Updated on Friday, May 17, 2019
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Financial emergencies have a habit of cropping up at the worst possible time — when you’re stuck in-between paychecks. Perhaps you need $250 for an emergency car repair, but you just paid your rent and won’t have the funds until your next payday in two weeks. You might want to turn to a credit card or a payday loan, but those could rack up onerous fees.
What if you could get a portion of your next paycheck early without paying hefty fees or interest? Several financial services companies make this a reality by helping workers make ends meet without taking on debt. Others offer short-term, interest-free loans based on a flat membership fee, which may be easier to manage and budget for than using a credit card or paying financing fees to take out and repay a loan.
- Available if you are paid via direct deposits into a checking account from an Earnin-supported bank
- Withdraw up to $100 early per pay period, or up to $500 after continued use of the app
- No fees or interest — Earnin makes money from voluntary tips
Earnin is an app-based service available on Android and iPhone smartphones. Once you download the app and create an account, you can connect your bank account (if Earnin supports your bank) and verify your paycheck schedule. You must have direct deposit set up and linked to a checking account.
How it works: In order to use Earnin, you need to upload your timesheet, either manually, by connecting a time-tracking account to the app or by using the Earnin app’s GPS feature if you have a single workspace. Using this information, Earnin estimates your average take-home hourly rate after taxes and deductions.
Earnin keeps track of the money you earn while you work, and you can withdraw a portion of your unpaid wages before your next payday. At the start, you may only be able to withdraw up to $100 each pay period. But based on your account balances and use, the pay-period maximum could potentially increase up to $500. The payment will arrive in your checking account within one business day, or even a few seconds, depending on where you bank.
Earnin doesn’t connect to your employer’s payroll. It connects to whatever bank account you use to collect your pay. The next time your paycheck hits your bank account, Earnin will automatically withdraw what you owe. There aren’t any fees or interest charges for using the service; however, Earnin does ask for support in the form of tips.
- Available if you are paid via direct deposits into a checking account
- Withdraw up to $500 in earned wages per pay period
- No fee for standard (three-day) withdrawals, but $3.99 per instant withdrawals
Branch gives you access to money that you’ve earned already, but wouldn’t otherwise receive until your next payday. The company also offers more features if multiple employees at the same company use the app, or if your employer signs up. For example, employees can check their shifts using the app and make a request to swap shifts, ask for coverage or quickly pick up someone else’s shift.
How it works: To use the early pay feature, you’ll need to connect a checking account and debit card, and receive direct deposits into the connected account. You can request an advance of up to $500 using the app — the money will be deposited into your account, and then paid back with an automatic withdrawal on your next payday.
You’ll also need to upload images of your work schedule. However, if your employer has also signed up for Branch and you manage your shifts using the app, your schedule may automatically be in the system.
The early payments can take several days, although you may be eligible for same-day payments based on your direct deposit history and whether you generally have money leftover after your paydays or receiving an advance.
A standard withdrawal into your bank account is free and could take up to three days. There is a $3.99 fee if you want to request an instant payment.
- Available if you’re employed, paid via direct deposit and have a checking account
- Borrow up to $75 with an interest-free, short-term loan
- $1 monthly membership fee and a small fee for expedited delivery. Dave also accepts tips
Dave is a membership service that connects to your bank account and will text you if you’re in danger of overdrafting. The service costs $1 per month. Qualified members can borrow up to $75 with an interest-free loan that helps them cover expenses until their next payday.
How it works: Once you’re a member, you’ll need to get approved before you can request an advance. To do this, you’ll need to connect a checking account where your paychecks are directly deposited and have an account history with several consistent paychecks. Your approval may also depend on whether Dave determines whether you’ll have enough money to repay the loan — so if you generally get paid and spend all your money the next day, you might not get approved.
Once you’re able to request a loan, you may be able to borrow up to $75 without paying any interest or fees. The loan can take up to three business days to reach your account. There is also an express funding option which will get the money deposited within eight hours for a “small fee” (though Dave doesn’t specify how much that is in the FAQ). You can also choose to give a tip when you take out an advance, but tipping is optional.
The due date may be your next payday, but some smaller advances will have a due date on the next Friday even if that’s before your next payday. You can repay the loan automatically from your connected checking account, or repay part or all of the advance early if you want.
- A personal finance platform
- Borrow up to $250 with an interest-free, short-term loan
- Free membership option. $29 monthly fee for extra features, but the fee can be offset
MoneyLion is an personal finance platform. Members receive a checking account, investment account and access to free cash advances. You can use the cash advance to help cover expenses until your next payday.
How it works: The basic MoneyLion membership is free, but there’s also a Plus membership available for a $29 monthly fee. However, you can earn $1 cash back by logging into the app each day and swiping through the daily cards, which have advice, tips and alerts. As a result, you can get the Plus membership essentially for free if you’re a daily user.
The free membership allows you to request up to $250 with a 0% APR cash advance. The money will appear in your MoneyLion account in seconds and will be repaid on your next payday.
To qualify for the cash advance, you’ll need to have your paychecks of at least $250 directly deposited into your MoneyLion account. Your cash advance limit will be 10 percent of your direct deposit amount. For example, you’ll need to have at least $2,500 directly deposited each pay period to qualify for the full $250 cash advance.
