If you get paid regularly but often find yourself living paycheck to paycheck, one unexpected expense can cause a major lifestyle shift for you. For example, if money is tight and you get into a fender bender, you might have to decide between buying groceries and fixing your car so that you can get to work.

That is where an app like Earnin comes in handy. Earnin is a user-friendly alternative to payday loans and gives you access to the wages you’ve already earned. Users can get access to funds quickly and without having to take out a loan or ask friends and relatives to borrow cash.

What is Earnin?

Earnin is an app that has a feature called cash Out, which allows users to borrow up to $100 at a time. Depending on your use and income, you can borrow up to $500 per pay period. Earnin is available on Android and iOS devices in the United States. It is designed for people who are paid regularly and receive at least half of their paycheck deposited directly into a checking account.

Is Earnin Legit?

While the idea of free money might seem too good to be true, Earnin has an ‘A’ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Earnin has received an average of four stars on over 400 user reviews on the BBB website. The app has received over 100,000 five-star reviews on the Apple App Store as well.

How to Use Earnin

Earnin is easy to use and takes only minutes to get started using. With Earnin, you can take out your first short-term loan within hours of downloading the app. After you download the app on to your Apple or Android device, you’ll be able to start an account.

Getting Started

After downloading the Earnin app, you will be prompted to enter your email address. You’ll then verify your email address, create a password, and fill out your personal information. You can expect to enter your employer, your salary, and may also be required to provide a timesheet.

Once you’ve entered your employer and income information, you’ll need to upload your bank information. You will connect the bank account that you receive your paycheck directly deposited into. Doing this will allow Earnin to pay you as well as to deduct what you owe once you’ve been paid. You will be able to connect your bank information by entering your online banking username and password.

Finally, you’ll need to upload information about your employer’s location. If you work for a large employer, there is a chance that they are already a part of Earnin. If not, it only takes a couple of minutes to add your employer to the app. Your employer will not be notified, but you will need to include the address of your employer so that Earnin can verify that you are going to work and earning an income.

Using Earnin On an Ongoing Basis

Once you have all your information in the app, you will be able to start borrowing money ahead of your payday. To receive payment, you’ll need to attach a debit card to the app. Then, you will be able to request up to $100 per day. The app will verify your phone’s location as well as your work location to ensure that you have been going to work and will receive a paycheck.

When you request money, the verification process takes about ten minutes. When approved, you will receive cash in your bank account automatically the following day. If you request money over the weekend, you will receive your funds the next business day. Some banks support immediate deposits.

As you continue to be an Earnin customer, you can get approved for up to $500 of funds per pay period. Your limit to begin will be $100, and as you continue to maintain a positive bank balance and meet Earnin’s guidelines, your total limit will increase.

Should You Use Earnin?

As with any financial management app or program, your decision to use Earnin is up to your needs. There are several things that we love about Earnin, as well as a few things that every user should look out for.

Pros

While Earnin is primarily known as a cash-advance app, there are several features that Earnin has that delivers more to its users in addition to early access to their paychecks. Here are some of the best features and advantages of Earnin:

  • No fees – Most cash advance and payday loan companies charge huge fees to their customers, including origination fees and management fees. While Earnin customers have the option to leave a tip, there are no required fees or charges to use Earnin.
  • No interest – Some payday loans charge up to 400% APR. Earnin, on the other hand, charges zero interest to its customers.
  • Fast funding – When you need cash, you need it quickly. With Earnin, you can receive your funds immediately if your bank allows for it, or as late as the next business day if your bank is not as compatible with the app.
  • Plenty of compatibilities – Most major banks, including Wells Fargo and Chase, are compatible with Earnin. That means that most customers can receive their funds immediately after requesting them.
  • Early wage access – The main feature of Earnin is that you can receive the money you’ve already earned but haven’t been paid for yet. That means that if the app can track that you’ve been to work and earned a paycheck, they’ll loan you the money you’ve already made. In exchange, you’ll pay it back on payday.
  • Balance shield – Nobody likes overdraft fees. Another feature of this app is the Balance Shield, which alerts you via notifications on your phone when you fall below a set balance. When you run short on funds, you can choose to stop spending your money to prevent overdrafts or borrow your earned wages from Earnin.
  • Cashback rewards – This relatively new feature on the app gives users 1-10% cash back at thousands of partner stores. When you shop using the links on your Earnin app, you can earn the bonus cash back.
  • Health Aid – This feature helps users to save money on medical costs. To use this feature, upload your medical bills, and Earnin will look for opportunities to save. Employees called Community Advocates can help you negotiate a lower bill or payment plan. This feature is also free, and you can choose to tip within the app.

Cons

As with any app, some areas fall short for some users or can prove challenging. Here are a few things to watch out for with Earnin:

  • Requires bank information – If you are uncomfortable sharing your bank login information, then this is not the app for you. One of the features that make Earnin seamless to use is that they can deposit money directly as well as withdraw what you owe on payday. However, if you do not like this feature, then you may want to investigate other apps or payday loans.
  • May create bad habits – If you tend to live paycheck to paycheck, then this app may lead to you creating a cycle of borrowing money before you’re paid. That will mean that you are left with less money available on payday. Then, now that you’ll have less money available to you on payday, you might be tempted to continue the cycle of borrowing money before you get paid.
  • Doesn’t support all jobs – You must work in a fixed location to be eligible for Earnin and may not work from home or remotely online. You must also be paid on a set schedule and get at least 50% of your earnings direct deposited into a bank account that you share with Earnin.

Update: In response to Covid-19 and the increase in work from home (WFH) opportunities, Earnin has released a WFH option.

  • Location access required – When you add your work address, you will be asked to leave your location settings on all the time. That can not only drain your battery and use more data on your phone plan but may seem like a breach of privacy for some. The location feature is how Earnin knows that you are going to work and earning a paycheck. It is necessary to use the app.

Update: Earnin no longer requires location access through GPS linkage.

  • Low withdrawal limits – If you need to access massive amounts of cash, then this might not be the app for you. Users can only access $100 at a time and up to $500 per pay period. If you need a small loan or more money, then you’ll need to find other avenues as Earnin is designed to responsibly assist users in cash flowing their way to their next payday.
  • Tipping – Earnin does not charge fees or interest, so the only way they earn money from customers is through tips. Users can tip whatever they want, but if you tip a lot or with every transaction, the tips can add up. While a couple of dollars here and there may seem reasonable, it can also mean that you’re paying upwards of 10% on the amount that you’re borrowing. That might be more than what interest would cost you on a credit card.

The Bottom Line

Earnin is an app designed to help people receive the money they’ve already earned but have not yet been paid out on. Borrowing money from Earnin is interest and fee-free and integrates with most banks in the United States. These factors make it an easy, safe way to get cash before payday.