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Apps like Empower

7 apps like Empower that may give you a bigger bang for your buck.

Empower is a financial services company that offers up to $250 cash advances with no credit checks or interest. But to get advances, you need to pay an $8 monthly fee. This fee covers normal transfers to your bank account — but can take two to five days. Instant transfers are also available but cost between $1 and $8 unless you have a qualifying Empower Card.

While many people like it, Empower isn’t the only cash advance app on the block. These other options are similar to Empower but may offer higher advance limits, lower fees and additional features like free overdraft, which could help you save.

Our 7 top picks for apps like Empower

  • Alternative for freelancers: Cleo
  • Alternative for overdraft feature: Chime SpotMe
  • Alternative for building a portfolio: Albert
  • Alternative for large advance amounts: Earnin
  • Alternative for no instant transfer fees: B9
  • Alternative for peer-to-peer advances: SoLo Funds
  • Alternative for no monthly fees: MoneyLion

Alternative for freelancers: Cleo

Cleo

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If you're a freelancer or gig worker with multiple jobs, Cleo may be a good fit. Cleo is a financial budgeting app with a free and paid version. The free version offers a plethora of tools to help you track your spending and save more. The paid version offers the free features plus cash advances in the app, overdraft protection and cashback to your Cleo wallet.

What makes Cleo good for freelancers is that it doesn't require employment verification and has no minimum income requirement. As long as you have consistent income, you could qualify for cash advances. Its cash advance amounts start at $20 to $70, but could increase to $250 over time. Empower also has a $250 borrowing limit, but charges more for its monthly subscription than Cleo.

  • Available in all states
Pros
  • No payslips or W-2 forms required
  • No credit checks or interest charged
  • Free AI financial planner, bill tracker and low balance alerts
Cons
  • Paid version costs $5.99 a month
  • Same day transfers cost $3.99
  • Mixed customer reviews
Loan amountUp to $250
Loan TermVaries
Turnaround time3 to 4 days standard transfer. Same day with $3.99 express fee.

Alternative for overdraft feature: Chime SpotMe

Chime SpotMe®

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Chime's SpotMe is an optional service for Chime account holders that allows you to overdraw your account. Eligible account holders can overdraw their accounts between $20 and $200 without incurring any fees. To qualify, you must have at least $200 direct deposited into your Chime checking account every month.

Limits for SpotMe start at a low $20, but you can work your way up to $200 with a history of regular direct deposits and a good account history. Chime also offers account holders the ability to get paid up to two days early — which effectively works similarly to a cash advance without having to request one.

  • Available in all states
Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC. Direct deposit: Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. We generally make these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date. SpotMe: Chime SpotMe is an optional, no fee service that requires a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Checking Account each at least once every 34 days. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member’s Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime’s discretion. Although there are no overdraft fees, there may be out-of-network or third party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe won’t cover non-debit card transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See Terms and Conditions.
Pros
  • No fees or tipping obligation
  • Low monthly direct deposit requirement of $200
Cons
  • Overdraft limits start at $20
  • Must have Chime Checking account and debit card
  • Only covers debit card purchases and ATM withdrawals
Loan amountUp to $200
Loan TermNext deposit
Turnaround timeSame day

Alternative for building a portfolio: Albert

Albert

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Albert is a banking and cash advance app that goes beyond what Empower offers. While its advance limits are the same as Empower — up to $250 per pay period — it packs a mix of saving and investing tools to help beginners build a customized investment portfolio with just a few questions.

It offers investment advice through its Genius service, an AI-driven, human-supported add-on feature for Albert customers. The Genius service costs $14.99 to $16 a month, but you can get a free 30-day trial before deciding if it's right for your investing goals.

  • Available in all states
Pros
  • No monthly membership fee
  • Advance cash up to three times per pay period
  • No late fees or inactivity fees
Cons
  • Must sign up for a free trial of Genius
  • Fees for instant transfers
  • No phone support
Loan amountUp to $250
Loan TermN/A
Turnaround time2–3 business days or instant for a fee

Alternative for large advance amounts: Earnin

EarnIn

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Earnin is a popular wage-based app with no monthly fees. Unlike Empower, Earnin lets you borrow up to $100 a day and up to $750 every pay period on wages you've already earned. But as a wage-based app, the advance amount you qualify for depends on the number of hours you've already worked.

While it doesn't cost anything to use Earnin, you need to upload your time schedule so it can track your hours. Normal transfer times are one business day — or within minutes if you use Earnin's Lightning Speed service. This service costs between $0.99 and $3.99 per transfer, which is cheaper than Empower and many other apps.

  • Available in all states
Pros
  • Higher advance limit than other apps
  • Relatively low instant transfer fees
  • No specific employer requirements
Cons
  • Cash advances depend on hours worked
  • Must upload a work schedule
Loan amountGet up to $100 per day or $750 per pay period.
Loan TermDue by your next pay date
Turnaround time1 to 3 business days, or same-day for a fee

Alternative for no instant transfer fees: B9

B9 pay advance app

B9 is a membership-based cash advance app that offers up to $500 per pay period — higher than Empower. Like Empower, it charges a monthly fee: $9.99 for advances up to $100 and $19.99 for advances up to $500. While these fees are high compared to other apps, you don't need to pay extra for instant transfers — which could balance things out.

To use the B9 app, you must open an FDIC-insured checking account with B9 and set up direct deposit through your employer or the B9 app. To qualify for a cash advance, you have to receive at least one direct deposit into your B9 account — but advances are available as soon as one hour after receiving your first deposit.

