Founded in 2014, the app originally used to operate under the name Activehours. But they rebranded to Earnin in November 2017 and are among the first platforms to offer this type of service.
Earnin is an app that allows you to draw fee-free advances on your wages before payday rolls around. It tracks how often you work and how much you earn to come up with limits to how much you borrow.
Rather than charge you a fee to draw on your pending wages, it simply asks for an optional tip for its services — up to $14 per withdrawal. It’s not required to tip, however.
Pros and Cons of Earnin
Quick cash ahead of your payday
No hidden charges or fees
Can tip according to your choice
Not everyone can use it
Doesn’t support all banks
How Does Earnin Work?
The Earnin app is relatively simple to use. To take advantage of its services, you need direct deposit of your paycheck into a checking account and a regular place of employment or electronic time sheet.
After you download the app, you’re walked through a brief signup process. Earnin takes a few days to verify your bank account, sending two small test transactions to confirm ownership.
When you request money, Earnin first verifies the hours you worked that week. It does this through a process that varies by how you’re paid: Hourly workers submit photos of their time sheets, while salaried workers allow access to mobile location tracking to confirm commuting to and from their job location.
Maximum withdrawal. $100 daily limit and up to $500 per pay period, depending on your income and spending
Cost. Optional tip of up to $14 per withdrawal
Turnaround. Next business day for weekday requests, two business days for weekend requests and within minutes with Lightning Speed
While it is best known for wage access, Earnin has some other useful features as well.
Here’s a rundown on what you can find in the Earnin app:
Early wage access
The flagship feature of Earnin is early access to the money you’ve already earned. A payday loan alternative, this feature is completely free. Just pay what you think is fair.
Lightning speed payments
Connect your debit card to your account to enable instant payments. Using your debit card, Earnin can send funds to your account in minutes.
This works on evenings, weekends, and holidays. If you don’t add Lightning Speed to your account, you will get paid in 1-2 business days in most cases.
Because Earnin is already connected to your bank account, it can keep tabs on your balance for you. All users can view your balance when you log into Earnin on your phone. With the free Balance Shield turned on, Earnin will notify you if your balance falls below a specific level.
A newer feature in the Earnin App, Health Aid, helps you save money on medical costs. You upload your medical bill and Earnin will look for opportunities to save. A Community Advocate negotiates a lower bill or payment plan. Like the early payday feature, just pay what you think is fair.
Cash Back Rewards
Another newly added feature, Cash Back Rewards is a program to earn 1% to 10% cash back at thousands of partner stores. Shop through links in the Earnin app and you’ll earn the bonus cash back.
How Much Does it Cost to Use Earnin?
Technically nothing. The app is free to download and requires no fees. Instead, Earnin makes money from your optional tips.
Each time you draw from your pending paycheck, you have the option to tip how much you think the service is worth. If one week you can’t afford to tip, you don’t have to. If you work extra hours during the month and want to tip extra, you can do that too.
The model Earnin runs on is simple: You shouldn’t be punished for needing money between the two-week pay cycle businesses put in place.
Is Earnin Safe to Use?
Anytime you’re sharing your bank account information, it’s fair to be concerned about safety. With this service, you’re also sharing your work schedule, possibly accepting tracking to confirm your comings and goings.
For perspective, keep in mind that Mint and plenty of other highly regarded services require access to your banking login info.
Like Mint, Earnin uses digital safeguards that it claims are equal to or even stronger than what most online banks use.
Security measures include standard 256-bit encryption technology to protect your personal and financial information, secure server locations and regular audits to identify any security gaps.
Earnin App vs. Payday Loans
Though it may sound like your typical cash advance, Earnin is not a payday loan. Rather, it’s an app that allows you to borrow small amounts from your pending wages with no fees or penalties.
We compare Earnin and payday loans to bring their differences to light.
Up to $100 daily, with pay period maximums of up to $500
Typically up to $1,000, and most states allow only one at a time
1 to 2 business days, but if your bank is part of its Lightning Speed program, you could see immediate transfers
Typically next business day
Simple mobile app signup, requires connection to bank account
Simple online application, typically requires Social Security number and bank account numbers
No fees; instead, you tip what you think makes sense
High interest rate that can equal fees of $15 to $25 per $100 borrowed
Anywhere in the US
Prohibited in some states
1. How will I know if my bank supports Earnin Lightning Speed?
When registering your debit card, you can find out. Simply log in to the app and tap the Lightning Speed icon. Scan your debit card to add it and after verification, Earnin will let you know if your bank supports the feature.
2. If my bank is not on the list of supported banks, can I use the app?
No. Earnin app only supports transfers between the banks it supports.
3. What happens if my wages delay?
If for any reason the amount you borrow from the app is not available for repayment on the due date, you cannot use the app again until you make full repayment.
Earnin can be an affordable solution to unexpected expenses. But be careful — it’s no replacement for an emergency fund. And if you need more than $100, consider other pay advance apps similar to Earnin. Or read our short-term loans guide to explore other options for cash loans.
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