People no longer have to wait for their paychecks. Thanks to technology and innovation in the finance industry, you can now access part of your paycheck before your payday. Your phone or any other mobile device is all you need to apply for a cash advance.
Over the years, for most Americans living on a paycheck-to-paycheck basis, have found comfort in payday loans. Such lending services are easy to access and offer quick cash since they don’t do credit checks, but they are equally costly and can quickly drive your financial future over a cliff. So, there has been a need for a better alternative, which is what now Cash Advance Apps offer.
Maybe you are wondering, what are cash advance apps? How do they work? And which one is the best? We’ll answer all these questions. In this piece, we cover everything you need to know about these payday loan apps, including how to choose them, as well as discuss some of the best options in the market right now.
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What Is a Cash Advance App and is it legal?
Cash advance, or payroll advance as we sometimes call them, are perfectly legal in most states in the US. They enable you to access funds you have already earned before payday. They employ a similar concept as payday loans, but unlike payday loans, they don’t charge exorbitant fees and triple-digit interest rates.
For instance, Alabama legally defines a Cash Advance as “The amount of cash or its equivalent that the borrower actually receives or is paid at his direction or on his behalf”.
If the stats by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics is anything to go by, nearly 70% of American workers get paid either bi-weekly, monthly or even semi-monthly. With your income taking that long, you may run out of funds before the next paycheck. The situation can also get worse if you earn low wages that you can’t find anything to set aside as an emergency fund.
But with a cash advance app linked to your bank account, you can get an advance of up to cover small expenses ahead of payday. Usually, these apps charge a negligible fee, often generating income from a tipping system. Thus, they are reasonably cheap compared to other short-term credit options. All you’ve to do is get your chosen cash advance app to get started.
Pros and Cons of Cash Advance Apps
- They are cheaper than payday loans.
- They rarely charge interest.
- Almost instant funding.
- Prevents you from incurring bank overdraft fees.
- They are automatically repaid as they are based on your paycheck.
- Cash advances are a relatively small amount.
- Only available to those who are employed.
- You pay literally to access your wages.
- Can lead to bad financial habits.
Best Cash Advance Apps
There are many cash advance apps on the market today, but some mimic payday loans. We have selected the very best, which are uniquely different from each other and have their own benefits. We have diversified our choices here, and you can easily pick one here depending on your particular needs.
1. Earning App – No tips or fees, just tips
Earnin, formerly Active Hours, offers a quick way to get an advance on your next pay, devoid of paperwork or expensive fees. You can withdraw up to $100 in a single day, but the amount may increase upward up $500 depending on the per-pay-period.
The app has been downloaded over 10 million times and has an excellent rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars at the end of 2019. Most cash advance app users recommend Earnin because it neither charges interest nor fees. You can, however, can provide a tip of up to $14 as a thank you for the service. The tipping is optional, although you have to regularly tip whenever you use it to enjoy all the apps special features.
Usually, Earnin funds hit your bank account within 24 hours of request on a weekday, but if you link a debit card to the app, you activate the Earnin Lightning Speed that ensures you receive the money within minutes of your request.
For those who frequently tip the app, you open up its Balance Shield feature, which automatically deposits $100 whenever your bank balance dips below $100 to protect you from bank overdraft fees. In some cases, Earnin integrates with the employer’s time tracking system. For example, it combines with Brink, Deputy, Nimble Schedule, Tsheets, Uber, uAttend, WebPunchClock, and When I Work systems.
- Must be employed.
- Must provide a physical location of employment or provide an electronic time management system.
- Must be paid via direct deposit.
- Must have a checking account at a supported bank to enable Earnin to debit the amount you cashed.
- No fees
- No interest
- Automatic withdrawals make repayments quick and easy
- Low daily limit ($100)
- It is biased against you if you don’t tip
- You must be employed
2. Dave App – $1 Subscription fee, no interest
Dave app is a dollar-monthly based subscription cash advance service. Members receive alerts to take a cash advance whenever their bank balance sink low. The notification help a customer avoid bank overdraft fees. You can access up to $100 of your paycheck with 0% annual percentage rate (APR) without any fees other than the $1 Dave community membership subscription.
Dave App Eligibility Requirements
- Must have a steady paycheck.
- Must be paid through direct deposit like a checking account.
- Must prove you can afford to repay the cash advance.
Dave app has two funding options, standard and express. You don’t pay anything for the standard option, but the funds may take up to 72 hours to process. However, for emergency funds, you can go with the express option which requires you to give a small tip (an amount it doesn’t specify).
To help you manage your finances, Dave has a budgeting tool that analyzes your bank account transactions to generate a draft budget. You can manually edit this draft by adding or deleting items to make a final statement that accurately represents your current expenses.
Dave, like most cash short-term loans, doesn’t check your credit history but also it doesn’t report your credit activities to credit bureaus. If used well, you can save up to $500 a year, much of which bank overdraft fees or interest on alternative ways of accessing short term credits would have consumed. Further, the app can link your to side gigs in your area to increase your income.
By tipping Dave app, you help provide sustainable food, livestock, and support humanitarian efforts that the company is engaged in its non-profit program Trees for the Future.
- $12 annually fairly cheap
- 0% APR
- Alerts save you bank overdraft fees.
- It is subscription-based.
- It is biased against you if you don’t tip.
- Low maximum cash advance limit.
3. MoneyLion– free cash advance up to $250
Unlike Earnin and Dave, MoneyLion offers more than just cash advance services. In a nutshell, it is a personal finance app that offers small-dollar loans with free cash advance loans of up to $250. Plus, it offers a no-fee checking account and loans of up to $500 with an APR ranging between 5.99% and 29.99% %.
