Stretching your finances as far as they can go is common these days. Barely getting by may work for a little while. But life can throw curveballs in the form of a totaled vehicle, flooded basement, or medical bills. Then you’ll need access to money — and fast.
At 68%, the majority of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. A cash advance every once in a while can be a big help to those Americans. Cash advance apps allow you to tap into some of your paycheck before it hits your bank account.
Of course, you’ll need to repay the advance once you do get paid, sometimes with fees and interest. But it's a much better option than a payday loan. Here's our list of the best cash advance apps.
- Best Cash Advance Apps Overview
- 7 Best Cash Advance Apps and Payday Loan Alternatives
- Consider These Tips Before Using a Cash Advance App
- Why Cash Advance Apps Are Better Than Payday Loans
- Final Thoughts
Best Cash Advance Apps Overview
|App||App Cost||Cash Advance Limit|
|Earnin||Optional tip||$100 – $500|
|Dave||$1/month||Up to $250|
|Brigit||$9.99/month||$50 – $250|
|MoneyLion||Optional tip||$25 – $250|
|Chime||No fee to use SpotMe®||$20 – $200|
|Empower||$8/month||Up to $250|
|Albert||Starting at $6/month||Up to $250|
7 Best Cash Advance Apps and Payday Loan Alternatives
Earnin allows users to access their money before payday. You connect your employment information, bank account, and pay schedule to the app. Then you can start pocketing money as you earn it. On your next payday, Earnin automatically debits your bank account for repayment. You get access to the money you work for early, and Earnin attaches no fees or interest to the advance. You have the option to tip anywhere from $1 to $14 after receiving the advance. The voluntary tips account for 95% of the fintech’s operating capital.
Earnin stands out for its high maximum advance limit per pay period, which is $500. This is only accessible to the users who have the healthiest financial history. Others can start their advance amounts at $100. Earnin is best for people with regular employment income and good banking history. Also, it's ideal for those who don’t mind connecting their checking account to the fintech product.
Other Earnin features:
- Balance Shield to help you avoid overdrafts
- Cash advance boosts
Dave is a mobile banking app that hosts a suite of services, one of which is advance cash outs. Dave costs $1/month to use. Based on your financial health, Dave determines your maximum withdrawal limit. Limits update at midnight every night.
At the time you take out an advance, you’ll select a repayment date. If you’re unable to pay the total advance back on that date, partial repayments are an option. You can also manually pay back the advance instead of waiting for your repayment date.
Your fees may differ depending on where you send the advance. If the money goes to a Dave spending account, there are no fees and you can access the cash in a few minutes. Advances sent to an external debit card have a 1% fee and won’t be available for approximately one hour. Dave advances sent to your external bank account will take three days and have no fees.
Dave doesn’t publicize its advance limits. But the financial app does advise having more than $1,000 in predictable income deposits. For maximum cash advance limits, you should have no recent negative balances. You should also be close to getting your next paycheck.
If you’re looking for a holistic financial makeover, Dave is the platform for you. Its credit-building, budgeting, and income-boosting features can help boost your financial standing.
Other Dave features:
- Built-in budgeting feature
- Dave Spending account
- Credit building with LevelCredit (free for the first year)
- Dave’s Side Hustle connects you with extra income opportunities
Brigit is an app with a goal to reduce financial stress and make financial tools accessible to all. Backed by Ashton Kutcher, the app has helped more than 3 million users. To qualify for a cash advance, Brigit analyzes your spending habits and assigns a Brigit score. Your score then determines the advance amount, anywhere from $50 to $250.
Accounts with regular activity and a cash cushion after payday are likely to qualify. You'll also need at least three recurring deposits from the same employer. Brigit will automatically withdraw the advance repayment on the date provided. The app costs $9.99 per month to gain access to its best features, including cash advances. There are no fees tied to the cash advance itself and no interest charged. The ACH transfer to your bank account takes one to three business days. If you link your debit card, then you can access your advance in just 20 minutes.
Brigit is the best cash advance resource for chronic overspenders. Automatic advances can keep your account in good standing. And can save you from hefty negative balance fees.
Other Brigit features:
- Credit builder
- Identity theft protection
- Spending habits insights
- Income boost opportunities by connecting users with full and part-time jobs
- Auto advance to protect your account from going into the negative
MoneyLion takes the stress out of unexpected cash emergencies by offering up to $250 to users. There's no interest or fees attached, and no credit check. After downloading the app, select the Instacash option and link your bank account. Thus begins your journey with MoneyLion cash advances.
At first, users only qualify for $25. You'll need three to eight weeks of regular deposits in an account. The account should also be in good financial standing. Then you can unlock the upper cash advance limits. You can get an even higher limit, up to $300, with direct deposits in a RoarMoney account. The repayment happens automatically at a date selected when you request the advance.
The MoneyLion no-fee option for a cash advance takes one to three business days to show up in your account through an ACH transfer. The turbo delivery option costs $4.99 and your advance is ready in minutes.
Other MoneyLion features:
- Roar Money checking account
- Auto invest account
- Crypto account
- Credit builder
- Debit card rewards
Chime doesn’t offer a general cash advance option, but it does offer a SpotMe® feature for eligible members. First, you'll need a Chime account (free to open) with a direct deposit of at least $200.
