Need Money Now? 40+ Ways to Get Help — Without a Payday Loan

When you need money, a payday lender or title loan isn’t the answer. They will leave you stuck in a cycle of debt that’s almost impossible to escape.

And if you already owe a payday loan that you can’t afford to repay, it will make your situation even worse.

If you’re reading this thinking, “but I need money now,” don’t turn to a payday lender. Here are 40+ legitimate ways to get the money you need — fast.

Table of Contents

Key Points

  • Deal with any food shortage first — contact local food pantries and search for “Blessing Boxes” in your area
  • Contact a homeless shelter if you need a place to sleep
  • Contact your utility company and ask for help
  • Seek out community, church and government resources
  • If you’re between jobs, file for unemployment benefits
  • Search for local aid programs and assistance
  • Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help
  • Don’t use a payday loan or title loan — there are much better options

Hot take: The options on this list that will work best for you depend on how quickly you need help, whether you need long-term or short-term assistance and what resources you’re starting with. For example, food pantries are an almost immediate solution, while the process of signing up for food stamps can take some time.

What Can You Do To Get Cash — or Government Assistance — Now?

If you’re facing an immediate crisis, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Post on NextDoor asking for food pantry recommendations, community assistance programs, “blessing box” locations in the area or any other local resources that may be able to provide free food right away. Many people legitimately want to help.

One family in North Texas recently posted on a community web page that they had been evicted from their home, lost their jobs and were living at a local motel. However, the motel fees were draining all of their money and they couldn’t afford food beyond the free meals their kids were getting at school. Though the post was specifically asking about food programs, several families anonymously dropped off boxes of canned goods at the motel.

1. Check for Government Resources or Assistance Programs That Can Help

Though the government won’t make your loan or credit card payments, some programs can help you through a financial crisis, covering food aid, children’s health care and energy costs.

Unfortunately, the approval process for government resources can take some time. If you need immediate food assistance, contact a local food pantry today. Feeding America offers a searchable database. Don’t be embarrassed; many families are suffering right now.

  • SNAP: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of needy families so they can purchase healthy food.
  • CHIP: The Children’s Health Insurance Program provides coverage to low- and moderate-income children for families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid.
  • LIHEAP: The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program helps keep families safe and healthy through initiatives that assist families with energy costs. LIHEAP provides federally funded assistance to reduce the costs associated with home energy bills, energy crises, weatherization, and minor energy-related home repairs.
  • MEDICAID: Medicaid provides health insurance for adults and children with limited income. The program is partially funded and primarily managed by state governments, so eligibility criteria can vary. However, the federal government sets baseline standards.
  • MEDICARE: Medicare provides health insurance for Americans aged 65 or older. You may be eligible to get Medicare earlier if you have a disability, End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or ALS (also called Lou Gehrig’s disease).

General Resources

Here are a few more resources that may help.

  • This offers a nearly comprehensive guide to the benefits you may receive, including medical and food assistance
  • Provides information on emergency services such as medical, housing, and food assistance
  • Community action agencies: These provide child care, utility, and other grants for people in need

Other Resources for Immediate Help

Contact a local church, homeless shelter, community agency or food pantry if you need immediate assistance. Other options include:

  • AARP
  • StartSleeping
  • Need Help Paying Bills
  • Senior Resources for Professionals and Consumers

Pro tip: Apply for as many government assistance programs as possible. Application processing isn’t always instant, so exploring every possible option is best. The worst that can happen is that you could have an application or two denied.

2. Find a Local Food Pantry

Many communities have a local “food pantry,” which is different from a “food bank.” Most of these community food pantries are sponsored by local area churches and/or community coalitions. A community food pantry will directly serve local residents who suffer from hunger and food insecurity. They usually distribute food to clients once a month.

A food bank stores millions of pounds of food and other products distributed to the community. They will sometimes hold large-scale food distribution events and food banks will sometimes offer free food or meal delivery.

You can seek help from both.

Feeding America is a nationwide network of food banks and programs that helps millions of people find food and grocery help in their communities. Connect with your local food bank to learn about upcoming free food distributions and for help with SNAP and WIC applications. Find resources in your area at

You can also look for services that offer free meal deliveries. Many states offer meal delivery programs, and there are also nonprofit programs including Meals on Wheels and Lasagna Love.

