How to Get a Cash Advance on a Low Income: A Practical How-To Guide

Overdraft Apps » App Reviews » How to Get a Cash Advance on a Low Income: A Practical How-To Guide

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Alexander Porter

30-SECOND SUMMARY: The ability to access extra cash is crucial when you have a low income and little or no savings. It can be tough to qualify for a loan or cash advance when you have a low income, but we’ve found some lenders that are fast, easy to work with and offer the cash you need. Read on as we cover what you can (realistically) borrow, how to qualify (even with bad credit or no proof of income), how much it costs and tips to keep fees low.

Approximately 50 million Americans qualify as low income.

If you’re feeling the pinch of the cost of living, high gas prices, or inflation, you’re not alone.

Managing your cash is part of everyday life for millions of Americans so it helps to know what your options are and how to make your money go further.

In this article, we’ll help build your confidence (and bank account) by covering:

  • How you can borrow money on a low income
  • The best cash advance apps when you’re earning a low wage
  • How to maximize your cash advance limit (with proven strategies)
  • The best cash advance apps we’ve downloaded and personally recommend

Let’s get right into it.

🤓 Overdraft Apps Tip: A commonly used threshold for low income is the Government-established federal poverty level. In 2023, a low-income individual was anyone who’s previous year gross income did not exceed 150% of the national poverty level – $21,870/year for a single person or $45,000 for a family of four. Of course, depending on where you live, you may earn quite a bit more than this and still feel like you have a low income.

Can you borrow money when you have a low income?

It’s ironic that the people who need money the most often have the hardest time getting it.

The reality is, lenders are in the business of making (not losing) money. 

They want to know they’re lending money to people who can pay it back on time. If you’re in a ‘low income’ bracket, lenders may see you as a riskier option since you’re less likely to have the money to pay back your loan.

That doesn’t mean you’re left out completely but you may end up facing higher interest rates or other extra fees.

Loans for low income earners are available with the threshold for “low income” set by each lender. For example, Lending Point requires a minimum annual income of $35,000 while Upstart requires just $12,000 per year in income.  

These lenders have additional requirements as well, including a minimum credit score of 620 for Lending Point and 640 for Upstart.  While your income isn’t part of your credit score, it can be tough to maintain a score when you’re living paycheck to paycheck.

It’s challenging to qualify for a personal loan with a low income, and if you do manage to receive an offer, the terms aren’t often great. You will have a tough time qualifying for larger loan amounts and will likely have to accept high interest rates and fees, which can lead to large payments that can be difficult to fit into your budget.

Not thrilled by the thought of paying more just because your income is down right now?

We don’t blame you.

Thankfully, there may be cheaper financing options available with a fast-growing category of apps offering cash advances for low income earners in as little as 10 minutes.  One of the best parts about them is that they don’t charge you more just because you earn less.

Looking to increase your credit score? Here’s how to get started 💡

low income US states

What are cash advance apps for low income earners?

Whether you need extra cash to keep you going until payday or your paycheck is still going to leave you under financial pressure, a new breed of cash advance apps are available to bridge the gap.

Many of these apps don’t charge interest or late fees, so you’re not entering a cycle of having to pay more money each time you borrow.

These apps don’t check your credit score either so bad credit won’t get in the way of getting a loan. 

Instead of checking your credit score, these apps look at your bank account history and activity. This happens during sign up and is a quick, easy and secure process done using Plaid, the popular software tool that enables you to safely and securely connect lenders to your bank account. 

As long as you have sufficient account history and activity, you can still get an advance even if you have bad credit. Plus, seeing what you qualify for won’t impact your credit score so you can compare your options without worry.

You do need to have a bank account to use most of these apps, but if you don’t have one they can even provide you a full featured mobile account with no minimum balance and low fees. You’ll have the best chance of qualifying for an advance if your bank account is at least a few months old.

