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Written by Ed Canty, CFP® on March 1, 2020
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Fundrise vs LendingClub 2021: Which Is Better?

We have all heard the saying that you "shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket."

The philosophy behind this is simple. If you were to get a hole in that basket, all of your eggs would fall out and break?

When it comes to the stock market, people often follow this strategy by diversifying into different stocks and industries. It is not wise to put all of your money in one particular stock or one industry. This is the financial equivalent of putting all your eggs in one basket.

Many investors take this diversification a step further. Instead of investing all of their money in the stock market, they also invest in other assets entirely. Common assets include, bonds, precious metals, real estate and even peer to peer lending.

The idea behind this is that these assets do not directly correlate with each other. In layman's terms, they don't do the same things at the same time. Two popular stock market alternatives are LendingClub and Fundrise.

Fundrise is a crowdfunded real estate investing platform that lets you passively invest in real estate projects and debt.

LendingClub is a peer to peer lending platform that allows you to act as a bank, loaning money to people for many different reasons.

Both of these are stock market alternatives allowing you to diversify outside of just stock market exposure. Here are the key differences between LendingClub vs Fundrise.


  • Fundrise allows you to invest in private real estate with a $500 minimum.
  • LendingClub lets you invest in personal loans and other lending with a $1,000 minimum. 
  • Fundrise only offers passive investing options, where you pick 1 of 4 portfolios.
  • LendingClub offers both passive portfolio investing as well as manual investing where you pick and choose loans.
  • Both platforms allow you to diversify to other asset classes outside of the stock market.
  • LendingClub is an unsecured investment, meaning there is no collateral.
  • Fundrise has an asset backing it, the physical real estate.
  • Unsecured debt is higher risk.
  • Average returns on Fundrise range from 8% to 12% per year.
  • On the other hand, returns from LendingClub have ranged from 6% to 8% per year.

Click here to invest with Fundrise!

What Is Fundrise?

Fundrise is a new investing platform that allows everyday investors to invest in private real estate projects traditionally limited to high net worth individuals or accredited investors. Using the Fundrise real estate investing platform, you have the ability to have investment exposure to both commercial and residential real estate.

They also offer both debt and equity investments within their investment portfolios.

Here is our full review of the Fundrise investment platform.

Crowdfunded Real Estate Free Training

We put together a free 30 minute video training that walks you through the entire process, step by step. This training will help you get up and running in no time at all.


How Does Fundrise Work?

Similar to real estate investment trusts or partnerships, all the investors pool their money together to purchase real estate assets. These assets then produce income and/or growth based on the principal investment. Historically Fundrise has provided investors with a positive return on their portion of the investment over time.

Real estate is traditionally a high barrier to entry investment, but crowdfunded platforms allow average retail investors to get exposure to this asset class. The Fundrise Starter Portfolio has a minimum account balance of $500.

This is significantly less than the cost of a direct real estate investment, which often requires tens of thousands of dollars. The other issue with owning an individual property is that you are not diversified. Fundrise is diversified across many different property types and geographical locations.

Click here to invest with Fundrise!

The Fundrise platform offers a variety of benefits such as low account minimums and quarterly redemption periods. However, investors should understand the liquidity and time horizon of an investment in the Fundrise platform. We will discuss this in further detail throughout the article.

A collection of Fundrise projects investors are backing.

Fundrise Real Estate Projects

The Fundrise platform offers plans to invest in different types of real estate such as income producing rental properties or growth-oriented real estate developments.

Fundrise offers different investment plans based on your investment objectives. You can keep track of Fundrise real estate projects within your account. Fundrise will also notify you about major developments with their projects.

For example, here is an email I got from one of my Fundrise investments. This is an apartment renovation project in Florida. Investors collectively backed this project.

Fundrise investors will receive emails like this when new projects are added to the portfolio they are invested in.
Fundrise Update Email

How To Make Money

There are two ways to make money with Fundrise:

  1. Dividends or quarterly distributions (reinvest to earn compound interest!)
  2. Asset appreciation, or buying a property and selling it for more down the line

The main investment objectives are to generate revenue from income producing properties as well as buying and selling real estate in thriving markets. As a Fundrise investor, you can choose whether you want to be in a growth-oriented portfolio or income-oriented portfolio.

