A new app is offering employed workers early access to funds from their next payday, charging no interest and no fees.
Borofree, which launched a couple of months ago, is aiming to address the UK's debt problem. Users can get up to £300 in advance of their next salary.
However, you can only use it if your employer is signed up, and the funds can only be used to buy vouchers with participating retailers.
Here, Which? looks into what Borofree's salary advance feature offers, and how it compares to other services that help to bridge the gap between paydays.
By signing up to Borofree's app, you can get a salary advance of up to £300 a month. You won't be charged any fees or interest on what you spend. But the service does come with a few caveats.
Firstly, your employer must be signed up with Borofree (the service is free to them, too).
If your employer signs up, you then need to arrange for your salary to be paid directly to Borofree. That's because, come payday, Borofree will take back whatever advance you've had in the time since your last salary, before transferring what's left of your pay packet to your usual bank account - a process which it says takes just seconds.
The £300 advance is not available as cash. Instead, it must be used to buy vouchers from participating retailers. There are currently 50 retailers available, including Amazon, Asda, Asos, Costa, Pizza Express and Sainsbury's.
Minimum spends, options to spend in-store or online, and how long vouchers remain valid for depend on each retailer's terms and conditions.
The maximum amount users could borrow in advance of payday is £300, but not everyone will get this much. Borofree says it bases the advance on how much you earn - so it's up to £300 or 30% of the income you receive from your employer.
To get the full £300, you'll have to earn at least £1,000 per month after your employer has deducted tax, work pension contributions and any other payments.
If you're paid bi-monthly or weekly, Borofree says you can still use the scheme but your voucher allowance would be adjusted accordingly. So, if you're paid weekly you'd get a new, smaller voucher allowance each week.
Borofree says you can use the allowance at any time before your next payday. But even if you're eligible for the full £300, you don't need to use all or any of it.
Unlike many credit solutions, Borofree does not check any individual's credit score. Instead, it checks employers' credit scores, to ensure they are solvent enough to pay registered staff's wages.
However, having a good record of paying credit back also won't be recorded - so using Borofree won't help you boost your credit score.
Signing up to have your salary paid into an account other than your bank account may be nerve-wracking for some people.
Borofree says it uses e-payment company Modulr to create a personal account for each user. Your employer must pay your salary into the Modulr account, and that's when the amount you've spent on vouchers gets deducted. Then, what's left is sent to your usual bank account.
Borofree doesn't hold your salary advance funds either; these are held with whichever retailers you buy vouchers from.
However, the vouchers themselves could become a problem if the retailer goes bust. You'll have to make a claim in writing to the administrators with proof of the voucher purchase. Some companies or administrators will choose to honour vouchers, but you'll have no official right to a refund.
This kind of salary advance scheme does have its benefits - particularly in comparison to the likes of payday loans, as it doesn't charge fees or interest on what you owe.
However, ultimately, it depends on your financial situation and what you're using the salary advance for.If you occasionally need a relatively small amount, for example if an unexpected expense throws your usual budget into disarray, then it could be a great option. Similarly, Borofree says some of its users are using its voucher system to help with budgeting - restricting themselves to only spending a certain amount on clothes, for instance.
But if you are finding you're relying on the payments every month, it might be time to take a look at your spending. If you have other debts, for instance, it may be better to consolidate this using a personal loan or credit card, so you can make monthly payments to reduce the outstanding amount.
Borofree isn't the only company offering salary advance options. You could also check out:
Of course, in an ideal world you wouldn't need to access your next month's salary early at all. If you'd like to get out of the habit of spending money before you've earned it, we have a wealth of guides with tips on how to , along with and .