EarnIn App 2023 Review: Paycheck Advance Loans
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The bottom line:
EarnIn provides reasonably large advances to qualified users. It’s best for one-time emergency situations when you’re confident you can pay the money back.
Pros & Cons
- No mandatory fees.
- Low optional fees.
- Potentially large advances.
- Requires access to your bank account.
- May require access to your location or contact you through your work email address.
- May cause your bank to charge an overdraft fee if you don't have sufficient funds on the due date.
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Full Review of EarnIn
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.
» MORE: Compare cash advance apps
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 $14. Overall, the app is a good alternative to payday and other high-cost loans, but it’s best to consider alternative sources of cash 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.
» MORE: What is earned wage access?
Table of contents
EarnIn advance amounts, fees and repayment terms
Up to $100 per day and $750 per pay period.
Withdrawn from your bank account on your next payday.
Time to fund without express fee
1-3 business days.
Time to fund with express fee
Funds available within minutes.
Should you use EarnIn’s Cash Out feature?
When used occasionally, EarnIn can be useful if you:
Have a small emergency expense.
Can use your next paycheck to cover the money owed to EarnIn on top of other regular expenses.
Use an electronic timesheet at work, have a work email or a fixed location.
Are a W-2 employee who is paid by direct deposit.
EarnIn might not be a good solution if you:
Regularly spend more than you earn.
Work independently or have multiple employers.
Though cash advances from an app are generally cheaper than payday loans, they may encourage users to rely on borrowed money to bridge income gaps, which can lead to a cycle of borrowing. In 2021, the Financial Health Network released a study that included multiple years of usage data and found that app users frequently take advances consecutively — behavior that is consistent with payday loan borrowing.
Is EarnIn legit?
EarnIn is the trade name used by Activehours Inc. It’s a real company based 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 240,000 ratings in the Apple App Store.
Many recent customer complaints about Activehours on the Better Business Bureau and CFPB websites highlight incorrect payment withdrawal dates that sometimes cause overdraft fees.
How to qualify 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 one paycheck deposited into your bank account.
To be a W-2 employee who receives income from an employer’s payroll. EarnIn does not accept income from contract work, freelance jobs or government benefits like Social Security.
To be 18 years old.
To live in the United States.
How EarnIn cash advances work
Here are the steps to get an EarnIn cash advance.
Create a profile on the app and give it access to your checking account.
EarnIn tracks your hours worked. It does this in varying ways, depending on your job.
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.
When you request money, EarnIn verifies your hours worked. The company says this takes 10 minutes, on average, if you submit through the app.
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 $14, which EarnIn deducts from your paycheck on payday along with the borrowed amount.
You will be shown the total amount owed — the advance plus fees — before you agree to take the advance. EarnIn displays your repayment date on the confirmation screen after you agree.
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.
On the date EarnIn has determined you’ll be paid next, the app withdraws the advance, plus any additional fees, from your account.
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 Twitter and Facebook.
Other EarnIn features
EarnIn’s Balance Shield Alert tells you when your account balance falls below an amount you specify.
The Balance Shield feature also allows users to have up to $100 sent to their bank accounts when the balance drops below $100. The amount sent counts toward your daily and pay period borrowing limits.
The transfers are an optional feature that users can turn on manually. EarnIn’s website says a minimum $1.50 tip is needed to keep them automatically turned on.
EarnIn’s Tip Yourself feature is essentially a savings account where users can set aside from $1 to $50 per day and use those funds instead of getting an advance.
While this may be a helpful feature, an interest-bearing emergency fund through your bank is likely a better savings option.
Compare EarnIn to other cash advance apps
EarnIn is the only cash advance app that requires proof of employment and income. Most other apps only review users’ bank accounts to ensure they can repay an advance. In that regard, an EarnIn advance may be harder to get, but it may also be safer.
EarnIn also provides large advances, and fees are low compared to some competitors. If you qualify and ensure your scheduled repayment date lines up with your payday, EarnIn may be an affordable cash advance option.
EarnIn vs. other cash advance apps
Speed without paying a fee
1 to 3 days.
$9.99 monthly subscription fee.
Up to $100 per day, $750 per pay period.
1 to 3 days.
$8 monthly subscription fee unless you opt out.
Up to $500.
2 to 3 days.
$1 monthly membership fee.
12 hours to 5 days.
Approval takes up to 3 days.
Funding takes minutes.
3 business days.
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.