AdvanceAmerica is officially the USA's number 1 payday advance company with almost 3,000 centers offering responsible and attractive loans to millions of people. It has licensees in 35 US states as well as in Great Britain and Canada. In the 11 years it has been trading, AdvanceAmerica has established an excellent reputation, with around 92% of its customers finding their services very useful. It has responded to the needs of consumers in an increasingly financially-challenging world, lending a helping hand where and when it is needed.
The company's creed explains its success. Politeness and affability towards customers is an enormous priority. All its employees adhere to these 4 essential rules: Respect Your Customers, Respect Your Associates, Respect Yourself and Respect the Law. All of AdvanceAmerica's services are subject to both strict privacy guidelines and the letter of the law.
Listed in the New York Stock Exchange and an original member of the respected Community Financial Services Association (CFSA), AdvanceAmerica prioritizes corporate responsibility and fair business practices. Its thorough testing process means that loans aren't made to people who can't re-pay them or who might end up in financial dire straits. AdvanceAmerica insists upon raising its customers' awareness about their personal financial situations, offering advice and support beyond the simple act of advancing money. On AdvanceAmerica's website, free tools such as 'Cash Flow Analysis' are offered to help customers manage their finances more effectively. 'Cash Flow Analysis' is a step-by-step guide to managing money, beginning with counsel on how to compute what you have spent over the last 6-12 months by trying to recall where every single dollar went, and ending with the collection of data from bank statements and receipts. How to categorize the various outgoings is also explained in layman's terms.
4 of 5
Cost of Loan
3.5 of 5
Funded in Time
3.7 of 5
Would Use Again
3.3 of 5
Customers are advised to weigh up the pros and cons of applying for an advance, bearing in mind such issues as unexpected extra costs and the dangers of repeatedly taking out loans. The concept behind the advance is just to tide the customer over in rare times of hardship until more income is available. To get the best out of AdvanceAmerica's service customers should work out their projected expenditures on various items (mortgage repayments, food, etc.), calculate their monthly income, maintain a good credit rating and save through retirement plans and keeping an eye on loose change.
For a decade, AdvanceAmerica has worked with industry partners, independent bodies and government organizations to ensure corporate responsibility and extensive protection for consumers. Partly as a result of these efforts, 37 US states and the District of Columbia have now instituted specific laws governing payday advances. AdvanceAmerica supports the majority of US states who decree that pay advance companies should calculate their fees in 1 of the following 2 ways: a fixed fee per $100 loaned or a percentage of the total advance.
As already mentioned, AdvanceAmerica is associated with the Community Financial Services Association. This relationship has existed since the CFSA's inception in 1999 and has established a number of best practices ranging from full disclosure to customers to enhanced industry regulations.
How It Works and Who Uses It
Customers usually turn to AdvanceAmerica because they do not want to suffer the extra charges resulting from bouncing checks or exceeding their overdraft limits. To obtain an advance, a customer must call in at one of AdvanceAmerica's many centers, present government-sanctioned proof of identity and proof of steady income, sign an agreement and complete an application form. No credit checks are made by AdvanceAmerica, unlike many other financial institutions. State law usually dictates the amount that can be loaned, based upon income. Typically the customer has two weeks' grace period to pay back the advance, by which time they are assumed to have received their pay check. AdvanceAmerica does not charge compounded interest on the loan. So the procedure is straightforward but secure - there's no risk that inappropriate customers will slip through the net.
AdvanceAmerica customers tend to be around 40 years of age, their households pulling in a median income of $41,000 per annum. 85% of them have at least a high school education while 52% have some form of university education.
One of AdvanceAmerica's main missions is to dispel some of the prejudice around payday advance services. It avoids the criticism of high interest rates by charging a basic one-time fee when the advance is sanctioned. It works vigorously to prevent its customers from getting into the so-called cycle of debt because such a situation isn't viable for anyone involved in it. If a customer requires extra time to repay his or her debt, AdvanceAmerica offers its Extended Payment Plan with no extra costs to the customer.
In the company's experience, 95% of advances are paid back and 90% paid back on the agreed date. Meanwhile, 70% of customers cite convenience as their main reason for choosing advances, while only 6% of customers take the option because they feel they have no other choice.
