Earnin App Review – 2020

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What Is The Earnin App?

The Earnin app is a mobile app that allows users to get a free advance on their future paychecks.

If you get an unexpected bill and don’t have enough money in your emergency fund, you can use Earnin to withdraw your money early. This lets you avoid overdraft fees or having to resort to payday loans.

This Earnin app review will answer all of your questions before you sign up.

Earnin app dashboard photo

How Does Earnin Work?

Earnin works by connecting to your bank account and tracking your hours worked using your location, timesheet, or receipts, depending on the type of work.

If you receive an annual salary, Earnin will ask to use your phone to track your location. Using this information, Earnin checks to make sure you were physically at work each day. 

If you instead work as an hourly employee, you can either upload pictures of your timesheet to the Earnin app or connect Earnin directly to an online timesheet (if your employer has one). 

Lastly, if you’re a ride or task-based employee (Uber drivers, Postmates deliverers, etc.), you can upload pictures of your receipts. 

It’s worth noting that Earnin does not support freelance workers or those who earn their income from several different employers. If you fall into either of these categories, you may have to look elsewhere.

Once Earnin has verified a day’s work, you’re able to withdraw up to $100 from those earnings using the “Cash Out” feature. This withdrawal can be free, but Earnin also has a tipping feature, which we’ll discuss in greater detail later.

After that, you’re done! Simply wait 1-2 business days to receive access to your money, or get access instantly with Earnin’s Lightning Speed feature.

Note that any withdrawals you make using Earnin are automatically removed from that pay period’s direct deposit, so it’s important to keep track of your money.

Earnin app review setup photo

Earnin App Vs. Payday Loans

Conceptually, Earnin aims to meet the same need as a payday loan⁠—providing someone in need with a bit of extra money in case of an emergency or unexpected expense. And compared to payday loans, Earnin is a fantastic alternative!

Payday loans often have insanely high-interest rates that make them incredibly challenging to pay off if you miss your deadline. Also, most payday loans have high fees that further add to the overall cost of borrowing.

Earnin, by comparison, doesn’t charge any fees and has a 0% interest rate. That means it’s entirely free to use.

How Does Earnin Earn Its Money?

So, you may be asking yourself, “How does Earnin earn its money if they don’t charge any fees or interest?” (And props to you for asking good questions and being such a savvy consumer!)

This is where Earnin’s tipping feature comes into play. Every time you make a withdrawal using the Earnin app, it prompts you to select an amount to tip, ranging from $0 to $14. 

These tips are how Earnin makes its money since all tips go directly to them. 

That said, it’s entirely up to you to decide how much, if any, you want to tip. It’s totally possible to use Earnin on a regular basis, completely free!

Pros Of Using The Earnin App

  • Completely free (0% interest and no fees)
  • Allows you to access your paycheck in advance (up to $100/day initially)
  • Receive your funds either instantly or in 1-2 business days
  • Earnin’s additional features (see below)

Earnin’s Additional Features

Earnin has several additional features that you can take advantage of, including automatic deposits whenever your bank account decreases past a certain amount, instant access to any withdrawn funds, and even negotiating your medical bills on your behalf!

Health Aid From Earnin

Earnin’s Health Aid is the feature that really blew me away when I first learned about it. Seriously, it’s that good. Medical bills are one of the biggest unexpected costs to Americans, especially those who are low-income and lack proper coverage.

In many situations, however, you can negotiate medical bills to a better price. You can do so for free using Earnin’s Health Aid feature by simply uploading pictures of your medical bills and verifying your account with Earnin.

After you’ve done this, one of Earnin’s employees reaches out to the hospital and tries to negotiate a better price or a more favorable payment plan on your behalf. Again, all completely for free!

Earnin app review health aid photo

This can truly be a lifesaver for some Americans suffering from high medical bills—I highly encourage you to take advantage of this service if you find yourself in such a situation.

What Is Lightning Speed?

By linking a debit card to the Earnin app, you can receive access to your withdrawals instantly. The only requirement to use this feature is connecting a debit card to the checking account where your paycheck is deposited.

This feature also works on weekends and holidays!

While waiting 1-2 business days isn’t a huge deal anyway, the ability to shorten this wait time freely is a nice plus.

Note: Earnin’s Lightning Speed only works with certain banks, so you should double-check to make sure your bank is listed.

Earnin’s Balance Shield

Earnin allows you to opt into Balance Shield Alerts, which sends a notification to your phone whenever your checking account’s balance drops below a specified amount ($0 – $400). These are entirely free and can be useful reminders if you’re trying to avoid overdraft fees.

