Money lending apps in the USA have become very popular due to various benefits and offerings ranging from personal loans, payday loans, low-interest rate loans, and online credit cards to the straightforward application process, easy tracking and 24/7 customer support. Gregory Jarvis, a financial expert from abwfct.org and the company’s longest serving employee, compiled a rating of the best loan apps according to the main critics. Earnin, Dave, Brigit, Chime and MoneyLion provide you access to a small cash advance from your next paycheck before you get it. This option may be convenient if you need a few hundred dollars in an emergency, but do not forget to consider alternative options that may be cheaper before you borrow money from an app.
Unlike other cash solutions such as credit cards or personal loans, the cost of borrowing money from a cash advance app isn’t expressed as an interest rate. Alternatively, you will be required to pay subscription or expedited funding fees.
Lenders and credit card companies express the cost of using their product as an annual percentage rate (APR), which is the cost you pay each year to borrow money, including fees, expressed as a percentage. Loan apps and other short-term loan providers claim that APR isn’t a fair way to measure the true cost of a loan, but we’ve given an example with the apps.
Here are the 5 top cash advance apps that let you borrow up to $500 till your next paycheck, and some more affordable options to consider.
1. Earnin: Most affordable app
Earnin is an app that gives you access to the pay you’ve earned – when you need it. This app allows you to get paid for the hours you’ve worked without waiting for your next payday. The app also sends you a notification you when your bank account balance is considered low and may offer you to top it off for a certain fee.
- Amount: $100 to $500.
- Fees: You will have to pay a voluntary tip, which is capped at $14. You can add the overdraft protection feature automatically by setting a recurring tip of $1.50.
- Speed: You can use the Earnin’s Lightning Speed feature, which will cost you $1.99 to $3.99 based on the size of your loan and allows you to get the funds immediately. In different circumstances, it usually takes 1-3 working days.
- Repayment: On your payday, Earnin will automatically debit your bank account for the amount you borrowed, plus interest and tips (if any).
- APR example: If you take out a $100 loan seven days before your next payday and tip $2, your APR will be 104.3%.
2. Dave: Best for small money needs
Dave is a banking and financial services app available on Apple and Android devices. It provides users an advance on their paycheck to cover small expenses like gas or groceries. The app also helps you avoid overdrawing your bank account. If you have a Dave spending account, you can borrow larger amounts than those who don’t. Dave can also help you make more money. With its “Side Hustle” feature, you can easily find and apply to side jobs and get that coin.
- Amount: $5 to $200 for those having a Dave spending account; $5 to $100 for users without a Dave spending account.
- Fees: There’s no interest or fees, though the company accepts tips: $1 monthly membership fee, which you can add in the app; $1.99-$5.99 fee to get a faster access to cash. The fee varies depending on your loan amount; optional tip up to 20% of the amount you borrowed.
- Speed: Advances from Dave take one to three days to land in your account. If you pay the express fee to receive your loan faster, you can expect to receive your money within 8 hours.
- Repayment: The automatic payment date is set to your next payday, but you can change it.
- APR example: If you borrow $100 a week before your paycheck, pay a $5.99 express fee, the monthly $1 subscription fee and a $1 tip, you will have to repay $7.99 in total. The APR would be over 400%.
3. Brigit: Great budgeting tools
The Brigit app offers paycheck advances of up to $250 to help users access fast cash and avoid overdraft fees on their bank accounts. You can use the Brigit’s free plan, which offers financial aid and useful budgeting help. To borrow money, you have to use the paid plan, which has all the features of the free plan, plus cash advances, and identity theft insurance, overdraft protection, and credit monitoring features.
- Amount: $50-$250.
- Fees: Brigit does not charge interest, but it does charge a monthly fee of $9.99 to access its products.
- Speed: You can expect to get cash the same day if you apply before 10 a.m. ET; otherwise, it will arrive the next business day.
- Repayment: Brigit automates its repayment process and notifies you 24 hours before your due date, with the payment automatically deducted from your account. You can extend your due date in the app, but only once for every two advances you repay on time.
- APR example: If you pay a $9.99 Brigit membership and apply for a one-time $100 cash advance that you’ll pay back in 7 days, your APR will exceed 500%.
4. Chime: Overdraft protection feature
Chime is designed to be used primarily through its mobile app and offers plenty of features to make mobile banking convenient. The app is known for its SpotMe feature, which allows you to keep your money safe with security features and overdraft up to $200 fee-free. SpotMe is more an overdraft protection feature than a cash advance, but you can pay an optional tip. Chime has no limits set on the number of times you can overdraft your account.
In order to be eligible for SpotMe, you need to receive a single direct deposit of at least $200 into your Chime Checking Account over the preceding 34-day period.
- Amount: $20-$200. Limits depend on your account activity.
- Fees: None. The app asks if you want to add an optional tip.
- Speed: Immediate.
- Repayment: You can set up for automatic withdrawal of funds from your account on your next payday.
- APR example: If you are eligible for a $50 overdraft, you pay back the balance in 7 days and add a $1 tip, you’re actually borrowing $50 with an APR of 104.3%.
5. MoneyLion: A wide range of financial products
The MoneyLion app may be a good choice if you need extra cash before your next paycheck. The app offers personal finance, mobile banking, investing, credit-builder loans and cash advances up to $250. The app delivers Instacash advances for free to MoneyLion bank accounts in one or two days. However, you’ll have to pay a fee if you need access to fast cash. The company says it charges no interest or fees with the cash advance, but you’re asked to pay an optional tip if you get a cash advance.
