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Best 4 loan apps for bad credit alternatives to Payday Cash Advances

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One of the best ways to forego the outrageous 400%+ APRs charged by traditional payday cash advances is using loan apps like Dave, MoneyLion, SoLo, and Brigit. They offer many benefits, including 0% interest (up until your next paycheck), flawless app/bank account integration, and excellent customer support. 

 Keep reading to learn more about why loan apps for bad credit are a viable alternative to cash advance loans, including our top four recommended loan apps, their pros/cons, and best practices on how to find the best provider for your financial situation. 

Dave 

dave 

 

In business since 2017, Dave is one of the more popular banking apps we’ve covered. 

One of its biggest draws is its ExtraCash advance feature, which allows you to borrow up to $500 in less than five minutes with 0% interest or late fees. You can pay for everything from food to groceries to insurance payments using instant cash advances. Another popular benefit is its Side Hustle feature, which allows users to find gigs paying up to $37 an hour. 

 With more than $2.5b saved in overdraft fees for its members, we highly recommend Dave for its quick sign-up, higher-than-average maximum advance amount ($500), and no interest or late fees that break the bank. 

 Pros 
  •  Lower interest than instant cash advances 
  • Predictive alerts to avoid overdraft fees 
  • Variety of repayment options 
  • Financial wellness tools (e.g., Goals Account to track your savings) 
  • Accounts FDIC-insured up to $250,000 
 Cons 
  •  Requires monthly subscription ($1)  
  • Limited advance amounts for first-timers 
  • No overdraft protection 
  • Daily withdrawal limits are not accessible everywhere 
  • Short repayment term 

SoLo 

solo

 

 

Unlike traditional cash advance apps like Brigit, and Dave, Los Angeles-based SoLo Funds is a peer-to-peer cash advance network that relies on its community of lenders to issue loans. Instead of financial institutions, it depends on individuals looking to earn interest by borrowing money from others. 

It offers higher-than-average cash advances of up to $575 with no mandatory fees and the ability to choose your repayment date, providing greater flexibility when repaying your loan. Approvals take longer than average (up to three business days) 

Thanks to its unique structure, we encourage you to use SoLo only after you’ve exhausted the other loan apps in this guide. 

Pros 

  •  Easy qualifying criteria 
  • Cash advances up to $575 
  • Ability to choose repayment date 
  • Intuitive and easy-to-use smartphone app 

 Cons 

  •  Late fee of 10% of the transaction amount 
  • Required to pay back advance within 35 days 
  • Up to three business days of funding time 
  • It relies on SoLo score to determine how much to advance 

Brigit 

brigit

 

 

 

Brigit and its Instant Cash feature have served hundreds of thousands of users looking for quick emergency cash with low fees and a suite of helpful budgeting and credit-building tools. 

 Advances on the platform go up to $250. Instead of paying a tip, Brigit users pay a low-cost $9.99 monthly subscription that allows you to take out as many concurrent advances as possible. Funding fees also go anywhere from $0.99 to $3.99, depending on the processing time, which can take as little as 20 minutes. Like most loan apps, funds are repaid by your next payday. 

 We highly recommend Brigit if you need to cover quick emergency expenses with a carefully planned plan to repay it by your next paycheck. 

 Pros 

  •  Excellent for emergency expenses 
  • Budgeting and financial tools around spending behavior 
  • Offers a credit builder loan (up to $600 as a 24-month installment) 
  • On-time payments reported to credit bureaus 
  • Auto advance (overdraft protection) feature for paying subscribers 

 Cons 

  •  First-timers not eligible for max amount 
  • Lower-than-average maximum advance amount ($250) 
  • More rigid criteria than most providers (e.g., at least 60 days of checking account activity required)  

 MoneyLion 

moneylion 

 

Based in New York City, MoneyLion’s InstaCash program offers cash advances from $10 to $500 with no overdraft fees and the ability to extend your repayment date. As of today, it has earned more than 100,000 reviews across the Apple Store and Google Play, establishing a healthy reputation along the way. 

