Personal Finance
Advertiser Disclosure

Best Loans for the Unemployed 2024

Unemployment Emergency Loans
iStock

Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we may earn a commission from our partners’ links. This content is created independently from TIME’s editorial staff. Learn more about it.

Updated May 6, 2024

If you’re unemployed or facing another serious financial challenge, knowing where to get help is critical. Whether you need to cover basic living costs or consolidate debt, there are financial tools that can help you get back on your feet.

Depending on your situation, an emergency personal loan may be what you’re looking for. The interest rate is much lower than on a payday loan, and you’ll have a fixed interest rate and installment payments. In this article, we’re sharing some of the top emergency loans to consider if you find yourself out of work.

Best loans for the unemployed compared 2024

LenderRecommended forAPR rangeLoan amountMin income requirementCredit score required
Flexible payments
8.49% to 35.99%
$1,000 to $50,000
Not disclosed
580
Low credit score
5.2% to 35.99%
$1,000 to $50,000
Not disclosed
580
Easy application
9.95% to 35.99%
$2,000 to $35,000
Not disclosed
580
Fast funding
18% to 35.99%
$1,500 to $20,000
Not disclosed
Undisclosed
Good credit
6.99% to 25.99%
$5,000 to $100,000
Not disclosed
660
Soft credit check
8.99% to 35.99%
$2,000 to $50,000
Not disclosed
640
Lower loan amount
5.99% to 35.99%
$500 to $10,000
Not disclosed
Undisclosed
Network of lenders
Not disclosed
$100 to $20,000
Not disclosed
N/A
Network of lenders
5.99% to 35.99%
$100 to $20,000
Not disclosed
N/A
Fast funding
7.99% to 35.99%
$2,000 to $36,500
$35,000
600
Joint loans
8.98% to 35.99%
$1,000 to $40,000
Not disclosed
600

Note: Many lenders do not publish specific credit score or income requirements. Each lender has its own standards for evaluating and approving or denying a potential borrower.

Our recommendations for the best loans for the unemployed

Many of the following loan providers offer unique features, such as soft credit checks or accepting borrowers with lower-than-average credit scores.

Best for payment flexibility: Upgrade

Upgrade offers a quick turnaround, with an easy application process. Loan amounts range between $1,000 to $50,000 with APRs from 8.49% to 35.99%, and you can add a joint applicant to improve your odds of approval. One unique feature is the ability to change your payment date to fit your schedule.

Pros:

  • Joint applications accepted.
  • APRs start at 8.49%.
  • Loans up to $50,000.
  • Flexible payment due dates.

Cons:

  • APR could be as high as 35.99%.

Best for new borrowers: Upstart

Upstart takes into account education to help approve borrowers (though it has no minimum education attainment requirement to qualify for a loan). And if you have a job offer, Upstart may be able to use that to approve your application. Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $50,000, with APRs between 5.2% to 35.99%. Once Upstart verifies your information, it can deposit funds into your account within 24 hours.

Pros:

  • Soft credit check.
  • Loans up to $50,000.
  • No minimum credit score.
  • Fast funding.

Cons:

  • No joint application.
  • APR could be as high as 35.99%.

Best for simple application process: Avant

Avant is an online lender offering loans between $2,000 to $35,000. It uses soft credit pulls, so your credit score won’t be negatively impacted when you apply. Avant provides fast approvals—once you’ve submitted the necessary verification documents, funds can be deposited as early as the next business day.

Pros:

  • Fast funding.
  • Simple application process.
  • Multiple loan options.
  • Soft credit pull.

Cons:

  • High APR range.
  • No joint application.
  • Not available in all U.S. states

Best for fast funding: One Main Financial

One Main Financial advertises the ability to have money in your hand as quickly as in one hour. Loan amounts range from $1,500 to $20,000 with fixed interest rates between 18% to 35.99%. There’s no minimum credit score requirement, and borrowers can find out what they qualify for with a soft credit check. One Main Financial can also offer lower interest rates to clients who provide collateral to secure the loan (such as a vehicle).

