Need to Borrow Money? 9 Places to Find the Cash You Need

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.

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Need money for a car, a college class, a mortgage, or just to get you through to your next paycheck? You’re not alone.

Currently, 44 million Americans have borrowed for a student loan. But student loans aren’t the only debts out there. The New York Fed reports that total indebtedness for U.S. households has reached more than $13 trillion, as of the end of 2017.

As Americans, borrowing is in our DNA. Many of us can’t afford to buy a home or a new car outright, and without loans, 70% of colleges are unaffordable for most Americans.

However, borrowing money can be a risky, lengthy, and emotional process. And you have to be careful that you don’t borrow more than you can repay.

Knowing who to turn to can help you make the best decision to suit your financial needs. If you feel like you need to borrow money to get a leg up with your finances and your life, here’s what you need to know:

9 places to get a loan

1. National banks

US Bank, Wells Fargo, Capital One — you’ve heard these names time and time, again touting their personal loan programs. In fact, you may already be a customer with one of these banks, making it even more attractive to borrow from a business you trust.

It’s not just the big banks anymore, though. There are also some great online banks that offer nationwide service and access to a variety of loan products.

Why borrow: Big-name banks give you tons of options. From an array of terms (length), fees, incentives, and more, you’ll likely find a loan that works for you. In addition, brand-name banks are also set up for convenient features such as online bill pay and may have 24/7 customer service to assist you.

Why skip: A big name doesn’t mean big service. Working with national banks could make it difficult to get a real person on the phone, or you might end up talking to an inexperienced bank agent.

These people may also not have the flexibility to grant exceptions or are required to follow strict rules about credit scores and borrower profiles. You might find it harder to get a personal loan when you have fair to poor credit.

2. Credit unions

Credit unions are becoming the popular alternatives to banks. Usually headquartered within the community they serve, it’s a great way to support local businesses and get some small-business benefits.

Why borrow: On average, credit unions offer borrowers lower rates than banks. Another huge plus is location. Instead of having to call when there’s a question, you can always stop by your branch to sit down face-to-face with an expert.

Many borrowers like the personal touch of a credit union — including some degree of flexibility when making loans.

Why skip: Want to pay online or check your payoff progress? It may not be an option with credit unions behind the technology curve. Additionally, there might be limits to products and services offered by smaller credit unions. Make sure your local credit union has what you need.

3. Online fast-money lenders

A loan in your pajamas? You can get a loan fast with an online lender — sometimes seeing the money in your account the very next business day. However, there is much to be cautious about before taking the money.

Why borrow: It’s fast, easy, and you don’t need to do much more than put in your information and wait for approval. It’s also a good alternative if you have poor credit, as many of these lenders are set up to work with bad or no credit.

Why skip: Some of these banks may charge insane interest rates. In some cases, you could find yourself paying 400.00% APR — or more. Once you’re in that cycle, it can be hard to break out, and the fees and costs just keep piling up. In many cases, you’re better off exhausting other options first.

4. Peer-to-peer (P2P) loans

One type of online lender that is making a name for itself is peer-to-peer lending. You apply for a loan and individuals, not banks, fund part or all of it. You pay interest and the balance back to them.

Why borrow: Rates for P2P loans are usually very reasonable and are attractive for a host of different borrowers. Terms are usually range from three to five years, making it a great choice if you are looking for a loan you can pay off quickly and painlessly.

Companies like Lending Club are making it easier than ever to find funding when traditional banks won’t take you.

Why skip: Even though P2P lenders claim that they help people traditional banks shun, the reality is that they still have a credit underwriting system. You might end up with a high interest rate. Additionally, in some cases, if not enough people decide to help you by funding your loan, you could end up getting none of the money and then you’re back to square one.

5. Retirement plans

Have an employee-sponsored retirement plan? You may be eligible to take a loan out on your retirement savings. The IRS has limits on how much you borrow ($50,000 or half the balance, whichever is less), but it could be a good source of quick cash if you’re careful.