- Amount: $25-$250, but only customers having a MoneyLion checking account get access to the largest amounts.
- Fees: The company has an optional tip, plus a fee for instant delivery that depends on how much you borrow. Users with MoneyLion checking account pay $0.99-99. Those with no MoneyLion checking accounts have to pay $1.99-$7.99.
- Speed: Standard regular delivery takes 12-48 hours for cash advance funds to be deposited into a MoneyLion RoarMoney account and 3-5 business days to reach an external checking account.
- Repayment: The money is automatically withdrawn from your account on your next payday. If you do not have enough money on your account, the MoneyLion app will repeatedly try to withdraw the money.
- APR: If you get a $100 advance deposited immediately into an external account for $7.99, add a tip of $1 and pay back the loan in 7 days, your APR will be more than 300%.
Summary of the 5 best cash advance apps
|Loan app||Loan amount||Speed without paying a fee||Quick funding fee||Other fees|
|Earnin||$100 – $500||1-3 days||$1.99 – $3.99||None|
|Dave||$5 – $200||1-3 days||$1.99 – $5.99||$1 monthly membership fee|
|Brigit||$50 – $250||1-2 days||None||$9.99 monthly subscription fee|
|Chime||$20 – $200||Instant||None||None|
|MoneyLion||$25 – $250||12-48 hours||$0.99 – $7.99||None|
What are the advantages and disadvantages of loan apps?
Though borrowing money from loan app seems a cheap option, fees can add up rapidly, and we don’t recommend paying for early access to the funds you’ve earned. These cash advance apps can help you cover unexpected expenses in emergencies, like a car repair, medical treatment, or buying groceries, but financial advisors say they cannot be used as long-term solutions.
Weight all the pros and cons of using loan apps before borrowing money.
- Fast money in an emergency: Some apps offer instant access to cash — but you may have to pay an additional fee for that service.
- May be more affordable than an overdraft fee: If your select between paying a bank overdraft fee and a paycheck advance, the latter is likely cheaper. Most app fees do not exceed $10, while overdraft fees can be over $35.
- You may need to pay an overdraft fee: Some apps ask you to provider access to your bank account in order to withdraw the funds when it’s due. While apps promise they try to avoid triggering an overdraft, they cannot 100% guarantee it.
- May lead to cycle of debt: Because loan apps make borrowing fast and hassle-free, they could make you borrow repeatedly. Eventually, you can find yourself in a debt trap if you take advances frequently to deal with everyday expenses.
Are loan apps payday lenders?
No. Cash advance apps are not actually payday lenders and they are not subject to payday lending regulations.
But some consumer advocates consider cash advance loan apps indiscreet payday lenders — and they have some similar features. These apps provides access to small loans that are to be repaid as soon as you receive your next paycheck with potentially high fees. Like payday lenders, cash advance app don’t cooperate with major credit bureaus, so it can’t boost your credit score or damage it.
The investigation into the payroll advance industry
Some cash advance apps are part of a payroll advance industry investigation initiated in 2019 by the Department of Financial Services (DFS). The payroll advance industry is facing an investigation from New York and 10 other state. The investigation will focus on whether the payroll advance companies violate state banking laws, state usury laws and licensing laws.
Top 3 alternatives to loan apps
If you have multiple loan options, shopping for the best and cheapest one before you borrow from a cash advance app. You may have more affordable alternatives that can help you get extra cash in an emergency.
- Borrow from friend and family: Nobody likes to share their money problems with close people, but it may be your best option in tough times. This option can help you avoid borrowing at very high interest rates. But keep in mind that borrowing money from friends and family can potentially cause relationship damage.
- Credit union loans: If you need to borrow money, credit union personal loans may be a good option. You may be eligible for a small loan with a low interest rate. Some credit unions offer $500 loans, but they perform credit check. So make sure you have a good credit score before you apply. Some credit unions that belong to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) offer payday alternative loans. These are small loans that are cheaper than payday loans and are to be repaid over a longer period.
- Personal loans: Many online lenders offer small personal loans. These loans typically range between $1000 and $1500, and APRs are below 36%. Loan requirements include proof of your identity, proof of address, and proof of income. Some online lenders even approve applicants with bad credit.
- Other ways to make money: You may find a way to earn some extra money and avoid borrowing cash. You can become an online tutor, become a user experience tester, take surveys, try affiliate marketing or babysit.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
What app can I use to borrow money immediately?
In most cases, you can get the money within 1-3 days, but you can pay a fee to get the funds faster. For example, MoneyLion usually takes 1-5 business days to deposit funds into your account, but you can pay an extra fee ranging from $0.99 to $7.99 to get the cash faster – sometimes even in a few minutes. Standard cash advances from Dave take 1-3 days, but you can pay a fee between $1.99 and $5.99 to receive the money within 8 hours.
Who can use a loan app?
In general, anyone with a smartphone can use a cash advance app in the USA. However, different apps will have different requirements for potential borrowers. If you do not comply with these eligibility criteria, your request could be declined. Typically, these criteria include minimum age and income requirements.
It is safe to use a cash advance app?
Borrowing money from a reputable source like Dave, Earnin, Chime, Brigit and MoneyLion eliminates the chances of fraud. We recommend that you use loan apps in one-time emergencies because costs add up rapidly, and they may lead to a debt cycle. If you’re having financial problems on a regular basis, explore alternative ways to borrow money.