Pros:

  • Soft credit pull.
  • Easy online application.
  • 1,400 branch locations.
  • Fast funding.

Cons:

  • Loans max out at $20,000.
  • High APR range.

Best for good credit: Lightstream

Lightstream is one of the top personal loan lenders, if you can qualify. Borrowers must have good to excellent credit, which translates into a score of 660 or higher. At 6.99% to 25.99%, Lightstream’s interest rates are lower than other lenders on our list. You can apply with a co-borrower, and loan amounts range from $5,000 to $100,000.

Pros:

  • Attractive APRs.
  • Joint applications accepted.
  • Loan amounts up to $100,000 available.

Cons:

  • No soft credit check.
  • Only accepts borrowers with good credit.

Best for soft credit check: Best Egg

Best Egg uses a soft credit check to qualify borrowers for personal loans. This won’t affect your credit score; however, to qualify for the lowest APR, you need a credit score above 640 and more than $100,000 in annual income. Since Best Egg doesn’t accept joint applications, borrowing here might work best for someone with an employed partner or friend who can apply for the loan if they earn enough to qualify. Interest rates range from 8.99% to 35.99%.

Pros:

  • Soft credit check.
  • Competitive interest rates.
  • Loan amounts up to $50,000.

Cons:

  • No joint applications.
  • Need high credit score and income to apply.
  • Minimum loan amount is $2,000.

More information can be found on our comprehensive review.


Best for bad credit: Badcreditloans.com

Badcreditloans.com is not a lender. It’s a service that connects you to lenders that specialize in loans for borrowers with less-than-perfect credit. It claims that APRs range from 5.99% to 35.99%, and you can get loans ranging from $500 to $10,000. One downside is that you won’t find out the terms of your loan until you apply.

Pros:

  • Large network of lenders.
  • Loan amounts as low as $500.
  • Offers options for bad credit.

Cons:

  • Loans only go up to $10,000.
  • Unclear what APR or loan terms you can get.
  • Website experience leaves much to be desired.

Best for a network of lenders: Smart Advances, 1st Premier Lending

Badcreditloans.com isn’t the only online lending network that can match you with a lender who will provide a loan offer. Smart Advances and 1st Premier Lending look nearly identical and function the same way. You can get loans for as little as $100, and, in the case of Smart Advances, APRs range from 5.99% to 35.99%.

Pros:

  • Potentially a large number of lenders to choose from.
  • Loans as low as $100.

Cons:

  • High APRs.
  • Not actual lenders.

Best for fast funding: LendingPoint

LendingPoint doesn’t have a minimum credit score requirement, but it does look closely at your debt-to-income and payment-to-income ratios. With LendingPoint, a borrowing decision can be made in minutes, and funds can be dispersed within 24 hours. Loans are available between $2,000 to $36,500.

Pros:

  • Soft credit check.
  • Fast decision.
  • Several loan options.

Cons:

  • High APRs.
  • Must have a minimum income of $35,000.
  • No joint application option.

Best for joint loans: LendingClub

LendingClub offers borrowers the ability to apply with a joint applicant, which means the credit score and income of two people are taken into account when making a lending decision. This may help if you find yourself unemployed. Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $40,000, with APRs between 8.98% to 35.99%. Borrowers need a credit score of at least 600 to apply.

Pros:

  • Can apply with a co-applicant.
  • Customized loan options.
  • Fast application and funding.
  • Soft credit check.

Cons:

  • APRs up to 35.99%.
  • Need a higher credit score to apply.

Methodology

The best unemployment emergency loans were chosen from dozens of lenders who offer personal loans. Extra credit was given to lenders who offered some type of relief or unique loan to cater to circumstances surrounding unemployment (low credit score lenders, soft credit checks, etc.).

Tips for comparing loans

When comparing loan options, the following factors can help you calculate your borrowing costs and decide which lender is right for you.

