Best Emergency Loans in April 2024

Checking rates won’t affect your credit score

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LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.
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Written by Carol Pope │Edited by Jessica Sain-Baird │ Reviewed March 28, 2024

Emergency loan lenders at a glance

Upstart: Best for bad-credit borrowers

Upstart logo

APR range7.80% to 35.99%
Time for approval decisionFive minutes
Time to fundingNext business day
Minimum credit score300
Loan amounts$1,000 to $50,000
Loan terms36 and 60 months
ProsCons

 Accepts low or no credit

 Competitive minimum APR

 Wide range of loan amounts

 No same-day funds

 0.00% - 12.00% origination fee

 Limited terms to choose from

LightStream: Best for home improvement emergencies

LightStream logo

Annual percentage rate (APR) range7.99% to 20.99% (with autopay)
Time for approval decision“Shortly, within business hours”
Time to fundingSame-day funding available
Minimum credit scoreNot specified
Loan amounts$5,000 to $100,000
Loan terms24 to 144 months
ProsCons

 Extra-long loan term for home improvement loans

 No origination or late fees

 Same-day funding possible

 Large loans available

 Requires good to excellent credit

 High minimum loan amount

 Cannot prequalify

Discover: Best for repayment assistance options

Discover logo

APR range7.99% to 24.99%
Time for approval decisionSame day
Time to fundingNext business day
Minimum credit score720
Loan amounts$2,500 to $40,000
Loan terms36 to 84 months
ProsCons

 Three repayment assistance options available

 Extended loan terms

 No origination fees


 Slower approval decisions than some

 No joint loans

 $39 late payment fee

 High minimum loan amount

Upgrade: Best for small loans

Upgrade logo

APR range8.49% to 35.99%
Time for approval decisionMinutes
Time to fundingNext business day
Minimum credit score580
Loan amounts$1,000 to $50,000
Loan terms24 to 84 months
ProsCons

 Joint loans available

 Accepts fair credit

 Flexible amounts and terms

 High maximum APR

 No same-day funding

 1.85% - 9.99% origination fee

SoFi: Best for fast emergency loans

SoFi logo

APR range8.99% to 29.99% (with discounts)*
Time for approval decision60 seconds
Time to fundingSame-day funding available
Minimum credit score680
Loan amounts$5,000 to $100,000
Loan terms24 to 84 months
ProsCons

 Majority of applicants get same-day funding

 Comes with a free financial planning consultation

 Offers large loans

 High minimum loan amount

 Must have good credit

 Optional origination fee required for lowest APRs

Best Egg: Best for flexible payments

Best Egg logo

APR range8.99% to 35.99%
Time for approval decisionMinutes
Time to fundingOne to three business days
Minimum credit score600
Loan amounts$2,000 to $50,000
Loan terms36 to 60 months
ProsCons

 May change your payment due date over the phone or online

 Secured loans available

 Offers live chat

 May need to wait up to three business days for funds

 Not available in all states

 Origination fee of 0.99% - 8.99%

Avant: Best for fair-credit borrowers

Avant logo

APR range9.95% to 35.99%
Time for approval decisionMinutes
Time to fundingNext business day
Minimum credit score580
Loan amounts$2,000 to $35,000
Loan terms12 to 60 months
ProsCons

 Low minimum credit score required

 Can manage loan through highly rated mobile app

 Approval decisions within minutes

 Origination fee (Up to 9.99%)

 Small loan amounts

 No joint loans

 Not available in all states

What is an emergency loan?

An emergency loan is a personal loan with a fast funding timeline. Personal loans provide a lump sum of money that you can use for almost anything.

Depending on the lender, you could get an emergency loan the same day that you apply. With others, you may need to wait a day or two. Either way, after the lender approves you, it can usually deposit your loan directly into your bank account.

Most emergency loans are unsecured, which means they don’t require collateral. However, you can find secured loans with some lenders (such as Best Egg). Although it can be risky to offer collateral, secured loans tend to come with lower interest rates. They can also be easier to qualify for if you have bad credit.

