If you find yourself strapped for cash before your next paycheck, it might be worth researching apps that loan money.
Many Americans are financially unprepared for unexpected expenses: 35% would have difficulty covering a sudden $400 expense, according to a 2020 Federal Reserve report. If you’re considering an expensive payday loan, it may be worthwhile to research apps that lend money and compare the costs.
To help you find one that might be right for your situation, compare our picks for the 10 best apps that lend money.
- Best overall: Earnin
- Best for low fees: Dave
- Best for small loan amounts: Brigit
- Best suite of online services: MoneyLion
- Best for large loan amounts and perks: SoFi
- Best for transparency: PayActiv
- Best for managing finances: Even
- Best for early payments: Branch
- Best for overdraft protection: Chime
- Best for peer-to-peer payments: CashApp
- What you should know about apps that lend money
Best overall: Earnin
Earnin is our pick for the best overall app for borrowing money because of its “Cash Out” option, which can give you access to your paychecks early. Earnin promises no interest charges and no mandatory fees, and customers can advance up to $500 of their earnings per pay period. When you need money quickly, Earnin can be a cost-effective way to avoid overdraft fees or payday loans.
Earnin also offers features to help people protect their accounts from overdrafts. Earnin sends alerts when your account balances are low, and you can automatically access up to $100 of your earnings to prevent overdrawing your accounts.
Best for low fees: Dave
Here’s why: If you need cash to avoid overdraft fees or to cover a minor expense, Dave offers up to $250 in cash advances. The Dave app doesn’t charge interest. Instead, it has a $1 membership fee. The platform encourages users to tip, but tipping is entirely optional.
Dave members can access other benefits, such as credit-building services, budgeting tools and a database of side gig opportunities to earn extra income.
Best for small loan amounts: Brigit
Here’s why: With Brigit, you can get up to $250 without undergoing a credit check. Cash advances may be available in as little as 20 minutes after submitting a request.
Brigit has two plans to choose from: free and Plus. The free plan provides financial insights and tips but doesn’t give users access to cash advances. If you want to use that feature, you’ll have to enroll in the Plus plan.
Rather than charging interest, Brigit charges a flat monthly fee of $9.99 to use its Plus plan. Members can take advantage of features like $1 million in identity theft insurance, budgeting tools, account balance alerts and credit report access.
Best suite of online services: MoneyLion
Here’s why: Through InstaCash, MoneyLion customers may be able to get a cash advance for up to $250 without paying interest or monthly fees, and without having to undergo a credit check.
In addition to cash advances, MoneyLion offers a range of financial services you can manage online. By joining MoneyLion, users also can invest in cryptocurrency, access automatic investment accounts, apply for a credit-builder loan and earn debit card rewards.
Best for large loan amounts and perks: SoFi
Here’s why: SoFi offers a wide range of loans, including personal loans. Through SoFi, you can apply to borrow $5,000 to $100,000 with a personal loan (loan amounts may differ if you apply through Credit Karma), and you may be able to get the funds as soon as the same day you apply. But keep in mind that the exact amount of time it takes for money to appear in your account will depend on your bank.
SoFi doesn’t charge origination fees or prepayment penalties for its personal loans. When you open an account with SoFi, you become a member and are eligible for its other perks. Member benefits include financial planning and career coaching.
Best for transparency: PayActiv
Here’s why: PayActiv offers early paycheck access as well as budgeting and savings tools. Customers can get up to 50% of their earned wages before payday, and you choose where to transfer the money. You can have the money transferred to a bank account, pick up cash at Walmart or transfer your money to AmazonCash. You can also pay bills right from the app.
For people who want to use PayActiv to access their direct deposits two days sooner, PayActiv is free if you sign up for direct deposit to the PayActiv Visa card. It’s also free to view your “accessible” balance, prescription discounts, financial counseling services and savings features.
Best for managing finances: Even
Here’s why: With Even, eligible employees may be able to get up to 50% of their earned wages early. The Even app includes budgeting tools that can help people track their spending and get a view of their entire financial picture.
Even also allows people to set up savings goals and to automatically transfer a percentage of their paychecks into savings. Employers can sign up for an optional interest match to help their employees’ savings grow.
Best for early payments: Branch
Here’s why Branch stand outs: With the Branch app, eligible employees can get up to 50% of their earned wages early. There are no credit checks, and there’s no cost to the employee.
Branch’s cash advance feature is only available to workers employed by participating companies. Branch works with the employers to get employee attendance files and estimates of wages earned. As an employee, when you use the app to request funds, the money is deposited into your Branch digital wallet.
There’s no cost for you as long as you opt for standard deposit. But if you need the money within minutes, you can choose the instant deposit option for a small fee.
Best for overdraft protection: Chime
Here’s why Chime stands out: For workers who aren’t eligible for Branch — or who want to use other banking services, Chime may be a useful option. With Chime, you can get your paycheck up to two days sooner through direct deposit.
Chime also offers banking services like secured credit cards, high-yield savings accounts and fee-free ATMs. With a Chime checking account, there are no monthly fees or minimum balance fees. And with its SpotMe service, Chime will cover up to $200 on debit card purchases with no overdraft fees. There are no fees to sign up.
Best for peer-to-peer payments: CashApp
Here’s why CashApp stands out: Anyone older than 18 can sign up for a CashApp account. When you sign up, you can access your paychecks up to two days early. You can also access free ATM withdrawals as long as you have at least $300 of income coming in each month.
Through CashApp, you can send money to friends or family or pay for services. Plus, you can invest in stocks and Bitcoin with as little as $1. There isn’t a fee for CashApp’s direct deposit service or to transfer money to other people. There are fees for ATM withdrawals and cash card upgrades.
What you should know about apps that lend money
Apps that lend money may be able to help you when you’re in a financial bind. For people who are living paycheck to paycheck or who may not have an emergency fund, a sudden expense can leave them scrambling to cover the cost.
But apps that lend money often charge fees, even if they don’t charge interest. Fees can range from monthly membership fees to one-time processing fees. Carefully review the terms and conditions before using an app to take out an advance.
Emergencies happen, so there may be times when you need to get a small loan or advance on your next paycheck. But if it’s happening regularly, you may need to review your budget and identify areas where you can cut back or think about ways to increase your income so that you have enough money to cover your expenses.
If you’re struggling to manage your debt, consider using a credit counselor with a nonprofit credit counseling agency or a counseling agency approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to get advice on how to work on your finances.
How we picked these loans
To choose the 10 best apps that loan money, we looked at each app’s fee structures, eligibility requirements, available loan amounts and credit-building options. We also considered what benefits each app offers, such as financial education resources, overdraft protection and the availability of additional products and services.