Need Money Fast? Here are the 8 Best Cash Advance Apps + What You Need to Know

It’s the end of the month and your funds have dried up.

The fridge is empty, and the electric bill needs to be paid NOW, but payday doesn’t arrive for another week. And your savings account has seen better days.

If you think a payday loan is your only option, think again. A cash advance app — also known as a paycheck advance app — can help. But there are plenty of them out there, so how do you know which ones are best to help get you back your feet? Let’s take a look.

From buying clothing to signing up for music, there’s “an app for that” making whatever you need easier than ever. This includes mobile banking. A cash advance app can be a great alternative to traditional payday loans. With these loan apps, you get a small payday advance for bills, car payments, or whatever else can’t wait until the next payday. But unlike payday loan lenders, most cash advance apps don’t charge interest. Instead, they request that you pay with a “tip,” and some charge a small monthly membership fee.

Here Are the 8 Best Cash Advance Apps

While there are lots of new apps, not all cash advance apps are created equal or worth downloading. Here are our best recommendations:

Best for Paying as Little as Possible: Earnin

  • Estimated APR: Earnin doesn’t charge interest or fees. Users can opt to donate a “tip” of any amount, but regular tips add up. A $2 tip on a $20 withdrawal due in two weeks is an annual percentage rate of 260%, comparable to the rates that payday lenders charge.
  • Minimum Credit Score: N/A
  • Loan Amount: $100-$500

Pros

  • There are no costs to borrow (tips optional)
  • Earnin provides overdraft prevention tools
Cons
  • The borrowing limit is fairly low
  • Earnin only counts income from one employer: no side income
  • It could be potentially invasive to your privacy

Credit check: No

BBB Rating: A-

Best for Taking Out a Large Cash Advance: Possible

  • Estimated APR: Rates vary by state; charges range from $15 or $20 per $100 borrowed. This means an APR of around 91% or 122%.
  • Minimum Credit Score: Reports all payments to major credit bureaus so borrowers build credit history.
  • Loan Amount: Short-term installment loans of up to $500

Pros

  • Possible reports payments to all three major credit bureaus.
  • There’s an option to delay your payment

Cons

  • Customer service availability is limited.
  • Interest rates are higher than other similar apps.
  • Possible may charge an origination fee.
  • The website does not clearly disclose rates and fees.

Credit check: Possible does a “soft pull” on your credit report for fraud prevention and identity verification. (A soft pull won’t push down your credit score.)

BBB Rating: A

Best for Improving Other Financial Areas: Dave

  • Estimated APR: The Dave app requests donated tips in place of interest.
  • Minimum Credit Score: No
  • Loan Amount: Up to $200 per pay period

Pros

  • Dave helps prevent overdraft fees
  • Dave includes a budgeting tool to create a customized plan
  • Dave’s Side Hustle service can help you search for extra gigs.
  • Payments can be manual or automatic.
  • There are no late fees.

Cons

  • Borrowers are only allowed one advance per pay period.
  • The maximum cash advance is only $100.
  • The app only counts income from one employer; side income doesn’t count.
  • Dave can be invasive to your privacy

Credit check: No

BBB Rating: B

Best for Offering Extra Financial Tools: Brigit

  • Estimated APR: While Brigit doesn’t charge any interest, it’s important to remember that you’ll pay a $9.99 monthly fee, so the cash advance isn’t free.
  • Minimum Credit Score: No
  • Loan Amount: $250

Pros

  • The service offers automatic overdraft protection.
  • Brigit provides budgeting tools.
  • An optional credit monitoring service can be included.
  • It’s easy to extend the due date for repayment.

Cons

  • Irregular pay schedules aren’t supported.

Credit check: No

BBB Rating: B

Best for Flexibility: MoneyLion Instacash

  • Estimated APR: N/A
  • Minimum Credit Score: No
  • Loan Amount: up to $250 (considered a Core membership)

Pros

  • MoneyLion Core is free.
  • MoneyLion Plus costs $19.99 per month but is not required for the cash advance.
  • There is no monthly fee or interest rate.
  • You get fast delivery with a MoneyLion account.
  • Credit-builder loans are available.
  • There’s no transaction limit per day.
  • There’s a five-day due date grace period

Cons

  • You need to have a MoneyLion checking account that’s at least two months old, shows regular income deposits, has a consistently positive balance, and is active.
  • Instant funding costs extra
  • Some of the features require a premium membership.
  • You must have funds direct deposited to your account.

Credit check: No
BBB Rating: B. MoneyLion is not considered accredited by BBB

Best for Speed: FloatMe

  • Estimated APR: N/A
  • Minimum Credit Score: No
  • Loan Amount: Up to $50 in between checks

Pros

  • FloatMe does not charge interest.
  • Borrowers can get cash in minutes.
  • The service can be used to help build emergency funds.

Cons

  • Users must pay a membership fee of $1.99 per month (even if they sign up and choose not to borrow money. You will need to cancel in order to stop the monthly fee.
  • Paycheck direct deposit is required.

Credit check: No

BBB Rating: D. FloatMe is not accredited by the BBB. It’s worth noting, though, that the majority of negative reviews and complaints are due to confusion and miscommunication about the $1.99 monthly fee.

Best for Extra Perks: Empower

  • Estimated APR: N/A
  • Minimum Credit Score: No
  • Loan Amount: Up to $250

Pros

  • Instant fund delivery is free if you qualify.
  • There’s a 14-day free trial with full features.
  • Your Empower checking account generates interest.
  • Empower offers free financial coaching.
  • The app makes optional recommendations to save money.

Cons

  • Borrowers cannot select the cash advance amount.
  • You’ll have to pay an $8 monthly subscription fee.

Credit check: No

BBB Rating: D. Empower is not accredited by the BBB.

Best for Transfers with Other Customers: Varo

Lender Site: Varo – Money Shouldn’t Work For Some of Us. It Should Work for All of Us.
Lender BBB Profile:
Varo | Complaints | Better Business Bureau® Profile

  • Estimated APR: Varo has a tiered rate: 3.00% APY for balances up to $5,000 when certain conditions are met, and 0.50% APY when conditions aren’t met.
  • Minimum Credit Score: No
  • Loan Amount: Once you qualify, Varo Advance gives you access to up to $100* cash directly in the Varo Bank app.

Pros

  • There are no monthly fees.
  • Varo offers a good annual percentage yield, or APY, on savings.
  • There’s early paycheck access with direct deposit.
  • You can get a $100 instant cash loan with Varo Advance feature.

Cons

  • There are limits and fees for cash deposits.
  • Borrowers must meet specific requirements to qualify for the highest savings rate.
  • External transfers are limited to $10,000 per month.

Credit check: No

BBB Rating: A

Apps that Require Your Employer to Participate

Only people whose employers participate can use these financial services. These apps are typically aimed at employees who have an employer-sponsored program that lets employees withdraw some of their earned wages before payday. These apps for cash loans can reduce employee financial stress and employers don’t have to worry about administration hassles like with usual payroll advances. Often there is no setup or operating costs for employers but do check with the employer before moving ahead.

Best Option for Employers: Even Instapay

  • Estimated APR: No interest, no APR
  • Minimum Credit Score: No
  • Loan Amount: Take out up to 50% of your earnings at that point in the pay period. The number of times you may use Instapay is determined by your employer. Instapay use is limited to make sure your paycheck is large enough to support large expenses like rent or utility bills.

Pros

  • Cash advances are interest-free.
  • You can get cash instantly.
  • It’s more than just a pay advance app; it offers other financial services as well.
  • The online reviews are excellent.

Cons

  • This is a big one: If you want to borrow money through Instapay, your employer will have to participate.
  • A basic subscription is free, but you’ll have to pay $8 a month to access Even Instapay.
  • No list of employers is provided.
  • You can only borrow 50% of the net pay you’ve already earned.

Credit check: No

BBB Rating: A

More Apps that Require Employer Participation

Payactiv

Those who choose Payactiv can access earned wages before payday, and users can ask for financial counseling. The app has a platform that serves as a payday loan alternative and lets users pay bills and obtain prescription discounts.

PayActiv has a debit card attached to the account to get money fast and with fraud protection. There’s no charge if users set up direct deposit to the card or they can pay a $1/ per day fee when using PayActiv.

