An emergency loan can give you a lump sum of money in a hurry to cover an unplanned expense, regardless of your credit score. These urgent loans for bad credit can help in a pinch, but the terms may not be ideal and paying off a loan quickly is best. Consider all of your options, even with bad credit, to find the most affordable and safe loan in an emergency.
Max. Loan Amount
Min. Credit Score
|As low as 10.49%||$50,000||Not disclosed|
|7.99% to 23.43%||$100,000||Not disclosed|
|6.50% to 35.99%||$50,000||300|
|6.49% to 14.04%||$35,000||Not disclosed|
|7.96% to 35.97%||$50,000||600|
|Up to 35.99%||$47,500||630|
|8.42% to 29.99%||$45,000||Not disclosed|
|Up to 35.99%||$12,000||650|
|8.05% to 36.00%||$40,000||Not disclosed|
|9.95% to 35.95%||$35,000||Not disclosed|
If you need money fast, Alliant Credit Union typically makes same-day online personal loans between $1,000 and $50,000. The $14 billion Chicago-based credit union, founded in 1935, is one of the biggest in the nation, with 600,000 members. In addition to personal loans, Alliant offers home and auto loans, credit cards, checking and savings accounts, individual retirement accounts, trust accounts, and insurance policies.
SoFi, short for Social Finance, offers personal loans of up to $100,000 to borrowers with very good to excellent credit. The nationwide lender was founded in 2011 and is known for offering loans with no fees. In addition to personal loans, SoFi offers student loans, auto and student loan refinancing, home loans, and small-business financing.
Upstart is a lending platform that uses artificial intelligence to improve access to affordable credit. Based in California and founded by former Google employees in 2012, Upstart also applies AI to reduce lending risks and costs for its bank partners. The lending intermediary provides unsecured personal loans from $1,000 to $50,000 to borrowers anywhere in the U.S. except West Virginia or Iowa.
PNC Bank can trace its history back to 1852 and the Pittsburgh Trust and Savings Co. Today, PNC Bank is the seventh-largest bank in the U.S., and it features a wide range of consumer and business banking services. Among its suite of products, PNC offers personal, unsecured installment loans up to $35,000. Applicants are considered based on satisfactory credit history, ability to repay and income.
Founded in 2005 and based in San Carlos, California, Oportun originates unsecured personal loans of up to $12,000 in 11 states. Loans are available in 30 additional states through Oportun’s partnership with Pathward, formerly known as MetaBank. The lender has no credit history requirement, making its loans an option for consumers with no credit or limited credit. In addition to unsecured personal loans, the lender offers secured personal loans to borrowers in Arizona, California, Florida, New Jersey and Texas.
Personal loan interest rates rose this week, trending higher for three-year and five-year loan terms. Here are the average personal loan rates offered to well-qualified applicants with a credit score of 720 or greater, as of Jan. 3:
- Three-year personal loan term: 19.05% (up from 17.6% a week ago).
- Five-year personal loan term: 20.9% (up from 19.94% a week ago).
Personal loan rates vary widely based on creditworthiness. Borrowers with very good or excellent credit scores will see much lower interest rates than those with fair or poor credit, as seen in the chart below:
An emergency loan is typically a personal loan that offers fast approval and funding for quick access to cash.
“While every lender is different, obtaining a personal loan can be very fast,” says Barry Rafferty, senior vice president, capital markets at Achieve, a digital personal finance company.
An unsecured personal loan can be better than a payday or title loan, but you shouldn’t expect low interest rates with bad credit. A good rate for a 24-month personal loan falls under the national average of 10.16%.
You can use an emergency loan for nearly any urgent financial need that you can’t cover with cash from a bank account. Examples include:
- Medical or dental bills.
- Car or home repairs.
- Unplanned travel.
- Expenses you can’t delay.
“People tend to use them to make ends meet on things like utilities and other essential needs,” says credit expert John Ulzheimer, formerly of FICO and Equifax.
- Personal loans. Lenders determine eligibility, interest rate and loan amount based on your credit history and your credit score. Personal loans are often unsecured, meaning they don’t require collateral.
- Payday loans. These short-term, high-cost loans carry fees that can equate to an annual percentage rate of about 400%, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Lenders don’t check your ability to repay, which can create a cycle of debt.
- Title loans. You use your car, truck or motorcycle as collateral for a loan that is 25% to 50% of the vehicle’s value but must hand over the title until you repay the loan, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Lenders may give you 30 days to pay, charge finance fees that translate to APRs of about 300% and repossess your vehicle if you can’t repay your loan.
- Credit card advances. A cash advance from your credit card allows you to borrow money from the card’s line of credit, but an advance comes with fees and higher interest rates than regular card purchases. Your limit on a credit card cash advance is typically lower than your card’s limit, and an advance begins to accrue interest immediately.
- Pawnshop loans. You won’t need a credit check, but you will need an item of value as collateral that the pawnshop will sell if you can’t repay your loan. If you can’t repay your loan by the due date, you may be able to extend it or renew it by paying a fee or the interest that has accumulated.
- No-credit-check installment loans. Lenders will consider other factors for approval, such as income and employment history. These loans can offer fast access to cash, but the downside is high APRs.
