4 apps like Branch for small cash advances

Man standing on the street, reading on his phone about apps like BranchImage: Man standing on the street, reading on his phone about apps like Branch

In a Nutshell

Get-paid-early apps like Branch can spot you money until your next paycheck. And some of these apps may even offer extra features like budgeting tools and overdraft protection. But be aware that they may require a monthly membership fee, or you might have to allow access to your timesheets or GPS to cash in.
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The Branch cash advance app may be a good choice if you need money to help make ends meet between pay periods. You can use it to access some of your paycheck early without any interest or fees.

But Branch isn’t the only cash advance app that offers those kinds of features. Other apps that can help you get cash before your next payday include Dave, MoneyLion, Earnin or Brigit. Let’s compare them to help you get a better idea of the type of app that might work best for you.

Good for avoiding overdrafts: Dave

Why Dave stands out: When your balance is getting low or you don’t have enough money in your bank account to pay a bill that’s due soon, Dave will let you know it might be time to request a cash advance.

  • No interest: Just like the Branch app, Dave doesn’t charge interest. But you can tip the service if you’d like to show your support.
  • Small advances: You can only receive a payday advance of up to $100 — $200 if you have direct deposit set up — and you won’t be able to get more money until you pay your account in full. This can be an issue if you have an expensive emergency like a car repair or medical bill.
  • Budgeting tools: Dave’s special budgeting tool analyzes your account and automatically creates a budget for you. You’ll be able to add or delete items manually to make sure your budget works for your current needs.
  • Membership fee: Dave charges a $1 per month membership fee.

Read our Dave app review to learn more.

Good for building credit: MoneyLion

Why MoneyLion stands out: In addition to offering instant cash advances up to $250, MoneyLion also offers loans of up to $1,000. And since MoneyLion reports your payment history to the three major credit bureaus, paying on time can help you build your credit. Plus, once you’re approved for the loan, you can get access to some of the money immediately.

  • No credit check: If you don’t have great credit, you can still apply for and get approved for a MoneyLion credit-builder loan — though you’ll have to pay a $1 monthly membership fee. MoneyLion will check your checking account instead of pulling your credit to decide whether to make you an offer.
  • Rewards program: With MoneyLion’s rewards program, you may earn points for signing up for credit monitoring or paying a loan back in full. You can put them toward gift cards at places like Starbucks or Amazon.
  • Deferment support: MoneyLion may allow you to defer a payment if you need to. This can be a useful feature if you suddenly lose your job or face an unexpected financial roadblock.

Read our MoneyLion app review to learn more.

Good for no membership fee: Earnin

Why Earnin stands out: Earnin is free to use, with no membership fees. But you can tip for the service if you want to.

  • Same-day money access: Lightning Speed aims to give you access to your money the same day you ask for it. But you have to sign up for the tool and it may not be available at the bank you use.
  • May borrow up to $500: When you first use the app, you’ll only be able to withdraw up to $100 during your pay cycle. But Earnin may increase this limit to $500 if you use the app repeatedly with good repayment habits. The app will look at things like your spending, whether you have an employer that deals directly with Earnin and how you use the app.
  • Privacy heads-up: Earnin requires you to share your banking information in order to link the app to your account. You’ll also have to enroll in Automatic Earnings and allow Earnin to track your hours via your phone’s GPS or upload copies of your timesheets.

Read our Earnin app review to learn more.

Good for budgeting tools: Brigit

Why Brigit stands out: Brigit has a budgeting tool that can analyze the way you earn and spend your money.

  • Automatic deductions: Brigit will deduct your repayments automatically from your bank account. You’ll get a reminder two business days beforehand, so if you can’t afford a payment, you may have a chance to extend its due date.
  • Membership fee: While basic access to some of Brigit’s tools is free, to take advantage of all features — including instant cash transfers — you’ll have to pay a monthly fee of $9.99. This can add up, and it might not make sense for you, especially if you don’t use the app often.
  • Instant cash transfers: Note also that you can only get instant cash if you have a “Brigit score” of at least 70 or higher. Your banking history, income and spending history will all determine your score.
  • Doesn’t support all banks: If you’d like an advance through Brigit, you must link your primary bank account. Even though the company says it supports more than 6,000 banks and credit unions, you may not be able to use the app if you have a joint checking account or bank somewhere like Chime or Capital One.

Read our Brigit app review to learn more.

What to watch out for with apps like Branch

Apps like Branch can be helpful if you need some extra cash between paychecks and want to avoid a high-cost payday loan. But keep in mind that some get-paid-early apps may charge a monthly membership.

And if you’re a remote employee or freelancer, or you own your business or don’t work a traditional job, you may not be able to use an app like Branch.

If you don’t qualify, consider trying for a payday alternative loan, or PAL, from a credit union. The fees on these loans are capped, plus you’ll have more time to pay them off.

How we picked these apps

We reviewed 10 apps like Branch and considered features such as eligibility requirements, fee structures, interest rates, loan amounts and the potential to build credit. We also looked at benefits such as financial education resources, overdraft protection and the availability of additional products and services.

About the author: Anna Baluch is a freelance personal finance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. You can find her work on sites like The Balance, Freedom Debt Relief, LendingTree and RateGenius. Anna has an MBA in marketing from Roosevelt Un… Read more.