How to get an emergency loan with bad credit

If you need to cover an unexpected expense, an emergency loan can come in handy, even if you have bad credit.

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If you have a low credit score and need to borrow money for an unexpected expense, it’s possible to find an emergency loan with bad credit. (Shutterstock)

Every now and then, you may face an urgent or unplanned expense, like a car repair or medical procedure. With an emergency loan, you can receive the cash you need to cover the expense quickly — even if you have bad credit. 

Here’s what you need to know about emergency loans with bad credit, what you can use the loan funds for, and some types of emergency loans you should avoid. 

Where to get an emergency loan

You can get an emergency loan from several places, including online lenders, banks, and credit unions. 

Online lenders

You can apply for an emergency loan and receive the funds online through an online lender without ever setting foot in a brick-and-mortar location. Depending on the lender, you might be able to prequalfiy and check your loan offers online without affecting your credit. 

If you find a loan offer that meets your needs, you can complete a formal application within minutes. Once you’re approved, you may receive your funds via direct deposit as soon as the same day, within 24 hours, or in a few business days.

Credible makes it easy to compare personal loan rates from various lenders, and it won’t affect your credit score.


Many types of banks — including large national banks and small community banks — offer emergency loans to their customers. You may be able to apply online or in person at a local branch. If you’re approved, you’ll likely receive your funds within a few business days or a week, though funding could take longer in some cases.

While banks sometimes offer larger emergency loan amounts than other lenders, they also tend to have stricter requirements to qualify. You may also have to be an existing customer or meet certain income and credit criteria. 

Credit unions

Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that typically have a local presence. Compared to banks, credit unions tend to offer lower rates on all types of products, including emergency loans. They’re also known for more personal service. The caveat, however, is that you must meet certain membership requirements and join a credit union if you’d like to take advantage of any of its offerings. 

How to get an emergency loan with bad credit

You typically need good to excellent credit to qualify for a personal loan, so if your credit is shaky it can be harder to qualify. But some lenders specialize in bad credit loans, so it’s still possible to get an emergency loan even if you have bad credit or no credit history. 

You can also apply for an emergency loan with a cosigner to increase your chances of approval or of getting a lower interest rate. Just keep in mind that a cosigner will be legally responsible for the loan if you can’t make your payments.

Follow these steps to apply for an emergency loan:

  1. Shop around and compare lenders. Do some research and compare several emergency loan lenders. Consider their interest rates, repayment terms, fees, and eligibility requirements.
  2. Choose your emergency loan. Once you’ve compared lenders, pick the loan option that makes the most sense for your unique situation.
  3. Fill out an application. Complete the formal application online or in person. Be prepared to share basic financial information and submit documentation, like your government-issued ID, tax returns, and pay stubs.
  4. Get your funds. If you’re approved, the lender will distribute your money, usually through direct deposit. Funding time can be as soon as the same or next business day after approval, depending on the lender.

Head to Credible to quickly and easily compare personal loan rates from various lenders, all in one place.

What can emergency loans be used for?

An emergency loan is flexible, meaning you can use the funds for nearly any type of emergency expense, such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Dental costs
  • Unexpected car repairs
  • Urgent home renovations or repairs
  • Emergency veterinarian care
  • Unplanned moving costs
  • Rent or mortgage payments to avoid foreclosure
  • Funeral and burial expenses

As is the case with traditional personal loans, you can’t use emergency loan funds for college tuition, a down payment on a house, gambling, or illegal activities.

How to compare emergency loan lenders

Here are several important factors to keep in mind as you weigh your lender options for emergency loans: 

  • Eligibility requirements — Most lenders require good credit, a verifiable income, and a low debt-to-income ratio. But some may look at other factors beyond your credit score.  
  • Loan amounts — In most cases, you can borrow as little as $600 up to $100,000 with a personal loan. Be sure to only borrow what you need.
  • Interest rates — Loans for bad credit tend to have higher interest rates to offset the lender’s risk of loaning you money.
  • Repayment terms — Repayment terms typically range from one to seven years, depending on the lender. While choosing a longer term can get you a lower monthly payment, a shorter term will keep your interest costs as low as possible.
  • Time to fund — If you’re approved, you can expect to get your funds anywhere from the same or next business day after you’re approved, up to one week (and sometimes longer).

Even if you have bad credit, it’s possible to get approved for a personal loan. Credible makes it easy to see your prequalified personal loan rates so you can find a loan that best fits your needs.

Types of emergency loans to avoid

If you’re facing an emergency, you might be tempted to take out other types of risky loans that can do more harm than good. You should avoid these types of emergency loans if at all possible:

  • Payday loans — These are small, short-term loans designed to hold you over until your next payday. You’ll pay them back when you get your paycheck, typically within two to four weeks. While payday loans don’t require a credit check, they come with fees that equate to sky-high interest rates that can significantly increase the overall cost of your emergency.
  • Title loans — Title loans are secured loans that give you fast cash in exchange for your car’s title. If you don’t pay back your loan as agreed, the lender can repossess your vehicle.
  • Pawn shop loans — With pawn shop loans, you secure a valuable item, like a diamond ring or guitar, in return for money. Just like payday loans, pawn shop loans are known for extremely high fees and interest rates. And if you don’t repay your loan as agreed, the pawn shop can sell your item.