MoneyLion offers multiple financial tools, but are they what you need? In this review, we’ll dive into what MoneyLion provides, highlight its strengths and weaknesses, and help you figure out if it’s the right choice for you.
MoneyLion is a robust financial app that offers a range of services. Individually, some of its offerings might not be the best in the market. However, its strength lies in its integrated rewards system. By actively using MoneyLion, users can significantly reduce or even negate various fees through the platform’s Lion’s Share loyalty program. This essentially provides free access to tools like credit builder loans and payday advances, which many competitors charge for.
- Cash advance limits of up to $1,000 for members (up to $500 for non-members with regular deposits in their linked account).
- No mandatory fees beyond a small $1 monthly charge for basic members. Other fees, such as for access to the Credit Builder program and instant transfer on cash advances (called Turbo Delivery), are optional.
- Access to automated investing portfolios, which simplifies the process for beginners.
- Slow delivery of payday advance funds (2-5 days) when not using Instacash and/or depositing the funds into an external account.
- Fees are high to deposit cash instantly via the Turbo Delivery feature.
- Cash advances are limited to $100 increments, so accessing larger sums instantly via Turbo Delivery requires multiple requests (and multiple fees).
- Investing account lacks IRA options.
What Is MoneyLion?
MoneyLion is an NYC-based digital financial platform established in 2013 by Diwakar Choubey, a Wall Street veteran.
Unlike traditional banks, it doesn’t hold or lend customer funds. Instead, MoneyLion’s banking partner, Pathward, holds customer deposits (where they’re FDIC-insured up to $250,000).
The platform offers mobile banking, credit building, investing and cash advances.
Overview and Analysis of MoneyLion Product Offerings
MoneyLion offers a comprehensive suite of financial products tailored to meet diverse needs. We’ll review each product individually to provide a clear understanding, highlighting its features and benefits.
MoneyLion Mobile Banking (RoarMoney)
RoarMoney — which MoneyLion refers to as its online banking platform — offers a blend of traditional and digital banking features.
Here’s a rundown of available features:
|Account type:||Checking account.|
|Debit card:||Both virtual and physical (Mastercard).|
|ATM access:||Free at Allpoint ATMs; $2.50 fee for out-of-network.|
|Direct deposit feature:||Potential to get your paycheck up to two days early.|
|Insurance:||FDIC-insured up to $250,000.|
|Fees:||$1 monthly administrative fee (waived if you’re opted into the Credit Builder plan); 2.5% for external debit card fund additions.|
|Virtual card access:||Accessible via RoarMoney app.|
|Transfer limits:||$1,500 per day, $2,500 per week and $3,500 per month.|
Analysis: The service stands out thanks to its early paycheck access, which is available for those who have their paychecks automatically deposited. While many banks now offer this service at no cost, it’s still a very attractive feature for those living paycheck to paycheck.
While there are no hidden fees, such as overdraft charges, there is a $1 monthly administrative fee. While this isn’t substantial, it’s worth noting that there are other banks with similar offerings that don’t charge this fee.
MoneyLion’s “Shake ‘N’ Bank” rewards system differs from traditional cash-back incentives. Instead of earning cash back on every purchase, it functions more like a cash-back or deal platform, akin to Rakuten. Yet, its range of offerings doesn’t match the breadth of the leading cash-back sites.
Overall, RoarMoney offers a range of modern banking features, but none are what I would call best in class. The $1 per month fee is notable, given that competitors offer similar services without this charge.
MoneyLion Credit Builder Plus
MoneyLion’s Credit Builder Plus is designed to help people build or rebuild their credit.
|Product type:||Credit builder loan.|
|Loan access:||Up to $1,000 (a portion of which is available immediately).|
|Credit reporting:||Monthly to the three major credit bureaus.|
|Membership fee:||$19.99 per month.|
|Credit reserve account:||Holds part of loan funds (which are released upon full loan payment).|
|Eligibility:||Must be a U.S. resident who is 18 years old or older with a Social Security number and a bank account.|
With Credit Builder Plus, you get an installment loan up to $1,000. A portion of that loan is made available immediately, while the remainder is saved in a “Credit Reserve” account.
To qualify, you need to link your primary checking account, whether that’s with MoneyLion or another institution. MoneyLion then scans the account to determine your eligibility. A soft credit pull is also performed, which doesn’t impact your score.
MoneyLion states that the linked account should be in good standing, have been open for at least 60 days, and show an active transaction history. If approved, your loan repayment is scheduled over 12 months, with payments reported to the three main credit bureaus.
Once the loan is fully repaid, the funds from the Credit Reserve Account are released.