If you want even more protection, you can enroll in Earnin’s Balance Shield Cash Out program. With this feature, Earnin will automatically transfer funds from your future paycheck into your checking account if your balance falls below.

Earnin app review Balance Shield photo

However, unlike the Earnin Balance Shield Alerts, this feature is not free. After your first (free) Balance Shield transfer, Earnin charges a $1.50 fee each time money is transferred using this feature.

Earn Cash Back With The Earnin App

By connecting your debit or credit card with Earnin’s Cash Back Rewards, you can receive cash back, ranging from 1% to 10% from select stores.

While the amount of use you’ll get from this feature may vary depending on the availability of participating stores near you, there’s no harm in getting even the occasional benefit.

Note: This feature requires a Visa, Mastercard, or American Express card.

Earnin’s Boost Feature

The Boost function in Earnin is an interesting idea, though I didn’t personally get much use out of it. 

Basically, Earnin lets users temporarily raise the maximum withdrawal amount by requesting an endorsement (or “boost”) from another user. Both parties must have at least one previous Cash Out and no failed repayments. 

If these conditions are met, and the Earnin user endorses whoever sent the request, the requester gains a $50 increase to that pay period’s maximum withdrawal amount.

Using Earnin’s Financial Calendar

This simple feature allows you to input known expenses and future paydays into a calendar to visually track when payments are due and when earnings will come in.

Monthly budget templates can be very useful for budgeting, and we welcome you to use any of our freely available monthly budget templates. Also, you can check out our guide on how to build a budget for a more in-depth breakdown of how to make a budget that works.

Cons Of Using The Earnin App

  • Increases the risk of developing unhealthy money management habits
  • Doesn’t support freelance workers or those who have several sources of income
  • Small tips, if opted into, can add up faster than expected
  • Must regularly share information (either location data, timesheet, or receipts)
  • Certain restrictions and limitations (see below)

Earnin’s Restrictions And Limitations

Earnin only works with a finite number of banks. While many of the big names are present in the app’s selection, including Bank of America, BB&T, JP Morgan, and Wells Fargo, you may still find your bank will not work with Earnin.

If that is the case, you will be unable to use Earnin unless your banking institution is added later.

Earnin app participating banks 2020

Also, you need direct deposit set up with your employer to take advantage of the Earnin app’s features.

Lastly, your bank account cannot have a standing debt greater than $100 (i.e., your balance must be greater than -$100).

Should You Use The Earnin App?

If you live paycheck to paycheck, have ever or are considering taking out a payday loan, or currently have a large outstanding credit card balance, Earnin can be very useful.

If you use Earnin responsibly over a long period of time and have high enough wages, you can also get your daily withdrawal limit increased up to $500 (from the initial $100).

However, this doesn’t mean you should necessarily use Earnin. Though it does have several useful features (and it’s hard to beat free pricing!), using a service that offers an advance on your paycheck can lead to unhealthy financial habits.

We want to make sure you’re aware of the potential dangers so that you can make more informed financial decisions.

Earnin and similar services that allow you to borrow against your future paychecks can make people dependent on those early withdrawals over time. This can be dangerous because you’re always relying on funds that you don’t technically have yet. So, it can be more difficult to recover from any unexpected expenses or delays in pay.

Also, relying on these services can discourage you from building up an emergency fund, something that will become necessary as you continue learning how to manage money.

With all that in mind, understand that Earnin is best suited for managing small, unexpected emergencies. It can save you money if you’re choosing among paying an overdraft fee, getting a payday loan, or using Earnin. But, beware the dangers of developing unhealthy habits.

Is Earnin App Safe?

The short answer is, yes. Earnin follows a standard authentication process to verify your bank info. They’ll send two small deposits and ask you to report the amounts to verify your account. 

Earnin then links to your bank account. This allows it to connect to your checking account and track your direct deposits. 

While a security breach is always possible with any company, Earnin encrypts your data does not store the information locally. This means connecting Earnin to your account involves minimal risk.

Earnin App Review Score

Summary

If you live paycheck to paycheck, have ever or are considering taking out a payday loan, or currently have a large outstanding credit card balance, Earnin can be very useful.

Overall
4.8
  • Pricing
  • User Experience
  • Ease Of Use
  • Customer Service

Pros

  • Completely free (0% interest and no fees)
  • Allows you to access your paycheck in advance (up to $100/day initially)
  • Receive your funds either instantly or in 1-2 business days
  • Earnin’s additional features

Cons

  • Increases the risk of developing unhealthy money management habits
  • Doesn’t support freelance workers or those who have several sources of income
  • Small tips, if opted into, can add up faster than expected
  • Must regularly share information (either location data, timesheet, or receipts)

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