Payday loan regulations have effectively been banned in many U.S. states — and for good reason. The APR of a payday loan can be astronomical. This is why tribal loans are becoming quite popular for consumers that need a bad credit loan for emergency expenses.
But make no mistake — tribal loans also come with a super high APR, and additional fees in many cases.
While not every state allows tribal loans, this type of lending is becoming more popular for borrowers with bad credit that need fast cash – and can be quite convenient for you if:
- You need a short-term loan for emergency expenses only
- You have bad credit and can’t secure financing through a conventional lender
That said, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of what a tribal loan is, interest rates and fees and whether a tribal lender s a good option for your financial situation.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Exactly Is a Tribal Loan?
- 2 Tribal Loan Requirements
- 3 Can You Apply If You Live Outside of an Indian Reservation?
- 4 How Much Can You Borrow From a Tribal Lender?
- 5 Tribal Lender Loan Terms and Rates
- 6 How Safe Are Tribal Loans?
- 7 Advantages of Tribal Loans
- 8 Disadvantages of Tribal Loans
- 8.1 Transparency is a Real Issue Amongst Tribal Lenders
- 8.2 Make Sure the Lender Has a Valid SSL Certificate
- 8.3 Review Loan Terms For Each Lender You Are Considering
- 8.4 Read Actual Lender Reviews From 3rd Party Review Platforms
- 8.5 Tribal Loans Are Not Available in Every State
- 8.6 Tribal Loans Are Very Expensive to Pay Back
- 8.7 Tribal Loan Terms Are Up to the Lender, Not You
- 9 The Bottom Line on Tribal Loans
- 10 Frequently Asked Questions
What Exactly Is a Tribal Loan?
A tribal loan is a form of quick cash commonly known as a short term installment loan. This type of loan is facilitated by Native American lenders and operates within the limits of tribal reservation laws.
Tribal loan business transactions occur in sovereign tribal states, where state financial and federal agencies have absolutely no jurisdiction.
Throughout American history, Indian tribes have lived as sovereign nations – and there are more than 500 such nations.
Considering that Indian reservations have the authority to create their own regulations, they are not required to follow general state laws.
This is why they are able to provide loans in states where otherwise, payday lending would be illegal.
While tribal lenders are required to belong to a Native American tribe, borrowers living outside of the reservation are not required to belong to the tribe. Keep in mind, there may be states in the U.S. that prohibit tribal loans or have certain lending requirements.
Check with your tribal lender to see if they offer tribal loans in your state, as each lender has different regulations they abide by.
Unlike a payday loan, tribal loans allow you to pay in installments. This way, instead of struggling with a one lump sum payment, you can break the total amount of the loan into installment payments and make budgeting easier for you.
Tribal Loan Requirements
In order to qualify for a tribal loan, you should familiarize yourself with the following requirements. The requirements differ from lender to lender, so it’s important to do your homework on each tribal lender to make sure you’re getting the best terms.
Most lenders have age restrictions (you won’t be eligible if you are under 18 years old), whereas others may push some employment restrictions as well.
Most tribal lenders request the following:
- Identity verification such as a copy of your driver license, address, etc
- Confirmation of your employment status
- Average monthly or annual income
- A verified checking account
Tribal lenders also conduct soft credit checks on borrowers, in order to see credit worthiness.
Keep in mind, soft credit credit checks do not leave negative marks on your credit score and are for reference purposes only.
Can You Apply If You Live Outside of an Indian Reservation?
Many people believe that in order to apply for tribal loans for bad credit, you must live within a reservation or be Native American.
However, this is not the case. You do not have to live on a reservation if you secure a loan through a tribal lender.
That being said, there are certain state limitations that may prevent you from borrowing. Each lender will have certain states that they operate in.
How Much Can You Borrow From a Tribal Lender?
Most tribal loans set their lowest amount at a minimum of $500. However, there are lenders that offer a smaller loans.
The highest loan amount will depend from lender to lender. Some may not offer more than $800, whereas others can go as high as $2,500+.
