BEST OF

Best Emergency Loans of October 2021

Emergency loans help cover unexpected expenses, like urgent car or home repairs. Compare options from online lenders and learn how to choose a safe loan.

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Emergencies are one way to use an unsecured personal loan. This option can be far less expensive and safer than other types of loans, like payday or auto title loans. They can also be just as fast; many lenders fund loans the same day you apply.

Even if you’re in a hurry, comparing lenders and other options could save you money in the long run. Here are lenders that assess your ability to pay the loan, a practice that reduces risk — for you and the lender.

Emergency loan companies:

  • Upstart: Emergency loans for limited credit history.

  • Best Egg: Emergency loans with fast funding.

  • OneMain: Secured and co-signed emergency loans.

  • Universal credit: Emergency loans with credit-building features.

  • Avant: Emergency loans for low credit scores.

  • LendingPoint: Emergency loans with flexible payments.

  • Oportun: Emergency loans with no credit score required.

Summary of Best Emergency Loans of October 2021

Our pick for

Emergency loans for limited credit history.

Upstart
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Upstart

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Upstart

Est. APR

4.37 - 35.99%

Loan Amount

$1,000 - $50,000

Min. Credit Score

580
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Min. Credit Score

580

Key facts

Upstart uses alternative data in underwriting, which can give borrowers with bad or fair credit a better chance to qualify. This lender accepts borrowers with thin credit histories and high earning potential.

Pros

  • Accepts borrowers new to credit.

  • Able to fund loans within one business day.

  • Offers direct payment to creditors with some debt consolidation loans.

  • Allows borrowers to choose and change payment date.

Cons

  • Borrowers can choose from only two repayment term options.

  • Charges origination fee.

  • No mobile app to manage the loan.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 580.

  • Minimum credit history: None, this lending platform accepts borrowers with credit history too limited to produce a FICO score.

  • Minimum gross income: $12,000.

  • Employment: Full-time job, full-time job offer starting in 6 months, a regular part-time job, or another source of regular income.

  • Must have U.S. residential street address where borrower resides (unless military personnel on active duty).

  • Must be at least 18 years old.

  • Valid email account required.

  • Personal bank account with U.S. routing number required.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0% - 8%.

  • Late fee: 5% of past due amount or $15, whichever is greater.

Disclaimer

The full range of available rates varies by state. The average 3-year loan offered across all lenders using the Upstart platform will have an APR of 21.97% and 36 monthly payments of $35 per $1,000 borrowed. For example, the total cost of a $10,000 loan would be $12,646 including a $626 origination fee. APR is calculated based on 3-year rates offered in the last 1 month. There is no down payment and no prepayment penalty. Your APR will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will be approved.

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Our pick for

Emergency loans with fast funding.

BestEgg
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Best Egg

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
BestEgg

Est. APR

5.99 - 29.99%

Loan Amount

$2,000 - $50,000

Min. Credit Score

640
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Min. Credit Score

640

Key facts

Best Egg lends low-rate personal loans to borrowers with good credit. The company says its online application takes minutes to complete, and funds can be available in as little as one business day.

Pros

  • Competitive rates among fair-credit lenders.

  • Able to fund loans within one business day.

  • Secured loan option for homeowners.

Cons

  • Charges origination fee.

  • Does not offer direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • Borrowers can choose from only two repayment term options.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 600; borrower average is 700.

  • Minimum credit history: 3 years and 3 accounts.

  • Minimum income: No minimum income requirement; borrower average is $80,000. Borrower must have enough cash flow to cover current financial obligations.

  • Minimum debt-to-income ratio: 40% or 65% including a mortgage; borrower average is 40%.

  • Employment: Must provide proof of income; part-time employees are eligible.

  • Must provide valid U.S. address and Social Security number.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0.99% - 5.99%.

  • Return fee: $15 if payments are not processed.

