Need Money Now? This Free App Pays You for the Hours You Worked Today

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Twiddling your thumbs and waiting around for payday isn’t the most pleasant experience.

And when you think about it, it’s not really fair. You put in your 40 hours last week — maybe even some overtime — but now you’re waiting another week for that paycheck?

And rent’s due. You’re calling it entirely too close on your electric bill, and you just don’t want to have to pay those late fees again.

Or maybe you have a surprise vet bill threatening to go to collections or need $100 to get an emergency plane ticket to visit your family.

OK, so you don’t have a ton of options we can (legally) recommend. But you’re not totally out of luck just yet.

A Few Ways to Get Paid Before Payday

A lot of people opt for a payday loan. By a lot, we’re talking 12 million Americans.

However, payday loans are just a quick fix, one that’s sent many people spiraling into a financially unhealthy cycle, owing 400% in interest in some cases.

(If you’re already in that rut, we’ve got five tips to help you find relief.)

Another option is simply hustling hard for some extra money. We corralled 10 ways to make money within the next 24 hours. Nope, they’re not all glamorous, and they’ll all take some hard work, but you can get the money you need.

Other than that, what else can you do?

Well, there’s a new financial tech company aiming to eliminate this frantic, downward-spiral feeling. It wants to pay workers when they work — not at the end of a paycheck cycle.

How to Get Paid Before Payday (Without a Payday Loan)

Enter Earnin.

The idea behind the program is to pay employees for the work they’ve already done— and when they want it. Rather than waiting for their next payday, employees can use Earnin to go ahead and get paid for, say, the eight hours they already worked today.

It also works for salaried workers, as long as they’re not working from home or moving between several locations for work.

The idea sparked with Ram Palaniappan back in 2007 when he wrote a personal check to an employee to help them avoid racking up late fees. That’s when he realized how unfair the two-week pay cycle is, which was established back when everything was done manually.

So Palaniappan built a website to help his employees. Now, as of 2012, his idea has become available nationally.

Thousands of employees from Apple, Bank of America, Chipotle, Home Depot, Starbucks, Target, Whole Foods — you name it — are using the service to avoid getting wrapped up in late fees and overdraft fees. (Banks collected $6.4 billion in fees last year.)

Now, with anything like this, we recommend not using it as crutch. Think of it more as a temporary brace to help you to get to the next month and position yourself to break that paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.

Step-by-Step, Here’s How Earnin Work

In order to use Earnin, you’ll need to meet a few requirements.

These include:

  • Direct deposits from your employer into a checking account
  • A regular pay schedule (weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, monthly)
  • A fixed work location or an online timekeeping system at work.

Is that you? Go ahead and download the Earnin app.

You’ll create a username and password, as well as a touch ID and a four-digit PIN.

A note on security: Earnin has strict security measures, like 256-bit encryption. If you don’t know what that means, it’s on the same level of security — if not more secure — than what your online bank uses.

Next, you’ll need to give Earnin access to your location, so it can see when you’re coming and going to work — that you’re actually going. You can also opt in for notifications, so you’ll know when your pay is available.

Now you’ll want to set up your information, including the timesheet system your workplace uses, as well as your payday information. You’ll also need to connect your bank account (you know, so you can get paid).

Within one to two days, you’ll be good to go.

On your dashboard, you can see your Earnin earnings, which is based on how many hours you’ve put in. You can choose to cash out at any time.

Do note, though, that if you make, say, $10 an hour, your Earnin pay will likely be a little lower. That’s because it calculates in your taxes and deductions. That way, once payday comes around and Earnin automatically takes back what you’ve already claimed, it won’t leave you in the red.

And no, Earnin doesn’t charge interest or require fees. If you’re feeling kind, you can choose to tip the service, but the amount is your call.

If you’re in a crunch this month and want to go ahead and get paid for the hours you’ve already put in, Earnin can be the perfect temporary fix. (But remember, we want you to break this paycheck-to-paycheck cycle!)

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She wishes this service had been around when she was in college…

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