March 19, 2024

10 Best Cash Advance Apps & Alternatives: Breaking Down the Pros & Cons

A single surprise expense can be the difference between financial progress and slipping into debt.

One solution to short-term money needs is instant cash advance apps. These tools aren't just about access to credit or your own money in advance — they're about financial empowerment and flexibility when you need it most, regardless of the circumstances.

If you want to learn how to get instant cash, here’s everything you need to know about early pay solutions, the best cash advancement apps, and powerful alternatives now available.

What to know about cash advance apps

What you know as cash advance apps, or payday advance apps, offer short-term financial flexibility by providing early access to your paycheck or direct deposit. But not all cash advance apps are alike and the latest available are nothing like traditional cash advances, where you borrow against a line of credit, at all.

These new apps also differ from payday loans, which lenders offer for short periods, usually without any confirmation that borrowers can pay them back other than proof of income, usually in the form of a pay stub.

Even the best payday loans and traditional cash advance options have high interest rates that can compound and leave in you a debt trap, which is why it’s far better to opt for access to money you’ve already earned if you can — and that’s exactly what the next generation of cash advance, or earned wage access, apps provide.

So what are earned wage access apps?

Earned wage access apps, often called cash advance apps (despite their differences), are an innovative alternative to old-fashioned high-interest cash advances. These new cash advance and payday loan alternatives stand out from other money-borrowing apps because you’re actually accessing money already from your next paycheck, not borrowing against a line of credit.

Even better, they’re easy to use. You just need to download the app, connect your bank account, and add your employment info to verify your income. Once verified, you can access an advance on your earnings. Most apps even automate the repayment process, with the advance amount debited from your bank account when your next paycheck arrives. And many provide access to your earnings with no credit check.

Even with the conveniences of these earned wage or cash advance apps, as with any financial tool, you should use them wisely. Make sure you only access amounts you can part with when your next paycheck comes. It can be helpful to use EarnIn's free personal loan calculator to estimate your potential monthly payments and the total cost of the loan.

Overview of cash advance and earned wage access apps

Now that you have a better idea of what cash advance and early pay apps are, here’s how they can help if you need cash quickly and some of the most popular options available:

App Name Advance Amounts Fees Speed
EarnIn Up to $100/day and $750/pay period No interest, no mandatory fees, optional tips, optional Lightning Speed transfers 1-3 days or within minutes with Lightning Speed
MoneyLion Up to $500 (up to $1,000 with subscription) $0.49 to $8.99 for transfers Up to 48 hours or within minutes for a fee
Brigit Up to $250 $9.99/month for Plus Plan 2 days or within minutes with subscription
Chime Up to $200 overdraft protection (SpotMe) None N/A
Dave Up to $500 $1/month membership plus transfer fees Up to 3 days or within minutes for a fee
Empower Up to $250 $8/month subscription Within minutes with subscription and a fee
SoLo Funds Variable (peer-to-peer) with a limit of $575 Optional tips and donations Up to 3 days
Varo Up to $250 Up to $20 depending on the amount borrowed Within minutes
Albert Up to $250 Pay what you want (Genius subscription required) Same day
Revolut Up to your employer Up to employer From a few days to within minutes

The best cash advance apps and alternatives: Pros and cons

All the best payday loan apps, cash advance apps, and early pay solutions have clear advantages, particularly in the face of unexpected expenses — access to money. But it's important to understand each app's pros and cons before fully committing to one.

Also, some of these options are only available if employers choose to set them up, meaning not everyone can use them. But thankfully, EarnIn is available to anyone with a recurring paycheck.

1. EarnIn

- Pros: EarnIn is the original same-day pay app that provides a convenient way to access your pay as you earn it. Get up to $100 a day and up to $750 every pay period accessing your own wages with no interest, no credit checks, and no mandatory fees. Its tip-based model, fast transfers, and free credit monitoring combine to make EarnIn a comprehensive resource for financial flexibility.

- Cons: None detected. With no interest, no mandatory fees, and no credit impact, EarnIn customers can access their pay with utmost safety.

2. MoneyLion

- Pros: MoneyLion is another earned wage access app, offering up to $500 with no interest and options for investing and cryptocurrency trading without advance fees. If you subscribe to a MoneyLion RoarMoney account, you can increase your limit up to $1,000, depending on your direct deposit schedule and level.

- Cons: There’s a $100 disbursement limit, meaning you have to make multiple transfers to access over $100, slowing down your access to funds. And to access your money within minutes, you have to pay a variable extra fee between $1.99–8.99, which can create less clarity. Plus, transferring funds incurs fees, and partial repayments can lead to deductions from your future advance amounts.

3. Brigit

- Pros: If you qualify, Brigit offers a range of $50–250 in cash advances with no interest, repayment flexibility, and a $9.99–14.99 monthly subscription that includes budgeting tools, overdraft alerts, and a credit builder program.

- Cons: Not everyone qualifies for advances, the subscription fees can add up quick, and the app can’t guarantee an overdraft won’t happen, with an average overdraft fee of $34.

