Best Emergency Loan Rates in September 2021

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4.7

Bankrate Score
APR from

4.99%

3 or 5 year term
Term

3-5yr

Max. loan amount

$50,000

4.6

Bankrate Score
APR from

5.99%

Term

2-5yr

Max. loan amount

$35,000

4.5

Bankrate Score
APR from

7.04- 35.89%

Term

3-5yr

Max. loan amount

$40,000

4.6

Bankrate Score
APR from

7.95- 35.99%

Term

3-5yr

Max. loan amount

$40,000

4.4

Bankrate Score
APR from

15.49- 34.99%

Term

2-5yr

Max. loan amount

$25,000

3.9

Bankrate Score
APR from

18.00- 35.99%

Term

2-5yr

Max. loan amount

$20,000

4.5

Bankrate Score
APR from

27.95- 35.99%

Term

2-4yr

Max. loan amount

$25,000

APR from

7.99- 35.99%

Term

1-3yr

Max. loan amount

$35,000

APR from

Term
Max. loan amount

$100,000

APR from

Term
Max. loan amount

$100,000

APR from

Term
Max. loan amount

$100,000

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Bankrate's guide to choosing the best emergency loan

Why trust Bankrate?

At Bankrate, our mission is to empower you to make smarter financial decisions. We’ve been comparing and surveying financial institutions for more than 40 years to help you find the right products for your situation. Our award-winning editorial team follows strict guidelines to ensure the content is not influenced by advertisers. Additionally, our content is thoroughly reported and vigorously edited to ensure accuracy.

When shopping for a personal loan, compare APRs across multiple lenders to make sure you’re getting a competitive rate. Also look for lenders that keep fees to a minimum and offer repayment terms that fit your needs.

Loan details presented here are current as of the publication date. Check the lenders’ websites for more current information. The personal loan lenders listed here are selected based on factors such as APR, loan amounts, fees and credit requirement.

Summary: Emergency loans in 2021

Best emergency loan interest rates in September 2021

Lender
Current APR Range
Loan Amount
Minimum Credit Score
Best For
Best Egg
4.99%–35.99%
$2,000–$50,000
600
Good credit
Avant
9.95%–35.99%
$2,000–$35,000
580 FICO*
Fair credit
LendingPoint
9.99%–35.99%
$2,000–$36,500
590
Bad credit
OneMain Financial
18.00%–35.99%
$1,500–$20,000
Not specified
Small loan amounts
Upgrade
6.95%–35.97%
$1,000–$50,000
Not specified
Fast funding
Upstart
4.37%–35.99%
$1,000–$50,000
600
Range of loan amounts

*Avant's minimum credit score is 580 FICO and 550 Vantage.

Details: best personal loans for emergencies

  • Best Egg: Best emergency loans for good credit
  • Avant: Best emergency loans for fair credit
  • LendingPoint: Best emergency loans for bad credit
  • OneMain Financial: Best emergency loans for small loan amounts
  • Upgrade: Best emergency loans for fast funding
  • Upstart: Best emergency loans for a range of loan amounts

Best Egg: Best emergency loans for good credit

Overview: If you need money immediately and have good credit, you can try Best Egg; the company has a quick prequalification, application and approval process.

Why Best Egg has the best emergency loans for good credit: Best Egg offers personal loans to people with credit scores of 600 and above, so it's able to keep APRs low.

Perks: Best Egg's fast application process makes it a great choice for more immediate loan needs — the company claims that half of its customers receive loan funds the day after they apply.

What to watch out for: Best Egg charges a number of fees, including an origination fee from 0.99 percent to 5.99 percent. Late payment and returned payment fees also apply.

Impact on emergency loan borrowers: Borrowers with good credit will find some of the lowest interest rates available with Best Egg, making emergency loans more affordable than alternatives like credit card cash advances. Additionally, its fast turnaround time is ideal for people who need to pay for unexpected expenses quickly.

Lender Best Egg
Bankrate Rating 4.6 / 5.0
Minimum Credit Score 600
Est. APR 4.99% – 35.99%
Loan Amount $2,000 – $50,000
Term Lengths 36 to 60 months
Fees Origination fee: 0.99% to 6.99%; Late fee: $15 (currently suspended); Returned payment fee: $15 (currently suspended)

Avant: Best emergency loans for fair credit

Overview: If you don’t have stellar credit (or much credit at all), an Avant loan can come in handy. With poor or fair credit, you can still take out a personal loan, although you might not qualify for the lowest rates available.

