Best Emergency Loans of June 2024

Annie Millerbernd
Written by
Last updated on June 3, 2024
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed
Kim Lowe
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed

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Best Emergency Loans of June 2024

Lender
NerdWallet Rating
Est. APR
Loan amount
Min. credit score
Learn more
OneMain

OneMain Financial

Check Rate
on NerdWallet
on NerdWallet
View details
Best for Secured emergency loans
Fast funding
Flexible payments

18.00-35.99%

$1,500-$20,000

None

Universal Credit

Universal Credit

4.0
/5
Best for Emergency loans with credit-building tools
Fast funding
Rate discount

11.69-35.99%

$1,000-$50,000

560

4.5
/5
Best for Emergency loans for thin and fair credit
Fast funding
Flexible payments

7.80-35.99%

$1,000-$50,000

None

LendingPoint

LendingPoint

4.5
/5
Best for Emergency loans with flexible payments
Fast funding
Flexible payments

7.99-35.99%

$2,000-$36,500

660

3.5
/5
Best for Small emergency loans

29.00-35.95%

$300-$10,000

None

Avant

Avant

Top 3 most visited 🏆
Visit Lender
on Avant's website
on Avant's website
Check Rate
on NerdWallet
on NerdWallet
4.0
/5
Best for Emergency loans for low credit scores
Fast funding
Flexible payments

9.95-35.99%

$2,000-$35,000

550

What is an emergency loan?

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

Personal emergency loans are installment loans, 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 your monthly payment doesn’t change.

Most reputable lenders report loan payments to the three major credit bureaus, so on-time payments build your credit, while missed payments can hurt it.

Emergency loan rates, fees and terms

Emergency loans have annual percentage rates from about 6% to 36%, amounts from $1,000 to $100,000 and repayment terms from two to seven years. Lenders typically have minimum credit score and maximum debt-to-income ratio requirements for personal loans.

The best emergency lenders can approve your application and fund a loan within a day or two. 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 can damage your credit and finances.

» MORE: NerdWallet's picks for best bad credit loans

How to choose an emergency loan

Calculate the monthly payment

Review your monthly budget to determine what size loan payment you could afford. Then, use a personal loan calculator to see what loan amount, rate and repayment term you’d need to get the right 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 and low monthly payment may seem appealing, but it costs more in total interest. Look for an offer that balances affordable monthly payments with reasonable interest costs.

Check for fees

The most common fee to look for with a personal loan is an origination fee. This is often 1% to 10% of the loan amount, and it may be added to the total loan amount or subtracted from it before you get the funds.

Ask about funding speed

If you need cash fast, 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 may 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

As fast as 5 seconds.

1 day.

0%-10%.

None.

Usually instant.

1-2 days.

$25-$500 or 1%-10%.

Joint, secured.

Same or next day.

1-4 days.

0%-8%.

Joint, secured.

Within a day.

Same or next day.

0% - 9.99%.

None.

Up to a few days.

1 day.

5.25%-9.99%.

None.

Instant.

1 day.

0%-12%.

None.

How we chose the best emergency loans

We compared more than a dozen lenders to choose the best personal loans for emergencies. Among the factors we considered are:

  • Minimum credit score requirement.

  • Approval and funding time.

  • The ability to add a co-applicant or collateral.

  • Star rating.

  • Annual percentage rate range.

  • Loan amount.

  • Origination fee.

How to get an emergency loan

  1. Check your credit. Most lenders prioritize an applicant’s credit score 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 for free on NerdWallet or 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 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 your credit score isn’t affected, no matter how many times you do it.

  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 can include W-2s, pay stubs, a government-issued ID and proof of address. You could get an instant approval decision, but it often takes a day or two.

Tips 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.

Here are a few tips to get an emergency loan with bad credit:

  • 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-applicant is responsible for them.

  • 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 an application. Most lenders want to see that you have enough to cover 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 let you 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 reviews your credit and income to ensure you can repay the loan and caps rates at 36%, which is the highest APR affordable loans can have, according to most consumer advocates.

