Emergency expenses inevitably come up when you least expect them. Credit cards and cash advances can help tackle these situations by providing immediate cash benefits. According to bankrate.com, it is estimated that approximately 12 million US citizens avail of payday loans every year, portraying the rising popularity of cash advances. What do you do when you need fast cash and have bad credit?
Getting a cash advance can provide funds immediately, but poor credit makes qualifying much more challenging. This blog explores options for obtaining a cash advance even with bad credit, how your credit impacts eligibility, responsible borrowing tips, and long-term advice for rebuilding your financial health.
Understanding Cash Advances
A cash advance is a short-term loan that provides nearly immediate access to funds you repay over a relatively short time frame, similar to a credit card advance, often tied to your next paycheck. There are several common types of cash advances:
- Credit Card Cash Advances: This involves withdrawing cash against your available credit limit on an existing credit card, either via an ATM, bank teller, or convenience checks
- Payday Loans: These are very high-cost, small, short-term loans, typically $500 or less. The balance must be repaid on your next pay date, hence the payday loans
- Installment Loans: With installment loans, you can borrow larger loan amounts up to $5,000 or more. These loans are repaid in installments over several months or years, with monthly fixed payments
- Auto Title Loans: A title loan allows you to borrow against the equity in your paid-off car. The lender places a lien on the vehicle title in exchange for the cash advance. If unpaid, the lender can repossess your car.
The quick access to cash can be beneficial for covering emergency costs like medical bills, car repairs, or job loss. However, cash advances also bring the temptation of overspending on discretionary purchases rather than emergency needs. Therefore, it is critical to borrow responsibly.
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How Your Credit Score Affects Approval
Your credit score plays a pivotal role in a lender's decision to approve or deny your application for a cash advance loan. Most mainstream lenders view borrowers with a credit score below 620 as high-risk applicants. This often results in denials for loans or, at best, approval only for a subprime loan with very high interest rates and fees.
Lenders see low credit scores as a red flag that the borrower has a history of late credit card payments, high debts, collections, or other factors that make them potentially unreliable borrowers at risk of defaulting.
That is why it is wise to regularly check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to understand your current credit standing and scores. Improving poor credit takes consistency, diligence, and patience over time. Key steps include:
- Paying all credit card bills on time each month
- Keeping credit card balances low
- Disputing any errors on your credit reports
You can rebuild and strengthen your credit history with disciplined financial habits and commitment to sound money management. Future loan approvals will steadily improve along with your scores.
Local Lender Options
Explore options with credit unions, credit card lenders, community banks, and smaller local lenders for more flexible underwriting criteria. These institutions may be more willing than large national banks to look at your overall financial picture rather than just your credit score. However, interest rates will likely still be higher than those offered to borrowers with good credit.
Online Lender Options
Peer-to-peer lending platforms like Upstart and LendingClub connect borrowers and individual investors willing to fund loans for those with less-than-perfect credit. Online installment loans and payday loan alternatives also provide options when denied by traditional lenders, but be cautious of unreasonable or predatory terms.
Common Eligibility Requirements
Most lenders still require steady, verifiable income, long-term employment, and reliable loan and credit card repayment to qualify for a cash advance with bad credit. Having assets or collateral also helps secure financing.
Budgeting and Borrowing Responsibly
Learn to budget realistically and avoid borrowing more than you can afford to repay quickly. Stay calm in a debt cycle of repeatedly rolling over payday loans and sinking deeper into debt.
Risks and Predatory Lending Concerns
When you desperately need cash, jumping at any loan offer extended, regardless of the costs and terms, can be tempting. However, you must be highly cautious of predatory lenders who intentionally target and exploit those with poor credit histories. Their lending practices take advantage of people in vulnerable financial situations.
Predatory lenders often impose absurdly high interest rates of 100-400% APR, unreasonable repayment terms, excessive fees, and aggressive collections practices. They count on borrowers to be more desperate to read contracts closely or understand the costs involved. Deals may seem significant upfront but cost many times the original loan amount.
Always protect yourself by thoroughly reading and comprehending the loan documents, payment schedule, interest rates, fees, and all terms before signing anything. Make sure you can adhere to the repayment schedule comfortably. Avoid any offers that seem too good to be true – they usually are. Legitimate lenders are concerned about your ability to repay the loan on the agreed terms.
Spotting and avoiding predatory lending takes due diligence, especially when your credit standing limits options. But sacrificing your financial health and stability is never worth obtaining emergency cash. Maintain caution to avoid traps and protect yourself.
Tips for Improving Your Financial Health
The most prudent way to secure affordable, lower-risk financing when needed is to proactively work on rebuilding your credit and overall financial health. It takes patience and discipline, but improving your financial foundation will pay rich dividends.
The key steps include:
- Start an emergency fund – Save gradually each month until you have 3-6 months of living expenses aside for unexpected costs rather than resorting to costly financing
- Pay down debts – Make payments well above minimums on existing debts to rapidly reduce balances. This lowers credit utilization, which helps your credit scores
- Seek credit counseling – Reputable nonprofit credit counseling services can help create budgets and offer guidance on managing credit effectively
- Review credit reports – Check Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion reports to identify and dispute any inaccuracies dragging down your score
- Practice sound money management – Develop good daily financial habits like tracking spending, limiting unnecessary purchases, and paying bills on time and in full each month
With a commitment to financial discipline and improving your creditworthiness, you can qualify for reasonably priced loans with better terms in the future. This takes diligence and patience, but it is well worth the effort. It helps break the costly cycle of relying on predatory subprime lenders when you need emergency cash.
Read more: How to reduce debts and build more savings
Alternatives to High-Cost Cash Advances
When facing an emergency cash crunch, exploring alternatives before resorting to expensive cash advance loans is wise. There are other legitimate options to consider that can provide funds without the steep fees and interest rates:
- Borrow from family/friends - For smaller loan amounts, asking trusted relatives or friends for a personal loan with favorable repayment terms can be reasonable. Just be sure to formalize the agreement and repay as promised
- Payment plans - Contact creditors directly to arrange extended payment plans. Many are willing to work with customers facing hardships
- Employer/nonprofit assistance - If qualified, organizations like the Salvation Army sometimes have emergency funds for housing, food, medical, and other basic needs
- Government programs - Federal, state, and local programs exist to aid with food, medical care, housing, utilities, and other basics. Research eligibility for programs like SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, childcare subsidies, and housing
- Pawn valuables - Pawning jewelry, electronics, musical instruments, and other items of value can provide smaller cash loans using your belongings as collateral. You can pay back the loan plus fees to reclaim your items
- Gig work - Taking on side jobs and gigs like rideshare driving, food delivery, website design, and pet sitting can generate extra cash quickly when needed
The key is exploring all options for free assistance before accepting expensive cash advance financing and unsustainable debt.
Securing a cash advance with poor credit takes persistence, creativity, and sacrifices. Local community banks, online lenders, credit builder loans, and secured credit card lenders offer various options to help you with emergency financing despite bad credit. Most importantly, diligently work to build your overall financial health so future funding access improves. With patience and discipline, you can bounce back from past credit challenges.
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1. What credit score is considered 'bad' by most lenders?
Most lenders view credit scores below 620 as poor or bad credit.
2. Which alternatives should I try before getting a payday loan?
Consider borrowing from family/friends, arranging payment plans with creditors, seeking nonprofit assistance, or pawning valuables.
3. How long can it take to rebuild my credit score?
Most credit experts recommend allowing at least six months to a year to boost your score by 100 points or more.
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