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Life is highly unpredictable, and you never know when the next emergency can happen. The global coronavirus surprised everyone when it hit the United States in March 2020. Just about every aspect of life was deeply affected by COVID-19. Economically, it was directly responsible for a median global GDP drop of 3.9%, the most significant downturn since the Great Depression. 

There are plenty of financial lessons that can be taken from the coronavirus pandemic. These lessons will likely be passed down for the next several generations. One is that you should always be prepared for the unexpected. Unfortunately, that can often be easier said than done.

Saving money is a bit of a luxury that’s not always possible. Ideally, you should try to save money in any way you can. But even the shrewdest savers might not have enough in their bank account to get out of an emergency on time and unscathed. In these cases, your best option might be to look into an emergency loan.

What is an emergency loan?

An emergency loan is the unofficial name of a personal loan designed to help people who are experiencing a short-term financial emergency

These loans are commonly used to help ease the monetary sting of unexpected expenses such as medical expenses, car trouble, home repairs, or losing a job. Instead of emergency funds, which can be difficult for many to collect in their savings accounts, short-term loan funds for emergency expenses (such as urgent medical bills, which can be costly) are a good option.

The good thing about emergency loans is that they are given out fairly soon after approval. A traditional personal loan usually takes around five business days before the funds are deposited. But most emergency loan lenders offer loans available by the next business day at the latest.

The bad thing about emergency loans is that rapid loan approval and funding will cost you. An emergency loan typically has higher interest rates than a standard personal loan. You’ll need to be somewhat selective with who you’re requesting an emergency loan. 

Who offers the best emergency loans in 2023?

The key to finding a good emergency loan offer is that the interest rate needs to be reasonable, monthly payments shouldn’t be excessive, repayment terms must be suitable, and funding time must be quick. In the lending industry, you can usually only have one of these at a time

For example, a bank usually comes with a low-interest rate, but reviewing your application and depositing the funds takes a while. On the other hand, a payday loan or cash advance will usually give you the loan amount in the same visit but will charge an excessive interest rate

With fast funding, it matters little whether you have excellent credit or bad credit — APR ranges will be higher, and loan options will be limited.You’ll need to bypass both options and look online for the best emergency loans. Here is a list of the four best emergency loans to meet your needs that you can find online in 2023:


Minimum Credit Score: 660

Interest Rate: 3.99% to 19.99%

Loan Limits: $5,000 to $100,000

Term Length: Two to seven years

Additional Fees: None


LightStream is the consumer lending division of Truist, which was born via the merger of SunTrust Bank and BB&T. LightStream loans more than meets the two most essential attributes of an emergency loan. The interest rates are incredibly low, and you can receive same-day funding. 

The interest rate will vary depending on a few criteria but usually ranges from 4.99% to 19.99%. LightStream does offer a rate discount for setting up autopay that can lower the interest rate even further to 3.99%. The Rate Beat program can also net you an interest rate that’s 0.10% lower if approved for a lower rate than LightStream offered. 

The other reason that LightStream is first on this list is the same-day funding. You can receive same-day financing if your loan is approved before 2:30 p.m. Eastern. You must provide accurate banking information, and the loan must be reviewed, electronically signed, and verified before the deadline to receive same-day funding. 

There are a few drawbacks to getting a loan from LightStream. For starters, you’ll need a reasonably strong credit score and several years of good credit history to get approved. However, you do have the option to use a co-applicant to increase your odds.

Another issue is that there is no option for prequalifying, so you’ll need to submit a hard credit inquiry during the online application process. There’s no guarantee that your loan request will be granted. You should only apply if you can meet the credit requirements and can afford your credit to take the hit. 

Other common complaints include a lack of flexibility for loan terms and limitations on how you can use the funding. LightStream loans can be used for many reasons, so your emergency will likely be permitted. However, it’s not guaranteed, and you’ll need to check first.


Minimum Credit Score: None

Interest Rate: 4.37% to 35.99%

Loan Limits: $1,000 to $50,000

Term Length: Three or five years

Additional Fees: Origination fee up to 8%, a late fee of 5% or $15 (whichever is greater)


Upstart is a unique option on this list because it uses a combination of artificial intelligence and machine learning to determine borrowers’ eligibility. Virtually all other loan lenders primarily use your credit score, either hard or soft credit checks, to decide whether you qualify. By applying with Upstart, your application might be accepted when it would have otherwise been denied elsewhere. 

