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What to know about tax refund loans

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Are you expecting a tax refund from the IRS? You may not have to wait until the IRS processes your return and sends you a direct deposit or check in the mail.

If the tax preparation service you use offers tax refund loans, you could get an interest-free advance on your money. These loans are easy to qualify for and generally don’t require a credit check. However, they may not be sensible considering you may have to spend money to access funds that belong to you.

What is a tax refund loan?

Tax refund loans are available to taxpayers who’ve filed a federal income tax return and are eligible for a refund. These loan products are generally for a set amount, between $200 and $6,000, and offered between January and late February.

How do tax refund loans work?

When you file your return, you can apply for a tax refund loan if it’s offered by the tax preparation service. If approved, the funds are dispersed by check or loaded on a prepaid card. The funding time depends on the lender and how you opt to receive the loan proceeds.

You won’t repay the lender or company offering the loan, though. Instead, it will be taken from your refund before it’s sent to you.

Where can you get tax refund loans?

H&R Block 

The Refund Advance loan from H&R Block is offered to clients through MetaBank. You can apply without impacting your credit score, and you won’t pay lender fees or interest.

Minimum federal tax refund amount $250
Tax preparation fee Starts at $80 if filing with a tax professional (an additional fee applies for state returns)
Early Refund Advance Loan amounts Not applicable
No Fee Refund Advance Loan amounts $250, $500, $750, $1,250 and $3,500
Time to funding As soon as the same day
Deadline February 28, 2022
Requirements Be at least 18 years of age and e-file your tax return with a tax professional at an H&R Block office

Turbo Tax by Intuit 

The Refund Advance from Intuit Turbo Tax is also a fee-free, zero-interest loan product. It’s offered through First Century Bank to filers who use Turbo Tax.

Minimum federal tax refund amount $500
Tax preparation fee No charge for simple federal and state tax return filings (valid through 3/31/2022)
Early Refund Advance Loan amounts Not applicable
No Fee Refund Advance Loan amounts $250, $500, $750, $1,000, $1,500, $2,000, $2,500, $3,000, $3,500 and $4,000
Time to funding As little as one hour after IRS E-file acceptance
Deadline February 15, 2022
Requirements You must be at least 18-years-old and not live in Connecticut, Illinois or North Carolina. You must e-file your federal return with TurboTax and report income on a Form W-2, Schedule C, Schedule CEZ or 1099-R. You cannot file with IRS Form 1040PR, 1040SS, 1040X, 1310, 4852, 4684, 4868, 8862 or 8888.

Jackson Hewitt

Jackson Hewitt features two Refund Advance loan products, both underwritten by MetaBank. The Early Refund Advance loan is subject to a 35.9 percent APR, or you can get a no-fee Refund Advance Loan without paying any interest or fees.

Minimum federal tax refund amount $500
Tax preparation fee Not disclosed
Early Refund Advance Loan amounts $200, $500, $1,000
No Fee Refund Advance Loan amounts $500, $750, $1,000, $1,500, $3,500
Time to funding Within minutes for the Serve® prepaid debit card. Direct deposit takes 1-5 business days.
Deadline February 20, 2022
Requirements You must be at least 18-years-old and e-file your return with Jackson Hewitt or kiosks in Walmart stores. You also have to have a satisfactory payment history with the IRS and other federal and state agencies (i.e. child support enforcement, the Department of Education)

Should you get a tax refund loan?

It depends on your financial situation. You could get cash right away to handle an unexpected financial emergency, pay down high-interest debt, make a big-ticket purchase or use however else you see fit.

Still, a tax refund loan could cost you a sizable amount if the lender charges fees, and you’ll essentially be paying to borrow your own money. And should your refund be delayed or denied if there are unresolved tax issues or you owe back taxes, you could be stuck with a hefty debt load. So it may be more worthwhile to wait until the IRS processes your refund.

Tax refund loan alternatives

If you’d prefer to explore other options or aren’t getting a refund but need cash, these alternatives could work for you:

  • Online loans: Use an online lending marketplace to find personal loan products with competitive rates. Fixed personal loans are payable in equal monthly installments over a set period, typically between three and five years.
  • Short-term emergency loans: These loans act as payday alternatives and can get you fast cash without costing a fortune in interest. Some lenders won’t check your credit when you apply, so you could get approved even if your credit score isn’t up to par.

These online lenders offer fast funding if you need cash now.

Lender Loan amount APR Minimum credit score Time to funding
Avant $2,000 – $35,000 9.95% – 35.95% 580 As soon as one business day
LendingPoint $2,000 – $36,500 9.99% – 35.99% 590 As soon as one business day
OneMain Financial $1,500 – $20,000 18.00% – 35.99% Not specified As soon as one day
Prosper $2,000 – $40,000 7.95% – 35.99% 640 As soon as one business day
Upgrade $1,000 – $50,000 5.94% – 35.97% (with autopay) Not specified As soon as one day
Written by
Allison Martin
Allison Martin's work began over 10 years ago as a digital content strategist, and she’s since been published in several leading financial outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, MSN Money, MoneyTalksNews, Investopedia, Experian and
Edited by
Loans Editor, Former Insurance Editor