7 Loan Apps That Let You Borrow Money Fast

If you ever find yourself in a financial bind and need instant access to cash to cover an unexpected expense, there’s an app for that. Whether you call them loan apps, borrow-money apps, cash advance apps or payday advance apps, these online lenders can provide financial lifelines to people in a penny pinch.

They’re not ideal. There’s always a cost to borrowing money – even if that cost is just in the form of continuing bad financial habits – but loan apps might be useful in an emergency. Learn more about how loan apps work, the pros and cons, and our top picks for when you find yourself coming up short.

Are There Really Apps That Let You Borrow Money?

Different from online personal loans, loan apps are meant to offer a short-term solution for those in need of a quick money fix – and there are more of them popping up everyday. “There’s always been online financial stuff but this growth in online apps in lending has been remarkable,” said Michael Sullivan, personal financial consultant with Take Charge America, a nonprofit credit counseling and debt management agency.

How Do Loan Apps Work?

In general, loan apps work similarly to payday loans in that they offer borrowers an advance on their future income. Typically, you download the borrow money app, provide access to an external bank account that has direct deposit set up, and within minutes – or sometimes a few hours, depending on the app – you can request a sum of cash.

There is usually some sort of cost for this convenience. Depending on the loan app, you may pay a fee on the amount you borrow, and/or a monthly subscription fee to the lender. Once you take a cash advance, you will usually have to repay the money within a short time frame. This may happen automatically with the loan app taking the borrowed amount plus its fee from you on your next payday. Some apps may let you choose the repayment date.

Pros and Cons of Borrow Money Apps

Pros

  • You can get cash fast. “Most traditional lending sources can take two to three days to get a loan approved,” said Sullivan. “If you’re in a hurry – and a lot of people who need loan apps are in a hurry – you can probably find something that will provide cash the same day.”
  • Apps are easy to use. Start by simply downloading the app, and you’ll be prompted to enter some basic information and your bank account login information. “It usually takes around 10 to 15 minutes, and that can be both a blessing and a curse,” said Vincent Birardi, certified financial planner and wealth advisor at Halbert Hargrove.
  • You’ll have anonymity. For people who find themselves short of funds because of poor planning, there could be a level of embarrassment to have to walk into a bank or ask someone in person to lend them money. “Some people simply don’t want to see someone face-to-face,” said Sullivan.
  • You can comparison shop. When you borrow using online apps, you get a chance to compare offers, and that’s something Sullivan suggests people should take advantage of in order to find the most favorable terms.

Cons

  • The cost is generally high. “Many loan apps seem to have optional tips, donations and all sorts of ways of getting money out of you. Plus interest rates are still very often 150% to 300%,” said Sullivan.
  • You have to provide access to your bank account. “You have to be comfortable sharing personal financial details with one of these apps,” said Birardi. He recommended having a direct conversation with customer support first to get a level of reassurance that the lender is legit.
  • The loan amount is typically low. Loan apps usually cap the lending amount to a couple hundred dollars. If you’re in need of higher amounts, you’ll need to look into a personal loan.
  • Repayment period windows are short. In most cases, the loan apps will take their repayment directly from your bank account on your next payday or within a couple of weeks.

7 Loan Apps to Consider

With dozens of loan apps available online, it can be tough to navigate which one is best for you. To help get you started, here’s a look at seven loan apps that can provide a cash advance.

  • Chime.
  • Dave.
  • Brigit.
  • Albert.
  • EarnIn.
  • MoneyLion.
  • Possible Finance.

Chime: Best For No-Fee Cash Access

Chime is an online banking app that lets you access cash – even when funds are low – if you have a checking account that’s set up with a direct deposit. It offers a fee-free overdraft service (rather than a loan) called SpotMe, which lets you take out up to $200 more after your balance hits zero. When payday rolls around, Chime will take back the amount you borrowed with no interest and no fees. Chime also lets you withdraw paycheck funds up to two days before your direct deposit hits.

Cost: Free.

Dave: Best For Larger Amounts

Dave’s ExtraCash feature offers cash advances up to $500 straight to the Dave Debit Mastercard. Not everyone will qualify for that limit right away, but there are no late fees regardless of how much you borrow.

Cost: Dave charges a $1 monthly membership fee. You’ll also pay $2.99 to $13.99 per cash advance if you want an express transfer to your external bank account.

Brigit: Best For No Late Fees

With Brigit’s Express Delivery, you’ll get up to $250 in minutes for a small fee – but there’s no charge if you wait two to three business days. You can request a payment extension and choose the date of repayment without penalty. Brigit also offers a program to help build credit.

Cost: In addition to a $9.99 monthly fee, express delivery has an additional small fee which is not disclosed.

Albert: Best For a Variety of Financial Tools

Albert is another loan app that provides the option of getting a cash advance instantly for a small fee, or free if you wait two to three days. The borrowing limit is $250. It also offers other features to help you save and invest, such as budgeting and investing tools.

Cost: Albert is free, but there is an upgraded version called Genius that has additional features for $8 per month. There is also a small fee to advance cash instantly, but it’s not disclosed.

EarnIn: Best For Multiple Advances in a Pay Period

EarnIn lets you get an advance up to $750 per pay period, but only up to $100 per day.

Cost: You can choose to add a voluntary tip when you cash out, and fees apply if you choose a “Lightning Speed” transfer rather than waiting the one to two business days.

MoneyLion: Best For Deferred Payment Option

MoneyLion offers cash advances up to $500 with no interest or monthly subscription fee. If you have a paid Credit Builder membership – which costs $19.99 per month – your Instacash limit climbs to a maximum of $700. If you switch your direct deposit to a MoneyLion account, then you can access up to $1,000. If you’re still short on cash once payday rolls around, you can request that your repayment be deferred for up to another two weeks.

Cost: You’ll pay a $1.99 to $8.99 fee for turbo delivery, and be asked to leave an optional tip.

Possible Finance: Best For Longer Repayment

Possible Finance is a cross between a loan app and a personal loan because repayment terms can stretch as far as 12 months out. You can borrow up to $500 instantly and there are no late fees. From there, your payments process automatically from your bank account’s direct deposit. However, you have a grace period of up to 29 days.

Cost: Although specific fees are not disclosed online, in the example provided on the site, a $250 loan costs an additional $44.12.

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