Branch

Branch is also another employer-side service and benefits the employer as they don’t have to use Branch for an employee to get access to cash advances.

The branch’s system checks the hours worked to support a request. If you qualify for an advance, Branch will advance you up to 50% of your upcoming paycheck. After that, Branch debits the advance amount from your next paycheck deposit. An employee can pay an additional fee of $2.99–$4.99 (based on the advance amount) to get the money instantly to an external account.

FlexWage

Another payday alternative is FlexWage. FlexWage offers reloadable payroll debit cards for employees who are given paper checks. This can be perfect for employees who are unbanked and can’t get direct deposits. There are fees, including $5 for on-demand wage transfer, and using the debit card can result in fees, but FlexWage is cheaper than typical payday loans.

DailyPay

The DailyPay app works like Earnin, and employees build a balance with each hour of work they put in. They can then dip into that balance before payday if they need access to cash.

DailyPay deposits the funds into the bank, and then, on payday, the amount already cashed out is removed from the paycheck. DailyPay charges a $1.25 per transfer fee to transfer money from your hours-worked balance into your bank.

Best if You Need a Larger Personal Loan: SoFi

Worth noting: SoFi is not a traditional cash advance app. This online lender is more of a full-service banking operation. But if you have an account, you can withdraw cash using your SoFi debit card at retailers, or through SoFi’s ATM network, and the interest rate is lower than rates for a credit card cash advance.

  • Estimated APR: 4.99% to 18.13% with autopay
  • Minimum Credit Score: minimum credit score of 680 and an annual income of at least $45,000.
  • Loan Amount: Between $5,000 and $100,000

Pros

  • Prequalification requires one simple credit check.
  • A personal loan can be funded in one to two days.

Cons

  • SoFi has high loan amounts and lengthy terms.
  • There’s no direct payment to third-party creditors for debt consolidation.
  • Some applicants report difficult qualification standards.
  • Co-signers are not allowed.

Credit check: SoFi will perform a soft credit pull when you apply for a credit card.
BBB Rating: A+ says not accredited by BBB

What’s the Difference Between Cash Advance Apps and Chime?

Chime isn’t your typical cash advance app, however, some of the above sites are compatible and will work seamlessly with your Chime account.

Chime is not a bank. Its banking products are offered through the Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank. Both of these banks are FDIC members, so Chime accounts are insured.

Chime offers a spending account with a Chime Visa Debit Card. The spending account is designed to receive direct deposit paychecks and provide access to Chime’s ATM network. Chime also offers a savings account and a secured credit card designed for building credit. You need to have a Chime spending account to use these products.

Chime SpotMe

Chime doesn’t technically offer cash advances, but Chime SpotMe offers overdraft protection of up to $200, so if you need to float something for a couple of days until payday, Chime SpotMe will cover it without an overdraft fee.

What is a Cash Advance App?

Cash advance apps allow a person to deposit money earned into a checking account before payday. Usually, cash advance apps are free or request a small fee, but you’ll pay little or no interest on those loans.

Though there might be some small costs and upfront fees, a cash advance app can be a viable alternative to payday loans or charging up your credit cards. Like traditional storefront payday loans, cash advance app issuers offer short-term loans and repayment is usually required on your next payday.

How do Cash Advance Apps Work?

Cash advance apps give borrowers paycheck advances or timely access to money they’ve earned but haven’t gotten yet. Helpful for borrowers who might otherwise miss a payment on a bill or find themselves with late or overdraft fees. Most cash advance apps have a borrowing limit between $100 and $500.

Since cash advance apps rarely charge interest or other fees, many people consider them a better alternative to other short-term funding options like payday loans.

How to Get a Cash or Paycheck Advance

Most paycheck advance apps have only a handful of eligibility requirements. To get a paycheck advance, users usually only need to have the following:

  • Stable income with regular (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) paychecks
  • Checking account with direct deposit set up
  • Means of verifying they’ve worked (location services or timesheet)

Paycheck advance apps don’t typically check anyone’s credit or make them jump through hoops to access their services. Just download the app and follow the instructions. Most should be available on Google Play and the iOS App Store.

