Is Earnin a Legit Money App?

July 29, 2019


You may have seen the cheesy online ads.  Despite the lack of inspiration from its ads, there is more to this money app that can benefit your household than you might think.  

Having first seen its online ads, I immediately dismissed it as another payday lender looking to charge high-interest rates.  A few weeks later, I stumbled across the ad again while browsing YouTube.  I figured it should be worth a look just in case questions come upon this app.  

Some reviews have labeled this app as an alternate payday lender.  Some described it as a non-traditional credit card.  Neither of these claims is accurate, and here is why.





Is Earnin a Safe App?

According to Earnin's website, the firm does not sell your data.  However, data from your banking transactions, such as purchases from your bank account, may be used if you enrolled in their Earnin Cash Back Rewards.

Their rewards system is very similar to most other programs.  When you make purchases from select stores, you will earn cashback based upon an agreed percentage by Earnin and the store.  Cashback rewards may take from 3-5 days to deposit into your checking account rather than sit in escrow until your account reaches a particular dollar limit.  This is a benefit.

Because Earnin links your bank account to its direct deposit and cashback rewards, security is a must.  Their website does claim to use bank-level security and encryption practices to ensure your information is safe and secure into a "PCI Level secured environment." 

To also maintain users' privacy, Earnin never asks for social security numbers and does not check credit scores.  The firm meets compliance for US privacy and data security laws.


Why Earnin Isn't a Payday Lender.



Is Earnin similar to payday lenders?  This question is most often asked by consumers.  While its marketing department could use some creative and talented workforce to improve its image, Earnin isn't a payday lender.  

A payday lender is "a company that lends customers small amounts of money at high-interest rates, on the agreement that the loan will be repaid when the borrower receives their next paycheck."

Some may label the company as an "early wage access provider" similar to PayActiv, DailyPay, and FlexWage.  

With the advertising claims of "Earnin app gives you access to the money you've earned today", it's why the "New York State Department of Financial Services launched an investigation of the firm over concerns it may be skirting state lending laws" according to the  5  The case is still open in New York but you may contact the company at for any latest inquiries.  

However, the National Consumer Law Center did state that "Earnin is not in the same category" as early wage access providers.    

The most significant controversy of why it isn't a payday lender is its claims to collect neither fees nor charge interest rates.  Payday lenders charge interest, and typically the amount is significantly higher than what a bank would charge a consumer.  

Earnin asks for tips which the company calls "tipping".  Tipping is the controversial piece because some claim the company disguises its fees and interest as "tipping", but this is not the case.  When you dine out and receive your check after eating your meal, the amount you tip is at your discretion.  The same principle applies here.  


If you ask Earnin to deposit $100 into your banking account, you designate the amount of the tip from $0 to whatever amount you feel was of value to their service.  Tipping is not required.  If it avoids an overdraft banking charge of $35, isn't it worth a tip?  

A $35 overdraft fee on $100 is 35% compared to tipping $2, or 2%.  You tell me.  

Technically, you can borrow free money.  There are some claims by the article of app users not leaving a tip and having their credit restricted because of not tipping.  The article doesn't highlight where the information derived or has any validity of users having their credit restricted.

Besides, Earnin never collects users social security numbers, driver's license numbers, or FICO scores.  Having been a banker last decade, I can see why this "hidden" source would make such an unevidenced claim.  Afterall, are bankers anxious about a lending app that doesn't charge interest, fees, or hidden costs?  

Usually, restricting credit requires at least your social security number.    

Can You Get Paid Today With Earnin?


With a community-driven financial platform, users tip money for services they have received based on what they believe is of value for the service.  By paying it forward, the community helps one another meet short-term monetary needs or avoid pending charges that may result in overdraft charges.

The majority of users will receive their deposit within 24 hours if not sooner once requirements are met.  Such requirements are:
1.  Bank Account Information
2.  Employer Location Verified (verify on Earnin's map)
3.  Copy of Pay Stub (Scan and upload)

The items above may change as the company matures but go to to get the learn the latest requirements.



If approved for Earnin's Lightning Speed which is a faster option of getting paid, the Earnin app will pay you in seconds after verifying your debit card information versus waiting one business day.

How Does Earnin Make Money?
Indeed, Earnin doesn't charge you fees, interest, nor will you pay hidden costs.  You might be thinking, "Well, how does this company make money, then?"

It is a community-driven platform that asks for donations (tipping) with each deposit made to your account.  The amount you choose to tip is up to your discretion.  Choose an amount that you can comfortably afford, as well as how much value you believe you receive from their service.  

How Can Earnin Save You Money?



There may be moments in a household budget where an overdraft charge hits one's bank account.  According to the New York Post, "Consumers paid a whopping $34.3 billion in overdraft fees in 2017."  These fees are the highest amount paid in the US since the country's recession last decade.

Bankrate reports the average overdraft fee for a bank account is $33.23.  Earnin can assist your household in avoiding overdraft fees by automatically depositing a dollar amount, such as $100, if your bank account drops below a designated dollar threshold you have determined within the app.    

For example, you can establish a rule in the app to deposit $100 from Earnin if your bank account drops below $200.  Typically within 24 hours, your bank account will reflect the $100 deposit from Earnin.  




After you inform Earnin the date of when your paychecks are deposited, Earnin will deduct $100 (or the amount you have established) on that payday or a day after.

Using this app can help you to avoid late charges and fees from other bills as well.  Sometimes households struggle for quick cash to pay their bills on time.  Charges from credit cards for late fees can be expensive, and you can avoid paying late fees by getting a short-term deposit.  

Earnin App Reviews





Before downloading any app to a smartphone, always read a few reviews.  By reading a few of the really good reviews and a few of the bad reviews, you can obtain a certain understanding of how other users interacted with it.  

Reviewing the Earnin app with over 75,000 reviews, it currently has 4.6 out of 5 stars as of the writing of this blog.  That is a respectable rating and informs smartphone users that the app is popular.  With over three-fourths of the ratings getting 5 stars, it appears users are enjoying the features.

Having downloaded the app myself to test it out, the app informs users they can initially get up to $100 a day but only for those who have an established direct deposit bank account in which their employer deposits weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly.  


Earnin is a great app to obtain an interest-free loan to meet small short-term demands.  If you find yourself in this situation, it may be a result from not budgeting and managing your money properly so I recommend you review our Budgeting Tab found under Education to learn more.

Also, this highlights the importance of establishing an emergency fund to meet emergent necessities that may arise.  In any case, Earnin is a legit financial app that helps its community obtain quick deposits of cash but these amounts must be repaid so it is essentially a loan (not pay that you have earned).

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