Disclaimer

*Trustpilot TrustScore as of June 2020. Best Egg personal loans, including the Best Egg Secured Loan, are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender or Blue Ridge Bank, a Nationally Chartered Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. “Best Egg” is a trademark of Marlette Holdings, Inc., a Delaware corporation. All uses of “Best Egg” refer to “the Best Egg personal loan”, “the Best Egg Secured Loan”, and/or “Best Egg on behalf of Cross River Bank or Blue Ridge Bank, as originator of the Best Egg personal loan,” as applicable. The term, amount, and APR of any loan we offer to you will depend on your credit score, income, debt payment obligations, loan amount, credit history and other factors. Your loan agreement will contain specific terms and conditions. About half of our customers get their money the next day. After successful verification, your money can be deposited in your bank account within 1-3 business days. The timing of available funds upon loan approval may vary depending upon your bank’s policies. Loan amounts range from $2,000– $50,000. Residents of Massachusetts have a minimum loan amount of $6,500 ; New Mexico and Ohio, $5,000; and Georgia, $3,000. For a second Best Egg loan, your total existing Best Egg loan balances cannot exceed $50,000. Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) range from 4.99%–35.99%. The APR is the cost of credit as a yearly rate and reflects both your interest rate and an origination fee of 0.99%–5.99% of your loan amount, which will be deducted from any loan proceeds you receive. The origination fee on a loan term 4-years or longer will be at least 4.99%. Your loan term will impact your APR, which may be higher than our lowest advertised rate.  You need a minimum 700 FICO® score and a minimum individual annual income of $100,000 to qualify for our lowest APR. To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, Federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account. What this means for you: When you open an account, we will ask for your name, address, date of birth, and other information that will allow us to identify you. We may also ask to see your driver’s license or other identifying documents.

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Our pick for

Secured and co-signed emergency loans.

OneMain
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OneMain Financial

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
OneMain

Est. APR

18.00 - 35.99%

Loan Amount

$1,500 - $20,000

Min. Credit Score

None
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Min. Credit Score

None

Key facts

OneMain doesn’t have a minimum credit score requirement, but it charges high rates and origination fees. A borrower’s ability to repay the loan and credit stability are factors in a loan decision.

Pros

  • Option to choose your payment date.

  • Offers joint and secured loans.

  • Able to fund a loan the same or next business day.

  • Offers direct payment to creditors on debt consolidation loans.

Cons

  • Rates are high compared to other online lenders.

  • Charges origination fee.

  • No rate discount for autopay.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: None.

  • Minimum income: None; average is $45,000.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: $25 to $400 or 1 - 10%.

Disclaimer

Not all applicants will qualify for larger loan amounts or most favorable loan terms. Loan approval and actual loan terms depend on your ability to meet our credit standards (including a responsible credit history, sufficient income after monthly expenses, and availability of collateral). Larger loan amounts require a first lien on a motor vehicle no more than ten years old, that meets our value requirements, titled in your name with valid insurance. Maximum annual percentage rate (APR) is 35.99%, subject to state restrictions. APRs are generally higher on loans not secured by a vehicle. Depending on the state where you open your loan, the origination fee may be either a flat amount or a percentage of your loan amount. Flat fee amounts vary by state, ranging from $25 to $300. Percentage-based fees vary by state ranging from 1% to 10% of your loan amount subject to certain state limits on the fee amount. Active duty military, their spouse or dependents covered under the Military Lending Act may not pledge any vehicle as collateral for a loan. OneMain loan proceeds cannot be used for postsecondary educational expenses as defined by the CFPB’s Regulation Z, such as college, university or vocational expenses; for any business or commercial purpose; to purchase securities; or for gambling or illegal purposes. Borrowers in these states are subject to these minimum loan sizes: Alabama: $2,100. California: $3,000. Georgia: Unless you are a present customer, $3,100 minimum loan amount. Ohio: $2,000. Virginia: $2,600. Borrowers (other than present customers) in these states are subject to these maximum unsecured loan sizes: North Carolina: $7,500. New York: $20,000. An unsecured loan is a loan which does not require you to provide collateral (such as a motor vehicle) to the lender.

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Our pick for

Emergency loans with credit-building features.

Universal Credit
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on Universal Credit's website

Universal Credit

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Universal Credit

Est. APR

8.93 - 35.43%

Loan Amount

$1,000 - $50,000

Min. Credit Score

560
Check rate

on Universal Credit's website


Min. Credit Score

560

Key facts

A Universal Credit loan is an option for bad-credit borrowers with high debt-to-income ratios, but rates are high compared to similar lenders.

Pros

  • Offers rate discount with direct payment to creditors on debt consolidation loans.

