Cash advance apps

EarnIn App 2024 Review: Paycheck Advance Loans

EarnIn’s advances are large and fees are low, but the app only works with employees who are paid regularly and have a fixed working location or employer-provided email address.
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Written by Annie Millerbernd
Assistant Assigning Editor
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Edited by Kim Lowe
Lead Assigning Editor
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EarnIn
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Affordability

Structure

Transparency

Underwriting and consumer protections

Customer experience


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EarnIn is an app that lets you draw from your earned wages before payday. Instead of charging interest, the app asks users to provide an optional tip for the service.

EarnIn advances, called “Cash Out,” can be relatively large but are only available to employees who receive their paycheck by direct deposit. The cost to get an advance is relatively inexpensive, with low fast-funding fees and an optional tip capped at $13. Overall, the app is a good alternative to payday and other high-cost loans, but it’s best to consider alternatives before getting an advance.

EarnIn says it offers "access to earned wages," rather than a paycheck advance or loan. NerdWallet describes EarnIn's product as a paycheck advance because the app is an intermediary that provides cash and takes it back on the following payday.

Pros

No mandatory fees.

Low optional fees.

Potentially large advances.

Cons

Requires access to your bank account.

May require access to your location or verify employment via your work email address.

May cause your bank to charge an overdraft fee if you don't have sufficient funds on the due date.

EarnIn cash advance basics: Amounts, fees and funding time

How much can I borrow from EarnIn?

  • Up to $100 per day and $750 per pay period.

What fees does EarnIn charge?

  • Optional fast-funding fee: $3.99 to $4.99.

  • Optional tip: Up to $13 per advance.

How do you repay EarnIn?

  • Withdrawn from your bank account on the date of your next direct deposit.

How long does it take to get a cash advance from EarnIn?

  • Without paying an express fee: 1 to 3 days.

  • With an express fee: Within minutes.

A word of caution: Users of cash advance apps, including EarnIn, may risk becoming dependent on loans to cover regular expenses — a cycle of debt that’s difficult to break. It’s a good idea to consider affordable alternatives before getting an advance from EarnIn.

Who EarnIn is best for

  • Consumers with a small emergency expense.

  • Those who are paid by direct deposit and use an electronic timesheet at work, have a work email or fixed location.

  • Users who can use their next paycheck to cover the money owed to EarnIn on top of other regular expenses.

  • Consumers who don't regularly spend more than they earn.

What you need for an EarnIn advance

To qualify for an EarnIn advance, consumers must have predictable, provable income from an employer.

EarnIn may require a timesheet, GPS location access or regular emails to confirm employment income. EarnIn also reviews bank account transactions to verify employment, confirm users’ payday and calculate hourly earnings.

To qualify for an advance with EarnIn, you need:

  • At least two paychecks deposited into your bank account.

  • To be an employee who receives income from an employer’s payroll.

  • To be at least 18 years old.

  • To live in the United States.

How to get an EarnIn cash advance: Step-by-step instructions

  1. Create a profile on the app and give it access to your checking account.

  2. EarnIn tracks your hours worked. It does this in varying ways, depending on your job.

  3. You can access money only once you've earned it. You may get access to more or less money after that. Advances max out at $100 per day, up to $750 per pay period.

  4. When you request money, EarnIn verifies your hours worked. The company says this takes 10 minutes, on average, if you submit through the app.

  5. Once you choose an amount, EarnIn asks if you want to pay a fee to receive funds faster. Then, the app requests a tip. Tips can be between $0 and $13, which EarnIn deducts from your paycheck on payday along with the borrowed amount.

  6. You will be shown the total amount owed — the advance plus fees — and the repayment date before you agree to take the advance. EarnIn displays your repayment date on the confirmation screen after you agree.

  7. If you pay the fast-funding fee, you’ll receive the advance within minutes. If not, you’ll receive it in one to three business days.

  8. On the date EarnIn has determined you’ll receive your next direct deposit, the app withdraws the advance, plus any additional fees, from your account.

Frequently asked questions about EarnIn

Can I change my EarnIn payment due date?

Yes. EarnIn says its customer service team can reschedule a debit to your following payday if you contact the company at least one business day before the scheduled withdrawal. You can defer a due date only once every 180 days.

Will EarnIn’s Cash Out cause an overdraft fee?

If you don’t have enough money in your account when EarnIn takes repayment, your bank may charge an overdraft fee.

