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.
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.
No membership fees or requirement to tip
Same-day funding available
Multiple financial-help programs
Limited to hours already worked
Must upload weekly schedule or use location services
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.
Up to $100 daily and up to $500 per pay period
Typically up to $1,000, and most states allow only one at a time
One to two business days or immediately with Lightning Speed
Typically next business day
Simple mobile app signup that requires connection to bank account
Simple online application, typically requires Social Security number and bank account numbers
Optional tip up to $14
High interest rate that can equal fees of $15 to $25 per $100 borrowed
You can get an advance for up to $100 when you first sign up. Follow these steps to get started:
Download the Earnin app from Google Play or the App Store.
Sign up for an account, connect your bank account and upload your work schedule.
Click Cash out.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can. Reach out to Earnin’s customer support service to learn more details on how this works.
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