How Fast Can I Get a Cash or Paycheck Advance?

After you find a cash advance app you prefer, set up an account. This usually can be completed via an online application with basic information such as:

  • Identification (name, SSN, date of birth, etc.)
  • Contact information (address, phone, email)
  • Place of employment and/or employer
  • Banking information

Most applications take a few moments to complete and one to two business days to approve. Once approved, you may request a cash advance. Since these apps are designed with speed in mind, it can take a few minutes to a couple of business days to receive the money. Some apps charge a small fee for instant access.

Should You Use Cash Advance Apps?

If your alternative is a payday loan, then yes. There are several benefits to paycheck advance apps. They are accessible and affordable, more so than a typical payday lender and their products. Paycheck advances can save people from late fees, sky-high payday loan interest rates and overdraft fees if your account balance is low.

They are not, however, a long-term alternative. If you find yourself needing multiple cash advances or struggling to pay off other cash advances, it might be time to explore some different ways to tackle your debt.

What to Look For in Cash Advance Apps

  • Cost
  • Borrowing Limits
  • Accessibility and User Interface
  • Customer Service

Other Alternatives to Help Get You Debt Under Control

If you find yourself regularly turning to cash advances and payday loans to make ends meet, here are a few other financial products and options to ease your money crunch.

Personal Loans

Personal loans typically have lower interest rates than credit cards, and offer longer loan terms and larger amounts than a cash advance app or traditional payday loan. Your credit union is a good starting point when searching for a loan. There are even personal loan options for people who have bad credit.

Peer-to-Peer lending

Peer-to-peer financial services connect borrowers directly to lenders (usually investors), who then loan money to qualified applicants. If you’re active on Reddit, there is also a subreddit called r:/borrow where Redditors loan money to fellow Redditors.

Borrow from Friends and Family

We all want to keep our personal finance situation personal, but sometimes a relative or friend has the means to help you through a difficult time. Just get everything in writing and make sure to pay them back as scheduled.

The Bottom Line

When your checking account is low and so is the amount of cash in your wallet, applying for a cash advance loan could help you get what you need before the next paycheck arrives.

The above list of available apps could be the answer to whether you eat dinner, pay your water bill, or make a car payment this month if you haven’t earned a paycheck yet.

Keep in mind applying for a payday loan via an app isn’t a long-term solution to your financial problems. Moving ahead do think twice about getting funds this way and only when you are in super a crisis and/or only occasionally.

The best way to avoid having to even go near a payday loan and the app is to try and keep better track of your expenses and finances.

Try to maintain a budget and cut back on things you don’t need, like $6 coffee drinks and other luxuries you can do without. Take lunch to work and eat dinners at home and you’ll see your bank account grow. You can also take a fun side hustle or gig to make ends meet, too.

In the end, doing all these tips could be a lot better than putting faith into a high-priced lender.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

If you’re struggling with debt and need help getting your finances under control, consider reaching out to a credit counselor. They’re experts in personal money management and can help you get back on your feet. Best of all, their services are free. Contact a local service provider today

FAQs

What happens if you can’t repay a cash advance app?

Failure to pay a payday advance app back may result in being banned from the app and its services. However, the payday advance app will continue trying to withdraw money from your bank account, which could cause overdraft fees to stack up. Be sure you can repay your payday loan and disconnect your bank account from the app when you no longer use its services.

What’s the difference between a cash advance app and a payday loan?

A cash advance is a short-term cash loan you take out through your credit card. A payday loan is a short-term loan that typically comes with just a few application requirements and a quick turnaround time.

What if a payday advance app won’t lend me enough?

Unfortunately, these cash advance apps only offer small-dollar loans. If you need more than the maximum amount offered, you’ll need to apply for personal loans or try a credit card cash advance.

Will using a cash advance app help or hurt my credit score?

Like any use of your credit cards, a cash advance can affect your credit score, especially if you aren’t careful about how much money you obtain and when you pay it back.

What is Instacash?

Instacash is a short-term cash float from MoneyLion. You can get up to $250 instantly to cover an unexpected expense or to use for a fun opportunity at 0% interest. Traditional payday advance loans often charge ludicrously high interest rates that can go as high as 790% per year in some states.