the loan offered right out of the gate. The interest rates are not bad, just 10% per pay period. That's high back in the rational world we all come from but in the modern reality it's not that bad.
3) Great Plains Lending - this company is quite a bit like Plain Green Loans except that they charge more in their APR. Quite a bit more. But you can borrow up to $3,000 and I have read some reviews that say it's easier to borrow from this firm than the other two listed above. Since $3K is the maximum amount any tribal lender is willing to do at this point in time (March 1, 2014) then it stands to reason we have to include them in the list, as the highest priority for many borrowers is how much they can borrow, not what will the interest rate be, how much will the loan cost or how long can I keep the loan outstanding.
4) Clear Creek Lending - not a bad installment lender but not really a good one either. The fact that you can borrow up to $2,500 is a good thing. The fact that you can take up to two years to repay the money is a good thing, too. But the fact that the cheapest APR they have on the books is 390% makes this lender an option that has to be given a second thought before signing for the loan.
5) Spotloan - I like this lender because they are truly flexible. If you tell them you can't start repaying any money for one full month they will work with you. Not many tribal lenders are willing to bend their established loan policies to that degree. Normally the tribe would just say no to the would-be customer and wait out the customer (who of course is usually in a desperate situation) and then the applicant will eventually sign for the loan. And sometimes the word 'eventually' means that they will wait an hour or two, then give-up any negotiations and just sign. Not so with Spotloan, this firm assigns an account rep to work with you directly so you do not have to call into customer service, you can just call your rep on their direct dial number. They want to do business, they want your business, so they will work with you on the terms that you spell out. The downside? The rates are not so great and the maximum amount that they will offer to lend out is only $800. That really doesn't help a lot of people, I realize this fact and that's why they landed at number five on the list. $800 just is not enough, especially since you have set yourself up as an installment loan company. This would be like McDonalds offering a hamburger for lunch, but no longer serving fries. How does this work? I just can't understand why Spotloan doesn't raise that loan amount. I've spoken to one of the managers there and they just aren't interested in doing so. They must be doing just fine by offering the lower, low quality $800 amount.
These are your top five tribal installment loan companies. Are they good? No. Are they worthwhile? Maybe, depending on your situation. If you are on the edge of getting a car, then Plain Green might be a high cost but viable option. Spotloan might be alright for a short-term loan where you need extra days at the beginning of the loan to organize your finances. Mobiloans is not bad, because borrowing $1,000 and having to only repay $1,100 after two weeks qualifies as a bargain in this business.
Above all it's important to remember that the longer you keep any of these loans outstanding the more it's going to cost you. When it comes to Native American loans the old saying that time is money was never more true.