Best Emergency Loans for Bad Credit | The Simple Dollar

Best Emergency Loans for Bad Credit | The Simple Dollar

If you had a nickel for every time life threw you something unexpected, you’d never have a need for an emergency loan ever again. When life throws you a curveball, you may find yourself in an unplanned situation with an unexpected need for fast cash. Knowing how to get emergency loans and what your options are no matter what your credit score is, can help you safely navigate the situation and come out the other side on top.

To help you find the best online loans for bad credit, we used our in-house SimpleScore methodology that compares rates, loan amounts, terms, fees and customer support to review the best bad credit emergency loans.

Check Your Personal Loan Rates

Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. It’s quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.

We found results in California.

Why trust The Simple Dollar? 

The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric used to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar. We try to be as helpful and accurate as possible. We look at rates, loan size, customer satisfaction, support, and fees to determine a brand’s SimpleScore. Each unique category we compare will be given a score from 1 to 5.

Our SimpleScore scoring system makes it easy for consumers to pick the best products, brands and services that fit their unique financial situations.

The 6 best bad credit emergency loans of 2020

Bad credit emergency loans at a glance

Lender APR Loan Amount Terms SimpleScore
OneMain Financial 18.00%–35.99% $1,500–$20,000 24–60 months 4.4/5.0
RISE Credit 50.00%–299.00% $500–$5,000 4–26 months 3.0/5.0
Upgrade 7.99%–35.89% $1,000–$50,000 36 or 60 months 4.6/5.0
Avant 9.95%–35.99% $2,000–$35,000 24–60 months 4.0/5.0
Peerform 5.99%–29.99% $4,000–$25,000 36–60 months 3.8/5.0
Net Credit 36.00%–155.00% $1,000–$10,000 6–60 months 3.2/5.0

*Rates accurate as of December 7, 2020, and exclude autopay discounts.

Best for same-day funding – OneMain Financial

The money is pricey, but when you need cash fast, you may have to pay a premium with OneMain Financial.

Loan Amount



3.3 / 5.0

SimpleScore OneMain Financial 3.3

Customer Satisfaction N/A

While the money may be expensive, emergency loans for bad credit are available through OneMain Financial with funds available by the next business day.

When you need fast financing, you want the ability to get the money you need in the timeframe you have to work with. OneMain Financial provides up to $20,000 as fast as the next business day. By giving the company some of your basic information, you can get a lending decision in as little as 10 minutes. From there, sign the agreement and get your cash fast. The one thing to be aware of is that you will need to come into a branch location to finalize your loan, which may expedite or slow down the process — depending on your situation. For more information, read our full OneMain Financial review.

OneMain Financial Disclosure

Not all applicants will qualify for larger loan amounts or most favorable loan terms. Loan approval and actual loan terms depend on your ability to meet our credit standards (including a responsible credit history, sufficient income after monthly expenses, and availability of collateral). Larger loan amounts require a first lien on a motor vehicle no more than ten years old, that meets our value requirements, titled in your name with valid insurance. Maximum APR is 35.99%, subject to state restrictions. APRs are generally higher on loans not secured by a vehicle. The lowest APR shown represents the 10% of loans with the most favorable APR. Active duty military, their spouse or dependents covered under the Military Lending Act may not pledge any vehicle as collateral for a loan. OneMain loan proceeds cannot be used for postsecondary educational expenses as defined by the CFPB’s Regulation Z, such as college, university or vocational expenses; for any business or commercial purpose; to purchase securities; or for gambling or illegal purposes.

Borrowers in these states are subject to these minimum loan sizes: Alabama: $2,100. California: $3,000. Georgia: Unless you are a present customer, $3,100 minimum loan amount. Ohio: $2,000. Virginia: $2,600.

Borrowers (other than present customers) in these states are subject to these maximum unsecured loan sizes: Florida: $8,000. Iowa: $8,500. Maine: $7,000. Mississippi: $7,500. North Carolina: $7,500. New York: $20,000. Texas: $8,000. West Virginia: $7,500. An unsecured loan is a loan which does not require you to provide collateral (such as a motor vehicle) to the lender.

Best for interest rate reductions – RISE Credit

Ideally, RISE Credit should be your last option, but the lender will rise to the occasion if you can’t find a personal loan elsewhere.


3 / 5.0

SimpleScore RISE Credit 3

RISE Credit emergency personal loans are some of the most expensive, but if you have bad credit, you may need the company to help you get the cash you’re looking for.

