Borrow Money Options

Updated August 12, 2017
Picture Showing Stacks of $100 bills
Smart Tips for Borrowing Money

Borrow Money Like the Rich

We all get in a bind sometimes and need extra money. Usually at this point our first step is to find a way to borrow money. The smart way to borrow money is to break the process down into two tasks instead of one. The first task is to determine if it's possible to reduce the need for additional money. If this is not possible, then the next step is to find the best source of additional money. Using this two step approach will keep borrowing costs down while still meeting the need for additional money when it's necessary.

Reduce the Need for Money

The first task when borrowing money is to consider if there are other options to actually borrowing. This section has ideas on reducing the need for the money.

  1. Contact Your Creditors

    Contact the companies to whom you owe money as soon as you believe you will have troubles with your payments. Explain to them your situation, when you believe you will be able to pay them, and ask them for more time. Many companies will work with consumers who are sincere in their desire to pay them but have run into troubles. Sometimes they may offer an extension or even reduce the debt. Make sure to confirm if there are any additional fees or penalties for delaying payment.

  2. Contact Local Consumer Credit Counseling Service

    If you need help figuring out how to create a debt repayment plan with your creditors there are many non-profit groups that provide assistance in every state. These groups offer assistance at low to no costs. There are also groups that charge fees and can try to take advantage of your situation so be cautious when evaluating one of these services. The FTC provides additional guidance on Choosing a Credit Counselor

  3. Make a Budget

    This is a more long term approach but will help at the next emergency. Making a budget can be tedious but spending one month analyzing your expenses can be very insightful. Eating lunch out or getting a coffee every day quickly adds up to $200-$300 a month. When you see it all added up it can help you visualize what a difference cooking at home and making coffee at home can make. The challenge is to stick to the plan. Once monthly expenses are under control, if possible, set up an emergency fund.

  4. Take a Part Time Job

    For many this is not an option as they are already working 2-3 jobs but if this is an option for you this is a great alternative to borrowing money.

The above options can help reduce the need to borrow money. If after evaluating the above options you still need to borrow money the next step is evaluating what sources of money are available to you.

Sources for Borrowing Money

If reducing the need for money is not an option, then the next step is to find sources to borrow money. The availability and costs associated with this step depends on credit history and ability to repay. Generally, the worse your credit history and the less reliable your ability to repay, the higher your costs. As your options decrease and your cost to borrow increases it becomes even more important to find ways to reduce your need to borrow as continued borrowing with high fees can make it even more difficult to cover your expenses bringing you even deeper into debt.

  1. Personal Loan from Banks or Credit Unions

    The safest option is a bank or credit union. This is also the rarest option as many banks no longer make personal loans. Banks and credit unions are highly regulated by numerous federal and state agencies. Personal loans are unsecured loans. They generally require strong credit history so will not be available to everyone. In general, these loans will have lower interest rates than other unsecured options. Make sure to shop around and compare rates.

  2. Credit Card Cash Advance

    This is also a relative safe option. It is faster than a personal loan as the bank or credit union that has issued you your card has already evaluated your credit history. These loans are often more expensive than a personal loan and they may also impact the rates you owe on purchases for your cards so make sure to evaluate the fees. Similar to bank loans, this not an option available to individuals with poor or bad credit

  3. Bank Overdraft Protection

    This is another option offered by banks. It is a small line of credit generally less than $1,000 attached to your checking account. It's designed to help avoid overdraft fees from over spending ones checking account but it can also be used as a loan. There are fees and interest attached to using your line so make sure you understand the costs. This option generally does not require as strong a credit history as a bank loan but does require good credit.

  4. Title Loans and Pawn Shops

    This option is where we start to move into less regulated areas so the consistency in lenders varies greatly. These companies offer loans to individuals with poor or no credit. They are able to do this because they take collateral. Title loan companies will seize your car if you fail to repay the loan and pawn shops will keep the item you pawned. These loans are more expensive than bank loans and carry the risk that you will lose the asset you used as collateral if you are unable to re-pay your loan.

  5. Borrow from Friends and Family

    This option is not available to everyone but many times is safer and cheaper than other choices. Everyone's situation is different but friends and family may be more willing to help you and even let you pay back the loan by doing chores or small projects for them.

  6. Payday and Installment Loans

    The final option is a payday or installment loan. These loans can be very expensive and should generally be used only as a last resort if the expense cannot be avoided. The advantage of payday loans or installment loans is they do not require good credit and can be very fast. They are based on your pay date and often are deposited into your checking account within 24 hours. Regulation and enforcement in this space is highly varied so borrowing from these lenders can be risky. We prefer state-licensed lenders.

The bottom line is try and reduce the need for borrowing money by either reducing expenses or increasing earnings. If money is still needed, try options that rely on credit history like bank loans or credit cards. Second, evaluate options that require collateral. And finally, if no other options are available, including friends and family, consider a payday loan or an installment loan. Payday loans are due the next pay period while installment loans are paid off over time. If you do consider one of these short-term loans make sure to evaluate your lenders and fees before signing any agreements.