Why Avant has the best emergency loans for fair credit: Avant claims that most of its borrowers have credit scores between 600 and 700, although it accepts borrowers with FICO scores as low as 580.

Perks: With a speedy prequalification option, you can see if you are eligible for an Avant loan without triggering a hard credit pull. Once approved, you can get your money within one business day.

What to watch out for: Avant charges an administration fee of up to 4.75 percent, along with a $25 late payment fee and a $15 dishonored payment fee. You’re not allowed to have a co-signer or co-borrower, which means if you don’t qualify on your own, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Impact on emergency loan borrowers: Avant claims that funds are generally deposited within one business day if you are approved by 4:30 p.m. CT Monday through Friday. While it doesn't offer the lowest rates possible, its low credit score threshold makes it attainable for many borrowers.

Lender Avant
Bankrate Rating 4.5 / 5.0
Minimum Credit Score 580 FICO and 550 Vantage
Est. APR 9.95% – 35.99%
Loan Amount $2,000 – $35,000
Term Lengths 24 to 60 months
Fees Administrative fee: up to 4.75%; Late fee: $25; Dishonored payment fee: $15

LendingPoint: Best emergency loans for bad credit

Overview: Not everyone has excellent credit. Sometimes people with little credit history — or those with a few negative marks on their records — need to borrow money. LendingPoint is available to those borrowers in need.

Why LendingPoint has the best emergency loans for bad credit:  LendingPoint's minimum credit threshold of 590 means that most people will qualify for one of its emergency loans.

Perks: While APRs might be higher for people with bad credit, LendingPoint allows you to pay your loan off early without facing a prepayment penalty.

What to watch out for: To accommodate for its lower credit requirements, LendingPoint has slightly higher APRs than many of its competitors, so it's likely not the best choice if you have good credit.

Impact on emergency loan borrowers: Borrowers with bad credit may be tempted to turn to payday lenders for quick cash. However, LendingPoint's low minimum credit score requirement makes it a viable alternative, and even its higher APR cap is likely lower than what you'd find with payday lenders. Its loan products are great for borrowers who need small emergency loans and who would like to pay the debt off quickly.

Lender LendingPoint
Bankrate Rating 4.4 / 5.0
Minimum Credit Score 590
Est. APR 9.99% – 35.99%
Loan Amount $2,000 – $36,500
Term Lengths 24 to 60 months
Fees Origination fee: 0% to 6%

OneMain Financial: Best emergency loans for small loan amounts

Overview: OneMain's loans are best for people who need to borrow only a small amount. It offers loans of as little as $1,500 and caps loan amounts at $20,000.

Why OneMain Financial has the best emergency loans for small loan amounts: Its low loan amounts could be good for smaller emergency expenses, such as minor car repairs.

Perks: OneMain doesn't advertise a minimum credit score, meaning poor or subprime credit borrowers may be eligible. Even if you don’t qualify on your own, OneMain does allow you to add a co-applicant to boost your overall credit picture.

What to watch out for: In-person branch visits are required, which could hold up getting your money quickly. OneMain's APRs are also exceptionally high, with rates starting at 18 percent.

Impact on emergency loan borrowers: If you need an emergency loan but have no or little credit, OneMain Financial allows you to add a co-borrower to improve your odds of being approved.

Lender OneMain Financial
Bankrate Rating 3.8 / 5.0
Minimum Credit Score Not specified
Est. APR 18.00% – 35.99%
Loan Amount $1,500 – $20,000
Term Lengths 24 to 60 months
Fees Origination fee: $25 to $400 or 1% to 10%; Late fee: $5 to $30 or 1.5% to 15%; Insufficient funds fee: $10 to $50

Upgrade: Best emergency loans for fast funding

Overview: If you don’t need to borrow much money but still need money fast, an Upgrade loan might be best for you. Personal loans start at $1,000, and the money can be sent to your bank within one business day — no branch visit required.

Why Upgrade has the best emergency loans for fast funding: You could get your loan funds in as little as one business day, which is much faster than emergency loan alternatives such as a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC).

Perks: Upgrade allows you to pay your loan off early without penalty.

