Traditional banks and credit unions still operate in old-fashioned ways, which doesn’t always work for modern customers. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternative sources you can explore when you need a loan.

Perhaps it’s time to put the days of assuming you’ll visit a bank or credit union to get a loan behind you – and consider some of these other ways to borrow money.

Cash Advance from Credit Card

If you have a line of credit from a credit card company, you can usually use it to get a cash advance. It’s an option worth exploring if you can’t actually use your credit card to buy what you need and require cash instead.

The downside is that a cash advance will have a higher interest rate than you would if you were to just make purchases with your credit card. Also, how much of a cash advance you can get will depend on your credit limit.

However, if you need to borrow money quickly, a cash advance from your credit card could be a better option than asking a bank, especially if you don’t have a lot of time to spare.

Online Loan

There’s no reason to walk into a bank when there are countless online lenders that can give you a few hundred to tens of thousands in 48 hours or less.

However, not all online lenders are created equal, so there might be a little homework involved. But most give out simple installment loans that can be paid back in a few months or over the course of a few years. Depending on the source, you may not even need to have a credit check to get an online loan. Under the right circumstances, online lenders can be a preferred option to traditional banks.

Paycheck Advance

If you have a good enough relationship with your employer, it won’t hurt to ask for an advance in pay if you just need to borrow a little money. 

Obviously, this isn’t some new invention, but it’s still something worth looking into as an alternative to a bank or credit union. Some employers won’t be on board with the idea, while others will have certain stipulations about paying it back.

However, there’s no harm in asking for a paycheck advance if you need some cash in the short-term.

Peer-to-Peer Lending

You might be able ask friends and family to borrow money whenever you’re in a tight spot. But fortunately for many of us, the awkwardness of asking a close friend or relative for money can be avoided with countless peer-to-peer lending sites online.

Also known as social lending, these sites simply connect people who are looking to borrow money with people who are looking to invest their money. The legitimate peer-to-peer lending sites are perfectly safe and may offer better interest rates than most banks. If you’re looking for a way to borrow money that feels very 21st century, this might be the way to go.

Auto Title Loan

A part of borrowing money is coming up with collateral, and not enough people realize that their cars can be used. Companies like Quick Cash Funding Loans can approve someone for a loan in a matter of minutes – and all that’s required is signing over your car’s title as a form of collateral.

Once you finish paying back the loan, you get the title back.

In the meantime, you can continue to use your car as if nothing changed. You won’t have the title, but there will be no restrictions on how often you can drive your car. If you don’t have any other form of collateral to put up for a bank loan—or you need to borrow money as soon as possible—an auto title loan is a great alternative to going to a bank or credit union.

Payday Loans

For short-term loans, payday loans can be a viable option for borrowers. In the past, banks were the place to go for these types of loans, but there are plenty of online lenders who give out payday loans in a quick and efficient manner. Fees and interest rates tend to be high with payday loans, so they’re not always a great option unless you’re caught in a bind and need several hundred dollars as soon as possible. But if you can’t wait until your next payday to get money, this is one route to go. 

Margin Lending

If you’re someone who has invested money in stocks and bonds, margin lending could be a good way to borrow some money. Essentially, you go through a brokerage firm rather than a bank and use any stocks or mutual funds you own as collateral to get a loan. There is some risk in having to sell the stocks that have been placed on margin if the value of your portfolio goes down. However, the interest rates for margin lending are usually lower than you’ll get from banks (as well as almost any other form of borrowing). 


Sure, this might seem like an outdated method of getting money, but pawnbroking is actually on the way back. The caveat, of course, is that pawnbrokers tend to charge high interest rates that only make them useful for short-term loans that you can pay back quickly. On the bright side, pawnbrokers aren’t going to ask a lot of questions about why you need the money or your financial history, so under the right circumstances, they can be a nice alternative to banks and credit unions. 


This is another 21st-century invention that can be a good way to get money. Crowdfunding is used frequently by small businesses that are looking for startup money, but people who have fallen on hard times also use it with the hope that others will sympathize with them and make charitable donations. It’s not going to be for everyone, and you may not be able to raise all the funds you need (or raise them as quickly as you need them), but it’s something to consider if you’re looking to get free money without any obligation of repayment.