Get an advance on the wages you've already earned — with no fees or interest.
finder.com’s rating: 3.6 / 5.0
Earnin seeks to step into the gap between when you’ve worked and your actual payday. You can borrow up to $100 daily from your pending paycheck. It’s free to use and you don’t have to jump through hoops to see if you’re eligible. But while it’s easy to use, it’s not a long-term solution for cash-flow problems.
Aliyyah Camp is a writer and personal finance blogger who helps readers compare personal, student, car and business loans. Aliyyah earned a BA in communication from the University of Pennsylvania and is based in New York, where she enjoys movies and running outdoors.
What is Earnin?
Earnin is an app that allows you to draw fee-free advances on your wages before payday rolls around. It tracks how often you work and how much you earn to come up with limits to how much you borrow.
Rather than charge you a fee to draw on your pending wages, it simply asks for an optional tip for its services — up to $14 per withdrawal. It’s not required to tip, however.
Should I use Earnin?
Earnin might be helpful in the following situations:
You have a small, out-of-budget expense. Rather than putting it on a credit card or getting a payday loan, this app offers a free way to access your wages to cover unexpected bills.
You want to avoid overdraft fees. With overdraft fees often topping $30, even leaving the recommended $14 makes Earnin a cheaper options than overdrawing your checking account.
You’ve already worked enough hours to cover your expenses. Earnin doesn’t offer you an advance on future work, just wages that you’ve already earned.
If you work from home, have an irregular work schedule or need more than the $100 or your limit each pay period, Earnin might not be the best option.
How does Earnin work?
The Earnin app is relatively simple to use. 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 first 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.
Maximum withdrawal. $100 daily limit and up to $500 per pay period, depending on your income and spending
Cost. Optional tip of up to $14 per withdrawal
Turnaround. Next business day for weekday requests, two business days for weekend requests and within minutes with Lightning Speed
How repayments work with Earnin
Earnin automatically deducts repayments from the checking account you provide at signup each time it expects you to get paid. How does it do this? Earnin uses your time sheets and mobile location tracking to monitors how often you work and how often you’re paid to determine your due date. You won’t be able to withdraw more than you’re scheduled to earn.
Let’s take a look at an example. Say you wanted to borrow $50 and left a $3 tip. One day later, you receive that $50 in your account bank account. One week later, your employer deposits a paycheck of $1,000 into your bank account. After that, Earnin deducts $53 from your account, leaving you with $947 from that paycheck.
Here’s how this example works step-by-step:
Borrow $50 through Earnin and leave a $3 tip
Receive $50 in your account the next day
Get paid $1,000 one week later
Earnin deducts that $53 from your account
Optional programs available to Earnin users
To help you avoid pricey overdrafts of $35 or more on your bank account, Earnin offers the optional 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.
The tip amount you choose when you set up balance shield will apply each time unless you go into the settings and change it.
If your bank is part of the Earnin Lightning Speed program, you might not need to wait a full business day for processing. 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.
Compare pay advance apps
Updated March 31st, 2020
How much does it cost to use Earnin?
Technically nothing. The app is free to download and requires no fees.
Instead, Earnin makes money from your optional tips. Each time you draw from your pending paycheck, you have the option to tip how much you think the service is worth. 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.
The model Earnin runs on is simple: You shouldn’t be punished for needing money between the two-week pay cycle businesses put in place.
Is Earnin safe to use?
Anytime you’re sharing your bank account information, it’s fair to be concerned about safety. With this service, you’re also sharing your work schedule, possibly accepting tracking to confirm your comings and goings. For perspective, keep in mind that Mint and plenty of other highly regarded services require access to your banking login info.
Like Mint, Earnin uses digital safeguards that it claims are equal to or even stronger than what most online banks use. Security measures include standard 256-bit encryption technology to protect your personal and financial information, secure server locations and regular audits to identify any security gaps.
What are users saying about the service?
Earnin gets mixed online reviews as of August 2019. While it doesn’t have accreditation from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) as of August 2019, it gets an A+ rating based on factors like transparency.
However, nearly 110 customers gave a mediocre rating of 3 out of 5 stars. People who have downloaded the app from the Google Play Store and App Store give it high praise with an average of 4.5 stars. Many of the negative reviews are based on a lack of communication between users and customer service, so carefully read Earnin’s policies before downloading and submitting your bank information.