What to watch out for: Upgrade's origination fees are on the high side at 2.9 percent to 8 percent. This fee is deducted from your total loan amount, so make sure to factor it in when deciding how much you want to borrow.

Impact on emergency loan borrowers: Because Upgrade can send as little as $1,000 within a day of verification, it's great for small, urgent needs.

Lender Upgrade
Bankrate Rating 4.8 / 5.0
Minimum Credit Score Not specified
Est. APR 5.94% – 35.97%
Loan Amount $1,000 – $50,000
Term Lengths 36 or 60 months
Fees Origination fee: 2.9% to 8%; Late fee: up to $10; Returned payment fee: $10

Upstart: Best emergency loans for a range of loan amounts

Overview: Borrowers with good credit will find low APRs with Upstart, with rates starting at just 4.37 percent APR. Upstart also considers more than just your credit score when you're applying; it also takes your education, area of study and job history into account.

Why Upstart has the best emergency loans for a range of loan amounts: With an uncommonly large loan amount range of $1,000 to $50,000, Upstart should be able to help with many types of emergencies.

Perks: You can get your money within one business day of your application being approved. You can also use the prequalification option to see if you’re eligible for a loan without triggering a hard credit pull.

What to watch out for: Upstart's origination fee is fairly high; you could be charged as much as 8 percent of your loan amount. You'll also face late fees of $15 or 5 percent of the amount due, whichever is greater, if you fail to make a payment within 10 days of your due date.

Impact on emergency loan borrowers: If you need a lot of money fast, Upstart is a good option.

Lender Upstart
Bankrate Rating 4.5 / 5.0
Minimum Credit Score 600
Est. APR 4.37% – 35.99%
Loan Amount $1,000 – $50,000
Term Lengths 36 or 60 months
Fees Origination fee: 0% to 8%; Late fee: greater of 5% or $15; Returned payment fee: $15; One-time paper copies fee: $10

What is an emergency loan?

Emergency loans are personal loans that are used for unexpected expenses, such as medical treatment or a car breakdown. Compared to other types of loans, emergency loans may have high interest rates.

There are different types of emergency loans with their own unique features. Oftentimes, they are made for a few thousand dollars and can be disbursed within a few days. Some emergency loan lenders even disburse funds on the same day as approval, making it easier to address urgent needs.

Who are emergency loans good for?

If you need fast cash to cover an emergency expense, an emergency loan may be a good option. Let’s say your air conditioner breaks down in the middle of summer. With an emergency loan, you can receive the money you need to repair it as soon as possible. An emergency loan may also help you if you’ve suddenly lost your job and could use some extra cash to pay your bills.

Types of emergency loans

There are many ways to get funds in an emergency. Types of emergency loans include:

  • Personal loans. Personal loans are a good option for emergencies because they can be disbursed quickly, sometimes within the same day of approval. They can also be less expensive to use than credit cards — while many credit cards have interest rates of 16 percent or more, the average personal loan interest rate hovers below 11 percent, and good-credit borrowers can score rates as low as 5.99 percent.
    • Best for: This option works best for borrowers who can meet the lender’s approval requirements. In addition, it might be best for those who are in a financial position to score the lowest interest rate
  • Home equity loans. Home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) are less common for emergency uses since they're typically slower to disburse funds. However, they will usually offer the lowest rates since they're secured by your home.
    • Best for: Home equity loans and HELOCs are best for borrowers who have enough equity in their homes to meet the lender’s qualifications — typically at least 15 percent to 20 percent. If you can afford to repay the loan and avoid having your home foreclosed on, this might be a good emergency option.
  • Credit card cash advances. Your credit card company may extend you a short-term loan in the form of a cash advance. This type of loan is one of the fastest ways to access money, but the interest rates and fees can be sky-high.
    • Best for: A cash advance can be a good option for borrowers who can’t wait until the next day to receive funds from a personal loan. It could also be useful if you can repay the debt within a few months, but be mindful of potentially high interest rates.
  • Payday loans. Payday loans are short-term loans that don't require a credit check and will typically need to be repaid by your next payday. Payday loans are extremely risky and not recommended; they charge extremely high interest rates and fees, and failing to make payments could send you deeper into debt.
    • Best for: This type of loan is best used as a last resort for borrowers who can’t qualify for a loan with a lender who has a lower maximum interest rate.

How do emergency loans work?

