MoneyLion and the Membership You Just Can’t Cancel

One writer compares the neobank to Columbia House

Andy Spears

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Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

I wrote recently about MoneyLion being sued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)for offering loans with effective interest rates in excess of 36% in violation of the Military Lending Act.

Jason Mikula of Fintech Business Weekly compares the predatory lender to Columbia House — the company that would send you 8 CDs for one penny as long as you signed up for a “club membership” and kept getting some pretty expensive CDs you didn’t actually want.

Here’s more on the membership MoneyLion offered — and the lack of benefits provided to “members.”

An early version of of MoneyLion’s membership program, the “ML Plus Membership Program,” offered consumers the chance to take out a 12-month, $500 installment loan at a 5.99% APR — if they paid a $29 per month “membership fee.”

In addition to their monthly loan payment (approximately $43) and $29 membership fee, users were required to pay an additional $50 into an “investment account,” which was used to partially secure the loan (eg, MoneyLion would tap this for repayment if users defaulted.)

Altogether, a user of this $500 loan product would be paying about $122 per month for 12 months — a total of $1,464 over a year, though they would get $600 of that back upon successful repayment of the loan.

Around 2019, MoneyLion redesigned and rebranded the product as its “Credit Builder Loan.” For $19.99 per month, users could access a 12-month installment loan from $500 — $1,000 at APRs from 5.99% to 29.99%. Borrowers would receive half the loan proceeds upfront and half would be held in escrow, which borrowers would receive upon fully paying off the loan.

So, one, these “memberships” are a pretty expensive way to access credit.

Two, according to the CFPB, the memberships and fees provided no real benefits AND were nearly impossible to cancel.

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Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .