Earnin app review November 2018 — get your paycheck today | finder.com
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Earnin review — a new payday loan alternative?

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Withdraw small amounts from what you’ve already earned before payday — no wait, no fees and no interest.

The traditional two-week pay cycle offered by big business doesn’t always work for everyone. When you’re working an hourly job, you might wonder why you can’t just access your paycheck as soon as you earn it.

Earnin seeks to step into the gap between when you’ve worked and your actual payday, allowing you to borrow up to $100 daily from your pending paycheck based on how often you work and how much you earn.

There’s no charge to use the Earnin app, and you don’t have to jump through hoops to see if you’re eligible. Rather, Earnin decides how much you can withdraw based on what you regularly earn.

Read our review to learn more about the new payday loan alternative Earnin.

What is Earnin?

Founded in 2014 and rebranded from Activehours in November 2017, Earnin is a financial service that allows you to draw fee-free amounts from your wages before payday. It sets your limits by tracking how often you work and how much you earn.

That Earnin is a free service might raise an eyebrow: 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.

Earnin’s way of conducting business aligns with its main marketing message: That you’ve already earned your wages, and so you should be able to access them whenever needed.

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.

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.

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:
  1. Borrow $50 through Earnin and leave a $3 tip
  2. Receive $50 in your account the next day
  3. Get paid $1,000 one week later
  4. Earnin deducts that $53 from your account

Optional programs available to Earnin users

Balance Shield

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.

Your control over the optional Balance Shield comes down to whether you tip for the service. Without a tip, Earnin activates the protection only once. Leaving a tip, however, keeps Balance Shield activated until you toggle it off through the app.

Lightning Speed

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 Earnin to online payday loan providers

Rates last updated November 13th, 2018
Unfortunately, none of the short term loan providers currently offer loans in your state. Learn more about short term loans in your state to find an alternative.
Name Product Product Description Term of Loan Turnaround Time Max. Loan Amount
With straightforward, simple qualifications, these loans offer easy approval for people with poor credit.
3 to 36 months
LendYou Short-term Loans
Apply online with this loan-connection company offering unrestricted short-term loans at high maximums — fast turnaround.
1 business day
CashAdvance.com Payday Loans
Whether for emergencies or unexpected expenses, this provider may be able to connect you among its nationwide network of lenders.
Up to 12 months
1–2 business days
Slam Dunk Loans
Potentially get approved for a short-term loan through this lender-connection service, even with poor credit history.
Varies by lender
As soon as next business day
TriangleCash Payday Loans
If you have bad credit or no credit history, apply to be connected to a network of lenders for funding at rates that vary by state.
Varies based on lender
As soon as next business day
LoanSolo.com Payday Loans
Potentially get connected with a legit lender offering convenient payday loans and quickly get funds.
Varies by lender
As soon as one business day

Compare up to 4 providers

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 is a relatively new startup and doesn’t fall into the same categories as other financial services that have come before it. Which means that you’ll find mixed reviews as to whether it’s a good service to use. The majority of its users report that Earnin does what it says it will, providing a helpful alternative to payday loans.

While Earnin doesn’t have accreditation from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), it does garner an A+ rating based on a handful of customer reviews. 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.

Earnin app 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. We compare Earnin and payday loans to bring their differences to light.

Earnin Payday loans
Borrowing amount Up to $100 daily, with pay period maximums of up to $500 Typically up to $1,000, and most states allow only one at a time
Turnaround time 1 to 2 business days, but if your bank is part of its Lightning Speed program, you could see immediate transfers Typically next business day
Application process Simple mobile app signup, requires connection to bank account Simple online application, typically requires Social Security number and bank account numbers
Costs No fees; instead, you tip what you think makes sense High interest rate that can equal fees of $15 to $25 per $100 borrowed
Availability Anywhere in the US Prohibited in some states

What are the pros and cons of Earnin?


  • 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?

Follow these five simple steps to sign up:

Download the free Earnin app from your phone’s mobile app store.

Image on step one to create an account on the app

Get started by creating an account with your email address.
Image on step two to create an account on the app

Add information on how you get paid, including your pay frequency and how you receive payment.

Image on step one to pay on the app

Select which bank you use from the list of popular banks.
Image on step two to pay on the app

Securely log in to your bank account to give Earnin access for tracking and verifying your income.
Image on step three to pay on the app

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.

Should I use the Earnin app?

Earnin is suitable for people who need a little help between paydays through a service that doesn’t charge fees. As long as you can provide proof of regular work hours, you’re eligible for small withdrawals through the app on the money 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, you’ll need to consider other short-term loan options.

Frequently asked questions

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36 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    tonyNovember 10, 2018

    i have money going to a green dot card via direct deposit and to a checkcard from my employer can i use those

    • finder Customer Care
      AshNovember 11, 2018Staff

      Hi Tony,

      Thank you for contacting us.

      Unfortunately, your paycheck should be deposited directly to a Checking Account to be eligible to use Earnin.

      If you are looking for a Payday Loan but only have your Prepaid Debit Card, you may compare the Lenders at this page. On the same page, you may read more about the advantages and disadvantages of having a Payday Loan.

