Earnin App Review: Best Cash Advance and Payday Loan Alternatives 2023

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Written by Enoch Omololu
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Everyone has bad days. Tires go flat; your car doesn’t work, or you slip and fall on your driveway. Sometimes, you need just a little extra money and don’t have time to wait.

That’s where payday loans and cash advance apps come in. The Earnin app gives you access to your paycheck early. Apps like Chime give you your money up to 2 days early, while payday loans offer you large chunks of money in return for high-interest rates.

This Earnin app review covers how it works, its pros and cons, whether it is legit, and why Earnin is one of the best cash advance apps.

Keep reading to learn more about Earnin and the benefits it provides over its competitors.

What is Earnin?

Earnin is available on Android’s Google Play and Apple’s Apple Store. It allows you to get paid early from your work, instead of waiting your normal two weeks. It was formerly known as Activehours.

For most users on the Earnin app, you can pull out $100 per paycheck early.

However, if you are more active, you can often pull out $500, though you still have a $100 daily max that you can pull out.

Unlike other services that allow you to get your money early, it doesn’t act like a loan. Instead, it works with the community to give you some of your paychecks early.

How does Earnin Work?

Earnin works by connecting to your bank account and tracking your GPS to ensure you are at work when asking for money.

They also have you input your timesheet or upload your timesheet online for them.

Balance Shield

Balance Shield allows you to protect your bank account. Whenever your bank account drops below $100, Balance Shield will automatically cash out from your current paycheck to bring the money up to $100.

This happens every time you have less than $100 in your account, so long as you haven’t reached your Max for the pay period.

Tip Yourself

Tip Yourself is a feature that Earnin provides that allows you to save money in a Tip Jar or Tip Jars. You can tip yourself up to $50 daily and set it up for any reason.

For example, if you want to reward yourself for going to the gym or want to save up money in case of an emergency, you can send money over to those jars as needed.

You can even set it up to automatically move money from your checking account to your tip jars if you want to save a certain amount from every paycheck.

There are no fees associated with Tip Jars, and you can pull that money out whenever needed.

They don’t build interest and are not savings accounts.

Earnin Express

Earnin Express is a feature that allows you to have a better Cash Out experience, reach a higher Max per period, and run everything smoothly.

With Express, you can earn up to 80% of your paycheck early, or up to $1000

Instead of routing your paycheck through the bank and then taking screenshots to provide to Earnin, you can just route your paycheck directly through Earnin Express for possibly faster paydays and higher Max per period.

Cashout tips are still pulled from the paycheck before being routed to the Earnin Express virtual account.

If you have an up-to-date debit card, it will also send the remaining funds to the checking account associated with the card using the Lightning Speed feature.

Lightning Speed

Lightning Speed is a feature that allows you to get money to your account in minutes instead of days.

Whether it is a weekend or holiday, you can still get your money in 30 minutes or less.

It can take up to a day to verify your information, so try to set up Lightning Speed early and not when you need it.

Not all banks and cards work with this feature, but you can access their help page and see if yours can be accepted.

Unlike other parts of Earnin, you may have to pay a fee to use this feature.


If you need a little extra money during this pay period, Boosts is a way to get more than that $100.

While you can’t ever go above $500, if your max per pay period is lower than that, you can ask your friends to have your back.

Members of the community have boosts that they can give to friends, as a voucher to say that one person is dependable.

You have the rest of your pay period to use the boost once you earn it.

A boost is still your money, but you can get a little more early.

This means if you do use it, you still have that money taken out by Earnin at the end of the pay period. It isn’t free money.

Also, even if you have friends willing to boost you, sometimes you are still unqualified to receive a boost.

  • If you already have the $500 max limit
  • If the boost would take you beyond your paycheck amount
  • If you don’t have any cashouts
  • Have a failed debit

Financial Calendar

Financial Calendar allows you to keep track of any bills and expenses you may face.

It will not cash out for you but allows you to schedule and plan to ensure you are ready to handle your expenses.

Refer a Friend

Sometimes, Earnin will incentivize its users to invite others to join the program. You will get a notification in the app, via email, or text.

When these incentives start, you can earn extra money in your tip accounts or a bonus, depending on the event.

Earnin App Review

How To Sign Up For Earnin

  1. Download the app here (available on the play store or apple store)
  2. Create a profile
  3. Select the ‘Get Started’ button
  4. Enter your email address
  5. Enter verification code sent to your email address
  6. Enter a password
  7. Add paycheck information
  8. Fill in all information related to your type of pay and work hours
  9. Select ‘Connect Your Bank’
  10. Type in name of your bank
  11. Log in to your bank via the Earnin app
  12. Confirm your employer
  13. Allow Earnin to access your location
  14. Set location
  15. Confirm work location
  16. And you are done!

