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Loans for the unemployed

Borrowing if you don't have a job can be tricky, but there are still loan options open to you.

If you’re not employed in the traditional sense and are in need of finance, you may wonder whether a loan provider will consider you. This guide takes you through your options for borrowing while you’re unemployed, what you need to be aware of and how you can apply.

⚠️ Warning: Be cautious with short-term loans

If you're experiencing financial hardship and would like to speak to someone for free financial counselling, you can call the MoneyTalks helpline operated by FinCap on 0800 345 123. It is open from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and 10am to 2pm Saturday. When comparing short-term loans, ensure you take into consideration any fees, charges and rates you may be charged.

Alternatives to short-term loans

Consider these alternatives before applying for a payday loan:

  • Use online Government resources. The Commerce Commission New Zealand website explains how loans work and what to be aware of when borrowing from a lender.
  • Payment plans. Talk to your electricity, gas, phone or water provider to see if you can work out a payment plan or receive an extension on your due date if you’re behind on payments.
  • Contact your creditors. Speak with creditors about extending the due date of your payment, or working out a new payment plan that works for both of you. Seek personal loans elsewhere. Consider a small personal loan from a bank or a credit union. You may qualify for a loan with much lower interest rates than those offered by payday loan companies.
  • Pay with credit card. Consider paying with your credit card to cover your emergency bills or payments. This is not a long-term solution, as you’ll need to pay off the balance as soon as possible, but it’s an alternative to a short-term loan with high – and immediate – interest rates.

If you are suffering financial problems related to the coronavirus pandemic, you may be eligible for additional support.

Can you get a loan if you’re unemployed?

The short answer is yes, but you still need to be earning a form of income or have suitable income-earning assets to repay the loan. This may involve you receiving Work and Income payments, being self-employed or having a regular deposit into your account from shares. Often, lenders require access to your banking history and financial documents to verify you can repay the loan.

Even though the number of lenders that will consider you for a loan is limited, they do exist.

Essential things you need to consider before borrowing

  • You need to be able to repay the loan.
    The main thing lenders consider when you apply is whether you can manage the repayments. If you are only looking to borrow a small amount and your income and expenses show you can easily handle the repayments, then you may be eligible. If you are asking for a significant amount of money that will make it hard for you to manage day-to-day, the lender will not approve the loan.
  • You need to meet other requirements.
    You may find it difficult to receive approval if you have any other short-term loan contracts open that you currently repay. Also, many lenders won’t consider you for a loan if you’re presently bankrupt or have a Debt Repayment Plan (Summary Instalment Order). You need to check the other eligibility requirements set by the lender before you apply. Although they may be flexible when it comes to employment, they may have different criteria you need to meet.
  • Do you receive Work and Income payments?
    If you receive specific Work and Income allowances, such as the pension, you may be able to use these as income (although this may only be a certain percentage of your income). Make sure you ask the lender if they accept the benefit you receive as an income.

What eligibility requirements do I need to meet for an unemployed loan?

The requirements differ, depending on which lender you look to apply with and how much you wish to borrow. You need to check the specific criteria before you apply, but the following may be relevant:

  • Earning an income. While full-time employment may not be necessary, you still may need to have a regular income to apply. So if you aren’t employed or are employed casually but earn a sufficient income, you still may be eligible.
  • Receiving Work and Income payments. Some lenders accept Work and Income payments as a form of income, but they may have guidelines around this. Make sure you check the specifics before applying.
  • Your credit rating. With flexible employment criteria often comes flexible credit criteria. Therefore, if lenders are willing to look beyond you not having a job, they may see beyond negative marks on your credit file. Bear in mind, though, that this flexibility may have its limits. For example, you may have a default or two, and it is acceptable, but some lenders will not consider you if you are currently bankrupt.
  • Your assets. If you own a car or a boat outright or have equity in a property, your application may have a higher chance of receiving approval because the lender may use this as security for the loan.

Example: Sarah needs a loan

Sarah has been out of work for 3 months after completing her degree and currently receives Work and Income payments. She can get a job as a sales rep but needs a car for them to offer her the role. Sarah has found a cheap car to purchase from a friend for $1,500, so all she needs to do is secure a loan.