4. Chime

- Pros: Chime's SpotMe isn’t an earned wage access or cash advance app. Instead, it allows you to overdraft your account by up to $200 without fees by covering the difference until your next paycheck arrives.

- Cons: Access to SpotMe requires a Chime bank account, limiting its availability. The initial amount the app covers is only $20, and you have to make a monthly deposit of at least $200 to access the full overdraft benefits. Higher coverage depends on your account history, spending activity, and more. Plus, tipping upon repayment could incur additional costs despite this being a fee-free service.

5. Dave

- Pros: Dave offers up to $500 advances without interest charges, budgeting, and job opportunities. You can also choose a repayment date when you accept the advance.

- Cons: The average amount given to new customers is actually only $160, and express delivery has a fee of 5% of your advance amount (which at $500 is $25). Those transfer fees can add up, and the optional repayment date may not fit all users' financial schedules, complicating budget management.

6. Empower

- Pros: Empower offers cash advances from $10–250 with no interest, an $8 monthly subscription for financial tools, overdraft reimbursement, and cashback on purchases.

- Cons: Not everyone will qualify for a cash advance, and the average amount is only $140. Instant transfer fees range from $1–8, depending on the amount you’re getting. And that doesn’t include the monthly subscription fee, which might not appeal to those only seeking cash advances. Also, be careful, because the app reports your activity to credit bureaus, so late payments could negatively impact your score.

7. SoLo Funds

- Pros: With SoLo Funds' peer-to-peer lending model, you can post a request for how much amount you’d like to borrow, ranging from $20–575 (plus an optional tip). Someone who can lend you the money then may send it your way.

- Cons: The uncertainty in loan funding and potential wait times can be problematic for urgent needs, and the variability in borrowing costs due to optional tips and donations for different lenders introduces unpredictability in costs. Plus, how much you can request depends on your SoLo score, which you can only build by using SoLo.

8. Varo

- Pros: Varo gives you access to funds from your employer, which they usually receive two days before your scheduled pay date. They also offer cash advance loans ranging from $20–250, with eligibility for higher amounts increasing over time. Because it’s a loa, making timely repayments can help increase your credit score.

- Cons: Depending on the advance amount, Varo charges a fee between $1.60 and $40 in addition to a late payment fee of $15, which can make the advance unpredictable and high-cost. Initial advance limits are low, and building credit requires consistent use of Varo's specific services, which might only suit some people's needs. Plus, the maximum advance amount is only $500 at a time.

9. Albert

- Pros: With Albert, like Varo or Chime, you can access your paycheck up to two days early — they deposit it as soon as they receive the money from your employer. The app also lets you overdraft your account by $25–250 without fees. Its Genius subscription also offers financial advice, automated savings, and investment options, catering to a broad range of financial needs.

- Cons: The subscription costs $14.99 a month, and you need one to access cash advances. Plus, the average overdraft limit is only about $80.

10. Revolut

- Pros: Revolut’s On-Demand Pay lets you access your wages as you earn — if your employer has signed up with the platform. You can only access as much as you’ve made so far that pay period and your employer sets the limit on your withdrawal limit.

- Cons: The service's benefits depend on employer participation, which may limit accessibility and introduce an uncomfortable dynamic for users. Fees determined by the employer for cash advances also creates unpredictability in costs, and you aren’t guaranteed to get your money the same day.

Choosing a cash advance or early pay solution

Early pay solutions like these 10 cash advance apps and alternative earned wage access apps can be a lifesaver when navigating financial shortfalls or unexpected expenses before your next paycheck — when used strategically.

While these platforms promise speedy financial relief and come with added perks like savings tools, credit monitoring, and budgeting guides, tread carefully. The convenience of apps that let you borrow money can carry hidden costs or unrealistic promises with many providers, like variable fees for fast transfers, late charges, and subscription fees, which can accumulate over time. Plus, the automatic repayment feature could trigger overdraft fees at your bank if you’re not anticipating it.

The key is to use these apps as part of a larger financial strategy that includes building savings and spending responsibly. This approach avoids the trap of dependency on advances, and when you use them carefully, cash advance apps and their next-generation successors, like EarnIn, can be part of a balanced financial toolkit that gives you greater financial flexibility.

Access your money swiftly and safely with EarnIn

While any cash advance app can be helpful in a time of need, EarnIn stands out as a safe, reliable option for consistent same-day pay access without any interest, required fees, or credit checks. Unexpected financial twists and turns are part of life, but tools like EarnIn, trusted by millions, can be a critical resource for protecting you from uncertainty and keeping you moving toward your financial goals.

Ready to get paid today? Download EarnIn to access the pay you've earned — whenever you need it. Click here to learn more and try EarnIn today.

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EarnIn is a financial technology company not a bank. Subject to your available earnings, Daily Max and Pay Period Max. EarnIn does not charge interest on Cash Outs. EarnIn does not charge hidden fees for use of its services. Restrictions and/or third party fees may apply. EarnIn services may not be available in all states. For more info visit earnin.com/TOS.

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