Updated September 21, 2020

Best Payday Advance App

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Find the best apps to get an advance on your paycheck ASAP. Learn how these payday loan alternatives really work.

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Look. Life is unpredictable. It's not your fault.

When you're strapped for cash, it's tempting to get a payday loan. But this is a BAD idea. Payday loans can bleed you with high interest rates. They might even leave you in worse financial shape than before.

So what's the alternative? You still need money fast.

Payday advance apps are a much safer option. Find out what these apps are and how they work.

Best apps to get money before payday:

What Are Payday Advance Apps?

Payday advance apps (also known as cash advance apps) allow you to borrow money before payday. It's an alternative to payday loans. Some apps don't charge interest while others deduct a small amount from your paycheck before you receive it.

We break down the pros and cons for popular payday advance apps (like Dave and Earnin) below.

Keep in mind: If you have a lot of debt to pay off, we recommend using a personal loan to help you save money on interest and potentially get out of debt faster. Check rates on Fiona (does not affect credit score) to see if you qualify.

Apps You Can Download on Your Own

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Some payday advance apps allow you to independently link your own bank account. Most will monitor your account's spending and earning history and then automatically withdraw any advanced funds when you get your paycheck.

🏆 Earnin - Best Free App

Credit: Earnin

Earnin gives workers access to their pay as they work the hours to earn it, rather than waiting for payday.

It's free to use but does ask for optional "tips" with every withdrawal, which can add up. New users can withdraw a max of $100 per pay period but can increase their limit to up to $500 over time. The app also offers automatic overdraft protection deposits and alerts.

Depending on how early an Earnin cashout request is made, the money could arrive in less than a day or the following business day. If your account is through one of Earnin's partner banks, cashout requests will process much faster.

Pros:

  • No required fees
  • Cash deposited instantly in partner bank accounts
  • Offers automatic overdraft protection

Cons:

  • Encourages tipping with every transaction
  • Not accessible for freelancers and remote workers
  • May require GPS location sharing

How it works:
In order to use Earnin, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. At least 50% of your paycheck must be direct deposited into a checking account.
  2. You must get paid consistently, whether weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
  3. There must be a consistent measurement of your time worked, possibly by tracking your location to your workplace via GPS.

That makes Earnin essentially unusable by freelancers and anyone who doesn't receive regular payments.

A payday advance is not the same as an emergency fund. If you're worried about how you're going to make ends meet in the case of an emergency, focus on saving enough to cover 1 to 3 months' worth of expenses instead of relying on short-term quick cash.

Brigit - Best app for iPhone

credit: brigit

Brigit's payday advance services cost $9.99 per month. The app offers advances between $80 and $250, depending on an individual's needs and ability to repay. Brigit also monitors linked banked accounts. If the app's algorithm detects that an account is nearing an overdraft, it will automatically lend up to $250 to avoid it.

Cash arrives before the end of the day if it is requested by 11 a.m. EST on a business day. Any requests made later than that are processed the following business day.

Pros:

  • No interest or late fees
  • Funds arrive quickly
  • Offers automatic overdraft protection

Cons:

  • Costs $9.99 per month
  • Only allows one advance at a time
  • Requires minimum Brigit score to get advances

Express Pay some members may have the option for an Express Pay, which provides funds in just 20 minutes at no charge. This service isn't available to every member yet, but Brigit is slowly rolling it out to more members.

How it works:
You must have a regular W-2 income and a bank account. The bank account must be at least 60 days old and have a minimum of three consistent deposits from the same employer. You must also have a positive bank account balance the day of your direct deposit and the day after. This is how Brigit knows you will have enough to pay the advance back without overdrafting.

Brigit also calculates a "Brigit score," which ranges between 40 and 100. You need a minimum score of 70 in order to receive cash advances. Brigit calculates this score by looking at your bank account's historical balance and activity, your spending habits, and your earning history.

Dave Loan App - Best app that doesn't require direct deposit

Credit: Dave

Dave operates as a membership service. For a $1 monthly fee, Dave offers payday advances of up to $75 and alerts users of possible upcoming overdrafts. If Dave's algorithm predicts that you have an upcoming overdraft, it will automatically deposit cash into your account.

