Have you ever been in a situation where you needed money fast?
Or maybe you want to be prepared to get money fast, just in case.
Scenarios come up all the time that might warrant the need to get a loan as fast as possible.
For instance, last year my central air conditioning unit died. The first company I called to get a replacement price quoted me $3500 – for a bottom of the line brand!!!
The second guy I called quoted me $2,300 for a top of the line brand (lesson learned: shopping around pays big). I had effectively whittled down my cash output; however, I still needed to find $2,300.
I didn't have my emergency fund in place at the time, but I was lucky. I was expecting a large insurance check from a tornado that came through our area the year before.
Had it not been for that check, I would have had to find other ways to get $2,300 fast. If you don't yet have your emergency fund fully in place and need to consider getting a loan, here are some options for you.
1. Borrow from Friends or Family
If you're lucky enough to have friends or family members that have solid financial positions, you might be able to get a loan from one of them. Borrowing from family and friends can be tricky, and you'll want to make sure it's a smart choice for you by visiting all the pros and cons.
Every way to borrow money has its good points and bad points. It's important to consider all scenarios before borrowing money from loved ones.
- You'll get the money fast
- There's no record of the loan on your credit report
- You'll likely get a great interest rate–or maybe even get a 0% interest rate
- There aren't late fees if you're late with your payment
However, there can be some downsides to borrowing money from loved ones.
- Non-payment of the loan could ruin your relationship with your loved one
- You won't be building a good credit score as the loan won't be reported to credit bureaus
- The close nature of your relationship could make you feel as if you have permission to pay late or not at all
- Your “lender” could use the loan against you in the future as a way of manipulation for future favors
I've seen all these negative scenarios play out with others I know who have borrowed money from loved ones. If you do decide to go ahead and borrow money from family and friends, commit to play by the following rules.
Put it in Writing
I think it's important when borrowing money from loved ones to write up a loan agreement. It doesn't have to be anything formal; a simple Word doc will do.
Be sure the agreement lays out the terms of the loan, such as the amount borrowed and the agreed-upon payback date. If you're making monthly payments, be sure the agreement specifies the amount of the monthly payment and how many payments you'll need to make.
If your loved one is charging you interest, specify the interest rate in the agreement too. Don't forget to include any other details such as late fees.
Typically, loans from family members aren't this formal, but it's good to have at least something in writing.
Pay the Loan Off Quickly
My other piece of advice when borrowing from loved ones is to pay the loan back as soon as you can. Even if you have two years to pay it back, start saving extra money you get then take a lump sum and pay it off in full early. An early lump-sum payoff can be easier to keep track of than sporadic extra payments.
Borrowing from loved ones can be a great way to get a loan fast; just be sure you're carefully considering all the pros and cons before doing so. Work to find the fastest way to pay off your loan as possible.
2. Get a Personal Loan
Another option for getting cash fast is to use a personal loan. You can find a personal loan from your bank, credit union, or from a lending company such as Lending Tree.
Personal loans can vary in the interest rate from 5-6%, or all the way up to 35% or more. This is why it's important to shop around before signing for a personal loan.
Here are some of the pros and cons of borrowing money from a personal loan company.
- You usually get the money pretty fast–within a week or so
- Rates can be good if you've got a good credit history
- The terms, such as payment amount and interest rate, are usually clearly laid out
- If you pay on time, you'll build up your credit rating with credit bureaus
However, there are some negative sides of taking out a personal loan.
- If your credit history isn't great, you could end up with a high interest rate
- Loan companies typically charge a fee if you're late with your payment
- Late or non-payment will definitely affect your credit
- Some personal loan companies charge other fees when taking out a loan
Before you sign on the dotted line for a personal loan, be sure to keep in mind the following.
Shop Around for the Best Product
Because all loan companies are different, it's important to shop around before you sign a loan agreement. Shopping around will help ensure you get the best rates and terms available to you.
Read the Terms and Conditions
All personal loan companies, banks, and credit unions have terms you'll need to abide by if you get a personal loan. Read them over carefully.
Ensure you understand the interest rate you'll be paying, the repayment terms, and any additional fees you may be required to pay.
3. Use a Credit Card
Most credit cards allow cash advance options for members who need money quickly. If you're lucky, you'll be able to pay for the emergency with a credit card.
If you already have the card you want to use, it will make getting your loan easier. However, there are other factors to consider as well.
- If you use a new card, you could qualify for a low interest or no interest introductory rate
- If you use a card you already have, you could get the money super-fast
- The minimum payments on a credit card loan may be smaller than what's required on a personal loan
- Your credit card interest rate could be very high
- Some credit card companies charge fees for cash advances
- The lower minimum payment could entice you to hold on to the loan longer
A credit card typically isn't the best source to get a loan fast, but it can be fast and convenient if you're in a huge rush. But consider the following advice before doing so:
Read the Fine Print
Some credit card purchases and cash advances come with special terms. These could include service fees, late fees and raised interest rates if you don't perform as specified.
Beware of Interest Rates
If you take a cash advance from a credit card you already have, you could be looking at very high-interest rates (to the tune of 25-30%). Check the details before using your credit card as a loan.
4. Take Out a 401(k) Loan
If you have a 401(k), you're permitted to get a loan from it. The loan is typically for five years and you repay yourself, so you're paying interest but you're paying it to yourself. You'll want to check with your HR department to know the rules because some employers don't allow it. Your employer can also limit where you use the 401(k) loan. Sometimes they limit your loan to education expenses, medical expenses, and housing expenses – but not always.
If they let you borrow, the terms of your loan are set by your employer. Typically, the rates are 1% over the Prime Rate and the loan is repaid over five years. The amount of the loan is usually capped at 50% of the total value of your 401(k). If you have $50,000 in your 401(k), your employer will allow you to borrow up to $25,000.
As with everything else, there are good points and bad points for taking out a 401k loan.
- With a 401k loan, you're borrowing money from yourself, which means you're only hurting yourself if you default on the loan
- With 401k loans, you're paying yourself the interest rate from the loan
- The approval process is typically fast and lenient because you're borrowing your own money
- Payments are non-negotiable and usually deducted from your paycheck
- If you leave your job, you'll have to pay your 401k loan back sooner than your original agreement
- If you don't pay the loan back it will count as an early withdrawal, subjecting you to taxes and a 10% penalty
- Some employers don't allow you to contribute to your 401k if you have a loan out against it
Get the Details from Human Resources
As mentioned earlier, you'll likely have to contact your Human Resources department to get a 401k loan. However, some employers allow you to apply online.
Just be sure you're getting the details on terms and conditions for 401k loans in writing.
Be Aware of What Will Happen if You Leave Your Job
Know for sure what your obligations will be if you leave your job before your 401k loan is paid back. You never know when a change will come.
Getting a loan fast isn't usually too difficult. Just be sure you know what you're getting into before you sign on the dotted line.