🤓 Overdraft Apps Tip: Some apps are friendly towards gig workers. If you drive for Uber, shop for Instacart or deliver for DoorDash, you may be able to qualify. Not employed? You may still qualify for a quick loan from some apps if you receive Government benefits, like social security or even unemployment.

NEW: 3 Cash Advance Apps for the Unemployed (No Direct Deposit Required) 🙏

young adults using cash advance apps

How much can you borrow from a cash advance app?

To determine how much you qualify to borrow, apps for low income earners look at things like:

  • How old your account is
  • The average balance you maintain (they want to see that it’s mostly positive)
  • And most importantly, your deposit history.

These apps love to see regular, recurring deposits. We’re talking about a biweekly paycheck, especially via direct deposit.

Many cash advance apps boast limits of $200 to $500 which sound great… but those advances can be hard to qualify for.

Regardless of your income, most new customers initially qualify for much lower amounts. You’re more likely to be approved for around $20 as a new user. Klover may lend you just $5 the first time!

If your bank account history and activity looks good, you may be approved in the $50 to $75 range. Depending on the health of your linked bank account, this borrowing limit can go even higher. 

For example, Dave says that its typical advance amount is $160 while Albert says that $80 is its average approved amount.

🤓 Overdraft Apps Tip: Your loan amount can increase as you build up a track record of borrowing and making on-time repayments. You may increase your limit by several hundred dollars in just a couple months if you use your app responsibly.

What are the best cash advance apps for low income earners?

Here are four apps you’ll want on your phone for extra cash if your paychecks are inconsistent or less than you’d like:

We’ve downloaded and tested each of these apps so read on for our full breakdown and review.

#1 – MoneyLion: Borrow up to $500 Fast

There’s no credit check to get started with MoneyLion. We put this at the top of our list because the app offers more ways to qualify for an advance than most other competitors, so if you’ve been turned down before, you may still qualify with MoneyLion.

How it works

MoneyLion connects to your bank account to see your history and activity. After this, you’ll find out how much you qualify to borrow through its Instacash product.  

If you don’t have a bank account you can create a RoarMoney account to get all of the usual banking features for just $1/month.2

 You can qualify with deposits from benefits programs or pensions, as well as a paycheck.

How much can you borrow?

Instacash advances are up to $500, but new customers will initially qualify for less. If you have recurring deposits in your bank account, you’ll qualify for at least $50.3

While most apps will turn you down if you don’t have recurring deposits, you can still qualify for $25 with MoneyLion as long as you have an eligible bank account.

How much does it cost?

If you want your money in minutes, you’ll need to pay a turbo fee starting at $1.99 on small advances up to $8.99 on a $100 advance.

Fees are a bit lower if you use a RoarMoney account instead of your external bank account (you’ll save $2 in fees on a $100 advance).

You can skip the fees if you’re happy to wait up to 2 business days for money to hit your Roar Money account. Or, 5 business days to an external bank account.

A $500 cash advance with no interest?! >>> Check out MoneyLion 👈

#2 – Varo: Advance up to $250 but beware of delays

Varo is a full-service banking app with tons of free services, plus cash advances (“Varo Advances”) that you don’t have to repay for 30 days.

There are no credit checks for a Varo Advance and you can get a cash advance with no interest or fees.

How it works

Varo is one of the most popular online banks (and the 2nd largest neobank after Chime). It offers a ton of services with no monthly fees or minimum balance, fee-free ATMs, and early access to your direct deposit.  

Varo’s 30 day repayment window is longer than most other apps that look for repayment as soon as your next paycheck arrives.

How much can you borrow?

Varo Advances range from $20 to $250. Your first advance will probably be capped at $20. You can see what you qualify for in the Varo app at any time and it’s possible to qualify for up to $500 over time.

To qualify, you’ll need to have a Varo account that has been open for at least 30 days, so this isn’t the app to use if you need to get cash today. You’ll also need to have a positive balance in your Varo account and at least $800 in direct deposits over the past month.