Installment Loan Lenders

The Payday Hound reviews installment lenders and ranks them according to our Sniff Test (reputation), costs, and licensing. To see lenders in your state select your state from the table above.

Company Name Description Costs* Sniff Rating
Ace Cash Express
Large online established lender. A+ BBB Score.
Multiple loan options. Physical store fronts too.
Governing Law: TX
APR: 398%
Amount: $200-$2K
Payments: 1-5
Freq: bi-weekly
Cost: $31 - $1K
Great
Net Credit
Rates based on amount and eligibility. Bad credit OK.
Build credit with timely payments. $1k-$10K.
Governing Law: State Lic.
APR: 35% - 210%
Amount: $1k - $10K
Payments: 36 - 130
Freq: bi-weekly
Cost: $300 - $11K
Great
OppLoans
Competitive rates based on amount and eligibility.
Loans from $1K-$10K. Bad Credit is OK.
Governing Law: State Lic.
APR: 59% - 199%
Amount: $1K-$10K
Payments: 9-36
Freq: bi-weekly
Cost: $4,742-$10,237
Great
CashNetUSA
Large, publicly traded online lender.
Use promo code: NEWCASH25 to save 25%
Governing Law: State Lic.
APR: 388.93%
Amount: $300-$2,000
Payments: 7-15
Freq: monthly
Cost: $492 - $7.9K
Great
Cash Central
Discounts for repeat customers. Live chat.
B BBB rating. Bad credit okay.
Governing Law: State Lic.
APR: 150% - 240%
Amount: $1K-$5K
Payments: 39-52
Freq: bi-weekly
Cost: $3K - $11K
Great
RISE
Military members not eligible.
Money back guarantee.
Governing Law: State Lic.
APR: 125% - 364%
Amount: $100 - $5K
Payments: 8 - 50
Freq: bi-weekly
Cost: $72 - $13.2k
Great
Avant
Charges upfront admin fee.
Reports to credit bureaus.
Governing Law: State Lic.
APR: varies
Amount: varies
Payments: varies
Freq: monthly
Cost: varies by state
Great
Check 'n Go
State licensed lender.
A+ BBB rating. Has physical storefronts.
Governing Law: State Lic.
APR:
Amount:
Payments:
Freq:
Cost:
Great
Speedy Cash
State licensed lender. Pricing shown is based on TX rates.
Pricing appears high. They have store fronts
Governing Law: State Lic.
APR: 610%
Amount: $750
Payments: 12
Freq: bi-weekly
Cost: $1,539
Great
Cash Store
State Lic lender only. Pricing shown is based on TX rates.
Must go to store to complete application.
Governing Law: State Lic.
APR: 583%
Amount: $1,000
Payments: 12
Freq: bi-weekly
Cost: $1,946
Great
Blue Trust Loans
Offers loans up to $1,000 in 39 states.
Bad credit OK.
Governing Law: Tribal
APR: 782%
Amount: $1K
Payments: 1
Freq: bi-weekly
Cost: $290.50
Fair
Plain Green Loans
Early player in online lending
Tribal based lender
Governing Law: Tribe
APR: 300%
Amount: $1,000
Payments: 24
Freq: bi-weekly
Cost: $1,980
Fair
Great Plains Lending
Clear, informative site.
Tribal based lender
Governing Law: Tribe
APR: 350%
Amount: $1,000
Payments: 24
Freq: bi-weekly
Cost: $2,387
Fair
MaxLend
Offers loans up to $1,000 in 39 states.
Bad Credit OK. F BBB rating.
Governing Law: Tribal
APR: 782%
Amount: $1000
Payments: 1
Freq: 14
Cost: $290.50
Bad
Cash Advance Now
Tribal lender. Upfront disclosures and pricing.
Purchased name and domain in Sept 2012.
Governing Law: Tribe
APR: 695%
Amount: $300
Payments: 34
Freq: bi-weekly
Cost: $1,842
Fair
Just Military Loans
Specialize in Military Loans. Pricing not listed.
15 day cancellation policy. Full refund of fees.
Governing Law: Delaware
APR: 0.00
Amount: 0.00
Payments: 0.0
Freq: 0.0
Cost: 0.00
Fair
Mobiloans
Tribal Lender. Line of credit product
Rates similar to payday loans
Governing Law: Tribe
APR: 279%
Amount: $500
Payments: 20
Freq: 14
Cost: $730
Bad
American Web Loan
Tribal Lender based in Oklahoma.
Very little information provided on their site
Governing Law: Tribal
APR: ?
Amount: ?
Payments: ?
Freq: ?
Cost: ?
Bad

* Costs vary by state. Cost shown are based on pricing for Delaware residents when available. Check each lender's website for updated information. Some lenders will not provide pricing data until an application is completed.