7 apps like Dave for small cash advances

Woman standing in a laundromat, looking at her phoneImage: Woman standing in a laundromat, looking at her phone

In a Nutshell

Mobile apps like Dave offer people the ability to borrow small amounts of money in the form of cash advances. Some may have additional features such as credit-building, saving and budgeting tools, but may require a monthly membership fee. We’ve rounded up seven apps like Dave you may want to consider.
Editorial Note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our third-party advertisers don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.

The Dave app is known for features including early paydays, cash advances, overdraft warnings and budgeting tools. If you’re looking for other apps like Dave, here are seven alternatives that offer small cash advances.



Best overall: Earnin

Earnin is a free app that doesn’t charge interest or mandatory fees for standard cash advances, though you can pay an optional “tip” if you want to give something back to the company. You can apply for up to $100 in advances per day and up to to $500 per pay period, giving you some flexibility if you end up needing more than one advance between paychecks.

If you sign up to have your paychecks routed through an Earnin Express virtual account, you can get up to $1,000 or 80% of your check advanced, whichever is less. You can get your money as soon as the next day — or you can use the Lightning Speed option to get your money in minutes for a small fee.

In addition to its cash advance feature, Earnin also sends alerts when your bank account balance gets low, and it offers the option to get automatic advances to prevent an overdraft.

Read our full review of Earnin to learn more.

Best for credit-builder loans: MoneyLion

MoneyLion offers interest-free cash advances of up to $250 with no credit check.

If you want to build credit, too, MoneyLion has another feature you might consider: a Credit Builder Plus membership, which can give you access to a credit-builder loan of up to $1,000. The loan funds are held in a reserve account until you pay it off in full, with interest — with MoneyLion reporting your payments to all three major credit bureaus along the way.

Just be aware that on top of paying interest on the loan, you’ll also have to pay the Credit Builder Plus membership fee of $19.99 per month. That might be a steep price to pay just for a shorter-term boost your credit score.

In addition to the credit-builder loan, the MoneyLion Credit Builder Plus membership also offers mobile banking, investment accounts and credit-monitoring tools.

Get more details about MoneyLion in our editorial review.

Best for banking services: Varo

Varo’s cash advance offering may not seem as strong compared to the other apps on our list. Varo offers cash advances of $20 to $100, which you have 30 days to repay. Unfortunately, there’s a fee of up to $5, depending on your advance amount, and you need to have a Varo bank account that’s been active for 30 days or more.

But if you want an app that offers full banking services with the option to apply for small cash  advances, Varo is one to consider. Varo’s bank account has no monthly fees, no foreign transaction fees and access to more than 55,000 fee-free ATMs.

And if you want to build credit, the Varo Believe Credit Card is a secured credit card with no annual fee, no APR, no minimum security deposit requirement and no credit check, which can help you build your credit history at your own pace.

Great for budgeting tools: Brigit and Empower

Brigit

Getting on a budget could potentially help you reduce your need for regular paycheck advances, and with Brigit, you’ll get the best of both worlds. Brigit offers advances of up to $250, which you can receive instantly. You can also set up automatic advances if Brigit believes you might overdraw your checking account.

This service costs $9.99 per month, along with many other features, but that still may be cheaper than overdraft fees.

Where the app really shines is the insights you can get into your spending habits. Brigit can help you keep tabs on upcoming bills, look for opportunities to earn some extra cash and get an idea of earning and spending trends.

Find out more about how Brigit can help you by reading our full review.

Empower

The Empower app offers cash advances of up to $250 with no interest or late fees.

There’s a 14-day free trial period with a recurring $8 monthly subscription fee after that if you want to use Empower’s online financial tools (the fee is not for cash advances). The tools include AutoSave, which analyzes your income and financial obligations to make recommendations about how much to save per week. Other tools include online budgeting and recommendations that can help you find more ways to save.

The Empower Cash Advance offers up to $250 as an advance on your paycheck, which you pay automatically on your next payday. This app can also be an option to consider if you want to earn cash back on approved everyday purchases with Empower’s debit card. If you add an Empower Card to your account, you can get up to 10% back with participating retailers.

Best for employment services: PayActiv

If your employer partners with PayActiv, you can get up to 50% of your paycheck in advance, which can exceed other cash advance apps, depending on how much you earn . If your employer doesn’t partner with PayActiv, you might still be able to get access to your paycheck early, depending on when it’s transferred.

You’ll also get some budgeting tools, including ways to track spending trends and recommendations for managing your debt. What makes this app particularly helpful, though, is that it also acts as a communication tool for your job. You can get company announcements, check for open shifts and request to work and even chat with others at your company.

Read more about PayActiv in Credit Karma’s full review.

Best for larger advances: Branch

Like PayActiv, the Branch app allows you to get up to 50% of your paycheck as an advance. But keep in mind that your advance limit may depend on your payment history and other factors.

You can get your advances in three days, or you can opt for Instant Pay and get the money immediately with no fee if you’re transferring to a Branch debit card. (There is a fee of $2.99 – $4.99 if you use Instant Pay to transfer to another bank.) There’s no interest involved and no membership costs, so you don’t have to worry about high costs to use the app.

Branch users also get access to no-fee checking with a debit card, plus access to more than 40,000 ATMs that won’t charge a transaction fee.

Get more details on the Branch app in our full review.

What to watch out for with apps like Dave

Apps like Dave may offer a number of features like small cash advances, budgeting tools, overdraft warnings and checking accounts.

If you’re considering one of these apps for a cash advance to tide you over until your next payday, think about the fees involved. Even small ones can add up, especially if you use a cash advance feature regularly.

If you’re turning to regular paycheck advances, you’ll also want to make sure you have a handle on why, and see if there are any ways to move away from them. While they can help you in a pinch, relying on cash advances over time can add to your debt, making it harder to strengthen your financial situation.

Finally, these apps generally only provide small-dollar advances. If you need financing for larger expenses, building and improving your credit can help you find loan options with better repayment terms.

How we picked these apps

We reviewed many of the top 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, credit lines, rewards and the availability of additional products and services that can help you manage your money and make better financial decisions in the long term.


About the author: Ben Luthi is a personal finance freelance writer and credit cards expert. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and finance from Brigham Young University. In addition to Credit Karma, you can find his wo… Read more.