The Credit Builder Plus service costs $19.99 per month plus the interest you’ll pay on the loan. While this fee might seem high, the potential credit improvement benefits can be significant — especially for those looking to repair their credit (as opposed to those building a new credit history).
To help wipe out this cost, Credit Builder Plus members can also earn rewards through the Lion’s Share loyalty program. (Although you’ll need to utilize a RoarMoney account and an investment account to qualify for rewards.)
By logging into the MoneyLion app daily and making qualified purchases with the RoarMoney Debit Mastercard, you can earn a payout of up to $19.99.
So while you’re still charged the $19.99 fee, you can earn rewards up to $19.99 per month to essentially wipe out that fee. Your rewards will be posted in your account the following month. The program has tiers, with rewards ranging from $2 to $19.99 based on app logins and purchase frequency (see here for complete details).
Subscribing to Credit Builder Plus also gives you access to additional Instacash features (see below for more on Instacash), like the ability to unlock up to $1,000 in funds. You also get the $1 RoarMoney fee waived, as well as the monthly admin fees for investing.
Analysis: Overall, for those who use their RoarMoney account and can eliminate some of the fees, this is one of MoneyLion’s standout products.
Its best features are:
- The ability to get money upfront, which is unique among credit building programs.
- Access to increased Instacash amounts.
- Reports to all three major credit bureaus.
- Ability to wipe out monthly fees with qualified activities.
For comparison’s sake, Self offers a credit building solution where loan repayment and a monthly fee are combined into one payment, starting at $25 per month. Over 24 months, this comes out to a lower cost than MoneyLion. For a detailed comparison, read our full Self review.
It’s important to keep in mind that there are free ways to start building credit for those who haven’t established a credit history. You can check out our guide on the best starter credit cards for a complete list of options. The article also explains why a credit builder product isn’t ideal for someone with no credit history.
If you need money fast, MoneyLion offers a cash advance service called Instacash, which allows members to get funds instantly without the burden of interest or additional fees.
|Amount:||Up to $500, potentially increasing up to $1,000 with a RoarMoney account and direct deposits.|
|Interest and fees:||Optional interest or fees.|
|Repayment:||Automatic from next direct deposit.|
|Requirements:||Linked checking account active for at least two months with a positive balance. Regular income deposits in the linked account.|
Instacash works by linking a qualifying checking account to the MoneyLion app. Your eligible amount is based on the recurring deposits detected in your linked account.
If your account has been active for at least two months and maintains a positive balance, you can unlock advances ranging from $50 to $500. If you get direct deposits into your RoarMoney account and are a MoneyLion Credit Builder Plus member ($19.99 per month), you can access up to $1,000.
The repayment process is automated and the funds you owe will be deducted from your account on a predetermined date, which is usually in line with your pay cycle.
If you’re in a hurry, there’s an optional “Turbo Delivery” for faster access to your funds.
Fees for Turbo Delivery are as follows:
|Advance amount||Into a RoarMoney account||Into an external bank account|
|$5 or less||$0.49||$1.99|
|$10 to $25||$1.49||$3.99|
|$30 to $45||$2.49||$4.99|
|$50 to $65||$3.49||$5.99|
|$70 to $85||$4.99||$7.49|
|$90 to $100||$5.99||$8.99|
Cash advances are disbursed in maximum $100 increments. This means you would need to request multiple advances to access larger amounts, incurring a fee each time.
For example, a $300 advance would require 3 separate $100 requests, each with an associated $5.99 fee with Turbo Delivery. This can make accessing larger amounts of money quite costly.
Analysis: Instacash, like many of MoneyLion’s offerings, is optimized for members who are deeply integrated into the MoneyLion ecosystem.
Suppose you’re already paying the $19.99 per month fee to access Credit Builder Plus (with the potential for some of it to be waived) and sending your direct deposits to MoneyLion. In that case, Instacash becomes an even more attractive option.
Some notable differences exist when comparing Instacash to other cash advance apps:
- Albert: Albert offers instant cash advances up to $100, catering even to those with credit scores just above 500. There’s a monthly subscription fee of $5.99. Albert also provides tools tailored for younger users, such as a “Credit Builder” card, budgeting aids and savings features, making it versatile for various financial needs. Read our Albert Review to learn more.
- Brigit: With Brigit, you can get cash advances up to $250 without interest or fees, but there’s a $9.99 monthly membership fee. Brigit offers a banking account with features like early paycheck access, budgeting tools, overdraft protection and a credit builder loan.
- Cash App: You can borrow between $20 to $200 from Cash App, though not everyone qualifies. The repayment period is four weeks with a 5% fee. If not repaid on time, Cash App might deduct the owed amount from future deposits.