Why borrow: It’s technically already your money, and when you pay it back (usually within five years), you pay back interest to yourself. Interest rates are competitive and these loans are a good alternative if you can’t obtain a loan because of credit issues.

Why skip: It’s your retirement, and by removing some funds from your account, even temporarily, you won’t benefit from compound growth. That could set you back years from your retirement goal.

6. Cash advances

Let’s say you need your loan to handle an emergency that requires access to cash ASAP. In that case, you can take your credit card to the ATM, request a cash advance, and in seconds have access to real money.

Why borrow: It’s an efficient method to get cash when it’s the only thing that will do.

Why skip: In most cases, your interest rate on a cash advance is higher than your purchase rate. On top of that, you might be charged an additional fee. This can make the whole thing more expensive. However, it can still be cheaper than getting an online fast-money loan.

7. Private businesses

Need a new couch or a car but don’t feel like taking time to go through the process at the bank? Today, businesses that sell big-ticket items can provide you with a loan for the purchase.

Car dealerships are prime examples, but many other retailers offer financing as well. Think furniture stores and big-box stores that offer credit cards or other financing deals when you buy TVs, lawnmowers, and computers.

Why borrow: You’re already purchasing from them, so save the effort and get the loan or instant credit card on site. These lenders may also offer discounts on the price or no interest for extended periods of time if you qualify.

Why skip: Shopping around for loans may show you that the effort is really worth it. Because these businesses are the middle man, you don’t get to see the competitor’s rates and terms. You might be able to get a better deal elsewhere. In addition, the person you’re dealing with is most likely not a loan expert, but a salesperson.

8. Payday lenders

Having limited credit history can mean your options are especially tight. When emergencies come up, you may be put in a desperate position. That’s where payday lenders come in. Using a cash advance on your pay stub, you can get a short-term loan for instant cash.

Why borrow: Limited options and serious emergencies requiring small amounts of money (usually under $1,000) are the only reasons why you should consider payday lenders. And, even then, think twice.

Why skip: Where payday lenders get you is in the outrageous fees and interest charged. The average loan term is two weeks with a 400 percent APR or more (paid in one lump sum at the end). Even small loans of only a few hundred dollars can add up to impossible amounts once large fees are tacked on.

9. Parents and friends

You may not be interested in calling in a loan from Bank of Mom and Dad, but for those who are in a jam, asking generous friends and family can be a solution with limited financial consequences.

Why borrow: The best loans from someone you know are ones that are written, documented, and charge some interest (even if it’s only half a percentage point). This protects both sides from potential misunderstandings, in addition to creating a more official, business feel to the deal.

Why skip: Family, friends, and money don’t mix — and for good reason. Failing to pay back loans can lead to resentment from a parent or friend, causing major drama that could hurt your relationships.

Loan choices that work for you

We’ve all been there: the bills need to be paid and you need cash fast.

Luckily, with the variety of options out there, you can find the best places to get a loan that fits your needs.

When loan shopping, be sure to come prepared and ready to look for red flags such as high borrowing fees, large interest rates, and inflexibility by the lender. By investigating the best place to get a loan when you need money, you can reduce what you pay overall and avoid getting taken advantage of.

Michelle Argento contributed to this story.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2018!
LenderAPR RangeLoan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 6.990% APR to 14.865% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 6.255% APR to 12.555% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of September 1, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 6.255% APR assumes current index rate derived from the 1-month LIBOR of 2.08% plus 4.425% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

    To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.See Consumer Licenses.
  2. Minimum Credit Score: Not all applicants who meet SoFi’s minimum credit score requirements are approved for a personal loan. In addition to meeting SoFi’s minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must also meet other credit and underwriting requirements to qualify.
  3. SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Maximum interest rate on loans for residents of AK and WY is 9.99% APR, for residents of IL with loans over $40,000 is 8.99% APR, for residents of TX is 9.99% APR on terms greater than 5 years, for residents of CO, CT, HI, VA, SC is 11.99% APR, and for residents of ME is 12.24% APR. Personal loans not available to residents of MI who already have a student loan with SoFi. Personal Loans minimum loan amount is $5,000. Residents of AZ, MA, and NH have a minimum loan amount of $10,001. Residents of KY have a minimum loan amount of $15,001. Residents of PA have a minimum loan amount of $25,001. Variable rates not available to residents of AK, TX, VA, WY, or for residents of IL for loans greater than $40,000.
  4. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.

