Sometimes you just need a little extra cash.
And while there are several ways to borrow money, cash advance apps are a great way to access a small loan quickly without the exorbitant fees of many payday loan companies.
We’ve reviewed over a dozen money borrowing apps to find the best options that offer instant loans, reasonable fees, and built-in financial tools.
If you are looking to bridge the gap until payday, keep reading to find the best apps available:
Table of Contents
- Summary of Cash Advance Apps
- Cash Advance Apps vs. Payday Loans
- 5 Tips For Breaking Free From Paycheck-to-Paycheck
- Dave: Best For Flexible Repayment
- Dave: Highlights
- Earnin: Best For Low Fees
- Earnin: Highlights
- Brigit: Best For Overdraft Protection
- Brigit: Highlights
- Empower: Best For Quick Deposits
- Empower: Highlights
- MoneyLion: Best For Multiple Accounts
- MoneyLion: Highlights
- Alternatives to Cash Advance Apps
- What is a cash advance app?
- How do cash advance apps work?
- What apps will let me borrow money instantly?
- How do I borrow $100 from Cash App?
- What app gives you $250?
- What app can I borrow $500 from?
- How do you qualify to borrow money from a cash advance app?
- Are money borrowing apps safe?
- Are money borrowing apps better than online personal loans?
- Most money borrowing apps have the ability to provide instant cash but will only enable the feature after direct deposit and repayment history
- Typical cash advance amounts range from $250 - $750
- Reviews are important and the best instant cash advance apps have hundreds of thousands of positive reviews on the major app stores
- Most apps are less costly than payday loans or overdraft fees but, each money borrowing app has a variety of features (from cash advances to their own savings account) so, compare to see which is the best for you
Top 5 Money Borrowing Apps in 2023
1) Dave: Best For Flexible Repayment
Dave is a checking account and cash advance app that lets you borrow a small amount of money and pay it back when your next paycheck deposits. You can borrow up to $500, and have the option to pay extra to get your money within the hour.
You must have a Dave ExtraCash account and Dave Spending (checking) account open to be eligible for a cash advance. You must also submit financial information from your regular bank account, and have monthly direct deposits in your regular bank account totaling at least $1,000 per month.
Up to $500.
Cash advances from Dave take one to three days to deposit, but you can pay for express delivery. Express cash advances are deposited within an hour.
Repayment is typically set to when your next paycheck deposits, but you can request an extension if needed. If accepted, Dave will let you pay back your balance over time in smaller payments.
There are several fees for getting a cash advance with Dave:
- $1 per month (membership fee)
- Optional $1.99 to $13.99 express fee (to deposit funds in an hour)
- Optional tip (up to 25% of total loan amount)
2) Earnin: Best For Low Fees
Earnin is a cash advance app that connects to your timesheet service at work and lets you borrow money that you’ve already earned. The Earnin app also has alerts for when your bank account balance is low, and will borrow funds automatically to help protect you from overdrafting your account.
Earnin lets you borrow money with no fees, and only asks for a voluntary tip when you borrow. For express delivery of the funds, you can pay an extra fee, and you will receive your funds instantly.
Up to $750 (no more than $100 per day).
Cash advances from the Earnin app take one to three days to process, but if you pay an extra fee, funds can be deposited on the same day.
Earning automatically withdraws the repayment funds from your linked bank account when your next paycheck deposits.
There are two optional fees for getting a cash advance with Earnin:
- Optional $0.99 to $3.99 express fee (to deposit funds instantly)
- Optional tip (up to $14)
3) Brigit: Best For Overdraft Protection
Brigit is a financial app that offers free budgeting tools and a paid plan that offers cash advances, credit builder loans, and identity theft protection. Brigit monitors your checking account to see if you will run out of money before your next payday, and then offers a cash advance to cover the gap.
While the Brigit app is free to use, you get a cash advance, you will need to upgrade to the paid plan. The paid plan also offers credit-builder loans that report your payments to the three credit bureaus to help increase your score. And you also receive up to $1 million in identity theft protection.
Up to $250.
Brigit offers same-day funding for a cash advance, as long as it is requested before 10AM EST. Otherwise, the funds will be deposited on the next business day.
Repayment is set automatically to your next paycheck direct deposit date, but you can request a one-time extension. You can only extend your loan once for every two cash advances you pay back on time.
While the Brigit app is free to download and use for budgeting purposes, to get a cash advance you will need to sign up for a monthly membership, which is $9.99 per month.
There are no interest or late fees on cash advances, and the app does not ask for tips. Credit builder loans do not charge interest either.
4) Empower: Best For Quick Deposits
Empower is a financial app that offers loans up to $250 that deposit on the next business day ($250 is a common cash amount with apps like Empower). You can get the money within one hour if you pay a fee, making it a good option if you need cash quickly.
Empower also has a debit card that carries no overdraft fees and allows you to receive your paychecks up to two days early. Empower doesn’t charge interest on cash advance loans as their service requires a monthly fee instead.