Bear in mind: the higher the loan amount, the higher your APR and fees will be. Make sure you do your homework before borrowing from any lender.
That said, we’ve done quite a bit of homework for you. Below is a list of every tribal lender that we know of. You’ll see minimum/maximum loan amounts, minimum and maximum APR and fees and more.
Tribal Lender Loan Terms and Rates
|Tribal Lender||Loan Amount||Minimum APR||Maximum APR||Funding Timeline||Read Our Review|
|$200 - $2,500||206.14%||442.31%||24 hours||Mobiloans Reviews|
|$300 - $1,000||200%||2,290%||24 hours||Golden Valley Lending Reviews|
|$300 - $1,000||Not Listed||762.33%||24 hours||Greenline Loans Reviews|
|$100 - $1,000||Not Listed||779.99%||24 hours||Green Arrow Loans Reviews|
|$300 - $2,500||Not Listed||Not Listed||Same Day||American Web Loan Reviews|
|$500 - $3,000||Not Listed||438%||24 hours||Plain Green Loans Reviews|
|$200 - $3,500||35%||475%||24 hours||Big Picture Loans Reviews|
|$100 - $2,500||471.78%||841.45%||Same day||Maxlend Reviews|
|$300 - $1,000||475%||725%||24 hours|
|$300 - $1,000||Not Listed||574.99%||24 hours||Radiant Cash Reviews|
|Up to $750||Not Listed||475%||24 hours||Tremont Lending Reviews|
|$100 - $1,000||388.55%||1,505.67%||24 hours|
|$100 - $1,000||550%||780%||24 hours||Rapital Capital Reviews|
|$100 - $800||818.12%||1,209.19%||24 hours|
|$100 - $2,500||Not Listed||795%||24 hours||Target Cash Now Reviews|
|$100 - $1,000||550%||780%||24 hours||Uncle Warbucks Reviews|
|$100 - $800||818.12%||1,209.19%||24 hours|
|$400 - $1,000||Not Listed||780%||24 hours|
|$300 - $1,000||550%||780%||24 hours||Riverbend Cash Reviews|
|$300 - $1,000||200%||2,290%||24 hours|
|$100 - $2,500||589%||829%||24 hours|
|$300 - $1,000||200%||2,290%||24 hours||Majestic Lake Financial Reviews|
|$100 - $1,000||608.33%||1564.29%||24 hours||My Flex Cash Reviews|
|$300 - $1,800||Not Listed||795%||24 hours|
|$300 - $500||Not Listed||707.17%||24 hours|
|$100 - $1,000||Not Listed||720%||24 hours|
|$100 - $1,000||Not Listed||505.76%||24 hours|
|$500||Not Listed||Not Listed||24 hours|
|$100 - $1,300||Not Listed||Not Listed||24 hours|
|$100 - $1,000||200%||830%||24 hours|
|$300 - $1,000||510.02%||699.98%||24 hours|
|$100 - $400||259.94%||779.97%||24 hours|
|$100 - $400||388.55%||1505.63%||24 hours|
|$100 - $600||Not Listed||Not Listed||24 hours|
|$250 - $1,500||273.75%||782.14%||24 hours|
|$100 - $1,000||Not Listed||747.96%||24 hours|
|$100 - $1,000||Not Listed||646.56%||24 hours|
|$100 - $1,000||500%||659%||24 hours|
|$100 - $2,500||471.78%||841.45%||24 hours||Blue Trust Loans Reviews|
|$100 - $3,000||118.66%||448.76%||24 hours||Great Plains Lending Reviews|
How Safe Are Tribal Loans?
Tribal loans secured through an accredited tribal lender are generally safe. That doesn’t mean you’ll get similar loan rates as someone with perfect credit. Tribal loans are still very expensive — and if you can’t pay the loan off according to the terms, you could end up in a vicious debt cycle. Most lenders are certified under NAFSA (Native American Financial Services Association).
Tribal lenders that are represented by NAFSA have their own independent consumer protection policies that will keep you informed.
