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According to data from the FDIC, large banks collected more than $11.45 billion in overdraft and non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees from customers in 2017. This number is about a $10 million increase over the year prior, as well.
While diligent budgeting and expense tracking can help you avoid these costly fees, the truth is that sometimes they can sneak up on even the best of us. Changes in your usual cash flow can be easy to overlook, and one-off expenses have the ability to wreck even the best of budgets.
That’s why the Dave app was invented: to help banking customers predict and avoid overdraft fees. This app has the potential to save you hundreds of dollars a year… but is it the right app for you?
About the Dave App
Backed by names like Mark Cuban and Diplo, Dave is an app designed to help banking customers predict and outsmart overdraft fees. Considering that the average fee is $35, and more than ¼ of Americans paid an overdraft last year, this app has the potential to help Americans avoid paying billions each and every year.
The app works two ways:
- The app helps you budget and looks at your traditional cash flow throughout the month. If it looks like a pinch is upcoming, the app will let you know so you can plan.
- If you find yourself in a bind, you can use the Dave app to find an overdraft fee-avoiding solution, such as getting a quick Dave cash advance.
The app’s primary purpose is telling you how low your account will get before your next payday. Dave uses your monthly expenses–your budgeted phone bill, utility bill, and typical spending–to calculate just how close you’ll be cutting it before you get paid again.
If you overspend throughout the month, or if your bills are higher than usual, Dave will let you know with a low balance alert. This heads up may be enough to help you avoid a fee as your next payday approaches.
Cut it too close? With Dave, you can get a quick, no-fee cash advance to tide you over to payday. This could help you avoid hefty overdraft fees, as well as stay on top of your account balance at all times.
Cash advances are available for customers who link their bank accounts to Dave. Standard transfers take up to 3 days and are free, or express delivery (in 8 hours or less!) is available for a small fee. There is no fee for the service itself, and no interest charged on the advance.
Additionally, Dave also offers helpful resources for users, including helping you find income-generating side hustles or apps that will earn you cash. If you’re looking to boost your income each month, finding easy ways to earn more money could be the answer. Dave makes it easy to brainstorm ideas and get the ball rolling.
Cash advances provided through the Dave app are just that: no fees and no interest rates. You’ll simply be taking a mini loan against your own paycheck, intended to tide you over (and help you avoid overdraft fees) for a couple days.
Once you connect your checking account (debit card) to the app, you’ll be eligible to take an advance as high as $100. Obviously this amount isn’t going to cover a large deficit, but it can definitely help you prevent what I consider to be the most irritating NSF fee of all: paying more in fees than the amount you were overdrawn.
Almost all of my past NSF fees fall into this category. In college, I once paid a $33 fee after overdrawing my account by $1.20. I hadn’t realized how low my balance dropped before payday, and I dipped into the red by pocket change levels. Of course, my bank didn’t care, and charged me a pricey fee for the oversight.
A few years later, I changed banks and transferred all of my funds over to a new account. I left $25 in the old account during the process, just in case a forgotten charge came in. Well, I inadvertently placed an online Amazon order without noting the card on file, and charged $31 to the old account.
By the time I realized the error, my old bank was in the process of happily charging me $38 on a $6 overage. Since the bank was not local to me, I couldn’t even get to a branch in time to deposit funds. Instead, I just had to sit back and (painfully) watch it happen.
Had there been an app like Dave back then, I might have caught the charge earlier, and would have also been able to take out a quick cash advance. That would have saved me a $38 fee and tons of frustration.
Read More: Best Cash Advance Apps
Repaying Your Advance
Your borrowed cash is easy to manage–you’ll simply repay the debt automatically when you receive your next paycheck. Then you’ll be able to utilize the Dave cash advance feature again as needed.
Using cash advances is not an ideal way to manage your finances on the regular, especially considering that typical cash advances are offered at exceptionally high interest rates, and are difficult to pay back for many borrowers.
However, as a rarely-used safety net, a cash advance can be very helpful… especially if it’s interest- and fee-free, as it is with Dave.
Dave App Pricing
You’ll pay a minimal monthly fee in order to use Dave’s services (and have a nice NSF safety net). The app only charges users $1/month, which covers account monitoring, access to cash advances, and tons of helpful resources.
