Branch is one of the growing list of paycheck advance companies - also known as a cash advance app. Branch sets itself up as being an alternative to a payday loan. It charges a simple flat fee (or even free) depending on how much of a paycheck advance you need, and how you'd like to access your funds.
Branch relies on technology to help determine how much you can access, and it will disqualify you if you have too many overdrafts or other issues.
So, is it worth it? Read more in our Branch review and see how it compares to the other popular cash advance apps.
- Zero-interest cash advances on your paycheck
- Helps you build good financial habits
- Instant cash advances are free to a Branch debit card
What Is the Branch App?
The company behind Branch is Branch Messenger, Inc., and is an evolution of its forerunner called Branch Messenger. The company started life as a way for employers to communicate with each other, then morphed into a schedule manager. It still does both of those tasks, but has added advanced paycheck payments with the aim of improving “financial wellness for hourly employees.”
Branch Messenger, Inc. is located in Minneapolis, MN. The CEO is Atif Siddiqi.
Branch is not a bank. To provide banking services, it has partnered with Evolve Bank & Trust, a member of the FDIC. Additionally, it uses a fintech company called Dwolla, Inc. for payment processing services.
“We’ve seen that once an hourly employee joins the workforce, their employer is their first entry into the financial system,” said Siddiqi in a press release. “Most traditional financial services actually make it more challenging for hourly workers to balance their finances, whether it’s expensive overdraft fees or minimum balance requirements. Given their income volatility and limited access to the support they need, we want to provide hourly workers a strong start on their financial journey and offer services that help them improve their financial wellness and save.”
What Do They Offer?
Branch allows employees to take advances against their paychecks. Rather than going to a payday lender, which can charge several hundred percentage points of interest, employees can turn to Branch for a 0.00% advance on their check. The advance can be used for whatever the employee needs and is not disclosed to their employer.
Branch can be used through their website at https://www.branchapp.com or the mobile app, which is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. On the App Store, Branch has a 4.7/5.0 from 22.6K ratings. On the Google Play store, it has a 4.25/5.0 from 6,863 ratings.
In addition to cash advances, Branch allows workers to message each other, even away from work, to help build relationships. It also allows workers to schedule more work as available from their employer. More hours worked helps increase the amount they can advance.
Branch is only available if the worker’s employer signs up. Otherwise, workers can sign up to Branch’s waitlist and be notified if the employer signs up as well.
How does Branch work? Before taking an advance, workers need to use direct deposit to send two months of pay through Branch. After signing up for Branch, workers connect their checking account. They can also receive payments on a Branch Debit Card. There are no fees for these services.
Bonus: Branch has teamed up with Mastercard for their debit card, so you can now use it with Google Pay and Android Pay. Even more - you can enable it immediately via the app and don't have to wait for your card to come in the mail.
Once the above setup is complete and two months of direct deposits have passed, workers can request an advance. The amount of the advance will depend on the worker’s history with Branch, including their previous paybacks on advances.
Advances are either instant or take up to three days. There’s no limit on the number of advances you can take, as long as you haven’t hit your advance limit. Advances are paid back with your next paycheck.
Transfers to your bank account take the longest at three days. Transfers to a Branch Debit Card are instant and cost nothing. Instant transfers for amounts less than $75.00 to your debit card are $3.99. Instant transfers for amounts of $75.00 or more are $4.99.
Good financial practices will help with getting advances from Branch. For example, if you incur three or more NSF/overdraft/insufficient funds fees within a month, you’ll be disqualified from taking Branch advances. Once 30 days have passed with no NSF/overdraft/insufficient funds fees, you can resume taking advances.
Branch also monitors spending activity. If they identify a high level of spending activity, it can affect your advance amounts. Also, keep a cushion of cash in your account to avoid overdrafts, which can disqualify you from advances. Additionally, spending on your debit card shows that your account is being used and is in good standing, which is a positive contribution to your ability to take advances.
Are There Any Fees?
There are fees for taking instant advances to your debit card:
- Instant transfers for amounts less than $75.00 to your debit card are $3.99.
- Instant transfers for amounts of $75.00 or more are $4.99.
How Do I Open an Account?
Visit https://www.branchapp.com to download the app and create an account. Once you have an account, you can also sign into the website to manage it.
Is My Money Safe?
Yes — besides encryption on its website, funds on the Branch Debit Card are protected by Mastercard’s Zero Liability policy. The card also has an EMV chip for added security.
Is It Worth It?
If you find yourself regularly short on cash or turning to payday lenders for short-term loans, then Branch is definitely worth it. Not only can you take zero-interest loans, but Branch also helps you build good financial habits.
- Pricing and Fees - 90
- Products and Services - 80
- Ease of Use - 80
- Customer Service - 80
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
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