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Earnin App Review
The Earnin app is a unique, community-driven financial program that aims to help individuals navigate the tumultuous world of personal finance. While it may look similar to a payday loan or a personal loan, the app gets you early access to money you’ve already earned at no fee and with no interest — basically, for free. If money is tight or you’re looking for a unique way to leverage technology in your financial life, the Earnin app is worth checking out.
What is the Earnin app?
The premise of the Earnin app is simple but unique. If you’re an hourly or salaried employee, you can connect the Earnin app to your bank account and employer to get paid on hours and days you’ve already worked immediately. Instead of having to wait until your paycheck or direct deposit is released, you get access to those funds right away. When your check is deposited, the money you had advanced is debited.
The community-driven focus of the Earnin app aims to change the way the financial system operates. According to the company’s website, people pay $100 billion annually in fees because of delayed access to paychecks. By helping people to get access to their money sooner, these fees can be avoided. The company’s mission is to build a financial system that works for people.
[Read: Best Personal Loans for 2020]
A question that comes up a lot is if the Earnin app is a payday loan. While the app does give you early access to your money like a payday loan, it does so at no cost with no interest and no fees. So, you get the benefits of a payday loan without the predatory risks and costs.
How does the Earnin app work?
The main feature of the Earnin app is getting early access to your future paychecks. You link the app to your bank account and your employer, and the app can track your expected income from the hours or days you work. The app cuts down the traditional two-week pay cycle to just a few days.
What’s the cost? Nothing. There are no fees, no interest and no costs to use the program. This does bring up the big questions, what’s the catch, and how does Earnin make money? The answer to the first question is there is no catch. Earnin is a community-driven app trying to bring about positive change in the banking industry.
The way Earnin makes money is through the tipping feature. After you receive your funds early, you can tip the company as a thank you. By doing this, you help to pass it on and pay it forward, so the company can help others as it helped you.
[Related: Best Money-Saving Apps]
Recently, the company also rolled out the ability to tip yourself. It’s a zero-cost way for you to get creative with your saving. At any point in time, you can toss a few bucks into your tip jar to save for later. The money doesn’t earn interest, but it’s all yours.
When to use the Earnin app
There are quite a few instances where the Earnin app could help you better navigate your finances. If you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck and need better liquidity and faster access to your money, Earnin could be a great fit. However, this only works if you are an hourly employee or a salaried employee. If you’re an independent contractor, work on commissions or don’t work a traditional job, apps like Earnin won’t work.
The app also has added features to help people dealing with medical bills. You can submit your medical bills, and an authorized agent from the company will work to lower your bills and what you have to pay to the provider.
Pros of the Earnin app
- Secure platform with high-level encryption
- Easy integration with your bank
- Overdraft protection with Balance Shield
When not to use the Earnin app
One of the chief concerns about the app and apps like Earnin is that they build bad financial habits. Some people claim the apps encourage you to spend money that you haven’t been paid yet, which is never a fiscally responsible move. The counterargument is that its money you’ve already earned, and there is no cost to the borrowing, which creates no issues.
In 2019, Earnin was the subject of a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit claimed that the app was operating as a lender without the proper licensing. Earnin believes it does not fit the definition of a traditional lender because it only accepts tips and not a direct payment for the loans. The plaintiffs argued the opposite and additionally claimed that the app would attempt to recover owed money even when the company knew the money was not in the account. There have been no recent updates about the lawsuit’s status.
Cons of the Earnin app
- Requires access to your bank
- May develop bad financial habits
- Legal claims of unfair practices
Alternatives to the Earnin app
Earnin is not the only company offering services like this. Some similar apps like Earnin include PayActiv, MoneyLion, and DailyPay. The main difference between these apps is that they offer additional services. For example, MoneyLion offers credit building loans, mobile banking, debit card rewards and investing.
Additionally, many of these other apps charge small fees instead of leaving the payment option in your hands with tipping. For example, DailyPay charges $1.99 each time you request an advance on your pay. MoneyLion utilizes the tipping format unless you request an instant cashout. Charges for instant cashouts are $3.99 to a MoneyLion checking account and $4.99 to an external account.