Pro tip: Some communities also offer “Blessing Boxes” or “Blessing Cabinets,” which donors stock with free food items. This page breaks down several locations of community boxes. Don’t feel guilty about taking items, that’s why they’re there.

3. Nonprofit Resources

Nonprofits sometimes offer one-time assistance with utilities, food expenses or other housing costs to help struggling families get back on their feet. These include:

  • 211 Program: This program offered through the United Way provides an array of services, including utility assistance, free referrals and information to people who need human and health services You can dial 2-1-1 for help 24 hours a day.
  • Modest Needs: This group offers financial help for short-term needs. The organization provides “self-sufficiency grants” to help with housing and utility expenses.
  • Community Action Partnership: This group helps families access affordable and safe housing and provides valuable training and referrals to other aid programs.
  • Volunteers of America: This nonprofit group helps to house over 25,000 senior citizens, veterans and others in need across the U.S.
  • The HealthWell Foundation: This nonprofit helps underinsured households pay medical costs, including insurance premiums.
  • The National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFC): This group offers assistance to families who don’t have access to affordable health care. The group has 1,200 clinics across the United States.

4. Does the Government Owe You Money?

Approximately 10% of Americans have unclaimed property. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) will help you find it.

NAUPA operates in all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. To date, it has returned more than $3 billion in unclaimed property—the average claim of $1,780.

Go to their website and search for any unclaimed property. If you find any, send in a claim. Once you’ve proven the property is yours, you should receive it within 30 days of filing.

READ MORE: Easy ways to make $500 fast

5. Take Some Items to a Pawn Shop

Pawn shops provide the ultimate fast loans. You can get money today, but get your belongings back after payday. Start with items that you know have value but you aren’t using and don’t particularly care about getting back. This will alleviate the stress of trying to reclaim the items on your next payday.

6. Apply for a Payday Alternative Loan

One of the best loan options currently available is a Payday Alternative Loan. PALs are short-term loans offered by federal credit unions as an affordable alternative to expensive payday loans when you need cash fast. Your credit history doesn’t matter. The National Credit Union Administration sets the guidelines with better terms and capped interest rates.

7. Use a Credit Card Cash Advance or Balance Transfer

If you already have a credit card, a cash advance lets you borrow a certain amount of money against your credit card’s line of credit. Ensure you don’t exceed your credit limit and know that you will have a transaction fee and a higher annual percentage rate (APR).

The drawback: if you don’t already have a credit card, you’ll need to have good credit to have a new credit card application accepted.

READ MORE: Here are the 12 best balance transfer credit cards

8. Get an Installment Loan

The personal loan application process is quick. Some are approved instantly; you can have the money in your bank account by the next business day. There will, however, be a credit check. The loan terms will be better than most short-term loans.

Upstart, Upgrade, and offer installment loans with flexible credit requirements and quick loan funding.

READ MORE: Best installment loans for bad credit

9. Consolidate Your Debts

Debt consolidation involves getting one larger loan with a lower interest rate and using that loan to pay off your higher-interest debts. This leaves you with one monthly payment. You can control the loan term, so you can roll your loans into a longer-term loan to lower your monthly payments to help make ends meet. Just remember that the longer the loan term, the more you’ll pay in interest over the life of the loan.

READ MORE: Step-by-step guide to debt consolidation

10. Contact a Payday Loan Consolidation or Debt Settlement Company

These for-profit companies will help you consolidate all your debts, including any payday loan debt you have. Many offer a free initial consultation, so it might be worth giving one a call to find out whether they can help you.

Debt settlement involves a negotiation process in which a third-party company contacts your creditors and offers to “settle” your debts for a total amount that’s less than you owe. You won’t get immediate relief (the process will take at least a few months,) but it can get you a financial reset so you don’t feel constantly overwhelmed.

READ MORE: Best debt settlement companies

11. Use a Cash Advance App

Use a cash advance app like Albert that allows borrowers to get small paycheck advances. These apps offer fast cash, are cheaper than a payday loan, have no interest and are typically paid with tips or maybe a small monthly fee. The only drawback is the loan amount will be small. There’s no credit check, so you’ll qualify even with bad credit. Some other apps that offer cash advances include Dave, Brigit and Cleo.