Best uses for an emergency loan

An emergency loan could be ideal for large, unexpected expenses such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Unexpected veterinary care
  • Funeral expenses
  • Dental bills
  • Urgent home repairs
  • Car repair
  • Last-minute, essential travel

Pros and cons of an emergency loan

ProsCons
 Fast funding. You could get your loan the same day you apply.

 Flexible. You can use an emergency loan for almost any expense.

 Lower interest rates. If you have good credit, emergency loans tend to have lower interest rates than credit cards.
 Not everyone qualifies. You might not qualify for the amount you need if you don't have the required income or credit score.

 Fees. Your lender may require an origination fee.

 Can be expensive. If you have so-so credit, prepare for high interest rates.

Where can I find an emergency loan?

Online lenders: An online lender may be your best bet for an emergency loan. They tend to have fast funding timelines, and they are easier to qualify for if your credit isn’t perfect.

Banks: Emergency loans can be harder to find with brick-and-mortar banks. Some of the biggest banks in the U.S. don’t offer personal loans. Among these are Bank of America, Capital One and Chase.

Credit unions: Per federal law, credit unions must cap their loan APRs at 18%. As a result, credit unions offer some of the lowest interest rates on emergency loans, but you need to be a member to borrow.

Comparing emergency loans

You can’t compare loans if you don’t understand the lender’s language. The terms below can help you decode your offers and, most importantly, find the best deal.

APR: APR measures the total cost of your loan considering interest and fees. The higher a loan’s APR, the more expensive it is.

Origination fee: An origination fee is an up-front fee that the lender deducts from your loan funds.

Lenders tend to levy origination fees on bad-credit borrowers because they are at higher risk to default. Origination fees are also more common among online lenders, regardless of credit. On the flip side, an origination fee may be worth it if the lender offers the fastest loan.

Approval timeline: A lender’s approval timeline is the length of time it takes to underwrite your loan application. Many lenders offer instant (or near-instant) approval decisions.

Funding timeline: Even more important than approval timeline may be its funding timeline. This is how long it will take for the lender to disburse (or send you) your loan. Target lenders that specialize in quick loans to increase your chances of same- or next-day funding.

Loan term: Your loan term is how long you’ll have to repay your loan. For instance, 12 to 60 (or 84) months is standard, although some lenders (like LightStream) have terms longer than that.

Choosing the perfect term is a balancing act. The longer your term, the lower your monthly payment may be. But because your repayment is spread out over more time, you could pay more interest.

How to get an emergency loan

Emergencies are stressful. Applying for an emergency loan can be, too. Knowing what steps to take to get the money you need might smooth out the process.

Review your budget

Make sure that you need to borrow money in the first place. Is your situation truly an emergency, or do you have some time to save what you need? If you have an emergency fund, tap that first.

Also, be certain that you can afford to pay back what you borrow. Just one missed payment can drop your credit score. Use our personal loan calculator to see what an emergency loan may cost you with interest.

Check your credit score

Getting an affordable emergency loan hinges on your credit score. Check your credit score for free with LendingTree Spring.

Consider a joint loan

If you have bad credit, it might be hard (or impossible) to get an emergency loan on your own. In this case, you might want to consider a joint loan.

A joint loan is one that you take out with another person. If the person you add has good credit, the lender might approve you when it would otherwise deny you. Joint loans can also have lower APRs.

Because your co-borrower will have equal rights to the loan, a joint loan might make sense for repairing jointly owned property, like a house or car.

Prequalify

Prequalifying on a personal loan will help you determine the likelihood that the lender will approve you. The benefit here is that it doesn’t require a hard credit pull. Prequalify with several lenders to find the most competitive loan.

Compare lenders

Use our cheat sheet above to compare your loan offers. Prioritize the one with the lowest APR and, since this an emergency, the one with the fastest funding timeline.

Apply

When you’ve found the best loan for your situation, you can apply. You’ll provide detailed information about your finances with documents like pay stubs and bank statements.

Pay for your emergency and enter repayment

When the lender approves you, it will disburse your loan. Emergency loans come in a lump sum. Use your loan for its intended purpose and resist the urge to spend it on something else.

