Earnin offers a quick way to get an advance on your next paycheck without completing an application or paying fixed fees. Instead, you download the app, connect it to your bank account and get an advance of up to $100 a day or $500 a pay period. App Store customers give it a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars and it scores a 4.2 out of 5 stars on Google Play, as of September 2020.
While its basic service can be cheaper than a payday loan, Earnin isn’t for everyone. You must receive direct deposit from your employer for the app to work. Alternative apps might offer for stronger perks, faster turnaround or better meet your needs in general.
Brigit is designed to help you avoid overdraft fees on your checking account. It's a no-frills app that does one thing only: Gives you access to a pay advance when you're in danger of overdrawing your account. Brigit offers up to $250 per pay cycle with no interest or fees if you have an unexpected expense pop up. And while it takes up to two business days for a normal advance, Brigit can also monitor your bank account and automatically send an advance if you're at risk of overdrafting.
Possible Finance technically provides short-term loans — which means you can expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $20 when you take out an advance. But unlike Earnin and other pay advance apps, it reports your payments to the three major credit bureaus to help you build your credit score. It also has same-day funding available if you have a Visa debit card. So while it may be on the pricey end for borrowers who need frequent advances, it can be a useful tool if you want to avoid more expensive installment loan options.
Borrow up to $500
Same-day funding available
Helps build credit
Only available in seven states
Must meet income requirement
Possible Finance Mobile Installment Loans
Up to 2 months
As fast as 1 business day
Rates vary by state, though you’ll likely be charged around $15 or $20 per $100 borrowed.
Checking account with 3+ months of banking history, $750+ monthly income, live in eligible state, ages 18+
Dave is a banking app that also offers no-interest loans designed to help you avoid overdraft fees. It's a good choice if you're struggling to stick to a budget: Dave notifies you when you're about to run out of funds, anticipating regular expenses like rent and utilities. Its advances are only for $100 or less, however, and there is a minimal monthly membership fee of $1.
Helps develop healthy spending habits
Limited advance amount of $100
Turnaround up to three days
Same business day to 3 business days
$1 monthly membership fee and express delivery for $4.99 fee
Unlike Earnin, Vola Finance requires you to have a paid membership to qualify for an advance. While not the most expensive membership option out there — Vola's basic tier starts at $4.99 — it may be expensive if you don't need frequent help. However, Vola is more than just a pay advance app. It monitors your finances and helps you avoid overdraft fees. And you won't need to work regular hours, either. As long as you maintain an average account balance over $150, you may qualify for an advance.
MoneyLion is an all-around personal finance app that also happens to also offer small-dollar loans. It goes far beyond Earnin, offering a no-fee checking account, 0% APR cash advances, credit monitoring and even credit-builder loans of up to $500 starting at 5.99% APR. But to access its an Instacash Advance, cashback rewards and weekly credit score updates, you must be a Plus member. This comes with a $2.999 monthly fee plus a $50 deposit into an investment account.
Even is a budgeting app that also offers a free advance on wages you've already earned through its Instapay feature. On top of this, Even helps you stick to a budget by alerting you about upcoming bills and how much you need for them. There is a monthly $2.99 fee to access its basic budgeting and saving tools. To become a Plus member and access Instapay, you must work for an employer that offers it as a benefit. But like Earnin, advances are limited to the hours you've already worked.
Instant funding available through Walmart
Helps you stay on top of bills
Available through select employers
Plus membership required
Advance limited to wages you've already earned
Same business day to 1 business days
$8 monthly membership fee
Our methodology: How we chose these apps
When choosing these pay advance apps, we considered each product’s fees, turnaround time, terms, financing options and perks. We also looked at customer reviews on sites such as the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot to find out what was most important to them.
Employer-sponsored pay-advance apps
Some companies have started to offer employees an option to withdraw from the wages they’ve already earned before their paycheck is due. Typically, employers offer this as a benefit by signing on as a partner with an app that charges a monthly membership fee for its services. Some companies cover this fee, while others pass it on to their employees.
Pay-advance apps are more common for hourly employees in industries like retail and fast food, especially at big chains like Walmart and McDonald’s. Some companies that employ a lot of employees who rely on short-term loans have started to offer these advances as a benefit to attract more potential job applicants.
Calling itself a holistic financial wellness platform, PayActiv offers instant access to up to 50% of your earned wages with no interest to cover an emergency expense. You can also use the app to pay your bills, send money between bank accounts, set up savings goals and even score discounts on some prescription drugs. Rather than a monthly membership fee, it charges a one-time fee of $0 to $5 each time you use its pay-advance service.
PayActiv currently partners with businesses in:
Employers can offer DailyPay as an HR tech benefit to give employees access to their pay as it’s earned. Each hour you work is added to your advance credit, which you can draw from for a small fee, typically $2.99 for instant funding or $1.25 for next-day funding. When payday rolls around, DailyPay automatically deducts your advance from your bank account.
It currently partners with companies in the following industries:
Quick service restaurant
The FlexWage app gives you access to your earned wages by directly deducting them from your employer’s bank account for a $5 transfer fee. That way, you won’t have to make any repayments and there’s no interest charge. On top of this, FlexWage also issues a payroll card attached to a checking account that your employer can use to directly deposit your paycheck for faster access to your wages.
Unlike many other pay apps, FlexWage is tight-lipped about the businesses it partners with. Employers can find out if it’s a good fit for their business by reaching out to its sales team through an online form.
How else can I get cash fast?
Pay advance apps can’t help every borrower in every situation. You might also want to look into these alternatives:
Alternative short-term lenders. Providers like LendUp offer short-term loans at a lower cost than payday lenders, with a chance to build your credit. These can still be more expensive than a personal loan, however.
CDFI Loans. Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are typically local banks or credit unions that can offer small-dollar short-term loans at a lower cost than payday lenders. These might have a longer turnaround but might be one of the cheapest options.
Credit card cash advance. If you already have a credit card, you can withdraw a cash advance from an ATM in an emergency. Check your card’s cash advance rates first and have a plan to pay it off to avoid paying more than you need in interest.
Installment loans. When you need more than you earned this month, these lenders typically offer loans from $1,000 to $10,000 — though they can be more costly than a pay advance app.
Payday loans. When you’ve exhausted all other options, payday lenders can get you cash as soon as the same day. Make sure you work with a legit lender and compare providers to get the most affordable loan.
Earnin isn’t the only pay-advance app that can help you cover emergency costs without a payday loan. Most of these apps allow you to get your paycheck early, and they don’t charge interest. They rely on small fees or monthly membership charges instead. Many even offer budgeting and savings tools to help you get your finances back on track.
You need to receive direct deposit to be eligible for most programs, though. And if you work irregular hours, it might be difficult to qualify.
Probably not. A pay advance technically doesn’t count as a loan, so the app you use won’t report on-time payments to the credit bureaus. If you’re interested in building your credit score, you might want to look into the MoneyLion app’s credit-builder loans.
Generally, no. In fact, many of these apps don’t check your credit rating at all, instead looking at your past few paychecks.
You’ll likely have more luck with an employer-sponsored app. Ask your HR department if it offers pay-advance benefits. If not, you might want to suggest that your company partner with one — there’s a chance other employees could benefit too.
Anna Serio is a trusted lending expert and certified Commercial Loan Officer who's published more than 1,000 articles on Finder to help Americans strengthen their financial literacy. A former editor of a newspaper in Beirut, Anna writes about personal, student, business and car loans. Today, digital publications like Business Insider, CNBC and the Simple Dollar feature her professional commentary, and she earned an Expert Contributor in Finance badge from review site Best Company in 2020.
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