Banks

Many banks prefer borrowers with good or excellent credit scores (690 or higher), but there are some exceptions. Some large banks, like Wells Fargo, 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, which are small-dollar loans with low rates that are repaid over six months to a year.

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.

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.

  • 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 lenders charge rates above 100%.

    Repayment terms on these loans may be longer than you need or a lender may encourage you to refinance the loan multiple times, resulting in exorbitant interest costs over the lifetime of the loan.

  • Pawn loans require you to hand over a valuable item to a pawnshop as collateral for a small loan. 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 repayment takes too big a bite out of your bank account, you could end up borrowing from the pawnshop again.

  • 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 are high-cost, short-term loans that are risky — even in an emergency. Payday lenders’ fees can equate to APRs of 400%, they 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.

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.

Local financial assistance programs

Best for: Help meeting basic needs.

Community organizations such as charities, food banks and free loan associations can help you with home weatherization, free food, transportation to job interviews and other basic necessities. NerdWallet has a database of financial assistance programs in each state.

Friend or family loan

Best for: A no-credit-check loan with low- or no-interest for any purpose.

Though it may be uncomfortable to ask, borrowing from someone you trust may be the most affordable and safest option. A loan from a friend or family member will probably not require a credit check. You can draw up a loan agreement that includes when and how the money will be repaid as well as any interest the lender chooses to charge.

Medical bill assistance

Best for: Paying off medical debt at a low cost.

When you get a high medical bill, start with your free options: Set up a payment plan with your provider and negotiate the costs on your own. If you still need help, you can research low-cost medical credit cards or find a reputable medical bill advocate to negotiate on your behalf.

Paycheck advance

Best for: Fast cash quickly if you’re able to meet other financial obligations.

If you need money for a one-time emergency like a car repair or vet bill, try asking your employer for an advance on part or all of your paycheck. You can also use a cash advance app like EarnIn or Dave, which often have low mandatory fees. These options effectively let you access your own money early, rather than providing additional cash that you repay over time, so be sure you can meet all your other monthly financial obligations with a rearranged pay schedule.

Buy now, pay later

Best for: A large purchase that you want to repay over time.

Buy now, pay later” apps like Affirm and Klarna can help you make a big purchase such as a mattress or laptop and pay for it over time (typically eight weeks). This option is offered at most major retailers. Because making multiple BNPL purchases in a short period can lead to overextended finances, it’s best to make one purchase with BNPL at a time and pay it off in full before making another.

Last updated on June 3, 2024

Methodology

NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 35 technology companies and financial institutions. We collect over 50 data points from each lender and cross-check company websites, earnings reports and other public documents to confirm product details. We may also go through a lender’s pre-qualification flow and follow up with company representatives. 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. Our ratings award fewer points to lenders with practices that may make a loan difficult to repay on time, such as charging high annual percentage rates (above 36%), underwriting that does not adequately assess consumers’ ability to repay and lack of credit-building help. 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.

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 June 2024

  • OneMain Financial: Best for Secured emergency loans
  • Universal Credit: Best for Emergency loans with credit-building tools
  • Upstart: Best for Emergency loans for thin and fair credit
  • LendingPoint: Best for Emergency loans with flexible payments
  • Oportun: Best for Small emergency loans
  • Avant: Best for Emergency loans for low credit scores

Frequently asked questions

  • You can use an emergency loan to pay for unexpected expenses if you don't have savings or don't want to max out a credit card. In a true emergency, they're a fast and convenient source of funding for borrowers who qualify.

  • It may be possible for borrowers with low income to qualify for a loan since some lenders care more that you have steady income versus a specific amount. Learn what it takes to get a loan with low income.

  • You can get an emergency loan through a bank, online lender or credit union. Online lenders can fund loans quickly — sometimes the same or next day after you're approved — and many let you check your rate before you apply. It usually takes a few minutes to apply for a loan if you have all the required documents ready. It's best to compare emergency loans with alternatives to find the cheapest way to borrow money.

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