Earnin app review — a new payday loan alternative?

Get an advance on the wages you've earned before your next payday — with no fees or interest.

Bottom line: Earnin works best for hourly workers who want to avoid membership fees and high interest on a cash advance. But pick something else if you don’t have a regular pay date.

Details

Product NameEarnin
Max. Amount$500
Turnaround time2 to 3 days, or instant with Lightning Speed
CostsOptional tip of up to $14
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Pros

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

Cons

  • Limited to hours already worked
  • Must upload weekly schedule or use location services
  • Must have a regular payday and be employed

Our take on Earnin

    Earnin is best for people who receive hourly wages looking for a low-cost cash advance — especially those struggling to cover bills due to a biweekly pay schedule. With Earnin Cash Out, you can receive an advance as high as to $500 per pay period on the hours you’ve already worked — but you can’t withdraw more than you’re scheduled to earn.

    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 timesheets, while salaried workers allow access to mobile location tracking to confirm commuting to and from their job location.

    While this may feel intrusive, Earnin has other benefits that may appeal to users, including no-cost paycheck advances, no monthly fees and no tipping required. Many other cash apps charge monthly fees and have more restrictive limits on what you can borrow. For example, Brigit charges a $9.99 monthly membership fee to use the app.

    Normal turnaround time is two to three business days but can be faster if using Earnin’s Lightning Speed service. Additionally, eligible Earnin users may be able to increase the amount of their cash advances to 80% of their paychecks, up to a maximum of $1,000 per pay period, by signing up for Earnin Express.

    Check out our short video where we give you a rundown on how to use the app!

    Earnin overview

    To use Earnin, start with the brief signup process. Earnin takes a few days to verify your bank account, sending two small test transactions to confirm ownership of your account. 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 timesheet.

    After you take out an advance, Earnin automatically deducts your loan and tip from your next paycheck.

    Features

    • Maximum advance: Up to $500 per pay period or $100 per day.
    • Cost: Optional tip of $0 to $14.
    • Turnaround: Two to three business days without Lightning Speed, instant with Lightning Speed.

    While Lightning Speed may speed up your loan, you may have to pay an additional fee. All Earnin users can borrow $100 per pay period, potentially increasing your maximum amount to $500. In comparison, many pay advance apps don’t offer advances higher than $20 to $50 to new users.

    However, you can’t receive more than $100 at once. Consider another app if you typically need a larger advance.

    Requirements

    To sign up for Earnin, you must meet the following requirements:

    • Verified source of income
    • Bank account
    • Over 18, or age of majority in your state
    • US resident — or resident of a US territory
    • Phone number or email address

    To qualify for a cash advance, you may need to meet additional requirements. For example, you must provide your debit card information to use this service. But like most cash advance apps, Earnin doesn’t consider your credit score when you apply for an advance.

    Other Earnin services

    In addition to the Cash Out advance, Earnin has several 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 an amount that you set, from $0 to $400, 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 it would take to get a payday loan or personal loan. But to use it, your bank must be part of Earnin’s Lightning Speed program.
    • Earnin Express. Earnin Express allows Cash Out users to up their advance limit to 80% of their paycheck or $1,000 per pay period, whichever is less. You can also receive your full paycheck up to two days ahead of time.
    • Max Boost. Earnin offers some Cash Out the chance to bring on another Earnin member as a guarantor for your advance. This temporarily increases your advance limit by $50 per pay period.
    • Tip Yourself. This “microsavings” tool makes building up an emergency fund easier by setting up one-time or recurring transfers from your account to a Tip Yourself Account. While it doesn’t earn rewards like a traditional savings account, it can help incentivize you to start saving in small increments.
    • 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 reviews and complaints

    BBB accredited Yes
    BBB rating A-
    BBB customer reviews 4.02 out of 5 stars, based on 659 customer reviews
    BBB customer complaints 510 customer complaints
    Trustpilot Score 2.8 out of 5 stars, based on 6 customer reviews
    App Store Score 4.7 out of 5 stars, based on 210,100 customer reviews
    Google Play Score 4.4 out of 5 stars, based on 178,655 customer reviews
    Customer reviews verified as of 27 April 2022

    The Earnin app earns high ratings on Google Play and the App Store, but many recent reviews have been negative. Users report problems with Earnin not crediting their account, withdrawing funds too soon or not registering uploaded timesheets.

    Several hundred complaints have also been registered on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website, but Earnin’s customer service team took the time to read the complaints and respond to each user, offering to rectify the problems.

    Unlike some other cash advance platforms, Earnin has a favorable BBB customer rating, with satisfied customers mentioning helpful Earnin team members by name and reporting that problems were resolved quickly and professionally.

    Earnin cash advance 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. But they share some similarities: Both rely on a one-time tip or fee instead of charging interest rates.

    Earnin cash advancePayday 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 of up to $14Fee of $15 to $25 per $100 borrowed
    AvailabilityAnywhere in the USProhibited in some states

    Is Earnin safe to use?

    In general, yes — though no app can guarantee your information stays 100% safe. While it does require you to sign in to your bank account, it never stores your login information.

    The app also 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.

    Earnin lawsuit

    Earning settled a class-action lawsuit in March 2021 after users sued the app over unexpected fees. While Earnin doesn’t charge fees itself, some users faced insufficient funds fees or overdraft fees after Earnin deducted their repayments. Earnin’s terms and conditions now clearly state that you may be subject to third-party fees when you take out an advance.

    Anyone charged an overdraft or nonsufficient funds fee due to an Earnin withdrawal between September 3, 2015, and May 28, 2020, is eligible for a settlement. You can learn more information about the settlement payment by visiting the lawsuit’s website or calling the court-appointed settlement administrator by calling 855-786-0901.

    More about Earnin

    Founded in 2014 under the name Activehours, Earnin was one of the first financial services companies to offer tip-based cash advances as an alternative to payday loans and overdraft fees. Since then, it’s grown to serve over a million iOS and Android users. According to internal data, many Earnin users can more effectively budget, cover an emergency expense or pay bills on time with the app’s help.

    It’s previously offered several other services to help users manage their finances. For example, Earnin Health Aid was a free program that helped users negotiate medical bills. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Earnin also temporarily opened up the app to unemployed users — though you currently need to be employed to qualify.

    Should I use the Earnin app?

    Earnin can be a 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.

    Compare pay advance apps options

    Earnin might not be the right app for everyone. Use our table to quickly compare how this app compares to the alternatives.

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    Name Product Filter Values Max. amount per pay period Turnaround time Costs
    Tidal Lending
    Tidal Lending
    $30,000
    As Soon As Next Business Day
    Chime SpotMe overdraft
    Up to $200
    Instant
    Possible Finance Mobile Installment Loans
    $500
    As fast as 1 business day
    Rates vary by state, though you’ll likely be charged around $15 or $20 per $100 borrowed.
    Borrow up to $500 with just a few swipes — but only for residents of 5 states.
    Brigit
    $250
    1 to 3 days or same-day in some circumstances
    $9.99 monthly membership fee
    Have up to $250 automatically deposited into your account — for a $9.99 membership fee.
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    Compare up to 4 providers

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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?

      • Avatarfinder Customer Care
        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

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