Top 7 Emergency Loans for Bad Credit

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Which comes first: repaying your loans or saving up an emergency fund?

emergency jar

It’s basically the less-fun reprisal of the chicken-and-egg riddle.

But no matter where you stand with your savings, sometimes, life gets the better of you. Even those of us lucky enough to build up substantial cushions have found ourselves in a crunch every one in a while.

Couple an unexpected (and unfun) financial scenario with bad credit, and you’re looking at an even more stressful experience. After all, the creditworthiness you need to obtain those emergency loans is dependent on your ability to repay the debts you already owe. And if you’re having trouble making ends meet, it can quickly become a downward spiral.

Fortunately, though, there are emergency loans online for borrowers with poor credit. This is especially true if you’re in need of a relatively small emergency loan. The loan options below have much better interest rates than you will find with payday loans.

Installment Loans for Bad Credit

Installment loans are a type of personal loan wherein you borrow money to be repaid at regular intervals, usually monthly, over a course of up to five years. Most installment loans offer fixed interest rates, but the actual APR will vary depending on your credit score.

However, today’s lenders understand that not everybody has a perfect credit history, which means you can find an emergency loan even if your credit leaves something to be desired. What’s more, repaying these loans on time and in full can boost your credit score, making for better repayment terms the next time you’re seeking a credit line.

Best Bad Credit Loans of 2020

Whether you need a quick $500 or a more substantial, five-figure sum, here are some of the best emergency loans for people with bad credit.

1. MoneyMutual

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MoneyMutual is a contemporary lending firm that understands that your financial needs move “at the speed of life.” That’s why they connect their customers with online lenders offering emergency loans of up to $2,500. And the funds can hit your bank account in as little as one business day.

  • Loan Amount: Up to $2,500
  • APR: Variable
  • Loan Term: Variable

Read our full review of MoneyMutual

2. CashUSA

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No matter what you need an emergency loan for, CashUSA can supply it — and quickly. The service matches borrowers with multiple lenders offering up to $10,000, and you can see the money in your bank account as soon as the next business day.

  • Loan Amount: $500 to $10,000
  • APR: 5.99% to 35.99%
  • Loan Term: 3 to 72 months

Read our full review of CashUSA

3. BadCreditLoans

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If you’re worried about having your loan application approved, well, just look at the name of this lender: BadCreditLoans. It’s literally directed specifically towards borrowers with bad credit. The company understands that nobody plans to have a financial emergency (or poor credit scores) and does everything in its power to get you the money you need to rectify your situation.

  • Loan Amount: $500 to $5,000
  • APR: 5.99% to 35.99%
  • Loan Term: 3 to 60 months

Read our full review of BadCreditLoans

4. Cash Advance

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Trusted by customers since 1997, Cash Advance is a great place to turn if you’re just in need of a small financial boost to get ahead in the short term.

They connect borrowers with lenders offering short-term loans up to $1,000. They work with institutions that can get you the emergency loan you need even if you have bad credit.

  • Loan Amount: $100 to $1,000
  • APR: Variable
  • Loan Term: Variable

Read our full review of Cash Advance

5. Upgrade

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Yet another big-spender lender, Upgrade offers emergency loans of up to $50,000 with interest rates starting as low as 7.99%. You’ll have up to five years to pay off your debt in regular monthly payments — and checking to see your approval rate won’t impact your credit score.

  • Loan Amount: $1,000 to $50,000
  • APR: 7.99% to 35.89%
  • Loan Term: 36 to 60 months

Read our full review of Upgrade

6. OneMain

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OneMain offers personal loans from $1,500 to $30,000, making it a good choice if you’re in need of a more substantial windfall. In fact, taking out a sizable personal loan is a great way to consolidate your debt , which could put you in a more strategic position the next time you need an emergency loan.

Although OneMain’s easy application process starts online, you will have to meet with a loan specialist at a branch to verify your approval. That said, it’s well worth a short drive and a half-hour meeting if the loan can secure you your financial freedom in the long run!

  • Loan Amount: $1,500 to $30,000
  • APR: 16.05% to 35.99%
  • Loan Term: 24, 36, 48 or 60 months

Read our full review of OneMain

7. LendingClub

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Another company offering substantial personal loans, Lending Club could cut you a check for up to $40,000 — and give you up to five full years to repay it. Depending on your credit score, you may even be able to get an interest rate of less than 10% APR!

  • Loan Amount: Up to $40,000
  • APR: 6.95% to 35.89%
  • Loan Term: 36 to 60 months

Read our full review of LendingClub

Credit Cards Are Another Option

Using a credit card could be a good alternative, depending on the interest rate. If you have bad credit, credit cards aren’t easy to get and the interest rate will most certainly be higher.

However, if you can get a co-signer or find a good starter credit card online or from a credit union, it might be worth looking into. In fact, just like the loans mentioned above, they can help you build your credit as long as you make your payments on time.

Why You Should Avoid Payday Loans

Payday loans can be found everywhere and they’re easy to get. Unfortunately, getting a payday loan is almost always a bad idea due to astronomical finance charges you will be charged.

Payday loans are typically small and must be paid back within a week or two. Most payday loans also don’t require a credit check. You can get them easily as long as you provide proof of income.

Avoid Auto Title Loans Also

Auto title loans require you to put your car up as collateral. The loan is usually for much less than your car is worth. They typically must be paid back within 2 to 4 weeks and you don’t need a credit check for this type of loan either.

So, what could go wrong?

Well, you could lose your car. These loans come with very high interest rates and are notorious for trapping borrowers who can’t afford to pay them back. In fact, they’re so bad that they’re now illegal in 23 states. Getting an unsecured loan, like the ones mentioned above, is always a better option.

Bottom Line

No matter what kind of emergency expenses have popped up in your life, we hope you find the help you need to get back on your feet and to build that credit history for tomorrow. Your future self will thank you!

Jamie Cattanach
Meet the author

Jamie Cattanach is a freelance writer whose work has been featured at Fodor's, Yahoo, SELF, The Motley Fool, Roads & Kingdoms, and other outlets.