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Guide to the Best Emergency Loans in 2022

Here are some lenders that offer same or next-day funding for qualifying borrowers.

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Dealing with financial problems is stressful, and that’s especially true for emergencies. But, you’re not alone. According to a survey from the Federal Reserve, about one out of every three Americans couldn’t afford to pay for a $400 emergency in 2021. 

Many people choose to take out a personal loan to pay for emergencies. While personal loans can be a good option for fast and easy funding, getting a loan can put you in a vulnerable position. Make sure you are fully aware of the pros and cons of a personal loan and the risks. We’ll help key you in on the most critical details when choosing an emergency loan, as well as the best loans to choose from if you’re looking for same or next-day funding. 


Best Emergency Loans

There are many lenders to choose from, including online lenders and traditional bank loans. Loan terms and rates will also vary based on your creditworthiness, so it’s a good idea to get prequalified so you can compare rates. Overall, here are the best lenders to consider depending on your situation:

Loan results will vary based on creditworthiness, loan purpose, loan amount, and other factors.

Best for Good Credit

SoFi

  • Loan Amount: $5,000 – $100,000
  • APR Range: 7.99% – 23.43%
  • Loan Terms: 2 – 7 years
  • Credit Score: 680 or higher

SoFi is an online lender known for its lack of fees and high loan maximum.

Pros
  • No origination fees and no late fees
  • Loans up to $100,000
  • Unemployment protection available
  • Rate discounts
  • Co-borrower allowed
Cons
  • No physical branches
  • High minimum loan amount

SoFi offers a competitive personal loan product that boasts no origination fees, no late fees, and a high maximum loan amount of $100,000. SoFi is one of only a handful of lenders offering loans as large as $100,000. If you need a substantial loan to cover a considerable expense, like a home renovation, SoFi’s high maximum can be a strong option. Its repayment terms range from 24 to 84 months.

One standout feature of SoFi is that it offers unemployment protection, which might allow you to pause payments if you lose your job. This is a unique offering that sets it apart from competitors.

SoFi also lets you view your rate without impacting your credit score. While doing a soft credit pull is relatively common, it’s still worth mentioning because some lenders require a hard inquiry before they provide a rate. Those who decide to formally apply will likely need a strong credit score to get approved for a SoFi personal loan. 

Best for Bad Credit

Upgrade

  • Loan Amount: $1,000 – $50,000
  • APR Range: 7.96% – 35.97%
  • Loan Terms: 2 – 7 years
  • Credit Score: 560 or higher

Upgrade offers flexible terms for personal loans and is accessible to borrowers with less-than-stellar credit profiles.

Pros
  • Accessible to borrowers with bad credit
  • Flexible loan terms
  • Joint applications allowed
  • Direct payment to creditors
  • Secured loan options
Cons
  • Has origination fees from 1.85% to 8%
  • No physical branches
  • Higher APRs than some competitors

Upgrade offers personal loans up to $50,000 for qualifying borrowers and is accessible to those with not-so-ideal credit scores. The low loan minimum of $1,000 also makes it an easy choice for those with small financing needs. However, borrowers in certain states will be subject to higher minimum loan amounts. If you live in Massachusetts, Upgrade’s minimum loan amount is $6,400.

While other lenders may offer longer repayment terms of up to 144 months, those are typically reserved for certain loan purposes. Upgrade has repayment terms of 24 to 84 months for eligible borrowers, no matter what expense you’ll be covering. This flexibility can be useful, especially if you’d prefer a longer timeframe to pay off your loan. 

With this lender, you can expect to pay an origination fee between 1.85% and 8%. Borrowers can view their rate before applying without impacting their credit score. 

Overall, Upgrade is worth considering if you’re looking for a lender that offers multiple banking products and loans with competitive rates and flexible terms.

Best for Same-Day Service

LightStream

  • Loan Amount: $5,000 – $100,000
  • APR Range: 5.99% – 21.49%
  • Loan Terms: 2 – 12 years
  • Credit Score: 660 or higher

LightStream is an online lender offering no fees and low-rate personal loans for several purposes.

Pros
  • Relatively low APRs
  • No origination fees, no late fees
  • Personal loans up to $100,000
  • Autopay discount
  • Joint applications allowed
Cons
  • No physical branches
  • Rates and terms vary by loan purpose
  • No soft pull prequalification

Lightstream is Truist’s online lending division, formed in 2019 after SunTrust and BB&T merged. Offering personal loans for several purposes, including debt consolidation, medical expenses, home improvement, weddings, car purchases, and more, LightStream could be worth considering for those seeking flexibility. 

