Earnin App Review: What Is It and How Does it Work?

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Do you sometimes find yourself running low on cash before payday? If so, you might want to check out the Earnin app. 

The Earnin app has created a way to help bridge the gap between paydays without charging users an arm and a leg. Our Earnin review can help you decide if the service is right for you.

4.6
Overall Rating

Summary

Earnin helps users cover pay period shortages without having to use expensive payday loans. The app also offers other financial tools to help you improve your financial situation as a whole. 

  • Ease of use

    4.5

  • Cost

    4.75

  • Features

    4.5

  • Mobile App

    4.75

Pros

  • Provides payday loans at low cost
  • Tip Yourself Jars may help save
  • Financial calendar to track money
  • Strong focus on community 

Cons

  • Auto responses customer service
  • Not available for SSI, disability, self-employed
  • Tip feature could get costly

What is Earnin?

Earnin homepage

Earnin is a fintech app that aims to help people avoid payday loans. According to a recent study, nearly two-thirds of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. 

The paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle can often lead to occasional or frequent use of payday loans. A payday loan is designed to lend you money to get you through to the next paycheck.

When the next paycheck comes, the loan needs to be paid in full. 

Payday loans come with high costs, including:

  • Exorbitant interest rates (35% or more is common)
  • Additional fees and interest for late payments

These loans claim to help people who are living paycheck-to-paycheck. However, they often exacerbate a bad financial situation thanks to interest and fee charges. Plus, it can be difficult to know how to legally get out of a payday loan

This is where Earnin app comes in. According to its website, Earnin’s goal is to give you the money you’ve earned when you want it. 

It’s a payday loan of sorts, but without all of the mandatory fees and interest charges that come with a traditional payday loan. 

The Earnin app is one of many payday loan alternatives that can help you break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. 

Is Earnin Legit?

Earning community impact

Yes, the Earnin app is legit. It promises to help you get through the next payday if you are short on cash, and it doesn’t fall short on fulfilling that promise. 

Earnin boasts that, after using the app, more of its users can cover emergency expenses, budget better and pay their bills. It even claims to have over one million members.

However, there are some limitations to the app that you should be aware of. These include daily and per pay period advance limitations. 

How Does Earnin App Work?

Earnin is easy to use, even if you are technologically challenged. In a nutshell, it lets you access your earnings before your next pay period.

Here’s how the Earnin app works:

1. Sign Up

Earnin sign up

You start by signing up for Earnin using your name, phone number, email address and a password. Then you download the Earnin app. 

The app is free to use on both iOS and Android devices. Visit Google Play or the Apple App Store for more information. 

2. Enter Your Bank Details

Next, you’ll need to enter your bank account details. Your Earnin account has to be connected to the bank checking account where your employer’s direct deposit goes. 

It’s important to note that the Earnin app is tough when it comes to security. They use the latest encryption technology to keep your personal information safe. 

Earnin needs your bank account details in order to deposit money into your account and to be able to pay the money back again. 

3. Confirm Your Employer

Once you’ve downloaded the app and set up your bank account details, you need to confirm your employer. If you don’t have an employer, you can’t use Earnin. 

The platform makes it easy to verify your employer. Simply follow the instructions within the app. 

Note that you will have to send screenshots to Earnin that verify your direct deposit payroll. This helps Earnin determine the amount of Cash Out money you’re eligible for. 

4. Use Cash Out

Earnin Confirmed cash out feature

After you’re confirmed with Earnin, you can use the Cash Out feature. Earnin has daily and per pay period maximums that you can withdraw. 

All Earnin users start out with a $100 pay period max. The more you use Earnin and do so responsibly, the more your daily and per pay period max will be. 

Keep in mind that when you get money from Earnin via a Cash Out, it can take two to three days for the money to appear in your bank account. 

5. Enjoy Automatic Repayment

When you receive a Cash Out from Earnin, the app will automatically deduct the full amount from your checking account when you get your next paycheck via direct deposit. 

