BEST OF

Best Emergency Loans of December 2022

Emergency loans help cover unexpected expenses. Compare options from online lenders, and learn how to choose a safe and affordable loan.

Dec 1, 2022

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Emergency loans are personal loans you use to pay for unexpected expenses, such as urgent medical care or critical home repairs. These loans are usually funded within a day or two of approval.

Personal loans for emergencies are safer than payday and car title loans. The lenders listed here review your ability to repay the loan and cap annual percentage rates at 36% or lower, which makes them more affordable and less risky than other high-interest loans.

Why trust NerdWallet? NerdWallet's editorial team has reviewed more than 35 personal loan providers and compared them to find the best emergency loans. We selected these lenders based on features like minimum required credit scores, APR ranges, loan amounts, funding time and ability to help borrowers build credit.

Best Emergency Loans

Our pick for

Secured emergency loans

OneMain
Get rate

on OneMain Financial's website

OneMain Financial

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
OneMain

Est. APR

18.00-35.99%

Loan amount

$1,500-$20,000

Min. credit score

None
Get rate

on OneMain Financial's website


Min. credit score

None

Key facts

OneMain prioritizes a borrower’s ability to repay on a loan application. Rates are high, but this lender provides fast funding to borrowers with low credit scores.

Pros

  • Option to choose and change your payment date.

  • Joint and secured loans.

  • Fast funding.

  • Direct payment to creditors on debt consolidation loans.

Cons

  • Rates are high compared to other lenders.

  • Charges origination fee.

  • No rate discounts.

  • Pre-qualification does not allow borrowers to preview potential rates.

Qualifications

  • Must have a Social Security number or taxpayer identification number.

  • Must be 18 or older in most states.

  • Minimum credit score: None.

  • Minimum number of accounts on credit report: None, but applicants with no credit history may not qualify.

  • Minimum income: None; this lender accepts income from employment, alimony, retirement, child support, Social Security payments, investments and public assistance.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: $25 to $500 or 1% to 10% of the loan amount.

  • Late fee: $5 to $30 or 1.5% to 15% of your monthly payment.

  • Non-sufficient funds fee: $15.

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

Bad-credit emergency loans

Universal Credit
Get rate

on Universal Credit's website

Universal Credit

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Universal Credit

Est. APR

11.69-35.93%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

560
Get 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 direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • Fast funding.

  • Offers multiple rate discounts.

  • Offers free credit score access.

Cons

  • Charges origination fee.

  • Borrowers can choose from only two repayment term options.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 560.

  • Minimum number of accounts on credit history: 1 account.

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

  • Minimum length of credit history: 2 years.

  • Minimum income requirement: None. Lender accepts income from alimony, retirement, child support, Social Security and other sources.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 5.25% to 8.99%.

  • Late fee: Up to $10.

Disclaimer

Personal loans made through Universal Credit feature Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) of 11.69%-35.93%. All personal loans have a 5.25% to 8.99% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. Loans feature repayment terms of 36 to 60 months. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 28.47% APR (which includes a 22.99% yearly interest rate and a 7% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,300 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 for thin credit

Upstart
Get rate

on Upstart's website

Upstart

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Upstart

Est. APR

5.42-35.99%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

None
Get rate

on Upstart's website


Min. credit score

None

Key facts

Upstart personal loans offer fast funding and may be an option for borrowers with low credit scores or thin credit histories. Upstart is a solid financing choice for large purchases.

Pros

  • Accepts borrowers new to credit.

  • Fast funding.

  • Option to change your payment date.

  • Option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.

  • Offers free financial education

Cons

  • May charge origination fee.

  • No joint, co-signed or secured loans.

  • No mobile app to manage loan.

  • Only two repayment term options.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: None.

  • Minimum annual income: $12,000; this lender accepts income from employment, alimony, retirement, child support, Social Security, rentals, trusts, pensions, disability and scholarships.

  • Must have a full-time job or be starting a full-time job in six months.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0% - 10%

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

  • Returned check fee: $15.

