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While there’s no shortage of banking apps to choose from, over 7 million American households are still unbanked, according to the FDIC. This doesn’t even include many of the Americans who consider themselves underbanked. Some financial apps have tried to bridge the gap by offering support and services that people need to manage their finances and make ends meet.
Instead of charging tons of fees to turn a profit, apps like Dave, Earnin, and Moneylion offer flexible services to help you cover unexpected costs with 0% interest cash advances and ways to improve your credit and avoid overdrafts. We’ll compare these three apps and a few of their alternatives to help you decide if you’d like to try out one of these no-fee or low-fee options.
Dave is a digital banking service with no overdraft or minimum balance fees. Dave uses smart technology to help you manage your expenses, build your credit, get paid early, and more. The company’s tagline is Banking For Humans as they provide real-time support from real people and practical banking solutions to everyday obstacles many of us face.
Dave is known for its budgeting features to help you track income and expenses. You can have your paycheck directly deposited to your Dave account or connect an external account.
Dave also alerts you with cash flow predictions that indicate when you may have a low balance.
Cash Advance and Interest-Free Loans
Another benefit of setting up direct deposit with Dave is you can opt for a $100 advance from your next paycheck. This can come in handy if you suddenly need to pay an extra bill or incur another unexpected expense before your next paycheck. With Dave, you can also get a micro-loan up to $75 at 0% interest. A credit check is required but it doesn’t impact your credit score and there are no late fees.
How Dave Helps With Your Side Hustle
Let’s face it, most people either need or want a side hustle these days to help cover expenses. Being a Dave member has its perks because you can get connected to network partners that offer flexible gig work opportunities right from home. Just sort through their open opportunities and apply so you can potentially start making money with different legitimate remote jobs.
There’s only a $1 fee each month to use Dave and this gets deducted from your account when your first paycheck gets deposited. Dave also accepts tips and donations. A percentage of each tip goes toward their partner Trees.org to plant a tree.
One of the best parts of Dave Banking is that you don’t have to worry about unnecessary bank fees. There are no overdraft or minimum balance fees and no ATM fees since you have access to over 32,000 MoneyPass ATMs.
Pros and Cons
No overdraft or minimum balance fees
Avoid ATM fees when you use MoneyPass ATM
Borrow up to $100 of your next paycheck
Borrow up to $75 with 0% interest (no credit check)
Monthly membership fee
Low cash advance and micro-loan amounts
Up to 3 days to get your cash advance and a small fee applies if you want it sooner
Earnin is a cash advance app that gives you access to the pay you’ve earned when you want it. If you’re unable to wait until your next payday, you can borrow up to $100 per day and up to $500 per pay period. There’s no fee or catch so it’s basically like giving yourself an interest-free loan. Just tip an amount you’re comfortable with (even if it’s $0) and when your paycheck is deposited into your account, Earnin will deduct the total amount you cashed out plus tips.
While Earnin is most known for cash advances, they also offer a helpful tool called Tip Yourself. This is a fun and free way to start saving money with Earnin. You can create a tip jar for any savings goal and reward yourself for everyday wins large or small.
Earnin doesn’t just want to give you cash advances. Their Balance Shield feature notifies you when your bank account falls below a certain amount. This way, you can avoid overdrafts and set up an automatic early-payday cash out if your balance gets too low.
Medical debt plagues many Americans and it can be difficult to keep up with bills and explore the idea of negotiating them down to smaller amounts. Earnin’s Health Aid feature helps with this by allowing you to submit your medical bills so that Earnin can negotiate and help set up an affordable payment plan on your behalf.
Earnin is supported solely by donations and tips so they don’t charge users a penny. However, if you want to tip the app when you use a feature like Cash Out or Health Aid, you can choose an amount that works for you and this goes toward keeping the service up and running. Earnin is a community app so you can choose to pay it forward to cover another user’s tip.
Pros and Cons
Get a cash advance up to $100 per week or $500 per pay period at 0%
Tips are optional
Balance Shield helps you prevent overdrafts
Medical bill negotiation services
Low cash advance amounts
Some limitations based on where you work and how you’re paid (for cash advances)
Moneylion is a financial services company that offers everything from mobile banking and cash advances to credit builder loans, financial tracking and cash back rewards. Getting paid up to 2 days early is a good reason to open an account and you’ll also get unlimited withdrawals from over 55,000 ATMs and price protection for up to 90 days.