In the beginning, users can only request $20 at a time through SpotMe®. Using your app, you can request Chime spot you $20 until your next paycheck. So you'll be able to overdraft up to $20 with your Chime debit card if you are approved for SpotMe.
As you build a good history with Chime, your SpotMe® limit can increase up to $200. There is no fee to use SpotMe®1.
Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC.3 Full disclosure.
Other Chime features:
- Optional high-yield savings account (A Chime checking account is required to open a savings account.)
- Get paid up to two days early with direct deposit2
Read our Chime Review
1Eligibility requirements and overdraft limits apply. Full disclosure.
2Early Access to direct deposit funds depends on payer. Full disclosure.
Empower is on a mission to make credit more affordable, accessible, and practical. The Empower app costs $8 per month, and grants you access to financial tools and the cash advance feature.
When you qualify for an advance, Empower checks your account to forecast when you’ll get paid again. Empower will schedule repayment for that date.
There are no delivery fees for receiving an advance on your Empower debit card. And the money is accessible within minutes. There are also no fees for a standard ACH transfer. If you choose an instant delivery to your checking account, fees ranging from $2 to $8 will apply. Your maximum advance amount depends on your financial health. Empower analyzes your health by looking for patterns in your checking account history. Empower cash advances range from $0 to $250.
Other Empower features:
- Pays back overdraft fees if advance withdrawal puts your account in the negative
- Bill negotiation with Bill Shark
- Empower AutoSave
- Empower Checking Account
- Empower debit card cashback perks
Albert helps users make it to their next paycheck by offering up to $250 in a cash advance with no fees. That is, unless you opt for instant delivery to an external bank account, which will come with a small fee. Albert takes care of repayment automatically when your next paycheck drops. And there are never late payment fees or interest applied to your cash advance.
To access other features on the Albert app, you’ll need a Genius subscription. You have the option to “pay what you think is fair” for the subscription, starting at $6 per month.
Other Albert features:
- Checking and savings account
- Get paid up to 2 days early
- Bill Shark negotiation access
- Investing account
- Financial wellness overview
Consider These Tips Before Using a Cash Advance App
Spending money that hasn’t hit your bank account yet isn’t a good financial habit. But unforeseen expenses have a way of popping up at the worst time. Cash advances aren’t your only option.
Find Out if Your Bank Offers a Cash Advance
Before setting up a new account, look at the account you already use every day. Some banks and credit unions might reward your loyalty with cash advance offers. A small fee may apply, typically 1% to 3% of the advance.
A cash advance from your bank is a good option if you rarely use advances for quick cash. If you can repay the advance quickly, then the APR won’t be an issue. Since you’re already a customer of the bank, you might get your money faster too.
Cash Advance Apps Are Not a Long-Term Solution
Cash advances shouldn’t be a crutch that you use to cover living expenses. Using this option on a regular basis indicates that your budget could use some balancing. Ultimately, the goal is to build an emergency savings fund. Then you can use your emergency fund for sudden expenses, instead of relying on cash advances.
Consider also using the budgeting and savings options on these fintech apps. Also, check out our list of best budgeting apps here.
If You Have Fair Credit, a Credit Card May Be a Better Option
For those with fair credit or better, using a credit card in emergency situations can be a better option. As long as you can pay the charge off as quickly as you would have for a cash advance — right when you get paid. Otherwise, you may be subject to an inflated APR.
Here’s our list of best credit cards for fair credit. The cards on that list can help you bolster your credit score while also accessing cash when you need it.
Why Cash Advance Apps Are Better Than Payday Loans
To put it simply, payday loans are problematic. So much so, that some states have placed limitations on their terms. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a payday loan can come with a 400% APR.
If you thought your financial situation was dire before, think about having to pay back that loan. Payday loans will likely only sink you further into a debt hole.
Payday loans may get you money quickly when you’re in a bind, but the cash comes at an astronomical cost. Cash advance apps can get you access to money you need, usually with no interest or fees. The apps here can also help your finances with budgeting, saving, and investing tools.
Can I get a cash advance instantly?
Yes, but usually for a small price. Many cash advance apps offer an instant cash advance distribution for a typical cost in the range of $2 to $8. All you need to do is wait about twenty minutes to have access to the money.
Are cash advance apps safe?
Not every cash advance app deserves your trust. The credible cash advance apps will be FDIC insured through a third-party bank. Check the terms and conditions to find out which financial institution backs the cash advance app before you share any of your banking information. Every cash advance app in our list has been verified as credible, bank-backed, and FDIC insured.
Will using a cash advance app hurt my credit score?
Using a cash advance from one of the apps listed above will not ding your credit. These cash advance apps don’t interact with your credit score to determine if you qualify, just your checking account history. Similarly, they’re not reporting payment, balance, and nonpayment to the credit bureaus.
Living paycheck to paycheck might work for a little while. But it’s only a matter of time before an unforeseen expense makes it necessary to access cash. The right cash advance app can help you cover an emergency expense. But remember, the best long-term solution is to build an emergency fund.
1Chime SpotMe is an optional, no fee service that requires a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime checking account each month. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member’s Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime’s discretion. Although there are no overdraft fees, there may be out-of-network or third party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe won’t cover non-debit card transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Friends transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See terms and conditions.
2Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. We generally make these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date.
3Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC. The Chime Visa® Debit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. Please see back of your Card for its issuing bank.