Big Picture Loans (formerly known as Castle Payday) is a short-term loan company offering installment, or personal, loans. This is one of several loan companies operated by the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, a federally-recognized American Indian Tribe. As such, BPL claims Tribal sovereign immunity from lawsuits, but consumers can still report them to the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (see below).
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- Installment loans
- One day approval
- Customer support options
Big Picture Loans offers payday installment loans, which means payments are due every payday but over a longer period of time (typically 6 months to 22 months) instead of on the next payday. BPL does not require an applicant's credit score, so even those with poor credit history can apply and potentially be approved. Their advertised selling points are the ease and speed of applying and receiving funding.
The minimum requirements that applicants must meet for Big Picture's loans are:
- a steady and verifiable source of income of at least $700 per month
- an open bank account in good standing
- be reachable by phone
- be at least 18 years old and a U.S. resident
Applicants can expect to hear back from Big Picture generally within one business day of submitting an application to verify information.
The loan amount that applicants are approved for is based on several criteria points, including income level, but first-time applicants are usually approved for loans from $200 to $1,000. Annual interest rates vary according to the loan amount, pay frequency, total loan duration, and when the first payment is scheduled, but they typically range from 780.03% to 788.62% APR. Because BPL offers installment loans, payments are stretched out over anywhere from 12 to 44 payments. The high interest rates and stretched out repayment periods mean that borrowers will end up paying quite a bit more than the original loan amount.
The customer support department provides a phone number, fax number, email address, physical address, and mailing address for contacting them. Email are generally responded to within a few hours and the phone number connects directly to an available representative.
- Negative reviews
- Possible additional fees
There are numerous online negative reviews and reports for Big Picture's services that fall into several consistent categories:
- misleading information about due dates, fees, and total repayment amounts
- incorrectly stating or implying that the finance fee was a one-time charge instead of an ongoing interest charge
- initial payment amounts customers were promised were later changed without warning
- applicants' information was reportedly sold to other lending companies
- customer service was difficult to reach and receive help from
In many of these situations, especially with misleading or false information, borrowers ended up owing much, much more than the original loan amount or that was originally communicated to them. Also, when the due dates were incorrectly conveyed, customers often had to pay insufficient funds fees. Although BPL states that there are no early payoff fees, it appears that they make it difficult to repay the whole loan early. While there are also positive reviews, they make up a small portion of the total number of online reports about Big Picture's services. The positive feedback focused mainly on the ease of applying and the speed of receiving funds, rather than on the repayment portion of the loan process.
BPL's services are not available in all states, and the number of states serviced may change from time to time or without notice. However, all transactions with Big Picture are considered to have occurred on Tribal land, so the laws of the applicant's state of residence do not apply. This means that Big Picture Loans does not have to comply with the regulations set forth by any individual state in order to issue a loan. Potential customers should be aware that if any problems or issues arise, they will not be able to report BPL to their state's regulatory departments, but they can still go to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.