How much does it cost?

Varo charges just one single fee, though the amount changes fairly often. Currently it’s 8% of your advance, which means a $20 advance costs $1.60 and a $100 advance costs $8. There is no express fee, subscription fee, interest, or tips.

No subscription fee and up to $250 >>> Check out Varo 👈

#3 – Earnin: Take hundreds of dollars from your paycheck early

Download the Earnin app and access up to $100 of your next paycheck with no interest or mandatory fees. Need a little extra? You can get up to $750 per pay period.4

Since you can’t cash out more than you are owed in your next pay slip, Earnin helps you avoid falling into a cycle of borrowing more than you have.

How it works

Earnin works a little bit differently than other cash advance apps.  The app looks at how much you’ve earned from your job, but haven’t been paid yet and gives you access to that amount

If you work for a bigger company, Earnin can connect directly to your payroll or determine how long you were at the location where you work. If you’re not with an employer that Earnin can integrate with, you can still manually upload your hours to cash out

You will need a consistent pay schedule to qualify, like weekly or biweekly. You’ll also need to earn at least $320 per pay period.

Employment is required to qualify for Earnin. Part time work is OK as long as you make at least $320 per pay period but Earnin doesn’t accept Government benefits.

How much can you borrow?

Earnin lets you access as much as you’ve earned from work but haven’t been paid yet, up to $750 per pay period.

You can get up to $100 per day and you can take out multiple advances at a time – which most other apps won’t let you do

New users typically qualify for $85 when they sign up, but it is possible to get higher amounts as a new customer if you have a big enough paycheck coming your way.

How much does it cost?

If you want to get your money in under 30 minutes, you’ll need to pay Earnin’s Lightning Speed fee, which ranges from $1.99 – $4.99, depending upon your advance amount.5

You’ll get Lightning Speed for free the first time you cash out via the app. Earnin also asks for tips, but you can skip them without it impacting how much you can borrow.  

There’s no interest, subscription fee or late fees which makes Earnin super handy when your income is lower than you’d like.

Get up to $100 of your pay, today >>> Check out Earnin 👈

#4 – Dave: One of the lowest cost ways to borrow $100

With Dave you can borrow $100 for just $4 in fees. Need a little more? Dave makes it easy and affordable to get up to $500 in less than ten minutes (for real, we’ve timed it).6

The OG advance app for low income earners, Dave’s $1/month subscription fee makes it easy to get started and get the cash you need.

How it works

Download the free Dave app, sign up in just a few minutes – including linking to your bank account – and you’ll immediately see how much you qualify for. 

Through a secure connection to your bank account via Plaid, Dave will analyze a number of factors to determine if you’re qualified for an advance and your cash advance limit.  

How much can you borrow?

Dave offers ExtraCashTMadvances for up to $500, and while new customers start with lower amounts Dave says that “most customers receive an advance of $160 or more!”

To qualify you’ll need a bank account that’s at least 60 days old, shows at least three recurring deposits.  You’ll also need to receive at least $1,000 in deposits over the past 30 days to qualify for higher amounts.

How much does it cost?

Dave costs $1/month. Your subscription includes a Dave Spending account, which you can use just like a bank account.  

You’ll receive a virtual debit card when you sign up, which you can use to shop online or send money via Google Pay or Apple Pay. You’ll get a physical debit card in the mail a week or two later

To get your money right away, you’ll need to pay a 3% express fee to access it via your new Dave spending account. There’s a $3 minimum, so that’s the fee you’ll pay on any amount up to $100.

With just a $1 subscription fee and $3 express fee, it costs just $4 to borrow 100 bucks – the cheapest rate we’ve found of all the advance apps we’ve reviewed!

Plus, there’s no interest or late fees, so if you need a little extra time to repay your advance, it won’t cost you a dime more.

Get a cash advance for up to $500 instantly >>> Check out Dave 👈

Bonus Tip: Cash Stuffing 101

Cash stuffing has become a popular budgeting trend on TikTok, but is it a practical solution for low-income workers?