Payoff Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.

3 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.

FreedomPlus Disclosures

  1. All loans available through FreedomPlus.com are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loan and rate terms are subject to eligibility restrictions, application review, credit score, loan amount, loan term, lender approval, and credit usage and history. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Loans are not available to residents of all states – please call a FreedomPlus representative for further details. The following limitations, in addition to others, shall apply: FreedomPlus does not arrange loans in: (i) Arizona under $10,500; (ii) Massachusetts under $6,500, (iii) Ohio under $5,500, and (iv) Georgia under $3,500. Repayment periods range from 24 to 60 months. The range of APRs on loans made available through FreedomPlus is 4.99% to a maximum of 29.99%. APR. The APR calculation includes all applicable fees, including the loan origination fee. For Example, a four year $20,000 loan with an interest rate of 15.49% and corresponding APR of 18.34% would have an estimated monthly payment of $561.60 and a total cost payable of $7,948.13. To qualify for a 4.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan of $15,000 with a term of 24 months, and qualify for at least two of the following discounts: (1) add a co-borrower who has sufficient income; (2) use at least fifty percent of the loan proceeds to directly pay off existing debt; or (3) show proof of having at least forty-thousand dollars in retirement savings – contact FreedomPlus for further details.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

5 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.

LendingPoint Disclosures

  • Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates (“APR”) may vary based upon LendingPoint’s proprietary scoring and underwriting system’s review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 6% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon LendingPoint’s final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. LendingPoint makes loan offers from $2,000 to $25,000, at rates ranging from a low of 15.49% APR to a high of 34.49% APR, with terms from 24 to 48 months. The loan offer(s) shown reflect a 28 day payment cycle which is being offered as a courtesy as many of our customers are paid on a biweekly schedule and thus this may better align the loan payment dates with your actual income receipt schedule.

6 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.

LendingClub Disclosures

All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage & history. The APR ranges from 6.16% to 35.89%. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at time of application. The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6% and the average origination fee is 5.49% as of Q1 2017. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months or longer.


7 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

  1. Earnest does not lend in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, or Rhode Island.

8 Important Disclosures for Avant.

Avant Disclosures

* The actual rate and loan amount that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and other factors. Funds are generally deposited via ACH for delivery next business day if approved by 4:30pm CT Monday-Friday. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

** Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33


* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

* Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification and review process. You may be asked to provide additional documents to enable us to verify your income and your identity. This rate includes an Autopay APR reduction of 0.5%. By enrolling in Autopay your payments will be automatically deducted from you bank account. Selecting Autopay is optional. Annual Percentage Rate is inclusive of a loan origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. All loans made by WebBank, member FDIC. Please refer to Upgrade’s Terms of Use and Borrower Agreement for all terms, conditions and requirements.

** Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank via ACH within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes this transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days.

7.73% – 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upstart
6.26% – 14.87%1$5,000 - $100,000Visit SoFi
6.99% – 35.97%*$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upgrade
8.00% – 25.00%2$5,000 - $35,000Visit Payoff
4.99% – 29.99%3$10,000 - $35,000Visit FreedomPlus
5.99% – 18.99%4$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
15.49% – 34.49%5$2,000 - $25,000Visit LendingPoint
6.16% – 35.89%6$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
6.99% – 18.24%7$5,000 - $75,000Visit Earnest
9.95% – 35.99%8$2,000 - $35,000Visit Avant
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

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