Over half of all working Americans, including those who make between $50,000 and $100,000 a year, live paycheck to paycheck.
If you need a couple of extra hundred dollars before you get paid and are thinking about taking out a cash advance, here are 8 of the best apps right now.
Best cash advance apps
With millions of people struggling to keep up with their bills, going into debt isn’t exactly uncommon. That’s why many people consider short-term options like installment or payday loans to keep afloat financially.
But as technology continues to evolve and many financial services become digital, these high-interest, short-term loans aren’t the only solution to financial hardship. Instead, cash advance apps serve as a temporary, immediate financial solution for those who need a little extra help keeping up with the bills.
If you’ve found yourself in a tight spot financially, here are the 8 best cash advance apps on the market right now.
Best for taking out a large cash advance: Possible
- Up to $500 cash advance within minutes (minimum $50)
- No credit score required
- It may be used to rebuild credit
- Avoid overdraft fees
- Flexible repayment terms with optional delayed payment
- Only available in 15 states
- App links to a checking account
- Loan terms vary based on state
- Installment loan with higher interest rates (up to 257.00% APR)
- Cash advance amount varies by state and may be smaller depending on where you live
Best for people who earn more money: Even
Created by Walmart in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Even is more than just a cash advance app. It’s also a financial planning tool designed to help users budget and save money. The app works by getting payroll information from a qualifying employer to then provide a small cash advance.
Even is BBB-accredited (check out the BBB page here) with an A+ rating. However, there are no customer reviews on the site. On the Apple App Store, Even has 4.9/5 stars. It has 4.8/5 stars on Google Play.
- Instapay, a feature of the app, gives immediate access to money that’s been earned but not yet paid
- Maximum 50% of earned wages available
- No interest on cash advance
- Funds are available for pick up at any US Walmart or via direct deposit within 1 business day
- May get an advance with a joint bank account
- Easy online application
- Free online financial tools to help track money, spending habits and set up a budget
- Option to automatically set aside money for savings
- $8 a month Even Plus membership fee to qualify for an Instapay cash advance
- Instapay only offered through an eligible employer
- Active bank account and debit card access required
- Must have a regular source of income with direct deposit
- Variable loan terms
- Vague on which employers are eligible
Best for help with budgeting: Brigit
Established in 2019, Brigit is a fast-growing company that offers cash advances to eligible individuals. On Brigit’s BBB page (here), it has a B rating with 1.57/5 stars and 8 customer reviews. However, the app has 4.5/5 on Google Play with 52,000+ reviews. It also has 4.8/5 on the Apple App Store with 140,000+ reviews.
- Up to $250 in cash advance (funds available within 1 business day)
- No credit check or interest
- Option to extend the due date on the first loan once without penalty (with up to 3 delayed payments with good borrowing history)
- Optional automated advances as part of the Brigit Plus plan ($10 monthly fee)
- Flexible repayment, instant deposit, credit monitoring and identity theft insurance through the Brigit Plus plan
- Free financial resources (ex. tips and ways to earn more cash)
- App automatically withdraws the money owed from the next paycheck
- Must show proof of income with 3+ direct deposits in a row from an employer
- Active checking account required with a positive balance
- Must achieve 70/100 on Brigit’s unique scoring system to qualify for cash advance
- May be difficult to deactivate or close the account
Best for improving your financial weak spots: Dave
With over a million active members, the Dave app offers a highly reputable online checking account that also offers cash advances. It is BBB-accredited (check it out here) with a B rating. It only has 1.27/5 stars out of 218 customer reviews on BBB. However, it has 4.8/5 on the Apple App Store with 490,000+ reviews and a similar score on Google Play.
- Up to $200 cash advance to avoid account overdraft
- No credit check
- No interest
- Automatic budgeting based on average expenses
- Free (optional) subscription to LevelCredit, which reports payments and financial activity to the credit bureaus to help build credit
- No minimum account balance required
- Charity-focused company that makes monthly donations
- Average users save around $500 in yearly fees
- Free budgeting tools and other resources
- $1 monthly membership fee (plus optional tips)
- Automatic withdrawal to repay the cash advance
- Credit-building option only available to those with direct deposits and a Dave Spending Account
- Some concerns related to billing and product issues, though this is common among all cash advance apps
Best for paying as little as possible to borrow: Earnin
A highly reputable lender with largely positive reviews, Earnin has been in business for the past 7 years. It has around 1.3 million active users. On BBB (page found here), Earnin is accredited with an A rating and 4.06/5 stars.