  • Option to change your payment date.

  • Offers free credit score access.

  • Offers a .5% rate discount for setting up autopay.

Cons

  • Charges origination fee.

  • No co-sign, joint or secured loan option.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 580.

  • Minimum number of accounts on credit history: 2 accounts.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 75%, including mortgage and the loan you’re applying for.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 4.25% to 8%.

  • Late fee: Up to $10.

Disclaimer

Personal loans made through Universal Credit feature APRs of 8.93%-35.93%. All personal loans have a 4.25% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 27.65% APR (which includes a 22.99% yearly interest rate and a 6% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,400 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $387.05. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $13,933.62. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early.

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Our pick for

Emergency loans with flexible payments.

LendingPoint
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LendingPoint

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
LendingPoint

Est. APR

9.99 - 35.99%

Loan Amount

$2,000 - $36,500

Min. Credit Score

580
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Min. Credit Score

580

Key facts

LendingPoint accepts borrowers with low credit scores, but emphasizes an applicant’s debt-to-income ratio in a loan decision. Funds may be available as soon as the next business day.

Pros

  • Soft credit check with pre-qualification.

  • Option to choose and change your payment date.

  • Can fund a loan the business day after approval.

Cons

  • No co-signed, joint or secured loan option.

  • Rates are high compared to other bad-credit lenders.

  • Reports payments to two of the three major credit bureaus.

  • Does not offer direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score of 600; borrowers’ average is 670. LendingPoint uses the FICO 9 credit scoring model.

  • At least $20,000 in annual income; average customer earns $85,000.

  • Debt-to-income ratio of less than 40%; average customer is 15%.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 4 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0% - 6%.

  • Late fee: $30 after 15-day grace period.

Disclaimer

Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates (“APR”) may vary based upon LendingPoint's proprietary scoring and underwriting system's review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 6% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon LendingPoint's final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. LendingPoint makes loan offers from $2,000 to $25,000, at rates ranging from a low of 15.49% APR to a high of 34.99% APR, with terms from 24 to 48 months.

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Our pick for

Emergency loans with no credit score required.

Oportun
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on Oportun's website

Oportun

3.0

NerdWallet rating 
Oportun

Est. APR

27.74 - 35.95%

Loan Amount

$300 - $10,000

Min. Credit Score

None
Check rate

on Oportun's website


Min. Credit Score

None

Key facts

Oportun accepts borrowers with thin or no credit history, but will consider credit information for borrowers who have it. Rates are high compared to other lenders.

Pros

  • Soft credit check with pre-qualification.

  • Offers co-sign, joint and secured loan options.

  • Accepts borrowers new to credit.

  • Offers small loans starting at $300.

Cons

  • Available in a limited number of states.

  • Borrowers cannot choose or change their payment date.

  • Does not offer direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • Reports payments to two of the three major credit bureaus.

Qualifications

  • Valid identification.

  • Proof of income.

  • Proof of address.

  • Up to four references.

  • Be 18 years or older.

Available Term Lengths

6 to 46 months

Fees

  • Origination fee: $0 - $300.

  • Late fee: Fixed amount or percent, $15 max.

Disclaimer

This is an advertisement for a consumer loan, subject to credit eligibility and state limitations. Loans in AZ, CA, FL, ID, IL, MO, NJ, NM, TX, UT, and WI are originated by Oportun Inc. California loans made pursuant to a California Financing Law license. NV loans originated by Oportun, LLC. In AR, DE, IN, KY, MS, MT, ND, NH, OR, SC, SD, and VA, loans are originated by MetaBank, N.A., member FDIC. Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. See oportun.com for details.

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Our pick for

Emergency loans for low credit scores.

Avant
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Avant

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
Avant

Est. APR

9.95 - 35.95%

Loan Amount

$2,000 - $35,000

Min. Credit Score

550
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Min. Credit Score

550

Key facts

Avant has low starting rates and a low minimum credit score requirement. The lender can fund a loan in one business day and lets borrowers pre-qualify to see offers.

Pros

  • Able to fund loans the next business day.

  • Option to change your payment date.

  • Soft credit check with pre-qualification.

Cons

  • Charges an origination fee.

  • Does not offer direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • No joint, co-signed or secured loan option.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score of 550.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 5 years

Fees

  • Administrative fee: Up to 4.75%.

