You will need to have enough income each month to cover the cost of any loan, including every type of emergency loan. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be from a job or other employment. Lenders may be willing to consider benefits or other sources of income when you need an emergency loan.

How to get an emergency loan without a job

Lenders are more concerned with income than employment. Provided you have a regular source of income, a lender will likely not care where that income is from. This means you should be able to get an emergency loan without a job.

Income sources can include:

  • Social Security or disability benefits.
  • Unemployment benefits.
  • Alimony or child support.
  • Spouse’s income.
  • Pension or retirement income.
  • Recurring interest or dividends from savings or stocks.
  • Rental income.
  • Royalties.

Lenders may also accept income from freelance work or contract work. And if you are unemployed when you apply but have a pending job offer, your lender may be willing to accept this as a valid source of income.

Don’t get a loan without reliable income

There are less reputable lenders that will offer loans without proof of income. Avoid these at all costs. Not only will the interest rate be extremely high, you run a high risk of default — which means more fees and potential legal action.

Instead, try turning to free alternatives. Nonprofits, charity organizations, government assistance and payment plans can all cover expenses in the short term. This will give you time to look for employment or apply for long-term assistance.

It may not be the ideal solution, but you should avoid debt when you don’t have reliable income. Any type of debt — including emergency loans and credit cards — will only put your finances in a riskier position.

Other eligibility requirements

In addition to your income, lenders will consider your credit score and debt-to-income ratio (DTI) when you submit an application.

Credit score

There are lenders that offer emergency loans to borrowers with bad credit, but be prepared to face a high rate. And be careful — not every emergency loan is a legit option.

Some lenders may charge high enough fees that they result in an interest rate well over 100 percent. While this is legal in some states, it can leave you facing a cycle of debt that can put even more strain on your budget next time you face an emergency.

For borrowers with good to excellent credit, you will likely be able to qualify for a variety of personal loans to cover emergency expenses. Interest rates will be lower, and since personal loans are flexible, most can be used for any unexpected costs that come up.

Debt-to-income ratio

If you have credit card and other personal loan debt, you may struggle to qualify for a loan — even with a good credit score and sufficient income. A high debt-to-income (DTI) ratio may discourage lenders from approving you for an emergency loan. You may be able to find more flexibility because you need to cover an emergency expense, but if a lender believes you don’t have sufficient income to cover new debt, you are unlikely to qualify.

Emergency loan alternatives

Emergency loans are frequently a high-cost option no matter your credit score. And when you don’t have a job, they can put significant strain on your budget. Consider some common alternatives.

  • Negotiating a payment plan or extension with your lender will help you lower your debts and make it easier to cover short-term emergency expenses.
  • Applying for a credit card may be difficult without a job, but you may still be able to qualify with a regular source of income. And they can help you avoid borrowing a large amount if you only need a few hundred dollars.
  • Asking for help from friends and family may not be an ideal solution, but they may still be willing to work with you. Determine an appropriate repayment plan, or if you have a large emergency and don’t know if you will be able to repay, they may be willing to help as a gift rather than a loan.

Compare rates before taking out a loan

If you decide an emergency loan is the right decision, compare loan rates before you apply. As long as you have a source of income, you should be able to find a lender that will work with you. But you should still consider alternatives to avoid paying interest when you don’t have a job.