It can be hard to wait for payday, especially when unexpected expenses arise. Employers can solve this problem by providing “earned wage access,” which allows employees the ability to withdraw money from their paychecks before payday.

Although having the ability to access funds as you earn them can be a great company benefit, you might find budgeting more challenging in the long-term. You may also have to pay fees to access your earnings.

What is earned wage access? And what should you consider before applying it?

What’s earned wage access?

EWA (earned wage access) is a benefit offered by companies that allows employees to get a portion of their paychecks before they go out on payday. It’s also known as on-demand pay and is often an option for hourly workers. EWA is part of the benefits offered by companies like Walmart, Amazon, and McDonald’s.

You can get the money in a matter of days or hours, or for a fee, but fees are usually a few dollars. Your next paycheck will be deducted the amount you received early.

What is earned wage access?

  1. The app can be downloaded and linked to a bank account. You will need to link the app to a bank account, or debit card that can deposit the money. This service will usually be tied to your employer’s payroll system. It may also show you how much of your paycheck was earned at each payday.

  2. Ask for a portion of your paycheck. Apps often limit how much you can request for each pay period or day. Common limits are half of your earnings. Your employer might also set restrictions.

  3. Accept the terms and any fees. The app will inform you of the maximum amount and time you can receive it, as well as any transfer fees, when you request an advance. The funds will usually be deposited to your account within one or two business days after you have agreed. Any fees are subtracted.

  4. Receive the remainder of your paycheck on payday. Any amount received in advance will be deducted off your paycheck.

Example Wage access

Let’s say you make $1,000 each week, and Friday is payday. On the Monday before payday, you find out that you need to repair your car unexpectedly. However, you don’t have enough money to pay for it. To fix the car before Friday, you can request some Monday pay if you have earned enough.

Transfer fees may be charged by the app. Make sure you have enough money to cover the cost of your request.

How do you qualify for an earned-wage access service

Apps for earning wage access don’t require hard credit checks. They use your employer’s payroll information to determine how much you can access earlier.

You will need to:

  • You can work for a company offering earned wage access as an employee benefit.

  • Download the EWA App that your employer uses.

  • Link to a bank account, debit card or other financial institution where funds can be sent.

  • In some cases, you may be able to set up direct deposit to qualify for lower transfer fees.

Popular earned-wage access companies

Payactiv is a popular company that offers earned wage access.

  • Payactiv allows employees to access up to half of their daily net earnings for all work days. Transfers can take up to three days. However, employees can transfer funds immediately without a fee or for a fee of $1.99 and $2.99 depending on how the funds are received and whether direct deposit is set up.

  • DailyPay determines the amount of your earnings that can be deposited after you submit a request. You can either transfer funds immediately for a fee or wait for the no-fee option to take place.

  • Even allows employees to access up to half of their next paycheck. Users can also receive funds immediately for a fee. According to the company, transfers can take up to one business day if users don’t wish to pay the fee.

Summary of earn wage access apps

Deposit amount

Time to finance

Earn up to 50% on your daily net earnings.

Disbursement Fee: $0 to $2.99

Within one to three business days.

Get up to 100% of your net income.

Fast funding fee: The amount disclosed when an advance request is made.

Within one to three business days.

Get up to 50% off your next paycheck.

Fast funding fee: The amount disclosed when an advance request is made.

One business day.

The pros and cons of Earned Wage Access

It’s wise to weigh the pros and con of an earned wage access app.


  • Quick access to cash. Usually, you can access a portion of your paycheck within days. In some cases, it may even be available immediately.

  • There are many apps that charge low or no fees. Others charge a flat fee for transfers, and others charge a fee to transfer faster. These fees are usually less than $10 and therefore cheaper than payday loans or high-interest loans.

  • There are no income or credit requirements. Other borrowing options, such as personal loans and credit cards, require credit checks and applications. EWA services do not check credit.


  • You will get a smaller paycheck if you take your earnings earlier. Your paycheck may not be enough to pay bills that have been set up for autopay.

  • A new behavior. EWA can be a good option for an emergency. However, consumer advocates warn that taking money out of your paycheck before payday could lead to a bad habit.

  • Overdraft fees.

Earned Wage Access vs. Cash Advance Apps

There is some overlap between cash advance apps like Dave or Brigit and earned wage access. Both offer paycheck advances but work in a different way.

These are the main similarities and differences.


No credit check: EWA and cash advance applications do not conduct any credit checks.

EWA apps are limited to small borrowing amounts. You can only borrow up to 50% of your earnings and your employer’s pay cycles. While cash advance apps typically limit advances to $200, some can reach $500.

Quick funding: EWA and cash advance applications provide quick funds — often within a few days. However, users can sometimes get funds quicker for a fee.


Employer involvement: To provide the benefit, your employer must partner with an EWA App. Your employer does not need to approve cash advance apps.

Cash access requirements: EWA must be linked to your paycheck. This allows the app to decide how much cash you can deposit. The app may have restrictions on the number of employees that can be taken by your employer. The amount you can borrow from a cash advance app depends on the cash flow in your linked bank account.

Fees: EWA apps will likely have lower fees than cash advance apps. EWA apps can charge a fast-funding fee or transfer fee. Cash advance apps on the other side charge almost always a fast-funding fee. Some require monthly subscription fees.


The Financial Health Network’s April 2021 study found that 70% of people who used cash advance apps and earned wage access to request advances in consecutive weeks. The behavior of payday loan borrowing is consistent, even though the study did not conclude how it affected users’ finances.

Popular cash advance

Loan amount

Speed without having to pay a fee

Fast-funding Fee

Other charges

$100-$750 max.

1 to 3 days.


Maximum $500.

Takes up to 3 days.


1 monthly membership fee.

1 to 3.

Not disclosed.

$9.99 per month subscription fee.

$8 per month subscription fee.

1 to 3 days.