Earnin App Review: No Fees and Quick Access to Cash

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Earnin is best for employed individuals who need a relatively small advance on their paycheck. However, if you need serious cash, the app many not be the best choice, as loans start at $100 and max out at $500 per pay period.

The best thing about Earnin is there are no fees, interest charges or hidden expenses, but you’re invited to tip what you think is fair when you use the app. It’s hard to beat those terms when compared to a traditional payday loan. However, funds are debited out of your bank account on payday, so you’re quickly on the hook to pay off your debt.

Earnin app review

Earnin is an app with a streamlined way to get a payday advance without the pricey fees built into traditional payday loans. It’s ideal for employees who need cash to tide them over until payday.

The app charges no fees, interest or hidden expenses. However, borrowing limits range from just $100 to $500 per pay period. Since funds are debited out of your bank account on payday, it won’t work if you can’t repay the money quickly.

The company’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) profile page notes a pattern of complaints and reports of users having trouble reaching Earnin customer service. However, it’s worth noting this is an issue from 2018. Earnin currently has an A+ BBB rating and Earnin app reviews on the site average three out of five stars.

Unlike many companies, if you conduct an online search for “Earnin app scam,” you won’t uncover a sordid past. However, you might discover the company hasn’t always gone by the name Earnin. Activehours was its name from inception in 2014, until late 2017. The company changed its name because customers found it confusing.

How does Earnin work?

If you need money now, “Earnin - Get Paid Today,” the full name of the app, might be able to assist. Here is Earnin’s eligibility criteria:

  • More than 50% of your direct deposit paycheck is sent to a checking account.
  • You follow a regular — i.e., weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly or monthly — pay schedule.
  • You have a permanent work location or your employer has an online/electronic timekeeping system.

It's important to note that Earnin cannot send money to prepaid accounts or savings accounts. The company is also unable to pay unemployment, Social Security Income or disability pay.

How to sign up for Earnin

Getting started with the Earnin app requires just a few simple steps:

  1. Download the Earnin app on Google Play or the Apple App Store.
  2. Create a profile by clicking “Get Started” at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Enter your email address as requested, then wait for a verification code to arrive in your inbox.
  4. Enter the verification code into the app.
  5. Create a password.
  6. Add your paycheck information.
  7. Connect to your bank.
  8. Confirm your employer.
  9. Confirm your work address.

After providing this information, Earnin will verify your bank account and payroll information. The process should be completed within a couple days. You’ll receive emails with updates on your account status. When you need cash, add your earnings into the app. You’ll upload a photo of your timesheet, upload the timesheet itself or connect your timekeeping system in the app.

You can cash out up to $500 — depending on your pay period max — and receive the funds in one to two business days, unless you have Lightening Speed (more on that below). There’s no obligation, but you’re invited to tip what you think is fair when you use the app. Earnin automatically debits your bank account for the money you cashed out — plus tips — on payday.

Loan detailsTerms
Withdrawal limit$100-$500 per pay period, depending on your length of successful payback history with the app.
Time to get fundsVaries from instantly to one or two business days, depending on the time of day you request and if you have the app’s Lightening Speed feature.
Repayment OptionsThe funds you borrowed — including tips — are debited out of your bank account on payday.
Terms accurate as of August 09, 2019.

Earnin Lightening Speed feature: Earnin’s Lightening Speed feature allows you to cash your paycheck out in a matter of minutes — even on weekends and holidays. Lightning Speed eligibility can be subject to both your bank and card network.

What happens if you don't pay Earnin back?

Earnin gets the money that you borrowed back by debiting your bank account on payday. If a payment doesn’t post to your bank account, your Earnin account will be put on hold. Holds on your Earnin account are only temporary. You can choose the next day to retry the payment or wait until your next payday. When you successfully pay the company back, the hold on your account will be lifted.

Should you get the Earnin app?

Some features of the Earnin app make it similar to a payday loan. The Earnin app offers loans at a maximum of $500 and payday loans are also typically granted for this amount or less. Funds borrowed from the Earnin app are automatically debited from your account on payday, and the balance of payday loans are also generally due in full on your next payday.

As for differences, in many states, payday loan fees range from $10 to $30 for every $100 borrowed, according to the Federal Trade Commission. In contrast, Earnin doesn’t charge fees or interest or have any hidden expenses. Earnin is also more selective with funding — i.e., work-from-home employees and those living on Social Security income or government benefits are not eligible — while payday lenders generally have fewer requirements.

If you work outside the home and urgently need a small amount of cash, the Earnin app can be a good choice. Since this loan will be automatically debited from your account on payday, this isn’t a good option if you need more time to pay it back. While you won’t pay fees, interest or hidden costs with Earnin, it’s best to have extra cash saved up in an emergency fund. This way, you can rely on yourself instead of having to depend on a third party to get you out of a jam.

Is the Earnin app safe?

The Earnin app requires you to share your banking information and other personal details, so you’re probably wondering if it’s safe. You’ll be relieved to know Earnin uses bank-level security and encryption practices to keep your personal information under lock and key.

If you enroll a debit or credit card in the Earnin Cash Back Rewards program, take comfort in knowing the company won’t directly store your card information. Instead, it’s kept in a PCI Level 1 secured environment.

Earnin takes measures to protect your personal information, but unfortunately, every company isn’t as legit. Always perform proper due diligence when giving out your information, because you don’t want it to get into the wrong hands.

Alternative financing options

The Earnin app won't be the best option for everyone so, we've listed some other options below for you to consider.

Other fintech apps

Earnin isn’t the only financial app on the market. Here are a few other apps that allow you to withdraw money or help you save, so you don’t need to borrow for emergency situations:

  • Dave. Connect any bank account or open a Dave checking account to get a cash advance of up to $100 with no interest and no credit check.
  • MoneyLion. Sign up for a free membership to get 0% APR Instacash cash advances up to $250.
  • Qapital. Create a healthier financial future by tracking your spending habits, saving money with Goals and Rules and investing your funds in prebuilt portfolios.
  • Digit. This app analyzes your spending habits and automatically puts a certain amount of money aside every day, making it easy to build savings.

Credit cards

Many companies offer credit cards with a 0% APR for a predetermined introductory period. This can help you cover expenses in an emergency, but be sure to pay off the balance before interest begins to accrue. As an added bonus, many credit cards offer bonuses and rewards to cardholders that might help you get ahead.

Personal loans

If you need a larger amount of money, taking out a personal loan is another option. Rates on unsecured personal loans generally run from 5% to 36%. Several different factors go into the rate you receive, including your credit score, income and whether you have a cosigner. Interest rates are typically fixed, meaning you’ll have the same monthly payment for the duration of the loan. Pay close attention to common fees, including origination fees and prepayment penalties.

Laura Woods is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience in business and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Business Administration from Robert Morris University.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.