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Need Cash Fast? Best Tips to Follow

Catherine Hiles • December 8, 2023

You work hard and manage your money responsibly, but sometimes unexpected events can leave you struggling for cash. If you find yourself in this situation, it can be unnerving – but luckily, there are several options for getting cash fast.

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9 ways to get fast cash

There are many reasons why you might need cash fast now. Perhaps your car broke down and required repairs you didn’t budget for. Or maybe you had a medical emergency and just got your bill from the ER. No matter the reason, needing immediate funds is expected, which means there are several ways to get the money you need.

Trying to figure out where to start? Here are nine ways to get cash quickly.

1. Personal loans

A personal loan can give you cash fast. Many lenders offer quick loans with same-day or next-day funding. That can be ideal for your immediate cash needs – but you’ll need to make sure you meet the lender’s personal loan requirements to qualify for this option.

If you have a good or excellent credit score, you’ll probably have your choice of bank loans with low-interest rates. If your credit is poor, you’ll have to look harder for a personal loan and will likely pay a much higher interest rate. However, a poor credit score doesn’t disqualify you from finding a personal loan.

Personal loans are unsecured; the lender has no collateral to collect if you default. That can mean higher-than-average interest rates. However, with good credit, you can usually find a personal loan with a reasonable interest rate.

2. Lines of credit

Taking out a line of credit can help you get cash when needed without taking out more than you need. A line of credit comes with a preapproved limit. As you repay the loan, the funds become available for borrowing again.

Some of the most common lines of credit are:

  • Credit card. Credit cards are valuable tools to help you pay unexpected bills if you need cash fast. You can use a credit card to pay your bills if you’re short on cash. However, don’t over-rely on credit cards – carrying a high balance can quickly spiral out of control and lead to credit card debt.
  • Personal line of credit. A personal line of credit can be secured or unsecured. If you have cash equivalents, like a certificate of deposit (CD) or stocks, you can use them to secure the line of credit, but you’ll lose them if you don’t repay it in full.
  • Home equity line of credit (HELOC). This type of line of credit uses the money invested in your home to provide cash when needed. If you have enough equity in your home, you can apply for a HELOC and take the funds out when needed, just like you would with a credit card. However, defaulting on a HELOC can lead to losing your home.
  • Business line of credit. If you own a business, you can take out a business line of credit to help cover unanticipated expenses. The business is considered collateral, which means you could lose it if you default on the loan.

3. Payroll advance loans

You can get cash fast by requesting a payroll advance from your employer. If approved, you’ll receive a lump sum from a future paycheck, which will be withheld from subsequent checks to repay the advance.

Your employer might also offer low-interest loans to help employees when they need cash quickly. Check with your human resources department to see if this is an option.

Beware of third-party companies advertising payroll advance loans; these companies might offer payday loans, which should only be used as a last resort. Payday loans are covered in more detail below.

4. Credit card cash advance

Another option when you need money now is to get a cash advance from your credit card provider. There are several requirements you must meet to qualify for a cash advance.

The most significant requirement is that your account must be in good standing. If you have an outstanding balance on your credit card, the lender is unlikely to approve your request. You’ll pay a fee for the cash advance and interest on the amount borrowed.

Learn more about how to get cash back from your credit card to make sure you fully understand the pros and cons of this fast cash option.

5. Retirement account loans

You can take a loan from the funds if you have a retirement account but only in certain circumstances.

Withdrawing money from a retirement account results in a 10% penalty imposed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).1 However, there are several exceptions to this, including:

  • Educational expenses
  • First-time home purchase
  • Qualified medical expenses
  • Permanent disability

The exact exceptions will depend on the type of retirement account you have. For example, the exceptions for an individual retirement account (IRA) differ from those for a 401(k). Speak to a financial adviser if you’re unsure about this option.

6. Life insurance loans

Permanent life insurance policies (including whole and universal life insurance) come with a cash value you can borrow against while you are alive. You then repay the loan throughout your life.

If you don’t repay the loan in full, the insurer will deduct the loan amount from the policy payout. This results in a smaller payout for your beneficiaries when you die. Additionally, term life insurance policyholders won’t have the option to get a loan as this type of policy doesn’t have a cash value.

7. Community loans

Many organizations offer short-term fast loans to community members who need help paying for housing, groceries, utilities, or other necessities. These tend to be small loans but can be extremely helpful in times of need (such as if you’re facing eviction or don’t have enough money to pay your electricity bill).

