What Is Earned Wage Access and How Does It Help Employees Make Ends Meet?

By PrismHR

rapid! Paycard

By Andy Songer  

In today’s fast-paced world, financial stability is a paramount concern for individuals and families alike. 

But the struggle to make ends meet between paychecks has led to the rise of innovative financial solutions, such as Earned Wage Access (EWA), which has gained traction in recent years. This game-changing financial tool allows employees to access a portion of their earned wages before their scheduled payday should the need arise. In addition, EWA allows employers to advertise and offer a benefit to help attract and retain employees in the ever-changing and competitive world of hiring and retention.  

In this blog, we will explore what earned wage access is, how it works, its benefits and questions to ask potential providers. 

What Is EWA?

EWA is a financial service that enables employees to access a portion of their earned but unpaid wages before their scheduled payday. For instance, if an unplanned expense, like the need to replace a tire on a car is necessary, employees can access their pay sooner to help pay the unexpected bill. 

Unlike traditional payday loans, which often come with exorbitant interest rates and fees, EWA is designed to provide a more affordable and transparent solution. It operates through employer partnerships with EWA providers making it easily accessible to employees. Certain providers provide the EWA product at no cost to the employer and fees no greater than a traditional ATM. 

The process of using EWA is relatively straightforward. Employees sign up for an EWA program through their employer or a third-party provider. Once enrolled, they can view their earned but unpaid wages in real time through a mobile app or web platform. When they need funds for unexpected expenses or emergencies, they can request funds through the app as a portion of their earned wages. The requested amount is typically transferred to the employee’s bank account or through a prepaid payment card within minutes or hours depending on the EWA provider. 

5 Benefits of Earned Wage Access: 

  1. Financial Flexibility: EWA provides employees with greater control over their finances by allowing them to access their hard-earned money when needed most. 
  1. Avoiding High-Interest Loans: EWA helps individuals steer clear of high-interest payday loans or credit card debt, which can lead to a cycle of financial hardship. 
  1. Stress Reduction: Knowing that they have a safety net for emergencies in the form of EWA can significantly reduce financial stress and anxiety. 
  1. Improved Employee Retention: Companies offering EWA programs often see improved employee retention rates as employees feel valued and supported. 
  1. Enhanced Financial Literacy: EWA providers may offer financial education resources to help employees manage their finances more effectively. 

3 Questions to Ask an EWA Provider 

While Earned Wage Access offers numerous benefits, it’s essential to know the questions to ask a potential EWA provider: 

  1. What are the fees associated with EWA for employee and employer? Some EWA providers charge fees for accessing wages early. Employees should carefully review fee structures to ensure they are not paying excessive amounts for this service. Anything more than what you would expect from a standard ATM fee would be considered excessive. There are no set up fees for the employer with specific providers.  
  1. What is the regulatory environment, and is the EWA provider financially stable? EWA is subject to reporting and regulations at both the state and federal levels. EWA providers that are bank-owned must comply with all federal banking regulations and are subject to federal regulatory time frames for compliance.   
  1. Are employees forced to have earned wage funds transferred to the EWA vendors card or are there options? Many EWA vendors require the employee to use only the vendor issued card, limiting flexibility. Specific vendors, however, allow funds to be transferred to any card the employee chooses.   

Earned Wage Access is a powerful tool that has the potential to alleviate financial stress and provide much-needed flexibility for employees. Its ability to bridge the gap between paychecks, help individuals avoid predatory lending practices and provide emergency funds makes EWA a valuable financial service. However, it’s crucial for employees to use EWA responsibly and be aware of any associated fees. Employers should also consider the positive impact offering EWA can have on employee retention and financial well-being.  

As financial technology continues to evolve, Earned Wage Access stands as a promising solution for a more financially secure future.  

Learn more about rapid! 

Andy Songer started his career in commercial insurance as a broker in Atlanta, Georgia. Twenty-five years ago he started his own PEO brokerage in Nashville, Tennessee, representing the leaders in the PEO industry and building a reputation for his ability to write difficult to place risks. Working closely with PEOs, he developed one of the first models for partnering with insurance agents and brokers utilizing the common interests of both while introducing the importance of human resources management and payroll services. Andy’s knowledge of PEOs and payroll platforms led him to his position with rapid! as a channel sales manager. Rapid! is an industry leader and pioneer in pay card utilization along with the roll out of and development Earned Wage Access.