Here’s what you should receive from a tribal lender, in terms of your tribal loan:
- Available payment options
- The payment schedule
- The amount of each payment
- The APR that has been set according to the chosen payment method
- How to address complaints and disputes, if there are any.
The state cannot sue a tribal lender in the event of a dispute, which is why you need to be careful when choosing a lender.
To avoid a cycle of debt and scammers, you need to be sure that your lender is backed by the NAFSA.
Advantages of Tribal Loans
Tribal loans are easy to obtain. And depending on the lender, it can be a wise decision for you if you have an emergency expense and cannot secure financing due to bad credit or a bankruptcy.
Here are a few convenient advantages to securing a tribal loan:
Tribal Lenders Provide Fast Funding
With traditional lenders, you may have to wait days — or weeks — for your funds. However, tribal loans for people with bad credit are a different story. Most of the time, your loan is approved on the same day.
However, depending on the lender your funds may not be wired into your bank account until the next business day.
Some lenders approve applications on the next business day – but this entirely depends on the time of your application. For instance, if the lender has certain working hours, sending the application later in the day may add one more day to your waiting period.
Tribal Loans Help People With Bad Credit
To an extent. If you have bad credit and can’t secure financing through a traditional lender, this could be a beneficial option for you. The caveat here is to not take out more of a loan than you can reasonably pay back. This is what keeps so many borrowers with bad credit in a vicious cycle of debt. And you should only use this type of loan for an emergency expense, such as an auto repair, small medical bill, etc.
Paying your loan on time is critical. If you miss a payment, lenders will charge you additional fees on top of the astronomical interest rates they already charge.
That said, be very careful and do your research.
You Can Complete Your Tribal Loan Application Online
No one likes standing in long lines to receive a loan, and checks are impractical these days.
Time is precious, and it can’t be lost waiting in line for a loan that you are not even certain you’ll receive.
That’s not the case with tribal loans. As long as you have an Internet connection (and a computer, obviously), it’s fairly easy to complete the online loan application.
You only need to prepare and upload the necessary documents to prove your identity and verify your bank account.
It may take a few hours for your application to be reviewed.
Convenient Installment Loan Terms
With payday loans, lenders allow you to borrow against your paycheck. And repayment terms usually require you to pay the loan back in full, along with all interest and fees, on your next paycheck.
Tribal lenders, on the other hand, allow flexible installment payments that stretch out 6 months and as long as 2 years. This is a fairly convenient option if you need a larger loan.
That said, we recommend that you never borrow more than you need. Remember: the APR associated with short-term installment loans can be ridiculously high. Only borrow what you need!
Disadvantages of Tribal Loans
While tribal loans do have a few advantages, they also have very clear disadvantages. Borrowers with bad credit must be aware of both the advantages and disadvantages in order to make sound financial decisions.
You’ve seen the advantages. Now, let’s take a closer look at the disadvantages:
Transparency is a Real Issue Amongst Tribal Lenders
When you’re dealing with alternative lending sources, you should be very careful. Fly-by-night lenders popup every single day, promising you the moon and stars, yet find a way to leave you empty-handed and drowning in debt.
That being said, you can’t always be certain that tribal lenders are completely trustworthy.
Sometimes, it may be rather difficult to find reputable lenders – and in these scenarios, you might want to consider reading some reviews.
Most of the time, previous users will write about their experience with a certain lender. This way, you will know whether they have the best terms or not.
By reading these reviews, you might also be able to steer clear of imposters and scams. Some of these so called tribal lenders — or short term installment lenders — are actually payday lenders that want to dodge the regulations and the rules.
This way, they can charge you high interest rates without any repercussions.
Here’s a quick checklist to help you verify if a lender is trustworthy:
Make Sure the Lender Has a Valid SSL Certificate
When you submit your details on a loan application online, the lender must have a valid SSL certificate installed to protect your information from being picked up by hackers. If they don’t have an SSL, move on. Seriously.
Review Loan Terms For Each Lender You Are Considering
We’ve done quite a bit of the legwork here to identify loan terms of tribal lenders. Review our table above. You should also continue doing your own research to verify accuracy.
