3 online tax preparers that offer no-fee refund advances so you can get your cash within hours instead of weeks
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- Some online tax preparers can lend you part of your tax refund the same day you file.
- H&R Block, TurboTax, and Jackson Hewitt offer tax refund advance loans with 0% interest and no fees.
- Amounts range from $250 to $4,000. If approved, the lender determines how much you get.
- See Personal Finance Insider’s picks for the best tax software »
It’s tax season. Or better yet: refund season.
The IRS generally delivers tax refunds speedily, paying out nine in 10 refunds within three weeks of receiving an electronic tax return (paper returns can take up to six weeks). Last year the pandemic upended normal operating procedures, pushing both the tax deadline and overall refund payout schedule back several months.
While the IRS says it’s prepared to pay out most refunds within its typical timeline this year, it’s hard to predict what effect the still-raging pandemic might have. Plus, many Americans who typically don’t file taxes but qualify for a stimulus check are being asked to file a tax return for 2020 to claim money they’re owed, potentially burdening the system.
Luckily there’s an option for anyone who’s expecting a refund and doesn’t want to wait. A few popular online tax preparers can help you get access to part of your tax refund on the same day you file.
What is a tax refund advance?
A tax refund advance is a short-term loan that gives you access to your cash sooner than the IRS or your state tax agency can get it to you. If you’re approved, you can get a lump sum loaded onto a debit card or deposited in your bank account usually the same day. You can typically get up to half your refund amount early.
When the IRS or your state tax agency distributes your refund, the lender will automatically be repaid the amount you borrowed and the remaining money will be sent to you.
Here’s an example: You file your taxes and the tax preparer estimates your refund will be $3,000. You apply for a refund advance loan and get approved for $1,500. You’ll get that money within 24 hours. Later, the IRS will distribute your $3,000 refund to the lender, who will claim their $1,500 and send the rest to you.
How early can I get an advance on my tax refund?
H&R Block, TurboTax, and Jackson Hewitt are all offering refund advance loans now through various dates in February.
Where can I get an advance on my tax refund?
No-fee refund advance loans are available to filers who are 18 or older at H&R Block, TurboTax, and Jackson Hewitt.
You have to apply for the loan after you file your tax return, meaning you only get one shot at approval (you can’t try out another tax preparer if you get denied). The company’s partner bank will review your application and may consider your tax payment history as well as review your credit report. Applying for the loan shouldn’t affect your credit score.
Always look at the interest rate. Many predatory lenders will market personal loans as refund advances during tax season, but they’ll charge excessive interest rates and fees. The options outlined here are free, though you might be required to pay for tax preparation prior to applying for the loan and ATM fees to get cash off the refund debit card.
H&R Block refund advance
Personal Finance Insider named H&R Block the best tax software in 2021. Its offerings cater to a wide variety of tax situations at a reasonable price point, and its user interface is modern with easy-to-follow instructions. There’s also a robust free version for filers who qualify.
H&R Block’s refund advance loan is issued by MetaBank (member FDIC), the same bank used by the IRS to distribute stimulus check debit cards.
|Minimum refund for eligibility||$500|
|Possible refund advance amounts||$250, $500, $700, $1,250, $3,500|
|How you get the money||Debit card (H&R Block Emerald Prepaid Mastercard®)|
|Dates available||Through February 28, 2021|
- Available longer than TurboTax or Jackson Hewitt
- Ability to continue using the H&R Block Emerald Prepaid Mastercard® to set up direct deposit from payroll or government benefits, link a checking account, and make purchases
- Have to file with a tax professional online or in person — packages start at $69.99 for a federal return
- Loan funds cannot be direct deposited into a bank account; the only option is a prepaid debit card
- The only way to get the rest of your refund into a bank account or as a paper check is to select refund transfer when you file your return, which triggers an extra $40 fee
- A $3 fee applies to ATM withdrawals
TurboTax refund advance
TurboTax is also on our list of best tax software this year. In addition to a solid free version, TurboTax offers excellent services for anyone itemizing personal or business deductions.
TurboTax’s refund advance loan is issued by First Century Bank (member FDIC).
|Minimum refund for eligibility||$500|
|Possible refund advance amounts||$250, $500, $750, $1,000, $1,500, $2,000, $2,500, $3,000, $3,500, $4,000|
|How you get the money||Debit card (Turbo® Visa® Debit Card)|
|Dates available||Through February 15, 2021|
- DIY online filers, including those who use the free version, can apply for the loan
- Fee-free ATM withdrawals at over 19,000 locations in all 50 states
- Ability to continue using the Turbo® Visa® Debit Card to set up direct deposit from payroll or government benefits, get cash, and make purchases
- Cannot be a resident of North Carolina or Illinois
- The expected federal refund amount that helps determine your loan will not include any Recovery Rebate Credit (i.e. stimulus check)
- Loan denial will still result in getting your refund on the Turbo® Visa® Debit Card
- Turbo® Visa® Debit Card can take up to 10 days to arrive in the mail (there’s a virtual card to use for online purchases or bill pay in the meantime)
Jackson Hewitt refund advance
Jackson Hewitt is incredibly simple and easy to use, and has both DIY filing and options to work with a tax pro to complete your return. But, there’s no free version, even for simple tax situations.
Like H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt’s refund advance loan is issued by MetaBank.
|Minimum refund for eligibility||No minimum to apply|
|Possible refund advance amounts||$500, $750, $1,000, $1,250, $2,500, $4,000|
|How you get the money||Prepaid debit card (American Express Serve® Card) or direct deposit|
|Dates available||Through February 21, 2021|
- Credit score is not a factor in approval
- Two options for money distribution
- Fee-free ATM withdrawals at over 30,000 locations
- Must file taxes and apply for the loan in-store (find participating locations here)
- Direct deposit can take up to five business days
The bottom line: If you need cash quickly and are expecting a tax refund, the best way is to file your taxes with one of these online preparers. They’re our top picks for filing online and they don’t charge a cent in interest or loan origination or application fees.
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