Disclaimer

Your loan amount will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will qualify for the full amount. Minimum loan amounts vary by state: GA ($3,100), HI ($2,100), MA ($7,000), NM ($5,100), OH ($6,000). The full range of available rates varies by state. The average 5-year loan offered across all lenders using the Upstart platform will have an APR of 25.05% and 60 monthly payments of $25.80 per $1,000 borrowed. For example, the total cost of a $10,000 loan would be $15,478 including a $804 origination fee. APR is calculated based on 5-year rates offered in June 2022. 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. This offer is conditioned on final approval based on our consideration and verification of financial and non-financial information. Rate and loan amount are subject to change based upon information received in your full application. This offer may be accepted only by the person identified in this offer, who is old enough to legally enter into contract for the extension of credit, a US citizen or permanent resident, and a current resident of the US. Duplicate offers are void. Closing your loan is contingent on your meeting our eligibility requirements, our verification of your information, and your agreement to the terms and conditions on the Upstart.com website.

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Our pick for

Flexible payments

LendingPoint
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on LendingPoint's website

LendingPoint

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
LendingPoint

Est. APR

7.99-35.99%

Loan amount

$2,000-$36,500

Min. credit score

600
Get rate

on LendingPoint's website


Min. credit score

600

Key facts

LendingPoint accepts low credit scores and has flexible payments. Rates are high but comparable to competitors.

Pros

  • Soft credit check to pre-qualify.

  • Fast funding.

  • Offers mobile app to manage loan payments.

  • Option to change your payment date.

Cons

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

  • No joint, co-signed or secured loans.

  • No large loan amounts.

  • Does not directly pay creditors with debt consolidation loans.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 600. LendingPoint uses FICO score version 9 and VantageScore version 3.

  • Minimum credit history: 6 months.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 50%, not including mortgage.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0% to 8%.

Disclaimer

Applications submitted on this website may be funded by one of several lenders, including: FinWise Bank, a Utah-chartered bank, Member FDIC; Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC; Midland States Bank, Member FDIC; and LendingPoint, a licensed lender in certain states. 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 8% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. Loans are offered from $2,000 to $36,500, at rates ranging from 7.99% to 35.99% APR, with terms from 24 to 72 months. Minimum loan amounts apply in Georgia, $3,500; Colorado, $3,001; and Hawaii, $2,000. For a well-qualified customer, a $10,000 loan for a period of 48 months with an APR of 24.90% and origination fee of 8% will have a payment of $331.01 per month. (Actual terms and rate depend on credit history, income, and other factors.) Customers may have the option to deduct the origination fee from the disbursed loan amount if desired. If the origination fee is added to the financed amount, interest is charged on the full principal amount. The total amount due is the total amount of the loan you will have paid after you have made all payments as scheduled.

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Our pick for

Fair-credit emergency loan

BestEgg
Get rate

on Best Egg's website

Best Egg

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
BestEgg

Est. APR

8.99-35.99%

Loan amount

$2,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

600
Get rate

on Best Egg's website


Min. credit score

600

Key facts

Best Egg offers personal loans for borrowers who want to consolidate debt and need cash fast.

Pros

  • Offers wide range of loan amounts.

  • Provides secured loan option for homeowners.

  • Offers direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

Cons

  • Origination fee.

  • No rate discounts.

  • No option to choose initial payment date.

Qualifications

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

  • Minimum credit history: 3 years and 3 accounts.

  • Minimum income requirement is $3,500; borrower average is $80,000. Borrower must have enough cash flow to cover current financial obligations.

  • Maximum 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% - 8.99%.

  • 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 $100,000. Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) range from 8.99%–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%–8.99% 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. For example: a 5‐year $10,000 loan with 9.99% APR has 60 scheduled monthly payments of $201.81, and a 3‐year $5,000 loan with 7.99% APR has 36 scheduled monthly payments of $155.12. 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. Best Egg products are not available if you live in Iowa, Vermont, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, or U.S. Territories.

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Our pick for

Excellent-credit emergency loans

Lightstream
Get rate

on LightStream's website

LightStream

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Lightstream

Est. APR

6.99-22.49%

Loan amount

$5,000-$100,000

Min. credit score

660
Get rate

on LightStream's website


Min. credit score

660

Key facts

LightStream targets strong-credit borrowers with no fees and low rates that vary based on loan purpose.

Pros

  • No fees.

  • Rate discount for autopay.

  • Long repayment terms on home improvement loans.

  • Rate Beat program and Experience Guarantee.

Cons

  • No option to pre-qualify on its website.

  • Requires several years of credit history.

  • No direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 660.

  • Several years of credit history.

  • Multiple account types within your credit history, like credit cards, a car loan or other installment loan and a mortgage.

  • Strong payment history with few or no delinquencies.

  • Investments, retirement savings or other evidence of an ability to save money.

  • Enough income to pay existing debts and a new LightStream loan.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 7 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

  • Late fee: None.