The exact terms, APR rates and loan amounts available through RISE Credit will depend on your creditworthiness and where you live. Different states have different limits and rates. What is nice is the company does offer some additional perks to borrowers. Each loan comes with a 5-day risk-free guarantee, the ability to earn better rates by paying on time and free credit monitoring through Credit Score Plus. For more information, take a look at our RISE Credit review.

Best for credit monitoring tools – Upgrade

Upgrade loans are, well, an upgrade from other bad credit personal loans.

Loan Amount

$1,000 to $50,000


3.5 / 5.0

Customer Satisfaction N/A

Upgrade emergency loans offer access to an impressive $50,000 and come with a host of credit monitoring and financial tools to help you get a better handle on your personal finances.

Upgrade personal loans can be used for refinancing, debt consolidation, home improvement, major purchases and just about any other emergency situations you find yourself in. Compared to the rest of the industry, it’s nice to have access to up to $50,000, especially when some lenders only give you up to $5,000 or $10,000 with less-than-great credit. The lender also has a host of credit health tools, including credit monitoring, a credit score simulator, personalized recommendations and email alerts. Check out our complete Upgrade review for more information.

Upgrade Disclosure

Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 7.99%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 1.5% to 6% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Personal loans issued by WebBank, Member FDIC.

Best for mobile app management – Avant

Avant is a great, well-rounded option for online loans for bad credit. If you don’t know where to start, check out Avant.

Avant is a well-rounded option for emergency cash needs, with fixed payments, fast funding (next business day after approval) and a personal customer service touch.

Much like other emergency loan companies, the amount you can borrow, your rates and your repayment terms will depend on what state you live in with Avant. Overall, though, the range of rates is highly competitive and much more affordable than some other lenders. Avant does offer a secured auto loan option, which would bring a lower rate but does carry significant risk, as you could lose your car or collateral if you can’t make your payments. The lender also has a fully dedicated mobile app for iOS and Android to help manage every aspect of your loan. For more information on available products, check out our Avant review.

Avant Disclosure

The actual loan amount, term, and APR amount of loan that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and state law. Minimum loan amounts vary by state. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

Best bad credit marketplace lender – Peerform

Peerform offers bad credit personal loans through a network of lenders — making it easy to find a peer to borrow from.

Peerform offers great rates on unsecured personal loans through a peer-to-peer network.

Compared to other emergency loan companies, the minimum you have to borrow is a little higher at $4,000 with Peerform. That being said, there is no prepayment penalty, so you could always immediately pay back the portion of the loan that you don’t need. Your exact loan rate is determined by an algorithm that gives your Peerform Grade. Similar to a credit score, this number gives the expected riskiness of your emergency loan. Take a look at our full Peerform review for more information.

Best for credit building – NetCredit

Net Credit is expensive, and you can only get up to $10,000, but if you’re struggling to get approval for an emergency loan — this may be one of your only options.


3.2 / 5.0

SimpleScore NetCredit 3.2

Net Credit promises to look at way more than just your credit score when determining approval, which could be ideal for people struggling to get approval elsewhere.

Net Credit, partnered with Republic Bank & Trust Company, offers relatively expensive emergency loans for people with bad credit. The maximum you can get is $10,000, and rates range between 34% and 155%. What is nice for people with bad credit is Net Credit states it looks at way more than your credit score when determining rates and approval. Repayment terms are some of the most flexible ranging from 6 months out to 60 months. For more information, you can read our complete Net Credit review.

What is a bad credit emergency loan?

A bad credit emergency loan is an unsecured personal loan that helps a person meet an unexpected and pressing financial need. In exchange for access to a lump sum of money now, you agree to pay back that money plus interest and fees in fixed payments over time. Generally, these payments are monthly and are a fixed amount for the life of the loan.

[ More: Unsecured vs. Secured Personal Loans ]

Some of the more common uses of bad credit emergency loans are paying medical bills, debt consolidation, emergency home or car repairs, appliance replacement or any other situation where you need fast access to cash without any other options.

How bad credit emergency loans work

Bad credit emergency loans are similar to traditional personal loans, with a few differences and it is important to understand how to get an emergency loan. First, the cost of a bad emergency loan is generally going to be higher. Loan rates depend on your credit profile and the risk to the lender. With bad credit, the risk is higher, which means higher rates.