  • Late fee: $25 (most states).

  • Unsuccessful payment fee: $15 (most states).

Disclaimer

A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33. Minimum loan amounts may vary by state. If approved, the actual rate and loan amount that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and other factors. An administration fee of up to 4.75% will be deducted from the loan proceeds. Avant branded credit products are issued by Webbank, member FDIC

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What is an emergency loan?

An emergency loan is a personal loan you use to pay a medical bill, get a car repaired or cover another urgent expense. These loans can be secured or unsecured — unsecured loans are more widely available — and can come from an online lender, credit union or some banks.

Check the lender’s requirements to see if you meet them. Lenders typically have minimum credit score and maximum debt-to-income requirements. Some offer co-signed or joint loan options that may be easier to qualify for.

Look for a lender that can fund your loan quickly (the fastest funding is usually the same day your application is approved or the day after) and one that offers the loan amount you’re looking for.

Why we chose these lenders

These lenders offer small personal loans and fund them quickly. Their credit score requirements vary, but borrowers with fair or bad credit scores (below 690 FICO) may qualify.

Upstart

Upstart is an online lending platform that considers alternative data on an application, including where you live and went to school, in addition to credit and income information. The company says it funds 99% of loans within one business day after approval.

Best Egg

Best Egg says its application takes minutes to complete, and loans are funded one business day after approval, in some cases. Though the lender approves applicants with fair credit, the average credit score is 700, which falls in the good range on the FICO scale.

OneMain

OneMain offers personal loans to borrowers with low credit scores, but they come with high APRs and an origination fee. The lender can fund loans quickly by check, but you have to visit a branch to complete the process.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit’s low minimum credit score makes it a good choice for fair or bad-credit borrowers. The lender’s average funding time of five days is longer than others, but if you can wait, you’ll get access to credit-building tools like credit monitoring and a credit score simulator.

Avant

Avant has a low minimum credit score requirement and says it can fund a loan one business day after approval. Its annual percentage rate includes an administrative fee up to 4.75%. The company reports payments to the three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — which can help you build credit.

LendingPoint

LendingPoint lends to borrowers with low credit scores and little existing debt. The company says it can fund a loan the business day after approval, but in some cases it could take longer.

Oportun

Oportun offers small installment loans to borrowers with little or no credit history at rates that are high compared to other bad-credit lenders. It operates in only a few states and sometimes funds loans within hours, whether you apply online or in person.

How to choose an emergency loan

Compare total cost: Speed may be your priority, but the loan’s total cost will have a lasting effect on your finances, so look for the least expensive loan — the one with the lowest annual percentage rate, which includes both the interest rate and fees.

Most online lenders offer pre-qualification, which involves a soft credit check and lets you preview your rate and term without impacting your credit score.

Check monthly payments: Weigh how the loan’s monthly payments will impact your budget to determine if you can comfortably pay it on time.

Use a personal loan calculator to see how much you can borrow and what rate and term you’ll need to make it affordable.

Funding speed: If you urgently need funds, consider a lender that offers fast funding. While some lenders offer same-day funding, typical funding times are two to seven days.

Online lenders often disclose the timeline in an FAQ or blog section of their websites, so you’ll know what to expect before applying.

Gather the required documents — including W-2s, pay stubs and bank account statements — before you apply for a loan, and promptly answer the lender's questions to speed up the application process.

How to get an emergency loan with bad credit

A bad credit score (below 630 FICO) doesn’t automatically disqualify you from getting a loan, but your score is a factor lenders weigh the most heavily on a loan application.

Add a co-signer or co-borrower

Adding a co-signer or co-borrower can help your chances of qualifying or getting a good loan rate. A co-borrower has equal access to the funds, while a co-signer does not. If you can’t make loan payments, the co-signer or co-borrower is responsible for the loan.

Add collateral

Some lenders offer secured personal loans, which lets borrowers add collateral to the loan and can help bad-credit borrowers qualify. If you fail to make payments, the lender can take the collateral.

Turn to a credit union

Credit union members may have access to a small loan option. Many credit union personal loans have low rates and minimum amounts around $500 or $1,000. Some also offer payday alternative loans, which are small-dollar loans with rates capped at 28%.