Find the Personal Loan That’s Right for You
A bad credit score doesn’t mean you can’t qualify for an emergency loan, but you may need to prove that you have enough income to repay a loan or apply with a co-signer or co-borrower.
“For those without good credit, a co-borrower with very good credit can be a huge help in securing a personal loan,” Rafferty says.
Each lender has its own policies for determining eligibility for an emergency loan, says Tim Schlueter, vice president, head of lending at Avant, a financial technology company.
“The good news is that there are many lenders, and most consumers should have a handful of options available to them,” Schlueter says.
Your debt-to-income ratio is a major factor for approval. It tells the lender how likely you are to make payments on the loan along with other debt obligations. A DTI ratio of 43% – meaning 43% of your income goes to debt payments each month – is generally the ceiling for most loans.
The lender may also consider your credit score for approval but may or may not publish minimum credit score requirements for bad credit emergency loans. Some lenders will accept a FICO credit score as low as 520, and others have no minimum credit score. One caveat is that if you qualify with a low credit score, the lender may charge you a high interest rate to compensate for the risk of default.
“There are many lenders who will lend to a consumer with a poor credit score, but interest rates will be high,” Rafferty says.
Bad credit borrowers could pay an APR approaching 36%, and loan amounts may be limited. If you’re not sure whether you’ll get approved, look for lenders that allow you to prequalify with a soft credit pull that has no effect on your credit score.
In an emergency, you may be tempted to take the first loan you can find. But spend the time to compare loan offers.
“Respectfully, most of them are pretty bad, so I’d focus on which one is going to give you the lowest interest rate, understanding that none of the interest rates are going to be good,” Ulzheimer says.
Research your options, particularly before choosing a costly payday loan or title loan, given the higher interest rates, Schlueter says. He recommends first seeing whether you are eligible for a personal loan.
Consider important factors including APRs, repayment terms, penalties and fees, qualification requirements, and the approval and disbursal processes. Make sure you get the best deal possible on your emergency loan by looking at:
- Cost. Expect to pay interest charges and fees for an emergency loan, and the APR includes both. Interest rates typically range from 6% to 36%, according to Experian. Many personal loans have an origination fee of up to 8%, though some lenders don’t charge this fee, and others offer autopay or relationship discounts.
- Terms. Compare how much you can borrow with how long you have to pay it off. Be sure you can get enough to cover your expense, but avoid taking more: Some lenders may have a minimum loan amount that exceeds what you need. Consider whether you can comfortably afford the monthly payment or whether you should extend the term length to lower your payment, Schlueter says.
- Speed. Some lenders work faster than others. If timing is critical to the day, find out whether the lenders you’re considering can deliver funds on time. Borrowers typically wait one to seven business days to receive a personal loan, according to Rocket Loans.
- Approval. Consider your likelihood of approval based on the lender’s requirements. What is the lender’s credit score and DTI ratio criteria, and does the lender accept co-signers or co-borrowers? Find out whether you can prequalify for a personal loan without hurting your credit score.
- Reputation. Know what you’re getting into by checking reviews, ratings and formal complaints about the lenders you’re considering. The Better Business Bureau, Trustpilot and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Complaint Database are good places to start.
Make sure you explore alternatives to an emergency loan before you apply for one. An emergency loan isn’t the only solution when you’re financially stressed and you need cash quickly for an unexpected expense. Some other options:
- Use a credit card. But carrying a balance could make credit cards a more expensive choice than an emergency loan unless the charge is small enough to be paid off relatively quickly.
- Ask for a paycheck advance. Your employer might be able to pay you ahead of schedule to help you through a difficult time.
- Borrow from insurance or retirement. Most retirement plans and some life insurance policies allow you to borrow from your account, Rafferty says. But you can face tax penalties for early withdrawals from a retirement account, and you are depleting the funds you have to live on later and distribute to beneficiaries.
- Ask for help from friends or family members. Make sure everyone is clear about the terms to avoid strained relationships.
- Reduce your medical bills. If you can’t afford to pay a big bill upfront, reach out to the medical office and explain that you’re in a bind. The hospital or facility may be able to put you on a payment plan or reduce your payments.
- Ask about hardship programs. If you’re struggling to pay a loan or other bill, the lender may offer a forbearance program. The pause in payments may allow you to cover your emergency expense.
U.S. News selects the Best Loan Companies by evaluating affordability, borrower eligibility criteria and customer service. Those with the highest overall scores are considered the best lenders.
To calculate each score, we use data about the lender and its loan offerings, giving greater weight to factors that matter most to borrowers. Personal loan companies are evaluated based on customer service ratings, interest rates, maximum loan term, minimum and maximum loan amounts, minimum FICO score, online features, and origination fees.
The weight each scoring factor receives is based on a nationwide survey on what borrowers look for in a lender.
To receive a rating, lenders must offer qualifying loans nationwide and have a good reputation within the industry. Read more about our methodology.
To recap, here are the picks:
Best Emergency Loans for Bad-Credit Borrowers of January 2023
Bankers Healthcare Group, now BHG Financial, was established in 2001 and has funded more than $10 billion in flexible loans for more than 700,000 borrowers. The Davie, Florida, business provides direct loans for any personal, household, family or recreational need and specializes in financing for busy professionals.
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