Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: Mar 22, 2022

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  • Emergency loan alternatives include traditional and non-traditional methods to cover unexpected expenses
  • You can get emergency cash immediately with bad credit through guaranteed loan approval with no credit check
  • Individuals operating as a sole proprietor or freelance contractor may also find small business emergency loan alternatives in grants

A surprise can be a great thing, but today you’re looking for emergency loan alternatives to deal with a not-so-happy surprise. Don’t worry. We have 12 emergency loan alternatives for you.

A surprise medical bill, funeral expenses, home repairs, or sudden unemployment don’t need to impede your financial success.

You can find emergency cash online easily with just a simple Google search. However, you should never borrow money from strangers online, no matter how desperate you may feel.

Ready to check out affordable emergency loan alternatives? Start by entering your ZIP code into our free comparison tool.

What are the best emergency loan alternatives?

The cheaper alternatives to borrowing emergency cash are not always fast or convenient. Sometimes they even require that you ask for help. You could get help from local nonprofits, charities, and religious organizations.

Payment plans are often available for large expenses. Asking for payment plan options can open the conversation about financing your expenses.

Other expenses, such as medical bills, may even have income-driven hardship payment plan options available to reduce or eliminate the amount owed.

Of course, a savings account for emergency funds is the fastest, easiest, and most self-reliant emergency loan alternative available. If you don’t have one today, save an amount equal to three to six months of your total expenses for future emergencies.

The best emergency loan alternatives are those that don’t require repayment. But let’s break down all of your options.

Local Charity or Nonprofit Organization

You could get help from local nonprofits, charities, and religious organizations. Reaching out to organizations, such as 211, can help you learn about what’s available in your area.

Millions of people in the U.S. experience food, housing, and financial insecurity every year. If you struggle with paying one or more bills then this resource could help you make ends meet.

Medical Providers

Payment plans are often available for large expenses. Asking for payment plan options can open the conversation about financing those expenses.

You may even have income-driven hardship payment plan options available to reduce or eliminate the amount owed.

A medical billing advocate can review your medical bills to find errors, overcharges, duplicate charges, unreasonable charges, and even fraud.

Make More Money

How much extra stuff do you have around your home? Selling your stuff virtually or in a yard sale could bring in the extra cash needed now.

More regular income-generating options include side hustles or odd jobs to find extra cash where you haven’t looked yet.

Borrow From Friends or Family

Borrowing money from friends and family is another option. To get a loan from an individual, you’ll need to agree to terms of lending, such as an APR and payoff timeline.

It’s a good idea to put these terms in writing and have both parties sign them, whether it turns out to be a gift, loan, or direct payment of a bill.

Lending Circle

Friends and family could get together to form a lending circle at low or no interest. In fact, using a website to manage the lending circle can improve your credit score.

Find local groups to join or create your own group with other individuals to receive the loan one month at a time.

Paycheck Advance App

Paycheck advance apps give users access to small amounts of their upcoming paycheck, in exchange for a small fee. This advance is then repaid with the next paycheck, similar to a payday loan.

Paycheck advance apps limit your advance to a couple of hundred dollars but the fees are smaller than payday loans or overdraft fees.

Credit Union Payday Loans

Borrowing emergency cash from a credit union requires membership. This option would be best for those with good standing with a credit union.

A credit union and bank payday loan comparison provide insight into payday loan alternatives at credit unions.

Bad Credit Loans

Bad credit loans are fixed-rate loans for borrowers with low credit scores, defined as 300-600 on the FICO scale. Lenders consider your credit score, credit report, and debt-to-income ratio for qualification.

If you do qualify with the lender, your interest rate is at the high end of the lender’s range. But bad credit loans are repaid in monthly installments over one to five years.

Some lenders provide bad credit loans with guaranteed approval because no credit check is required.

Pawnshop Loan

Pawning an item lets you get emergency cash immediately with bad credit. You’ll need to pay the money back over a certain number of months along with 2% to 25% monthly interest to get your item back.

If you’re unable to pay the money back by the deadline, the pawnshop will sell the item. Look through our local list to find a lender near you.

Speak with a pawnbroker if you want to get a pawnshop loan.

Credit Card

A new or existing credit card may also fund your emergency. Your credit card can be used to withdraw a cash advance at a bank or ATM.

The credit card buys the cash with various cash advance fees in either flat amounts or percentages. Separate ATM and bank fees may apply and interest immediately starts accruing.

Debit Card

A more favorable and less expensive card option is to overdraft with your debit card. Oftentimes, the overdraft fee is a flat rate per transaction.

A single $1,000 emergency expense makes the $35 overdraft fee more affordable than a cash advance of $1,000 at 5%, which is equivalent to a $50 cash advance fee.

Home Equity Line of Credit

Homeowners with a home equity line of credit (HELOC) also have emergency cash immediately available.

While an existing HELOC makes this option for emergency cash favorable, it does take six to eight weeks for the application process to approve and fund your money.

Unless you already have a HELOC open, this emergency loan alternative won’t work for most emergency situations.

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What emergency loan alternatives are available for small business owners?

Sole proprietors, contractors, and other small business owners may face different types of emergencies that require more options. Here are a few business-related emergency loan alternatives.

The best emergency loan alternative will be the money that doesn’t have to be paid back. Small business grants are available for various reasons, such as demographics, geographical area, affiliations, and more.

Small Business Administration Disaster Loans

The COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program provides economic relief to small businesses and nonprofit organizations that experience a temporary loss of revenue due to coronavirus disease.

Applications are accepted until December 31, 2021. There was an EIDL Advance option that is no longer available.

However, the Targeted EIDL Advance provides businesses in low-income communities with additional funds to ensure small businesses stay in business, adapt to the changes, and thrive in the changing economy.

Businesses qualify if they have 300 or fewer employees and can prove more than a 30% reduction in revenue during an eight-week period since March 2, 2020.

A Supplemental Targeted Advance provides a $5,000 grant to the smallest and hardest hit eligible businesses.

Eligible businesses must have 10 or fewer employees and proof of a 50% economic loss during an eight-week period since March 2, 2020.

The Small Business Administration is reaching out to applicants who qualify via an email ending with

Whatever the circumstances causing you to look for more information about emergency loan alternatives, you do have options for fast cash.

Hopefully, now you know more about guaranteed loan approval and no credit checks. Compare your options before you choose an emergency loan alternative by entering your ZIP code today.

What is an emergency loan?

An emergency loan might seem like a convenient way to access cash when you’re desperate, but such loans have their drawbacks.

Can I use a home loan?

This might not be ideal if you’ve been saving towards a goal such as a house or a vacation, but provided that you don’t need to borrow a lot of money, you may be able to take out a loan and pay it back quickly, allowing you to continue working towards your goal.

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Enter your ZIP code below to view lenders with cheap loan rates.

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What if I have an emergency?

For future emergencies, it could be worth setting up a separate emergency savings account that you can dip into purely for unexpected costs.

Can I pay in advance?

Whether you need to hire an emergency plumber or pay for a loved one’s funeral using a funeral service, it’s always worth asking the vendor whether you can pay in installments.