While $1 doesn’t seem like much, it does add up. Paying $12/year to monitor your cash flow might not be worthwhile if you typically keep a large buffer in your account, or have a linked savings account for immediate (NSF-avoiding) transfers.
However, if you often find yourself stretched from one paycheck to the next, or don’t have a quick-transfer option to avoid overdraft fees, Dave could be well worth the expense.
You can also qualify to waive your monthly fee through the app itself by shopping at certain stores. The monthly fee (which we will talk about more in a second) is only $1, but hey: every penny counts, right?
While you’ll pay $1 a month to use the app’s services, you aren’t forced to pay anything else for the cash advance service. No fees, no interest, nada. Considering that the average advance has an APR well over 24%, Dave can mean serious savings for borrowers.
You do have the option to send a “tip” following your utilization of the free advance service. Tips aren’t required, of course, and you’re able to send as much gratuity as you’d like.
Users’ tips do represent a large percentage of the app’s income and, as the app’s website says, tips “keep the lights on.” Even if you opt to send a few bucks Dave’s way, though, you’re still coming out well ahead: a $5 tip on a $75 advance is significantly less than you would spend in NSF fees or on a traditional advance.
How to Sign Up
Opening up an account with Dave is quick and easy. Simply download the highly-rated app on your smartphone or tablet; it’s listed as Dave–Banking for Humans in the App Store.
When signing up, you’ll see that Dave saves users an average of $512 in bank fees. Not bad for a $1-a-month app!
Related: Best No Fee Banks
At sign-up, you’ll be asked to provide your phone number as well as make a few account choices. You’ll select your preferred form of communication, too (either text message or push notifications), for when/if your projected account balance drops too low.
You’ll be asked to choose your account balance threshold for notifications. You can choose any dollar amount between $0 and $1,000, and Dave will notify you if it looks like your account will dip below that.
After signing up and accepting the app’s terms and conditions, you’ll be able to link your debit card to the account. Doing so will allow you to access the free $100 cash advance option.
You will likely be linking your bank account to Dave, as well as providing personal information such as your name, email address, date of birth, and even your Social Security Number. This makes it imperative that the app be as secure as possible, when you’re handing over such important info.
According to Dave.com, the app uses “industry standard” 2048-bit encryption when managing your sensitive information. They utilize two-factor authentication to further protect you and your account, and their employees are given rigorous security training each year. Also, your banking information is not stored, and is only used once to authenticate and link your account.
With that said, it’s important to be aware that your less-sensitive information may be shared with third-parties. According to the Dave website,
It’s unclear exactly how or when your information could be shared, but you should be aware that it is a possibility.
Mobile Support and Accessibility
Dave is an entirely mobile platform so you won’t be able to access your account from your computer. Instead, you will need to manage everything from either an Apple or Google device (smartphone or tablet).
With that said, the mobile app is very easy to use. New users will have no trouble following the quick prompts for setup and account management, and the various alerts (text message or push notifications) make it easy to know when your account threshold has been reached.
Want to learn about ways you can earn more money each month? There are many side hustle resources within the Dave app to help you find ways to boost your income. Dave will even help you “get the job”– all you have to do is start your side hustle search within the app.
Need help with your Dave account? Many of your questions are likely answered on the app’s website, in the Support section. There, you’ll find a ton of frequently asked questions and even screenshots walking you through the steps of managing your account.
If you need more help, though, you can also contact Dave customer support through the Dave app or the website contact form. It doesn’t say how long you can expect to wait for a response, however, and there is no direct number to speak with a real person.
Pros and Cons
Low fee — To utilize Dave and its cash advance feature, you’ll pay only $1 a month. This low charge is an affordable way to keep tabs on your bank account and is easily recouped by any overdraft fees you may avoid.
Easy-to-use app — The Dave Banking mobile app makes it simple to manage your account. From your smartphone or tablet, you can set minimum balance limits, see if and when you may come close to those limits, find income-generating side hustles, and initiate free cash advances.
Free cash advances — Borrowing money until payday is easy and free. After linking your bank account with Dave, you can float yourself as much as $100 without any interest or fees.
