Cash Advance Apps: Access Your Funds Ahead of Payday

Cash Advance Apps: Access Your Funds Ahead of Payday

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In today’s fast-paced world, emergencies don’t always align with our payday schedules. Sometimes, we find ourselves in need of immediate access to funds. That’s where cash advance apps come in handy. These apps allow you to request a small amount of cash, which you can repay out of your next paycheck. They offer a safer alternative to payday loans, although it’s important to note that they may come with certain fees. In this article, we will explore the best cash advance apps of 2024, their key features, pros and cons, and alternatives to consider.

Best Cash Advance Apps of 2024

When choosing the best cash advance apps, several factors come into play, including loan amounts, fees, repayment timeline, funding time, company reputation, and user requirements. Here are our top picks for cash advance apps in 2024:

  1. Varo: Best Overall
  2. Payactiv: Runner-Up, Best Overall
  3. MoneyLion: Best for Flexible Loan Amounts
  4. Dave: Best for Budgeting Tools & Resources
  5. Earnin: Best for Lowest Suggested Tip
  6. Empower Finance: Best With a Subscription Fee

Let’s take a closer look at each of these cash advance apps and what sets them apart.

1. Varo: Best Overall

Key Specs:

  • Loan Amounts: $20 to $250
  • Time to Repay: Up to 4 weeks
  • Fees: $0 to $15, depending on amount

Varo is our top pick for the best overall cash advance app. It offers a straightforward fee schedule, with fees capped at $15 for a $250 advance. The best part? $20 advances are always free. While you need to have a Varo bank account to use the app, this means that the money will be available to you instantly, without the risk of overdraft fees. Varo requires at least $800 in direct deposits this month or last to qualify. Additionally, Varo offers up to 30 days for repayment, longer than most other apps. However, you may not qualify for the maximum advance initially, as larger amounts can be unlocked as you repay smaller advances. Varo’s website is transparent, and the company provides multiple customer service options, including live chat. Another advantage of having a Varo bank account is access to unique tools such as an interest-free secured credit card, a high-yield savings account, and a free debit card.

Service Details:

  • Loan Amounts: $20 to $250
  • Fees: $0 to $15, depending on amount
  • Time to Repay: 15 to 30 days
  • Repayment Method: Automatic
  • Time to Fund: Instant
  • Additional Services: Fee-free checking with free debit card, interest-free secured card, high-yield savings account

2. Payactiv: Runner-Up, Best Overall

Key Specs:

  • Loan Amounts: $1 to $1,000
  • Time to Repay Terms: Next paycheck
  • Fees: $0 to $2.99, depending on disbursement type

Payactiv is our runner-up for the best overall cash advance app. With Payactiv, you can access up to $1,000 of your earned wages if your employer partners with the app. Borrowing limits are set by your employer, and you can potentially borrow up to $500 without direct deposit. Payactiv offers multiple ways to access your money at no cost, including ACH transfers and real-time transfers to a Payactiv Visa card if you have direct deposit set up. You can even use your earned wages to pay for Uber rides, Amazon purchases, or bills without any fees. Repayment is deducted from your next paycheck, eliminating the risk of overdraft fees. If your employer doesn’t currently partner with Payactiv, you can recommend the app to your human resources department.

Service Details:

  • Loan Amounts: $1 to $1,000
  • Fees: $0 real-time transfers with direct deposit, $1.99 for real-time transfers to Payactiv Visa Card (without direct deposit), $2.99 for Walmart cash pickup or real-time transfers to other debit or payroll cards
  • Time to Repay: Next paycheck
  • Repayment Method: Automatic paycheck deduction
  • Time to Fund: Many options are instant; ACH transfer takes 1 to 3 business days
  • Additional Services: Payactiv Visa Card, which allows you to get paid early

3. MoneyLion: Best for Flexible Loan Amounts

Key Specs:

  • Loan Amounts: $10 to $500
  • Time to Repay: Next paycheck
  • Fees: Suggested tip + up to $8.99 for express funding

MoneyLion is the best cash advance app if you’re looking for flexible loan amounts. You may be eligible to get a cash advance of up to $500, or up to $1,000 if you connect your RoarMoney account. However, your initial limit may be lower, and it will increase as MoneyLion sees recurring deposits in your linked checking account. Funding can take two to five business days if you’re using a linked checking account, but you can opt for Turbo Delivery, which costs up to $8.99 for faster funding. MoneyLion has high borrowing limits compared to other apps, and it offers 24/7 customer support. While a tip is suggested, it is entirely optional, and there’s no obligation to repay the advance if you choose to cancel. However, repayment is required if you want access to cash advances in the future. MoneyLion also offers a high Trustpilot rating, reflecting its positive customer reviews.