Disclaimer

Rates quoted are with AutoPay. Your loan terms are not guaranteed and may vary based on loan purpose, length of loan, loan amount, credit history and payment method (AutoPay or Invoice). AutoPay discount is only available when selected prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay are 0.50% points higher. To obtain a loan, you must complete an application on LightStream.com which may affect your credit score. You may be required to verify income, identity and other stated application information. Payment example: Monthly payments for a $25,000 loan at 4.98% APR with a term of 20 years would result in 240 monthly payments of $164.71. Some additional conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Truist Bank is an Equal Housing Lender. © 2022 Truist Financial Corporation. Truist, LightStream, and the LightStream logo are service marks of Truist Financial Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Lending services provided by Truist Bank.

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Our pick for

No-credit emergency loans

Oportun
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on NerdWallet's secure website

Oportun

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
Oportun

Est. APR

20.05-35.99%

Loan amount

$300-$12,000

Min. credit score

None
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Min. credit score

None

Key facts

Oportun offers small loans at rates that are lower than payday loans, but still high. Fixed payments help you establish credit.

Pros

  • Pre-qualify with soft credit check.

  • Co-signed and limited secured loan options.

  • Accepts borrowers new to credit.

  • Small loans starting at $300.

  • Community Development Financial Institution.

  • Free financial coaching.

Cons

  • May charge an origination fee.

  • High rates.

  • No mobile app to manage loan payments.

  • No option to change your payment date.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: None.

  • At least $500 in monthly income.

  • Must have valid identification.

  • Must provide proof of income and address.

  • May require references.

  • Must be 18 years or older.

Available Term Lengths

1 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0% - 7%.

  • Late fee: $5 - $15.

  • Insufficient fund fee: $0 - $30.

Disclaimer

This is an advertisement for a consumer loan, subject to credit eligibility. Not available in CO, CT, IA, MA, ME, MD, NY, WV and Washington, D.C. 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 all other states, 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

Good-credit emergency loan

U.S. Bank Personal Loan
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on NerdWallet's secure website

U.S. Bank Personal Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
U.S. Bank Personal Loan

Est. APR

8.99-21.49%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

680
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Min. credit score

680

Key facts

With minimal fees, a rate discount and fast funding, U.S. Bank is a strong option for good-credit customers.

Pros

  • Option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.

  • Wide variety of repayment term options.

  • Rate discount for autopay.

  • Joint and secured loan options.

Cons

  • Available in a limited number of states.

  • May require an in-person visit.

  • No direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 660.

  • Must be 18 years or older.

  • Must provide Social Security number.

  • Must provide home address and employment information.

Available Term Lengths

1 to 7 years

Fees

  • Late fee: $29.

  • Returned payment fee: $25.

Disclaimer

As of November 22, 2022, the fixed Annual Percentage Rate (APR) ranged from 8.99% APR to 21.49% APR, and varies based on credit score, loan amount and term. Minimum loan amount is $1,000 and loan terms range from 12 to 84 months. The lowest APR in the range is available on loans of $10,000 or more with a term of 12 to 36 months, a credit score of 800 or more and includes discounts for automatic payments from a U.S. Bank or external personal checking or savings account. Automatic payments and a U.S. Bank, or external, personal checking or savings account are not required for loan approval. The Consumer Pricing Information disclosure lists fees, terms, and conditions that apply to U.S. Bank personal checking and savings accounts. This disclosure can be obtained by visiting a U.S. Bank branch or calling 800-872-2657. Loan payment example: on a $10,000 loan for 36 months, monthly payments would be $317.95 and APR of 8.99% with automatic payments from a personal checking or savings account. Maximum loan amounts may vary by credit score and location. Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Interest rates and program terms are subject to change without notice. Installment loans are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Deposit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC. Applicant must reside in AZ, AR, CA, CO, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, NC - limited areas, ND, OH, OR, SD, TN, UT, WA, WI, WY to be eligible for a personal loan Equal housing lender. ©2022 U.S. Bank

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Our pick for

Fast emergency loans

RocketLoans
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

Rocket Loans

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
RocketLoans

Est. APR

7.73-29.99%

Loan amount

$2,000-$45,000

Min. credit score

580
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Min. credit score

580

Key facts

Rocket Loans offers online personal loans to borrowers with fair credit and over two years of credit history.

Pros

  • Option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.

  • Rate discount for autopay.

  • Fast funding.

  • Wide range of loan amounts.

Cons

  • Origination fee.

  • No direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • No option to choose initial payment date.

