Even if you can’t obtain a traditional loan from a bank or lender, there are numerous options to consider. Here are the main alternatives:
- Peer-to-peer lending
- Credit union loan
- Community bank loan
- Friends and family loan
- Credit card cash advance
- Collateral loan
- Earned wage access
Remember to be cautious when seeking out a loan in emergencies. While a loan can be invaluable in bridging the gap between your savings and your bills, it is a debt burden that can accumulate significant interest. Read the loan terms carefully before signing a binding loan agreement.
If the bank and traditional loan providers have rejected your loan application, it’s time to seek out other financing methods. The good news is, many alternatives exist. However, it’s crucial to know the pros and cons of each.
In this guide, we review your lender options when traditional providers refuse to lend you money. We also go over common predatory lending practices and scams so you can make an informed financial decision.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending involves borrowing from individual investors instead of a traditional financial institution. Peer-to-peer lending can be a valuable financing strategy when you can’t qualify for other kinds of loans. Small business owners and individuals with poor credit often seek out P2P lenders for accessible funds.
Different P2P lending platforms may focus on different industries and services and have their own eligibility requirements. It’s important to choose a reputable P2P lending platform.
Popular P2P lending platforms include:
Prosper: Prosper was the first P2P lending platform in the United States. On their online platform, you can request a loan even if you can’t qualify for other loans. An individual investor may choose to invest and lend you the money.
Kiva: Millions of people have used Kiva, a nonprofit crowdfunding platform. Kiva focuses on granting P2P loans to small business owners. If you’re a startup founder or small business owner, consider using Kiva to obtain micro-funding.
Credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions that provide financial assistance to their union members. Unlike a bank, a credit union is member-owned and often promotes community well-being. To qualify for a credit union loan, you will first need to meet the eligibility requirements to become a member.
Once you have become a member, you can apply for a credit union loan. The terms and conditions of a credit union loan are typically more lenient due to the community-driven mission of most credit unions. Here are some key features and services of a typical credit union.
Member-ownership: The members own the credit union. They have a say in the credit union’s decision-making process.
Financial services: Your credit union may offer financial products and services similar to traditional banking services, such as checking accounts, savings accounts, loans, credit cards, and more.
NCUA insurance: The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) federally insures credit unions in the United States. This deposit insurance helps protect your financial interests and deposits with the credit union.
Competitive interest rates: Since credit unions aim to provide valuable financial services to their members, they often provide relatively favorable interest rates on loans. This can help you save money in the long run after taking out a loan, which is especially advantageous if you require a large loan amount.
Drawbacks to a credit union loan
While credit unions offer personalized financial services and opportunities, they are also associated with certain drawbacks. Here are common ones to consider:
Membership requirements: You need to be a member before you can qualify for a credit union loan. These requirements can be relatively strict. For example, the credit union may look at factors such as your location, employment, and affiliation with certain groups.
Limited access: Credit unions may have smaller networks, making it inconvenient to procure their financial services. If you value ATM and in-person access, a credit union might prove dissatisfactory.
Fees and interest: Even though a credit union loan may have more favorable rates relative to the typical bank loan, you may still face high long-term borrowing costs if you have a poor credit history or are going through financial hardship.
Credit union PALs
Some credit unions offer payday alternative loans (PALs), which are short-term loans designed to be more favorable than regular payday loans. Make sure you carefully review the loan terms so you aren’t caught off guard by any special conditions or interest rates.
Community banks refer to smaller banks that mainly serve their local community, both residents and businesses. These community banks will be more in touch with local financial challenges and circumstances since they concentrate more on local needs.
If you can’t qualify for a loan with a larger bank branch, consider looking for a smaller bank with more lenient loan requirements. Here are the typical features of a community bank:
- Operates on a local or regional level
- May serve specific communities
- Understands unique challenges faced by residents
- Provides more personalized services
- Faster funding
- Opens up the opportunity to form a positive relationship with the bank
However, there are certain disadvantages when it comes to obtaining a loan from a community bank. Here are some potential drawbacks you should know:
- Limited resources compared to larger banks and lenders
- Fewer banking features and technological advances
- Fewer branches to visit
- More affected by local economic difficulties
- May have issues with regulatory compliance
Friends and family
Loans from friends and family are informal loans that you can consider during times of financial hardship. Friends and family members are generally more lenient when it comes to lending money. Unlike borrowing from standard loan providers, you will not need to go through a credit check with friends and family.
However, borrowing money from someone you have a personal relationship with can pose unique challenges. Here are some guidelines that can help you navigate borrowing money from friends or family.
- Formalize the agreement by putting it in writing
- Communicate your repayment ability
- Set realistic expectations
- Treat the arrangement with respect
- Be honest about why you need the money
- Give regular updates about your repayment progress
- Express your gratitude
- Be graceful if they refuse to lend you money
Since personal relationships and financial situations can vary over time, it’s important to be adaptable. It could be necessary to revisit and revise the terms of the friends and family loan as circumstances change.
