Best Hardship Loans for Bad Credit in 2024

Personal loans to cover finances during hard times

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How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

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 Amanda Push | Edited by Kurt Adams | Updated on January 26, 2024
How Does LendingTree Get Paid?
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.

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

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.
LenderUser ratingsBest for…APR rangeLoan termsLoan amountsMinimum credit score
Avant logo
(2,682)
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Short-term hardship loans9.95% to 35.99%12 to 60 months$2,000 - $35,000580See Personalized Results
One Main Financial logo
(8,061)
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Secured hardship loans18.00% to 35.99%24 to 60 months$1,500 - $20,000Not specifiedSee Personalized Results
Universal Credit logo
(129)
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Hardship loans to consolidate debt11.69% to 35.99% (with discounts)36 or 60 months$1,000 - $50,000560See Personalized Results
Upgrade logo
(2,209)
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Hardship loans with flexible repayment terms8.49% to 35.99% (with autopay)24 to 84 months$1,000 - $50,000580See Personalized Results
Upstart logo
(16,469)
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Hardship loans for bad credit7.80% to 35.99%36 and 60 months$1,000 - $50,000300See Personalized Results

See Personalized Results

Avant: Best for short-term hardship terms

(2,682)
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Ratings and reviews are from real consumers who have used the lending partner’s services.

(2,682)
User Ratings & Reviews rating-reviews-tooltip-icon

Ratings and reviews are from real consumers who have used the lending partner’s services.

9.95% to 35.99%

$2,000 - $35,000

12 to 60 months

Up to 9.99%

580

Pros

  • Funding within one business day
  • Allows for bad-credit borrowers
  • Offers short repayment terms

Cons

  • Charges an administrative fee
  • Small maximum loan amount
  • Not available in all 50 states

What to know

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While many hardship-loan lenders have minimum repayment terms of 24 or 36 months, Avant customers can get loans ranging from 12 to 60 months.

In addition, you won’t need to have a perfect credit score to qualify for an Avant loan, and the lender can fund your loan within one business day of closing on your loan. Unfortunately, Avant loans do come with an origination fee, and you can’t borrow more than $35,000.

To learn more, read our full Avant personal loan review.

How to qualify

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To qualify for an Avant hardship loan, you’ll need a minimum credit score of 580. Additionally, it requires a monthly net income of $1,200 (or $14,400 annually). You also can’t live in the following states:

  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • OneMain Financial: Best for secured hardship loans

    (8,073)
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    (8,073)
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    18.00% to 35.99%

    $1,500 - $20,000

    24 to 60 months

    1.00% - 10.00%

    Not specified

    Pros

    • Offers secured and unsecured loans
    • Bad-credit borrowers may be able to qualify
    • Borrowers can get small loans

    Cons

    • You can find lower APRs with other lenders
    • Charges an origination fee
    • Doesn’t offer large loan amounts

    What to know

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    Many lenders only offer unsecured loans — however, with OneMain Financial, you can apply for both secured and unsecured loans. This means that if you’re unable to qualify for a loan based on your credit alone, you can offer up collateral as a guarantee of loan repayment.

    Still, if you compare personal loan rates, you can see that OneMain Financial has a much higher starting APR than other lenders. As such, if you have good or excellent credit, you may qualify for much lower rates elsewhere.

    To learn more, read our full OneMain Financial personal loan review.

    How to qualify

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    OneMain Financial doesn’t disclose its credit requirements or any details around other criteria. During the application process, however, you’ll need to provide the following information:

  • A government-issued ID
  • Proof of residence
  • Proof of income
  • Universal Credit: Best for hardship loans to consolidate debt

    (129)
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    (129)
    User Ratings & Reviews rating-reviews-tooltip-icon

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    11.69% to 35.99% (with discounts)

    $1,000 - $50,000

    36 or 60 months

    5.25% - 9.99%

    560

    Pros

    • Pays old creditors off directly
    • Allows for co-applicants
    • Funding within one business day

    Cons

    • High maximum APRs
    • Charges an origination fee
    • Charges late fees

    What to know

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    If you’re struggling financially and believe a consolidation loan could help you lower how much you pay on your current debts, a Universal Credit hardship loan could help ease your budget. Be sure to compare the rates Universal Credit offers you to the rates you’re paying now. To get Universal Credit’s lowest rates, you must sign up for autopay and pay a portion of your debts off directly with this company’s loan.

    Bear in mind that Universal Credit charges a 5.25% - 9.99% origination fee.

    To learn more, read our full Universal Credit personal loan review.

