4 apps like Dave for small cash advances

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In a Nutshell

Mobile apps like Dave offer people the ability to borrow small amounts of money in the form of cash advances. Some have additional features such as overdraft protection and budgeting tools — but be aware that they may require a monthly membership fee. We’ve rounded up four apps like Dave that you may want to consider.
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The Dave app is known for features such as small cash advances, overdraft warnings and budgeting tools. If you’re looking for an app like Dave, you’ll want to take a look at various options and carefully compare their features.

As you’re sizing up different apps, keep in mind your financial circumstances. Some apps charge a monthly membership fee or ask for tips, so you’ll want to calculate that into your costs. Others have certain eligibility requirements.

We reviewed four apps like Dave that you can download through Apple’s iOS App Store or the Google Play store, highlighting the features we think you’ll find most useful. Keep reading to see if one might be right for your situation.

Good for no membership fee: Earnin

Why Earnin stands out: If you don’t want to pay for a recurring monthly membership to be considered for a paycheck advance, Earnin may be a good choice for you. Instead of charging a membership fee, Earnin asks people to tip what they think is fair to support the service. The downside is that you need to have a workplace that uses time-tracking software or a job with a fixed physical location to qualify — and there are other banking-related requirements.

  • Advance amounts — To start, Earnin may advance you up to $100 per pay period, but over time you may be able to qualify for as much as a $500 payday advance.
  • “Balance Shield Alerts” and “Cash Outs” — If you turn on the app’s Balance Shield Alerts feature, Earnin will notify you any time your bank account balance dips below a certain threshold that you specify (between $0 and $400). You can also opt for Balance Shield Cash Outs, which will automatically advance you up to $100 of your earnings to help you avoid overdraft fees if your account balance drops below $100.
  • Eligibility requirements — Check the fine print before you sign up. To be eligible for the app, Earnin says that you must have a regular pay schedule (weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly or monthly). In addition to having a physical work location or timekeeping system, you’ll need to send at least half of your paycheck to your checking account via direct deposit.   
  • Funding time — You can opt for Earnin’s Lightning Speed feature to get your money more quickly, but your bank will have to support the feature. If it doesn’t, Earnin says you’ll typically get your money in one to two business days.

Read our Earnin app review to learn more.

Good for credit-builder loans: MoneyLion

Why MoneyLion stands out: With MoneyLion’s Credit Builder Plus membership, you can request a credit-builder loan of up to $1,000. With this loan, you’ll be able to access a certain portion in your checking account and the rest is deposited into a reserve account until you pay off the loan. With on-time payments, you may build your credit since MoneyLion reports to all three main credit bureaus. But you’ll pay a steep price for membership — $19.99 per month plus your loan payment, which includes interest charges.  

  • Competitive to high interest rates — MoneyLion’s credit-builder loans have APRs that range from competitive to relatively high. The company says rates vary based on different financial factors, such as income.
  • InstaCash option — If you need money more quickly, MoneyLion offers an advance of up to $250 with a 0% APR through its InstaCash feature. But you’ll have to meet eligibility requirements, such as having a checking account that’s been active for at least two months, has a positive balance, and regular deposits and activity.
  • Other perks — MoneyLion offers a suite of other services, including a no-fee checking account, access to a managed investment account with no minimum investment and a rewards program.

Read our MoneyLion credit-builder loan review to learn more.

Good for banking services: Branch

Why Branch stands out: Like Earnin, Branch may give you a cash advance of up to $150 per day, or up to $500 of your paycheck per pay period and asks for an optional tip. The app also comes with no-fee checking, a debit card and free ATM access at more than 40,000 locations. You can also receive money, transfer funds and pay bills through Branch.

  • A fee for its “instant” payment option — If you want your money within minutes, you’ll have to pay. Branch charges $2.99 to $4.99 for instant “external” advances to your debit card, depending on the amount. Its standard paycheck advances are free but can take up to three business days to be deposited in your bank account, and may take even longer to access depending on your bank.
  • Remote workers don’t qualify — If you typically work from home, you won’t qualify for an advance from Branch.
  • Other eligibility requirements — You’ll need to meet several other requirements to qualify. One is that you need to have two consecutive months’ worth of direct deposits from the same employer deposited into a checking account at a supported bank. You’ll also need a debit card that pairs with your checking account — and Branch will check your spending activity to make sure it isn’t “high.”

Read our Branch loan review to learn more.

Good for budgeting tools: Brigit

Why Brigit stands out: Brigit offers small cash advances of up to $250 — but you’ll have to pay a monthly membership of $9.99 to be considered for those and other features, such as budgeting tools that analyze your earnings and spending habits. You’ll get access to a dashboard and tracker that provide information such as how much you spend by purchase category.

  • Brigit Score — Brigit uses its own scoring system, known as a Brigit Score, to determine if you’ll qualify for an advance. You’ll need a score of 70 or higher (on a 100-point scale) to qualify. Brigit says it usually recalculates your score about twice a day.
  • Overdraft prediction — If you sometimes come close to overdrawing your account, Brigit’s overdraft warnings might come in handy. You can get overdraft warnings for free through the app. But its Auto Advances feature, which automatically sends your account money if it thinks you might overdraft, requires a monthly membership.
  • Not all bank accounts supported — In order to receive an advance, you’ll need to link your primary bank account to Brigit. While the company says it has a network of more than 6,000 banks and credit unions it supports, the network doesn’t include Chime, Capital One, Net Spend or Varo. Brigit also doesn’t support joint checking accounts.  

Read our full review of Brigit to learn more.

What you should know about apps like Dave

Apps like Dave may offer a number of features, from small cash advances and budgeting tools to overdraft warnings and checking accounts. To determine if any of these apps are right for you, think about your personal financial needs.

If you’re considering these apps primarily for a cash advance to tide you over until your next payday, you may want to consider other options. Some of these apps may be more appealing than a high-cost payday loan, but others still require a monthly membership fee that you’ll want to factor into your total costs. You may also want to consider a payday alternative loan, or PAL, from a federal credit union. These loans have caps on the fees a credit union will charge you to process a loan, often making them a much more affordable option than a payday loan. While payday loans are typically due on your next payday, you’ll typically have more time to pay off a PAL.

How we picked these apps

We reviewed 10 apps like Dave and considered features such as eligibility requirements, fee structures, interest rates, loan amounts and the ability 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: Erin Dunn is an editor at Credit Karma who specializes in personal loans and is passionate about financial literacy and budgeting. She’s an award-winning business journalist and editor whose work has appeared in Busin… Read more.