Your first payment will be due around 30 days after you’ve received your loan. Consider signing up for autopay to ensure you remain on track. Some lenders (such as LightStream and SoFi) will give you an APR discount for doing so, too.

Emergency loans for bad credit

Emergencies don’t care about your credit score, but lenders do. Personal loan requirements vary, but you’ll generally need a score of at least 640 to get a loan with an affordable APR.

Still, even if emergency loans for bad credit come with higher interest rates or fees, they may be worth exploring in a pinch.

Paycheck advance apps

Paycheck advance apps are a popular way to get a quick cash advance. They are typically interest free, but subscription fees and same-day advance fees are common.

Advances usually start small (about $50), so these might not be best for an expensive and urgent emergency. But if you demonstrate responsible borrowing over time, you might earn the ability to borrow up to $500.

No-credit-check loans

Instead of ordering a full credit report, no-credit-check loans typically rely on a soft credit pull. They might also consider your debt-to-income ratio, employment status and other basic financial information.

No-credit-check loans can be predatory. They come with much higher APRs, often reaching the triple-digits. If a no-credit-check loan is your only option, choose your lender carefully.

Buy now, pay later apps

Buy now, pay later (BNPL) apps allow you to pay for purchases over time (usually in four monthly installments). This option only makes sense if you need to buy an emergency item, like a car part. Generally, BNPL apps only work for purchases with participating retailers.

Many BNPL apps rely on a soft credit check, while others don’t consider your credit at all. However, pay close attention to interest and fees.

Avoiding predatory emergency loans

Desperately needing a loan makes you vulnerable to bad actors. The types of emergency loans below may be easy to get, but they fall under predatory lending due to short repayment terms, high interest rates and excessive fees.

Payday loans

Payday loans usually come with APRs in the triple digits. What’s worse, if you can’t afford to pay back your loan, you might be forced to roll it over into another one. This is a quick way to land into a cycle of debt.

Pawn shop loans

Pawn shop loans don’t require a credit check. However, they require that you put up a valuable piece of collateral (jewelry, for instance). The pawn shop will then give you a loan that’s worth much less than your collateral. If you don’t pay back what you borrow (plus a large amount of interest, in some cases), you’ll lose your collateral.

Car title loans

Like a pawn shop loan, a car title loan requires collateral. In this case, it’s your car.

A car title loan is equal to a certain percentage of your car’s value. Car title loans usually have terms between 15 and 30 days. If you don’t pay back what you borrowed (plus interest and fees), the lender will repossess your car.

Emergency loan alternatives

Depending on the emergency — and your credit — an emergency loan might not be your best option. Consider these emergency loan alternatives to decide what path makes sense for you.

Care Credit®

Best if you have a medical, dental or vet emergency and can pay your balance within the introductory period.

Care Credit® can be a great way to tackle unexpected medical, dental and veterinary expenses. Qualifying charges of $200 or more are interest-free, but only if you pay your balance in full during the promotional financing period (typically six or 12 months).

If you don’t pay your balance in full during the promotional period, you’ll be on the hook for deferred interest. That means interest will backdate to the day you made the charge.

You can only use Care Credit® with participating providers. You may also need a credit score of at least 640 to qualify.

Charity care

Best if you are low-income, uninsured or underinsured and cannot pay your hospital bill.

The Affordable Care Act requires nonprofit hospitals to offer discounted or free medical care to those who qualify. This is sometimes called charity care. In some states, all hospitals must offer charity care, regardless of their nonprofit status.

If you are low income, uninsured or underinsured, ask the hospital about their Financial Assistance Policy (FAP). This will help you determine if you’re eligible for charity care.

Store credit card

Best if you need financing on high-dollar items like appliances or home repair materials.

Many home improvement stores offer a store credit card, usually with an introductory 0% APR promotional period. Home Depot, for instance, offers six months of deferred interest on purchases of $299 or higher.

Credit card cash advance

Best if you already have a credit card and don’t qualify for a personal loan.

