You need cash now, but payday is days or weeks in the distance. What do you do?
Panic and stress are natural reactions. Once those subside, you’ll find there are ways to get your hands on money in a hurry, without falling prey to scams.
Here are 16 strategies to earn fast cash today, plus fast-cash sources to avoid and some tips on how to cut costs, boost your income and build an emergency fund, so you don’t find yourself scrambling for spare change next time around.
1. Sell spare electronics
You can sell your old phone or tablet on dedicated sites such as WeBuyBack, MobileMonster, MobileGuru or SellYourMobile, as well as general buy and sell sites like Gumtree, eBay and Facebook Marketplace. Consider selling old MP3 players and laptops, too.
2. Sell unused gift cards
Sites like Voucha and GiftCardExchange offer instant cash for gift cards. The process varies by platform, but you’ll generally enter the details for your gift card and get a cash quote. If you accept the quote, you can expect a payment to your bank account or PayPal within a few business days.
3. Pawn something
As a way to borrow money, pawn shop loans are not great. But they’re quick, and if you can’t repay the loan, the pawn shop simply keeps the item you used as collateral. That’s a lot better than ruined credit and calls from debt collectors. You can often sell outright to an online or brick-and-mortar pawn shop, too, instead of borrowing against an item. Jewellery, musical instruments, firearms and up-to-date electronics fare best.
4. Work today for pay today
Legitimate side jobs can provide a quick income boost, ranging from driving passengers or packages to freelancing from home.
You can also try the job sites like SEEK or Indeed, which often have postings for part-time or temporary work in food service, housekeeping and general labour.
5. Seek community loans and assistance
Local community organisations may offer loans or short-term assistance to help with rent, utilities or other emergencies. Local churches, community centres and nonprofit associations in your area may offer small loans at low rates.
Looking for more money?
You may need more help if your current income isn’t covering basic expenses, like utilities. Learn how to create a budget and save money.
6. Ask for forbearance on bills
Some creditors such as utilities and pay TV companies don’t charge interest on late payments, so find out whether they’ll accept delayed payments. Use whatever money you save from not paying those bills to cover emergency needs. If you can’t pay consumer debts such as car loans or mortgages, explore your options with the lender first before turning to toxic high-rate loans.
7. Request a pay advance
Waiting for your next paycheque? Many banks and some employers offer pay-on-demand services that let you access your earned wages early through a cash advance on your pay. Alternatively, you can use a pay advance app to get a small, interest-free loan for a small fee.
8. Use a credit card cash advance
If you have a credit card and the account is in good standing, a cash advance is a much less expensive option than a payday loan. You’ll pay a fee, typically around 5% of the amount you borrow, plus interest, which can be around 30%.
9. Apply for the No Interest Loan Scheme
If you earn less than $45,000 per year (after tax) and need cash to pay for essential goods or services such as a new fridge or car repairs, you might be eligible for the No Interest Loan Scheme, or NILS. Run by Good Shepherd, this initiative allows you to borrow up to $1,500 without additional interest, fees or charges. Applications are typically approved within two days, and you’ll typically receive a cheque for the amount of money you requested.
10. Take out a personal loan
Some lenders can fund a personal loan in a day; if you have good credit, you’ll probably have many choices. If your credit is a challenge, you’ll need to find a lender that not only delivers fast cash but also accepts poor credit. You may find other lenders offering fast funding without a credit check, but you’ll likely pay triple-digit interest rates. Don’t fall for it.
11. Rent out a room
Sites like Airbnb aren’t just for people who have holiday homes to rent out when they’re not using them. Many of the site’s listings are for extra rooms — or even shared rooms — in the owner’s house, meaning you could stay put while bringing in some passive income, particularly if you live in a reasonably desirable area. Check local ordinances to make sure short-term rentals are allowed.
Creating a listing on the site is free, but there is a 3% service fee when a reservation is made. The company releases payment to the host 24 hours after the guests check in.
12. Moonlight as a dog sitter
Technology is on your side here, too, with sites including MadPaws and PawShake, matching pet owners with dog sitters and walkers. You can choose to host the dog or stay at the owner’s house (and — here’s an idea — rent out your place through Airbnb while you’re gone). Rates vary depending on the location and the amount of work involved.
13. Become a rideshare or delivery driver
These are jobs you can do in the evenings or on weekends, using your own car and gas. Companies such as Uber match you with people willing to pay for a ride, and delivery services such as Deliveroo and MenuLogpay you to deliver takeout and other items.
14. Cut your insurance premiums
One of the dirty secrets of the car insurance industry is that premiums for the same driver for the same coverage can vary by hundreds of dollars from company to company. Each insurer does its own math; that’s why it pays to compare car insurance quotes.
If you like your carrier, review the dozens of discounts it may have available. You could get 10% off or more for things like making good grades, completing defensive driving training or going at least three years without an accident.
The same is true with homeowners insurance. Shopping around can save you 10% to 15%, as can discounts for things like having a home security system, staying claim-free or being a nonsmoker. And many insurers offer discounts for buying both car and homeowners or renters policies with them.
15. Consolidate your debt
If you’re struggling to keep up with multiple debt payments, you may be able to consolidate those balances — from credit cards, medical bills, store financing or other charges — and lower your payments with a personal loan. Some lenders can fund the loan within a day. Refinancing $5,000 worth of debt from a 10% interest rate to 5% could save you more than $800 in interest if you need to carry the balance for at least four years.
If you have good credit, you can do a balance transfer of high-interest credit card debt onto a new card with a 0% introductory interest rate. Make sure you can pay off the balance before the rate balloons at the end of the introductory period.
16. Change your mobile phone plan
If you value money in your pocket over buying a new fancy phone, look into mobile phone companies that offer rock-bottom rates. You can find a prepaid mobile phone plan for $30 a month or less as well.
Fast-cash sources to avoid
Payday loans are short-term loans that are made to people who have a source of income and a bank account and that are repaid in a lump sum. Your credit isn’t a factor, but if you already have outstanding payday loans, you may not be able to get another one.
Interest is usually expressed through the “fees” payday lenders charge: monthly fees cannot exceed 4%, and establishment fees cannot exceed 20%, or no more than $20 per $100 borrowed. Borrowers typically also have the option to pay a default fee instead of settling the loan, and over time, all of those fees add up. A typical $20 fee on a 16-day loan amounts to nearly 450% interest on an annual basis.
Car title loans
These short-term loans — in places where they’re legal — require you to hand over the title to your vehicle as collateral for the debt. They’re often compared to payday loans, and the interest rates are comparable, but they can be even worse: If you don’t repay, the lender can seize your car.
No credit check loans
Lenders advertising “guaranteed approval” or “no credit check loans” are likely scammers. Protect yourself from fraud by doing your research and only providing your personal information to a licensed, verified lender you can trust. Check the Australian Securities & Investments Commission’s list of unlicenced companies you should not deal with.
If you’re in the United States, read this article on the NerdWallet US site.