All of Dave's advances have a 0% interest rate. They can take up to three business days to transfer into your account, but will transfer immediately for a fee. On the pre-set payback date, Dave will automatically try to pull the advanced amount from your account. If you can't pay back an advance, you get banned from the app.

Pros:

  • No interest fees
  • Option to set up automatic paybacks
  • Sends overdraft warning alerts

Cons:

  • Charges monthly membership fee
  • Encourages additional tipping
  • Charges fee for immediate transfers

How it works:
After you connect your checking account (they don't link to savings accounts), Dave monitors your balances and upcoming expenses. There aren't any fees, but Dave doesn't recommend "tipping" them for the advance.

In order to qualify, you must:

  1. Have a U.S.-based checking account linked to Dave
  2. Have proof of consistent direct deposits from your employer
  3. Have proof that you have enough funds after you get paid to pay Dave back

MoneyLion - Best app with no credit check

MoneyLion is a mobile banking membership. When you sign up for a $9.99 per month account, you can request cash advances up to $50 without any added interest fees. As a member, you also receive a free checking account and investment account.

Pros:

  • No interest or transfer fees
  • Instant transfers
  • Extra financial tools

Cons:

  • Charges a $9.99 monthly fee
  • Requires a MoneyLion checking account

How it works:
The InstaCash with Banking account is the only MoneyLion account that allows for payday advances. It charges $9.99 per month. If you open a MoneyLion Checking Account and link a consistent direct deposit, that monthly fee is waived. You'll also be able to get as much as $250 advanced with a 0% APR.

If you do take a cash advance, the money will be immediately transferred into your MoneyLion account. The owed amount will be automatically deducted from the same account approximately two weeks later.

Apps Your Employers Has To Use

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Most employer-sponsored payday advance apps work similarly to self-sign-up apps. Relying on your job's chosen app has benefits and disadvantages. Often, the withdrawal limits are higher than individual apps, but employers have more control over what employees can and can't do.

DailyPay - Best app with fast delivery

Credit: Dailypay

If an employer decides to sign up for DailyPay, employees will be able to access funds based on how many hours they work. Employees can transfer as much money as they want from their accumulated balance.

Each transfer costs either $1.99 for next-day delivery or $2.99 for same-day delivery into a linked bank account or prepaid debit card. Your paycheck amount is then reduced by any early transfers you've taken.

Pros:

  • Money transfers quickly
  • Automatically links to your paycheck

Cons:

  • Charges a fee to transfer money
  • Only available through an employer

How it works:
DailyPay has very few eligibility requirements aside from the need for an employer to sign up for the program. The requirements include:

  1. You must have a bank account or prepaid debit card linked for DailyPay to send your payments.
  2. You may need to provide some personal identifying information if your employer doesn't provide it.

Even - Best app with cash pickup

Credit: Even

If an employer signs up for Even, all employees can access its benefits, including early access to up to 50% of their earnings as they work hours. Even also offers planning for spending, saving, and empowering employees financially.

All of Even's payday advances are interest-free, but the service itself charges an $8 monthly fee. Employers have the option to subsidize those fees. Any withdrawn money is automatically taken out of your next paycheck.

Pros:

  • No interest fees
  • Offers budgeting/saving tools
  • Friendly customer support

Cons:

  • Charges $8 per month
  • Only available through employers

How it works:
You can have the money from Even transferred to your linked bank account in one business day or pick up your funds at a Walmart MoneyCenter on the same day. Even also helps you save automatically by setting aside a percentage of your paycheck each pay period and helps you budget appropriately, spreading out your pay over the month, rather than living with the paycheck-to-paycheck mentality.

PayActiv - Best app that gives the most

Credit: Payactiv

PayActiv is another employer-sponsored cash advance program that gives you access to up $500 of your earned money at once. The program is free for employers to set up and offer as a benefit to its employees. In addition to cash advances, you can also conduct other banking transactions, including paying bills, setting up a budget, or creating a savings plan.