Service Details:

  • Loan Amounts: $10 to $500
  • Fees: Suggested tip plus up to $8.99 express funding fee
  • Time to Repay: Next paycheck
  • Repayment Method: Automatic
  • Time to Fund: Without fee: Up to 5 business days, with fee: Within minutes
  • Additional Services: RoarMoney deposit account, investment account

4. Dave: Best for Budgeting Tools & Resources

Key Specs:

  • Loan Amounts: $25 to $500
  • Time to Repay Terms: Next paycheck
  • Fees: $1 subscription fee, 15% suggested tip, and $1.99 to $13.99 express funding

Dave is the best cash advance app if you’re looking for budgeting tools and resources. In addition to its ExtraCash feature, which offers up to $500 ahead of payday, Dave provides side hustle opportunities, including real-time payments for completing surveys. The money earned from these opportunities does not need to be repaid. Dave charges a $1 monthly subscription fee and offers express funding options at varying costs. For example, sending a $500 advance to an external bank account in less than an hour costs $13.99. However, you can get an ACH transfer free of charge, which takes one to three business days. A 15% suggested tip is included, but it is entirely optional and won’t impact your eligibility for future access. Dave offers automatic repayment and will never overdraft your account, ensuring no additional fees from your bank.

Service Details:

  • Loan Amounts: $25 to $500
  • Fees: $1 per month subscription, 15% suggested tip, $1.99 to $13.99 express funding
  • Time to Repay: Next paycheck
  • Repayment Method: Automatic
  • Time to Fund: Without fee: 1 to 3 business days, with fee: Less than an hour
  • Additional Services: Side hustle opportunities, Dave spending account, high-yield savings account

5. Earnin: Best for Lowest Suggested Tip

Key Specs:

  • Loan Amounts: Up to $100 per day and $750 per pay period
  • Time to Repay: Next paycheck
  • Fees: Suggested tip plus express funding fees up to $4.99

Earnin is the best cash advance app if you’re looking for the lowest suggested tip. With Earnin, you can access up to $100 of your earned wages on the same day you sign up, with the option for Lightning Speed transfers. Typically, a $100 cash out with Lightning Speed incurs a $3.99 fee, but your first transfer is free. To use Earnin, you’ll need to show proof of consistent pay and earnings of at least $320 per pay period. While a tip is suggested based on your withdrawal amount, tipping is entirely optional and doesn’t affect your eligibility for future access. Repayment is automatic out of your next paycheck, and while it’s rare, Earnin support can help reimburse overdraft fees if they occur. Earnin app has received mixed customer reviews on third-party websites, but it is highly rated and offers free credit score monitoring.

Service Details:

  • Loan Amounts: $1 to $100 per day (up to $750 per pay period)
  • Fees: Suggested tip plus $0 to $3.99 express funding fee
  • Time to Repay: Next paycheck
  • Repayment Method: Automatic
  • Time to Fund: Without fee: 1 to 2 business days, with fee: Up to 30 minutes
  • Additional Services: Credit monitoring

6. Empower Finance: Best With a Subscription Fee

Key Specs:

  • Loan Amounts: $10 to $250
  • Time to Repay: Next paycheck
  • Fees: $8 per month plus express funding fees

Empower Finance is the best cash advance app if you’re willing to pay a subscription fee. While we don’t typically recommend cash advance apps with a subscription model, Empower offers other smart money features included with the $8 per month price. These features include credit monitoring, budgeting tools, and an autosave feature that identifies when to save based on your spending patterns. Empower doesn’t suggest tips, but express funding can cost up to $8 for a $250 advance. Funding without a fee can take up to five business days. You don’t need to open an account to use Empower, and the company looks for consistent income when determining your eligibility.

Service Details:

  • Loan Amounts: $10 to $250
  • Fees: $8/month subscription fee, $1 to $8 express funding fee
  • Time to Repay: Next paycheck
  • Repayment Method: Automatic account debit
  • Time to Fund: Without fee: 1 to 5 business days, with $1 to $8 fee: Within 2 hours
  • Additional Services: Credit card, autosave, budgeting tools, smart recommendations, credit score monitoring

Conclusion

In conclusion, cash advance apps offer a convenient and accessible way to access funds ahead of your paycheck. While each app has its own unique features, it’s essential to consider your specific needs and circumstances when choosing the best cash advance app for you. Varo, Payactiv, MoneyLion, Dave, Earnin, and Empower Finance all provide different advantages, such as low fees, flexible loan amounts, budgeting tools, and more. Remember, it’s always better to build an emergency fund and manage your finances responsibly. Cash advances should be used as a temporary solution, and it’s important to carefully consider the fees and repayment terms associated with each app.

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