4 apps like Earnin for small cash advances

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In a Nutshell

Apps like Earnin can be a lifeline if you need a small cash advance to tide you over until your next paycheck. Some also offer features such as overdraft warnings, bill pay and budgeting tools. But be aware that some of these apps charge a monthly membership fee.
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The Earnin app may help if you need a little money before your next paycheck hits your bank account. The app is known for asking for optional tips instead of charging customers interest or mandatory fees.

If you’re looking for an alternative that’s like Earnin, you’ll find some options — and you’ll want to carefully compare each option’s features.

We reviewed apps similar to Earnin that you can download through Apple’s iOS App Store or the Google Play store, highlighting the features of each app we think you’ll find most useful.

Keep in mind as you’re comparing apps that the one most helpful to you will likely depend on your specific financial needs.

Good for building credit: Dave

Why Dave stands out: Dave offers no-interest cash advances of up to $100. Like Earnin, it asks for optional tips. But unlike Earnin, it charges a $1 monthly membership fee. Dave distinguishes itself because it partners with LevelCredit to report your rent and utility payments to the credit bureaus. That can help you build your credit with on-time payments. But be aware that you’ll have to sign up for Dave’s banking services and direct deposit to qualify for this feature without an additional charge.

  • Banking services — Dave offers banking services, including a checking account with no minimum deposit to open and no overdraft fees. You’ll also get a debit card and access to direct deposit and 32,000 ATMs. Keep in mind that you’ll need to set up direct deposit to qualify for cash advances.
  • Overdraft warnings — Dave analyzes your connected bank account and sends alerts if it thinks you’re in danger of overdrafting your bank account with an upcoming expense. If you’re a Dave Banking member, the company doesn’t charge overdraft fees.
  • Membership rewards — You may be able to earn a free Dave membership by earning rewards. You can earn credits by making qualifying purchases at certain companies Dave partners with. (You’ll have to link your debit card first.)

Read our Dave app review to learn more.

Good for rewards: MoneyLion

Why MoneyLion stands out: MoneyLion has a robust rewards program that lets you earn points for actions such as making purchases at participating retailers or signing up for credit score tracking. You can earn gift cards to merchants including Amazon and Walmart or put the rewards into a MoneyLion investment account.

  • “Instacash” feature — MoneyLion offers an “Instacash” feature that provides 0% APR loans of up to $250 in seconds. You’ll have to link your checking account, but MoneyLion won’t perform a credit check. To qualify for Instacash, you’ll have to meet eligibility requirements such as having a checking account that’s been active for at least two months and that has a positive balance, with regular deposits and activity.
  • Credit-builder loans — MoneyLion’s Credit Builder Plus membership gives you access to a credit-builder loan of up to $1,000. Some of the funds will be immediately deposited into your account (how much depends in part on your qualifications). The rest of the funds get held in a reserve account until you pay off the full loan amount. Paying on time and in full could help build your credit. But keep in mind you’ll have to pay a $19.99 monthly membership fee on top of your loan payment each month.
  • Checking and investment services — MoneyLion offers a number of other financial services, including a no-fee checking account and access to an investment account with no minimum investment amount.

Read our MoneyLion review to learn more.

Good for paying bills: PayActiv

Why PayActiv stands out: Like Earnin, PayActiv offers early access to your paycheck — up to $500 per pay period — through participating employers. You may have to pay $5 each time you ask for a payday advance. PayActiv’s most distinctive feature is the ability to pay your bills directly from the app without opening a bank account. It also offers prepaid and payroll Visa cards with no monthly fees.

  • No interest — You won’t pay any interest on your paycheck advance — just potentially the $5 fee.
  • Extra perks — PayActiv partners with Uber to let you pay for your ride with an advance on your next paycheck. It also gives you the option to transfer funds to Amazon cash or get cash from a Walmart Money Center. Keep in mind that while features like this are helpful if you’re in a pinch, using them regularly could put you in a cycle of debt.
  • Financial coaching — Hoping to make some bigger financial moves like paying off debt? PayActiv also offers coaching and financial resources if you want help tackling your financial goals.

Good for budgeting tools: Brigit

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

  • Brigit Score — Brigit uses a scoring system known as the Brigit Score to determine if a member qualifies 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 as often as twice a day.
  • Overdraft prediction — If you’re worried you may overdraw your bank account, Brigit’s overdraft protections might help. Brigit offers overdraft warnings for free, but its Auto Advances feature — which automatically sends your account money if it thinks your account balance is too low to cover upcoming expenses — requires the monthly membership.
  • Not all bank accounts supported — To get an advance, you’ll need to link your primary bank account to Brigit. While the company says it works with more than 6,000 banks and credit unions, its network doesn’t include Chime, Capital One or Net Spend. Brigit also doesn’t support joint checking accounts, which may be a deal breaker if you don’t have an individual account.

Read our full review of Brigit to learn more.

What you should know about apps like Earnin

Apps like Earnin offer features from small cash advances and budgeting tools to overdraft warnings and checking accounts.

If you’re considering these apps as an alternative to a high-cost payday loan, remember that some still require a monthly membership fee that you’ll want to factor into your total costs.

You also may want to consider a payday alternative loan 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. You’ll also typically have longer than your next paycheck to pay off these loans.

In some cases, using an existing credit card may be a better option. If you can pay it off on time and in full, you’ll avoid interest charges.

How we picked these apps

We identified 10 apps like Earnin. We then 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.