In addition to the unique qualification process, Upstart also features relatively low-interest rates and next-day funding if the loan is accepted before 5 p.m. Eastern. There are a few additional qualifications for an Upstart loan, but they aren’t excessive. You’ll need a full-time job (or offer to start within six months) or a part-time job and a minimum annual income of $12,000. 

The biggest downside to using Upstart is that an origination fee can reach 8%. Also, the interest rate can be much higher than other options if you don’t qualify for one on the lower end. Another significant issue is that the term lengths are three or five years and don’t allow for any flexibility. 

One drawback to the unique qualification process is that there is no way to include a co-signer or co-applicant. If you aren’t happy with the interest rate that you get based on your information, there isn’t any way that you can lower it. The last concern is that Upstart loans are unavailable in Iowa or West Virginia.


Minimum Credit Score: 640

Interest Rate: 5.99% to 35.99%

Loan Limits: $2,000 to $50,000

Term Length: Three to five years

Additional Fees: Origination fee between 0.99% and 8.99%, $15 for returned payments


Best Egg is an online lender that offers loans through partnerships with Cross River Bank and Blue Ridge Bank. The funding should be deposited within the next business day of the loan being accepted. Most of Best Egg’s loans fall right in the middle of the options on this list. However, if you meet specific requirements, you can receive an emergency loan offer that’s pretty hard to beat. 

The best rates and lowest origination fees are offered to people who meet specific criteria. You must have a full or part-time job, make at least $100,000 annually, have a credit score of 700 or higher, three years of credit history, and a debt-to-income ratio of 30% or lower.

The biggest downside to Best Egg is that the requirements for the best offers are strict. Looking elsewhere might be a good idea if you can’t meet these requirements. You can find other options on this list that either have a lower cap for interest or a smaller range for origination fees. Also, Best Egg loans are not currently available in Iowa, Vermont, West Virginia, or Washington, D.C.


Minimum Credit Score: 580

Interest Rate: 9.95% to 35.95%

Loan Limits: $2,000 to $35,000

Term Length: Two to five years

Additional Fees: 4.75% administrative fee, $25 late fees, $15 dishonored payment fees


Avant is a consumer lending platform that offers emergency loans through WebBank. Avant is far from the best option on this list, but it’s much better than many alternatives. The interest rates are a little high, and they don’t offer same-day funding. However, the reasonably lenient eligibility requirements are enough for it to make this list. 

Avant has been known to accept loan applications from people with credit scores as low as 580. The only other major requirement is a minimum annual income of $14,000. While there is no option for same-day funding, you can receive next-day funding if your loan is approved before 4:30 P.M. Central. The interest rates are among the highest on this list but are still much lower than what you’d receive for a payday loan.

There are several downsides to applying for an Avant loan. On top of the high-interest rate, a 4.75% administrative fee will be tacked on. There is also the potential to incur late fees and dishonored payment fees. There is also no option to bring on a co-applicant or cosigner if your credit is too low. 

Access to Avant loans is somewhat limited as these loans aren’t available in Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, New York, Vermont, or West Virginia. The last thing worth mentioning is that Avant loans can’t be used to cover business-related expenses. You’ll need to apply elsewhere if your emergency has something to do with your business. 

Use an emergency loan to get back on your feet quickly.

There’s never a “good” time to experience an emergency. However, the current climate is one of the worst times to go through a financial emergency in a long time. Inflation hit a 40-year high in the summer, so the Federal Reserve raised interest rates three times faster than usual

That means that getting a loan (of any kind) with a low-interest rate will be more challenging than it’s been in decades. Still, going through a financial emergency doesn’t give you many options. 

The list above covers our picks for the best emergency loans available online. However, it might be a good idea to consider alternative types of emergency loans first. 

Depending on the nature of your emergency, asking for help from a non-profit organization, negotiating a prepayment plan, taking out a small loan from a friend or family member, requesting an advance on your paycheck, borrowing from your 401(k), or using a 0% APR credit card might be more intelligent options in the long run. If you’re looking for more compelling business content, check out our Entrepreneur’s other professional resources here.


Information provided on Entrepreneur Guide is for educational purposes only. Your financial situation is unique and the products and services we review may not be right for your circumstances. We do not offer financial advice, advisory or brokerage services, we do not recommend or advise individuals to buy or sell particular stocks or securities. Performance information may have changed since the time of publication. Past performance is not indicative of future results

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