MoneyLion Instacash 2023 Review: Cash Advances
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The bottom line:
MoneyLion’s Instacash advance is best for users who have other MoneyLion accounts and need to cover a one-time emergency expense.
Pros & Cons
- Advances up to $500.
- Does not cause overdraft fees.
- Allows users to extend repayment date.
- No mandatory fees.
- Advances may take a few days to be deposited.
- Advances are disbursed in maximum $100 increments.
- High fast-funding fees.
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Full Review of MoneyLion Instacash
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.
» MORE: Compare cash advance apps
Table of contents
MoneyLion app advance amounts, fees and repayment terms
Up to $500, or up to $1,000 for members who use other MoneyLion features.
Usually withdrawn on the date MoneyLion determines to be your next payday.
Time to fund without express fee
Time to fund with express fee
Should you use MoneyLion’s Instacash feature?
When used occasionally, MoneyLion can be useful if you:
Are paid on a regular schedule through direct deposit.
Need to cover a small expense.
Have a plan to repay the advance and cover your other expenses.
Don’t need the money immediately, or you are willing to pay a fee to get it faster.
MoneyLion might not be a good solution if you:
Regularly spend more than you earn.
Aren’t already a MoneyLion customer and can get cash faster and cheaper elsewhere.
Though cash advances from an app are generally cheaper than payday loans, they may encourage users to rely on borrowed money to bridge income gaps, which can lead to a cycle of borrowing. In 2021, the Financial Health Network released a study that included multiple years of usage data and found that app users frequently take advances consecutively — behavior that is consistent with payday loan borrowing.
Is MoneyLion legit?
MoneyLion is a real company based in New York City. It has offered cash advances since 2018. The app has 4.5 stars across more than 89,000 reviews on Google Play and 4.7 stars across more than 100,000 reviews on the Apple Store.
In 2022, the CFPB sued MoneyLion over membership fees charged for access to some budgeting and credit-building tools. According to the bureau, MoneyLion provided its credit-builder loans to military members and their dependents at an annual percentage rate that exceeded 36% — a violation of the Military Lending Act. The CFPB also said in a news release that MoneyLion didn’t allow users to cancel their memberships and stop paying the fee at any time.
MoneyLion denied the accusations in a press release.
How to qualify for MoneyLion Instacash
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:
Be at least 18 years old in most states.
Own the connected bank account.
Be in good standing with MoneyLion.
To qualify for MoneyLion Instacash, your bank account must have:
Regular usage and a consistently positive balance.
Been open for at least two months.
A history of recurring deposits.
Typically at least three direct deposits.
How MoneyLion cash advances work
Here are the steps to get an Instacash advance:
Create a profile in the app or on MoneyLion’s website.
Connect a bank account. If you qualify for Instacash, you’ll see your advance limit in your profile.
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.
MoneyLion sends the funds to your designated account. If you don’t pay a fast funding fee, it takes 12 to 24 hours for the money to reach a MoneyLion checking account, and two to five days to reach an external account.
The day before your payment due date, the app will send a reminder.
On your repayment date, the app checks your account balance to ensure there’s enough for repayment and withdraws the funds.
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 avoids 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 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.
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:
There are no-fee checking accounts and free online brokerage accounts.
Many financial institutions and budgeting apps give you free access to your credit score, which is updated once per month.
Institutions that offer credit-builder loans — mostly banks and credit unions — don’t charge a monthly fee for eligibility, though they do charge interest.
Compare MoneyLion to other cash advance apps
MoneyLion’s Instacash is a solid advance product for existing MoneyLion customers. Advances up to $500 are larger than some other apps, but the company reserves the largest advances and fastest funding for those with MoneyLion checking accounts and Credit Builder Plus memberships. Not all competitors offer credit-building and budgeting tools, but some of the features that MoneyLion offers are free at other companies.
The app doesn’t charge mandatory fees for its advance, but the fast funding fee is high compared to competitors, with some users paying $8.99 to get a $90 to $100 advance instantly.
MoneyLion vs. other cash advance apps
Speed without paying a fee
1 to 3 days.
$9.99 monthly subscription fee.
Up to $100 per day, $750 per pay period.
1 to 3 days.
$8 monthly subscription fee unless you opt out.
Up to $500.
2 to 3 days.
$1 monthly membership fee.
12 hours to 5 days.
Approval takes up to 3 days.
Funding takes minutes.
3 business days.
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.