If you choose to give Earnin a tip, your tip will be deducted along with the repayment of cash out. You don’t have to worry about remembering to pay the personal loan back or late fees like you might with a payday loan.

If you need to reschedule your repayment, there’s an option to do that as well. Earnin allows you to reschedule one payment for your personal loan to the following payday every 180 days.

How Much is Earnin?

How much is Earnin

Earnin is free. It doesn’t cost you anything to use it to get a personal loan.

However, you are allowed (and encouraged) to leave a tip when you schedule a Cash Out and get the money you need to tide you over.

Just like you have a list of common household expenses, Earnin has expenses as well.

These optional tips help keep Earnin in business and pay for those expenses. Tip amounts from $1 to $14 are allowed (but not required) with each Cash Out transaction you create. 

Key Features of Earnin

The Earnin app has several features you might find useful. These are the top perks that set it apart from other apps in the space. 

Balance Shield

Earnin balance shield

Balance Shield is an added benefit for Earnin users. The product has two features, including Balance Shield Alerts and Balance Shield Cash Outs.

When you choose to turn on Balance Shield Alerts, you’ll get notified automatically when your checking account balance falls below the minimum balance you’ve set. You can choose any amount between $0 and $400 for your alert. 

Balance Shield Cash Outs are automated Cash Outs that send money from Earnin to your checking account when your checking account falls below the minimum you’ve set.

There are no charges for these services other than the optional tip. 

Tip Yourself

Tip Yourself exists as a way to help Earnin users like you save more money. When you tip yourself, the money goes into a non-interest-bearing account with Evolve Bank and Trust.

The money is separated into one or more Tip Jars in your Earnin account. You can have up to five Tip Jars in your Earnin account, and you can have specific savings goals for each jar. 

Earnin has an aggregate maximum limit of $2,000 that you can save among all of your Tip Jars. Of course, saving your money in a high-yield savings account would be better.

That said, the goal of Earnin’s Tip Jars is to help you develop the habit of saving money. 

Earnin Express

Earnin express

Earnin Express is a product with several benefits. It allows your direct deposit paycheck to go directly to your Earnin virtual bank account.

When you choose to enable Earnin Express, you’ll get the benefits of higher Cash Outs of up to $1,000 or 80% of your paycheck amount, whichever is less. 

Any Cash Outs you owe will be automatically deducted from your direct deposit. Then, the remaining funds will be sent to the checking account you’ve linked to Earnin. 

In addition to these benefits, you’ll no longer have to send screenshots of your payroll deposit to the Earnin app for each pay period. Plus, you may even get your payroll deposit a couple of days early. 

Lightning Speed

Earnin’s Lightning Speed feature allows you to get Cash Out money within minutes instead of days.

In order to use the Lightning Speed feature, you need to visit your Earnin account to determine if your bank is eligible.

Bonus: If you have enabled Lightning Speed and use Earnin Express, any funds you transfer from Earnin back to your linked checking account will transfer within minutes as well. 

Boosts

Boosts increase your Cash Out amount. A Boost is equal to a temporary $50 increase to your Cash Out amount. 

However, Boosts need to be approved by a Grantor (a.k.a. another Earnin community member). 

You can ask any member for a Boost approval, though Earnin recommends you ask someone that knows you, such as a family member or friend. 

Members can ask you to approve a Boost for them as well. Boosts expire on the following payday, and you must submit a new request if you want another Boost for your next pay period.

If you approve another member’s request for a Boost, you are not responsible financially for the distribution of the Boost or the repayment of the Boost. 

It’s important to note that if you approve someone’s request for Earnin to approve a Boost and the Boost isn’t repaid at the next payday, your “reputation” with Earnin could be affected. 

The same goes if you receive a Boost and don’t have the money in your account to have it paid by the next pay period. 

As with the other Earnin features, there are no mandatory fees to use Boost. You cannot get a Boost beyond Earnin’s maximum $500 per pay period cash out limit or beyond the total amount of your paycheck.