    How to qualify

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    Universal Credit doesn’t have a minimum income requirement, but you will have to meet the following criteria:

  • At least a 560 credit score
  • Less than 75% debt-to-income ratio
  • Must have at least two other credit accounts
  • Must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or living in the U.S. with a valid visa
  • Upgrade: Best for hardship loans with flexible repayment terms

    (2,209)
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    (2,209)
    User Ratings & Reviews rating-reviews-tooltip-icon

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    8.49% to 35.99% (with discounts)

    $1,000 - $50,000

    24 to 84 months

    1.85% - 9.99%

    580

    Pros

    • Offers flexible repayment terms
    • Allows for joint applications
    • Funding within one business day

    Cons

    • High maximum APR
    • Charges an origination fee
    • Charges late fees

    What to know

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    A long loan term can keep your monthly payments down, but also keep in mind that a long loan term can also increase how much you pay in interest over the life of the loan. If longer terms are what you want, Upgrade offers repayment terms ranging from 24 to 84 months. And, if you don’t have good credit, Upgrade also allows you to file joint applications which can help keep your borrowing costs down.

    But if you don’t have good credit, you could see APRs as high as 35.99%. Upgrade hardship loans also come with origination and late fees.

    To learn more, read our full Upgrade personal loan review.

    How to qualify

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    Upgrade requires that you meet the following criteria to qualify for a personal loan:

  • Minimum 580 credit score
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent residency, or living in the U.S. on a valid visa
  • Verifiable bank account
  • Valid email address
  • Upstart: Best for hardship loans for bad credit

    (16,469)
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    (16,469)
    User Ratings & Reviews rating-reviews-tooltip-icon

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    7.80% to 35.99%

    $1,000 - $50,000

    36 and 60 months

    0.00% - 12.00%

    300

    Pros

    • Bad-credit borrowers can qualify
    • Funding within one business day
    • Can change your due date as long as you meet Upstart's criteria

    Cons

    • Limited to just two repayment terms
    • Charges an origination fee
    • No option for co-applicants

    What to know

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    If your credit history is less than ideal — or you don’t have much experience with credit to begin with — Upstart may be a good option for a hardship loan. Upstart considers more than just your credit score, looking at factors like your education and employment history.

    However, Upstart customers are limited to just two repayment terms, and the company may charge you a 0.00% - 12.00% origination fee.

    To learn more, read our full Upstart personal loan review.

    How to qualify

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    Upstart provides a significant list of information when it comes to its requirements for qualifying for a hardship personal loan. Here’s what you need to know:

  • 300 minimum credit score
  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident living in the U.S.
  • $12,000 minimum income
  • Have a full-time job or an offer to start in six months or have a part-time job or a different source of regular income
  • A valid email
  • A verifiable identity
  • A personal banking account
  • What is a hardship loan?

    A hardship loan is a type of personal loan that you can use if you find yourself in dire financial straits. Similar to emergency loans, hardship loans can cover the cost of living or unexpected costs.

    Breaking up your day-to-day expenses with a hardship loan can ease the burden on your budget, helping to bridge the gap while you get back on your feet. However, since hardship loans can come with interest rates and fees, they can also put you in a worse financial position — especially if you’re stuck with a high cost of borrowing.

    How do financial hardship loans work?

    Hardship loans come in the form of a lump sum of money as opposed to a line of credit, like a credit card. This type of debt can be unsecured or secured, though most lenders only offer unsecured loans.

    Since hardship loans are a type of personal loan, they also have fixed annual percentage rates (APRs), repayment terms and monthly payments. With these features, your monthly payments won’t change and you’ll know exactly when your loan will be paid off.

    How to get a hardship loan

    Applying for a hardship loan is essentially the same process as applying for any personal loan. While the details may vary depending on the lender, here’s the general process you may go through:

    • Review your budget. Create a budget and determine how much you can afford to borrow. To help with this, examine areas where you can cut back so you won’t have to borrow as much.
    • Check your credit score. Check your credit score for free by using LendingTree Spring. These three little numbers determine which lenders you qualify for and at what rate. If your credit background is poor, consider taking some time to improve your credit score.
    • Prequalify for multiple hardship loans. Choose at least three lenders and see what rates, terms and amounts you may be eligible for. Prequalifying for a personal loan won’t impact your credit score, but keep in mind that these offers aren’t set in stone.
    • Verify your information. Once you choose a lender, you may have to fill out a formal application and verify your identity and income. Your lender will also perform a hard credit pull. This can cause your credit score to temporarily drop by a few points.
    • Close on your loan. In the final step, you’ll need to sign a personal loan contract, agreeing to repay the debt on time and in full. Once you’ve signed your agreement, your lender will send your funds and you’ll have to start making payments.