Up to $250.
Cash advances from Empower take about one business day to deposit, which is quicker than most cash advance apps. If you pay for instant delivery, you will receive funds within an hour.
Empower automatically withdrawals the borrowed amount (plus any fees & tips) from your linked account on your next payday. You can contact customer service to change the repayment date.
There are several fees for getting a cash advance with Empower:
- $8 per month (membership fee)
- Optional $1 to $8 instant delivery fee (to deposit funds in an hour)
- Optional tip (up to 20% of total loan amount)
5) MoneyLion: Best For Multiple Accounts
MoneyLion is a financial app that offers a mobile banking experience, investment accounts, credit builder loans, and cash advances. With your free checking account you can borrow up to $250 with no additional fees (though they do ask for an optional tip).
MoneyLion requires that you open a checking account to be eligible for a cash advance. And if you want funds deposited quicker, there is an express delivery fee (which costs more for external accounts).
Up to $250.
MoneyLion cash advances take 24 - 48 hours to deposit, or up to five business days if transferring to an external account. You can pay an express delivery fee and get the funds within minutes (though it takes more time for external accounts).
Repayment is automatic and set to your next payday. If the funds aren’t there, MoneyLion will continue to attempt withdrawals from your account or linked payment method until paid back.
There are two options fees when getting a cash advance with MoneyLion:
- Optional $0.49 to $5.99 instant delivery fee ($1.99 to $8.99 for external deposits)
- Optional tip
Summary of Cash Advance Apps
Cash advance apps are a great way to get access to the cash you need before your next paycheck arrives. They can help you avoid overdraft fees and late payment fees on your bills, and give you instant financial relief when you most need it.
But be aware that the fees can be high, especially if you calculate how much the fee would be compared to borrowing with a long-term loan. But if you are in a pinch, they can be a good option to avoid other (worse) financial penalties.
Pros and Cons of Using Loan Apps
- Access to cash quickly. Most cash advance apps offer expedited deposits, giving you up to $500 instantly (for an additional fee).
- Less expensive than an overdraft. Overdraft fees can be as high as $30 (or more), so paying $5 - $15 for a cash advance could actually save you money if you are in a tight spot.
- Low limits. While some payday loan companies offer higher loan amounts, the fees and interest are higher too, and the interest can compound quickly. Cash advance apps offer smaller borrowing limits and no extra penalties.
- No credit checks. Most cash advance apps don’t check your credit, making it easier to qualify.
- High rates. When you calculate how much a cash advance loan costs, the interest rate is much higher than credit cards and other loan types.
- Might keep you stuck. If you rely too much on cash advance apps, it might be harder to break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.
- Might cause an overdraft. Most cash advance apps automatically deduct the full amount due (plus fees) on your next paycheck date. This might cause an overdraft, and more fees.
Cash Advance Apps vs. Payday Loans
Cash advance apps are not considered payday loans, they are are very similar:
- Both offer small, short-term loans
- Both require payment by the next payday
- Both charge high interest rates
But cash advance apps usually offer smaller loan amounts, and charge lower fees. While payday loans are highly regulated and charge high fees, apps typically charge a monthly subscription fee, or simply ask for a tip.
Plus, cash advance apps don’t make collections calls, or charge recurring interest that inflates your balance.
Overall, cash advance apps seem to be a little safer and less expensive than payday loans, but you shouldn’t rely heavily on them to cover your expenses.
Tips for Breaking Free from the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle
While cash advance apps let you quickly access money for immediate expenses, they can cause you to be stuck in a paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, spending your upcoming paycheck before you even get it.
To break the cycle, it may take a lot of work and sacrifice, but it can be done. You need to be diligent with your spending, ruthless in cutting out unnecessary expenses, and focused on saving each month.
Here are five tips on how to break free from the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle:
Track Your Spending
The first step in getting ahead financially is knowing where your money is going. You need to do a financial audit, and review your past 90 days of spending. Categorize every transaction (using Mint.com can help), and figure out how much you spend each month.
This will help you become familiar with your finances and make a plan for how to manage your money going forward.
Create a Budget
A budget is simply a spending plan you create before the month begins. You evaluate your income and expenses, and budget your income according to how much you spend.
It’s best to start with your total income, add in your monthly recurring bills, and then budget for daily expenses (such as groceries, gas, and shopping). Make sure you review your spending to ensure you don’t miss anything.
Cut Unnecessary Expenses
After you have a budget in place, it’s time to say the magic word…
While it can be hard to stop spending on certain items, to break the cycle, you need to make some short-term sacrifices in your spending. Focus only on what you need, and cut out anything you don’t.
This is a sprint to save a buffer of cash so you don’t need payday loans any more. If you can do this for a few months, you should be able to save what you need, and add back in a few budget items later.
Save an Emergency Fund
Ok, you have a bare bones budget, and are geared to save. Your goal is to save $500 or $1,000 as fast as possible, and this will give you the cushion you need to avoid more debt and cash advances in the future.