12. Get a Quick Cash Advance from Cash App Borrow or Venmo

Cash App Borrow is a short-term loan offered through the platform Cash App. Eligible borrowers can advance themselves funds ranging from $20 to $200. They have four weeks to pay it back, plus a 5% flat fee. Venmo allows cash advances up to $5,000 and allows payments with American Express cards. There is a fee to advance yourself money. However, it likely will be cheaper than a payday loan.

Pro tip: You may find articles stating that Venmo loans are a scam because Venmo doesn’t offer loans. That is technically true. These are cash advances, and some banks or credit cards will charge a fee for these advances. Others do not. If you have an American Express card, you can use that with no fee and simply pay the Amex bill when it’s due.

READ MORE: How Venmo cash advances work

13. Peer-to-Peer Lending Apps

Peer-to-peer lending is growing in popularity. Platforms like Lenmo or Prosper will match your loan application with lenders and/or investors willing to loan money to borrowers who may be too high risk for traditional banks. This can be an ideal option for borrowers with less-than-perfect credit scores.

READ MORE: Best peer-to-peer loans for bad credit

14. Reddit

You may not think about the social media platform as a place to borrow money, but the r/borrow subreddit allows Redditors to post loan requests and specify the repayment date and amount you will repay (basically, you set your own interest rate.) Then strangers will weigh whether the risk of loaning you the money is worth the amount they earn through repayment. You’ll need a certain amount of Reddit “karma” to be eligible. Loan requests are not accepted from new users. But you’ll find that there are a lot of people on the platform who are willing to help people through a crisis.

15. Call Your Credit Card Company and Ask if it Offers a Hardship Program

Some offer repayment assistance if you’re going through a tough time, like a job loss or health crisis. Some lenders expanded their hardship programs due to the coronavirus pandemic, and some of the expanded COVID-19 programs are still in place today. Call your credit card company and ask if they offer one.

READ MORE: Hardship loans for bad credit

16. Call Your Mortgage Company

Many mortgage companies offer relief programs. Explain your current hardship and ask if it might be possible to skip a payment.

17. Sell Unused Items

Sell unused or unwanted items on Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, etc., Or have a garage sale. Promote it for free on social media or post signs in and around significant thoroughfares in your neighborhood. Don’t have time to do the extra work? Companies like ThredUp will list your items and sell them, then pay you a commission. They’ll take a hefty cut for that convenience, though, and you may be better off working with a local consignment shop.

Pro tip: Steer clear of any buyer who wants to send you a verification code or a “test” payment, or pay you by check or gift card. If possible, meet the buyer at a neutral spot and only accept cash, Venmo or Paypal for payment.

18. Drive for Uber or Lyft

There are plenty of side hustle opportunities with ride-share companies, and these can provide a steady source of income. Note that you must update your car insurance if you’re taking on passengers. If your car doesn’t meet the company’s requirements for ride-share, you can still take on meal deliveries, which can be just as lucrative in many areas.

19. Take On a Side Hustle or Do Odd Jobs

Maybe you have a particular crafting skill and can sell your wares on eBay or Etsy. If you’re good at putting together furniture or completing other small household jobs, sign up with TaskRabbit. Or if you love cooking, some elderly people might be willing to hire you to prepare some meals for them.

And while some multi-level marketing companies have earned a bad reputation, a few legitimate ones could help you earn a little extra cash. The key is to be a skilled networker and gather about $100 in startup money. Choose a product you believe in, and don’t hand over any money until you’ve thoroughly researched the company’s earning structure. You don’t want to get roped into a pyramid scheme or sign up for a company that rewards you for recruiting rather than sales. MLM companies include Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Avon, Scentsy, Tupperware, Amway, Norwex and Rodan + Fields.

20. Ask for Overtime

If you already have a full-time job, ask about opportunities to work overtime. Even a couple extra hours a week can help you keep the lights on. Also, see if your employer participates in a payroll service that allows you to access your pay early. Apps like PayActiv and DailyPay allow paycheck advances when you need emergency cash — if your employer participates.

21. Become a Professional Shopper

Sign up to work for Instacart, Shipt, or another service. Instacart and Shipt shoppers make money by buying groceries at local stores that the company has partnered with, then delivering those items to customers’ homes. You can also pick up work as a “mystery shopper,” checking out facilities for cleanliness, customer service and speed. There are a lot of mystery shopper scams, though, so make sure to check out any companies before you send them your personal information.