  • Available in all states
Pros
  • Quick access to deposits
  • No transfer fees or interest
  • Nonresidents may qualify with an ITIN
Cons
  • Monthly fee of $9.99 or $19.99
  • Must have a B9 account to use
  • Few additional features
Loan amountUp to 100% of your paycheck
Loan TermNot Stated
Turnaround timeInstant

Alternative for peer-to-peer advances: SoLo Funds

SoLo Funds payday loan alternative

SoLo Funds is a social lending app that offers peer-to-peer (P2P) microloans from $20 to $575. Like Empower's cash advances, it's designed to help you access cash to cover emergency expenses. But it's a no-interest personal loan funded by SoLo members instead of a cash advance.

You can get your money as soon as a member funds your loan — as quickly as 20 minutes. To use the service, it's customary, although not required, to offer a tip. You're more likely to get funded if you offer a tip, but SoLo caps tips at 15%. Unlike cash apps, you must repay the loan on time or get charged a late fee of 10%.

  • Not available in: California
Pros
  • Optional tips capped at 15%
  • Borrow as much as $575
  • Same-day turnaround
Cons
  • Website is short on details
  • High late fees for smaller loans
Loan amount$20 to $575
Loan TermUp to 35 days
Turnaround timeAs soon as the same day

Alternative for no monthly fees: MoneyLion

MoneyLion Instacash advances

Unlike Empower, MoneyLion charges no monthly fee. And its advance limits are higher too. Its standard advance amount is $500 per pay period. You may qualify for up to $700 if you sign up for MoneyLions's Credit Builder Plus program, and you could get up to $1,000 if you open a RoarMoney account and set up direct deposit.

As a full-suite banking app, MoneyLion offers a range of services, including an investment account and a crypto trading feature. MoneyLion gets mostly positive reviews on Trustpilot, but some customers have complained about glitches with the app and high instant transfer fees that make borrowing expensive.

  • Available in: Alabama, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Pros
  • Borrow up to $1,000 per pay period
  • No fees and no obligation to tip
  • Use spare change to buy Bitcoin
Cons
  • Normal funding takes 24 to 48 hours
  • Instant delivery costs between $1.99 and $8.99
Loan amountUp to $500 or $1,000 with RoarMoney account
Loan TermDue by your next pay date
Turnaround timeUp to 5 days or instant for a fee of $0.49 to $8.99

How does Empower compare?

Compared to other cash advance apps, Empower is about average. It offers a standard advance amount — up to $250 — and its monthly fee of $8, and app features are similar to what other cash advance apps offer. However, not all cash apps charge monthly fees: Earnin and MoneyLion are two exceptions.

On the plus side, it offers a 14-day free trial, so you can test the service before paying. Like many cash advance apps, normal ACH transfers to your bank account are free and can take two to five days. Instant transfers cost between $1 and $8, depending on the amount — unless you have a qualifying Empower Card. These fees are also about average for most cash advance apps.

For those looking to build their credit, the company is launching Empower Thrive — a credit line that starts at $200 and can increase to $1,000 with a history of on-time payments. However, this is not a unique feature. Cash advance apps like Brigit and MoneyLion also offer credit-building loan programs for a fee.

And if you need to borrow more than $250 between paydays, you’ll likely be better off with an app like B9, Earnin, Even, PayActiv or MoneyLion — all offer potentially higher amounts than Empower. Empower generally gets good reviews online, but some customers have complained about low advance limits.

Pros

  • Other banking services available
  • FDIC-insured automatic savings feature
  • Empower Card with 10% cashback

Cons

  • Monthly subscription fee
  • Not all users will qualify for a $250 advance
  • Instant transfers cost money unless you have an Empower Card

More alternatives to payday and installment loans

We didn’t include payday and short-term installment loans as alternatives to Empower, as they charge sky-high interest rates that can hit up to 700% APR or higher.

Consider that:

  • A typical $375 payday loan comes with $520 in fees because of repeat borrowing.
  • The average APR on a payday loan can reach as high as 650% in states with no protections against predatory short-term lenders.
  • While payday loans are designed for one-time emergencies, about 70% of borrowers use them for recurring costs like utilities and bills.
  • Most payday loan borrowers stay in debt for at least 11 months.

For short-term borrowing, cash advance apps like Empower and the other apps on our list here are almost always cheaper than a payday loan, as they never charge finance fees or interest on what you borrow.

Alternatives to cash advance apps

If you prefer not to use a cash advance app that monitors your bank account or you don’t get regular direct deposits — often a requirement for cash apps — consider these other methods for accessing quick cash instead:

  • Credit card cash advance. Credit card cash advances are a convenient way to access quick cash, but it’s best to limit them as fees can run high. Compare the best credit cards.
  • Personal loan. If you need more than $500, compare the best personal loan lenders to find loans between $600 and $100,000. Same-day funding may even be available.
  • Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) app. While they don’t offer cash, BNPL apps let you purchase items you need today and pay them off later. Discover a range of BNPL apps and compare costs.
  • CDFI loan. These are small-dollar, short-term loans at a lower cost than a payday lender. They’re available from Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).
  • Employer advance. If you need funds before payday, your employer may be willing to advance part of your paycheck.

See our payday loan alternatives guide for more short-term borrowing options to cover emergency expenses or tide you over to payday.

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