Microfinance institutions aim to help those who have limited access to traditional banking and financing options. Compared to other financial institutions, microfinance companies typically provide smaller loans with more lenient eligibility requirements.
Who qualifies for microloans?
Microloans, also known as microcredit, are generally offered to entrepreneurs who struggle to qualify for standard business financing methods. If you lack sufficient collateral or business credit, a microloan might be a viable option for you to boost your business.
Small business owners and startup founders may find microloans to be an essential
Pros of microloans
Easier access: If you belong to an underserved community or struggle to qualify for other loans, a microloan might be a valuable choice for you. The financial inclusion aspect of microloans can help many small business owners and individuals without established credit.
Community development: Microloans have promoted economic growth and improved standards of living in certain communities.
Cons of microloans
Lack of regulation has been a prevalent concern with microfinance institutions. When taking out a microloan, be careful of limited regulatory oversight for the microfinance company, which may lead to a lack of transparency, fair loan terms, and accountability.
Limited loan amounts: If you need significant money for debt consolidation or business needs, a microloan might not grant you sufficient funds. This can limit your business growth or result in a need for further loans.
High interest rates: Depending on your lender, you might receive a microloan with a high interest rate, raising your cost of borrowing when compared to a traditional loan provider. This can make it difficult to escape the cycle of debt.
Negative communal impact: Microfinancing does not always make a positive impact on communities. Poorly designed, high-interest microloans may leave small business owners in debt for long periods of time, hurting the well-being of the local economic growth. External factors like market conditions can also make communities overly reliant on microloans.
Credit card cash advances
Credit cardholders can benefit from the credit card cash advance feature, which is a convenient way to access cash when you can’t qualify for a personal loan. A credit card cash advance allows you to withdraw cash against your current credit limit.
Pros of a credit card cash advance
Convenient: As long as you have an eligible credit card, the cash advance process can be completed at an ATM or a bank. It may also be done via online transfer or check.
Fast cash: If you urgently need cash, a credit card cash advance is one of the quickest ways to receive the required funds. You don’t need to go through an application process if you are a credit cardholder with a sufficient credit limit.
Cons of a credit card cash advance
No grace period: The moment you withdraw money in the form of a cash advance, interest will start accruing. Unlike regular credit card purchases that give you time before interest kicks in, a credit card cash advance immediately begins accumulating interest.
High interest: Like with regular credit card usage, a cash advance can come with high interest rates and fees. The cash advance interest rate may be higher than your credit card rate, resulting in unexpectedly high costs of borrowing.
Impact on credit utilization and score: Obtaining a credit card cash advance can hurt your credit score as it raises your credit utilization ratio.
Life insurance loan
Some life insurance policies allow the policyholder to obtain a loan against the life insurance cash value. You may also be able to make a withdrawal against the cash value life insurance. However, note that failing to pay back the loan will result in reduced death benefits later down the line. Since borrowing against a life insurance policy can have long-term effects, make sure that you are comfortable with the terms and conditions before doing so.
A collateral loan requires the borrower to offer an asset as collateral. The eligibility requirements are typically less strict since the lender can seize your collateral asset in case you fail to pay back the loan, reducing the risk on the lender’s part. Generally, lenders let you borrow up to half of your appraised item value.
Common collateral examples
Whether an asset is accepted as collateral depends entirely on your lender’s assessment. Here are assets commonly used as collateral for a loan.
- Collectible items
- Real estate
- Vehicle titles
- Business inventory and raw materials
Pawn shop loans
A pawn shop does not check your credit when you apply for a loan. Instead, they appraise the item of value that you bring. If they accept your item as collateral, you can sign the loan agreement and walk out of the pawn shop with cash.
Since pawn shops offer quick cash without traditional loan requirements, they are a popular choice for those in urgent need of funding but can’t qualify for other financing methods.
However, beware the risks of a pawn loan. Even if you have valuable collateral, the amount you can obtain in cash will not equate the value of your asset. Failing to pay back the loan within the designated time frame also means you lose the pawned item.
Earned wage access
Earned wage access (EWA) is a program that some employers offer as an employee financial benefit. EWA allows you to access a portion of your earned income before your payday. If it is challenging to obtain a loan, reach out to your employer to see whether they have partnered with an earned wage access service.
Note that earned wage access is a relatively new type of employee benefit that lacks regulatory oversight. Individuals using EWA platforms to access their paychecks ahead of payday may harbor privacy and security concerns.
Red flags and predatory lenders
Borrowers need to watch out for predatory lending practices when obtaining funding. Some lenders impose hidden fees or use unfair lending practices on individuals who urgently need money. Here are some common red flags to beware:
- Guaranteed loan approval regardless of credit
- Interest rates significantly different from the market rate
- Dodges your questions and concerns
- No customer reviews
- Poor lender reputation
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