If customers have any questions or comments regarding the service they have received, they can call AdvanceAmerica's Customer Comment Line toll-free at 1-888-310-4238.
Always abreast of technology, AdvanceAmerica offers many of its services through its website, from a handy center-locating facility requiring the customer to simply enter his or her zip code to initial the online loan application. A visit to one of their centers can also be arranged using an easy-to-follow online form. Once the form is completed, an AdvanceAmerica employee will be in touch during business hours to make the necessary arrangements.
Customers can keep track online, by phone or by text message of whatever credit cards they may have with AdvanceAmerica. The website also offers everything anyone would want to know about the operations of AdvanceAmerica, plus its services, history, regulations and philosophy.
AdvanceAmerica also offers a range of other products and services such as a competitive Visa Prepaid Card which can be used wherever other Visa cards can be used and doesn't incur overdraft fees. On top of this, AdvanceAmerica provides money transfer services in partnership with Moneygram, tax advice in partnership with Tax One (customers can obtain a simple tax organizer from the company website), bill payment facilities and Visa Gift Cards.
An innovative tool is "Money Smart" which is available on the company website. It is a free interactive FDIS program that helps customers to learn about managing finance, covering topics such as the services banks offer, sensible borrowing, savings and how to gain and use credit in a positive, constructive way.
AdvanceAmerica also uses interesting promotional tools such as a daily $100 Visa Gift Card giveaway and the "Who Is There For You?" competition in which members of the public are invited to send in their story about which person makes a real difference to their lives. The prize is $25,000 for the submitter of the story and $25,000 for their nominated person. AdvanceAmerica is keen to use these methods to promote itself as a caring, sharing corporation whose main aim is to assist honest hard-working people.
AdvanceAmerica prides itself on its courteous and efficient workforce who is offered all kinds of opportunities for career development and personal growth. Dedication to the job is rewarded with promotion and the expansion of responsibilities. The company's policy of performance-related pay has been a key reason for its domination of the payday advance market in the US and beyond. AdvanceAmerica employees tend to be very happy doing the work they do - a recent independent survey of 4,300 of their workers showed that their morale was well above the national average.
Employee benefits include health, life, dental and vision insurance as well as a Travel Accident Insurance and the option to set up a lucrative savings plan with 10 investment models available. AdvanceAmerica permits its employees to take 6 paid holidays a year plus 10 extra days earned throughout the year.
AdvanceAmerica has a Board of 9 Directors, the chairman being William M Webster IV, whose previous roles include Executive Vice President of Education Management Corporation, Chief of Staff to US Department of Education Secretary and President of Carabo, Inc, the South Carolina-based fast food giant.
Kenneth E. Compton has been the President, Chief Executive Officer and Director since August 2005. Mr. Compton has served as a Director since December 2005. Mr. Compton has a quarter of a century of business management experience under his belt and was President of the Global Automotive Group of Milliken & Company for 13 years. Board Directors are selected according to their specific skills and ability to contribute to the smooth running of AdvanceAmerica. They are expected to be ethically-sound in both their business and personal dealings.
AdvanceAmerica uses regular webcasts to keep their investors, employees and customers abreast of corporate developments. These tend to revolve around quarterly conference calls and previous webcasts are available in an archive on the company website. Anyone can communicate with the directors by writing to: c/o Corporate Secretary, Advance America, Cash Advance Centers, Inc, 135, North Church Street, Spartanburg, SC 29306.
All in all, AdvanceAmerica is an eclectic and multi-faceted financial services company that is growing in reputation all the time. It has risen to the top of the pay advance industry through its efficiency, ethical outlook and adherence to the rules. It couldn't be further away from the cliché of a fly-by-night loan shark operation that advertises on late-night TV or in the backs of newspapers. Both its employees and its customers are overwhelmingly satisfied with the way it is run. At the time of writing, its share price on the NYSE is $2.01 at a volume of 552,900.
Website: www.advanceamerica.net Snail mail: AdvanceAmerica, Cash Advance Centers, Inc, PO Box 3058, Spartanburg, SC 29304-3058 Call: 1-800-WE'RE HERE (1-800-937-3437) for the nearest centre.