Plus members have another funding option, a personal loan for up to $500 that’s repaid over 12 months. However, the loan has a 5.99% APR.
- Available if you have direct deposit with average amounts over $400
- Borrow $80 to $250 with an interest-free, short-term loan
- $9.99 monthly membership fee, which includes free instant transfers
Brigit is another service that connects to your bank account and allows you to take out interest-free loans between paychecks. The amount you can borrow is based on your bank account activity rather than your work schedule.
How it works: You’ll need to connect a checking account that’s been active for at least 60 days, has a positive balance and has at least three recurring direct deposits from the same employer. Brigit says it looks for direct deposits of more than $400 per paycheck and $1,500 per month on average. You’ll also need to have a history of maintaining a positive balance the day of (and day after) your payday.
Once you’re set up, you can request an advance on your next paycheck. The amount will depend on your checking account’s history and can vary from $80 to $250. You can receive one advance at a time, which will automatically be repaid from your bank account on your next payday. However, you are also able to repay the advance early.
There’s a $9.99 monthly membership fee for Brigit, which includes access to the loan along with other features. For example, you can allow Brigit to monitor your account and automatically transfer a loan to help you avoid overdrafting or paying a late fee. Brigit also offers free extensions if you have trouble repaying the loan, and doesn’t charge late fees, instant transfer fees or ask for tips.
- Employer must sign up and offer DailyPay as a benefit
- Get paid early for the work you’ve done
- Pay $1.25 or $2.99 per transfer, but employers can choose to cover the expense
DailyPay connects with employers’ payroll systems to give employees early access to money they’ve already earned. Your employer will need to sign up with DailyPay before you can use the service. It’s free for employers and works as an add-on to ADP payroll systems.
How it works: Once your employer signs up, you can create your DailyPay account. As you work, you’ll accrue an “available balance” each workday based on the hours you’ve worked. You can then transfer money that you’ve earned to your bank account, prepaid debit card or a payroll card.
DailyPay charges a fee of $1.25 for every transfer that you make, with the funds being delivered the next business day. If you need your money before tomorrow, you can do an instant transfer that has a fee of $2.99. Employers can choose to pay for part or all of the fee.
- Employer must sign up and offer PayActiv as a benefit
- You can withdraw the greater of $500 or up to 50% of your earned wages
- Fees range from $0 to $5 per withdrawal based on your employer
PayActiv is an employer-sponsored program that allows employees to withdraw a portion of their earned wages before payday. While you can’t sign up on your own, you can ask PayActiv to contact your employer about offering the service. There’s no setup or operating costs for employers.
How it works: Once your employer offers PayActiv, you sign up for an account online, with the app, via text or by calling the company. After creating your account, you can start withdrawing money as soon as you earn it rather than waiting for your payday.
You can withdraw up to 50% of your earned income (up to $500 max) during each pay period via an electronic transfer or withdrawal from select ATMs. The amount you withdraw will be deducted from your next paycheck.
The early payment comes from PayActiv, but it isn’t a loan and you won’t need to pay interest. Instead, your employer will automatically send PayActiv an equivalent amount of money from your next paycheck. PayActiv charges a $5 fee for each withdrawal, but some employers choose to cover part or all of the expenses.
PayActiv also offers a prepaid card where you can have earned wages deposited each day. It’s free to get the card and there’s no fee if you don’t use it. However, there’s a flat weekly $3 fee (if you’re paid weekly) or bi-weekly $5 fee (if you’re paid bi-weekly) during any period when you do use your card.
- Employer must sign up and offer FlexWage as a benefit
- You’ll receive a reloadable card tied where you can add earned pay to your account before payday
- Fees vary depending on your employer
FlexWage is another employer-sponsored program that can give employees early access to money they’ve earned. As you work, your earned income accrues and you can then transfer money to a prepaid card.
How it works: With FlexWage, the employer determines how often you can make early withdrawals and the maximum amount you can withdraw. The money will be transferred to a prepaid card and then deducted from your next paycheck. You may have to pay a fee, but it will depend on your employer; FlexWage does not list a potential fee range on its website.
FlexWage also has a special program for restaurants that allows a restaurant to give employees access to their tips, bonuses or commissions at the end of each day. The money can either be added to a prepaid card or transferred to a bank account.
Need more money? You may consider a personal loan
While a cash advance or getting early access to your wages can help when you are in a small pinch, they often cannot cover a larger emergency expense. If you need more money, you might want to take out a personal loan.
Personal loans are often unsecured loans, meaning you’ll qualify based on your creditworthiness. You’ll receive the money, which can sometimes be deposited directly into your bank account the same day that you apply, and then repay the loan over a predetermined period of time. Many personal loans have a fixed interest rate, and you can know exactly how much your monthly payments will be and how much you’ll pay overall before accepting a loan offer.
The downside is that you may wind up paying fees to take out the loan and a lot of interest, especially if you take out a large loan and then spend several years repaying it.
However, if you have poor or no credit, watch out for online lenders that offer high-rate installment loans. These can seem like good options when the monthly payments are affordable, but the fees and interest can result in repaying several times as much as you borrow. You can explore bad credit loan options here.
The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.