Easy Money: 13 Ways to Get Fast Cash

Sorry to disappoint you 80’s comedy fans, but I’m not talking about the Rodney Dangerfield flick from 1983, Easy Money.

I’m referring to you and your finances. How can you get cash quick if you needed it badly? Let’s say some unfortunate event happened and you needed a large sum of cash immediately (within a day or two).

You’ve got no time to actually get a job to earn or make extra money. So how can you get some easy money to cover emergency expenses?

Here are a few ways, listed in order of risk to your finances. Begin by trying to return or sell things, using sites like eBay, Gazelle.com, or Decluttr. Next, tap into your emergency fund if you have one in place. Finally, you could consider borrowing money via a personal loan, HELOC, or 401(k) loan; or from more risky options like cash advances, payday loans, and loans from friends and family.

I definitely don’t recommend all of these ideas. But when times are tough and you need fast cash, it’s important that you know all of your options.

How could you get some easy money? Here are a few ways, listed in order of risk to your finances. I definitely don't recommend all of these ideas. But, hey, when times are tough and you need money fast, who am I to judge?

1. Return Things

Made any purchases recently? Received any gifts? Gather up your receipts and take some stuff back for a refund. Even if you don’t have a receipt, some stores will take things back as long as you show your ID.

2. Sell Some Stuff

Use Ebay for small and unique items. Set no reserve, and a one day auction, and let it fly. You can use your free local Craigslist for large or generic items. This helps avoid any shipping costs too. Facebook Marketplace and local Facebook groups are really popular now too.

One of the ways you can sell some stuff in the tech or gadget space is with Gazelle.com. I sold an old iPhone 3G with them a few years ago for $42. And if the phone would have been in halfway decent shape they would have given me $100. Decluttr, BuyBackBoss, and OCBuyBack are a few more popular places to sell old gadgets.

Websites like Gazelle.com are constantly changing the dollar amount they will give you for your phone or other electronic gadget. So be sure to sell your stuff to them as soon as you stop using it. See how much fast cash you can get for your phone on Gazelle.com.

3. Consignment Shops

For clothes, especially nice ones, it might make more sense to use a consignment shop. Gather up all of your unused clothing and sell them for quick cash at a consignment shop.

4. Sell Some Gold and Other Metals

Don’t use one of those Cash4Gold type places. Just go to a local jeweler or pawn shop to turn your gold or other precious metals into fast cash. It may take a bit longer, but you will get a more reasonable price.

Want more suggestions for things that you can sell or return for easy money? Get several more ideas like the ones listed above in a post titled, 15 Awesome Ways to Make $200 Fast.

Selling things is one of the simplest and safest ways to get some easy money. But the ideas you’ll find in the remainder of this article require a bit more risk.

5. Raid Your Emergency Fund

When is it ok to dip into your emergency fund to pay for things?

As a general rule, if you have a mandatory bill (i.e. mortgage, utility, car payment, medical bill, etc.) that you would have to borrow money to pay for, you should use part of your emergency fund instead. This is what you’ve been saving it for, so go to the well.

Don’t have your emergency savings built up yet? Learn how to build your emergency fund and where your emergency savings should be held in our complete guide.

6. Cash Out a CD Early

If times are tough, consider cashing out any CDs you have, even those that haven’t matured. You’ll likely lose any money you’ve earned with the CD, that is unless you have a no penalty CD from Ally Bank. See a current list of the best CDs online.

7. Peer-to-Peer Lending

Peer-to-peer lending sites like Prosper and Lending Club give borrowers an alternative to traditional banks. These sites leverage technology to speed up the application process and sometimes offer more attractive rates.

There’s no guarantee that a peer-to-peer lending site will give you a better interest rate or terms than a traditional lender. But, as a general rule, avoiding giant financial institutions is a smart decision when you need fast cash.

Learn more: Peer-to-Peer Lending: What is it? Best Websites for P2P Lending?

8. Personal Loan

Banks, local credit unions, and online lenders sometimes have small personal loans they are willing to give to qualified borrowers. I used one of these back in my 20s to build my credit score.

You’ll typically need an income source and a strong credit score to qualify for the best rates. Check out Fiona to compare interest rates from potential lenders in 60 seconds or less.


