When unexpected expenses pop up and you don’t have the cash to pay for them, taking out an emergency loan can be a good option. Some emergency loans are easy to get because the lender doesn’t even check your credit. This allows you to quickly access cash you need to cover unforeseen bills.
However, just because some emergency loans are the easiest loans to get approved for doesn’t mean they’re the best option for you. Some come with sky-high interest rates and fees.
Easiest loans and their risks
If you’re searching for loans to cover an unexpected expense, you might consider taking out an emergency loan, a payday loan or a bad-credit or no-credit-check loan. While these types of loans are usually easy to get, each has risks.
An emergency loan is a personal loan used to cover unexpected expenses, such as medical bills or car repair bills. Lenders typically let you borrow $1,000 or more; some lenders even deposit the funds into your account the same day you sign the loan agreement. The interest rate you get on an emergency loan depends on several factors, such as your credit score, income and debt-to-income ratio.
Payday loans are short-term loans designed to be paid back by your next pay period. Because most payday lenders don’t check your credit, these are easy loans to get. However, they come with serious drawbacks in the form of steep interest rates and fees. For example, some have annual percentage rates (APRs) as high as 400 percent.
Risks: Since these loans come with excessive fees, they’re best used as a last resort. If you can’t afford to repay the loan by the next pay period, you risk digging yourself into a deeper hole financially.
Bad-credit or no-credit-check loans
A bad-credit loan is a personal loan for borrowers who have less-than-stellar credit or minimal credit history. Although minimum credit score requirements vary by lender, you’ll typically need at least a 580 credit score to qualify. If you don’t meet the lender’s minimum credit score requirement, an alternative is getting a no-credit-check loan. The downside to a no-credit-check loan is similar to a payday loan — it comes with high APRs and fees.
Risks: If you have a really low credit score, you risk being charged a high interest rate and fees — some personal loan lenders have maximum interest rates as high as 35.99 percent.
Alternatives to easy loans
If you want to avoid the borrowing costs associated with the loans discussed above, here are some alternatives to consider.
Local banks and credit unions
If you’re a member of a local bank or credit union, contact it to see if you can qualify for a personal loan. Since you have a relationship with the institution, you may qualify for better rates and terms.
Local charities and nonprofits
Check with your local chamber of commerce or library or dial 211 to see if there are grants available in your area. Depending on your income level, you may qualify for federal or state rental assistance or food assistance programs. If you need help paying for rent, you can use the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s database to search for rental assistance programs in your area.
If you can’t afford to pay for a phone bill, medical bill or another bill in full, ask the company if you can set up a payment plan. Although you’ll probably be charged an additional fee or interest, it might cost less than getting a loan.
If you need to pay for an expense immediately but don’t get paid until a week from now or later, ask your employer for a paycheck advance.
Loan or hardship distribution from your 401(k) plan
Borrow money from family or friends
If you want to avoid taking out an easy loan or pay minimal interest, ask a family member or friend to borrow money. This option lets you avoid the formal process of applying for a loan, and you may have more flexible repayment options. Also, the person who loans you money might not charge you interest. Get the terms of the loan agreement in writing and repay the loan as promised to avoid damaging your relationship with the lender.
Before you take out an easy loan, make sure you explore all of your borrowing options. Doing so can help you pay the least amount of interest possible or get the best terms. If taking out an emergency loan is your only option to access cash quickly, prequalify for a personal loan to compare rates, fees and terms from multiple lenders. If you have a membership with a credit union or bank, contact it to see if you qualify for a personal loan.