Financial Calendar

Earnin’s Financial Calendar is a feature you can use to keep track of upcoming expenses, Cash Outs, debits and earnings. 

You can even create recurring transactions on the calendar. The goal of the calendar is to help give you more control over your finances.

Don’t expect this feature to help you manage money like the best personal finance software apps do. Nevertheless, using Earnin’s Financial Calendar is a good place to start.

Referrals

Earnin has a referral program as well. When you refer a person to Earnin and that person’s account meets the referral program’s current requirements, both you and the referred person will receive a reward.

See Earnin’s current referral program for requirement and reward details. 

Earnin Reviews

Earnin reviews

As with any financial service, knowing what customers have to say can be eye-opening in terms of determining if it’s the right option for you. Luckily, many users rated the app with 5 stars.

Here’s how Earnin stacks up on the various rating websites:

WebsiteRatingNumber of Reviews
Apple App Store4.7 out of 5216K
Google Play4.4 out of 5183K
Better Business Bureau4.03 out of 5659
Trustpilot2.8 out of 56

Here are a few reviews left by Earnin users:

“I have had an excellent experience with Earnin. Literally every time. If there have been issues it’s been my bank. Earnin support has been instantly responsive. If you have Direct Deposit and a regular paycheck, Earnin works 100%”. -Jack H

“The rep asked me to send images of my hours. I sent 6 different pictures, he said they were cropped. None were cropped. He never addressed the problem, just ended the chat.” -David L.

An amazing app! I depend on this app for when I have unexpected expenses or when I’m in a tight pinch. The money is almost immediately deposited in my account so I don’t have to wait. “ -Crystal Young

It is good when it works properly. Not dependable at all. The max period is a joke. One week, you can cash out $300+, pay it all back, then next week it goes down to $100 or can’t cash out at all.” – Breyonna P

Alternatives To Earnin

If you aren’t sure whether or not Earnin is the right solution for your financial needs, these alternatives are worth considering.

Brigit

Brigit works similarly to Earnin and offers payday advances of up to $250. You can choose between auto-advances, manual advances or both. 

However, Brigit costs $9.99 per month for users who want to have the payday advance features, which is obviously the point for most users.

Brigit also offers a free plan that can help you better track your finances and find extra income. 

See our full Brigit Review here for more details.

Dave

Dave offers payday advances of up to $250. However, Dave costs $1 per month. 

Like other similar apps, your advance gets repaid back when you receive your direct deposit paycheck.

Dave also has a credit-building feature and goal-setting tools. The app even has a side hustle tool that helps you earn money fast.

MoneyLion

MoneyLion is a fintech bank account that offers checking account features with a $1 monthly service fee and no minimum balance requirements. 

The app’s RoarMoney account has an InstaCash feature that allows you to get up to $1,000 in 0% interest cash advances. 

You can even round up purchases made from your RoarMoney account and have those roundups deposited into an investment account.

FAQ

Before signing up for Earnin, these answers to frequently asked questions can help you further evaluate if the service is right for you.

Is Earnin safe? 

Yes, Earnin is safe. The app uses the latest encryption technology to protect your information. 

Better yet, they don’t sell your personal data. 

What customer service options does Earnin offer?

Earnin offers three customer service options, including 24/7 live chat, Facebook direct messaging and Twitter direct messaging. 

Does Earnin work for people who are unemployed?

Unfortunately, Earnin does not work for those who are unemployed, freelancers or self-employed. You need to have a regular direct deposit paycheck from an employer in order to use Earnin.

Can you tip other people in Earnin?

Not directly. Tips are primarily your way of supporting the Earnin community so that other people can take advantage of the platform’s services. 

You can cover the tip for someone else’s cash out, but you can’t choose the specific person your tip goes to.

Summary

Earnin is an app that was designed to help you take control of your finances. It also helps you meet budget shortages in between paydays.

Fortunately, you won’t see the high fees and interest rates that come with a payday loan. Earnin’s Cash Outs and other features might be able to help you create a more stable financial situation.

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