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My MoneyLion App Review (2021): A Disciplined Financial Service

MoneyLion iphone screen with macbook and calendar. Photo taken by Dedy Pramu via Shutterstock.com
Dedy Pramu / Shutterstock.com

MoneyLion is a mobile financial app that kept me disciplined with my money. However, the way this app is set up, it was not by choice. Feeling like I was forced to manage my money with this platform did have its pros and cons. In my full MoneyLion review, I will share my experience using them. Also, I will explain why I believe this app is for anyone who needs some discipline to help reach their financial goals.

Table of Contents

MoneyLion is built for Americans who are either ignored or taken advantage of by regular big banks. Their target market is 70% of American consumers. These consumers on average have less than $2,000 in savings. Most big banks will not take these people seriously and consider them too risky to work with. This simply is not fair at all.

According to Investopedia, MoneyLion was founded in 2013 by a team of tech and financial specialists. These specialists built the data and machine-learning tech that makes MoneyLion unique. This data and tech are made to offer people their own advice that is based on their current spending patterns.

Co-Founders

The mobile app MoneyLion has three co-founders who are still very involved in the company. The current CEO is Diwakar Choubey. He used to work Wall Street in high positions for a variety of companies, including Goldman Sachs, Citadel, and Barclays Capital. The second co-founder is Pratyush Tiwari, who is the Chief Info Officer. Finally, Chee Mun Foong is the Chief Tech Officer.

Mission

MoneyLion’s mission is to:

“Rewire the American banking system so that we can positively change the financial path for every hard-working American.”

MoneyLion works to achieve this mission through its features. From online banking to investing and credit repair. Their goal is to give people a better path to reach their own financial goals.

Features

MoneyLion’s platform includes six primary features that help its users reach their goals. Most of these features are free, while others charge a small monthly fee.

Also called “RoarMoney℠,” this feature gives users free checking accounts. RoarMoney gives users access to direct deposit, which pays up to two days early. Also, this feature includes price protection for purchases. When users find a lower price of a purchase they made with their account, they can request a for the difference. However, users can only redeem the refund within 90-days of purchase. Also, there is a $250 limit per claim and a four claims limit per year.

Also, these accounts do not require a minimum balance or charge too many fees. Users can avoid paying standard transfer, foreign transactions, stop payment, or replacement card fees. Instead, users can only expect to pay a $1 admin fee and $2.50 for ATM withdrawals at a non-Allpoint® ATM. The largest fee they have is a $25 expedite card replacement fee.

Finally, these accounts are very secure. They are FDIC insured, offer Apple Pay and other contactless payment methods, and protect against unauthorized purchases if a debit card is lost or stolen.

RoarMoney℠ bank accounts on MoneyLion also offer cashback rewards. Users can earn cashback on everyday spending from popular merchants. The money earned from cashback is then added to the users investing account. This is to help their investing accounts grow even further.

To increase users’ chances of earning cash back, RoarMoney℠ includes a sub feature called Shake N’ Bank. This feature allows users to earn rewards simply by shaking their phone. Users can enjoy this feature after making purchases of $10 or more for up to $120 per transaction.

The key to success with this feature to use your RoarMoney℠ virtual card or physical MoneyLion debit card as much as possible. The more you spend with this account, the more chances you have to shake your phone for cashback rewards.

One more feature RoarMoney℠ bank accounts offers are cash advances. Also called InstaCash, users can request a cash advance up to $250. There are no fees, interest, or even a credit check. Requested money can reach users’ accounts instantly.

Users who sign up for the Credit Builder Plus membership plan gains access to MoneyLion’s Credit Builder Loan. For $19.99 per month, users can borrow up to $1,000 with no credit check. MoneyLion claims that monthly payments can be as low as $67.65. This low price includes the loan payment, APR interest, and the membership fee. MoneyLion reports this loan and all payments to all three credit bureaus.

MoneyLion offers users a fully managed investing account. These investing accounts help users save and grow their money. Users can invest any amount of money into their own portfolio as often as they want. Also, there are no fees or minimum balance required for these accounts.

Users can personalize their portfolios by choosing a strategy that helps them best achieve their goals. Strategies include:

  • Steady Income
  • Conservative
  • Moderately Conservative
  • Moderate
  • Moderately Aggressive
  • Aggressive
  • Equity Only

To further personalize their accounts, users can also invest in their interests and passions. From various social causes to tech, MoneyLion offers themed exchange-traded funds (ETFs) which users can add to their portfolios.

Also known as the Financial Heartbeat, this feature helps users track the current state of their finances. Similar to apps that monitor your health and count your steps every day, this feature monitors user’s financial health and steps towards a personal goal. The goal of this feature is to help reduce financial stress and achieve goals. This feature uses AI tools, machine learning, and data to deliver user’s their own financial planning and advice.

Users receive a daily financial heartbeat score, which is used to monitor progress to help keep users on track to reach their goals. The score is based on how well users save and how much they spend. Also, it includes a shield of protection, which factors in how much insurance coverage a user needs. Finally, it factors in a user’s credit use and monitors their credit score.

My Experience Using MoneyLion

Overall, my experience using MoneyLion has been good. However, it is not enough to maintain my active use. Although there were many pros to using this service, there were also a fair amount of cons.

