Emergency Cash: How to Get What You Need

Tara Seboldt
Jun 07, 2022

Few things can make you feel as anxious or defeated as a financial emergency. Whether you get an unexpected bill or suddenly lose your income source, not having the money you need packs on additional stress.

The good news? The money you need might be closer than you think.

Keep reading to see where you can find emergency cash for unexpected expenses.

So, You Need Emergency Cash

There are almost limitless reasons someone would need emergency money, including:

  • Medical emergencies (and the associated medical bills)
  • Car or home repairs
  • Losing a job
  • Death or illness in your family
  • Damage from natural disasters
  • Unexpected costs of divorce

Whatever your emergency expenses, the first thing to do is take a deep breath and try to stay calm.

Your unexpected expenses likely came with an unexpected (and unpleasant) situation. Keeping a level head during your financial crisis will help you make smart financial decisions and set you up for success coming out of your emergency.

Borrow up to $500 for any of life's emergencies.

Options When You Need Emergency Money

An emergency expense might feel overwhelming, but you do have options to cover your bills.

Emergency funding can come from several places, such as a nonprofit grant or a payday loan.

And most emergency funding options give you cash when you need it—often by the next business day or sooner.

Take a look at seven options below that might be available to you.

1. Find a Charity

The money you need could be waiting in your community or a nonprofit. Depending on your financial needs, you might be able to apply for a charity grant or funding to cover your expenses.

For example, you got hurt during a national disaster. You can’t work and have medical bills. There may be a fund or nonprofit that can help you cover expenses until you get back on your feet.

In addition, some cities have programs to help residents pay emergency rent, or have resources to help you with food or discounted utility rates when an emergency expense wipes your funds out.

2. Ask Family and Friends

While it can be awkward to ask family or friends for money, it could be a good option.

Be sure to get any agreements in writing, such as loan terms or repayment schedules. Having a clear repayment strategy can help lessen any fears about the loan damaging your relationship.

You should also be aware of the impact borrowing money could have on your relationship.

A similar option if you’re worried about being approved for an emergency loan is to ask a family member or friend with good credit to cosign your loan.

Remember that they’ll be on the hook for the loan if you miss payments. That means you need to make your payments on time to protect both your credit scores.

3. Sell Your Stuff

Getting rid of extra belongings can help you pay your bills and declutter your home. Talk about a win-win!

There are lots of ways to sell things—from an old-fashioned garage sale to online marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or Poshmark for clothes.

4. Apply for a Line of Credit

A line of credit is a type of revolving credit. That means you can use it as much as you want, as long as you pay off what you’ve already borrowed. They typically use variable interest rates, meaning your rate can change over time.

Homeowners can apply for a home equity line of credit (HELOC). This type of loan uses the money you’ve put into your home as collateral. However, you may need a bank account at the institution offering the HELOC to qualify.

5. Get an Installment Loan

Installment loans can come from traditional institutions, like banks or credit unions, or from alternative online lenders. Alternative lenders usually offer short-term loan options with flexible repayment terms, such as the ability to adjust your due date. (In fact, a Possible Loan can be paid back in 4 installments, and you could get up to $500 in minutes through our app.)

Installment loan applications from online lenders tend to be short and simple. Alternative personal loan lenders also tend to use more than your credit report to approve you for a loan. They might use your income history or savings balance to help you get the money you need.

6. Use a Credit Card Cash Advance

A credit card cash advance lets you use your credit card like a debit card. Instead of withdrawing money from a checking account, however, you’re withdrawing money from your credit limit.

The cash you borrow goes on your credit card balance just like a regular purchase, which immediately starts accruing interest.

7. Take Out a Payday Loan

Payday loans—and their cousin, title loans—are generally a last resort for fast cash. Payday loan lenders will give you money quickly with no credit check, but you can expect to pay a steep price. Interest rates are higher than almost any other type of emergency funding and the repayment period is usually only a couple of weeks.

If you can’t make your payment by the due date, payday lenders usually let you roll your loan into a new one. Of course, you’ll have to pay new fees and interest, which can lead to a cycle of debt.

Emergency Cash Assistance Pros and Cons

Not all emergency cash options are created equal. While most give you fast access to cash, some of them aren’t great long-term solutions.

Let’s take a closer look at some pros and cons of a few options.

Selling Belongings


  • There are no eligibility requirements.
  • The money you make is yours—no repayments necessary.


  • Items could take too long to sell.
  • You may not make enough money.

Line of Credit


  • Access to higher credit limits.
  • Can take out cash whenever you need it during your withdrawal period.
  • Only pay interest on the money you borrow.


  • Often have variable interest rates that could go up when you need cash.
  • May have maintenance fees that you have to pay even if you’re not using the line.
  • More eligibility requirements than other emergency funding options.

Installment Loan


  • Online options let you get money quickly—sometimes on the same day.
  • Your repayment is in fixed monthly payments.
  • Usually you have more options if you have a bad credit score.
  • On-time payments can increase your credit score over time.


  • May have prepayment fees or origination fees.
  • Traditional installment loans are often difficult to qualify for.
  • Missed or late payments could hurt your credit score.

Cash Advance


  • Gives you instant access to money.
  • There’s no credit check so it’s easy to qualify.


  • You’ll face higher interest rates than other options.
  • There may be additional fees.
  • Credit card issuers charge interest immediately.

Payday Loan


  • You’ll get money quickly, especially if you visit a physical location.
  • Approval is easy and there’s usually no credit check.


  • Interest rates are incredibly high.
  • Shorter repayment periods make it difficult to pay back the loan.
  • You could fall into a debt spiral by rolling your loan into a new one.
  • Won’t improve your credit score.

Preparing for the Next Emergency

You never know when a financial emergency will strike, but you can certainly be prepared. The best way to avoid a financial crisis is to build a rainy day fund with emergency cash. Your emergency fund should have at least three months of living expenses, while six months is even better.

Knowing your emergency funding options can help you choose the right one if you’re facing an unexpected expense. Review your options now so you’re ready to act if you need cash fast in the future.

Tara Seboldt

Tara is a financial writer with over five years of professional writing experience. She previously worked at a financial planning firm. Tara uses this professional experience to help readers better understand their finances and make smart financial moves. When she’s not writing about money, Tara enjoys spending time in the Idaho mountains hiking, camping, and skiing.

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