Are you planning on applying for an emergency loan? Don’t fill out an application just yet. First, you should read this handy list of dos and don’ts for emergency loans.

Do: Use Them as Backup Plans

Ideally, you should use the savings sitting in your emergency fund to cover a small, urgent expense. However, you might not always have enough sitting in your fund to cover an entire expense. 

In that case, you will need to turn to a different safety net as a backup plan. You could charge the expense to your credit card, as long as your balance is nowhere near the set limit. This would allow you to manage the emergency quickly. Then, you could whittle down your balance at a more comfortable pace.

Another backup plan you could try is to go to a website with legit online loans for emergencies. As long as you meet the qualifications, you can apply. If you’re approved, you can use the borrowed funds to manage the urgent expense. Once the problem is resolved, you can follow the loan’s steady repayment plan.

It’s important that you only see emergency loans as a backup plan, not a primary solution. Your emergency fund should be your first line of defense in times of crisis. If you don’t have an emergency fund right now, you should start putting one together. 

Don’t: Use Them for Non-Emergencies

Emergency loans are for just that: emergencies. These loans are not meant to help you plan weekend road trips with your friends, fund shopping sprees for summer clothing, or even help you pay upcoming bills that slipped your mind.

Emergency loans are meant for times when you’re facing expenses that are urgent and unexpected. If an expense doesn’t meet these two essential pieces criteria, you shouldn’t apply. 

Do: Focus on Cybersecurity

You should always focus on cybersecurity when you’re managing your finances online — especially when you’re applying for loans. Taking some simple precautions will ensure that your sensitive information doesn’t reach the wrong hands.

What can you do? Check for “https” in the URL — this stands for “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure.” It means that the website encrypts data between the server and the client, keeping sensitive information safe from potential cybercriminals.

You can also use a virtual private network. A VPN can ensure that your network connection is secure, so cybercriminals can’t breach your connection and access your sensitive data. Ideally, you will want to use a VPN instead of attaching yourself to a public network. So, if you ever find yourself in a hotel room and need to apply for an emergency loan, you should use a VPN instead of the establishment’s Wi-Fi. This simple precaution will increase your cybersecurity.

Don’t: Forget about Repayments

Getting an emergency loan is just the first step of the process. Once that step is done, you need to prioritize the second step: repayments. 

Look at the terms of your emergency loan and see how much you can expect to pay through your billing cycle. Assess your budget to determine how that payment will fit in with the rest of your monthly expenses. You may need to trim some variable expenses to cover it.

Then, set up reminders for the payments. You may be able to automate your bill payments to the servicer. That could make the repayment process much easier to handle. Your payments will come out of your checking account, even when you forget the due date.

Now you know exactly what to do—and, more importantly, what not to do — with emergency loans.