Houston Finance claims it isn't a payday loan company. However, it offers small-dollar loans for those who might not otherwise qualify for a loan from a big bank or credit union, or a credit card. The company acts as a Credit Access Business (CAB), so it charges a CAB fee to pair you, the borrower, with a lender who loans you the money you need. This is almost exactly the way a payday loan company operates.
The biggest differences between Houston Finance and payday loan companies in Houston include the requirements you must meet to acquire a loan and the amount charged per $100 you borrow. To be eligible for a cash loan from Houston Finance, you must have a credit score of at least 500, and you must have had a bank account for at least six months. So, although you don't need good credit to qualify for a loan, you must have some credit.
When it comes to the interest and fees you will pay in order to have the privilege of taking out a loan, the annual percentage rate (APR) is lower than that of the national average APR for payday loans, which is generally around 391 percent. Houston Finance charges even less than most of its competitors that do identify as payday loan companies.
The tricky part is figuring out how much Houston Finance charges for interest and fees because the company doesn't disclose the rates or fee schedule online, although its competitors do. There are also no examples of what a typical installment loan from Houston Finance looks like, although most other payday and installment loan companies offer it. In fact, most consumer credit services in Texas display notices, fee schedules and examples, per Texas Finance Code compliance.
Another concern about Houston Finance is the lack of information on extensions and rollovers, which you could be eligible for, but it isn't advertised on the company's website. Nor is there information about how paying for a loan for a longer period of time will cost you more money in fees and interest. If you do need to contact Houston Finance, you can only do so by phone or by going to its one storefront location, and not every customer service representative is well-versed in the finance laws or regulations.
Also, there is no visual sign that the application you fill out online is safe. The website is missing the secure sockets layer protection that most sites have when you're required to submit personal and sensitive information over the internet. You may want to apply in-person only.
If you have a credit score of at least 500 and you need a short-term loan, Houston Finance may be able to help you with an installment loan. However, you won't be able to view the fee schedule or other information about the interest you would pay unless you apply for a loan or speak with a customer service rep on the phone or in person.