If you live in Florida or like to visit, you’ve likely noticed one of these stores with the cheery looking blue and yellow sign which appear all over the state. Amscot is a large corporation which offers a range of financial services to a varied clientele, including loans and check cashing available 24 hours a day at many locations.

In This Article:

  • History of Amscot Money Superstores

  • What Services Are Available at Amscot Money Superstores?

  • Amscot Loans/Cash Advances

  • Do I Qualify for an Amscot Loan/Cash Advance?

  • Amscot Check Cashing Fees and More

  • Amscot Money Orders

  • Amscot Prepaid MasterCard

  • General Comments, Praise, and Complaints About Amscot

  • Where Can I Find an Amscot?

History of Amscot Money Superstores

In 1986 Glasgow, Scotland baker and entrepreneur Ian MacKechnie moved with his family to Tampa, Florida where he bought and operated a successful bakery called the Lincoln Banking Company. Noticing that his employees were frequently cashing their paychecks at convenience stores rather than banks, MacKechnie recognized a market for non-bank financial services.

After selling the banking business he established Amscot Financial in 1989. The name is a combination of the words America and Scotland, MacKechnie’s new home and old.

From the first store in Tampa, Amscot Financial now operates nearly 250 Amscot Money Superstores throughout the state of Florida and employs 2000 workers and serves approximately 3 million customers.

What Services Are Available at Amscot Money Superstores?

Financial services obtainable at Amscot stores:

  • Cash Advances/Loans
  • Check Cashing
  • Money Orders
  • Prepaid Amscot MasterCards

Amscot stores also offer convenient services such as in-store ATMs, Western Union money transfers, fax, copy, notary and postal services. For this article, however, we’ll concentrate on the core financial services above.

Amscot Loans/Cash Advances

The term “cash advance” is a general term used to mean any type of short-term, unsecured (no collateral) personal loan, usually for a limited amount of money, which requires no credit check. One popular type of cash advance is a credit card cash advance whereby you can obtain cash, often through an ATM, from one of your credit cards. The other popular type, available at Amscot Superstores, is what’s also commonly referred to as a “payday loan.” With this type of loan a borrower who has regular employment may receive cash which must be paid back, with interest on the recipient’s next scheduled payday. By law, a borrower may only receive one payday loan per pay period. If you are considering taking a cash advance/payday loan from Amscot, then you should be aware of the following features:

  • You may borrow money in $50 increments up to a total of $500 per pay period. The actual amount you can borrow is based on the amount of your paycheck.
  • The cost to you per loan is 10% of the amount borrowed plus a $1 service fee.
  • You will provide Amscot with a post-dated check to coincide with your scheduled payday at the time you receive the cash. The amount of this check will be the full amount of the loan, plus the 10%, plus the $1 fee.

Do I Qualify for an Amscot Loan/Cash Advance?

Though there is no credit check at Amscot, you will be required to provide the following to qualify:

  • Proof of income (such as your most recent pay stub or bank statement)
  • Your checkbook
  • A valid government-issued photo ID (such as a driver’s license, RMV ID Card, or passport. A military ID may be acceptable,* but note that there is a federal ban on photocopying military IDs; you may wish to remind the Amscot employee that your ID can’t be copied when you provide it.)
  • A phone number where you can reliably be reached

Read more about these requirements directly on the “Get Started” page of the Amscot website.

To receive the loan, you will fill out a short application, sign an agreement, and fill out the aforementioned post-dated check. On the day the loan is due you will return to the Amscot Superstore and make your repayment. At this time, the post-dated check will be returned to you.

*The John Warner National Defense Authorization Act of 2007 restricted the terms under which lenders can provide loans to members of the military on active duty, as well as their spouses and dependents. Due to the restrictions placed by both the John Warner Act and the Military Lending Act, active members of the military and their spouses and dependents cannot receive a cash advance from Amscot. Some members of the military who are not on active duty, as well as their spouses and dependents, may be eligible for cash advances at Amscot.

Amscot Check Cashing Fees and More

How much does Amscot charge to cash a check? At Amscot you can cash several types of checks for various fees, including tax refund checks, cashier checks, insurance checks, payroll checks, personal checks, Amscot money orders, other money orders, and government checks. The Amscot website provides more information on the different types of checks you can cash and the corresponding fees. To cash a check at an Amscot, you must show a government issued photo ID (driver’s license, passport, military ID).

Amscot Money Orders

While cashing a money order at an Amscot store will cost you a fee, purchasing a money order to pay someone else is free. In other words, you’ll only pay a fee when you’re cashing a money order, not purchasing one. Learn more about fees associated with Amscot Money Orders on their website.

Amscot Prepaid MasterCard

Amscot Superstores offer a pre-paid MasterCard which can be used at ATMs or to make purchases at any location or website that accepts MasterCard. You can request one at any Amscot store. You will receive a temporary card, which you can load then and there for up to $7,500.00. Your permanent, personalized card, bearing your name, account number and the MasterCard logo will arrive in the mail within 7-10 business days.

Features of the Amscot MasterCard:

  • Re-loadable through Direct Deposit from your payroll or government benefit check or in person at any Amscot location
  • Can be used at Amscot ATMs with no surcharge
  • Same day replacement at any Amscot store if card is lost or stolen
  • 24-hour support available to check your balance, review purchases or report problems

Associated Fees of the Amscot MasterCard:

Although convenient, the Amscot pre-paid MasterCard does come with several associated fees which are detailed in the cardholder agreement. Read more about these fees in the Amscot Money Card fee schedule.

General Comments, Praise, and Complaints About Amscot

As with any company, especially one that handles people’s money, there are a lot of mixed opinions out there regarding the business practices of Amscot. The Amscot website, of course, is filled with glowing testimonials about the fast and friendly service, the bright convenient locations, etc. But there are some negative opinions and some legal controversy involving both the company and founder Ian MacKechnie.

There are many who believe that Amscot’s rates, interest charges, and fees are simply too high and are taking advantage of people who are already in dire financial situations. Look closely at the fees and interest rates for the services above. For the cash advance on your paycheck, you will pay 10% plus $1 every time you take one of these loans. But if you take even one of these loans, then your next paycheck is already spent before you’ve even received it. Many people are stuck taking another payday loan for another 10%, then another and another. The cycle can become vicious and endless with the interest and fees eventually adding up to hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Let’s also revisit the ban on military members taking cash advances from Amscot. The purpose of the provision of the John Warner Act which prohibits this was designed to protect members of the military and their dependents from predatory loan practices. Clearly, the government does not look favorably on the business practices of Amscot and similar companies.

On the other hand, there are very few alternatives for people living paycheck to paycheck or on government assistance that have a cash emergency. According to this Tampa Bay Times article, very few banks or credit unions offer the types of short term payday loans available at places like Amscot. Proposed federal regulations could put Amscot and others out of business, which could leave some with literally nowhere to go for cash. According to a Tampa City Counselor quoted in the article “I know the high cost people have to pay to go in and get loans, but I’m not getting complaints from my constituents,” he said. “They have nowhere to go. (Amscot) provides a service and people feel comfortable utilizing their services.”

Where Can I Find an Amscot?

If Amscot loans are the right option for you or if the Amscot check cashing fees or other services are what you desire, search for the Amscot location nearest you with their store locator. First Quarter Finance is not affiliated with Amscot in any way; if you need any additional information on Amscot’s fees, policies, and services, you can visit the Amscot website for answers to all your questions.