We’ve all been there: an unexpected expense has left you short at the end of the month. You are in danger of dipping into an expensive overdraft and just need some cash to help you out until you get paid. Cash advance apps can be the perfect solution, you can even get a cash advance free of charge. Let’s dive into your cash advance options.
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Yes, you can get an advance on your pay – but why is this a good idea? Getting paid early means that you can meet your commitments without going overdrawn. Often an unexpected expense can ruin a monthly or weekly budget, which means you end up making use of your bank’s overdraft facility.
Overdrafts are an expensive way to borrow and pressing your bank balance into the red without authorization can lead to stiff fees and charges. Some people do not have access to an overdraft facility in which case they will simply miss payments – again resulting in high penalties and charges.
Getting paid early by means of a cash advance app or by borrowing from a responsible lender can help you avoid high overdraft charges and penalties for missed payments. Early payments also reduces the risk of not being able to meet minimum daily expenses for food and travel.
Plenty of apps allow you to get an advance on your paycheck. Each app offers something different, with some offering small loans completely free of charge while other apps charge interest. Let’s look at some of your options:
- MoneyLion Plus app. After downloading the app (available here on iOS or Android) and signing up to the Plus service, you will get unlimited access to $500 loans with a 6% APR. This is a very (very) low APR. The only thing you need to do to enjoy the Plus version of MoneyLion for free is to log into their app everyday.
- Earnin app. You can get early access to your paycheck using Earnin as long as you are able to connect Earnin to your employer. There are no fees with Earnin, but you are encouraged to leave tips. Leaving tips unlocks some useful Earnin features, and tips involve relatively small amounts of money. Earnin comes in Android and iOS flavors.
- Dave app. With Dave you can borrow up to $75 at a time. The app will automatically warn you as you get close to going into an overdraft, which is great because it helps you tavoid overdraft charges. Dave loans are free, Dave does not charge interest. However, Dave charges a $1/month subscription fee to get access to the app’s features.
- DailyPay app. This app logs your working hours and offers you an advance on your paycheck based on the amount of money you have earned. The app shows you an up-to-the-minute display of your earnings so far, great for staying on top of how your hard work is paying off. Advances can be as small as $20 and up to the amount you have earned before payday.
- PayActiv app. PayActiv is similar to DailyPay, also offering you a way to instantly get your earned but unpaid wages. It offers a couple of other features too including savings tools, financial advice and discounts on prescriptions. You don’t need a bank account to use PayActiv, the app can load funds on to a debit card for you.
We have outlined a couple of apps that can get you your paycheck early, but we think the Earnin app (Android, iOS) is a top option. Earnin is truly free: tipping is optional, so you can get your paycheck advance without paying anything at all.
Earnin has another advantage: you can borrow up to $500 with Earnin, which is a lot more than Dave. Dave restricts you to a choice of $25, $50 or $75. Note that $500 loans are only available to long-standing Earnin customers, new customers can borrow a maximum of $100 per day.
With Earnin you can easily avoid overdraft charges and expensive payday loan fees. The fact that Earnin is available for both iOS and Android is also great, Earnin is a very convenient way to get a portion of your paycheck early.
The apps we discussed in the previous section are great for smaller loans, but sometimes you need a larger loan before your payday, especially if you are getting paid monthly. Note that these apps will often charge very stiff interest rates, large loans will never be free. Let’s look at some of your options for a payday advance.
- MoneyLion app (iOS, Android). A good choice for larger loans of up to $500, MoneyLion Plus will lend to you even if you have bad credit. The amazing part? Extremely low APR of 6%. The only thing you have to do is download the app (links above), and sign up for MoneyLion Plus which is free if you log into the app everyday.
- RainyDay app. You don’t need a bank account to borrow from RainyDay, and you can get loans of up to $2,500. Again, note that you will be charged interest on your loan. The RainyDay app loans are not free. As with FasterFunds, RainyDay will consider you even if you have bad credit.
- LendUp app. Another option is LendUp, with loans of up to $250 for new customers, and up to $1,000 for customers who have successfully repaid previous loans. Interest rates are high, but customers that regularly borrow from LendUp will qualify for lower interest rates over time.
Borrowing to get you through to payday typically implies short term loans. You are not borrowing a large amount to pay for a large purchase, you just need a small amount of cash for a short period of time. Some lenders simply don’t offer a product for payday requirements, and we suggest you avoid the following apps if you are looking for a payday advance:
- LendingClub app. You can get big loans from LendingClub, up to $40,000 in fact. Yet the smallest amount you can borrow from LendingClub is $1,000 which is much more cash than you typically need to get you through to payday. LendingClub loans are for extended terms of one year to several years, you cannot borrow from LendingClub only to repay your loan in a few days time.
- Prosper app. Another solid lender, Prosper is great for larger loans over longer terms of several years. Prosper is not a good option if you need a small amount of cash for a short period of time. You will also find that Prosper loans take a few days to be approved and for cleared funds to land in your account.
Lenders will never allow you to borrow without first evaluating your credit application against a set of criteria. Next, many apps will only work if the ways you work and get paid meet certain conditions. Depending on the app you choose you may need to meet some or all of the following conditions:
- Credit scoring. Some apps will evaluate your credit file and make a lending decision based on your repayment history. This does not mean you need to have a perfect credit file. FasterFunds and Avant for example will consider you even if you have bad credit, but you will be declined if you have severely adverse credit history such as a recent bankruptcy.
- Electronic payroll. Earnin is example of an app that requires you to be enrolled in an electronic payroll system. This is because Earnin needs to know that you are actually working before the app will issue a loan to you.
- App subscriptions. Other apps require you to pay a monthly subscription fee to get access to loans. Dave requires a small $1/month subscription fee. MoneyLion Plus lets you borrow at low interest rates, but you need to subscribe to a $79/month plan that includes a savings component.
- Bank accounts. Note that many apps will require you to have a bank account. This requirement stands for two reasons: first, an app needs the ability to deposit funds into your bank account. Next, many apps automatically withdraw repayments from your account.
Struggling with finances is a common problem. Getting an advance on your paycheck can be the solution, but continuously relying on loans to get through the month is not the answer. Even though many lenders will offer you small loans for free, you should really only take an early advance on your paycheck when it is an absolute emergency.
In case of an emergency, cash advances using an app can be a much better solution than dipping into an overdraft, or overdrawing your bank account without authorization. Payday advances can also be better than simply letting bills go unpaid: unpaid bills can lead to service cancellation and stiff charges for re-instatement.
Many cash advance apps include a built-in protection mechanism where you cannot borrow more than you have actually earned. Earnin is one example – you can only borrow what you have already earned. At the same time the app does not charge interest on your loans, avoiding an interest trap. Yet even with this built-in protection mechanism you should not get into the habit of continuously taking out loans to make ends meet at the end of the month.