Sarah can comfortably repay the loan using her Work and Income payments, and when she receives pay from her new job, the loan repayments will be even easier to manage. She compares her small, short-term loan options and sees some lenders consider her Work and Income payments as income. After examining what's available and double-checking the eligibility criteria, Sarah submits an online application and receives approval for the loan amount. Her repayments are structured around her Work and Income payments and, after purchasing the car, she is offered the job.

* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.

Are there any alternative loan options?

There are more than just short-term lenders to consider if you’re in need of finance while unemployed. It’s essential to look at all your options and find the best one for your needs and situation.

  • No Interest Loans Scheme (NILs). Provided by Good Shepherd New Zealand, the No Interest Loans Scheme (NILs) offers credit to women, girls and families who have lower incomes and hold a Community Services Card. They provide loans of up to $1,500 with loan terms of up to 3 years and with no fee, charges or interest. For example, if you borrowed $900, you would pay $75 a month for a year or if you wanted to pay back the loan weekly, it would be $17.31. A NILs loan can help people pay for household items, medical and dental services and even educational essentials like computers or tablets. Applicants need to show a strong willingness and ability to repay the loan and to have resided at their current address for over 3 months.
  • StepUP loan. Another option offered by Good Shepherd New Zealand, this time with a number of partners, including the Salvation Army, BNZ and the New Zealand government. Loans are available for between $1,500 to $10,000 with an interest rate of 6.99%. For example, if you borrow $3,500 at 6.99% over 24 months, you will pay $157 a month or $39.25 a week. In total, you will pay back $3,754.45. To be eligible, you need to hold a current Community Services Card, and as with NILS, you need to have been at your current address for more than 3 months. This loan can be used for household items and medical or dental expenses as well as to purchase cars and computers or to pay for repairs on your house or car. The loans can also be used for debt consolidation along with debt coaching.
  • Joint applications, guarantors and co-signers. If you’re unemployed and in need of a loan, you can consider applying with another person (e.g. a partner, relative or friend) to boost your eligibility. Many lenders offer the option for joint applications so you can access finance. If you don’t meet the eligibility criteria on your own, find out if you can apply with someone who does. Remember, this is a significant responsibility a guarantor or co-signer is taking on since they are sharing the responsibility for you repaying the loan.
  • Buy now, pay later providers. If you don’t currently have the entire amount to make an essential purchase, but know you can manage smaller weekly or fortnightly payments, you could consider a buy now, pay later company (e.g. Afterpay or Oxipay). With this service, you can buy and obtain the goods immediately but make payments in instalments. However, although these providers do not charge interest, they charge late payment fees and you may pay other charges, such as administration and payment processing.

Work and Income may also be able to help if you are in need of monetary assistance. It can offer the following:

  • Advance payment of benefit. If you receive a benefit from Work and Income, they may provide you with an advance if there’s an emergency or you find there are essentials you can’t pay for. For example, this could be for appliances and furniture, dental treatment or bonds and rent. However, it is dependent on your benefit amount and on the assets or money you and a partner have. Please see the Work and Income website for more information.
  • Urgent or unexpected costs. This payment may even be available if you are employed. It can help if you are struggling to meet your daily costs of living (e.g. food, home repairs or costs related to bereavement). The assistance you receive depends on whether you receive a benefit or not.
  • Emergency Benefit. If you are unable to support yourself, and either don’t receive or qualify for another benefit, you might qualify for the Emergency Benefit. To apply, you need to call Work and Income on 0800 559 009.

There are other additional payments available from Work and Income, such as Emergency Maintenance Allowance (for sole parents) or Temporary Additional Support. These benefits can be dependent on other income, so check out the Work and Income website or phone 0800 559 009 to see if you qualify.

You don’t reach the end of the finance road when you are unemployed. If you can manage the repayments, there are lenders who will consider you and loan options available. Remember to compare all the options open to you to secure the best one for your needs.

More guides on Finder

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  • $1,000 cash loans

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  • Urgent cash loans

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  • Car repair loans

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  • Low-income loans

    Need to borrow money but you’re on a low income? There are lenders that will consider you. Find out what your options are and how much you need to earn to be eligible for a low-income loan.

  • Loans for bankrupts

    If you have declared bankruptcy and need a loan, there are options available.

  • $1,500 loans you can apply for

    Find out which lenders will approve you for a loan up to $1,500 and what you need to apply.

  • Find a loan for $2,000

    Do you need a small loan up to $2,000? Find out about the options available to you, eligibility criteria and what to be aware of before you apply.

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