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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

★★★★★

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.

$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
Go to Earnin's website

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.

Go to Earnin's site

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.

The tip amount you choose when you set up balance shield will apply each time unless you go into the settings and change it.

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 pay advance apps

Updated November 21st, 2019
Name Product Filter Values Max. Loan Amount Turnaround time Requirements
$500
Same business day to 2 business days
Direct deposit sent to a checking account, a regular pay schedule, a fixed work location or an online timekeeping system at work
A payday loan alternative. Get an advance on the wages you’ve already earned — with no fees or interest.
$500
As fast as 1 business day
Checking account with 3+ months of banking history, $750+ monthly income, live in eligible state, ages 18+
Borrow up to $500 with just a few swipes — but only for residents of 5 states.
$250
As early as same business day
Fee-free, interest-free cash advances up to $250.
Up to 50% of your current net pay
Same business day to 1 business days
Access up to 50% of your already-earned wages — but only if you work for an eligible employer.
$250
Same business day to 2 business days
Have up to $250 automatically deposited into your account — for a $9.99 membership fee.
$500
As early as same business day
Hourly workers can get an interest-free advance of up to $150 per day on earned wages.

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.

Go to Earnin's site

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.

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?

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

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.

Which banks does Earnin support?

Earnin supports a variety of banks, including:

  • Wells Fargo
  • Chase
  • Bank of America
  • Navy Federal Credit Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Capital One
  • U.S. Bank
  • USAA
  • TD Bank
  • Regions Bank
  • Woodforest National Bank
  • Fifth Thrid Bank
  • Simple
  • BB&T
  • Suntrust
  • BBVA Compass
  • Citibank
  • JP Morgan
  • Huntington 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.
Go to Earnin's site

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.

Bottom line

Earnin can be an affordable solution to unexpected expenses. But be careful — it’s no replacement for an emergency fund. And if you need more than $100, consider other pay advance apps similar to Earnin. Or read our short-term loans guide to explore other options for cash loans.

Frequently asked questions

Pictures: earnin.com

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Read the full methodology of how we rate short-term loan providers and similar services.

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87 Comments

  1. Default Gravatar
    Mack
    August 28, 2019

    Can I use this in other countries?

    • AvatarStaff
      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?

    • AvatarStaff
      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?

    • AvatarStaff
      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?

    • AvatarStaff
      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?

    • AvatarStaff
      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)?

    • AvatarStaff
      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?

    • AvatarStaff
      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?

    • AvatarStaff
      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?

    • AvatarStaff
      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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