    How to get a hardship loan with bad credit

    Bad credit can make it difficult — but not impossible — to get a hardship loan. If your credit score leaves a lot to be desired, but you need a personal loan quickly, you can apply for a bad credit loan or use one of the following strategies:

    • Add a cosigner. It may be easier to qualify for a cosigner loan than a traditional loan, since there are two people agreeing to repay the debt instead of one. A personal loan cosigner can be a family member or friend. Just make sure your cosigner understands that they are equally responsible as you are for repaying the loan.
    • Apply for a secured loan. This can come with some risks, as secured loans require collateral — a vehicle, real estate or savings account, for example. The collateral serves as your guarantee to the lender to repay the loan — if you’re unable to, your lender can seize the asset. However, secured loans tend to come with lower rates than unsecured loans and may be easier to qualify for.

    How do you qualify for a hardship loan?

    Hardship loan lenders will consider multiple factors when you apply, like your credit score, debt-to-income ratio (DTI) and income. Personal loan requirements vary by lender, but you’ll generally want a good DTI ratio and at least a fair credit score. Credit utilization and your payment history are some of the biggest factors in determining your credit score.

    Your DTI ratio is how much money you’re spending versus how much you’re bringing in. It’s best practice to keep your DTI ratio under 43%, though a “good” number is considered 35% or less.

    Other options for hardship loans

    Hardship loans aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution to your financial problems — in some cases, they may not be a good fit at all. If so, consider these alternatives to hardship loans to help make ends meet:

    • Credit counseling: If you’re financially struggling because of debt, a credit counselor can help you come up with a plan and advocate to your lenders on your behalf. If you qualify, your credit counselor can put you on a debt management plan.
    • Family loans: If your loved ones are willing to help you cover expenses, consider taking out a family loan. This can help you save money on interest and fees. However, it can be a source of tension, so be sure to write out a loan agreement specifying a payment schedule, fees and interest.
    • 401(k) hardship loans: If you’ve built up a retirement account at work, you may be able to pull funds in what’s known as a 401(k) hardship loan. To avoid paying taxes on this loan, the IRS dictates that the money must be for an “immediate and heavy financial need” and limited to a “necessary” amount.
    • Payday alternative loans: Though uncommon, payday alternative loans (PALs) are a much more affordable option than payday loans. PALs are offered by credit unions and come with an APR cap of 28%.
    • Buy now, pay later: Many retailers offer buy now, pay later as an option to finance products, including groceries. This is a type of installment debt that allows you to split expenses into four equal payments with no interest or fees. Buy now, pay later apps can be found with most large retailers.
    • Cash advance apps: Some apps allow you to borrow money ahead of your paycheck without interest or credit checks. However, paycheck advance apps typically only offer small loans and are often a short-term solution to deeper financial issues.
    • Home equity loans or lines of credit: If you own your home, you can tap into the equity you’ve built into it using a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC). Keep in mind that these types of debts are secured by your home, so if you’re unable to keep up with payments, you could lose the roof over your head.
    • Student loan hardships: If keeping up with your student loan payments is a struggle, you can apply for student loan deferment or forbearance depending on your lender. In some cases, you may even qualify for student loan forgiveness, though you may need to meet strict qualifications.

    Hardship loans you should avoid

    Some companies with predatory lending practices specifically target consumers who are financially struggling. These types of hardship loans typically don’t come with credit checks and are quickly funded. While not all no-credit-check lenders are bad, some charge sky-high rates and fees that can trap you in a cycle of debt.

    It’s best to avoid the following types of loans:

    • Payday loans: These types of hardship loans can come with nearly 400% APRs. Payday loans are typically capped at $500 and borrowers usually have two to four weeks to repay it. The short repayment terms, on top of their three-digit APRs, can lead to consumers having to take out more debt to pay off the original payday loan.
    • Pawnshop loans: This type of debt can also come with large fees and short repayment terms. In some cases, pawnshop loans may require that you provide valuable collateral — and if you can’t repay the debt, your lender can keep it.

    How we chose the best hardship loans

    We reviewed more than 25 lenders that offer hardship loans to determine the overall best five lenders. To make our list, lenders must offer competitive annual percentage rates (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.

    LendingTree reviews and fact-checks our top lender picks on a monthly basis.

    Frequently asked questions

    Yes, a hardship loan is a type of loan you use to bridge the gap between income and expenses. Still, although a loan is “real” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in your best interest. Research your lender to make sure it’s on the level, and avoid predatory lending by steering clear of payday and pawnshop loans.

    Yes. A hardship loan is a personal loan that you use to get through financial hardship. Your payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score. So, defaulting on a loan will have a drastic, negative impact on your score, making it hard to borrow money in the future.

    In most cases, your credit score will go down a little when you take out a new loan or credit card. However, a hardship loan could help you improve your credit in the long run, as long as you make your payments on time, every time.