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Exclusive: We tried out @HelloMeetLance and we’re here to tell you to run for the hills as fast as you can

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Editors Note: This article is part of a multi-article deep dive investigation into “Lance: The Bank for the Self-Employed.” Lance is pretty straight forward mostly for the self-employed in America but that’s about as far as the good goes for this “fintech like company” that refuses to define itself as a bank.


In series 2, we speak to numerous so called employees who say that they were often subjected to making profound decisions regarding accounts usually based on a whim. One “employee” described it as a reverse pyramid scheme scamming people out of their money. Series 2 is live on Tuesday.


Before we begin, let’s go over some quick facts about Lance (many of which aren’t disclosed to customers during sign-up or are falsely advertised or misrepresented.)

  1. Lance is not a bank in itself.

Think of Lance like the middle man almost. Lance is pretty much a bank but that’s only if you happen to dig far enough to find that it is actually controlled by Blue Ridge Bank in Virginia. It isn’t a bank in itself and doesn’t have any formal locations. In fact, this financial services company could be quite literally described as something that came to be thanks to the rise of the internet.

For this we rate this service: 2/5. The fact there are no locations; no real active social media presence (like most other banks including similar ones like Lance) is a red flag and should be a tell-tale sign to most people. You should at minimum be able to hop on Twitter or Facebook and talk to the bank (presuming its about nothing super sensitive otherwise you’ll have to call.) But you can’t do that with Lance.

2. Contrary to popular belief Lance is not entirely free despite the way they make it seem.

Not only are customers charged $11.99 for essentially the “Premium Lance” (which this plan contains many of the very points in which make Lance worth it to begin with) they have no choice but to pay if they want the features that make Lance make sense anyway. The plan is actually where most of the services that make Lance stand out actually are. Lance will pay your taxes and such for you also but surprise — despite many mentions on social media and such it is rarely ever mentioned that this isn’t included in the base plan. When our undercover reporter signed up last year (Lance was not aware that they are or were a reporter) they were neither informed at the time of this very thing.

Multiple users also reported that their so-called “let us pay your taxes” for you service doesn’t actually work. Two customers one in Arlington VA and another in Colorado both noted that they were fined by their local governments for failing to make their self-employment tax payments on time. Both customers confirmed to Bazaar Daily that they had signed up for their “Premium Service” only to learn that it is in itself rife with problems.

3. Many of the customers we spoke to all sang a wildly similar tune (to the surprise of us quite honestly.)

Many of the consumers we spoke too told us pretty much the same schtick across the board. Lance ‘s customer service is non-existent (we’ve even managed to obtain screenshots of their so called 24/7 available chat which isn’t actually 24/7 despite their claim that they’re available 24/7 both on chat and on the phone.)

4. Numerous customers reported to us a pretty sketchy common complaint.

At least 13 of the 40 customers we spoke too spanning New York City to Hollywood all had a very similar complaint. Many of them were all-star customers never having had a single issue with their account. And then suddenly Lance ‘s overzealous “Fraud prevention system” suddenly freezes their account without their knowledge. This is where the situation becomes something that we have decided to forward for example to the city of New York because it appears this may require further investigation by actual authorities.

If you or someone you know has done business with these folks we’d like to talk to you. We can do so safely and securely just send us a message anywhere on social media and ask for our Signal or use the contact e-mail button. We are happy to provide anonymity to customers because we have evidence to suggest that this bank retaliates against its customers.

This statement from one woman sums up the issue vividly:

The customer in question confirmed that while she was out of the country on vacation with her husband Lance froze her account with no notification to her (not even a simple e-mail.) She did not learn it was frozen until nearly two weeks after they had already did it, which, they then tried to pin on Visa providing her a number to a so-called “Visa representative” that actually leads back to Lance ‘s own card activation team (seriously, no joke here, we called the number ourselves and were shocked to discover this despite the Lance rep telling this customer something entirely different.)

“I had a perfect account for a while. I think I originally signed up from an ad I saw online somewhere but the experience went downhill and downhill fast after about 6 months or so. I had regular deposits many from various sources of income (I am an active serial entrepreneur.) I had Lance as a separate business account so I could closely understand how my revenue was increasing as I wanted to see it outside of any and all other forms of personal income. It was magical for a while because everything was so easy to read on the statement and marked well.

The same cannot be said for their app; its design, so called fraud prevention team, and the way they built the UI to begin with. In the beginning, and even now, I was often plagued with “SSL errors” and other weird code errors I had never seen or been familiar with before limiting access to the app entirely. Support never fixed this or addressed it and on numerous occasions tried to blame it on my phone even though I had just bought a new iPhone at the time. But my horror story doesn’t stop there.

About a month or two ago, I had deposited a semi-large sum of money thanks to a payment from a client. Unannounced to me their fraud prevention system (editors note: we verified this claim against an audio recording of the automated system played for us by this customer.) The system is entirely automated and if you do not evidently answer the system it will by default freeze your account. It does not appear that it is possible to have the account unfrozen because Lance does not provide actual answers to anything but instead provides copied-and-pasted answers from a Zendesk profile that they pretend people don’t know they’re messaging from. This “bank” is nothing like other banks of the same kind (think Chime; Varo, Point and so on.)”

But the story takes a dark turn from here.

Edward C who confirmed it was okay to name him in this article with permission had a much more disturbing experience with Lance.

“I had a customer send in a payment for equipment rental and such (it is one of 3 of my businesses.) Lance blocked the payment; froze my account, with no explanation or knowledge beyond the fact that I ‘violated their deposit account agreement.” When I asked them to outline what was violated they could not do so clearly. I had the account for all of maybe 2-3 months. I had used it exactly what it was for a business owner trying to make paying taxes easier and seeing how my revenue was doing outside of my own personal income. Lance ‘s later decided to close my account without explanation once again noting that the decision was final. So there’s a genuine understanding here a guy sent me $5,000 for equipment rental and that is what appears to have triggered the shutdown. I never did get the payment for that service and the claim of a check being mailed to me within 30 days is a total lie. No check or “investigation” was sent to my home address.”

Following Edward ‘s testimonial about Lance we were contacted about a month ago from an individual that we will not identify who we later confirmed is presently employed by Lance. This employee confirmed to Bazaar Daily that the reason some of these instances occur is because Lance is not actually a bank; relies on a vaguely worded “deposit account agreement” and is actually controlled by a real bank.

EDITORS NOTE: We have identified like we mentioned before their home bank as Blue Ridge Bank in Virginia. Its worth pointing out that this bank has some pretty sketchy reviews in itself over at the BBB.

“Lance failed to market itself correctly. There are allot of folks that are confused as to what Lance actually is because it isn’t a bank. But this isn’t well explained to many people let alone new customers. Management often relies on the deposit account agreement on their side to determine what to do with customer accounts but often hides behind “customer privacy and policy” to avoid having to be honest with people. I’ve definitely seen number of accounts get flagged and suspended for no real reason.

“I would not recommend that people put real money into Lance as Lance will cancel your account with no explanation and there isn’t any real help to retrieve missing funds. We have so many complaints and customer service issues because people are noticing this as evidenced by thee many reviews including but not limited to the iPhone app store.”

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