MoneyLion is an excellent option for you if you always find yourself needing a short-term loan. It can help you build your credit and qualify for quality long-term credit products in the market.
When you request the payroll advance, MoneyLion instantly deposits it into your checking account with them. While this option is free, you won’t access the credit-builder loans nor earn its cashback rewards and gift cards until you become a Plus Member that requires you to pay a monthly subscription fee of $19.99 and deposit $50 deposit into an investment account.
With a rating of 4.6 on the App Store, MoneyLion is standout cash advance app.
- Must have a checking account with them.
- Must have a stable income
- Must have funds direct deposited to your MoneyLion Checking account or your linked bank account.
- 0% APR on cash advance.
- Multiple credit options.
- Helps you cure your ailing credit rating.
- Must have a MoneyLion checking account for instant advance.
- Additional perks come at an expensive cost.
4. Brigit App– Get up to $250 instantly
Over one million people use the Brigit app to access interest free instant cash advance of up to $250. The provider does not do credit checks. To be use the app, you need to pay a monthly subscription fee of $9.99.
The monthly subscription is not in vain as it comes with numerous perks. You can monitor your spending habits and keep tabs on your impending bills by automating cash advances with free instant transfers. Besides, it offers free extensions if you need a little longer to settle what you cashed out.
Brigit Eligibility Criteria
You qualify regardless of your credit status, but users must:
- Recurring income from a single source
- Link an individual checking account that is 60 days old.
- Receive direct deposits to the linked account.
Brigit app monitors your expenditures and predict if your balance will cover the upcoming expenses or not, and notify you. With its Auto Advances, you don’t suffer bank overdrafts as it tops up your balance before an expense due date.
- Predicts overdrafts and notifies you when at risk of suffering overdraft fees.
- You get auto advances when your balance is low to stop you from incurring an overdraft fee.
- It allows you to extend repayment date up to three times.
- No live chat or calls for customer support. You reach them via email, but it could take them up to two business days just to respond.
- You pay $9.99 monthly membership fee even if in the month you don’t utilize a cash advance.
- Doesn’t support joint account.
How Cash Advance Apps Work
Before you jump into picking an app here, you ought to know how they work. All cash advance apps work the same way as online payday loans or internet loans. The main difference here the interest rate.
The cash advance app request process works as follows:
- Download the app
- Create your account. You need to provide your details. It is also here that you’ll need to link your checking bank account
- Apply for the cash advance and wait for the approval. Depending on the lender, this could take under an hour or even a few days
The True Cost of Cash Advance
Early check service providers are in the business of lending money. No matter the approach they take, the bottom line is they earn from it. So, disregard the “free” narrative peddled by most of these providers and concentrate on the true cost.
Most of them make money from subscription fees or the tipping system. Take, for example Earning that doesn’t charge interest or fees. You donate an “optional tip” of any amount, but the lender has designed the system in a skewed manner that giving is not a choice, but a necessity and these tips do add up. For instance, a tip $2 tip on a $20 withdrawal due in a fortnight, is the same as borrowing the same amount at an APR of 260%.
In other words, payroll advances are short-term loans and are an expensive way to borrow. Yes, they may be way cheaper than payday loans, but they can substitute the need to create your emergency fund. Therefore, you should only use cash advance apps when it is highly necessary. When you use them sparingly, they not only help you out of the pinch but can also help you plan your finances well by avoiding unnecessary bank overdrafts.
How to Choose a Cash Advance App
Not one cash advance fits all. It all depends on your circumstance, but there are a few factors that apply to all of us. Here are some of the key factors you should consider:
- Cash advance limit
- The cost of borrowing
- Processing time
- Repayment period
- Flexibility of repayment
- Penalty charges if any
Even as the DFS continues with the investigation in the payroll advance services, many people will agree that cash advance apps are indeed helpful. They provide a temporary financial reprieve to help people you sort impending bills that may incur interests, and in most cases help you contain the bank overdraft fees. Making a habit of using them is, however, detrimental to your general financial health. They are a one-off thing, only used when you must because the fees that seem negligible do total to a significant amount in the long run. A simple way to look at them is like a rich uncle or a friend who comes to your aid when you are in a bind. You can turn to them once in a while, but you can’t make it a habit every month.
Do Cash Advance apps check on credit score?
In most cases, no. Lenders use the credit rating to help them study your repayment habits, but most of the early check lenders rely on your next paycheck, just like payday loans. In their case, you are borrowing what, in essence, you own, save for the fact that you don’t have it at that time.
Can I get a cash advance even if my employer doesn’t pay me via direct deposit?
No! Cash advance app providers use automated repayments from your checking account. If your account doesn’t receive direct deposit, it becomes difficult for them to collect repayments from your account automatically.
How do free cash advance apps make money?
No cash advance app is genuinely free. The apps either charge subscription fees, nominal fee, or ask for what they term “optional” tips, but in the end, they earn from those tips. The little amount you give out eventually amount to something, especially if the app has a significantly large number of users.
How do I qualify for a cash advance?
To qualify for a cash advance, you must be employed since you borrow against the money you've already earned. So, you need to provide proof that you’ve worked and qualified for payment the next payday. You will offer a checking account as well. And this account should be the one which your employer directly deposits your pay so that you can issue ACH authorization to the lender.
Can I extend a cash advance?
Yes, some lenders allow you to extend your cash advance if you are unable to repay it on time. They may offer you alternative payment arrangements, but you need to communicate in advance to explain your circumstance.