Moneylion offers cash advances of up to $250 with 0% interest so long as you link your checking account. Linking your checking account helps verify your income so you can pay the loan back when you get paid. Utilizing Instacash for cash advances won’t ping your credit score or impact your credit.
If you’re looking to build credit, consider Moneylions Credit Builder Loan that helps you establish 12 months of payment history with all three credit bureaus. Most credit builder loans don’t give you any of your funds upfront but Moneylion will allow you to get a cash advance for some of your loan funds at 0% APR.
Moneylion makes it easy to start investing with its fully-managed investment portfolio feature. You can set recurring deposits weekly or monthly and there are no management fees or minimums. Simply pick your desired risk level and get a personalized portfolio. Your portfolio can be easily adjusted over time and automated transfers can help it grow at a quicker rate.
Personal Finance Tracking
Track your financial health by getting your Financial Heartbeat score. You can track your savings and spending while monitoring your personal budget. Also, organize your insurance needs and coverage all in one place.
Moneylion charges users $1 per month to start. You could incur more fees depending on a few factors. You’ll pay $2.50 for using an out-of-network ATM. If you need to get your cash advance funds sooner than 12 to 48 hours, you may also pay $3.99 to $4.99 depending on whether you transfer the money to your Moneylion RoarMoney account or an external checking account.
There’s also a fee of $19.99 per month to use Credit Builder Plus.
Pros and Cons
Cash advances up to $250 with 0% interest
Financial health monitoring
Credit builder loan with the option for a cash advance
Customizable investment portfolio options
Monthly membership fee
Added fee to receive your cash advance sooner
Higher fee for Credit Builder Plus
|App Name||Amount You Can Withdraw Early||Interest- Free Micro Loan?||Mobile Banking||Savings and/or Investing Account||Cashflow/Expense Tracking Features||Fee|
|Dave||Up to $100||Yes||No||No||Yes||$1/ month|
|Earnin||Up to $100 per day ($500 per pay period)||No||No||No||No||$0 (tips are optional)|
|Moneylion||Up to $250||No (credit-builder loan option)||Yes||Yes||Yes||$1/ month|
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While Dave, Earnin, and Moneylion all have a lot to offer, there are still some other great alternatives if you’re looking for no-fee or low-fee online banking options and interest-free cash advances.
Chime® is an award-winning financial app and debit card which also provides spending and savings accounts with no monthly fees as well as automatic savings by rounding up your purchases. You can save money when you spend with your Chime debit card by choosing to round up purchases to the nearest dollar so it gets transferred to your savings account. Chime members can also get paid up to 2 days early with direct deposit.
Chime Disclosure - Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.
1Chime cannot guarantee when files are sent by the IRS and funds can be made available.
^Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. We generally make these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date.
Related: Apps That Loan You Money Now
Why Choose Dave?
Choose Dave if you’re looking for a tool to help you track your income and expenses and borrow a little money from your future self when needed. Dave will help manage your money better but does not exclude the fact that accidents and emergencies happen. An interest-free cash advance loan of up to $100 could help you with a minor unexpected expense without leaving you with a huge sum of money to pay back.
Why Choose Earnin?
Choose Earnin if you’d appreciate the option of receiving a larger interest-free cash advance (up to $500 per pay period). Earnin is also the only app out of the three that offers medical debt negotiation and allows you to tip yourself (save money) for large and small money wins.
Why Choose Moneylion?
Choose Moneylion if you’re looking for a credit-building tool, personal finance tracking, and automated investing options. While Moneylion does provide cash advances of up to $250, it’s also important to improve your credit in case you need to borrow money responsibly for a larger purchase.
Dave vs Earnin vs Moneylion: Which One is Best For You?
Apps like Dave, Earnin, and Moneylion may be solid options if you find that you often need a little extra cash between paychecks. All three apps provide this service and keep fees low so get specific when trying to narrow down the best choice for you.
Consider any added features you might get like money management tools or account monitoring to prevent overdrafts. Then, carefully weigh the pros and cons.
Overall, the key should be to improve finances and develop healthier financial habits long-term. While borrowing from your paycheck may come in handy from time to time, one of the best things you can do is get ahead of your finances by maintaining a budget and creating an emergency fund to help cover unexpected expenses.