      I hope this helps.

      Please do not hesitate to reach out again to us if you have additional questions.


  2. Default Gravatar
    TomOctober 31, 2018

    How does the money get paid back? Automatically when we get direct deposit?

    • finder Customer Care
      johnbasanesOctober 31, 2018Staff

      Hi Tom,

      Thank you for your question.

      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. Hope this helps!


  3. Default Gravatar
    CecOctober 27, 2018

    I was wondering if an atm card would work on the app for the lightning speed.

    • finder Customer Care
      CharisseOctober 27, 2018Staff

      Hi Cec,

      Thanks for reaching out to finder.

      Unfortunately, ATM cards will not work if you want to be able to use lightning speed. For this feature, Earnin has partnered with banks so you will need to add a debit card of the bank account that receives your paycheck.

      I hope this helps.


  4. Default Gravatar
    DionneOctober 26, 2018

    If you borrow money from Earnin and you want to pay it back before the scheduled date for them to take it out, can you do that?

    • finder Customer Care
      CharisseOctober 26, 2018Staff

      Hi Dionne,

      It’s possible to pay Earnin earlier than the scheduled date if your bank posted your paycheck a day or two early. Because how Earnin works is that, they take the payment on the day they see your paycheck appear in your bank account.

      For example, if your official payday is on a Friday but your bank posted your paycheck on a Wednesday, they will take the money out of your account earlier than scheduled.

      I hope this helps.


  5. Default Gravatar
    JabreaOctober 7, 2018

    How will Earnin affect my paycheck will I have a less amount of money on my paycheck because I used the money

    • finder Customer Care
      AnndyOctober 9, 2018Staff

      Hi Jabrea,

      Thanks for your question.

      With Earnin, you are required to direct deposit your paycheck into a checking account. Earnin will then automatically deduct repayments from that account. This means that while it will not directly affect your paycheck, repayments will lessen the amount that you can withdraw from your checking account.

      I hope this helps.


  6. Default Gravatar
    JohnOctober 3, 2018

    Can I use this app in Massachusetts?

    • finder Customer Care
      CharisseOctober 3, 2018Staff

      Hi John,

      Yes, you can use Earnin app in Massachusetts. Earnin caters to customers in all 50 states, nationwide and and you can use that app to track your earnings and cash out those earnings to your bank.

      You can learn more information about how Earnin services work by visiting their website or by sending them a message using the chat icon in the Earnin app.

      I hope this helps.


  7. Default Gravatar
    DeannaSeptember 12, 2018

    My pay was 175, I borrowed 46. When I get paid on Friday will it be 175 then take the 46 plus 4 dollar tip I put or will it already be 175 minus the 50 dollars

    • finder Customer Care
      JoshuaSeptember 16, 2018Staff

      Hi Deanna,

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

      Earnin automatically deducts repayments from the checking account you provided at signup. So if you borrow $46, then the next time you’re paid, Earnin deducts $46 from your account; if you borrow $46 and leave a $4 tip, it deducts $60. If your pay is $175, then $46 would be deducted from it leaving you $129.

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

      Have a wonderful day!


  8. Default Gravatar
    DomSeptember 6, 2018

    I just joined and took the max of $100. It automatically took a $9 tip. Now I keep getting emails of people thanking me. Why? And how to I decide the tip amount?

    • finder Customer Care
      CharisseSeptember 7, 2018Staff

      Hi Dom,

      Thank you for reaching out to finder.

      Earnin does not charge any fees or interest and instead just rely on the help and support they get from their community members. Everytime that you go to cash out, you’ll see a screen that pops up giving you the option to tip anywhere between $0 – $14. It’s totally up to you to decide how much you think is fair to give as a tip.

      Hope this helps.


  9. Default Gravatar
    ThaoAugust 31, 2018

    My employer does not offer direct deposit. Can I still use this app?

    • finder Customer Care
      joelmarceloSeptember 1, 2018Staff

      Hi Thao,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

      Unfortunately, no. Earnin only supports transfers to and from the banks that it lists and can do direct deposit. It also doesn’t currently support transfers to and from prepaid debit card accounts. You can still get a loan without a bank account but it will likely cost you more than the average personal loan. That’s because many of your options fall into the category of short-term loans. These loans come by many names: payday, auto title, pawn, debit card and signature loans. What makes them expensive are fees and APRs that can top out at 700% or more.

      A checking account, however, opens the doors to stronger lenders and could help you potentially qualify for competitive rates, if you have good credit.

      We have a comparison and guide on how to get a personal loan without bank account if you click HERE.


  10. Default Gravatar
    PhoebeAugust 31, 2018

    Does it help you build your credit??

    • finder Customer Care
      CharisseAugust 31, 2018Staff

      Hi Phoebe,

      Thank you for reaching out to finder.

      Earnin is a financial service that lets you draw small amounts of your paycheck before payday which can be an alternative to payday loans however, it doesn’t does not report to any credit bureau so it will not help you build your credit.

      You can go to this page if you are looking to compare secured credit cards that can help you build your credit.


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