Written by our Subject Matter Experts, Updated on April 20, 2020
We are the trusted source for bail bonds, as well as financial help and guidance when you cannot afford to pay for the bail bond fee. Every day, we are contacted by great people who simply want to get their loved ones out of jail.
We are often asked “how can I bail out my friend if I can’t afford the 10% bail bond fee?” People need to know all the available options to them, which we cover in this expertly written guide, from working with bail bondsmen on $0 down financing options via payment plans to trustworthy loan options when there is an urgent need for a bail bond.
You may be in a difficult position financially and getting approved for a loan may be difficult. We attempt to tackle this difficult situation and give you options on bail bond loans, finding lenders, as well as seeking other financial options for bail bonds.
What if I don’t have money for bail?
We understand how important it is to get your loved one out of jail. Their future often depends on it. Just look at this data point to understand the significance of obtaining bail in a timely manner:
- 90% plead guilty if they can not obtain a bail bond, compared to
- Only 40% pleading guilty if they are able to afford a bail bond.
Without financing for a bail bond, people spend 15 days on average in jail. That’s enough time to be expelled from school or lose your job. It’s an unfair disadvantage for people to not have the financial options to release their loved one from jail. Most lenders will require you to have a job, bank account, and be at least 21 years of age for a loan.
If you can’t easily obtain a loan, it is now difficult to even get a high-interest payday loan. We recommend looking at charitable bail funds to sponsor you and cover your 10% bail bond fee at no charge, but please note that bail funds are limited to certain states although more are introduced on a regular basis. Another option is to borrow money from friends and family unless you are ready to enter into high-interest loans. Many states are now lowering the bail amount set for those in low-income households to prevent discrimination and unfair challenges.
Most states will also allow you, a friend, or family member to put up property as collateral. Obtaining a bail emergency loan is sometimes not possible since lenders deny high-risk, low-income individuals especially if you don’t have a job or any money saved up. Bail bond lenders simply can’t take the risk if you appear like you can’t make your payments. Having someone in your circle with property or other assets can help. If you don’t have a person that will vouch for you financially, you may want to explore pawning off any valuables or obtaining a loan using your car title or other assets.
Working directly with bail bondsmen on payment plans
Do bail bondsmen do payment plans?
Definitely, and most bondsmen don’t charge any interest when they finance or offer a payment plan for the 10-15% bail premium fee they charge. The fee is typically paid upfront in full, but if a person is limited financially, the bail agent may allow payments. Although bondsmen typically do not charge interest on the amount financed, some may charge a small “financing fee” for the additional paperwork, man-hours, and risk they take by financing a bail bond.
It is a kind gesture for the bail industry to offer interest-free payment plans on the premium fee considering the high-risk industry they operate in. If someone skips their court date and becomes a fugitive, and they have not paid the bondsman the 10-15% bond premium upfront, then the bondsman has even fewer resources to use to apprehend the individual and can take an even bigger loss.
For example, bail enforcement agents (not to be confused with bail bondsmen) charge a similar percentage of the bond to apprehend a fugitive for the bondsman. If the bondsman financed the 10-15% bond fee and never collected the full amount, then they are absorbing a loss just to hire a bail enforcement agent. This does not take into account the potential loss if the bond is forfeited.
Bail bondsmen are more willing to finance when the co-signer has a proven track record of employment. The credit score is not important if the co-signer has been employed for 12 consecutive months or longer at the same job. This sets bail companies apart from other lenders who are more likely to scrutinize an individual’s credit score and credit history.
Bondsmen are also more likely to finance a bond if collateral is posted. This can mean physically handing over property for the bondsman to hold or using a title lien or deed of trust. If you have a car title, the bondsman may take it as collateral and place a temporary lien on the vehicle. Once the case has been disposed of, the bail agency can release the lien simply by signing it back over to you.
A deed of trust is like a temporary lien, except it is used on real estate. If a co-signer owns their home “free and clear” meaning no mortgage and 100% equity, then a property’s deed can be used as collateral. Every state has different requirements for deeds of trust, which is why using a local bail bondsman is so important.
If you are posting an out-of-state bond, then the bondsman from out-of-state may not want to take a deed or car title since they are not familiar with the procedures in your state. In such cases, it is recommended to work with a local bail bondsman near you and post the collateral with them. The local bail agent can then post a transfer bond for you.
Reasons to use loans for bail
A challenge for many people is the lack of collateral, or unwillingness to risk collateral to bail someone out of jail. You may not fully trust the person you are bailing out as they may skip bail and your assets could be at risk. Likewise, you may have collateral, but you are in a rush to bail someone out and don’t have the time or resources to research and collect documentation to finalize the collateral process.
Using a credit card to bail someone out of jail
If you don’t have the cash to cover the 10-15% bail premium, then you will need alternate options. The good news is most bail bondsmen take major credit cards. In emergency situations, you have the option to put the 10-15% premium on a credit card or ask a family member to allow you to do so. If you think you can get the money back before your credit card payment is due, or once the defendant is released, then this makes this an even better option.
You essentially avoid the risk associated with putting up collateral with the bondsman, and you can quickly finish the bail process with a quick payment to the bail agent. Another option although less ideal – if your bank allows you to overdraft, you can use your debit card the same way.
Keep in mind that most bondsmen are willing to finance, and if you can come up with at least half of the premium they will likely be able to finance the rest. Many bondsmen have very flexible payment plans and can customize a solution that will work for you. It is important to note that you must make all your payments on time or risk the defendant going back to jail. Make sure to stay in contact with your bondsman if a hardship occurs, rather than ignoring the situation.
Bail bond loan options – personal loans, payday loans, pawnshops loans, title loans, cash advances
Can you get a loan to bail someone out of jail?
Loans are very common in the bail industry and are often used to cover some or all of the 10-15% bail premium. The main lending options for bail bonds include pawn shops, title loan lenders, payday loans, cash advances, home equity loans, and private lenders. Some small banks and credit unions offer micro-loans, such as those some family’s use around Christmas time to buy gifts for their children. Each of these lenders have interest and fees associated with their loans.
In consultation with our top-rated bail bondsmen, Fred Shanks with Apex Bail Bonds, we want to share a pro-tip for alternate financing.
- Bail Expert Tip: Pawn shops are usually the safest because they offer shorter loans with simpler terms. If you come back within the allotted time with the amount agreed to, you can get your items back from the pawnshop.
Another popular option to secure bail money quickly is via personal loans, payday loan providers, title loan lenders, and other similar services. It’s imperative to obtain full terms of the loan up-front and in writing. Understand the fees and interest rates associated with the loan, especially the term length and how the interest rate may add up long term.
Personal loans typically come with more reasonable interest rates, but they require stronger financial standing, while payday loans, title loans, and cash advances can be more easily obtained by low-income individuals and those with bad credit but also come with higher interest rates.
Lenders who approve such high-risk loans in return ask for higher interest rates and stiffer terms. While you should be skeptical when considering such lenders, we also don’t discourage applying for the loans if other options are exhausted.
Be sure to pay attention to the terms and make a strong attempt to pay off the balance as soon as the person is released from jail. If the loan is paid off quickly, then all loan options should be considered since the fees will be minimized from interest. In return, you can bail out your loved one and lessen the impact on their daily life.