 To qualify, you must visit the MoneyLion site and credit profile, connect a bank account, and follow all on-screen instructions to request an advance with a maximum of $100 taken out at a time. 

 If you can stomach the higher-than-average fees (up to $8.99 for a $100 advance) and longer than usual processing time, then MoneyLion is an excellent place to start.  

 Pros 

  •  0% APR cash advances of up to $500 
  • Excellent budgeting and credit building tools 
  • Free Moneylion banking investment account access 
  • Offers credit builder loans with 5.99%-29.99% APRs 
  • No mandatory fees and no credit check 

 Cons 

  •  Up to $8.99 for a $100 advance 
  • Not the most intuitive smartphone app 
  • Standard delivery takes up to five business days 
  • Fees vary depending on the loan amount  
  • Does not report on-time payments to credit bureaus 

 What are loan apps and how do they work? 

 

Also referred to as lending apps or cash advance apps, Brigit, MoneyLion, Dave, and SoLo have become popular in recent years thanks to their offer of quick emergency cash access for subprime borrowers. They have much looser eligibility requirements than banks and credit unions, promising 0% interest, no late fees, overdraft protection, and budgeting tools to help you become more financially savvy. 

 Here’s how loan apps work: 

 Download and Registration. The first step is to visit the loan app site, Apple Store, or Google Play page to download the loan app. All users must register and link an active bank account, with additional profile verification to verify identity via government-issued ID, driver’s license, or equivalent.  

 Loan Application. Once you have completed the registration process, you can submit a loan application, requesting a specific loan amount and repayment schedule. 

 Disbursement. Once a cash advance is approved, each loan app manages the disbursement of funds differently. For example, MoneyLion’s InstaCash program automatically deducts the loan amount from your checking account on the next due date or agreed-upon deposit cycle at 0% interest. Regarding pricing models, it also varies, e.g., Brigit’s $9.99 monthly membership versus Earnin’s voluntary tips of up to $14. 

 Usually, there are two processing options. One is free standard delivery (up to five business days) or same-day/next-day delivery for a small expediting fee up to $8.99, more or less based on the loan amount.  

 Lastly, the best loan apps for bad credit offer multiple repayment options, including but not limited to bank transfers, automatic bank account deductions, and even in-app rewards. 

 Privacy and Security. All of our recommended loan apps place a heavy emphasis on privacy and security. For example, all MoneyLion accounts are FDIC insured up to $250,000, and Dave promises never to share your data with any third parties. 

 Second, secure online forms offer 256-bit SSL encryption bank-level technology to safeguard your data. Plus, https:// protocols ensures you have not landed on a phishing site designed to steal all of your data.  

 All in all, our recommended mobile lending platforms work similarly, with exceptions for expediting fees, processing times, maximum advance amounts, and qualification criteria. 

Do loan apps work for people with bad credit? 

 Yes, loan apps are designed for people with bad credit for the following reasons: 

 Alternative Eligibility Criteria. Mobile banking apps like SoLo and MoneyLion focus on your income and debt-to-income ratio (DTI) rather than your credit score. All loan proceeds are dispersed proportionately to in-app activity, with first-timers seeing the lowest amounts and regular customers seeing the highest amounts.  

Small Loan Amounts. Expect small to medium loan amounts of up to $100 per day or $750 per pay period. Remember, loan apps are intended to address short-term emergency cash needs, e.g., overdue medical bills or emergency babysitting, not finance large purchases like home renovations and $3,500 auto repairs.  

 Alternative to 300%+ APRs. With traditional payday and auto title neighborhood shops charging upwards of 300% APRs with nefarious extension or rollover fees, it is no wonder state statutes now limit the maximum borrowing amounts, finance charges, and repayment terms payday lenders can impose. No wonder we’re big fans of loan apps with 0% interest and flexible fee policies.  

 Reporting Positive Payment Behavior. One often overlooked benefit of loan apps for bad credit is reporting on-time payments to one or more of the three major credit reporting bureaus Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.  

 With payment history accounting for 35% of your FICO score, responsible use of loan apps can bump your score up. 

