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Guide to Emergency Loans for Fast Cash

Quick Personal Loans: Emergency Loans for Fast Cash; How can you get a quick loan? Need an emergency loan? Find out some options available for you today with Lantern's guide to quick loans.
Lauren Ward
Lauren WardUpdated February 15, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
If you’re looking for a quick personal loan, there may be many options available to choose from. Online lenders are making it easier than ever to access fast cash. But while you may be able to qualify (even with bad credit), it’s very important to understand the costs involved. Here’s what you should know about emergency loans when you need cash fast.

What is an Emergency Loan?

An emergency loan may be thought of as the quickest personal loan because it provides fast funding — sometimes even on the same day you apply. Similar to hardship loans, emergency loans can be used to cover sudden and unexpected expenses when you don’t have the cash on hand to pay for them. An emergency loan generally has a short term, meaning you may have to repay the money you borrowed in a number of weeks or months.

How Do Emergency Loans Work?

Wondering how to get an emergency loan? Most emergency loans are installment loans. You receive a lump sum of money that you pay it back in regular payments with interest.There are different types of emergency loans. The kind of loan you take out will help dictate the interest rate and repayment term you get, as well as whether or not you need collateral to secure the loan. You’ll learn more about the different types of emergency loans below.One thing to be wary of is that emergency loans like payday loans may be offered by predatory lenders, and these loans may come with high interest and fees. You could get caught in a cycle of debt. Weight all the pros and cons very carefully before taking out this type of loan.Recommended: Guide to Getting Employee Loans

Reasons to Get an Emergency Loan

There are typically not many restrictions on what you can use a personal loan for, and that includes an emergency loan. But because they loans tend to have short repayment terms, it’s best to use them only for urgent situations, such as:
  • Medical bills. A quick loan may come in handy in the case of a medical emergency or if your health insurance won’t cover the full cost of a necessary surgery or procedure.
  • Emergency repairs for your home or car. If your roof springs a massive leak or your heating system stops working, you’ll likely need to get repairs made right away. The same is true if your car transmission dies, and you need your vehicle to get to work. These are all situations in which you might want to consider an emergency loan.
  • Living expenses if you lose your job. If you’re unexpectedly laid off, an emergency loan could help you cover rent, food and utilities until you get back on your feet.
  • When sudden travel is required. If a family member becomes very ill and you need to get there quickly to be with him or her, an emergency loan could help cover the cost of last-minute airfare.
Recommended: Personal Loan Against Life Insurance Policy

How Fast Can I Get an Emergency Loan?

The speed at which you receive an emergency loan largely depends on the type of loan you want. A traditional bank or credit union loan can process a loan in one to seven business days. If you’re a new customer, you should expect a longer processing time. But if you’re an existing customer at the establishment, the entire process is likely to be faster — potentially between one to three days. Online lenders offering small personal loans frequently provide faster processing times. You might expect to receive funds in less than a week, with some even offering same-day deposit.If you need a faster turnaround, car title loans, payday loans, and pawn shop loans usually offer same-day processing. The downside to this type of quickest personal loan is that you will typically pay a lot more in interest and may have to use some type of collateral to secure the loan.Recommended: Applying for a Personal Loan Online vs In-Person

Are Emergency Loans Safe?

There are financial risks involved with taking out any kind of financing, and emergency personal loans are definitely no exception. With any kind of funding, it’s important to be sure you’re borrowing from a reputable lender and that you fully understand all the conditions of your loan. As noted above, watch out for predatory lenders if you’re considering an emergency loan.Beyond that, one of the biggest factors to consider is how sure you are that you’ll be able to pay the loan back in a timely way. For example, if your job situation is shaky and you’re not sure you’ll be able to pay back the money on time, then an emergency loan may do more damage than good. This is especially true if the interest rates are high, which is often the case with quick emergency loans. Borrowers of short-term high-interest loans, like payday loans or title loans (more on those below), may get locked in a cycle of debt. That means they’re still paying on the same loan months or even years after they initially borrowed and used it. Research published in 2021 by the Center for Responsible Lending looked at typical APRs for payday loans for $300 with 14-day terms in the 50 states. While some states cap these rates at 36% or have other consumer protections in place, that’s not true everywhere. Texas had the highest rate at 664%.

Can I Get an Emergency Loan with Bad Credit?

For FICO® credit scores, a “fair” score is generally considered anything between 669 and 580, while a “poor” score is between 300 and 579. If you have a credit score below 620, there are still a number of lenders out there that may offer you quick personal loans for bad credit—many of which have better terms than payday loans. In fact, it’s typically quite easy to find these loans with terms up to 60 months. The interest rates are often the same as you would find with a credit card, but that’s lower than most payday loans.If you’re trying to get an emergency loan with bad credit, it may be helpful to compare your options with a pre-qualification rate check that performs only a soft pull on your credit. That helps to give you an idea of what kind of rate and loan amount you’ll qualify for without hurting your credit score.* Recommended: Guide to Personal Loans Without a Bank Account

Getting an Emergency Loan With a Cosigner

Another option to consider if your credit is poor is getting an emergency personal loan with a cosigner, A cosigner is usually a family member or a close friend who has good credit and could help you qualify for loan rates and terms that you might not be able to get on your own. However, the cosigner has to agree to take responsibility for paying off the loan if you are unable to pay it. In addition, if you can’t make the loan payments, your cosigner’s credit could be damaged.