Initially, I signed up for MoneyLion to access their $500 5.99% APR credit-builder loan. Being in a tough financial position, I did not have good credit to get a regular personal loan and was running out of options. While MoneyLion offers unsecured loans that do not require the best credit, I could not gain access to the loan right away. My account must be active for about three months to access this loan. As much as I needed the loan as soon as possible, because I had no other loan options, I patiently waited to gain approval.

While waiting to qualify for loan access, I used the investing feature to start growing my money. MoneyLions investing accounts are actually very good. When used consistently, which I had no choice but to do, my money did grow by a good amount fairly quickly. However, there were some issues with this app that made me want to slow down using it once I got what I needed from them.

Pricing Concerns

To be honest, MoneyLion became one of the most expensive apps I ever used. There were a lot of automatic payments I was forced to make. In total, I believe I would pay over $70 each month.

First, $25 went into my investing account every two weeks. Despite my investing account growing, I had no say in how often I wanted to fund my amount. Also, my membership cost about $30 because my account included loan access.

For three months, I waited to gain access to their $500 loan. Upon finally earning access to the $500 loan, I had to pay another $20 per month for the loan payments. All of these payments became stressful because I was only a college student. I only had one on-campus job paying me slightly above the federal minimum wage. As a result, all of these automatic bi-weekly and monthly payments easily became a financial burden.

Limits on Taking Out Money

Another issue I had with MoneyLion is they do not make it easy for users to take out their own money. When I was most active, I could not withdraw money from my investing account at all for the first few months. Not being able to take out the money I was forced to put in became very frustrating. I was a broke college student giving away $50 to $70 a month which I certainly needed. All for a simple $500 loan that did not even require a credit check. Had an emergency came up, I still could not take my money out at all until my account reached a certain level.

When I finally could take out my money, I could not withdraw everything at once. MoneyLion placed a limit on how much money I could take out at a time. Even worst, I had to wait a few days after taking out money to be able to take out more. At this point, I could not wait until my loan was paid off so I could close my account.

Loan Repayment

Speaking of paying off the loan, I had issues with this too. I did not like how MoneyLion handles loan payments. When repaying the $500 loan, I could not determine how much to pay each month or if I want to pay more than the minimum.

Also, I could not control my payment schedule or if I wanted to pay a little more on a day. I was forced to pay the set amount according to the schedule MoneyLion determines. Until the loan was completely paid off, I was stuck. The only way I could get out of this loan early was if I paid it off at once. MoneyLion only allows users to pay their remaining loan balance in full.

Finally, once I paid off my loan, I chose to delete my account. However, by doing that, MoneyLion indicated the loan as a closed account on my credit report. As a result, my credit score went down by a decent amount of points. To make matter’s worse, recently I learned that my account is not entirely deleted, just my credit builder membership. Basically, my credit score dropped because I am no longer paying every month for a membership.

Points System

Prior to MoneyLion rolling out their RoarMoney and Financial Heartbeat features, they did have a point system. Users could earn points for completing certain actions. Some actions include making an on-time loan payment, adding money into their investing account, and more. Points earned can be used to collect $25 gift cards from top retailers.

I definitely felt that the point system could have been improved. First, points can sometimes take forever to show up in my account. Also, sometimes points would either not show up at all or the amounts would be too low.

To this day, I am still upset that MoneyLion stopped giving 200 points for each on-time loan payment. Despite my financial situation, I never missed a loan payment. I had the potential to earn a lot of gift cards. However, I only earned one Nike gift card for $25. I was so close to winning another gift card, but MoneyLion made it harder to win another one. Once my loan was paid off, I gave up and delete my account.

How Can MoneyLion be Good for People who need Discipline?

When I finished paying off my loan, I closed my MoneyLion account because I could not afford to keep being forced to pay them. Whether it was the membership fee or the automatic deposits to my investing account, I had to get out. I was a broke college student who could not afford everything MoneyLion expected me to pay. However, it was not all too bad; there was a silver lining in this entire experience. All it took was patience and discipline for me to see that silver lining.

Based on my experience plus the improvements made to the app, I believe this app can be good for people who need discipline. MoneyLion is built for people who struggle to save and grow their money. They have the tools and data to help people make goals and keep them. Do I agree with all of how they go about it? Absolutely not! However, if you know you struggle with setting money aside or making loan payments on time, this app is perfect to help get you in these habits.

Consistent Growth in my Investing Account

First, as mentioned earlier, the scheduled deposits to my investing account did grow my money. Before I could finally start taking money out, my investing account did grow over $1,000 in a matter of a few months. I do not think I would have been able to reach this milestone had I been able to withdraw money when I wanted to or stopped the recurring deposits. Also, being forced to see this upwards trend did set me up for success when I was finally ready to invest money on my own.

Ensures On-time Loan Payments

The automatic loan payments and their payment schedule did ensure that I was never late on a loan payment. As a result, this did help improve my credit report and score. If I were able to control when I make my loan payments, I probably would not have paid it off on time. As a college student, I would have easily used that money for other things. By being forced to make all of these payments to MoneyLion when they were due, it did help me be mindful of the money I had leftover.

Conclusion

Despite being a personal financial burden for me, MoneyLion is not an entirely bad service. If used to the fullest, it can help develop the discipline you need to reach your financial goals. They will force you while also provide incentives to save money and make payments on time if you have a loan. If you know you are struggling financially in any way, this is an app to at least think about.

If you would like to check out MoneyLion for yourself, sign up now through me and get $10 to go towards your investing account. Also, leave a comment below on your thoughts about my MoneyLion review. Finally, if you have any further questions, comments, or inquiries, send me a message and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

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