Read Actual Lender Reviews From 3rd Party Review Platforms
With so many review platforms available, it’s easy these days to leave a review. And you can bet the farm that if a lender didn’t treat someone right, they’ll have left a negative review about them.
A few negative reviews here and there is ok. What you really want to look out for is a lender that has an unbelievable amount of negative reviews. You can read reviews of lenders on:
- And more…
Here, you can see tribal lender, Big Picture Loans, actually has pretty decent reviews on Trustpilot.
Tribal Loans Are Not Available in Every State
Tribal loans claim that they are “loans that benefit everyone.” However, there are some states where this type of loan is not a legal form of lending.
Refer to our payday loans and usury guide to learn if a tribal loan is available in your state.
Tribal Loans Are Very Expensive to Pay Back
Tribal loans be presented as alternatives to payday loans – but in truth, they are just as expensive as payday loans. Sometimes, they can even be more expensive.
Usually, a tribal loan has an APR that ranges between 150% and 300% – which is already fairly expensive.
Some even go higher than that. To the tune of 1,500% APR. No joke.
And perhaps the greatest disadvantage is that you are not always painted a clear picture of the APR before applying.
You will only be informed of the APR after you have submitted your application. This is another reason you should do business with a transparent lender.
Tribal Loan Terms Are Up to the Lender, Not You
Many tribal lenders will allow you to choose the loan term – but that does not apply to every lender. In most cases, the lender will impose a loan term on you, to which you will have to comply.
So, even if you prefer making monthly payments, you may be asked to pay bi-weekly.
Depending on the amount of money borrowed, you may also be automatically assigned the number of payments.
That said, if you want to have more control over your payments, you should apply with a lender that is not only transparent, but offers flexible repayment terms.
The Bottom Line on Tribal Loans
Tribal loans represent a more convenient alternative to your classic payday loans. They may be expensive, but they are a great option if you have bad credit and are in need of emergency cash.
Still, if you want to avoid being scammed, you might want to carefully read the loan documents and do your research.
Before signing anything, make sure that there aren’t any hidden costs. Also, you might want to ensure that your lender is backed by NAFSA.
Otherwise, you might be dealing with scammers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Tribal loans are short term loans that are paid back in installment payments over an agreed upon time, as set forth by the tribal lender.
Tribal loans are not regulated by the state or federal authorities. Rather, this type of loan is regulated by Indian sovereign tribal states. Reputable tribal lenders are certified by NAFSA (
). The majority of people that need this type of financing typically have bad credit and need fast cash to settle emergency expenses, such as an auto repair or medical bills.
The answer is...it depends. All tribal loans come with extremely high interest rates and fees. Some lenders are very reputable, while others will simply scam you into paying exorbitant interest rates and leave you in a vicious debt cycle. Make sure your tribal lender is certified by NAFSA, and that you are capable of paying the loan back. Only request the minimum amount of money you need to get through your emergency needs. And pay it back as soon as possible.
Yes. All tribal lenders will require you to have an active checking account. Most lenders offer wire transfers and this is a convenient and fast way to have the funds deposited into your account. Before inputting your personal information into any loan application, make sure the lender's online application is secured with SSL.
All tribal lenders will require you to be at least 18 years old. However, it may vary from state to state.
Tribal loans are very expensive. The current rates fall between 35% APR up to a whopping 1,500% or more in APR. The rate you'll be charged depends on your credit and financial situation. Some lenders have reward programs in place for repeat borrowers. If you prove your ability to repay on time, your next loan could have a much lower APR.
- The lender will continue trying to withdraw the funds from your checking account.
- In the process, you may accrue ongoing overdraft fees
- Collections agencies will start calling you and potentially harassing you
If at all possible, try to borrow money from family or friends to pay this loan off in full. The longer you let this go on, the deeper in debt you'll go.
If you're in a situation that prevents you from paying the loan back on time, here's what you should do:
Call or send an email to your lender and inform them of your hardship. They may work with you directly to resolve the issue, either by skipping a payment or breaking the payment into smaller payments.