- Maximum $100 a day or $500 per pay period cash advance
- No credit score required
- Interest-free cash advance
- No hidden fees
- Customer-first approach
- Can get up to 10% cashback by linking a valid credit card (at participating locations)
- Operated through FDIC-insured institution
- Alerts for low account balance with the option for automatic $100 cash advance to avoid overdraft fees
- Must get paid regularly (monthly or biweekly)
- Despite high ratings, some customers experience problems with the app and billing
- Automatically withdraws the balance owed (plus optional tips) from the next paycheck
Best for multiple financial products: MoneyLion
MoneyLion is an online banking service that offers savings accounts, investment accounts and cash advances. It has a B- rating on its BBB page (found here) and is not accredited. On BBB, it has 4.69/5 stars with over 2,400 customer reviews.
- More than a cash advance app with the RoarMoney account, a savings account and an ETF (exchange-traded funds) investment account
- $250 borrowing limit with instant access to funds through its Instacash feature
- No credit check
- No interest
- 24/7 Instacash feature for cash advances
- Access to paycheck up to 24 hours early via RoarMoney account
- No account minimum balance
- Option to build investment portfolio based on individual risk tolerance
- Cashback rewards through RoarMoney account
- Optional Credit Builder Plus account for those who need a loan up to $1,000 and want to build credit
- $1 monthly administrative fee for the RoarMoney account
- $1 monthly fee for the ETF account
- 5.99% to 29.99% APR on Credit Builder Plus account
- Credit Build Plus account costs $19.99 a month
- Some recent complaints involving payment issues and poor customer service
Best for fast access to your paycheck: Varo
Varo is a full-service online bank known for granting users early access to their paycheck. It also offers cash advances. It is BBB-accredited with an A+ rating and 3.92/5 stars out of 377 customer reviews. Check out Varo’s official BBB page here.
- Up to $100 in cash advance (minimum $20)
- Complete online banking service
- With direct deposit, you can access your paycheck as soon as your employer transfers the money over (up to 2 days earlier than anyone else)
- No interest or hidden fees
- No credit check required
- No minimum Varo bank account balance
- Early access to tax refund through direct deposit
- Small cash advance limit
- Some complaints with using the service
- Must have an active bank account at least 1 month old with at least $1,000 in monthly direct deposits
Best for flexibility: Chime
Chime is a fast-growing fintech company with overwhelmingly positive reviews on Google Play or Apple’s App Stores. On BBB, it has a B rating and is not accredited. Check out Chime’s full BBB page here.
- Up to $200 in cash advance (interest-free)
- Same-day access to funds via direct deposit
- No credit or bad credit is OK
- Full-service bank account for things like cash advance and online bill pay
- No overdraft, monthly or other hidden fees
- Provides banking alerts to let you know when you get paid
- Optional to set up automatic savings for a portion of each paycheck
- Works in conjunction with other apps while you build financial/credit history
- 24/7 customer support
- Low initial cash advance of $20 (increases over time with good money habits)
- Many recent complaints from customers not receiving funds or accounts being closed without a clear reason
What is a cash advance app?
Due to the advent of fintech (financial technology), people no longer have to rely solely on a trip to the bank branch or storefront lender for a loan. Now, mobile banking allows many companies to offer financial services and products online.
Cash advance apps, also sometimes known as payday advance apps, are one of the most popular digital financial services out there. These apps provide almost instant cash, giving the user access to money they’ve already earned but haven’t yet received from their upcoming paycheck. For people who need to pay a bill before payday or have a financial emergency, a cash advance app could be a good option.
Most cash advance apps are free to use, though some charge a small membership or monthly fee. Unlike many lenders, very few cash advance apps charge interest or loan origination fees. Even those apps that do charge a small fee are usually much more affordable than other short-term loan options.
That doesn’t mean they’re a long-term solution, however. Even a hundred dollars can add up over time, especially if you regularly take out an advance from your paycheck and don’t have a good way to pay it back.
Also, keep in mind that some companies claim to offer cash advances, but they operate more like payday lenders with sky-high fees and unreasonable loan terms.
Unlike many other short-term lenders, the cash advance apps we’re recommending are highly reputable and legitimate.
How do cash advance apps work?
Cash advance apps give borrowers paycheck advances, or early access to money they’ve earned but haven’t received yet. They are particularly useful for those who may otherwise miss a payment on a bill or end up with a late fee or overdraft fee.
