In a NutshellApps like Earnin can help you if you’re short on cash and need help getting through until your next payday. Cash advance apps may be a better alternative to more costly payday loans.
If you’re short on cash and need a little money to get by until your next paycheck, the Earnin app and others like it may help. Apps like Earnin may offer no-interest cash advances or ask for tips instead of charging customers fees. But some of these apps do come with fees and other costs, so you’ll want to choose carefully.
- Our 8 “best for” picks for payday advance apps like Earnin
- What you should know about apps like Earnin
- How we picked these apps
Our 8 “best for” picks for payday advance apps like Earnin
Best for minimal fees: Dave
When you set up direct deposit with Dave, you can receive your paycheck two days early and receive a no-interest cash advance for up to $250. The Dave app has no minimum balance fees, overdraft fees or ATM fees (via the partnered 32,000 MoneyPass ATMs only). But Dave does charge a $1 monthly membership fee.
Dave sets itself apart by partnering with LevelCredit to report your rent payments to what it describes as “major credit bureaus.” This may help you build your credit over time with the receiving bureaus, as long as you make your payments in full by the due date — and the service is entirely free. Dave also analyzes your bank account and alerts you if you’re in danger of overdrawing your account.
Best for credit builder loans: MoneyLion
With MoneyLion, you can receive a no-interest cash advance for up to $250. There’s no credit check required to receive the cash advance, and you can get the funds within minutes. But you have to meet certain eligibility requirements to qualify.
For example, your checking account must have been open for more than two months and you need to have consistently maintained a positive balance. And it should be an account that you use and deposit money into regularly.
MoneyLion also has a Credit Builder Program that can help you build some positive credit history — but there’s a cost, beginning with a $19.99 monthly membership fee.
To get started, you’ll apply for a credit builder loan up to $1,000. There’s no hard check on your credit, and if you’re approved, you’ll receive a portion of the funds right away. MoneyLion will hold the rest of the funds until you make payments totaling the full loan amount plus interest over a 12-month period.
With every on-time payment, you can build your credit history. But you’ll want to pay attention to the APR you get, do the math and think about whether that credit boost is worth the monthly cost.
Best for helping you build good financial habits: Branch
Branch works with some employers to give workers early access to up to 50% of their upcoming paycheck. There’s no fee if you accept the standard three-day wait. Faster delivery of funds is available at a cost.
Funds will be deposited into your Branch digital wallet.
The Branch app also has a feature called CashFlow that gives you a view of your upcoming payments and expenses, which may help you keep better track of your finances. And you’ll receive a low balance alert if your account is in danger of becoming overdrawn.
Branch says it’s no longer accepting new users who don’t work with a partnering employer, so you’ll want to check and see if your employer is one of them.
Best for analyzing your spending habits: Brigit
Brigit offers instant access to small cash advances up to $250 with no credit check required and no fees, except for a $9.99 monthly membership fee.
The app comes with budgeting tools that analyze your earnings and spending habits. Your dashboard will provide detailed information about how much you spend by category.
Brigit also features a credit builder loan with the option of a 12-month or 24-month loan term. Brigit places the amount of the loan — $600 — in a deposit account, and you choose a monthly payment amount. Each payment you make is reported to the three major consumer credit bureaus.
Once you have fully paid off the loan, the money you paid toward it is released to you, much like the MoneyLion credit builder loan. But unlike MoneyLion’s credit builder loan, Brigit’s has no interest charges.
Best for automating your savings: Payactiv
Payactiv offers early access to a portion of your paycheck through participating employers. The maximum amount is determined by your employer. Any funds you access will be deducted from your next paycheck.
Payactiv currently has over 1,500 participating employers like Walmart, Uber, Subway and Hilton. However, you can still use Payactiv even if your employer doesn’t participate. You can also use the app to automate your savings and set long-term savings goals.
Best for overdraft protection: Chime
Chime doesn’t offer a cash advance, but you can initially access $20 in overdraft protection. Over time, that may rise to $200 of overdraft protection if you meet certain requirements.
The SpotMe feature allows you to make a debit card purchase that overdraws your account without paying any overdraft fees. There’s no fee to use the SpotMe feature, but you must receive at least $200 in qualifying direct deposits over the previous 34 days to qualify.
Best for employees without bank accounts: FlexWage
FlexWage offers employees of participating companies early access to their “already earned” wages. The company also offers payroll debit cards (“Paycards”) for employees that don’t have access to a bank account. The funds are automatically loaded onto the card on payday and accessible at banks or ATMs.
These cards are ideal for employees who are currently receiving paper checks, are temporary hires or part-time employees — or workers who can’t use direct deposit. Among the features of the FlexWage Paycard: You can sign up with no credit check, and there’s no requirement to have a “prior bank relationship.”
Good for early paycheck access: DailyPay
DailyPay works with companies that want to give their employees immediate access to “100%” of their earned income between paychecks.
You can receive access to your pay or tips before payday arrives and this service features no overdraft charges. Plus, DailyPay gives employers the option to provide on-the-spot bonuses for doing a good job or covering a difficult shift.
What you should know about apps like Earnin
Apps like Earnin may come with helpful features like no-interest cash advances and additional tools to help you avoid overdrawing your account. But some of these apps do charge a membership fee or other charges, so you’ll want to choose carefully.
Many of these apps could be a good potential alternative to taking out payday loans, which can come with APRs as high as 400%.
But you might also consider other options, like applying for a payday alternative loan from a federal credit union. Using an existing credit card might be a good option, too — if you can pay it off in full before racking up interest charges.
How we picked these apps
To come up with this list, we picked 10 apps like Earnin and evaluated them based on features like fees, eligibility and interest rates. We also looked for additional features that might benefit borrowers, like budgeting help, credit building features and overdraft warnings.