 In short, loan apps offer looser eligibility criteria, smaller loan amounts, and ability to report on-time payments to credit bureaus. These are three competitive advantages other types of online lenders may lack. 

Can loan apps be an alternative to payday cash advances? 

 Yes, loan apps are an excellent alternative to instant cash advances for the following reasons: 

 Budgeting Tools. Some loan apps offer robust budgeting and credit building tools. For example, Brigit’s Credit Builder allows users to build credit by contributing as little as $1 and as much as $25 a month towards savings with no credit approval and no required upfront deposit. Consider it a 24-month loan with a locked deposit account. 

 All payments are reported to Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion to help build your score.  

 Expediting Fees. In exchange for a small expediting fee, funds can be disbursed to your bank account the same day or by the next business day. Often, it depends on the disbursed amount, with higher advances incurring higher fees, usually up to $8.99. 

 In turn, traditional payday loans offer same-day funding but inflexibility with the actual process, requiring post-dated checks in the amount of loan proceeds, which are withdrawn on your next payday with no overdraft protections. 

 Ability to Choose Repayment Dates. Some loan apps allow you to choose your repayment date. It’s an excellent alternative over payday loans that offer inflexible repayment terms designed to provoke extension or rollover fees of up to $69 for the simple privilege of having an additional two weeks to repay.  

 Accessibility via Technology. One of the biggest draws of loan apps over payday advances is quick disbursement methods. With loan apps, all you need to do is link the provider with your bank account, facilitating automated withdrawals and payouts. 

 In turn, traditional payday advances rely on post-dated checks in the amounts of the loan proceeds plus any applicable finance charges, which are withdrawn on the borrower’s next payday. It’s an administrative hassle issuing checks. Not to mention, checks for remitting payment are less popular than they used to be. 

 Favorable Reviews. Our recommended loan apps have combined hundreds of thousands of four and five-star reviews across the App Store and Google Play. For example, Brigit has achieved an average 4.7-star rating across more than 400,000 reviews on both platforms, whereas Dave has earned an average 4.8 rating across more than 650,000 reviews on the App Store. 

 It’s implausible that you will find this number of favorable reviews by local, instant cash advance place customers! 

 In short, helpful budgeting tools, quick disbursement, the ability to choose repayment dates, accessibility and favorable reviews are five reasons you should opt for loan apps like Dave and Brigit over payday advances. 

 What are payday advances?  

 Also called payday loans or instant cash advances, payday advances are 400%+ APR, short-term loans of up to $500, repaid in two to four weeks or with your next paycheck (depending on the provider). 

 Over the past few decades, the reputation of payday advances has taken a severe hit thanks to their predatory lending practices and propensity for additional fees. They are only intended to cover immediate expenses like unexpected childcare expenses, paycheck gaps, and auto repairs. 

 One hallmark of payday advances is rollover/extension options. Rollovers allow borrowers to extend repayment terms by up to two weeks in exchange for a fee not topping $69. Ultimately, any extensions will incur additional finance charges, further placing borrowers into a vicious debt cycle. 

 To better understand how unfair payday advances are, consider the following loan example. Imagine you have $1,000 with a four-week (28-day) repayment term. Assuming a $490% annual percentage rate (APR) and two $29 extension fees, the total cost of borrowing with extension fees would be $1,197.45, of which $1,139.45 is the total repayment amount and $58 in total extension fees. 

Pros and cons of payday loans 

 Although critically acclaimed for accessibility and speed, payday loans are mainly known for their outrageous 400% APRs and short repayment terms, a recipe for disaster. 

 Here are the pros and cons of payday loans: 

Pros 

 No Required Collateral. Frequently, secured loan borrowers need to put collateral worth thousands and thousands of dollars on the line to hedge against loan default. Unlike these loans, instant cash advance loans do not require collateral. 

 No Minimum Required Credit Score. Arguably, payday loans are the easiest loan types to be approved for. Most payment lenders need to perform credit checks. Instead, eligibility is based on your ability to repay using your income and debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, with a preference towards people earning a minimum of $800 a month (lending networks). 

