Should You Accept Instant Cash from a Lending Lion?

The E-Z lending app comes with a fair share of risk

Andy Spears

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MoneyLion’s InstaCash solicitation email

Getting an advance on your paycheck may seem like a good idea — a way to manage cash flow and avoid overdraft fees or late fees.

Fintech lending app MoneyLion offers an “InstaCash” advance that purports to make borrowing from your next direct deposit easy and low cost.

However, the track record of this lending lion suggests the transaction could be a bit risky.

For example, MoneyLion ran afoul of the law in Minnesota where the friendly-seeming lion lender charged triple-digit interest rates on loans:

MoneyLion violated Minnesota state law by failing to be licensed by the state when it provided Minnesota-based consumers with certain loans with excessive annual interest rates of up to 645%. The settlement includes more than 700 loans issued to Minnesota consumers between November 7, 2016 and September 15, 2017. These loans ranged from $300 to $2,000 and MoneyLion charged interest rates from 9.79% to 645%.

MoneyLion also preyed on members of the military, charging excessive interest rates in violation of the Military Lending Act:

MoneyLion imposed membership fees on covered borrowers that, when combined with loan-interest-rate charges, exceeded the Military Lending Act’s 36% rate cap. MoneyLion deceived these borrowers by representing that they owed loan payments and fees that they did not actually owe because the loans were void under the Military Lending Act.

The company touts its “Roar Money” membership as an easy cash management solution. But one finance writer compared the company’s membership programs to the old Columbia House records — a membership you just can’t cancel:

In reality, however, MoneyLion disallowed users with outstanding loan balances from canceling their membership, forcing them to continue paying $19.99 per month until they were able to pay back their loan in full —

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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 . . .