If you constantly find yourself overdrawing your checking account and require a temporary loan to bridge the gap until your next payday, cash advance apps are specifically designed for that purpose.
Some payday advance apps do only one thing: give you access to your paycheck early. However, most of them come with more features.
Many apps provide online banking services, cash-back shopping, online investing, and tools for employers to manage their workforces.
Don’t just download the first app you find, keep reading to discover the top cash advance apps that can provide you with the funds and features that you need with as few fees as possible.
Top Payday Advance Apps
Here are the best cash advance apps to use to cover you ’til payday.
Enjoy early paycheck access, no fees, multi-currency accounts, cash-back rewards, and premium benefits like higher APY and travel insurance.
Premium Savings APY
Standard Savings APY
Early Paycheck Access
With Dave’s ExtraCash account, get no-interest overdraft up to $500, instant or free transfers, automatic budgeting, and money-making gigs, all for a $1 monthly cost.
Up to $500
Instant & Free Transfers
Basic Membership Cost
Enjoy flexible payday advance app offers up to $250 without credit checks, adjustable repayment, automated advances, and credit-building features through its Plus plan.
Financial Tools Included?
Take advantage of a flexible payroll advance app with up to $100 daily cash-outs, features like Balance Shield, Earnin Express for early pay access, Financial Calendar, and a virtual tip jar called Tip Yourself.
Yes (Tip Yourself)
Use this low-key online banking app for early cash advances, early paycheck access, low-fee checking and investing, budgeting tools, cryptocurrency purchases, cash-back rewards, price protection, and a Credit Builder Plus account for credit-building.
Earned wage access with no fees, Payactiv Visa card for early paycheck deposits, one-on-one financial coaching, payment features, and benefits for employers.
Earned Wage Access Fees
Payactiv Visa Card
How Payday Advance Apps Work
Technically, the service these apps offer isn’t a loan. It’s a paycheck advance. In other words, it’s a way to get paid a little early for the work you’ve already performed, usually without a credit check.
A payday advance app pays you for some of the work you’ve already done this week, even if your paycheck is still several days away. For example, the app transfers the $100 you need to borrow to your checking account, and when your next paycheck arrives, the app takes $100 directly from it to cover the cost.
It’s the same way a payday loan works but with one crucial difference: There’s no interest. When you receive your paycheck, all that comes out is the $100 you actually received — without an extra $15 or more in interest. The apps earn their makers money in various other ways, including tips and monthly fees.
However, the lack of interest doesn’t mean there’s no downside. You’re still taking money out of your next paycheck, leaving yourself with even less to pay all the bills. For many, that leads to taking another advance before the next paycheck and another paycheck after that. Eventually, you’re stuck in a cycle. You’re always behind and dependent on the app and the advances it offers to get you through the month.
Taking a paycheck advance is only a stopgap measure. It doesn’t make your limited paycheck stretch any further this month than it did last month. Use it for the immediate cash you need to deal with an unexpected one-time expense. If you’re always behind, it’s time to either earn extra cash or tighten your belt a notch or two.
Pro Tip: Are you struggling with high amounts of debt? If so, Accredited Debt Relief charges no upfront fees and can help you reduce your total debt by up to 50%.
Payday Advance App Won’t Lend Enough?
Sometimes, the $100 or $250 limit on payday advance apps isn’t enough to cover all your expenses. Even in this situation, a payday loan isn’t the best way to get the help you need. A personal loan has much lower interest and more manageable payments than a payday loan, which is due in a lump sum.
Banks, credit unions, online lenders, and peer-to-peer lenders like Prosper offer personal loans. The lender performs a credit check before approving you for a loan. Some personal loans, called secured loans, also require some form of collateral, such as a car or cash in your bank account. Unsecured loans don’t require collateral, but they usually have higher interest rates.
Banks offer personal loans for amounts ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. If you have great credit, you can get a personal loan for as low as 3% APR. That’s significantly less than the rate on most credit cards.