Many lenders don't advertise specific "emergency loans" since an emergency loan is just a personal loan. If you need to take out a personal loan for emergencies, your best bet is to find a lender that advertises fast approval and fast funding for a loan amount that suits your needs.

Once you've gotten quotes from a few lenders, you'll send in your application to the one with the best interest rate and terms. You'll likely need to provide identity and income verification during this stage of the application process. Once you're approved, funds can be sent directly to your bank account.

If you’re on the hunt for an emergency loan, be cautious of lenders that might be out to scam you or at least take advantage of your difficult time. Pay attention to:

  • No credit checks: A loan that does not require a credit check may be attractive for someone with poor credit, but these lenders often mitigate their risk by charging exorbitant APRs.
  • Repayment terms: If possible, avoid payday loans. These types of loans require you to make payments in full by your next paycheck, often with triple-digit APRs. Longer repayment terms not only give you more time to pay back your emergency loan, but will also decrease your monthly payment.
  • State registration: Not all lenders are registered in every state since states set their own loan requirements. Before you apply, make sure your potential lenders are registered in your state.
  • Up-front fees: A company that promises loan approval regardless of your credit and requires up-front fees might be running an advance-fee loan scam. This is when scammers collect money that’s supposedly for processing applications but never issue any loans.

Emergency loans in the coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has put many people out of work and in need of emergency funds. Interest rates have fallen on many types of loans, and many lenders are offering competitive rates on personal loans during this time. Some lenders, particularly credit unions, are also offering dedicated coronavirus hardship loans, which are great for emergency needs. These loans are designed for people financially affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with lower loan amounts and shorter repayment periods.

Emergency loans after unemployment runs out

While the unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent in May, substantially lower than the peak of 14.7 percent in April 2020, it's still higher than pre-pandemic levels. Even though the numbers are improving, there are 3.6 million more people out of work than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of mid-June, 25 states have said they'll back out of federal unemployment assistance programs, including the $300 weekly supplement, early. The changes will cut off payments to about 4 million people. The federal benefits had been set to expire Sept. 6.

If you're unemployed and anticipate getting your federal unemployment benefits cut early, there are some lending options you can tap in to. For instance, an emergency loan can help cover a number of living expenses, such as bills, rent and groceries.

When applying for a personal loan for emergencies while you’re unemployed, your odds of getting approved could be impacted in a couple ways. First, having lower income could affect your loan eligibility and the terms you qualify for. Second, if you have a credit card balance or other existing loans, being unemployed could increase your debt-to-income ratio. If you have trouble getting approved for an unsecured emergency loan, you may want to consider adding a co-signer with reliable income and good credit or applying for a secured loan. Shop around and see what options are available for you.

Pros and cons of personal loans

Pros:

  • You can use the funds on just about any emergency expense.
  • The application process is usually fast and online.
  • You may get the money very quickly, sometimes the same day you apply.

Cons:

  • You’ll have to pay a sky-high interest rate, which can increase the overall cost of your loan and steer you into a cycle of debt.
  • You may have to settle for a smaller loan amount than you want.
  • Your credit score will suffer if you don't make your payments.

How to choose an emergency loan

When you need money in a pinch, it's easy to jump to the lender with the lowest advertised APR. However, it's usually best to compare personal loan offers from a few lenders before committing to one. When comparing lenders, look for features like:

  • Minimum credit score: One way to decide if a lender is right for you is to check its eligibility requirements. If you can't meet the credit score minimum on your own, see if the lender allows co-signers; adding someone with good credit to your loan may increase your chances of being approved.
  • Time to receive funds: If you need your money right away, see how fast your potential lender will fund your loan. If it’s not within a day or two, or if funding requires a visit to a local branch, you may want to explore other options.
  • Fees: Aside from your principal balance and interest rate, what fees does the lender charge? In addition to late fees and prepayment penalties, look out for origination fees, which are often deducted from your total loan amount.
  • Prequalification: If you don’t have great credit, look for a lender with a prequalification option. This lets you see if you’re eligible for the loan through a soft credit check, which won't ding your credit score as a hard credit check would.

What is the easiest loan to get?

The easiest loan to get is not always the best loan. For instance, payday lenders will approve loans quickly and without checking credit, but their risk is often not worth the benefit. Instead of searching out these types of lenders, look for emergency loans from reputable banks, credit unions and online lenders. Many of these lenders list their credit requirements on their websites, and most offer prequalification — meaning you can easily apply and see if you'll be approved within minutes and without damaging your credit score.

