Although still new, pay advance apps are cornering the market on more affordable short-term loan alternatives. You can get the money you’ve already made when you need it, and often at a much lower cost than payday loans. But most apps have strict eligibility criteria you’ll have to meet first.
If you’re currently employed and work steady hours, a pay advance app — also known as a cash advance app or paycheck advance app — may be able to advance you up to 50% of your earned income. And if you’re between paychecks or waiting for your employer to deposit your funds, a pay advance app can help you meet financial obligations on time.
Pay advance apps work off a tipping system or a small monthly membership fee, so you won’t have to worry about interest or other costs. The turnaround time varies widely between apps, but most can deposit funds into your bank account in less than three business days.
Should I use a pay advance app during the coronavirus?
Using a pay advance app may be a good idea if you need the cash to buy groceries and other supplies in bulk before isolating yourself or your family. However, a week or two without regular income can leave your budget thin when your advance comes due on your usual payday.
Check to see how much you’ll need for bills and other regular expenses before getting an advance.
Because pay advance apps are meant for your mobile device, you’ll need to download the app to your smartphone and follow the directions to create an account. And be sure to check for updates frequently. This will allow you to take advantage of new programs and features as they come out.
To create an account, you need to supply some basic information. Enter your contact details, bank account and routing numbers, information about your employment and when you’re paid. This will help most apps determine how much you can borrow and when you’ll have to repay your advance.
From there, it may take a few days for the app to confirm your identity and direct deposits. Once it does, you can navigate to its pay advance section and select how much you want to borrow.
How much can I borrow?
It varies by provider, you can typically borrow a percentage of the money you’ve already earned. Some have a small maximum limit of just $75, while others may advance you up to $500 per pay period.
The total depends on the app and your hourly wage. Many are constantly doing the math for you and show you how much you have available at any given time so you can make an informed decision.
How much does it cost to borrow?
It depends on the app. Some charge a monthly membership fee that can range from $1 to $10, while others ask you to tip — though it’s usually optional. And none of the apps listed below charge interest — a far cry from the costs of payday lenders.
Some apps may increase limits due to the coronavirus
Only Earnin is considering an increase to its advance limit as of March 18, 2020. But Brigit and MoneyLion also have features that may be able to help if money is tight during the outbreak.
Earnin. It may increase its advance limit for those affected by the coronavirus. But if you’ve already been infected — or are dealing with unrelated medical bills — it also has a Health Aid program that will negotiate your medical bills to reduce your monthly payments.
Brigit. It may not have any special options for people impacted by the coronavirus, but it does allow you to extend your due date at no extra cost. Just remember that Brigit has a monthly fee, so it may not be the best choice if your income is limited.
MoneyLion. While it lacks special options for the coronavirus, MoneyLion’s banking platform can help you improve your finances and take control of your budget while you’re quarantined. But like Brigit, it has a fee to access its payday advance option.
Usually, the pay advance app automatically deducts your funds from your bank account on the due date — which is typically your pay day. If you don’t have enough in your account, many will hold off on withdrawing your payment to prevent you from overdrafting.
However, you won’t be able to borrow again until you repay your current advance. And some apps like Dave may ban you if this happens too frequently.
Employer-based pay advance apps
Some companies like Walmart and Comcast have started partnering with pay advance apps to offer both wage advances and installment loans specifically to employees. These work similarly to pay advance apps for everyone, but instead it’s your employer that advances you money and deducts repayments from your future paychecks. You can learn more with our guide to employer-based paycheck advances.
Pros and cons of pay advance apps
Limited costs. Pay advance apps usually charge zero interest, so you’re only on the hook for a small monthly membership fee or optional tip — if that.
Quick turnaround. You may be able to get your money the same day depending on the app you use.
Budgeting features. Almost every pay advance app tracks your income and spending to give you a heads up if you might overdraw your account.
Must be employed. Pay advance apps give you an advance on your paycheck, so you need to be employed to qualify.
Limited loan amount. The amount you can borrow is typically based on the money you’ve already earned — usually no more than $500 per pay period.
May pay a membership fee. Some apps charge a monthly membership fee — whether or not you take out an advance.
Am I eligible to use a pay advance app?
Eligibility criteria vary between providers, but there are a few basic requirements you need to meet:
Be gainfully employed
Work regular hours
Receive a consistent paycheck
Have an operational checking account
Receive direct deposits
Some apps may also require you to work for a specific employer or make a minimum amount of money each month to qualify.
Will pay advance apps affect my credit?
In general, no. Most pay advance apps don’t check your credit history when you request an advance, nor will they report your on-time or missed payments to the major credit bureaus.
Alternatives to pay advance apps
Pay advance apps are only one option when you’re looking for cash fast. If you need to borrow more than these apps offer, you might want to look into these alternatives:
Payday loans. Depending on what state you live in, you may be able to get a payday loan between $100 and $500. However, these usually come with APRs in the triple digits and loan terms of just a month.
Local programs and resources. Many local government agencies, nonprofits and charities offer free financial services and help with things like food or utilities for those in need. Check out our guide to local resources by state to find one near you.
If you need a $100 or so to hold you over until your next paycheck, consider using a pay advance app. They usually don’t charge interest, so you’ll only be on the hook for a minimal membership fee or optional tip — if that. But you’ll need to be employed to qualify, and you’re limited to borrowing a percentage of the money you already earned.
Pay advance apps require your bank account information so they can verify your incoming direct deposits, confirm your identity and have a place to send your advance.
In general, yes — though no app can ensure your information stays 100% safe. These pay advance apps do their part by encrypting any data you enter to protect it from hackers. Plus, they don’t store your bank account info on the app itself, which reduces the likelihood of your personal information being stolen.
In order to ensure you have money left over to live on — and that you can repay what you borrow — most pay advance apps set an upper limit on the amount you can borrow. This is generally a percentage of what you’ve earned or a set limit per pay period.
Kellye Guinan is a writer and editor with Finder and has years of experience in academic writing and research. Between her passion for books and her love of language, she works on creating stories and volunteering her time on worthy causes. She lives in the woods and likes to find new bug friends in between reading just a little too much nonfiction.
How likely would you be to recommend finder to a friend or colleague?
Very UnlikelyExtremely Likely
Thank you for your feedback.
Our goal is to create the best possible product, and your thoughts, ideas and suggestions play a major role in helping us identify opportunities to improve.
finder.com is an independent comparison platform and information service that aims to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions. While we are independent, the offers that appear on this site are from companies from which finder.com receives compensation. We may receive compensation from our partners for placement of their products or services. We may also receive compensation if you click on certain links posted on our site. While compensation arrangements may affect the order, position or placement of product information, it doesn't influence our assessment of those products. Please don't interpret the order in which products appear on our Site as any endorsement or recommendation from us. finder.com compares a wide range of products, providers and services but we don't provide information on all available products, providers or services. Please appreciate that there may be other options available to you than the products, providers or services covered by our service.