Here’s how it works…

“Cash stuffing” is just another name for an old-school budgeting tactic known as the “envelope system”.

This involves setting cash aside in marked envelopes for different spending purposes. For example, you might have envelopes marked:

  • Rent
  • Bills
  • Gas
  • Groceries
  • Entertainment

You figure out how much you want to spend on each category each week (or month) then set aside cash. By committing to only spending what’s in each envelope, you can get on top of your spending and stick to a budget (in theory).

Physically handling cash, instead of creating a spreadsheet, may be helpful to visualize your spending and know exactly how much you have left to spend.

If cash stuffing isn’t enough to get you through to that next payday (or unexpected expenses pop up), check out low-income cash advance apps like MoneyLion, Varo, Earnin and Dave to help you get extra cash.

Looking for more ways to be creative with your money? You’ll love these top articles:

WAIT! Why borrow quick cash when you can earn it?!

Cash advance apps can be a great tool for getting a little extra cash when you need it, but you’ll need to repay it – plus fees – wihtin a week or two. Did you know there’s an easy way to earn extra cash that’s yours to keep?

KashKick is a wildly popular service that lets you earn money for playing games, completing surveys, signing up for trial offers and more. (You’ll even earn cash for just completing your profile!) You can earn cash today and withdraw your earnings through PayPal once you’ve reached $10. You can earn over $100/month with KashKick – and you don’t need to spend a dime or take out your credit card to do it.

There are dozens of high-paying offers available on KashKick, and if you’re into playing new games on your phone, you can earn some serious cash for doing what you love. Though offers change regularly, there are currently1 more than three dozen offers available where you can earn cash – sometimes over $100 – just by downloading and playing popular games like Coin Master, Monoply Go, Bingo Blitz, and more. These games are all free to download, and no in-app purchases are required to earn with KashKick.

Get paid to play on your phone >>> Check out KashKick

Alexander Porter
  1. As of February 13, 2024. Offers may change and may not be available to all users. Eligibity requirements apply. See KashKick's Terms of Service for full details.
  2. MoneyLion is a financial technology company, not a bank. RoarMoney℠ demand deposit account provided by, and MoneyLion Debit Mastercard® issued by, Pathward, National Association, Member FDIC. RoarMoney is a service mark of MoneyLion. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International. Funds are FDIC insured, subject to applicable limitations and restrictions, when we receive the funds deposited to your account.
  3. Instacash is an optional service offered by MoneyLion. The amount of Instacash you are eligible to receive will be based on your creditworthiness and other criteria determined by MoneyLion, and may change from time to time. You will be informed of your current available amount in the MoneyLion mobile app. See Membership Agreement and for additional terms, conditions and eligibility requirements.
  4. EarnIn is a financial technology company, not a bank. Bank products are issued by Evolve Bank & Trust, Member FDIC. The EarnIn Card is issued pursuant to a license from Visa USA Inc.  Cash Out limit subject to your available earnings, Daily Max and Pay Period Max. EarnIn does not charge interest on Cash Outs.
  5. Fees apply to use Lightning Speed. Lightning Speed may not be available to all Community Members. Cash Outs may take up to thirty minutes, actual transfer speeds will depend on your bank connection. Restrictions and/or third party fees may apply, see for details.
  6. Evolve Bank & Trust, Member FDIC, provides all banking services and issues the Dave Debit Card, pursuant to a license from Mastercard®  Based on internal data as of March 30, 2023 for users who had connected an external bank account and transferred an advance to their Dave Spending Account. ExtraCash™ is a DDA account with overdraft utility, advances are subject to eligibility requirements and identity verification. Taking an ExtraCash™ advance will make your account balance negative. Express delivery fees apply to instant transfers. As of January 18, 2023, most customers receive an advance of $160 or more. See the ExtraCash™ Account Agreement for more details.

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