Try your bank

If you’re a customer at Bank of America or U.S. Bank, you may be able to get one of their small-dollar loans. Bank of America’s Balance Assist offers up to $500 for a flat fee of $5. U.S. Bank’s Simple Loan can be $100 to $1,000, and the loan has a fee of $12 to $15. Both are repaid in three monthly installments.

Emergency loan alternatives

Cheaper alternatives to borrowing are not always fast or convenient, and sometimes they require asking for help. But NerdWallet strongly recommends exhausting alternatives first, even in an emergency. Here are some possible alternatives to an emergency loan.

Emergency loans to avoid

Payday loans

Payday loans are high-cost, short-term loans. Even in an emergency, they’re a risky option. Payday lenders charge fees that equate to APRs of 400%, don’t check your credit score and may not confirm your ability to repay the loan.

But they do request access to your bank account or a blank check to withdraw the money you owe on your next payday. Borrowers who aren’t prepared to repay the loan by then often borrow again, causing them to slip into a cycle of debt.

Car title loans

With a car title loan, a lender assesses the value of your vehicle, and offers to lend you a percentage of that amount. If you accept, the lender holds onto the car’s title and you receive your loan.

The lender doesn’t usually review your ability to repay the loan, and can charge APRs of 200% to 300%. These loans are risky because the lender holds your car’s title. If you can’t pay, it’ll take your car.

Pawn loans

Pawn loans can have lower APRs than payday and car title loans, but the risk is similar to car title loans: rates above 100% and the ability to lose something you value.

With a pawn loan, you hand over a valuable item to a pawnshop, they assess its value and give you a loan based on that assessment. You have to repay it, with interest, or they’ll keep your item.

If you do manage to repay the loan but it takes too big a bite out of your bank account, you could end up returning to the pawnshop.

No-credit-check installment loans

Be wary of online lenders that position themselves as low-cost alternatives to payday loans, but don’t check your credit. Some no-credit-check installment loans share similarities with payday and auto-title loans, including sky-high interest rates and additional fees that make the loan less affordable than initially thought.

Lenders like Rise and OppLoans offer emergency loans with longer terms, but their rates are still high. Consider these lenders only after you've ruled out lower-cost alternatives.

Capital Good Fund is another no-credit-check lender that offers lower rates but is available in only a handful of states.

Tips to build an emergency fund

Once your emergency passes, build an emergency fund to avoid taking high-cost loans in the future.

Here are a few tips to get started with an emergency fund:

  • Set a savings goal. Most financial experts recommend saving between three and six months’ worth of living expenses. Starting with a goal to save at least $500 can usually cover small emergency expenses like minor car repairs.

  • Automate savings. Automatically transfer a small amount — maybe $10 or $20 dollars to start — into a separate savings account. That way, it’s out of sight, out of mind, but there when you need it.

  • There’s an app for that. Some apps will round up your spending account transactions to the nearest dollar and deposit the change in a savings account. It’s like a spare change jar on your phone.

  • Put away windfalls. The last thing you want to do with birthday money is save it, but one way to start your emergency savings is to put away money that isn’t already spoken for, like small work bonuses, gifts and tax refunds.

Last updated on September 1, 2021

Methodology

NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 30 lenders. We collect over 45 data points from each lender, interview company representatives and compare the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar personal loan product. NerdWallet writers and editors conduct a full fact check and update annually, but also make updates throughout the year as necessary.

Our star ratings award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks to pre-qualify, competitive interest rates and no fees, transparency of rates and terms, flexible payment options, fast funding times, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education. We also consider regulatory actions filed by agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We weigh these factors based on our assessment of which are the most important to consumers and how meaningfully they impact consumers’ experiences. 

This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate most financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for our star ratings. Read our editorial guidelines.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Emergency Loans of October 2021

  • Upstart: Best for Emergency loans for limited credit history.
  • Best Egg: Best for Emergency loans with fast funding.
  • OneMain Financial : Best for Secured and co-signed emergency loans.
  • Universal Credit: Best for Emergency loans with credit-building features.
  • LendingPoint: Best for Emergency loans with flexible payments.
  • Oportun: Best for Emergency loans with no credit score required.
  • Avant: Best for Emergency loans for low credit scores.

Frequently asked questions