9. Tap Your Home Equity

If you have equity built up in your home, take out a home equity line of credit (HELOC). These rates can be better than other places, and the principle is going right back into your home. But using these funds to afford excess consumer spending is simply moving in the wrong direction with your finances.

10. Credit Card Cash Advance

If you have a credit card, they will likely offer you a cash advance option. These can be costly because credit card companies usually start charging interest on cash advances immediately in addition to charging a one-time cash advance fee (typically 3% to 5% of the borrowed amount).

While credit card cash advances can certainly be expensive, they are also an easy method for getting fast cash in your bank account. And if you’re able to find a credit card with a low promotional interest rate, a cash advance could still be much more affordable than a payday loan.

11. Borrow from Your 401K

While it does go completely against your original intentions for that money, taking a loan from your 401K can be an effective way to get a large sum of fast cash. With a 401(k) loan, you can borrow up to 50% of your total assets tax-free. And the “interest” on the loan is paid to yourself not to a lender.

When compared to other high-interest debt choices like credit cards or payday loans, a 401(k) could be a far superior choice. Just make sure you are aware of the rules (i.e. what happens if you’re fired?).

12. Loans from Friends and Family

I think this is one of the last places you should look for funds. With so many other places to find funds, why risk harming personal relationships?

But if you do decide to borrow from family or friends, set a clear timetable for repayment and be sure to follow through.

13. Payday Loan

And last, and certainly least, we have the payday loan. Don’t use this method for fast cash unless it is the last place you can find money on earth.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), payday loans often charge fees of $10 to $30 for every $100 borrowed, which equates to an interest rate of 400% or more.

You may also want to consider applying for a Payday Alternative Loan (PAL) at a local credit union. These short-term loans come with a maximum interest rate of 28% and charge no more than $20 in application fees. Learn more about Payday Alternative Loans.

Next Steps

The ideas listed above can help you get your hands on fast cash if you literally need the money right now. However, if you have a few weeks or months before a bill is due, earning more money is a superior option to borrowing money. If you’re looking for ideas on how to increase your income, check out these 40 money-making websites.

Did I leave anything out? How would you get quick cash?

About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon.

He created Part-Time Money® back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence.

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  1. These are quick fixes and great tips to earning fast cash.

  2. Sounds like good ideas for a great  temporary bailout , and raising some funds. Thanks for the tips.

  3. MoeAnderson says

    Thank you so much for these great suggestions!  I have been looking for some ways to make some extra money.  I have been looking for bids for my job as well, but it is always nice to have some extra money.

  4. you right don’t use the pay day loans ever , they will ruin your credit and also they won’t make no effor to give you an extention even if you tell them you will pay them more. I had the worst experience I coudn’t pay them on the date I was suppost because my car broke down and i have to use the money to fix my car , what a horrible experience and besides their interest should be ilegal but here in USA it is just about business not about people .

  5. Financial Bondage says

    Work several jobs, many hours as you can. Works every time. Although it many not be fast.

    Here is an idea if your a manual labor type worker. Try labor ready. They pay daily. Meaning you work today and get paid today. laborready.com

  6. I’ve than this peer -to- peer lending before, and it really make sense…
    Beleive it ,, It doubles or even triples the amout of your money.
    =)

  7. Christopher says

    Another route might be to give plasma. Years ago I got paid $20 each time I ‘donated’, not sure what it goes for now. Takes about an hour.

  8. Stay at Home Mom CFO says

    I don’t know if you can do it anymore because of all the recent law changes but when payday was 2 days away and I had a cash emergency I could intentionally overdraw my checking account for up to $200. You take the $30 overdraft hit but I remember a couple times not being able to make it to pay day and going to the ATM at my bank with a $1 balance and being able to get $200. Not recommended of course, but better than a payday loan.

  9. Tutoring. Everybody is good at something. I made about $100 a week tutoring local students at math billing $30 an hour.

  10. In my book the 401k is sacred and should not be tapped lightly. I’d also steer away from loans unless there in no other choice. Better to sell your junk, or tap your savings.

  11. @Evan – Didn’t know about that one. But it sounds all kinds of bad. Thanks.
    @Mrs. Money – You know I considered listing that one. Can you get the money quickly, I wonder?

  12. Mrs. Money says

    Donate plasma?! LOL

  13. Tax Free Loans from Cash based life insurance policy