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Earnin review — a new payday loan alternative?

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Get an advance on the wages you've already earned — with no fees or interest.

finder.com’s rating: 3.6 / 5.0

★★★★★

  • Best for workers who want to avoid membership fees and high interest.
  • Pick something else if you don’t have a regular pay date.

$500

Max. Amount

Same business day to 2 business days

Turnaround time

Details

Product NameEarnin
Max. Amount$500
Turnaround timeSame business day to 2 business days
CostsOptional tip of up to $14 per withdrawal

Get an advance on your unemployment benefits during COVID-19

Earnin is the first pay advance app to offer advanced access to unemployment benefits to help offset the financial hit many Americans took due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s available in select states to Earnin members who have their unemployment funds deposited directly into their bank account each week. You can find out if you qualify by logging in to your account on the Earnin app.

How do Earnin advances work?

  • Maximum advance: Up to $500 per pay period
  • Cost: Optional tip of $0 to $14
  • Turnaround: One to two business days without Lightning Speed

Earnin is an app that allows you to draw fee-free advances on your wages before payday rolls around. It uses your time sheet and mobile location to track how often you work and how much you earn.

When you need money, you can get an advance, called a Cash Out, on the hours you’ve already worked — you won’t be able to withdraw more than you’re scheduled to earn. You’ll start off with $100 per paid period, but the pay period max will depend on your work schedule. Your max can be as low as $50 to as high as $500.

After you download the app, you’re walked through a brief signup process. Earnin takes a few days to verify your bank account, sending two small test transactions to confirm ownership. To take advantage of its services, you need direct deposit of your paycheck into a checking account and a regular place of employment or electronic time sheet.

When you request money, Earnin verifies the hours you worked that week. It does this through a process that varies by how you’re paid: Hourly workers submit photos of their time sheets, while salaried workers allow access to mobile location tracking to confirm commuting to and from their job location.

What fees does Earnin charge?

Earnin is a free app that doesn’t charge any interest or membership fees. Instead, Earnin makes money from tips. Each time you draw from your pending paycheck, you have the option to leave a tip of $0 to $14. If one week you can’t afford to tip, you don’t have to. If you work extra hours during the month and want to tip extra, you can do that, too.

Keep in mind that a tip can add to the cost of your loan. A $10 tip on a $100 advance is similar to the fee charged by many payday lenders. So while it isn’t required, be sure you can handle the cost of each tip. But when used in an emergency, Earnin is a less expensive option than overdrafting your bank account or borrowing a short-term loan.

How do I repay my advance?

Earnin automatically deducts your advance — plus any optional tips — from your checking account on your payday. You can choose to pay manually as well, but unfortunately, Earnin requires you to send in a money order.

But there is one major downside: You can only reschedule your payment once. If you need to change your due date again, you may not be able to.

Pros

  • No membership fees or requirement to tip
  • Same-day funding available
  • Multiple financial-help programs

Cons

  • Limited to hours already worked
  • Must upload weekly schedule or use location services
  • Must have a regular pay date

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Is Earnin safe to use?

Earnin is safe to use. While it does require you to sign in to your bank account, it never stores your login information. The app uses 256-bit encryption to protect your information, and Earnin states that it regularly performs audits to prevent security issues. Its privacy policy covers the standard ways it collects and uses your information, including how that information is shared.

What are users saying about Earnin?

Earnin receives a positive response across the board, but many of the most recent reviews have been negative. Users report problems with Earnin not crediting their account, withdrawing funds too soon or not registering uploaded time sheets. However, the few problems people experienced were typically resolved, and Earnin’s customer service team took the time to write unique comments to each user.

Earnin vs. payday loans

Though it may sound like your typical cash advance, Earnin is not a payday loan. Rather, it’s an app that allows you to borrow small amounts from your pending wages with no fees or penalties.

EarninPayday loans
AmountUp to $100 daily and up to $500 per pay periodTypically up to $1,000, and most states allow only one at a time
Turnaround timeOne to two business days or immediately with Lightning SpeedTypically next business day
Application processSimple mobile app signup that requires connection to bank accountSimple online application, typically requires Social Security number and bank account numbers
CostsOptional tip up to $14High interest rate that can equal fees of $15 to $25 per $100 borrowed
AvailabilityAnywhere in the USProhibited in some states

How do I use the app?

You can get an advance for up to $100 when you first sign up. Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Download the Earnin app from Google Play or the App Store.
  2. Sign up for an account, connect your bank account and upload your work schedule.
  3. Click Cash out.
  4. Select the amount you want advanced and your tip.

Earnin will verify your account and income. You will need to enable location services if you’re a salaried worker or upload photos of your daily time sheet if you’re paid hourly.

If eligible, your advance will be transferred to your account within one to two business days. If you choose Lightning Speed, your advance should be available within a few minutes.

Do I qualify for an advance?

To qualify for an advance, you must meet these requirements:

  • Earned money through employment this pay period
  • Not reached daily or pay period max
  • Bank account balance less than $100 in the negative

Workers who make tips or commissions must make at least $4 an hour after taxes to qualify.