The lender offers relatively low rates compared to competitors, including autopay discounts. Eligible borrowers can get approved for personal loans from $5,000 to $100,000, and loan terms range from 24 to 144 months. Of course, the rate and term you get will depend on the specific loan purpose.

Its personal loans also have no origination fees, which can help keep borrowing costs low. However, borrowers will likely need a credit score of 660 to get approved for a Lightstream personal loan. 

Overall, it’s a good lender to add to your shortlist if you’re looking for flexible funding, no fees, and a low APR. Lightstream may also disburse loans as soon as the same day you’re approved, making this lender a decent choice if you need fast funding.

Best for Co-Borrower Option

Prosper

  • Loan Amount: $2,000 – $40,000
  • APR Range: 6.99% – 35.99%
  • Loan Terms: 3 – 5 years
  • Credit Score: 640 or higher

Prosper is an online lending platform offering fast funding for personal loans and the option to apply with a co-borrower if your credit isn’t stellar.

Pros
  • Can change your loan payment date
  • Option to apply with co-borrower
  • Next-day funding available after approval
Cons
  • No physical branches
  • Has origination fees of 2.4% to 5%

Founded in 2005, Prosper is an online peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform offering personal loans, HELOCs, and credit cards. Because it’s P2P, Prosper works slightly differently than other non-P2P lenders. Borrowers sign up and are assigned a Prosper Rating based on their creditworthiness, and investors can choose whether or not to fund them after viewing their loan listing.

Eligible borrowers seeking personal loans can get up to $40,000 through Prosper with 3- or 5-year repayment terms. Borrowers can expect to pay an origination fee of 2.4% to 5% depending on their Prosper Rating. Funding can be available as soon as the next business day after approval of the loan, making it a solid option in emergencies.

Fortunately, if your credit isn’t stellar, Prosper offers the option to apply with a co-borrower, which could improve your chances of getting a better rate.

Best for Military Members and Veterans

Navy Federal Credit Union

  • Loan Amount: $250 – $50,000
  • APR Range: 7.49% – 18.00%
  • Loan Terms: 3 – 5 years
  • Credit Score: None

Personal loans from Navy Federal Credit Union come with no origination fees and can be a good fit for borrowers with less-than-ideal credit.

Pros
  • Fast funding available
  • Minimum loan amounts as small as $250
  • Lengthy repayment terms up to 180 months for home improvement loans
  • Co-signer option available
  • No origination fee
Cons
  • High minimum loan amounts for longer-term loans
  • Need to be a member to get a loan

Navy Federal operates around 350 branches near military bases around the country. It’s open to anyone with ties to the military or their family members, including active-duty servicemembers, civilian contractors, and veterans.

In addition to offering cosigned personal loans for borrowers with less-than-perfect credit, Navy Federal Credit Union also offers secured personal loans. It’s worth putting this lender on your shortlist if your credit isn’t great and you’re looking to compare loan options. 

However, membership is required to get a loan from Navy Federal, and unfortunately, it’s not available to everyone. To qualify, you need to be a veteran, active-duty service member, Department of Defense personnel, or eligible military family member. 

Borrowers won’t pay an origination or prepayment fee, and funding can be available as quick as the same day.

Types of Emergency Loans

“Emergency loan” isn’t an official term. People usually use the term emergency loan when they apply for a type of loan to pay for an emergency expense. Here are some of the different types of financial resources you may be able to use as an emergency loan:

  • Personal loan: Emergencies are one of the most common reasons for taking out a personal loan. You don’t need any collateral, which helps to speed the process up.
  • Payday loans: These are smaller, quickly-disbursed loans that are popular because they don’t rely on your credit score and have short repayment terms. However, they’re not recommended because they don’t help you build credit, and they charge such high rates it’s easy to get caught in a debt trap. 
  • Car title loans: Similar to payday loans, but you use your car’s title as collateral. They can also get you the money immediately and without a credit check. But you will lose your car if you don’t repay this ultra-expensive loan.
  • Unsecured credit: People also commonly use credit cards and lines of credit to pay for emergencies. Watch out, though; just like with payday loans, it’s easy to get caught in a cycle of debt. 
  • Secured credit: If you own a home, you may be eligible for a home equity line of credit (HELOC) which may offer lower rates. Be careful — if you default on the loan, you could lose your home. 