Interest rates

Personal loans typically have fixed interest rates, which means they won’t change over the life of your loan. For that reason, it’s important to look for and get the lowest possible APR. To qualify for the best rates, try to maintain a high credit score, even in difficult financial times.

Fees

Some lenders charge large loan origination fees to borrowers with lower credit scores. These fees can be as high as 10% of the total loan amount. Always shop around and make sure the loan setup costs are the lowest you can qualify for.

Joint application

If you’re unemployed, you may want to consider a joint application with someone who can provide proof of income. Their credit score will also be factored into the loan application.

Lenders in our list that accept joint applications include:

  • Lightstream.
  • Upgrade.
  • One Main.
  • Lending Club.

Soft credit check

If you want to know if you qualify without having to initiate a hard credit inquiry, apply with a lender that offers a soft credit check. This is especially helpful if you’re unemployed or have less than stellar credit. Lenders in our list that allow a soft credit check include:

  • Upstart.
  • Avant.
  • One Main Financial.
  • Best Egg.
  • LendingPoint.
  • LendingClub.

How to get approved for a personal loan if you are unemployed

Even with the flexible loan options available, lenders still need to qualify you for the loan. They’ll want to see that you have enough income to service the loan payments, a low debt-to-income ratio, a comfortable payment-to-income ratio, and other qualifying factors in order to approve your application.

Here are some factors that can help you get approved for a personal loan:

A cosigner

A cosigner or co-borrower with sufficient income and a high credit score can increase your chances of approval.

Assets

When applying for a loan, your lender may want you to confirm bank account balances, investments, the value of your home, and other assets, to determine if you qualify for the loan.

Collateral

Several lenders on our list allow borrowers to put up some form of collateral, such as a car, or other valuable possessions. Collateral can help you qualify for the loan and may get you a lower interest rate. But keep in mind that if you are unable to meet your obligations and you default on the loan, the lender can seize your collateral.

Other sources of income

Despite being unemployed, if you have other types of income, you may still be approved. Let your lender know about income from sources such as:

  • Side hustles.
  • Alimony.
  • Rental income.
  • Investment income.
  • Unemployment benefits.
  • Social Security income.
  • Retirement accounts.

Alternatives to personal loans for the unemployed

Hardship programs

If you’re facing financial hardship, you may want to consider looking into relief programs, such as food assistance, temporary assistance for needy families (TANF), emergency housing assistance, rental assistance, or help with utility bills.

Unemployment benefits

Take a look at which unemployment benefits you’re eligible for. Unemployment benefits are run by the individual states and may require you to have worked for the previous 12 to 24 months, earned a certain amount of income, and be actively looking for employment.

Home equity loans

Home equity loans and HELOCs aren’t ideal for small loan amounts because there are often high setup costs, and you must put up your home as collateral on the loan. That means your home is at risk if you can’t manage the payments. However, if you need to borrow a larger amount, it may be a suitable option.

TIME Stamp: Unemployment loans should be used sparingly

When times are tough, you need to get creative. That means looking for ways to earn income when you’re out of a job. A personal loan to cover some costs while you’re unemployed could help, but it could also be the first step into quicksand if you can’t pay back the loan. Avoid borrowing if possible, but if not, proceed with caution.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Can I borrow money if I am unemployed?

If you have other sources of income or a spouse has income, you may still qualify for a personal loan when you’re unemployed. Without any proof of income, it’s difficult to borrow money.

Should you get a loan if you are unemployed?

While a loan can temporarily cover immediate costs, it may hurt you down the line. Having to pay back loans when you have limited income can be difficult. Make your decisions with caution.

How do lenders qualify you for a loan?

For an unsecured personal loan, lenders look at the following factors to determine if you qualify:

  • Credit report and credit history.
  • Income.
  • Debt-to-income ratio.
  • Employment.
  • Assets.
  • Amount of the loan.
  • Length of the loan term.
  • Interest rates.

Everyone’s scenario is unique. Do what you can to qualify and choose a lender that can meet your needs.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

1.2219.1914+1.66.1