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Need Money Now? Explore These Fast Cash Options

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This article was created with the help of AI technology, thoroughly edited by a member of our editorial staff, and vetted for accuracy by one of our fact-checkers.
Fact Checked by
Tamara Altman
Dr. Altman has over 25 years of experience in social science, public health, and market research, statistics, evaluation, and reporting. She has held positions with, and consulted for, many government, academic, nonprofit, and corporate organizations, including The Pew Charitable Trusts, the National Park Foundation, Stanford University, UCSF, UC Berkeley, and UCLA.
Read time: 6 min
Updated on July 27, 2023
There's no perfect way to get money fast when you have bad credit, but these seven choices can all be options if you're careful.

Realizing that you need cash and needed it yesterday is never a fun thought to have. But when surprise expenses arise or a financial emergency rears its ugly head, that thought might sum up your situation. Ideally, having a well-stocked emergency fund provides an interest-free solution for unexpected expenses. But saving can be challenging, especially when living paycheck to paycheck. When you need fast cash, several options are available—it's about finding the right one for you.

It would help to have some fast cash options that would help you right now—but options that won't leave your finances hurting in the long term. And if you have bad credit, that second part can be a very tough ask. Getting the money is easy enough; escaping a cycle of debt is much more challenging. It doesn't mean you can't get the cash you need; it just means that you'll have to be careful when deciding.

Here are seven ways to get fast cash when you need it most. None of these options are perfect—and some are riskier than others—but each can be useful in a pinch. No matter which option you choose, ensure you understand all the risks before signing up. Your future self, who has to live with the consequences of the decision, will thank you.

1. Borrow from friends and family

Borrowing money from friends and family is a common way to get financial help when you have bad credit or don't qualify for traditional loans. It has its benefits and drawbacks.

Benefits include obtaining money without interest or fees, making it more affordable than a traditional loan. You might negotiate flexible repayment terms and experience less stress than borrowing from a formal lender.

However, drawbacks include straining relationships if you can't repay the loan as agreed. Additionally, only some have loved ones who can lend money or may be hesitant if you've previously failed to repay.

If you choose this route, ensure both parties understand the loan terms. Consider drafting a written agreement for clarity. For a sample contract and more about casual borrowing, check out our blog post: How to Ask Friends and Family For Money.

2. Sell items you no longer need

If you need extra cash, selling items you no longer need, like clothes, electronics, or furniture, can be a great solution. Selling online or hosting a garage sale can quickly generate money and declutter your home.

The benefits include bypassing formal applications or credit requirements, making it a viable option for those with bad credit. Online marketplace platforms allow you to list items and connect with buyers quickly.

However, there are drawbacks. The amount you can earn may be limited, as some items might not be in high demand or might fetch a low price. Additionally, selling can be time-consuming, involves taking photos, writing descriptions, and answering buyer questions. For online sales, shipping items to buyers can incur extra costs.

3. Get an installment loan from an online lender

If you have bad credit, traditional lenders might deny your loan applications due to the perceived risk of non-repayment. In such cases, you may need to opt for bad credit loans, which typically carry higher interest rates.

However, in emergencies, bad credit loans might be your only option (see OppU Guide to Bad Credit Loans for more information).

A key advantage of online installment loans is the quick access to funds—often within 24 hours of approval. The application process is usually online, and flexible repayment terms may make these loans more affordable than other options.

However, these loans often come with high interest rates, which can make them more expensive than other types of loans. Some lenders may also engage in aggressive debt collection tactics, such as making repeated and harassing phone calls or threatening legal action, in an attempt to pressure you into making a payment. Before taking an installment loan, make sure you do your research and work with a reputable lender.

4. Consider a credit card cash advance

A credit card cash advance might be a viable option when you urgently need money and have bad credit. This lets you withdraw cash from an ATM using your credit card.

A key advantage of a credit card cash advance is its quick access to funds without a formal application or credit requirements. It can be incredibly convenient for emergencies or unforeseen expenses if your credit card has an available cash advance limit.

However, some downsides exist. Cash advances typically come with higher fees and interest rates than regular credit card purchases. If you can't repay the advance promptly, these charges can accumulate, making it challenging to pay off your credit card balance.

5. Take items to a pawn shop

Pawning items means taking something valuable, like jewelry or electronics, to a pawn shop and using it as collateral for a loan. The loan amount is usually based on the item's appraised value. You'll need to repay the loan and interest within a set timeframe to avoid losing the item. While this can be a quick way to get cash, it's essential to consider the interest rates and fees associated with pawn shop loans before deciding if it's right for you.

A significant benefit of pawning is the fast access to money without a formal application process or credit requirements. However, there are drawbacks, such as high-interest rates and fees—making the loan expensive to repay. Failing to repay the loan may result in losing the pawned item.

To read more about pawning your valuables for some quick cash, head on over to our blog post: The Pros and Cons of Pawn Shop Cash Advances.

6. Borrow from your retirement account

Borrowing from your retirement account lets you access a portion of your savings for immediate needs, expecting repayment within a set period. This option offers a financial safety net but could affect long-term retirement goals and lead to tax consequences.

A key advantage is obtaining funds quickly without credit checks or applications, typically at lower interest rates than other loans. Plus, you're essentially borrowing from and paying interest back to yourself, avoiding high rates and fees tied to different loan types.

The drawbacks to this option include potential penalties and taxes if repayment isn't possible and a reduced retirement savings balance. If you leave your job, you may need to repay the loan in full or face penalties and taxes. The inability to repay within the specified period could result in the balance being treated as a withdrawal which is subject to penalties and taxes. Before borrowing from your retirement account, you should do your own research to be sure you understand all the risks and benefits involved.

7. Request a payroll advance from your employer

Asking your employer for a payroll advance means getting a part of your paycheck before payday to help with expenses. This advance usually comes without interest and is automatically taken out of your next paycheck.

One of the best things about a payroll advance is that it gives you quick access to cash without needing a credit check or going through an application process. Plus, there is no interest, and it's paid back automatically.

Payroll advances can be easier on your wallet than other loans since you don't have to pay interest or fees. However, there are some downsides. Only some workplaces offer this option, and taking a payroll advance could leave you short on cash in future paychecks, leading to a cycle of constantly relying on advances and struggling to cover expenses without them.

The Bottom Line

Facing a financial emergency when you have bad credit can be challenging, but there are various options available to help you get through these tough times. While each of these seven alternatives has its pros and cons, be sure to carefully assess your situation and consider the potential consequences. Remember, the goal is to obtain the necessary funds without causing long-term damage to your finances or relationships. So, take the time to understand the risks involved and make an informed decision for your needs and circumstances.


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