Check with local religious groups, community centers, or nonprofits in your area to see if any offer emergency community loans.

8. Title loans

If you own a car, a title loan can quickly provide a lump sum of cash. You’ll need to give the lender the title to your car to get a title loan. If you default, you risk losing your vehicle.

Additionally, title loans tend to have higher interest rates than other types of loans, resulting in larger monthly payments that could become unmanageable. A title loan should be one of the last options you consider when you need cash fast.

9. Payday loans

A payday loan is another option when you need cash quickly, but – like with a title loan – leaving this as a last resort is best. Payday loans tend to have high fees, which can quickly spiral out of control if you can’t repay the loan on time.

When you take out a payday loan, you may need to write a post-dated check or authorize the lender to withdraw the amount from your account once you get paid. If you repay the loan within the predetermined time frame (typically two to four weeks), the lender won’t cash the check or withdraw the funds.

If you don’t repay the loan on time, the lender will cash the check or withdraw the money from your account. You’ll need another payday loan if you’re not left with enough money to get by, so payday loans are often called “debt traps.”2

Before choosing this route, learn about payday loans and their alternatives.

Ready to put your savings to work? Open a Chime high-yield savings account* to watch your money grow.

Other ways to make money quickly

A loan is a common way to get cash fast, but other ways don’t require risking your home, car, or credit score. There are several ways to make money quickly:

Rethink your budget

There may be room in your budget to make changes to increase your cash flow. Creating a budget lets you see exactly where your money goes. You can then identify areas where you can cut back to spend less and save more.

Some of the most common ways to rethink your budget to increase your cash flow include the following:

  • Cancel unused subscriptions
  • Opt into budget billing for utilities
  • Shop around for cheaper insurance
  • Change your cell phone plan
  • Ask about forbearance on overdue bills

Not sure if any of these are realistic options? Read up on the top money-saving hacks to see where else you can improve your finances and maximize your money.

Publish your articles on websites

If you’re skilled at writing, consider freelancing as a side gig. Websites like Upwork and Fiverr offer a solid starting point. After creating an account, you can connect with potential clients and pick up paid gigs.

As you build a network, you can increase your fees and make a steady income stream using your writing skills.

Host a garage sale

If you have many unused items lying around your home, consider gathering them and having a garage sale to raise some fast cash.

Alternatively, you can sell items online through Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. You’re not guaranteed to make money, but it can be an excellent way to get rid of the things you don’t need while making some extra cash.

Use a pawnshop

A pawnshop can be a potential option if you have unused valuables to use as collateral.

After determining the value of your item, the pawnshop will lend you cash in that amount and keep the item. You’ll get the item back if you repay the loan within a specific time. If not, the pawnshop will keep and sell the item to recoup their money.

Sell spare electronics

Do you have a spare laptop or phone lying around gathering dust? Consider selling your unused electronics to earn some cash in a pinch.

Websites like Swappa and Gazelle are places where you can sell items. But if you need the cash immediately, search online for your nearest eco-ATM kiosk and drop your items off there in exchange for cash.

You can also see if any stores in your area buy used electronics for resale. If you can find one, you can take in your electronics in exchange for immediate cash.

Find a gig job

There are many options when it comes to finding a gig job. Gig work is something you can fit around your day job and other responsibilities. The types of gig work you can do include:

  • Driving for a rideshare company such as Uber or Lyft
  • Working for a delivery service such as Postmates or Instacart
  • Delivering food through a company like DoorDash or Grubhub

Do your research to find out which type of gig job will pay enough to justify your time.

Become a vacation rental host

If you have a spare room in your home that’s going unused, consider renting it out to travelers for extra cash.

Short-term rental sites like Airbnb often include listings for spare rooms in the host’s home. If you live in a highly desirable area, chances are you’ll have guests year-round, providing a steady income stream.

Note that some cities restrict Airbnb rentals due to housing shortages or other issues. Check with your local municipality before moving forward with this option.

Getting cash fast doesn't need to be difficult

There are many ways to get quick cash, including several types of loans and options for side hustles. The best option will differ from person to person. That’s why knowing which way of acquiring financial funds is right for you and your financial health is essential.

Learn about getting paid instantly so you can access your hard-earned money when needed.

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1 From the IRS's “Retirement Topics - Exceptions to Tax on Early Distributions" as of November 19, 2023: https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-topics-tax-on-early-distributions

2 From the Center for Responsible Learning's “The Victims of Payday Lending" as of November 19, 2023: https://www.responsiblelending.org/issues/victims-payday

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