Pros and Cons of Emergency Loans

emergency exit sign
Unsplash

Keep these factors in mind to help you decide whether taking out an emergency personal loan is the best option for you:

Pros

  • Offers safety net
  • Fast funding
  • Can be used to build credit

Cons

  • Can be expensive
  • Can potentially hurt credit
  • May require collateral or co-signer
  • Adds to debt burden

Pros of Emergency Loans

  • Can be a safety net: Emergency personal loans have many downsides, but if they help you keep a roof over your head or keep you afloat financially during times of unemployment, it may be worth it. 
  • Can help you build credit: If you pay off your loan according to schedule, it’ll generally help to grow your credit score by the time the loan is repaid. Note: Payday and car title loans generally don’t use credit, so this won’t apply to these loan types. 
  • Can get your money quickly: Personal loans are relatively straightforward to get. Some lenders can even get you your cash as soon as the same day, although it’ll take a few days with most lenders. 

Cons of Emergency Loans

  • Can be expensive: Some emergency loans can be very expensive, such as if you have bad credit. Some lenders know that you’re in a tight spot if you’re looking for an emergency loan and use that as leverage to jack up the rates, like with payday loan lenders. 
  • Can harm your credit: Taking on too much debt can hurt your credit if you plan on applying for other loans, like mortgages, in the near future. This can also increase your debt-to-income ratio, which mortgage lenders don’t like. If you miss any payments, you’ll also see a big drop in your score, which can take years to recover. 
  • May require collateral or a co-signer: If you don’t have good credit, the lender might require you to put up some collateral they can repossess if you default. Or, they could require you to apply with a co-signer or co-borrower, who agrees to pay the loan if you can’t. 
  • Adds to debt burden: You’ll be repaying your loan for months or years, adding to your overall debt burden. That means you’ll have less to put towards an emergency fund or for the next unexpected expenses, and this is how many people get caught in a cycle of debt.


Tips on Choosing the Best Emergency Loan

If you’re desperate for funding, it’s easy to be taken advantage of by pricey lenders. Instead, here’s a quick list of things to keep in mind before you apply for an emergency loan:

  • Consider alternatives: You can find community support and mutual aid programs through 211.org or by dialing 211 on your phone. A reputable credit counselor, such as from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, may help you set up a formal written agreement. Ask family and friends if they’ll be willing to help you. Finally, you may be able to ask for a payment plan or extension from many outlets, such as doctor’s offices. 
  • Start the application process as soon as possible: The sooner you apply, the faster you’ll receive a loan decision. Some lenders may even be able to fund you the same day if you apply early enough. Also, try to respond to any lender requests for more information as soon as possible, because that will help speed things up too. 
  • Start with your bank first: Your bank already has access to your account and may be able to get you money faster than a third-party lender that has to clear deposit hurdles first. 
  • Check your rate with other lenders: Checking your rate is pretty quick, usually taking just a few minutes per lender. You’ll be able to see your estimated rate, loan terms, and borrowing limits.
  • Compare APRs, not interest rates and fees: The Annual Percentage Rate, or APR, wraps the interest and fees all up into one easy-to-compare number for the overall cost of the loan. 
  • Factor in any origination fees: Not all lenders charge a one-time origination fee, but if they do, they generally take it out of your loan proceeds. For example, if you need to borrow $1,000 and there’s a $50 origination fee, factor this in so you’re applying for the exact amount you need. Pay attention to other fees that personal loans may charge.
  • Set your loan repayment on autopay: As soon as you get the loan funds, sign up for autopay. This prevents you from missing any payments and ensures you can use this opportunity to grow your credit score. 

FAQs

Will an emergency loan impact my credit score?

Yes, you’ll see a small temporary credit hit after applying for the loan. But making payments on time could boost your score. If you miss payments or default, it could damage your credit score.

Can you get an emergency loan with bad credit?

Yes, it is possible to get an emergency loan with bad credit. However, you may have to pay more for it, which can stress your finances going forward. 

Can I get approved for an emergency loan with no job or income?

No, lenders generally don’t approve people for a loan unless they demonstrate that they’ll be able to repay it. It’ll be hard to find a lender if you’re unemployed, but some lenders may be willing to work with you if you have a co-borrower with income.

How fast can I get a loan?

If you apply for a loan with your own bank or credit union, they may be able to approve you for a loan immediately. Some online lenders offer same-day funding, but most lenders will take a few days.

While we work hard on our research, we do not always provide a complete listing of all available offers from credit-card companies and banks. And because offers can change, we cannot guarantee that our information will always be up to date, so we encourage you to verify all the terms and conditions of any financial product before you apply.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomerenhttps://lindsayvansomeren.com/
Lindsay VanSomeren lives in the Pacific Northwest where she enjoys budgeting for her favorite activities like gardening, learning languages, and fishing. She's passionate about helping other people understand how to manage their money to live their best lives. Her work has appeared in Credit Karma, Forbes Advisor, FICO, and more.

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