Cash advance apps

Empower App 2024 Review: Cash Advances

Empower’s advances are small but funded quickly. The app may approve gig workers or freelancers with unpredictable income.
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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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Empower
NerdWallet rating 
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Affordability

Structure

Transparency

Underwriting and consumer protections

Customer experience


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Empower is a mobile app offering cash advances to eligible users, which may include gig workers or freelancers. The app provides smaller advances than some competitors, but it funds them more quickly.

Fees are high with this app, but the company says they’re optional — including the $8 subscription fee, which users can cancel by emailing customer support.

Empower’s thin borrowing requirements mean the advances may be accessible to more users, but it also means the company may not scrutinize borrowers’ spending behaviors as much as other apps to ensure they can repay.

Pros

Refunds users if the app causes an overdraft fee.

Won't accept both a tip and fast funding fee.

Gig workers and freelancers may qualify.

Advances are funded within one day.

Budgeting and credit-building features.

Cons

Advances are smaller than some other apps.

Optional fees are high.

Doesn't notify users before withdrawing repayment.

Empower cash advance basics: Amounts, fees and funding time

How much can I borrow from Empower?

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

What fees does Empower charge?

  • 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.

How do you repay Empower?

  • Withdrawn from your bank account on your predetermined due date.

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

  • It takes about a day to get the funds from an Empower cash advance, but users can pay a fee to get the funds within an hour.

A word of caution: Users of cash advance apps, including Empower, 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 Empower.

Who Empower is best for

  • Consumers who need to cover an emergency expense and have a plan to repay the app without missing regular bill payments.

  • Gig workers who are paid consistently.

  • Users who want to take advantage of the app's banking or budgeting features.

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

What you need for a Empower advance

Like most cash advance apps, Empower doesn’t check users’ credit to determine eligibility. Instead, the app requires users to connect a bank account (or use an existing Empower bank account) so it can review your income, banking history, balances and transactions.

Unlike some of its competitors, Empower says gig workers and freelancers can qualify for a cash advance.

To use the Empower app, you must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older.

  • Have a bank account that’s more than 30 days old.

The company doesn’t disclose additional borrower requirements, but it says users don’t need a long history of bank account transactions to get an advance. Though tighter requirements may make it harder to get an advance, they help ensure that users can repay.

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

Once you’ve downloaded the Empower app from an app store, here are the steps to get an advance.

  1. Enter your phone number and the verification code Empower sends to you. Then, input your first and last name, email and birth date, and create a passcode.

  2. Connect a checking account where you receive regular deposits.

  3. Request a cash advance to see what you’re approved for. Users who are eligible for advances of $100 or more are given three borrowing amount options. For example, if you’re approved for a $200 advance, you can get $200, $150 or $100. Those approved for $75 or less can only borrow the approved amount.

  4. Decide whether you want to pay an instant delivery fee to get your money within an hour instead of a business day.

  5. If you don’t pay the express fee, decide if you want to add a tip.

  6. Empower withdraws the advance amount, plus any fees, from your bank account on the due date.

Frequently asked questions about Empower

Can I change my Empower advance due date?

Yes. Empower says users can contact customer support to reschedule their due date, as long as they reach out by 12 p.m. Pacific time one business day before the scheduled payment date.

Will Empower’s advance cause an overdraft fee?

If you don’t have enough money in your account when Empower takes repayment, your bank may charge an overdraft fee. However, Empower will reimburse users who send proof of the fee to customer support.

Still, if you don't have sufficient funds on the due date, the app may withdraw small amounts from your bank account until the advance is repaid.

How do I contact Empower’s customer service?

You can contact Empower’s customer service by phone, email or in the app.

Is Empower Legit?

Empower is a real company based in San Francisco. It has offered cash advances since 2020. The app has 4.7 stars across more than 140,000 reviews on Google Play and 4.8 stars across more than 150,000 ratings on the Apple App Store.

Recent customer complaints with the Better Business Bureau focus on unexpected fees and difficulties opting out of the subscription.

A closer look at Empower's star rating

Affordability: 2.5/4 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: 3/4 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: 1.5/4 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: 4/4 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 Empower

"Empower is a solid choice if you need to borrow a small amount of money quickly. The app has a somewhat high maximum advance amount and can get you money quickly, even without paying an extra fee. The refund-for-overdraft policy is unusual for cash advance apps, and most users have good things to say about their experiences with Empower on Google Play and the Apple App Store.

All that said, the monthly subscription fee gives me pause because relying on a cash advance — even once per month — can be a symptom of a deeper issue making ends meet. Empower may only be the ideal choice if you plan to use some of the app's other features."

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.

EarnIn

3.5

NerdWallet rating 

Advance amounts

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

Fees

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

  • Optional tip: Up to $13 per advance.

Repayment

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

Time to fund without express fee

1 to 3 days.

Time to fund with express fee

Within minutes.

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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