22. Work as a Freelancer

Check Fiverr or Upwork. These online marketplaces connect freelancers (sellers) to people or businesses looking to hire (buyers). Everybody has a valuable skill set for someone willing to pay for it. 

23. Babysit

Babysitting can be a big business. offers childcare, senior care, tutoring, housekeeping, daycare and even pet care.

The average cost of childcare in the U.S. is a little over $10,000 a year.

24. Try Pet Sitting

If you love pets, pet sitting can be lucrative, particularly if you’re willing to stay overnight at clients’ homes. Pet sitters can earn an average of $15.61 per hour. According to ZipRecruiter, the national average for a pet sitter is around $31,694 a year in 2022. Rover is a popular pet sitting app.

25. Rent Your Extra Space Through Airbnb or VRBO

If you have an extra bedroom or converted garage apartment and are an extrovert, this is a great way to offset some homeownership expenses and make friends with a stranger. You could even take in a roommate if you’re willing to commit long-term.

26. Sell Unused Gift Cards

Almost two-thirds of Americans have unspent gift cards. Companies like Raise and CardCash let you sell gift cards for as much as 92% cash back. While you won’t walk away with 100% of the card’s value, you can use these sites to turn old gift cards into cash.

27. Complete Online Surveys

It is possible to earn money online by completing surveys. Sign up for Swagbucks, InboxDollars, Amazon Mturk, Survey Monkey, Opinion Outpost, etc. You won’t earn a significant amount of money, but it adds up. Swagbucks and InboxDollars also offer monetary incentives to play games online. For example, you can earn about $50 on InboxDollars by playing the very popular Monopoly Go game. It’s possible to earn as much as $200 in a single month with some of these options.

28. Crowdfund

If you need help with medical bills or to get through a crisis, try asking friends and family for help. You can even request help from strangers directly or through a platform like GoFundMe or Kiva.

29. Look for Community Loans and Other Assistance

Local churches and grassroots community organizations may offer short-term help or loans. One Dallas church acquired a bank to offer a better alternative to payday loans. In Memphis, the Black Clergy Collaborative of Memphis and Hope Credit Union partnered to offer low-income loans. Look for community centers and nonprofits that provide needs-based assistance.

30. Sign Up for a Cash Back Shopping App

Apps like Ibotta, Rakuten and TopCashBack can help you save on groceries, shopping from big-name stores and brands and gift cards. The platform sometimes doubles your savings from in-store discounts. Sites like Cashback Monitor and Cashbackholic will even tell you which site will pay the most.

READ MORE: Here are the best receipt-scanning apps

31. Play Games Online

Many online games pay real money. These games are available on different platforms, including mobile devices or a computer. Some are free to play, though others cost money to sign up or require in-app purchases. From cards to word puzzles to competitive online tournaments, there’s the potential for anyone to win real-world cash.

READ MORE: Best game apps that pay real money

32. Sign Up for Zogo

Zogo is an app that pays you for completing tasks to improve your financial literacy and learn how money works in real life. You can earn “pineapples” redeemed for gift cards to places like Amazon or Walmart by completing brief quizzes. It’s available for iOS (iPhone) and Android. You won’t get rich doing this, but you can earn quick grocery money and learn more about money management.

33. Sell Your Plasma

Plasma is the liquid portion of your blood. Even one donation can save three lives. Because of this, many donation centers will offer lucrative bonuses for first-time donors. You can often find offers through such companies as BioLife to earn $800 or more for your first four donations.

After that, compensation is usually around $50 to $75 per appointment. Donors can schedule up to eight monthly visits (and earn thousands of dollars per year.) Payments are loaded onto a reloadable debit card, making the money available instantly. The process can take one to two hours, and many donors say the pain is similar to a “mild bee sting.”

READ MORE: How to donate plasma for money

34. Shop at Salvage Grocery Stores

Salvage stores often sell food for significantly lower prices because they’re selling:

  • Damaged items (dented cans, missing labels, etc.)
  • Discontinued items
  • Imperfect fruits and vegetables
  • Overstock items
  • Outdated seasonal items

Your options will be better if you live near a city, but even if you don’t, places like Ollie’s Bargain Outlet offer some salvage foods.

