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Pay-Off For Payday Loans

February 3, 2010, 10:05 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Pay-Off For Payday Loans
Getting your hands on a loan, or even some quick cash, can be difficult in a down economy. But that's where a growing South Dakota company says its business plan is hitting right on the money.

"We're in the business of lending money and money is tight right now. Banks aren't lending money, credit card companies aren't lending as much money," Chuck Brennan said.

Brennan, a South Dakota native who now lives in Las Vegas, started the Dollar Loan Center, which is one of the fastest growing companies in the country. And with dozens of stores in South Dakota, Utah and Nevada, his payday loan company will soon go nationwide.

"Our original goal was to expand Dollar Loan Center across the country, but there's just so many hours in the day and it's hard opening up a lot of locations and with the online market, it's instantaneous. We get licensed in a state and automatically we can do the loans in that state immediately," Brennan said.

Ten years after opening the first Dollar Loan Center, Brennan and his team are ready to roll out another company. The Loan Shack is exclusively online and gives them access to every state where payday lending is legal. And they say the demand for quick cash is picking up.

"We are seeing quite a few applicants now, but I think that has a little bit to do with the economy and has a little bit to do with the tightening of credit," Brennan said.

Which is why Brennan plans to offer even more features for the Dollar Loan Center and Loan Shack this spring, including a prepaid debit card.

"People are smart and they are finally figuring out that there's not this evil payday lender out there. That it's a good deal," Brennan said.

But some are still skeptical about the quick loans.  Andy Traub is a family financial coach.

"To compare credit cards to Dollar Loan Centers is really to compare one drug with a worse drug. They're both not good for you. They are both, in the long term, not ways to get wealthy, but they are both options," Traub said.

Traub says while credit card interest rates rise because of tighter regulations, they still don't compare to the high rates on payday loans.

"There is only one person who wins in a payday loan center situation and it's the person who owns it, and I don't think we're very far away at all from them being the next one's who are regulated just like the credit card companies being regulated," Traub said.

But Brennan says his companies provide a service for a group of people that credit card companies and banks have a tough time handling.

"That loan is for a couple of weeks, so you know what your fee is going to be. If you are borrowing $500 for a week, it's going to cost you about $30. If you borrow $500 on a credit card, you might keep paying the interest and paying the interest and all of a sudden, you are a year down the road and you still owe the $500 and you've paid a bunch of interest on the account," Brennan said.

But Traub says the same scenario can be applied to payday loans, which is where people get into trouble.

"From what I've read and what I know of payday loan centers, people comeback multiple times throughout the year. They don't pay on time," Traub said.

But with more customers coming through his doors, Brennan will continue to expand his business online and on the ground because he says it's an option that works.

"If you use the product properly, the Dollar Loan Center or payday transaction isn't the worst thing to do," Brennan said.

Because in a slow economy, quick cash can be hard to bank on.

The headquarters of Dollar Loan Center and Brennan's collection agency are both located near downtown Sioux Falls. He also has opened his Loan Shack headquarters in Sioux Falls, which he says will bring dozens of financial services jobs to the area over the next two years.

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