Types of Emergency Loans

When you’re faced with a financial emergency, there are several emergency loan options you might consider: 

Credit Card Cash Advance

If you have a credit card, you may be able to get a cash advance on some or all of your available balance. Say you have a $2,000 limit on your credit card and your current balance is $500. You could potentially make an ATM withdrawal of the remaining $1,500 of your credit line. In some cases, though, your cash advance limit is lower than your credit limit.Additionally, interest on a cash advance typically starts accruing the moment you get the deposit, and many companies also charge a processing fee. If you can qualify for a 0% intro APR card, this could be a good option to quickly pay it off. However, balance transfers often take a few weeks, so you would still accrue some interest and fees.  

Online Loans

There are a variety of lenders that offer quick online personal loans (some even with same-day deposit). Some work with strong credit borrowers, while others specialize in low credit loans. In other words, you can focus your search appropriately. Bear in mind that interest rates may vary depending on your credit profile and lender, and that online lenders often charge higher rates than brick-and-mortar lenders.

Pawn Shop Loans

If you have anything of significant value, you may be able to use it as collateral for a pawn shop loan. The amount you’ll be able to borrow depends on the value of the item you pawn and on the pawn shop that accepts it. Interest rates at pawn shops are much higher than standard personal loans and credit cards, but usually less than payday loans. The benefit of using a pawn shop loan is that the application process is very easy. There are no credit checks, and you won’t have to submit multiple financial documents. Just make sure the item you use is one you’re willing to part with. If you’re unable to make your payments, it will be sold to pay off your loan. 

Payday Loans

A payday loan has that name because the assumption is supposedly that any amount you borrow will be paid back by your next paycheck. Other types of loans are paid back in small increments (which is why they are called installment loans). But with a payday loan, you’ll be expected to pay back everything you borrowed (plus fees) with one payment and in a short period of time.The downside to a payday loan is that, with interest, the total payoff amount may be three to four times as much as the actual loan amount. Oftentimes people get caught in cycles of debt with payday loans offered by private lenders, so use caution. Try not to borrow more than you can comfortably afford to pay back.

Title Loans

If you own a car, it’s possible to use your car’s title as collateral for a loan. The plus side to a title loan is that you don’t have to go through an extensive application process. But the drawback is that your car can be seized if you’re unable to make your payments. Additionally, you can qualify only if you own your vehicle. You can’t have an auto loan for it. As with payday loans, use caution.

Small Business Loans for People with Bad Credit

If you run a company and it has an emergency cash flow situation, you may qualify for a small business loan with bad credit. Your business will likely need to have been in business for a specific period of time and may need to meet revenue requirements as well. 

What You Need to Know If You’re Considering an Emergency Loan

There are both benefits and drawbacks to accessing emergency financing.

Pros of an Emergency Loan

  • Fast application: The application typically won’t take you hours to complete. Most can be completed in a single sitting.
  • Possible same-day deposit: When you provide a bank account, the money may be deposited the same business day that you apply for it. Some lenders may offer quick $4k loans.
  • Flexible loan terms: You may be able to choose your repayment plan for many emergency loans.
  • Money can be used for anything you need: You don’t need to specify what the money will be used for. Whether it’s for new tires or a medical emergency, it’s up to you how the funds will be spent.

Cons of an Emergency Loan

  • Higher interest rates: Depending on the specific type of funding, emergency loans usually come with higher interest rates than standard loans.
  • Smaller loan amounts: You may be limited in how much of a personal loan you can get, and you likely won’t be able to borrow as much as you could with a standard loan. The maximum amount you’ll be able to borrow will vary depending on the institution, loan type, and your ability to repay it. Lenders may offer quick $2,000 personal loans on an emergency basis.

Emergency Loan Alternatives 

Before you take out an expensive emergency loan, consider some other options that may be available to you.

Home Equity Loans

You may be able to use the equity you’ve built up in your home as collateral for a new loan. Also known as a second mortgage, a home equity loan comes with lower interest rates than most other types of loan. However, your home is used to secure the loan, so you need to feel comfortable with your ability to repay the balance.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Loans

With a P2P loan, your creditworthiness can be determined through non-traditional means, such as rent history, utility payments, or education. P2P loans are often good alternatives for people with low credit scores.

Traditional Loans

The great thing about a loan for personal use from a traditional lender like a bank or credit union is that it’s usually an unsecured personal loan, which means you don’t have to provide anything as collateral to take one out. Plus, if you have a good credit score and source of income, you may be able to borrow more than you would with an emergency loan. 

The Takeaway

Anyone can have an emergency and need an emergency personal loan. If you’re able, it’s a good idea to save up an emergency fund for unforeseen needs like an unexpected hospital bill or a transmission repair. But if you can’t do that (or if your emergency happens before you’ve had a chance to build your fund), it’s helpful to know what kinds of options might be available to you. Just watch out for predatory lenders who may charge very high interest and fees. As you’re looking for loans—whether they’re for emergencies or not—it can be useful to compare terms from different options side by side. Lantern Credit lets you fill out one simple form to receive offers from multiple lenders in our network. That can help you make the best choice available to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get emergency money fast?
Can I get an immediate cash loan?
How can I get an emergency loan with bad credit?

About the Author

Lauren Ward

Lauren Ward

Lauren Ward is a personal finance expert with nearly a decade of experience writing online content. Her work has appeared on websites such as MSN, Time, and Bankrate. Lauren writes on a variety of personal finance topics for SoFi, including credit and banking.
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