Second, the amount you can borrow may be capped by the lender or by the state where you live. Many states and lenders have laws or rules in place to prevent borrowers from taking out more than what is reasonable at high rates and creating a worse financial situation for themselves.

[ Related: Has the Pandemic Made It Easier to Get a Personal Loan? ]

The repayment process of emergency loans is the same as with traditional personal loans. Payments are made monthly until the full balance of the loan has been repaid. Each payment consists of money going towards the principal (the actual amount borrowed) and a portion going towards interest and fees (the cost of borrowing).


The annual percentage rate (APR) is the total cost of borrowing your loan throughout the year. This figure takes into account interest and all fees to give the most accurate picture of what your loan will cost. The APR will also tell you at what rate the balance increases each month that the loan is not paid off — this is commonly referred to as interest. 


Repayment terms is the length of time you are given to pay back the money that you borrowed. Generally, this is going to be from a few months out to a few years. Payments will be made monthly with even amounts spread out over the entire term of the loan. In most cases, the shorter the loan term you select, the lower the interest costs, but the higher the monthly payments.

[ More: Best Installment Loans ]


The principal balance is the total amount of money that you choose to borrow from your lender. Generally, emergency loans for people with less-than-great credit will have lower maximums of what you can borrow. A good tip is only to borrow the money that you need. Even if a lender approves you for a higher loan amount, only take what you need.

Check Your Personal Loan Rates

Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. It’s quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.

How to choose the best bad credit emergency loan for you

  • Determine the amount you need and what you can afford. Before you start shopping lenders, take a few moments and determine the exact dollar amount you need. Additionally, figure out what monthly payments you can afford. The worst thing you can do is take out a loan that you have no plan how to pay back. Even though you are in a financial bind, you still have to be smart and think about the future.
  • Shop the different emergency lending options available. With your needs determined, shop the different online loans for bad credit that are available. Take advantage of prequalification options where you can see roughly what you can get approval for. Most lenders will give you the rates and terms you should be able to get final approval for within a matter of minutes. If you’re worried, most all of these preapproval processes do not use a hard inquiry on your credit score.
  • Select a lender and complete the final application. Once you find a fitting option, complete the final application. After that, you will get your official rate, terms and loan amount. If it works for you, sign the loan, and you should get your money quickly after that.

How fast can I get an emergency loan? 

If you need cash fast, then waiting a few weeks or even a few days is out of the question. How fast you can get an emergency loan depends on the lender, your credit, your location, the loan amount and other factors. Some lenders will pre-qualify you for a loan, which can really speed up the process. Prequalifying usually doesn’t impact your credit either, as most of the time it only requires a soft credit pull. A few online lenders will even transfer funds to your bank account the same day, or next business day. So if you need money quickly when getting a bad credit emergency loan, it pays to shop around to find a lender that will work with you to get you your funds fast.  

6 ways to prepare for emergency expenses 

Emergencies happen. While you can’t predict when an emergency will strike, it does pay to be prepared so you’re not caught totally off-guard.  Start-out with these top tips:

  1. Create an emergency fund. Put a percentage of your paycheck into a savings, interest-bearing checking, IRA, or other bank account.
  2. Set-up a 401(k). If your employer offers a 401(k), then take advantage of this great way to save. Some employers will match your contribution, adding up to increased savings overtime. 
  3. Don’t spend more than you take in. Living within your means is one of the best ways to prepare for that rainy day. Living below your means and socking money away is even better.
  4. Create a budget and stick to it. Budgets let you know where you’re spending the most money, and give you a good overview of all your expenses.
  5. Try to pay off high interest debt. Interest adds to your monthly payments. High interest credit cards or loans can make it more difficult to pay off your debt, and may lead to late payments or no payments. 
  6. Improve your credit. Check your credit reports and dispute any inaccuracies that may be harming your credit score. Also, if you do decide to take out an emergency loan for bad credit, making on-time payments over the life of the loan will improve your credit.

Bad credit emergency loan FAQs

Yes! You can improve your credit score before applying by checking your credit report for errors and looking into applying credit boosters.

Most bad credit emergency loans are unsecured, which means you do not need to put up any of your assets to get the loan. This may mean slightly higher rates, but it also means that you don’t risk losing your assets if you are unable to pay back the loan.

Yes. Most bad credit loans are expensive. The reason for this is because the cost of the loan depends on the risk to the lender. The lower your credit, the riskier the loan is to the lender — at least on paper, which is what counts.

We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the bad credit personal loans we recommend. Contact us at with comments or questions.

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