Additional programs available to Earnin users

Earnin has six programs to help its users make the most of their finances:

  • Balance Shield. With Balance Shield, as long as you’re adding regular timesheets, Earnin automatically deposits up to $100 to your bank account each time your balance slips under $100 to help you prevent overdraft fees.
  • Lightning Speed. Lightning Speed allows you to withdraw your pending earnings in minutes, meaning you can use the money you’ve already earned sooner than waiting for a payday loan. But to use it, your bank must be part of Earnin’s Lightning Speed program.
  • Cashback rewards. Much like a credit card, you can enroll in Earnin’s cashback rewards program with an eligible Mastercard, Visa or American Express debit or credit card. To earn rewards, simply make a purchase using your card at a participating store. You can redeem your rewards into your connected bank account — and there’s no limit to how much you can redeem.
  • Health aid. Health Aid is a free program to help you negotiate medical bills and lower your payments. It accepts both current and past due bills, including dental and vision.
  • Financial calendar. Earnin uses your bank account to keep track of your regular bills, advances, due dates and daily income so you can plan ahead and take control of your budget.
  • Earnin Unemployment. If you are currently enrolled in unemployment benefits from your state, you can connect your bank account and get an advance on your unemployment payments. However, this feature isn’t available in every state.

Can I cancel my Earnin membership?

Since Earnin doesn’t require you to have a membership to borrow an advance, there’s no need to cancel it. You can cancel an advance by selecting the Calendar icon and selecting the Cancel button. However, if you bank has already processed your advance, you won’t be able to cancel it.

Should I use the Earnin app?

Earnin can be an affordable solution to unexpected expenses. But be careful — it’s no replacement for an emergency fund. And if you’re stuck with a low pay period max, consider other pay advance apps similar to Earnin or read our guide on pay advance apps.

Frequently asked questions

Pictures: earnin.com

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87 Comments

  1. Default Gravatar
    Mack
    August 28, 2019

    Can I use this in other countries?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      Charisse
      August 28, 2019

      Hi Mack,

      Thanks for reaching out to Finder.

      Earnin is only available in the US so unfortunately, you cannot use it if you are in another country.

      In order to use Earnin, you will have to connect your bank account and add your employment info. If your bank account is not on their list of supported banks, you will also not be able to use their service.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Charisse

  2. Default Gravatar
    Kaii
    August 27, 2019

    I have been stuck on verifying for about a week now. How long does it take?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      Joshua
      August 27, 2019

      Hi Kaii,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. I hope all is well with you. 😃

      I’m sorry to hear about the issue you are having. It normally takes a few days for Earnin to verify your account. However, if after three business days you haven’t heard from Earnin or your account has not been verified, it is recommended that you get in touch with them. They will then investigate the issue and would work to help you out.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  3. Default Gravatar
    Lisa
    August 6, 2019

    How do I get work time sheet?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      fayemanuel
      August 7, 2019

      Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for contacting Finder.

      You may seek help from your employer on how to access your work time sheet if you are being paid hourly. If you work for a on-demand ride/task company, you can upload a photo of your trips summary.

      Kind Regards,
      Faye

  4. Default Gravatar
    Stephanie
    July 23, 2019

    I am trying to download the app but I can’t find it in my Google Play Store. Is it still available?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      Jhez
      July 24, 2019

      Hi Stephanie,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Yes, the Earnin app is still available in Google Play Store and App Store. Just search, Earnin – Get Paid Today, that’s the name of the app.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

  5. Default Gravatar
    Lisa
    June 22, 2019

    So I got the response about my account and I decided to sign up for Earnin everything was fine until I got to my financial institution verification, it would not take my login info, I even went into it just to be sure but it kept telling me it was incorrect?

    • Default Gravatar
      Bella
      June 23, 2019

      Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      As I checked, Earning account set up may take 72hours for verification. If it takes longer, you may contact support using their help button in the app. They can help you figure out what’s going on.

      I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,
      Bella

  6. Default Gravatar
    Alex
    June 10, 2019

    Can I use the app if I’m receiving direct deposit social security income (I’m retired)?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      Jeni
      June 10, 2019

      Hi Alex,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      Currently, Earnin app is for employed only. It basically allows users to draw on the money they have already earned based on the hours they have worked during their pay period.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  7. Default Gravatar
    деньги-на-телефон.рф
    May 11, 2019

    Great article, very helpful!

  8. Default Gravatar
    K
    April 4, 2019

    If you only borrow once, will it keep getting money from your account every check?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      Joshua
      April 8, 2019

      Hi K,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. I hope all is well with you. 😃

      Earnin would stop getting money from your account after you have completely paid back your balance.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  9. Default Gravatar
    Carrie
    March 17, 2019

    Can I use Earnin to access my Social Security Direct Deposit?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      Jhez
      March 18, 2019

      Hello Carrie,

      Thank you for your comment.

      No, unfortunately. Earnin currently doesn’t work with social security or government benefits.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

  10. Default Gravatar
    Dillydilly
    February 25, 2019

    Hey, so I signed up and was wondering something. It says I can take out 100 bucks. If I don’t touch it at all, will all my money from paycheck go straight back into my bank account?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      Joshua
      February 27, 2019

      Hi Dillydilly,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      If you don’t borrow money from Earnin, then your paycheck would remain untouched. You will receive your full paycheck without deduction.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

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