Cash advance apps

MoneyLion Instacash 2024 Review: Cash Advances

MoneyLion Instacash gives app users large cash advances in small increments, but you’ll pay a fee to get funds instantly.
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Written by Annie Millerbernd
Assistant Assigning Editor
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Edited by Kim Lowe
Lead Assigning Editor
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MoneyLion Instacash
NerdWallet rating 
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on MoneyLion's website

Affordability

Structure

Transparency

Underwriting and consumer protections

Customer experience


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MoneyLion Instacash provides relatively large advances to users who receive their paychecks by direct deposit. The app has no mandatory fees and tries to avoid causing overdrafts with its withdrawals, but it charges a monthly $19.99 fee for credit-building and budgeting features.

MoneyLion disperses advances in increments up to $100, and those without an active MoneyLion checking account usually wait two to five days to get their funds.

This advance is best for existing MoneyLion customers who get value from other accounts and features. Those who are not customers can likely find a cheaper, faster advance elsewhere.

Pros

Advances up to $500.

Tries not to cause overdraft fees.

Allows users to extend repayment date.

No mandatory fees.

Cons

Advances may take a few days to be deposited.

Advances are disbursed in maximum $100 increments.

High fast-funding fees.

MoneyLion Instacash advance basics: Amounts, fees and funding time

How much can I borrow with MoneyLion Instacash?

  • Up to $500, or up to $1,000 for members who use other MoneyLion features. Advances are disbursed in $100 increments.

What fees does MoneyLion charge on Instacash advances?

  • Optional membership fee $19.99 per month.

  • Optional fast-funding fee: $0.49 to $8.99 per advance.

  • Optional tip: No maximum.

How do you repay MoneyLion Instacash advances?

  • Funds are usually withdrawn on the date MoneyLion determines to be your next payday.

How long does it take to get an advance with MoneyLion Instacash?

  • Without paying an express fee: 1 to 2 business days for MoneyLion checking account holders; 2 to 5 business days for those without a MoneyLion checking account.

  • With an express fee: Within minutes.

A word of caution: Users of cash advance apps, including MoneyLion, may risk becoming dependent on loans to cover regular expenses — a cycle of debt that’s difficult to break. It’s a good idea to consider affordable alternatives before getting an advance from MoneyLion.

Who MoneyLion Instacash advances are best for

  • MoneyLion checking account holders.

  • Consumers who are paid on a regular schedule through direct deposit.

  • Those who need to cover a small expense and have a plan to cover repayment plus other regular expenses.

  • Borrowers who don't need the funds immediately, or are willing to pay a fee to get it faster.

  • Those who don't regularly spend more than they earn.

What you need for a MoneyLion Instacash advance

Like other cash advance apps, MoneyLion reviews users’ bank accounts to determine eligibility for an advance. The app does not check users’ credit.

To get an advance through MoneyLion, you must:

  • Own the connected bank account.

  • Be in good standing with MoneyLion.

To qualify for MoneyLion Instacash, your bank account must have:

  • Been open for at least two months.

  • A history of recurring deposits.

  • Typically at least three direct deposits.

How to get a MoneyLion Instacash advance: Step-by-step instructions

Here are the steps to get an Instacash advance:

  1. Create a profile in the app or on MoneyLion’s website.

  2. Connect a bank account. If you qualify for Instacash, you’ll see your advance limit in your profile.

  3. Choose “Request” to get an advance. Select the advance amount, decide if you want to add an optional tip and whether you want to pay a fee for faster funding. Users can request a maximum advance of $100 at a time.

  4. MoneyLion sends the funds to your designated account. If you don’t pay a fast funding fee, it takes a day or two for the money to reach a MoneyLion checking account, and two to five days to reach an external account.

  5. The day before your payment due date, the app will send a reminder.

  6. On your repayment date, the app checks your account balance to ensure there’s enough for repayment and withdraws the funds.

Frequently asked questions about MoneyLion Instacash

Can I change my MoneyLion Instacash due date?

Yes. Users can defer the scheduled repayment date up to two weeks, once per direct deposit period, by submitting a customer service request.

Users can also move the repayment back by one day in the app, but they must do so at least two days before the due date.

Will MoneyLion’s Instacash advance cause an overdraft fee?

MoneyLion says it tries to avoid causing overdraft fees by reviewing bank account balances before taking repayment. If the full advance amount isn’t in the account, the app may take partial repayment and continue to debit the account until the advance is repaid.