Is Earnin Legit?

Earnin doesn’t have many reviews on websites like Trust Pilot or others that help users verify a scam.

However, despite this lack of reviews, it is a legitimate company that aims to help its users.

What Does Earnin Cost and How Does it Make Money?

Unlike other companies that work to give you your paycheck early, Earnin doesn’t cost any money.

They provide most of their features for free. This is because Earnin is a loan. You get your money early, and that is it.

To make money, they ask if you want to tip. Tipping is always an option and doesn’t affect your services, so you never have to worry about losing money.

However, unless you do large tips or pull out money often, you generally stay below the payday lender rates others offer, so a tip still doesn’t hurt.

Pros of the Earnin App

  • No fees, especially not hidden ones
  • No interest
  • Get your money fast and easy
  • Can protect you from overdrafts
  • Earnin’s friendly customer service

Cons of the Earnin App

  • It can lead to poor habits if you become dependent
  • Must be connected to a bank account
  • It doesn’t work for remote workers, which is a large portion of workers currently
  • Needs your location

Is Earnin Safe?

The Earnin App is safe to use. Since you aren’t charged with hidden fees or interest, there is no harm in using it. Also, it has 256-bit encryption, so your information is safe.

Also, since you can’t pull a lot of money out at once, even per pay period, you are likely to dig yourself into a hole you can’t get out of and only use it for emergencies.

Earnin vs Payday Loans

Payday loans may allow you to pull out more money than Earnin does, which can be nice in the case of a large financial emergency. However, you also accrue incredibly large interest charges.

Earnin is more intrusive than payday loans, as it monitors your location and needs access to your bank account.

However, if you need just a little bit of money early (under $500) and don’t want to pay large fees, Earnin is generally the better option.

Apps Like Earnin


Aspiration functions like a traditional bank account. They also support the environment, so while banking with them, you are helping the planet.

You get to choose if you pay fees for them, and 10% of all fees go to charity.

To earn a competitive interest rate, you have to spend $1000 a month and have a balance under $10,000


Chime allows you to get your paycheck up to 2 days early. This may not be great for emergencies, but it offers additional benefits.

This includes a Visa debit card, which you can use at any ATM to withdraw money. Also, they don’t charge fees or ask for tips and make their money from the debit card fees instead.


Brigit allows you to borrow up to $250 fees. It does cost $10 a month to use, but no additional fees. They also allow extensions on paying your money back if the next payday doesn’t work for you.

There are no transfer fees, and you can get approved for the money in 20 seconds.


Dave costs a $1 monthly subscription. As an added benefit for the required fee, Dave allows you to report rent payments to credit bureaus since they work with LevelCredit.

This means that you can improve your credit while also using their service.

They provide an advance up to $100 two days before your payday and don’t ask for extra fees.


Empower allows you to receive up to $250 early in an emergency. The transfer costs $3 to send to a bank account but is free if you use their checking account.

They also can give you 10% cash back on certain purchases and don’t do credit checks or late fees.

Earnin Review FAQs

What’s the catch with Earnin?

If you have multiple jobs, are remote workers, or are freelancers, the platform won’t work for you. Since it needs your location to track if you’ve done the job, salaried, hourly, or on-demand employees are the only ones that benefit.

How much can I borrow on Earnin?

Unless you take advantage of their Earning Express Feature, you can only borrow between $50 and $500. Per day, the maximum limit is $100.

How long does it take for Earnin to verify my account?

It usually takes about 24 hours to verify your bank account. It will usually take about three days to set up your account with Earnin.

Which banks does Earnin support?

Earnin strives to provide more bank accounts daily so they don’t make a list. Instead, they say if you go on their app, they have a scroll-down menu of all the banks they accept. They have a list of banks they don’t currently accept on their website.


If you don’t work remotely and are salaried, on-demand, or hourly, Earnin might be the app for you to get emergency pay a little early.

Earning isn’t a payday loan, so you don’t have to worry about high-interest rates or hidden fees. You can borrow up to $500 per pay period to cover emergencies.



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Gravatar for Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert who has a passion for helping others win with their finances. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School and has been writing about money management for over a decade. Enoch has been featured in several leading personal finance publications including MSN Money, The Globe and Mail, Wealthsimple, and the Financial Post.

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