Life is full of unexpected twists and turns — medical emergencies, car repairs, home renovations, or repairs. It is important to be as financially prepared as you can for these circumstances when they arise, but it isn’t always possible. Fortunately, emergency loans are available for when those unexpected expenses come up.
An emergency loan is any loan or amount of money that you can borrow on short notice. To cover unexpected expenses, there are various options available, including personal loans, payday loans, credit card cash advances, title loans, or simply asking a friend or family member to provide you with a loan.
Maybe you've found yourself in this position: "I need an emergency loan, today!" You may need money immediately, or at least as quickly as possible.
Personal loans are one of the most reliable and sure-fire ways to get money quickly and easily. Depending on the lending company, you can receive same-day approval and funding for your emergency loan. It is important to note that personal loan lenders will conduct a credit check, and lower rates are only available to those with good credit scores. But there are other options for those with bad credit scores in the form of payday loans.
Payday loans are a good option for those with bad credit scores, generally providing up to $500 almost immediately. However, payday loans often come with high interest rates and must be paid back in two to four weeks, or before your next payday.
On the other hand, personal loan lenders conduct credit checks and typically require a good credit score to qualify. A better credit score means that you could qualify for a larger loan, if needed, and receive lower interest rates. Applying for a personal loan is also a safer process with no required collateral, although that varies with each lender. Therefore, it is important to do research on multiple personal loan companies before choosing one for your emergency loan.
Luckily, we’ve done some of that research for you already. Based on fees, services, comparison, and customer reviews, we’ve created a list of the top five personal loan companies for emergency loans.
1. Best Egg
- Minimum credit score: 640
- APR rate: 5.99%–29.99%
- Great customer reviews
With an instant decision process, you could receive money in as little as one business day if you are approved and submit the required documentation. However, it is important to note that Best Egg has a loan origination fee between 0.99 percent and 5.99 percent of the total loan amount. This fee is taken directly from the loan before being added to a bank account.
Customers generally have nothing but good things to say about working with Best Egg for their personal loans, highlighting the speedy approval and funding process, as well as great customer service.
Best Egg Customer Review: Gordon from Ocean Shores, Washington
"Quicker and the interest rate is cheaper than payday or other personal loans. I needed emergency dental work and could not be without my two front teeth...thank you Best Egg."
- Minimum credit score: 620
- APR rate: 7.99%–29.99%
- Good customer reviews
With a lower minimum credit score requirement than most other lenders in the industry, FreedomPlus offers same-day lending decisions on personal loans ranging from $7,500–$40,000; a great option if you have some unexpected expenses that come up.
FreedomPlus doesn’t have any application fees or prepayment penalty fees, but there is an origination fee of 0 percent to 4.99 percent on personal loans. This fee is lower than other personal loan lenders, but there are some companies in the industry that don’t have an origination fee.
If you have any questions as you’re applying for an emergency personal loan, FreedomPlus will quickly connect you with a customer service representative or loan consultant that will help answer your questions and make the loan process as simple as possible.
Here’s what customers have to say about their experience with FreedomPlus:
FreedomPlus Customer Review: Nancy Jones from Nenana, Alaska
"I felt very comfortable working with FreedomPlus. They were very responsive and helpful. They let me know step by step what I needed to do to help them get me approved for the emergency funding I needed."
- Minimum credit score: 620
- APR rate: 8.13%–35.99%
- Good customer reviews
Upstart is a great option for those with little to no credit history, such as young professionals and recent college graduates, a group that might have a harder time making ends meet when unexpected expenses arise. But, even if you aren’t a recent college graduate, Upstart won’t just look at your credit history for approval, but will take things such as your job history and income into consideration, making it easier for you to get an emergency loan.
Although APR rates are higher with Upstart than most other lenders in the industry, it does have low fees, a competitive maximum loan repayment term (five years), and a quick application process that can get money in your pocket as fast as one day after approval.