Pros:

  • Advances up to $500
  • Automatic deductions from paychecks
  • No interest fees
  • Free bill pay feature

Cons:

  • Only available through employers
  • Charges $5 fee per pay period to use services

How it works:
If your employer signs up for PayActiv, you can then download the app and sign up for an account. If you need to access your earned wages before payday, you withdraw the funds via PayActiv. They allow you to withdraw 50% of your earned wages with a $500 maximum at one time. The money you borrow is automatically deducted from your next paycheck and paid back.

The funds aren't a loan, but there is a fee of $5 per pay period if you use the service, which your employer may or may not cover for you. PayActiv also offers a pre-paid debit card on which PayActiv can deposit your daily earned wages. If you use the funds, you'll pay a fee of $3/weekly pay or $5/bi-weekly pay.

FlexWage - Best app with separate card

FlexWage is another employer-sponsored cash advance program. Employees who choose to use the service receive a FlexWage debit card for cash advances, which they can use even if they don't have their own individual checking account.

Employers who use FlexWage determine the:

  • Fees to get a cash advance
  • Minimum and maximum amount allowed for a cash advance
  • Maximum number of available withdrawals pay period, month, or year

Cash advances have a 0% interest rate and will automatically be taken out of an employee's next paycheck. Requested funds transfer instantly to the FlexWage card.

Pros:

  • Money transfers instantly to FlexWage card
  • No required checking account
  • No interest fees

Cons:

  • Only available through employers
  • Requires FlexWage debit card
  • Employers set limits on amount of advances

How it works:
After your employer offers the FlexWage benefit, they will share an enrollment link with you. After enrolling, you'll receive a FlexWage Visa card to which you can transfer your earned wages when necessary.

Flex Pay also offers a special program for restaurants and other companies that work on tips, commissions, or bonuses. The program gives you early access to your earnings as designated by your employer.

Branch - Best app with budgeting

Credit: Branch

Branch is another employer-sponsored cash advance app. Users can access it even if their employer doesn't use the service, with fewer features and lower advance limits. For users who download Branch on their own, they can advance up to $150 per day and up to $500 per pay period, though the available amount to withdraw is based on hours worked.

A 3-business-day transfer to an external account is free, while an instant transfer costs $3.99. You can also sign up for the "Branch Wallet," which is a regular checking account that comes with the Branch debit card. With the Branch Wallet and debit card, users can get free instant transfers and free ATM access at over 40,000 locations. They can also add their direct deposit on there to unlock more benefits like two-day early paycheck and instant gas hold refunds. With either option, all advances are interest-free.

Pros:

  • Free transfer option available
  • Fee-free checking account and debit card available
  • No overdraft fees
  • No interest or subscription fees
  • Does not require employer sign-up

Cons:

  • Extra perks unlocked only through employer sign-up or adding direct deposit
  • Instant transfers without Branch debit card cost $3.99

How it works:
To receive payday advances when your employer doesn't offer Branch as a benefit, you'll have to connect your bank account to the application and show two months' worth of consecutive direct deposits. You can then begin requesting an advance from Branch and confirmed payback date. Your advance payback is automatically deducted from the bank account you have connected. It will not be removed from your paycheck. You can also still use the application's budgeting tools and alerts.

When your employer offers Branch as a benefit, you receive access to the Branch Wallet or you can connect your banking information. You can then advance up to 50% of your earnings. Branch automatically deducts the amount borrowed from your next paycheck.

Branch also offers other financial and work-related benefits, including schedule management, overdraft warnings, earnings tracker, opportunities to pick up shifts, and a budgeting tool.

What Experts Say

As a part of our series on credit and personal loans, CreditDonkey asked a panel of industry experts to answer some of readers' most pressing questions:

  • What's your biggest piece of advice for people who use payday loans or apps?
  • What should people look for in a payday advance app?
  • What are alternatives to payday advance apps?

Here's what they said:

Bottom Line

Payday advance apps may help you in a pinch, like when you need a little money to get through to your next payday. But they won't fund large expenses, like those that come up during emergencies. It's important to find a way to save an emergency fund or have access to other liquid funds should you find yourself in a financial bind.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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