Tips are optional — Dave profits entirely off of the tips from borrower users. If Dave saves you from a pricey NSF fee, you might consider throwing a few bucks their way in the form of a tip. These are entirely optional, though, and you can choose the amount you’d like to contribute (if any).
Pause your account as needed — If you need, or want, to take a break from Dave, it’s quick and easy to do. Simple put your membership on “pause” through the app, and you won’t be charged for that month.
Express advances aren’t free — Standard cash advances are free through Dave, and can take up to 3 days to hit your account. However, if you need funds even faster than that, you’ll need to pay a small fee for express processing. This will have cash in your account in 8 hours or less.
It’s not a budgeting app — Dave is a great way to see how your monthly expenses–and unexpected charges–will impact your account balance. It’s also great for floating yourself cash to avoid overdraft fees. However, it probably isn’t the best app if you’re looking to truly overhaul your budget.
No web platform — Dave is managed almost entirely via app. This means that viewing your account, receiving alerts, and requesting advances will need to be done on your smartphone or tablet. You can, however, browse the Support threads and send an email to customer service through the Dave website.
No phone support — If you want to talk to a real person, you’re out of luck. Dave only offers email support at this time.
There’s a cool-down period after pausing account — If you need to pause your account (or want to avoid the fee for a bit), you can easily do so. However, there is a two-month “cool off period” imposed afterward. This means that you won’t be able to reinstate your account for two months, nor will you be able to get an emergency cash advance during this time, if needed.
Dave App Alternatives
The Dave app is the first of its kind, offering users a unique way to avoid overdraft fees and get access to free cash advances. There isn’t a clear-cut alternative just yet.
With that said, there are many ways you can achieve the same things without Dave.
Rather than using Dave to float funds when needed, you could simply open a checking and savings account at the same bank. Many times, transfers between the accounts are immediate, giving you a safety net whenever it’s needed.
Of course, this requires you to have the savings on-hand, as well as track your account activity before you dip into the red. Also, keep in mind that federal law won’t allow you to make more than six withdrawals from a savings account each month without penalty. Additionally, you could use an app like Earnin, which is also designed to offer cash advances as needed. For more information, check out our full Earnin review.
There are many budgeting apps out there, designed to help you track your balance(s) and budget each month. Examples include Prism and PocketGuard, among others. Combined with a savings account safety net or an app like Earnin, you can enjoy the same features as you’ll find with Dave–albeit, not all in one place.
Related: Dave vs Earnin vs Moneylion
Is Dave Right For You?
If you’ve ever paid an overdraft fee, you know the sting that this pricey charge can bring. Considering that more than 1-in-4 Americans will be charged an NSF fee this year (and 10% of those have overdrawn more than eight times!), it stands to reason that many people could benefit from an app like Dave.
Managing a budget can be tricky, especially if unexpected expenses pop up. If you could use some help knowing ahead of time where your account balance will be–or if you often get close to overdrawing–you may want to consider using Dave.
Dave is also a great option for users who don’t have a savings account buffer in place, for quick transfers as needed. The free cash advance feature through the app makes it easy to access up to $100 with a few swipes of your thumb, and without ever having to worry about interest charges or fees.
Of course, you will pay $12 a year for the service. This may not be worthwhile if you need a more comprehensive budgeting option, or keep a large balance in your checking account. For everyone else, though, a years’ worth of fees through Dave are easily dwarfed by just one dodged overdraft fee.
Here are a few frequently asked questions about Dave and how the service works.
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Dave is a really neat banking app designed to help users keep an eye on their monthly cash flow as well as avoid overdraft fees. The average user is said to save more than $500 by using Dave, making it a worthwhile app to check out.
While there is a very small monthly charge to use the service, this is easily recouped each year by sparing yourself from just one NSF fee. Plus, if you ever want to pause your account, it’s easy and quick to do.
If keeping an eye on your checking account balance, or avoiding overdrafts, is ever a concern for you, give Dave a look. This easy-to-use app might be the answer to saving yourself hundreds of dollars a year, and having quick access to free cash advances whenever you need them.
You can learn more on the Dave website here.