How to get an emergency loan with bad credit

If you’re having trouble qualifying for an emergency loan due to a lack of credit history or less than stellar credit, you may have better luck with these options.

  • Credit union payday-alternative loan. Some federal credit unions offer small loans that give members an alternative to a traditional payday loan. The loan is capped at $2,000, the loan term ranges from one to 12 months and the maximum interest rate is 28 percent. To qualify, you must be a member of the credit union or eligible to apply for membership.
  • Secured personal loan. A secured personal loan is a loan that has collateral attached to it, such as a car title or cash account — the asset secures the loan. Since this type of loan is less risky for the lender, you may find that it’s easier to qualify for. Just keep in mind that if you fail to repay the loan, the lender has a right to take your collateral.
  • Apply with a co-signer or co-borrower. A co-signer is someone who agrees to repay your debt in case you default on the loan or miss a payment. Having a co-signer or co-borrower can help you qualify if they have better credit or more income. When you apply with a co-borrower, you and the other person agree to repay the loan together.

Emergency loan alternatives

Not everyone has a solid credit history to take out an emergency loan. If your credit score is holding you back or you otherwise don’t qualify for the lenders listed above, there are emergency loan alternatives.

  • Local credit unions and banks: Our best emergency loans above consist mostly of online lenders. If you belong to a local credit union or a bank, reach out to see if you qualify for a personal loan. Both options are friendlier toward current account holders, and you may have an easier time accessing a loan.
  • Local nonprofits and charities: Some states and local municipalities have grants or interest-free loans you can take advantage of when you’re in a pinch. Try calling 211 and explaining your financial hardship to get matched up with resources in your area. You might also qualify for state or federal relief.
  • Payment plans: Instead of paying a sum of money in full, ask if you can set up a payment plan. Whether it’s for an old medical bill or a credit card, lenders will usually work with you on alternative repayment. Try to do this as soon as you can; the longer you wait, the less likely it is that they’ll be willing to help you.
  • Paycheck advances: If you’ve been at your job for a while, consider borrowing money from your future self and asking your employer for a paycheck advance.
  • Loan or hardship distribution from your 401(k) plan: If you have a 401(k) through your job, you may want to ask about a 401(k) loan or about taking money out of your 401(k) for hardship assistance.
  • Help from family and friends: If you don’t qualify for an emergency loan or you don’t feel comfortable taking out a loan, ask friends and family for a little extra cash. If you don’t need to borrow a lot of money, they might be more willing to help you out. Some may let you pay them back whenever you can, and they may not charge you interest. No matter your situation, get your agreement in writing so you know what’s expected from both parties.
  • Early withdrawal from a bank CD: Taking money from a CD before it matures will cost you a penalty equal to the interest earned over a certain number of months, but with current interest rates so low, the amount could be negligible.

Building an emergency fund

While it might be too late to stash money away in case of an emergency right now, you can take some steps to build up your emergency fund in the future.

  1. See where your extra cash is: Review your budget and see where to make cuts. Look at how much you spend on groceries or other line items that have flexibility, like dining out or monthly subscriptions. Anywhere you can find extra cash, put it into an emergency fund.
  2. Open a high-yield savings account: Use any account that has access to funds when you need them. A high-yield savings account doesn’t have as much return as investing in the stock market, but you also don't risk losing money.
  3. Open CDs with staggered maturity dates: Bank CDs usually pay slightly more interest than high-yield savings accounts, and you can set them up so that every few months, you have one reach maturity. If you need to, you can also pay the early withdrawal penalty to access the money.
  4. Set up autopay: If you put money into your fund whenever you can, you’re already doing great. But take it a step further and automate your savings. Paying yourself first means you don’t think of yourself last.
  5. Make mini goals: A good financial goal is to have at least six months’ worth of expenses or six months’ worth of your salary saved up. But that can seem daunting if you’re just starting out. Instead of looking at the bigger number, take the time to establish goal checkpoints. For instance, save up $1,000 as quickly as you can. Then save up one month’s worth of expenses. Then two, and so on.
  6. Replenish as necessary: If you need to dip into your emergency fund to cover unexpected costs, go for it! That’s what it’s there for. But remember to build your funds up again when you’re financially able to.