However, if your credit is poor, the interest rate on a personal loan could be as high as 36%. Additionally, these loans often come with origination fees of 1% to 6%. So, before signing off on a loan, check the total cost to ensure it wouldn’t be cheaper to use your credit card.
Methodology: How We Choose the Best Paycheck Advance Apps
We use several factors to evaluate the paycheck advance apps on this list. All relate in some way to the overall cost of their services, their ease of use, and their general applicability for everyday money management needs.
When you need money, you need it. Fast.
The best paycheck advance apps offer next-day or same-day (“instant”) transfers. It’s often the case that you have to pay more for an instant transfer, but that’s an acceptable tradeoff when getting your money in two to three business days simply won’t cut it.
The best paycheck advance apps charge nothing for standard transfers, which typically clear within three business days. They should also charge nothing for early direct deposit, which usually arrives two business days early but can come up to four business days early in some cases.
Most apps do charge for instant transfers. This revenue stream is crucial to their business models. But all else being equal, we prefer apps that keep those fees low or even waive them altogether.
Many of the apps on this list charge monthly subscription fees or have premium tiers that carry fees. In return, users typically get much more than paycheck advances and, in some cases feature suites that rival full-service banks.
Built-In Deposit Accounts
The best paycheck advance apps aren’t really paycheck advance apps at all. They’re comprehensive financial technology apps that partner with FDIC-insured banks to offer checking accounts, savings accounts, and possibly other account types as well.
We like our paycheck advance apps to be comprehensive. The more account options and other features they offer, the better.
Perks & Rewards
Again, comprehensiveness is better. The best paycheck advance apps offer some or all of the following:
- Fee waivers for meeting qualifying activities
- Referral bonuses when you get friends to sign up
- Cash back on eligible debit card purchases
- Interest on checking or savings balances
Account opening bonuses are relatively rare in this space, but they’re out there if you know where to look.
Credit Products & Credit-Building Services
Many paycheck advance apps are designed for new-to-credit users and people in the process of rebuilding their credit for one reason or another. The best options tend to offer products and services to help, including credit-builder loans, secured credit cards, and free credit scores.
Still have questions about paycheck advance apps? Here are some answers to relatively common questions about what they are (and aren’t) and how they work.
Is a Paycheck Advance a Loan?
A paycheck advance is not technically a loan because it doesn’t charge interest. This is an important and positive contrast with payday loans, which infamously charge ridiculously high-interest rates that trap borrowers in cycles of debt.
Paycheck advances do often carry one-time fees, and some apps charge subscription fees to cover the cost of additional services. But you shouldn’t pay interest on a paycheck advance (and definitely not on an early direct deposit).
What’s the Difference Between a Paycheck Advance and Early Direct Deposit?
A paycheck advance is a partial advance on your next paycheck. It’s paid back, with or without a fee, when you receive that paycheck. It can come anytime during your pay period, but typically one to two weeks in advance.
Early direct deposit is an early deposit of your entire paycheck. It doesn’t need to be repaid and shouldn’t carry a fee. It arrives closer to your pay date than a paycheck advance can — typically two business days early and no more than four.
How Much Does a Cash Advance Cost?
It depends on the service you’re using. A paycheck advance can cost anywhere from nothing to $4 or $5. Instant advances, where the money hits your account as soon as you authorize the transfer, typically cost more.
If you need money in a hurry to cover an unexpected expense, cash advance apps offer a cheap and convenient way to get it. However, they’re not a long-term solution to your financial woes. If you consistently have trouble making ends meet, you need more than just a one-time cash infusion. You need to stop living paycheck to paycheck.
Fortunately, many of these apps help you with that too. For starters, they help you break free from payday lenders and the high-interest payments they charge. They also help you stay on top of your bills and avoid the late or overdraft fees weighing down your budget.
Some payday advance apps also offer budgeting tools to help you track and manage your spending or automated savings tools to help you build up your emergency fund. Many also provide ways to help you earn extra money through cash-back rewards, extra shifts, or side gigs.
With the help of these tools, you won’t need to rely on cash advances to cover those unplanned expenses; you’ll have money in the bank to take care of them.