Financial Wellness

What is Earned Wage Access?

How this benefit provides an alternative to riskier options that can put you in debt.

1.5 minute read

First, a little backstory.

Up until fairly recently, the options for getting extra cash in case of an emergency, or simply to cover the cost of living, were pretty bleak.

  • For the average American with limited access to credit, getting cash for daily expenses or bills meant applying for a payday loan and paying high interest, or overdrawing their bank account and paying overdraft fees.
  • These options put people more in debt, making it harder to stay afloat.

With the rise of direct deposit and more HR processes getting handled digitally, a new option emerged in the 2010s.

Earned Wage Access (EWA) can go by many names: on-demand pay, daily pay, and instant pay are some of the most common.

  • Earned Wage Access providers like Exhale integrate with payroll systems to calculate the amount of wages an employee has already earned.
  • This lets employees have access to their wages in advance.
  • The amount taken out is then automatically paid back from the employee’s next paycheck.

There are lots of providers that offer EWA, some sponsored by employers and others available directly to employees.

  • When sponsored by an employer, typically the employer pays the EWA provider based on the number of employees they have, allowing those employees to get the service for free.
  • Be mindful: Some EWA providers may charge a fee for expediting pay or requesting money multiple times in the same day, up to $5 per transaction.

Exhale is an employer-sponsored service, so you don’t have to pay any fees to use My Pay.

And since you’re only accessing money you’ve already earned, there’s no need for additional fees or interest. In short, accessing your earned wages in Exhale is always 100% free to you!

TL;DR: EWA is a more flexible way to cover expenses so you don’t need to resort to overdraft fees at the ATM or high-risk short-term loans. That's a win in our books.

Not sure if your employer offers Exhale? Check with your manager or reach out to us at