Many of Upstart’s customer reviews are positive, speaking to its quick and easy approval process. However, there are many negative reviews as well, stating that the company makes a borrower jump through a lot of hoops, and customer service was difficult to work with.
Upstart Customer Review: Jo Temp from Belton, South Carolina
"The quickest loan I have ever received, money was deposited in 2 days, unbelievable wow!"
4. OneMain Financial
- Minimum credit score: varies
- APR rate: 18.00%–35.99%
- OK customer reviews
OneMain Financial has been around for a very long time (108 years, to be exact), and knows its way around personal loans.
Loans from $1,500–$20,000 are available with a variety of term lengths. If you apply for a personal loan with OneMain Financial by noon on a business day, you could receive funds as early as that same day. In addition, loans have fixed rates and fixed payments, so you can feel confident and secure in your repayment, because your rates and monthly payments will not increase.
OneMain Financial doesn’t have a minimum credit score requirement; therefore, if you have a poor credit score, you could be approved for an emergency personal loan.
Customers are generally satisfied with service through OneMainFinancial, highlighting a simple loan application process and quick payment.
OneMain Financial Customer Review: Jess Patton
"When I had a medical emergency and could not work, I got a loan from them, using my old car as collateral. It was fast and easy, no hassle, and in two days it was deposited into my account. I have auto payments pulled from my account twice a month, on the days I chose, and I never have to think about it. It was perfect, and easy! And a life saver!"
- Minimum credit score: 680
- APR rate: 3.49%–20.49%
- Negative customer reviews
If you are in need of a large loan, fast, LightStream is a good option, offering personal loans from $5,000–$100,000. Because it offers a much higher maximum loan amount than most other lenders, LightStream requires a higher credit score to qualify. However, cosigners and joint applications are accepted, which would increase your chances of qualifying if you have a poor credit score. However, if you need money as quickly as possible, finding and working with a cosigner may not be in your best interest.
LightStream offers same-day funding after your application is approved. This is great, especially for funding emergencies, and there are no origination fees or prepayment penalty fees.
It is important to note that if you receive a loan through LightStream, you must use it for the reason stated in your application.
The majority of LightStream customer reviews are negative, with many saying that the guidelines are difficult to follow and that loan acceptance rates are very low, even with an excellent credit score. LightStream may be one of the fastest options for an emergency loan, but these are also important things to consider.
LightStream Customer Review: Douglas Jennings
"Very very impressed. Went very smooth and fast response to approval. I will tell others. Repeat customer right here for sure. Thanks again LightStream."
Other types of emergency loans
Credit card cash advances are the easiest and most immediate way to get money for an emergency. Borrowers simply stop at the bank or at an ATM and withdraw cash from their credit card, which must be paid back. However, interest begins to accrue immediately, increasing the amount of money owed over time.
Specific to car repairs and emergencies, title loans are short-term secured loans, requiring borrowers to put up their car title as collateral. This is a risk because borrowers could lose the title to their cars if unable to pay off the loan.
Home equity loans can provide more funds than a personal loan because the loan amount is based on the value of your house relative to your mortgage balance. Depending on your circumstances, the ability to secure a larger loan might be the best option, but it is important to keep in mind that you risk foreclosure on your home if you’re unable to pay the loan back, which could create greater financial hardship for you overall.
If you have an emergency that needs an immediate financial solution, turning to your friends and/or family members for a loan may be a good option. Because they are close to you and may know the situation you are facing they could be sympathetic and willing to front some money with little to no interest.
Be patient and do your homework
Make sure you do some research before jumping into any type of loan or cash advance options. You don’t want to create greater financial hardship for yourself in an attempt to pay for the emergency that has come up in your life.
Securing funding in an emergency can be stressful, and you may feel a need to rush. However, if possible, take some time to slow down and weigh the options available to you. Various personal loan lenders can approve and provide funding quickly, but not all lenders are equal in what they offer. Another option might be better for you in the long run.