Katy writes honest reviews of the latest services with an eye for budget and practicality.
Is Earnin a Scam?
Earnin seems like a good deal: they give you an advance on your paycheck. There's no fees. That can be a lifesaver when you’re living paycheck to paycheck. But, as you can imagine, that can also lead to even worse money habits.
How do you know if Earnin is a good idea or a total scam? The truth is somewhere in the middle and it’s going to vary from person to person.
Using the app might be right for you but it’s important to understand some warnings first. Also, the app puts restrictions on when you can pull out money early. Read on to see my review and learn the limitations.
Pros and Cons of Earnin
Whether or not taking out money before your check comes is a good idea, let’s look at the app itself.
- The app is easy to use.
- You get your money quickly (within one business day of requesting it).
- It helps you avoid being late on bills or payments.
- You can’t talk to customer service.
- They don’t always tell you why they lower your limit.
The initial setup required is pretty tedious, especially when you are in need of money quickly. But considering your funds and financial security are involved, the inconvenience is understandable. You have to give them your checking account info (routing and account number).
Technically, Earnin gives you access to your money for free. They do allow you to give them a “tip” from your funds if you want, but that’s not required.
You still need to be careful about avoiding overdraft fees from your bank; they’re not responsible if you balance goes negative.
Earnin lets you withdraw from $100 to $500 in adance from your paycheck. Where you fall on that spectrum depends on your financial history and how much you earn. You can only withdraw $100 a day, so any needs over $100 will have to be spaced out.
Here are some drawbacks to using Earnin:
- They control the limit you can withdraw.
- It’s difficult to talk to customer service if there’s a problem.
- You’re still responsible for any overdraft fees from your bank.
- It can enable poor financial habits, like spending money before you earn it.
Conventional financial wisdom holds true here: everyone should save up for an emergency fund. Once you save up a stash of a few months of expenses, you’ll be able to handle the next financial crisis in your life without relying on an app.
Having access to your money a week or two early obviously has some major benefits. Everyone has had that small emergency when you absolutely need money you don’t have. Usually it’s a car repair, but sometimes it’s a family emergency or simply not budgeting enough for bills.
The biggest benefit I see is using Earnin’s app to avoid taking out a payday loan. When you have to choose between missing a payment and paying the penalties or taking out a payday loan, getting a free advance on your paycheck looks like a really great alternative.
The interest you pay on Earnin is 0%. Since they don’t charge anything, you’re getting early access to your paycheck without paying any interest. Compare this to the almost 400% interest rate of the average payday loan, according to CNBC.
Obviously Earnin could save you a great deal of money when you need it the most. It's not a loan because you're using money you've already earned. This takes the risk out of it for low-income users who struggle to pay back what they borrow.
Criticism of Earnin
In the video below, Jonathan C Whitney gives his perspective on Earnin. He talks about how Earnin works with your bank account and some of the common problems.
Legit or Not?
So bottom line: is Earnin a scam?
It’s actually a legit service. I see payday loans as a scam, as well as credit cards that are marketed to the financially irresponsible, but Earnin gives you a free way to access money you've already earned.
But an app like this can so easily be misused. Just like credit cards, there’s a responsible way to use paycheck advances, and it is easy to use Earnin irresponsibly.
What do you think about the Earnin app? Let us know in the comments.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2019 Katy Medium