Pattern of complaints
The BBB warns that several customers have reported either unauthorized debits from their account, or having repayments withdrawn from their account before their paycheck cleared. This resulted in overdraft fees. The BBB spoke with Earnin, which explained that overdrafts can happen in a handful of situations. These include situations outside of the borrower’s control such as when the bank, employer or national holiday delays paycheck deposits.
Borrow money you’ve already earned. Unlike payday loans, Earnin allows you to draw on the money you’ve already earned based on the hours you’ve worked during your pay period. No need to worry about taking out too much, because you can only borrow what your employer is guaranteed to give you.
Bonus features. Balance Shield and Lightning Speed set Earnin apart from other lending services. You can benefit from added protection against costly overdraft fees and the ability to get your money in minutes.
No fees — only tips. If you can’t afford to leave a tip, it’s OK: Earnin understands that not everyone can afford to spare a few dollars for access to their paycheck. You won’t pay fees to use this app, making this a safe alternative to payday loans.
Borrowing isn’t a cure for financial problems. While Earnin can provide you with a small cash loan when you need it, if you find yourself using this service often, you might want to seek financial counseling. It’s likely you have a structural issue that needs to be addressed.
Specific user criteria. The app isn’t designed for everyone. If you don’t have regular work hours or don’t have a bank account, you won’t be able to take advantage of Earnin.
Personal info required. For withdrawals and repayments, hourly employees must upload their schedules each week. If you’re salaried, you’ll need to turn on the app’s location services. Earnin also needs access to your checking account.
Tips can add up. A few dollars here and there might not sound like much. But think of it this way: If you tip $14 on a regular $200 withdrawal from your pending two-week paycheck, it calculates to 182.50% APR on that withdrawal.
How do I use the app?
You can either get the app from your phone’s app store or enter your phone number on Earnin’s site to receive a text message with the download link. Follow these five simple steps to sign up:
Download the free Earnin app from your phone’s mobile app store.
Get started by creating an account with your email address.
Add information on how you get paid, including your pay frequency and how you receive payment.
Select which bank you use from the list of popular banks.
Securely log in to your bank account to give Earnin access for tracking and verifying your income.
Once Earnin verifies your account and income, you can immediately request up to $100. Funds are transferred to your account in one to two business days.
You’ll have the option of adding a tip to support the app.
Which banks does Earnin support?
Earnin supports a variety of banks, including:
Bank of America
Navy Federal Credit Union
Woodforest National Bank
Fifth Thrid Bank
But don’t worry if your bank isn’t listed here. Earning has a full list of the banks it supports on its app when you sign up, so you’ll be able to search and see if yours can be used.
More about Earnin
Founded in 2014 and rebranded from Activehours in November 2017, Earnin is one of the first apps to offer this type of pay advance. It markets itself as reinventing payday lending and has plans to expand. It will soon launch a service to help negotiate down medical bills called HealthAid — also free to use.
You can find out if your bank offers Lightning Speed when you register your debit card. First log in to the app, then click on the Lightning Speed icon on the page. Add your debit card by scanning it. After Earnin verifies your card, you’ll find out if your bank offers Lightning speed. Keep in mind that it can take up to an hour to get verification the first time your use your debit card. Afterward, it can take seconds to have funds sent to your account.
Unfortunately, no. Earnin only supports transfers to and from the banks that it lists. It also doesn’t currently support transfers to and from prepaid debit card accounts.
No. The app’s intended users are those who have their income directly deposited into a checking account. If you have an alternate source of income and need a loan, you may want to consider options for those who are unemployed.
If your employer doesn’t pay you on time or the amount you’ve borrowed otherwise isn’t available in your account when Earnin is scheduled to debit it, you won’t be able to use the app again until you’ve fully repaid your withdrawal.
Yes. The Earnin app is available for download on Android and Apple phones.
You can. Reach out to Earnin’s customer support service to learn more details on how this works.
Any limit to your borrowing is to help keep Earnin from charging fees. With good financial decisions, you can slowly increase the maximum you are able to borrow to $500 per pay period.
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