 Quick Access to Funds. One of the fastest ways to secure emergency cash is through payday loans. Your local, instant cash advance place could issue some money within minutes, an excellent way to address urgent financial needs. However, as mentioned, 400%+ APRs, short two to four-week repayment windows, and constant extension/rollover fees are not worth it. 

Cons 

 Sky High Interest Rates. Payday loans are notorious for 400% + APRs and costly extension and rollover fees. To illustrate how predatory payday loans are, consider this representative example of a $500 payday loan with a two-week repayment window. With a $15 fee for every $100 borrowed, total finance charges come out to $75, which is outrageously high compared to standard 15% to 31% credit card variable APRs. 

 Extension/Rollover Fees. Hitting already debt-trap weary borrowers or extension and rollover fees, applied whenever borrowers cannot repay the entire outstanding balance by the due date. These extend your repayment window by at least two weeks, and fees range from $15 to $69, depending on the lender and its policies. When APRs are already 400%+, this additional finance charge is burdensome. 

 No Overdraft Protection. Unlike loan apps that provide overdrafts and financial safety nets when accounts are at or are close to a $0 balance, payday loans do not prevent overdrafts by regulating withdrawals or issuing notifications/alerts. 

 Aggressive Marketing Tactics. Unfortunately, many traditional cash advance places need more transparency. From misleading advertising to aggressive online marketing, payday loan companies have expanded their reach with dishonest practices such as requesting upfront fees for guaranteed rates and conducting late-night pressure sales calls. 

 Fortunately, the lending industry has come a long way in recent years with the introduction of state statutes that limit the maximum APRs, finance charges, and repayment terms offered by payday lenders. Remember, some states even ban payday loans outright. 

 However, the opportunity for payday lenders to engage in misleading tactics remains, and it’s essential to identify all the signs. 

 Are payday cash advances legit in my state? 

 Whether or not instant cash advances are legit in your state depends on your state’s payday loan laws. Every state has rules and regulations to protect consumers, governing limits to maximum loan amounts, finance charges, repayment periods, and the number of payments taken out at any time. 

 For example, Michigan’s payday lenders can issue loans of up to $600 with a minimum 31-day repayment term and no more than 15% in fees on the first $100 borrowed, followed by lower percentages on the second, third, fourth, and fifth $100. 

 In turn, Nevada payday lenders can issue loans valued up to 25% of the borrower’s gross monthly income with a maximum 35-day loan term and finance charges not exceeding $16.67 for every 14-day $100 loan. On top of that, applying for an extension can only occur once every 12 months with a required 7-day “cooling period” after taking out 5+ consecutive loans. 

 As for New York, payday lending is illegal, with a 25% interest rate cap, enough to discourage payday lenders from operating in the region. 

 To learn more about your state’s payday loan laws, visit the National Conference of State Legislatures Payday Lending State Statutes page or contact your state’s regulatory agency. 

 Tips to find the best loan apps 

 Not all loan apps are considered equal. From varying reputations, interest rates, fees, user reviews, terms, and networks of partner retailers/merchants, each has its advantages and disadvantages. 

 Here are five strategies on how to find the best loan app for your needs: 

What do you need?  

 Before anything else, find out why you are considering a loan app. Are you looking to cover a paycheck gap? Does a $750 hospital bill need to have been paid yesterday? First, be mindful of maximum borrowing limits and fees, as loan apps are only good to issue up to $100 per day or $750 per pay period. 

 It is also an excellent time to determine your eligibility. Some loan apps have stricter standards than others. For example, Brigit requires that you have a checking account at least 60 days old and meet a threshold for monthly recurring deposits. 

Read the fine print 

 We highly recommend fully immersing yourself in each loan app’s fine print. Be sure to understand the implications of non-payment fully, any applicable late fees, and the type of income that will help you qualify.  

 Additionally, learn about how advances are done. First-timers are unlikely to qualify for a maximum borrowing limit. For example, MoneyLion requires that you make consistent and on-time deposits to unlock additional InstaCash. Additionally, Brigit uses a proprietary scoring system from 40 to 100 to determine creditworthiness, where the highest cash advances go to the highest-scoring members. 

