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7 Emergency Reasons To Borrow Money

Some common emergency reasons for borrowing money include debt consolidation, medical bills, and vet bills.

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By Jerry Brown

Written by

Jerry Brown

Writer

Jerry Brown is a personal finance writer, owner of the Peerless Money Mentor blog, and a contributor to Credible. He has written for major publications such as Forbes Advisor, Business Insider, and Rocket Mortgage.

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Edited by Jared Hughes

Written by

Jared Hughes

Editor

Jared Hughes is a personal loan editor for Credible and Fox Money, and has been producing digital content for more than six years.

Updated April 9, 2024

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Credible takeaways

  • Personal loans can provide quick cash to cover emergency situations.
  • Some emergency loans — like payday and car title loans — are risky and typically come with high costs, so they’re best avoided.
  • Before taking out an emergency loan, consider alternatives like getting financial assistance from a local or state organization or using a cash advance app.

If you don't have an emergency fund to tap, you may need to borrow money to cover various emergency expenses, including home and car repairs, medical bills, or a vet bill for a furry pal.

One common solution is to take out a personal loan. These are generally unsecured and can provide money quickly — as soon as the same day you apply, in some cases. But other options, such as payday loans or car title loans, should be avoided, as they almost always have exorbitant fees and short repayment periods. 

Below are some common emergencies you might need to borrow money for, as well as some of the best loan types for each.

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1. Emergency home or car repairs

Some emergencies need to be addressed right away to prevent further damage to your property and pocketbook — like if a pipe bursts in your home, or you run into trouble with your car’s engine.

You could take out an emergency personal loan and possibly get funding as soon as the same or next business day after approval. If you need around $500 or less, consider a cash advance app — just check express funding fees. This is where these apps can get expensive. 

2. Emergency vet expenses

An unexpected vet bill for your animal companion can be pricey. A one- or two-day hospitalization can cost up to $1,500 for cats and up to $1,700 for large dogs, according to MetLife. If you can’t pay for this expense out of pocket or your pet insurance doesn’t cover it, you may look into a pet loan. If you're struggling to cover any upfront costs, such as for the office visit (aside from emergency pet surgery, etc.), consider a cash advance app for near-instant money. 

For a loan large enough to cover the bulk of your pet's vet bills, look to a personal loan. You can spread costs out over several years to keep them affordable, if necessary, and rates are much lower than credit card annual percentage rates (APRs), on average. Some lenders can send money the same day you apply, and some even offer pet loans for bad credit

3. Life events

If you experience a life event like losing your job, you may consider taking out an emergency loan to cover your bills until you find another one. Or, you may need to borrow money to pay bills if you’re self-employed and your income suffers a major drop. 

It can be more difficult to qualify for a low income loan. But applying with a cosigner or a co-borrower, or securing the loan with collateral could help. Also contact 211 for local resources in your community.

4. Debt consolidation

Debt consolidation involves combining your debt into a new loan, such as a personal loan, with a single monthly payment. You can use consolidation to make repaying debt more manageable or lower your overall interest rate.

Consolidating your debt might not be a typical emergency — unless you've realized you can't continue to afford your current debt payments or will have to make some big sacrifices to do so. For example, if you have overwhelming credit card debt that is eating into your savings, you may be able to pay down the balance with a debt consolidation loan and get a lower monthly payment. 

Depending on your credit profile, you may be able to get a lower interest rate than on your credit cards as well. The average rate for a 24-month personal loan was 12.49% in February 2024, compared to 21.59% for credit cards, according to the Federal Reserve.

Check Out: Debt Consolidation vs. Personal Loan

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5. Medical bills

An unexpected medical emergency can be expensive, especially if you don’t have health insurance. The average cost for an inpatient stay at a community hospital was $14,101 in 2019, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you can’t negotiate with your medical provider to lower the cost of a medical procedure to fit your budget or qualify for an interest-free payment plan, a medical loan could be a good solution.

6. Moving expenses

Moving expenses can set you back thousands of dollars, whether relocating for a job or another reason. The average cost for a local move is $1,250, while long-distance moves can cost more than $4,800, according to Moving.com. If you don’t have money saved up for the move, a moving loan can help.

7. Large essential purchases

An emergency loan can also help you cover large and expensive repairs. For example, you may need to take out one if your refrigerator or washing machine breaks down and it’s beyond repair.

Types of emergency loans

Several types of emergency loans exist, including:

Personal loans

A personal loan is a lump-sum installment loan you can get from a bank, credit union or online lender. They are usually unsecured, meaning you don’t have to pledge collateral to qualify. Loan amounts can range from $600 to $100,000 or more, depending on the lender, with typical repayment terms of 1 to 7 years. Personal loans can also come with origination fees from 1% to 12%. You can use a personal loan for a variety of reasons, including debt c