How do I contact MoneyLion’s customer service?

You can contact MoneyLion’s customer service by phone call, email, in-app chat or provide feedback via a form on the company’s website.

Other MoneyLion features

Budgeting and credit-building features

Like many other cash advance apps, MoneyLion doesn’t report advance repayments to the three major credit bureaus, meaning on-time payments won’t help you build credit.

The app does let users opt in to a Credit Builder Plus membership for $19.99 per month. The membership includes:

  • Free access to MoneyLion bank and investment accounts (instead of a $1 monthly fee for each account).

  • Higher Instacash advance limits.

  • Credit monitoring.

  • Eligibility for a credit-builder loan (with a 5.99%-29.99% annual percentage rate, or APR).

Those features may not be worth the cost if you have free alternatives:

A closer look at our MoneyLion Instacash star rating

Affordability: 3/4 stars

An affordable cash advance has low or no fees, caps tips and protects users from overdraft fees caused by the app’s withdrawals.

Structure: 3/4 stars

A well-structured app has a large enough maximum borrowing amount to meet users’ needs, can provide funds quickly without charging a fee and allows users repayment flexibility.

Transparency: 4/4 stars

A transparent cash advance app notifies users before withdrawals, discloses fees clearly to borrowers on their website or in the app and shows the total amount the user needs to repay before providing funds.

Underwriting and consumer protections: 2.5/4 stars

This category assesses how well an app helps borrowers avoid borrowing an advance that will overextend their finances. A consumer-first cash advance app reviews more than a couple months of borrowers’ expenses, requires regular bank account deposits and lets borrowers choose how much to borrow.

Customer experience: 4/4 stars

A well-rated cash advance app with multiple ways to contact customer service representatives and a thorough FAQ on its website will do well in this category.

Discretionary additions or deductions

Cash advance apps can earn a higher star rating by offering features that help borrowers build savings or credit. Apps’ star ratings are lowered if they are accused of engaging in deceptive or predatory practices by reputable sources.

Expert take on MoneyLion Instacash

"MoneyLion's cash advance is a good deal if you already have a MoneyLion checking account, and a slightly worse deal if you don't — mostly because without one, you could wait up to five days to get the advance.

The other thing to consider is that you'll only get $100 at a time with MoneyLion. This isn't the only app with that restriction, but bear in mind that you'll need to make multiple requests, meaning you could wait an additional day for every additional $100 you need to spend. That said, most apps have lower maximum borrowing amounts than MoneyLion."

Annie Millerbernd, Assistant Assigning Editor, Personal Loans

Explore more cash advance apps

Brigit

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

Advance amounts

$50 to $250.

Fees

  • Monthly subscription fee: $9.99 or $14.99.

  • Optional fast-funding fee: $0.99 to $3.99.

Repayment

Withdrawn from your bank account on the date Brigit determines to be your next payday.

Time to fund without express fee

1 to 3 days.

Time to fund with express fee

20 minutes.

Empower

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

Advance amounts

$10 to $300 for first-time users. Returning customers may be approved for advances up to $350.

Fees

  • Subscription fee: $8 per month, or $0 if you opt out.

  • Optional fast-funding fee: $1 to $10.50.

  • Optional tip: Up to 20% per advance, capped each calendar year at your eligible advance amount.

Repayment

Withdrawn from your bank account on your predetermined due date.

Time to fund without express fee

One business day.

Time to fund with express fee

Within one hour.

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews and rates cash advance products from financial companies that provide cash advance apps. We collect over 24 data points from each company, verify the information with company representatives and compare the app with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar cash advance product. NerdWallet writers and editors conduct a full fact check and update annually, but also make updates throughout the year as necessary.

The maximum allowable rating for cash advance apps that we review is four stars. Our star ratings award points to cash advance apps that offer consumer-friendly features, including: caps on voluntary tips, protections from overdraft fees caused by app withdrawals, low cost of borrowing and an assessment of the user’s finances before providing an advance. The system also rewards points for features that a consumer seeking an advance would find useful, such as: fast funding without a fee, allowing users to borrow less than they were approved for and customer ratings. Additional points are awarded to apps that provide pathways to budgeting and saving, which are features that can help prevent a user from habitually reborrowing. We weigh these factors based on our assessment of which are the most important for consumers and how they impact consumers’ experiences.

NerdWallet does not receive compensation for our star ratings. Read more about our ratings methodologies for personal loans and our editorial guidelines.