  • Only two repayment term options.

  • No co-sign or joint loan option.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 580; borrower average is 750.

  • Minimum credit history: Over two years.

  • Minimum annual income: $24,000; borrower average is $110,000.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 70%; borrower average is 18%.

  • No bankruptcies in the last two years.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 1% to 6%.

  • Late fee: $15 after 10-day grace period.

  • Unsuccessful payment fee: $15.

Disclaimer

All personal loans are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey state chartered commercial bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loans are unsecured, fully amortizing personal loans. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Please refer to our Disclosures and Licenses page for state required disclosures, licenses, and lending restrictions. Borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident alien at least 18 years of age (in Nebraska and Alabama a borrower must be at least 19 years of age). All loan applications are subject to credit review and approval. Offered loan terms depend upon your credit profile, requested amount, requested loan term, credit usage, credit history and other factors. Not all borrowers receive the lowest interest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have excellent credit, meet certain conditions, and select autopay. Rates and Terms are subject to change at any time without notice. Please refer to RocketLoans.com and our Terms of Use for additional terms and conditions.

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What are emergency loans?

An emergency loan is a personal loan you borrow to cover an urgent expense. Emergency loans are often unsecured, meaning the lender uses your personal information, including credit, income and other debts, to determine whether to offer you a loan and at what interest rate.

Emergency loans have annual percentage rates from 6% to 36% and amounts from $1,000 to $100,000. Lenders typically have minimum credit score and maximum debt-to-income ratio requirements for this type of loan. Some offer secured, co-signed or joint loans, which may be easier to qualify for.

Even in an emergency, taking time to compare personal loans and potentially cheaper options can save you money and help you avoid harmful lenders that damage your credit and finances.

How do emergency loans work?

A personal emergency loan is a type of installment loan, meaning you receive the money in a lump sum and repay it in monthly installments. Repayment terms are from two to seven years. These loans have fixed interest rates, so you’ll have the same monthly payment for the life of the loan.

Most reputable lenders report loan payments to the three major credit bureaus, so your payments factor into your credit score. On-time payments help your score, while missed payments can hurt it.

Other types of emergency loans

High-interest loans, such as pawn, car title and payday loans, should be considered as a last resort after you’ve exhausted all other options. These emergency loans can be fast and easy to get, but they could do long-term financial damage.

No-credit-check installment loans: Some no-credit-check installment loans share similarities with payday and auto title loans. They’re available online and at storefronts. These lenders don’t review your credit score or history to determine whether you’re able to repay the loan and what a fair rate would be, which is why many no-credit-check loans charge rates above 100%.

Repayment terms on these loans may be longer than you need, resulting in exorbitant interest costs over the lifetime of the loan.

Pawn loans: Pawn loans require you to hand over a valuable item to a pawnshop. The shop assesses the value and gives you a loan for that amount. You have to repay the loan, with interest, or the pawnshop will keep your item. APRs can reach above 100% on this type of loan.

If you repay the loan but it takes too big a bite out of your bank account, you could end up borrowing from the pawnshop again.

Car title loans: With car title loans, a lender assesses the value of your vehicle and lends you a percentage of that amount. If you accept, the lender holds the car title and you receive your loan. The lender doesn’t usually review your ability to repay the loan and can charge APRs of 300%.

If you can’t repay the loan, the lender will take your car.

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

Borrowers who aren’t prepared to repay the loan on their next payday often borrow again, causing them to slip into a cycle of debt.

Best uses for emergency loans

Though lenders may ask why you’re borrowing, there are few restrictions on how you can spend the funds from an unsecured loan. Examples of emergencies you can pay for with a personal loan include:

  • Medical or dental bills.

  • Home repairs.

  • Car repairs.

  • Bills after a loss of income.

  • Unexpected travel expenses.

How to choose an emergency loan

Calculate the monthly payment. 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 the rate and repayment term affect the monthly payment.

Compare interest costs. The loan with the lowest APR is the least expensive overall. You can use APR to compare emergency loans with other financing options. A loan with a long repayment term may seem appealing because it has a low monthly payment, but it also costs more in total interest. Look for a loan that balances affordable monthly payments with reasonable interest costs.

Check for fees. The most common fee to look for on a personal loan is an origination fee. This can be 1% to 10% of the loan amount, and it may be subtracted from the loan before you get the funds.

Ask about funding speed. If you urgently need funds, consider a lender that offers fast funding. Some lenders can fund a loan the next day, while others could take up to a week after approval. Online lenders often disclose the timeline in an FAQ or blog section of their websites.

