How pay advance apps work |

How pay advance apps work

You could get the money you need today — without having to wait until your next paycheck.

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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.

What do you want to do first?

What is a pay advance app?

Provided 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 paycheck. The time it takes varies by provider, though most can deposit your funds into your bank account in less than three business days. Most pay advance apps work off tipping or a small monthly membership fee, so you can stay worry-free from interest or other costs.

How do pay advance apps work?

In general, pay advance apps work by downloading the app to your smartphone and following the directions to create an account. You typically need to enter your contact details, bank account numbers and information about your employment and when you’re paid.

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 and how much you’d like to borrow and submit your request.

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.

How do repayments work?

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.

Compare pay advance apps

Pay advance appMaximum amountCostTurnaroundLink to review
EarninUp to $100 per day and $500 per pay periodNo cost — tipping is optional1 to 2 business days
MoneyLionUp to $250 per pay periodNo costSame day
DaveUp to $75$1 monthly membership fee
  • Standard delivery: Up to 3 days
  • Express delivery for $4.99 fee: Same day
EvenUp to 50% of your current net pay$8 monthly membership fee
  • Bank account delivery: 1 business day
  • Cash pick up at Walmart: Same day
BrigitUp to $250 per pay period$9.99 monthly membership feeUp to 2 business days
BranchUp to $150 per day and $500 per pay periodNo cost — tipping is optionalSame day

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:

Compare short-term loans

Updated July 15th, 2019
Name Product Filter Values Max. Loan Amount Turnaround Time Requirements
1 business day
Direct deposit, meet minimum income requirements
Comes with the option to change your due date so you won’t fall behind on repayments.
As soon as the next business day
Regular source of income, verifiable bank account, US citizen, ages 18+
Get connected with multiple lenders you might qualify with — even if you have bad credit.
1 to 2 business days
Active checking account, regular source of income, email address
Get access to tools to help you plan a career move, make some extra cash or search for a better-paying job.
1 business day
$1,000+ monthly income, direct deposit, US citizen or permanent resident, ages 18+
Get offers from potential lenders in minutes by filling out just one online form.
Varies by state
1 business day
Regular source of income, bank account, US citizen or permanent resident, ages 18+
Sign up for its discount program to get access to coupons and deals on everything from dining out to tax services.
As early as 1 business day
$1,000+ monthly income after taxes, valid checking account
Explore its online education center to get tips on budgeting, how to prioritize your bills and more.
As soon as the next business day
Checking account with ACH, proof of income, Social Security number, ages 18+
Get rewarded for making on-time repayments with better rates and terms on future loans.
1 to 2 business days
Bank account, email address, phone number, US citizen or permanent resident, ages 21+
Plus, get access to check cashing, cell phone top ups, bill pay and more at one of its many storefronts.
Varies by state
1 business day
Steady source of income, checking or savings account, not currently in bankruptcy, ages 18+
Its satisfaction guarantee means you can return the full loan amount within 72 hours if you change your mind.

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

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.

Don’t have a regular source of income or need to borrow more? You might want to look into your payday loan options instead.

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