Most cash advance apps have a borrowing limit that falls somewhere between $100 and $500. People who need extra cash early can request an advance on their paycheck (usually interest-free), but they must pay it back on their next payday. Some apps will automatically withdraw the funds from the borrower’s account when the time comes.
Since cash advance apps rarely charge interest or come with other fees, many people consider them a better alternative to other short-term funding options like payday loans.
How quickly can I get my cash advance?
After you find a cash advance app you like, the first thing you need to do is set up an account. This usually involves a simple online application that requires 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 issuers’ applications only take a few minutes to complete and an additional 1 or 2 business days to approve. Once approved, you can request a cash advance. Since these apps are designed with speed in mind, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of business days to receive the funds. Some apps charge a small fee for instant access.
What to look for in a cash advance app
Although most cash advance apps operate under the same kind of idea, not all are created equal. Here’s what to look for when deciding on which cash advance app to use:
- Borrowing limits: Most apps have a borrowing limit between $100 and $500. Some apps have a lower starting limit that can increase with time and use. Check the requirements to see how much you can borrow.
- Turnaround time: Depending on the app, you could receive the cash advance within minutes of requesting it. Or it could take a couple of business days to come through. Some apps have a premium option for instant funding, but this usually includes a small fee.
- Fees: For the most part, cash advance apps are free to use. They also don’t usually charge interest since they aren’t a real loan. Some apps do have a feature for an optional tip (usually a few dollars) to help keep them running. Other apps, and those with premium features, may charge anywhere from $1 to $10 a month.
- Requirements: Most apps have minimal eligibility requirements. Common requirements include a minimum credit score, direct deposit from a regular employer and an active bank account. Most apps require users to be 16+ years old and a US citizen.
- Other features: Many apps offer online financial resources and tools to help users with budgeting, saving and spending. Some apps operate more like a traditional bank with a checking and savings account. A few apps offer an investment account and ways to build a diverse portfolio.
- Reviews: If a cash advance app sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. Check out online reviews at sites like BBB.org, Google Play Store and the Apple App Store to see what users are saying.
Should you use a cash advance app?
If you occasionally find yourself strapped for cash at the end of the month, a cash advance app could help you get through until your next paycheck. After all, cash advances are primarily meant for paying small bills that are due before you get paid.
But if you regularly struggle to keep up with payments, a cash advance app is not a viable solution. These apps are designed to provide immediate relief to a small, short-term financial problem. They are not meant for ongoing use.
Instead of relying on cash advances, try to get a handle on your budget and spending habits. If you’re often short on money just before your next paycheck, you may need to adjust your budget or consult a financial advisor to help turn things around.
There are also other options out there. Look into starting a side hustle or ask friends or family for a loan if you need to.
Cash advance apps vs. payday loans
Payday loans and cash advance apps are similar in a couple of big ways.
- Both are short-term options designed to help you cover small bills or an emergency expense quickly.
- Both have small borrowing limits, though payday loans sometimes have a higher limit at $1,000.
- Payday loans and cash advances must be repaid in a lump sum with the next paycheck.
Unlike cash advances, payday loans come with high interest rates that are often in the triple digits. They also usually have lender fees, late payment fees and other hidden costs. For many people, a $300 payday loan can easily become a couple of thousand dollars by the end. Since most people can’t afford to pay back the loan as scheduled, they end up in a debt trap. In fact, more than 90% of borrowers regret taking out their payday loan.
It is still possible to end up in a vicious cycle of debt with a cash advance, or with any other short-term financial option. However, cash advance apps are usually more customer-friendly and do not have the same predatory lending practices as payday loans.
Still, it’s important to know what you’re getting to before you take out a cash advance or loan. The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to fall into a debt trap.
For more information on some other payday loan alternatives, watch this video:
Long-term risks of cash advance apps
Cash advance apps have minimal risks in the short-term or with one-time or occasional use. However, relying on these apps over and over again comes with some serious financial risks.
For one thing, even the small fees that come with some cash advance apps can add up. A dollar or two may not seem like much at first, but if you’re already struggling to keep up with your monthly bills, every little bit counts. The more you spend on things like instant funds, administrative fees or even tips, the less you have for your next paycheck.
For example, say you borrow $150 from your paycheck to help cover the following month’s electricity bill. When you get paid again, the app deducts that $150 (plus any tips) from your paycheck. This deduction could make it difficult for you to pay for upcoming bills or groceries.
The bottom line
Ultimately, if you find yourself relying heavily on short-term personal finance options like cash advances, you may need to step back and look at the bigger picture. If you only need them every now and then, a cash advance shouldn’t come with major risks.