Affordable Alternatives to Predatory Loans

Last updated on May 11, 2022

If you are struggling to make ends meet or pay for an emergency, this guide can help you with safe and affordable options to high-cost loans. It includes ways to lower your bills and find other sources of one-time income, as well as lower-cost loans. Most of these options do not require you to take on more debt.

NEW! Chicago Resilient Communities Cash Assistance program

Chicago residents may be eligible to apply for the City’s new cash assistance program, which will send $500 per month for 12 months to 5,000 hard-hit by COVID – no strings attached. Applications will be open April 25 – May 13 and then households will be chosen via a lottery system. Sign up for updates about the program and application portal.

Prefer Talking to a Live Person? Ask a Financial Coach.

Capital Good Fund’s financial coaching hotline provides one-on-one financial advice to any Illinois resident. Starting at $15 per month, the nonprofit can create a plan with you and can advocate on your behalf with creditors. They also offer a credit-builder program for $5 per month. Call 866-584-3651 (English or Spanish)

The City of Aurora’s Financial Empowerment Center provides free, high-quality, one-on-one financial counseling to low-and moderate-income residents of the Aurora region. Learn more.

Man getting advice


This resource guide is produced in partnership with New America Chicago, Woodstock Institute, and Financial Inclusion for All Illinois.

Special thanks to all the hardworking nonprofits, socially-conscious lenders, and community partners who are helping restore wealth in our communities. Your work is so important! Thanks also to Jane Doyle, Brent Adams, Amy Eisenstein, Vanessa Rangel, Gordon Mayer, Meegan Dugan Bassett, Bob Reddy, Joe Wilkes, LuLin McArthur, and Lauren Monaco Grossman for their work on this project.