You can probably get cash from your credit card. And because your credit card issuer has already approved you for the card, you don’t need to go through another approval process for a cash advance.

Credit card cash advances can be expensive. They typically come with a higher APR than a normal charge, and you may need to pay a fee. Interest also begins accruing as soon as you take the advance.

Tips to start an emergency fund

Regardless of where you are in your financial journey, building an emergency fund is essential. Even if it seems impossible, you might be able to sock away some cash with the strategies below.

Be realistic: Start small when deciding how much to save for your emergency fund. You may lose motivation if you set too lofty a goal. If you can only save $25 a week, do it — every little bit helps.

Create a budget: Explore budgeting methods to find some breathing room. Consider your goals, income and current debt burden to create a budget that works for you.

Chip away at debt: Use the debt snowball or debt avalanche methods to be rid of debt and save money on interest.

Set up autopay: Automatically transfer a small portion of your paycheck to your savings account each payday. As they say — out of sight, out of mind.

Save unexpected cash: Put surprise cash (such as gifts or an inheritance) into a savings account. Once you’ve bulked up your emergency fund, consider allocating anything extra to a CD account. This way, you can earn interest while your money sits.

How we chose the best emergency loans

We reviewed more than 17 lenders to determine the overall best seven emergency loans. To make our list, lenders must offer emergency loans with fast funding times and competitive APRs. From there, we prioritize lenders based on the following factors:

  • Accessibility: Lenders are ranked higher if their personal loans are available to more people and require fewer conditions. This may include lower credit requirements, wider geographic availability, faster funding and easier and more transparent prequalification and application processes.
  • Rates and terms: We prioritize lenders with more competitive fixed rates, fewer fees and greater options for repayment terms, loan amounts and APR discounts.
  • Repayment experience: For starters, we consider each lender’s reputation and business practices. We also favor lenders that report to all major credit bureaus, offer reliable customer service and provide any unique perks to customers, like free wealth coaching.

Frequently asked questions

There are several ways to borrow money in an emergency. Among these are a personal loan, a paycheck advance app or no-credit-check loan. Personal loans typically offer the lowest APRs and the most amount of money. You may also want to check out alternatives to a traditional personal loan.
 
As a last resort, you could also ask for help from a friend or family member. Just be sure to make your agreed upon payments to avoid a ruined relationship.

Maybe, but it depends on the lender. Upstart may approve you since it has a minimum credit score requirement of 300. Upgrade requires a credit score of at least 580, but adding a creditworthy co-borrower could help improve your approval odds.
 
You could also use a paycheck advance app, but keep in mind that same-day fund fees can add up over time.

Generally, an emergency loan is a personal loan with a fast funding timeline that you use for an unexpected expense. For example, a medical loan may be an emergency loan, as long as the lender specializes in same- or next-day funding.

*Pricing Disclosure: Fixed rates from 8.99% APR to 29.99% APR reflect the 0.25% autopay interest rate discount and a 0.25% direct deposit interest rate discount. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 02/06/2024 and are subject to change without notice. The average of SoFi Personal Loans funded in 2022 was around $30K. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, and a variety of other factors. Loan amounts range from $5,000 to $100,000. The APR is the cost of credit as a yearly rate and reflects both your interest rate and an origination fee of 0%-7%, which will be deducted from any loan proceeds you receive. Autopay: The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. Direct Deposit Discount: To be eligible to potentially receive an additional (0.25%) interest rate reduction for setting up direct deposit with a SoFi Checking and Savings account offered by SoFi Bank, N.A. or eligible cash management account offered by SoFi Securities, LLC (“Direct Deposit Account”), you must have an open Direct Deposit Account within 30 days of the funding of your Loan. Once eligible, you will receive this discount during periods in which you have enabled payroll direct deposits of at least $1,000/month to a Direct Deposit Account in accordance with SoFi’s reasonable procedures and requirements to be determined at SoFi’s sole discretion. This discount will be lost during periods in which SoFi determines you have turned off direct deposits to your Direct Deposit Account. You are not required to enroll in direct deposits to receive a Loan.