This map can help you find a salvage store near you.

35. Time Your Grocery Shopping

Ask the managers of your local grocery stores what time and days they discount food items that are near expiration. Time your shopping to maximize those discounts. Even billionaire Mark Cuban used to use this strategy. Also, try visiting farmer’s markets just before closing. You may be able to negotiate a discount on items that haven’t sold.

36. Do Your Kids Qualify for Free School Lunches?

The National School Lunch Program provides free or reduced lunches for more than 30 million children annually in public and private schools. The United States Department of Agriculture publishes a list of eligibility criteria at

37. Recycle Valuable Materials

You can earn some spare cash by recycling car parts or scrap metal.

Items like scrap metal or car parts can be surprisingly profitable, and items that may seem worthless (old wine corks, empty toilet paper rolls, empty paper towel rolls, scraps of ribbon or fabric and bits of gift wrap) can be sold to crafters on eBay or through Facebook Marketplace. There are places like Boxcycle where you can get money for your empty cardboard boxes

38. Sell Your Old Tech Gear

If you’ve got old phones, gaming devices, printers, laptops or other electronics just lying around, resell them. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of reselling them yourself, trade them in. Try one of these sites:

39. Sign Up for NextDoor and/or a Local “Buy Nothing” Site

Neighbors often give away items they no longer need but don’t want to sell. Grills, furniture, tech items and even food items they can’t use will be offered. If your community provides scheduled “bulk trash” pickups, drive through the neighborhood to look for items you can use or resell.

40. Tutor

Did you excel at one specific subject in school? You may be able to help out local students, or some websites will match you with students nationwide for virtual tutoring. You can make up to $50 an hour. All you need is a degree, wifi and a computer.

Check out sites like, Elite Home Tutoring or Wyzant to learn more.

41. Shop Estate Sales

Estate sales are notorious for slapping a price label on every single item in the house, so you can often find cleaning supplies, packaged food, home-canned foods, storage bags, pots, pans, dishware, chest freezers (sometimes even still full of frozen food) and other practical goods at low prices, particularly on items that are remaining in the final hour of the sale. Estate sale agents would rather sell these items at heavy discounts than pay to have them hauled off.

42. Cancel All Unnecessary Subscriptions

You might be shocked to add up the amounts you pay each month for streaming services, satellite radio, magazines, newspapers, food delivery services, and so on. Once consumers sign up for a service and set up autopay, the majority never remember to cancel. Add up all your monthly fees and cancel everything that isn’t essential. You can always sign up again later. Use the local library for access to books, newspapers and magazines. Looking for e-books? Check for library access outside your area. For example, all Texas residents are eligible for free access to the Harris County Public Library, and you can reserve and check out e-books through the Libby app.

READ MORE: How to make $500 fast

Avoid Predatory Loans

If you need money fast, the key is not to panic. Don’t turn to payday lenders or title lenders. These lenders may promise that they can solve your problems. Don’t fall for it. They aren’t a viable long-term solution and could worsen your financial situation. Many creditors will offer extensions if you call and explain that you’re experiencing hardship. They will respond much more positively than if you simply stop making payments.

  • Payday loans: These short-term loans don’t involve credit checks and regularly target people in desperate situations. But the fees and interest rates charged on a two-week loan can be in excess of 600%. They’re considered so predatory that they are illegal in several states.
  • Tribal loans: These are like payday loans but with longer repayment terms. You’ll probably see them advertised as “no-credit-check installment loans.” A $1,000 loan repaid over two years at 400% APR will cost $333 a month, and you’ll pay more than $7,000 in interest.
  • Title loans: These are short-term loans similar to payday loans, only you must hand over your vehicle’s title as collateral, and if you don’t make the payments, your car could be repossessed.

READ MORE: Step-by-step guide to payday loan consolidation

If You Can, Try More Than One Option

If you have the extra money in your checking account once you’ve covered your immediate needs, stash it away in an emergency fund. That way, you have some flexibility the next time you have emergency expenses.

The Bottom Line

If you need money now, you need to take quick action. Many of these options will take some time, ranging from as little as a couple of days to several months. However, some options will help you get money almost immediately.

Focus first on the options that will provide speedy results, then devote some time each day to applying for government programs and resources. And above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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