Key takeaways

  • Even without a job, you can generally get an emergency loan if you can prove a reliable source of income such as disability benefits or a spouse’s income.
  • Lenders that offer loans without proof of income are probably predatory.
  • If you try to apply for loans with a low credit score or high debt-to-income ratio, you could face high fees and be more likely to default.
  • If you do not have a steady income, look into loan alternatives like assistance programs, repayment plans or help from family and friends.

You do not need a job to apply for an emergency loan. However, 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 form of employment.

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. As such, 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

Since lenders care more about reliable income than having a job, you can submit a wide range of income types as part of your loan application.

    • 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.

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 if you’re set to start the job within the required timeline.

Loans without income verification

Some disreputable lenders offer loans without proof of income. Avoid them. There is a high chance that the loan could be predatory.

You will likely be charged a sky-high interest rate plus fees and may have only a short time to repay these loans. If you can’t keep up with payments and default, that means even more fees, credit score damage and potential legal action.

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 increase your likelihood of getting stuck in a debt cycle.

Instead, look into the alternatives we discuss below.

Emergency loan 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 that cater to those with low credit charge annual percentage rates that come out to well over 600 percent. Also known as payday loans, this type of predatory financing 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 or existing personal loan debt, you may struggle to qualify for a loan. A high debt-to-income (DTI) ratio above 50 percent will likely prevent lenders from approving you for an emergency loan.

Regardless of your credit and finances, if the lender believes you don’t have sufficient income to cover new debt due to a higher DTI, you’re 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 to an emergency loan before making a decision.

  • 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.
  • If you need help affording your basic needs, try applying for assistance programs offered by local nonprofits or governmental agencies. The nonprofit United Way operates a phone number, 211, that connects people to local programs offering assistance with food, rent, utilities and more. Call if you’re unsure where to start.

The bottom line

If you decide an emergency loan is the right decision, compare emergency loan rates before you apply. As long as you have a source of income, you should be able to find emergency loans with no job. However, it’s wise to consider the alternatives to avoid paying interest, especially if finances are already tight.