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Cash advance apps like Earnin, Dave and Brigit let you borrow a small amount from your next paycheck before you receive it. This quick fix may be helpful if you need cash in an emergency, but be sure you don’t have cheaper options before you borrow from an app.
Unlike other borrowing options such as credit cards or personal loans , the cost of borrowing from an app isn’t expressed as an interest rate. Instead, the apps may charge subscription or expedited funding fees, and many suggest you tip them.
Lenders and credit card issuers describe the cost of using their product as an annual percentage rate, which accounts for interest and any other fees they may charge. Loan apps and other small-dollar lenders argue that APR isn’t a fair way to represent the cost of their products, but we’ve included an example with the apps.
1. Earnin: Best for low fees
Earnin is a paycheck advance app that tracks your hours worked – using either a timesheet or by tracking your location – and lets you borrow money you’ve earned. The app also has a feature that notifies you when your bank account balance is low and a feature that will top it off for a fee.
Fees: Earnin asks for a voluntary tip, which is capped at $14. You can opt into the overdraft protection feature automatically by setting a recurring tip of at least $1.50.
Speed: You can sign up for Earnin’s Lightning Speed feature, which gets you the money instantly. Otherwise, it typically takes one or two business days.
2. Dave: Best for small advances
The Dave app lets you borrow a small amount of money to cover expenses while you wait for your next paycheck, or to avoid overdrawing your bank account. Users who have a Dave spending account have access to larger loan amounts than those who don’t. The app also has a “Side Hustle” feature that helps users find side gigs to earn more money.
Speed: It takes up to three days to get your money from Dave. If you pay the express fee to get your money faster, the company says you’ll get your funds within eight hours.
ple: If you borrow $100 seven days before you get your next paycheck, pay a $5.99 express fee, the monthly $1 subscription fee and add a $1 tip, it’ll cost $7.99 to borrow the $100. The APR on that loan would be above 400%.
3. Brigit: Best for budgeting tools
Brigit is a budgeting app that can get you up to $250 whenever you need it. You can use the app’s free plan, which offers financial advice and budgeting help. To get the cash advance, you have to use the paid plan, which includes all the features of the free plan, plus cash advances, automatic deposits in your account if you’re about to overdraft and credit monitoring.
Speed: Brigit says it can get you an advance the same day if you request it before 10 a.m. ET; otherwise, it will arrive the following business day.
Repayment: Brigit automatically sets your next payment according to your income schedule. You can extend your repayment date in the app, but only one time for every two advances you pay back on time.
ple: If you get a $9.99 Brigit membership and use the app only to get a one-time, $100 advance that you’ll repay in seven days, your loan has an APR of over 500%.
4. Chime: Best for existing customer overdraft protection
Chime, a mobile company that offers checking and savings accounts, as well as credit-builder loans, lets customers overdraw their checking account by a small, predetermined amount without fees via its SpotMe feature. SpotMe is more of an overdraft protection feature than a cash advance, but it still asks if you want to tip for the service. Chime says your account can go negative up to your approved amount, and purchases that put you below that extra cushion will be declined. You need at least $200 in qualifying direct deposits to your Chime account every month to qualify for SpotMe.
ple: If Chime gives you $50 to overdraw, you repay the balance in seven days and add a $1 tip, you’re basically getting a $50 loan with a 104.3% APR.
5. MoneyLion: Best for multiple financial products
The MoneyLion app offers mobile bank and investment accounts, financial tracking, a credit-builder loan and cash advances up to $250. The Instacash advance is available to anyone with a qualifying checking account. However, you’ll have to pay a fee if you don’t have a MoneyLion account and need your funds quickly. MoneyLion says it charges no interest or fees with the cash advance, but you’re asked to provide an optional tip if you get an advance.
Speed: If you don’t pay the instant delivery fee, it takes 12 to 48 hours for MoneyLion checking account users, and three to five business days for non-MoneyLion checking account users.
Repayment: The funds are automatically withdrawn from your account on the day you’re expected to receive your next deposit – typically your next payday. If your account doesn’t have enough money, the app will repeatedly try to withdraw the funds. If your payment is more than five days late, you’ll be charged a late fee.
APR: If you get a $100 advance deposited instantly into an external account for $4.99, add a tip of $1 and repay the loan in seven days, you’ll be charged an APR of over 300%.