- Dave: Dave offers cash advances up to $100 without interest or fees but charges a $1 monthly membership fee. Beyond cash advances, Dave provides a banking account with early paycheck access, budgeting tools and credit monitoring.
- Earnin: This service provides cash advances up to $100 daily and caps at $500 per pay period without charging interest or fees. Instead, it operates on voluntary tips. Additional features include Balance Shield (which prevents overdrafts by automatically transferring funds when your balance drops below $100) and Health Aid (which assists users in negotiating and settling medical bills).
MoneyLion Investing (Brokerage and Crypto)
MoneyLion offers an investment platform tailored to various risk appetites. With the flexibility to start investing with just $1 and no ongoing management fees, it provides an accessible entry point.
The platform’s Auto Invest feature simplifies the investment process, allowing for automated contributions. Additionally, thematic investing offers a unique opportunity for members to align their investments with specific interests or emerging trends.
|Portfolio management:||Fully managed investment portfolio with five core risk-based options: conservative, moderately conservative, moderate, moderately aggressive, and aggressive.|
|Investment minimum:||Members can start with as little as $1.|
|Fees:||No ongoing management or trading fees. Tiered monthly account fees are $1 for accounts up to $5K, $3 for accounts from $5K to $25K, and $5 for accounts over $25K.|
|Unique features:||Auto invest for automated contributions, thematic investing for personalized investment themes, and ESG portfolios for socially responsible investments.|
Analysis: MoneyLion offers easy-to-use portfolios with low fees, which is great for beginners. But they don’t have IRA options, which are key for retirement savings. This makes MoneyLion better for short-term goals like saving for a car or a home down payment.
While their crypto offerings are a modern touch, the limitations are evident. Not allowing users to hold or transfer the crypto to a private wallet diminishes the platform’s appeal to genuine crypto enthusiasts. It’s more of an introduction to crypto than a platform for serious crypto investing.
Eliminating the MoneyLion Membership Fee Through the Lion Share’s Loyalty Program
When looking at each MoneyLion product individually, none stand out as being best-in-class.
For instance, if you’re considering MoneyLion solely for its cash advance feature, it might not be optimal based on our reviews of the best cash advance apps available.
However, the true value of MoneyLion emerges for those fully immersed in the MoneyLion ecosystem. This is where MoneyLion begins to shine.
By actively engaging with their suite of services, you can access many of these features essentially for free, thanks to the Lion’s Share Loyalty Program.
To be eligible for this program, you need to be a Credit Builder Plus member (which has a $19.99 per month fee) and maintain active RoarMoney and MoneyLion investment accounts.
The program operates on a tiered system: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.
Your tier, and consequently your rewards, are determined monthly based on two main criteria: the number of days you’ve logged into the MoneyLion app and the number of qualified purchases (of $10 or more) you’ve made with your MoneyLion Debit Mastercard.
Here’s a breakdown of the tiers:
|Tier||Purchases ($10+)||App Logins||Lion’s Share Payout|
|Platinum||20+ purchases||20+ days||$19.99|
|Gold||10-19 purchases||15-19 days||$10.00|
|Silver||5-9 purchases||10-14 days||$5.00|
|Bronze||1-4 purchases||5-9 days||$2.00|
To qualify for a specific tier, you must meet both the login and purchase requirements. For instance, if you make enough purchases for the Platinum tier but only log in enough for Bronze, you’ll be placed in the Bronze tier for that month.
Qualified purchases are those made for goods or services costing at least $10. These purchases must post to your account within the calendar month, after accounting for any returns or adjustments.
Exclusions include balance transfers, cash advances, loan proceeds, ATM transactions, gambling transactions, peer-to-peer transfers and certain other charges.
To receive your Lion’s Share payout, it’s required that your Credit Builder Plus membership fees and loan payments are in good standing by the end of the month.
The payouts are typically deposited into your MoneyLion Investment Account within five business days after the month concludes.
MoneyLion offers a comprehensive suite of financial services through a single integrated platform. This allows users to manage their finances in one place efficiently. However, some products come up short when comparing individual offerings to competitors.
- The banking account charges fees that alternatives don’t.
- The credit builder loan is expensive unless loyalty rewards are maximized.
- Investing lacks IRA options, limiting its usefulness for retirement.
Yet MoneyLion’s strength is in the complete package when users fully engage across products.
The Lion’s Share loyalty program provides significant rewards for active members. By logging in daily and using MoneyLion services, the $19.99 monthly fee can be entirely negated.
This results in free access to valuable services like credit building and cash advances. MoneyLion’s integrated rewards system can provide strong value for those seeking an all-in-one financial solution. However, it is best suited for users who will take full advantage of the platform’s breadth of offerings.