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Updated on Monday, January 11, 2021
Dave is designed to help you avoid overdrafting your checking account. Named after the biblical tale of David and Goliath, Dave can provide you with small loans to slay the big fees that banks may charge you when you drain your account.
Dave does a decent job of giving you a cushion if you have a bad habit of overdrafting, but it’s not a game changer. That said, the Dave Banking cash management account offered by this app does provide real value, and it also offers you a solid strategy for boosting your credit score.
What is the Dave app?
Dave is a money management app with an emphasis on overdraft protection. By linking your checking account with the app, Dave tracks you expenses and texts you when you’re coming close to letting your checking account fall into the red.
The app lends you up to $75 as an interest-free loan if you need cash. The loans are only offered to qualifying users: Dave requires you to have a job with a steady paycheck in order to prequalify for the loans. To confirm, the app scans your checking account history for regular recurring direct deposits. Additionally, it takes into consideration how quickly you spend your paycheck after you receive it.
If you qualify for an advance, you’ll have the option to get $75 loans within three days or, for a small fee, the same day. Dave features two payback options: An automatic payback option, where the app will collect what you owe from your next direct deposit paycheck, or you can proactively pay back the app at an earlier date.
Dave says that getting a cash advance won’t impact your credit score, and that it charges no fees or penalties. However, it’s worth noting that you cannot change your payback date, and if you can’t afford to pay back what you owe, you could be banned from the app.
Just as when using most financial apps, security should be top of mind. Dave says it accesses your financial accounts in read-only mode, and that all your sensitive data is encrypted.
Dave’s fees and features
The Dave app charges a monthly fee of $1, but the company claims that it really survives on tips. After you pay back the app for your interest-free loan, you’ll have the option to leave a tip for the service. A percentage of the tips Dave receives is used to plant a tree through its partnership with Trees for the Future.
Dave comes with a budgeting feature baked in. The app scans your past expenses from your linked checking account, and uses them to predict future budget expenses. The app also predicts the size of your regular paycheck direct deposit and when it will arrive, based on past deposits. Dave also lets you manually adjust your paycheck or expense data.
Once your income and expenses are plugged in, Dave analyzes your upcoming expenses, flag you if a scheduled bill — like a Netflix or Spotify subscription — is in danger of plunging you into the red and will text you when you’re in danger of overdrafting.
Dave Banking cash management account
Dave Banking is a cash management account that functions like an online checking account. If you opt in to Dave Banking, you get a Visa debit card and access up to 32,000 fee-free ATMs. The account has no overdraft fees and no minimum deposit requirement to open. Note that this account does not pay an APY.
Dave Banking deposits are held with the company’s partner bank, Evolve Bank & Trust, which provides Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC) insurance.
One perk: The interest-free loan option rises to $100 a pop from $75 with a standard account. Another additional feature: Side Hustles, which allows you to apply to jobs in the gig economy right from your phone.
Build your credit score with CreditPop
Dave Banking has a partnership with CreditPop that helps users increase their credit score by making on-time rent and utility payments. The service typically costs $100, but for Dave Banking users who receive direct deposits in their account, it’s free.
Here’s how it works: When rent and utility payments you’ve made show up on your checking account statement, CreditPop shares that data with the credit bureaus, helping to build your credit score.
Advantages of the Dave app
- Dave’s interest-free loan model is a good option for people who consistently have small purchases that plunge their checking account into the red, incurring fees for non-sufficient funds (NSF) or overdrafts.
- Boosting your credit score for paying rent and utilities via CreditPop is a valuable additional feature.
- Dave’s $1 per month fee is aligned with the cost of other cash advance apps.
Disadvantages of the Dave app
- The structure of Dave’s cash advance feature is inflexible. With users unable to change their payback date and a small cap of $75 on it standard account, some users might feel frustrated.
- Qualifications for the short-term, interest-free loan are somewhat strict, and might be unattainable for people who don’t receive their paychecks on a regular schedule, like freelancers.
- The three days it takes to receive a free cash advance could be problematic for people who are in danger of overdrafting right away and want to avoid extra fees.
- The Dave Banking cash management account pays no APY and also carries a (low) monthly fee. There are plenty of free checking accounts listed on our site with a decent APY available.
Dave vs. other cash advance apps
Dave vs. Earnin
Dave isn’t particularly unique. There are a slew of similar cash advance apps out there. Here’s how Dave stacks up against popular overdraft app Earnin:
- Earnin features larger loan amounts, up to $100 per pay period and up to $500 with continued use of the app.
- Earnin requires you to upload a time sheet – an extra step that Dave doesn’t require.
- Earnin is free – Dave has a $1 monthly membership fee.
Dave vs. Branch
- Branch allows you to withdraw up to $500 in earned wages per pay period, much more than Dave.
- Branch has extra features available to people who work for companies that have multiple employees who use the app or if their employer signs up, such as the ability to swap or pick up extra work shifts. Dave does not have this feature.
- Branch requires you to upload your work schedule, but Dave simply confirms your employment by looking at your bank account and confirming several, regularly-scheduled direct deposits.
Aside from apps, other financial products that aim to deliver what Dave does are products like payday loans – and with their sky-high interest rates, Dave isn’t a bad option. However, its $75 loan limit for the standard account is itself limiting, and makes it apparent that this service was created to spot you for small expenses that can push you into the red, and not actual financial emergencies that are often the root cause of taking out a payday loan in the first place.
Dave Banking vs. accounts with no overdraft fees
Dave’s digital checking account, Dave Banking, is comparable to online accounts with no overdraft fees listed on our site. With features like no overdraft fees, no minimum requirements and up to $100 in an interest-free loan, Dave Banking is a serious competitor in the checking account space.
Dave vs. Chime
Here’s how Dave stacks up against Chime Bank’s account, which touts a similar feature called SpotMe:
- Chime’s SpotMe lets you borrow up to $100, interest-free, and is essentially identical to Dave’s overdraft feature. However, Chime has stricter requirements for that $100 loan, like receiving a minimum of $500 in direct deposit in the preceding 31 days.
- Chime simply doesn’t allow you to make transactions that would put you in the red.
- Chime and Dave both have no minimum balance requirements and no fees.
Dave vs. Varo
FDIC-insured fintech company Varo also offers a bank account similar to Dave. Here’s how it compares:
- Varo Advance provides qualifying users instant access to up to $100 in cash within the Varo Bank app. There is a fee of up to $5, depending on your advance amount, which you must pay within 30 days after your advance. However, you can pay the fee when you want to in as many payments and amounts as you want within those 30 days.
- The Varo Bank account offers the chance to enroll in No Fee Overdraft protection, which allows for overdrafts up to $50 with no extra fees or interest charges. Eligibility is based on the amount of Varo debit card purchases you make and direct deposits you receive each month. Overdrafts over $50 are simply declined, as are any potential overdrafts without No Fee Overdraft.
- Dave does not offer an APY. The Varo Savings Account earns up to 2.80% APY when you meet certain account requirements, or a 2.80% APY without.
- Both Dave and Varo have no minimum balance requirements and no fees.
Is Dave right for you?
At its best, Dave is a crutch for people who have a bad habit of not monitoring their finances — and often have the issue of a Starbucks run resulting in a $35 overdraft fee. If you fall into this camp, Dave may be a good cushion to consider. That being said, its $75 loan cap on its standard account is extremely limiting, and a credit card could be a better bet to help hold you over between paydays, as long as you know you can pay it back in full, on time, every time.
The bottom line with apps like Dave: Money management is an essential skill to learn, and if you rely on the help of tools like this, you might have a harder time building those skills yourself.