Research and compare 

 Start your loan app search by researching and comparing a minimum of three loan apps, understanding all essential features, finance charges, and installment plans. 

 For example, research will reveal that Dave charges a $1 monthly subscription, Brigit charges $9.99, and Earnin accepts voluntary tips from $0 to $14. If you’re only taking out one cash advance a month, then Earnin may make more sense. Secondly, eligibility criteria vary. Whereas Earnin requires full or part-time employment with regular income (with advances based on a percentage of your wages), Dave focuses on recurring direct deposits and other variables. 

Reputation 

 Perform a quick check of the app’s reputation. One of the best ways to do it is by paying attention to third-party user reviews, especially from the Apple Store and Google Play. For example, the Dave mobile app has an average of 4.3 stars across close to 500,000 reviews (10 million downloads) in the Google Play Store, which are exceptional numbers! 

Watch out for privacy and security 

 Remember to consider security and privacy measures designed to safeguard your personal and financial information. 

 One of the ways to do this is by checking for data encryption, privacy policies, and user authentication: 

 Data Encryption. One security protocol loan apps like SoLo, MoneyLion, and Brigit use is Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption, which makes your personal information on your device and the app servers non-decipherable. Additionally, your website browser’s address bar will display ‘https/’ and padlock sign, an indicator that you have not landed on a phishing site and that all of your data is being transmitted correctly. 

 Privacy Policies. We only recommend apps that have robust privacy policies in place, which inform users about how their personal and financial data is collected, used, and shared with third-party partners. Kudos to any provider that allows you to customize settings or even opt out entirely. 

 User Authentication. Another important aspect of security and privacy is user authentication. User authentication protocols ensure that only intended users are using the app. Two methods are multi-factor authentication (MFA) and two-factor authentication (2FA). This means providing more than one form of identification to login, which may use one or more of a combination of a mobile device and an email notification with a 6-digit code. 

 Frequently asked questions 

 What are the costs and fees associated with loan apps? 

 Every app has its fee structure. Either they are based on a monthly subscription or voluntary tip model. Brigit charges a monthly $9.99 subscription for unlimited cash advances (one at a time) and full access to its credit building and budgeting tools. 

 In turn, Earnin accepts voluntary tips of up to $14 for every advance. However, we highly caution against offering such a generous tip, as $14 on a $100 advance would calculate APRs similar to payday loans. 

 What are the eligibility requirements for loan apps? 

 Like cost and fees, eligibility requirements depend on the loan app. 

 However, all require that you are at least 18 years of age with a stable financial history, a downloaded smartphone app, a linked bank account, and a verifiable source of income (proved using pay stubs, tax returns, or electronic timesheets. 

 To learn your preferred loan after that you better criteria, visit the website. 

 How do loan apps manage repayments? 

 All loan apps offer one or more repayment options. The most popular repayment option deducts loan proceeds from your link bank account by an agreed-upon date or with your next paycheck, with late fees and interest accruing on the outstanding balance and paid outside of the repayment window. 

 If you have difficulty paying off a cash advance, contact your loan app customer service support team. They may be able to modify repayment dates. 

 What are Brigit’s eligibility requirements? 

 Brigit’s eligibility requirements are slightly stricter than those of SoLo, MoneyLion, and Dave. For starters, you must have three consecutive recurring deposits from the same employer meeting a specific threshold amount. In addition, you must have a checking account valid for a minimum of 60 days with daily use, keeping a balance above $0. 

 Lastly, it would help to have an available balance the day you receive your recurring deposit. 

 For more information on Brigit’s eligibility requirements, visit their homepage. 

 Conclusion 

 In short, loan apps like SoLo, Brigit, and MoneyLion are excellent alternatives to traditional payday loans. From 0% interest rates to flexible repayment options, users have quicker access to funds (as little as the same business day) and additional tools like budgeting (Brigit) and Side Hustle job search (Dave) to make you more financially prepared. Do not hesitate to research and compare all four of our recommended loan apps to find the best one for your financial situation. 

 


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