Published June 22, 2017|7 min read
There are a lot of financial apps out there. The key is finding the right one for you. Which integrates with the accounts and financial products you use? Which is best suited to help you reach your particular money goals? Which has the best design and interface?
When the app is something like You Need A Budget or Mint, a lot of the onus is on the user to figure out how to use it. Even popular investing apps like Betterment, Wealthfront, or Robinhood are open ended enough that the user has to put in some legwork; these services can guide you to a certain extent, but you still need to know how to use them for retirement, or college savings, or whatever your goal is.
Things are a little easier when an app comes from a company offering a specific service. Case in point? The MoneyLion app. MoneyLion revamped their app in May 2016, and it looks great. It also has a very specific goal: to get users to apply for a loan through MoneyLion.
Is that a hindrance to the app, or does it make it more useful? Let’s dive into the individual sections of the MoneyLion to see if it should be the next financial app for you.
One of the first things you’ll see when you fire up the MoneyLion app is a list of resources to swipe through.
This is in stark contrast to other apps, like Robinhood, which offer virtually nothing in the way to resources. However, MoneyLion wants you to know not only how to use their service, but the broader financial implications surrounding them. That means you’ll learn about the app, but also be able to read a full-length article on decade-by-decade financial decisions or the benefits of credit monitoring services. They open right there in the app, so you don’t have to navigate to a website and then back to what you were doing.
This is a big plus for MoneyLion right off the bat. Even if this isn’t your only financial app, it can be a valuable resource for anyone wanting to learn more about their money and how they can make the best financial decisions, and the fact that it’s up front draws you in right away.
Considering MoneyLion’s bread and butter is personal loans, it’s no surprise that you’re able to apply for a loan directly from the app.
Luckily, this works well. With just a few pieces of information, like your desired loan amount, what you’re using it for, and confirming personal details, you can get a loan rate in literally seconds. It couldn’t be easier, and if your primary reason for using MoneyLion is to get a loan, you’ll be pleased to know you won’t have to be at a desktop to do so.
There are a lot of reasons why you might opt for a loan, and just as many things you should watch out for if you do get one. Make sure you understand the implications of getting a loan – using MoneyLion’s resources or somewhere else – before you apply!
The Finances section of the MoneyLion app is pretty much in line with what you get from other apps. You link your financial accounts and assets – bank and investment accounts, credit cards, and home or auto properties – and MoneyLion will show transactions, as well as your assets versus debt.
I’m a little torn on this aspect of the app. On the one hand, can you make a financial app in 2017 that doesn’t offer a basic financial overview facet? People expect to be able to see their accounts and transactions in one place, and not having it would be a major oversight.
On the other hand, there’s not a lot to it in this app. It’s literally just a list of transactions; it’s a nice overview, but doesn’t offer anything in terms of planning, categorizing, budgeting, etc. I understand why it’s there, but it doesn’t feel like it adds anything.
It’s also worth noting that I had issues adding some bank accounts, specifically from USAA. Hopefully it was a one-off problem that isn’t widespread, but it’s something to keep in mind as you’re adding your own accounts.
Whether or not you’re getting a loan, the Credit section of the MoneyLion app is one of its most useful tools. You can quickly get a free credit score, as well as see how you compare to the general population, so you can brag about it at parties. You also get an analysis of your credit, like your credit age and utilization, and a snapshot of your different accounts.
We’ve talked before about why your credit score is important, what affects it, and the financial implications of low and high credit scores. But MoneyLion has a credit simulator which shows real life examples of what happens to your credit based on different scenarios.
For example, you can see whether your score will rise or fall if you spend $1,000 with your credit card, if you get a $3,000 loan, if you add a certain number of credit inquiries, or if you increase your credit limit. This real-time simulator makes it simple to see what financial decisions you should make, and it’s an incredibly useful tool for understanding your money better.
MoneyLion is trying to play up the social aspects of their app and service, and the Community section is where they do that, lettings users invite and add friends. That’s really all this tab is for (I presume – I don’t have any MoneyLion friends at the moment. Sad!). So instead, let’s talk about why you might want MoneyLion friends: Boosts.
Boosts, at its core, is a referral program. It’s a way for MoneyLion to get customers to encourage their friends and family to also sign up for the service. I’m not one to begrudge referral programs; they’re an important part of any business, and happy customers are as effective as any form of advertising.
But Boosts offer a real value to customers because they offer loan rate discounts based on the number of Boosts you receive. Loan rates can go down by anywhere from 2.5% to 15% for loans under 36% APR, which can be a huge difference in how much you ultimately end up paying for your loan.
This is one of the biggest reasons you might decide to use the MoneyLion app. There are a lot of places you can get a loan from, and MoneyLion on its own is a good place to start. But Boosts that can lower your loan rate are an added incentive you’re not likely to find in many other places, and are a real differentiator for MoneyLion.
Digging a little deeper into the MoneyLion app, you’ll find a section for credit card reviews – both to read reviews from other users, and to write your own.
If you’re in the market for a new credit card, you probably know that there are a ton of options out there. MoneyLion breaks down those options so they’re easily understandable. First, they clearly categorize cards. Whether you want a card with good balance transfer options, a low APR, or the best reward points or airline miles, you’ll able to pick from a grouping and continue on from there. When you pick a specific card, you’ll be met with further details like fees, benefits, APRs, and more information. From there, you can read or write reviews.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of credit cards available to you, and if you want a simple way to cut through the noise and find the right card, the MoneyLion app is a great place to start.
One last note: You can earn "points" by taking actions like enrolling in credit monitoring, connecting your bank accounts to the app, and more. You can then trade in these points for rewards from a surprisingly big list of retailers. This probably won’t make or break anyone’s decision about using MoneyLion, but it’s a nice perk if you take advantage of it.
If you’re looking for a financial app that gives you control of your budget, you’ll probably want to look outside of MoneyLion. There’s no shortage of apps out there that let you plan and control your finances.
However, there are a lot of reasons why the MoneyLion app is for you. If you’re using MoneyLion to secure a loan, it’s a no-brainer. And some of the additional features, like the credit score simulator, the credit card reviews, and Boosts, are great tools that can help you make the most of your money.
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