You should check in with yourself weekly to stay on track, and finding an accountability person to help you stick to your plan can help. Once you have an emergency fund in place, you are officially free from living paycheck-to-paycheck!
Pay Off Debts
Paying off small debts that have a high minimum payment can quickly free up cash flow in your budget. Once you have an emergency fund in place, focus on a few smaller debts that you can pay off within a few months. This will lower your monthly expenses and help you save even more.
Tips For Using Cash Advance Apps Responsibly
Cash advance apps can help you in the short-term, but can become a problem if you rely too heavily on them. Here are some ways to make sure you use cash advance apps responsibly:
Only Borrow For Emergencies
While it can be tempting to re-up your loan after each payday, this can prevent you from saving money or paying off debt. If you can commit to only using cash advance apps for true emergencies, this can help you avoid a cycle of debt.
Don’t Pay For Express Delivery
While there are some emergencies that warrant instant delivery of funds, if you can hold off for a day or two, you can save a significant amount in fees.
Only Borrow What You Need
Some apps let you borrow up to $500 or more, but you should only borrow what you need. Borrowing extra is not free money, and will end up costing you a lot more in just a few weeks.
Alternatives to Cash Advance Apps
While cash advance apps are a quick and convenient way to access small loans, they are the only options for borrowing money. Here are a few alternatives to cash advance apps that might fit your needs better:
Credit cards are not the best for emergencies due to high interest rates, but some cards offer a 0% introductory APR, and you can typically borrow more than a cash advance app. Just make sure to use credit cards carefully, as the debt can add up and cost you a lot in interest.
Personal loans are unsecured loans for up to $50,000 (or more), and some even offer next-day funding. You do need a good credit score to qualify, and the interest rates might be quite high (30% or more), but they can be a good option for larger financial emergencies.
Payday loans are similar to cash advance apps. You apply for a small loan that is then repaid with your next paycheck. But the fees are much higher, and missed payments can get sent to collections or charged additional fees.
Buy Now, Pay Later
Buy now, pay later apps let you make payments on your purchases over time. Usually an online purchase that offers this option at checkout lets you make four payments on a bi-weekly payment schedule.
Other Ways To Get Money Fast
There are several other ways to get money quickly:
- Borrow from friends or family
- Become a rideshare driver
- Donate plasma
- Become a dogsitter
- Take online surveys
While some of these options require more work than others, you can get cash to help cover your expenses, and maybe even save some money on the side.
What Is a Cash Advance App?
A cash advance app is a mobile app that lets you borrow a small amount of money until your next payday. Most don’t charge late fees or interest, and you can borrow up to $500 as soon as the same business day. There are service charges and fees assessed, and many cash advance apps ask for optional tips as well.
How Do Cash Advance Apps Work?
Cash advance apps deposit money into your checking account, and then automatically withdraw the borrowed funds (plus applicable fees) when you get paid next. You can qualify by submitting your financial information, including how much you get paid, what your account balances are, and when you get paid next.
Most cash advance apps make money by charging service fees, express delivery fees, and optional tips. And while repayment is required on the next payday, some apps let you extend this date if needed.
What App Will Let Me Borrow Money Instantly?
Most payday loan apps offer same-day funding, but you will need to pay an expedited delivery fee, which can range from $1 - $14, depending on the app. The money is typically deposited into your accounts within an hour.
How Do I Borrow $100 From Cash App?
You can apply for a loan through the Cash App Borrow feature, but it is only available to users that regularly deposit funds into Cash App. To borrow $100, you need to make regular deposits of at least $500 per month, and when the feature is unlocked, you can borrow instantly.
You will be charged a 5% fee up-front, and then 1.25% per week if you take more than five weeks to pay it off.
What App Gives You $250?
There are several cash advance apps that let you borrow up to $250:
These apps let you borrow up to $250 instantly, though you will need to pay a fee for expedited deposit.
What App Can I Borrow $500 From?
Some cash advance apps let you borrow up to $500, including Dave and Earnin. Dave lets you borrow it all at once, while Earnin only lets you borrow up to $100 per week (up to $750 total).
How Do You Qualify to Borrow Money From a Cash Advance App?
To qualify for borrowing money from a cash advance app, you need to submit financial information, including:
- You account balances
- Your income (per paycheck)
- Your next paycheck date
- Your total deposits per month
Some apps may require more information. But cash advance apps don’t require submitting your credit score or a credit check to qualify.
Are Money Borrowing Apps Safe?
Yes, money borrowing apps are safe. They use secure encryption for all personal and financial information, and funds in their accounts are protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
But they do charge high fees for borrowing small amounts of money, and can cause you to fall further behind if not used responsibly.
Are Money Borrowing Apps Better Than Online Personal Loans?
Money borrowing apps are used for a different purpose than online personal loans. These apps are for small, short-term payday loans to help you cover expenses until you get paid next. Online personal loans are typically for larger expenses and are paid back over a much longer period of time (years, not weeks).