EarnIn doesn’t take measures to avoid causing an account to go negative when it takes repayment. However, users can opt in to the app’s low-balance alert feature, which tells you when your account drops below a certain amount.

How do I contact EarnIn customer service?

Users can contact EarnIn by email or chat. EarnIn doesn’t have a customer service phone number, but users frequently reach out on X, formerly Twitter, and Facebook.

Is EarnIn legit?

EarnIn is the trade name used by Activehours, Inc. It’s a real company headquartered in Palo Alto, California, that has offered cash advances since 2014. The app has 4.6 stars across more than 200,000 reviews in the Google Play Store, and 4.7 stars across more than 250,000 ratings in the Apple App Store.

Many recent customer complaints about EarnIn on the Better Business Bureau and CFPB websites highlight incorrect payment withdrawal dates that sometimes cause overdraft fees and difficulties reaching customer service representatives.

A closer look at EarnIn's star rating

Affordability: 3.0/4 stars

An affordable cash advance has low or no fees, caps tips and protects users from overdraft fees caused by the app’s withdrawals.

Structure: 3.5/4 stars

A well-structured app has a large enough maximum borrowing amount to meet users’ needs, can provide funds quickly without charging a fee and allows users repayment flexibility.

Transparency: 4.0/4 stars

A transparent cash advance app notifies users before withdrawals, discloses fees clearly to borrowers on their website or in the app and shows the total amount the user needs to repay before providing funds.

Underwriting and consumer protections: 3.0/4 stars

This category assesses how well an app helps borrowers avoid borrowing an advance that will overextend their finances. A consumer-first cash advance app reviews more than a couple months of borrowers’ expenses, requires regular bank account deposits and lets borrowers choose how much to borrow.

Customer experience: 3.5/4 stars

A well-rated cash advance app with multiple ways to contact customer service representatives and a thorough FAQ on its website will do well in this category.

Discretionary additions or deductions

Cash advance apps can earn a higher star rating by offering features that help borrowers build savings or credit. Apps’ star ratings are lowered if they are accused of engaging in deceptive or predatory practices by reputable sources.

Expert take on EarnIn

"EarnIn is one of the more established cash advance apps. The app's approval process is different from other apps and may feel somewhat invasive — no other app asks for your work email or location — but it's a popular option for a reason. The fees are low compared to many other apps, funding is generally fast and the total amount you can borrow between paychecks is on the high end.

EarnIn doesn't let you borrow more than $100 per day, though, so the app may not work for urgent expenses that are more than $100."

Annie Millerbernd, Assistant Assigning Editor, Personal Loans

Explore more cash advance apps

Brigit

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

Advance amounts

$50 to $250.

Fees

  • Monthly subscription fee: $9.99 or $14.99.

  • Optional fast-funding fee: $0.99 to $3.99.

Repayment

Withdrawn from your bank account on the date Brigit determines to be your next payday.

Time to fund without express fee

1 to 3 days.

Time to fund with express fee

20 minutes.

Empower

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

Advance amounts

$10 to $300 for first-time users. Returning customers may be approved for advances up to $350.

Fees

  • Subscription fee: $8 per month, or $0 if you opt out.

  • Optional fast-funding fee: $1 to $10.50.

  • Optional tip: Up to 20% per advance, capped each calendar year at your eligible advance amount.

Repayment

Withdrawn from your bank account on your predetermined due date.

Time to fund without express fee

One business day.

Time to fund with express fee

Within one hour.

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews and rates cash advance products from financial companies that provide cash advance apps. We collect over 24 data points from each company, verify the information with company representatives and compare the app with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar cash advance product. NerdWallet writers and editors conduct a full fact check and update annually, but also make updates throughout the year as necessary.

The maximum allowable rating for cash advance apps that we review is four stars. Our star ratings award points to cash advance apps that offer consumer-friendly features, including: caps on voluntary tips, protections from overdraft fees caused by app withdrawals, low cost of borrowing and an assessment of the user’s finances before providing an advance. The system also rewards points for features that a consumer seeking an advance would find useful, such as: fast funding without a fee, allowing users to borrow less than they were approved for and customer ratings. Additional points are awarded to apps that provide pathways to budgeting and saving, which are features that can help prevent a user from habitually reborrowing. We weigh these factors based on our assessment of which are the most important for consumers and how they impact consumers’ experiences.

NerdWallet does not receive compensation for our star ratings. Read more about our ratings methodologies for personal loans and our editorial guidelines.

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