Compare emergency loans

Lender

Time to approve

Time to fund

Origination fee

Other loan types

1 day.

1 day.

0%-8%.

None.

1 day.

1-2 days.

1%-10%.

Joint, secured.

1-3 days.

1 day.

5.25%-8.99%.

None.

Immediate.

1-3 days.

$0-$300.

Co-signed, secured.

1-2 days.

1-3 days.

0.99%-5.99%.

Secured.

Immediate.

1 day.

0%-8%.

None.

1 day.

1 day.

None.

Joint, secured.

1 day.

1 day.

None.

Joint.

Immediate.

1 day.

1%-6%.

None.

How to get an emergency loan

  1. Check your credit. Most lenders prioritize applicants’ credit scores in a lending decision, so check your credit report for any past-due accounts or errors, and correct them before submitting an application. You can view your report from all three credit bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com.

  2. Determine what you can afford. Review your monthly budget to determine how much you can afford to pay toward the loan each month. That way, when you’re comparing loan offers, you can choose a payment that best fits your budget.

  3. Pre-qualify and compare offers. Even if you’re in a hurry, it’s worth the extra time to find a good rate on a loan you’ll be repaying for a year or more. Most lenders let you pre-qualify online to preview the loan’s rate, amount and repayment term. Pre-qualifying takes a few minutes, and no matter how many times you do it, your credit score is never affected.

  4. Gather documents and apply. Once you have a loan offer with affordable monthly payments, find the documents you need to apply for a personal loan. This usually includes W-2s, pay stubs, a government-issued ID and proof of address. You could get an instant approval decision, but it’s more common for it to take a day or two.

How to get an emergency loan with bad credit

A bad credit score (below 630) doesn’t automatically disqualify you from getting a loan, but many lenders weigh your credit score heavily on an application.

Add a co-signer or co-borrower: A co-signer or co-borrower can help your chances of qualifying or getting a good 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 payments.

Add collateral: Some lenders offer secured personal loans and consider the item used as collateral (usually a bank account or vehicle) when assessing an application. Adding collateral can improve your chances of qualifying, but the lender can take the collateral if you miss too many payments.

Add up income streams: Your monthly income is another important factor on your application. Most lenders want to see that you have enough to pay your regular expenses, make the new loan payment and have a little leftover. Many lenders consider things like Social Security, alimony or child support as part of your income.

Where to get an emergency loan

Online lenders: Online lenders usually allow you to check your rate before applying and offer a fast application process. But predatory lenders will try to exploit your emergency. Find a reputable lender that caps rates at 36% — the highest APR affordable loans can have, according to most consumer advocates — and review your credit and income to ensure you can repay the loan.

Banks: Many banks prefer borrowers with good or excellent credit (690 or higher), but there are some exceptions. Some large banks, like U.S. Bank and Bank of America, offer small loans that can cover emergencies. You must be an existing customer to get this type of loan, but the fees are much lower than what payday lenders charge.

Credit unions: Credit union members may have the most affordable emergency loan option. Federal credit unions cap personal loan APRs at 18%, lower than many online lenders. A credit union may consider an applicant’s membership history, in addition to their credit and income, to make a loan decision. Some credit unions offer payday alternative loans, small-dollar loans with low rates that are repaid over six months to a year.

Emergency loan alternatives

Cheaper alternatives to borrowing aren't 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.

If you're comfortable with it, ask family and friends for a loan through lending circles or a family loan.

Tips for building an emergency fund

Though it won’t get you through today's emergency, starting an emergency fund can help you avoid borrowing in the future. Here are a few tips to build an emergency fund.

Decide how much you need. Most financial experts recommend saving three to six months’ worth of living expenses. Use an emergency fund calculator to determine how much you’d need to live comfortably without working for a few months.

Start small. Three to six months’ worth of expenses can seem ambitious if you’re starting from zero. It may be easier to begin with a goal of $500, which can cover smaller emergencies, and work your way up. A smaller monthly savings goal can help you get there.

Automate your savings. Once you know how much to save from each paycheck, cut out the potential human error. Many banks allow you to set up recurring transfers from your checking to a savings account. If your employer offers direct deposit, have them deposit part of your paycheck into a second account.

Last updated on December 1, 2022

Methodology

NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 35 financial institutions. 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 more about our ratings methodologies for personal loans and our editorial guidelines.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Emergency Loans of December 2022

Frequently asked questions