In almost all circumstances, title loans are something that you want to stay away from (check out our article on title loans). Their interest is notoriously high, and often their terms are not very practical for borrowers. If possible, look for alternatives that don’t put the same burden on your finances and cost you as much in interest and fees.
However, you may decide that a title loan is either your only option, or your best option among many bad options. Indeed, if your credit is too low because you are rebuilding from bankruptcy or other life events, a title loan may be the only kind of loan that you can get. In this case you have to decide where to get a title loan from. Because not all title loan lenders are created equal.
TitleMax Review: Customer Service and Experience
TitleMax is one of the larger title loan lenders out there. The company operates in 16 states and runs over a thousand stores. The sheer size of TitleMax means that it earns a little more attention and reputation than some smaller title loan lenders. If nothing else, this makes it harder for TitleMax to engage in shady business practices, and lends a little more assurance that TitleMax will act within the letter of the law.
Indeed, by most accounts, TitleMax does consistently maintain good customer service, offering as pleasant transaction experience as possible. In a few of the situations reported where there was an initial issue, a superior or corporate office was often able to work out a solution. TitleMax is also much more flexible in payment plans, working with the borrower to develop a plan that works for their lifestyle. By all reports, TitleMax’s tone is quite different than the stereotypical title lender or payday lender, which is certainly a step in the right direction.
TitleMax Review: The Money
Customer service and experience is certainly important. But at the end of the day, a loan still boils down to finances. So how does TitleMax compare to competitors here? Do they rise above the crowd with a more cost effective title loan? Or does the better customer service end up costing you in fees and interest?
Unfortunately, TitleMax does not seem to offer a much better interest rate than other title loans. The primary complaint against TitleMax is that their interest rates make the loans extremely expensive. However, the little bit of interest rate data that is publicly reported suggests that ]TitleMax doesn’t have lower interest rates than other title loans. However, their rates are somewhere around 300% APR, which is the norm for the industry. Again, this demonstrates why you should look somewhere other than title loans, if possible. But among title loan lenders, TitleMax doesn’t get knocked for interest rates.
Where TitleMax does rise above the crowd on the financial aspect is by offering longer term loans than many in the industry. Many title loan lenders only write 30-day loans, forcing the borrower to come back every 30 days the renew the loan. This not only adds hassle to the process, but also charges the borrower origination fees every time, making the loan (or series of loans) a much more expensive one.
On the flip side, TitleMax does not charge or prohibit borrowers from paying their loans off early, so at no point are you stuck paying interest on your loan longer than necessary. By offering longer term loans, TitleMax saves the consumer both the hassle and the unnecessary fees, while giving the flexibility to pay the loan off early if possible.
TitleMax Review: The Verdict
So is TitleMax better than most of its competitors? By all appearances and reports, absolutely! If you must take out a title loan, this would be a good place to start. While you do give them your title, they allow you to drive the car as long as you continue to make payments. They are also more flexible and avoid some of the more predatory tactics used by some in the industry.
However, I’ll say it again. If at all possible, look outside of the title loan industry first. As one customer of TitleMax rightly pointed out in hindsight, over the life of the loan, they’d made their money back several times over in interest alone! Many customers even accused TitleMax of trying to steal their cars by making payments so high that they were unaffordable. While not technically stealing, at 300% APR, one can certainly sympathize with the customers’ feelings.
But it is important to remember that even despite such high interest rates, TitleMax is still operating within the letter of the law and within the agreement signed by the borrower. So if you must get a title loan, TitleMax is one of your safest options.