Fundrise investors receive income from rental payments and proceeds from flips in the form of dividend payments or distributions. In exchange, Fundrise collects a 1% fee as the investment manager.

It is important to understand that Fundrise is a private real estate investment. The Fundrise eREITs and eFunds can only be bought and sold through this platform. They are not publicly traded on a stock exchange like a publicly traded REIT.

For that reason, investors should understand and be comfortable with the illiquidity of this investment. They do not recommend investing in this platform unless you have a minimum time horizon of 5 years.

Investment Portfolios

Fundrise allows you to choose from four professionally built real estate portfolios based on your risk and investment preferences.

Some portfolios are geared towards cash flow and others focused on the growth of the underlying assets. If you invest the minimum of $500, you will be placed in the starter portfolio. The other three advanced plans require a minimum investment of $1,000.

If you choose the starter portfolio, you can upgrade to the advanced plans at any time for no charge.

The three investment portfolios offered through Fundrise.
Fundrise Investment Portfolios

Starter Portfolio

The Fundrise Starter Portfolio is for new investors who would like to give Fundrise a shot.

The minimum account requirement is only $500 to begin investing. This portfolio consists of 50% growth and 50% income-oriented holdings. If you want to upgrade to an advanced plan down the road, it is completely free!

Supplemental Income

Next, we have the Fundrise Supplemental Income Portfolio.

This portfolio holds income producing real estate. Investors will earn returns primarily through dividends from cash flow producing real estate. Dividends are generated through rental and interest payments in proportion to your share of the fund.

Balanced Investing

The Fundrise Balanced Investing Portfolio offers a blend of 50% growth and 50% income-oriented investments.

The balanced investing portfolio invests in a blend of eREITs and eFunds offered by Fundrise. The goal for this portfolio is for a balance of income-generating real estate, as well as real estate that is appreciating in value.

Long Term Growth

Finally, we have the Fundrise Long Term Growth Portfolio. The goal of this portfolio is to generate returns primarily from asset appreciation.

This portfolio aims to purchase high growth potential real estate and generate returns mostly from the sale of the underlying properties. This includes buying property and performing renovations in order to sell the asset for a gain later.

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New Technology: eREIT & eFUND

Each portfolio consists of eREITs and eFunds designed by Fundrise. These investments are set up as real estate investment trusts or partnerships and they are managed by Fundrise.

An eREIT will produce income for your portfolio in the form of dividends.

Dividends are earned from the rent payments from the underlying apartment and commercial leases owned within the eREIT as well as interest payments from underlying real estate debt investments owned by Fundrise.

An eFund is a partnership created by Fundrise to be treated differently for tax reasons and to provide greater investment flexibility.

Partnerships have the advantage of avoiding the double taxation of normal C-Corps. eFunds are designed in a similar way to eREITs where there is a pool of real estate investments split into shares and sold to investors. Where eREITs are designed to generate income, eFunds are geared towards growth.

Investment Liquidity

Fundrise uses the funds you invest to purchase real estate. For this reason, there is a 60 day waiting period for withdrawing funds. There are also quarterly redemption periods.

This is why it is important to understand what you are investing in when you invest with Fundrise. Investors should aim for a long-term investment of at least a 5-year time horizon when investing with Fundrise. This Real estate investment is not highly liquid and may not be for everyone!

It is important that investors understand that Fundrise cannot guarantee distributions or liquidity.

Also, if you cash out early, you may be subject to an early withdrawal penalty. Investors should be in it for the long haul!

Click here to invest with Fundrise!

Historical Returns

Here are the returns from Fundrise "net of" or after fees. While returns have been solid, they don't have a very long track record. Returns have ranged from 8 to 12%.

Fundrise historical returns updated to show 2019

Click here to see updated Fundrise returns.

Fundrise Fees

To invest with the Fundrise platform you pay a fee of 1% per year. They do not charge any other hidden fees and there is no front load fee with Fundrise. This platform is very transparent about their fee structure.

There are also in some cases loan origination fees that range from 0 to 2% at the beginning of each project.

Fundrise Pros

  • The minimum to start investing with the Starter Portfolio is $500.
  • Small retail investors are able to access private real estate investments.
  • Since this is a non traded REIT, it may not directly correlate with the stock market.
  • Fundrise has a transparent fee of 1% per year.
  • This investment allows you to earn compound interest, with the option of automatically reinvesting quarterly dividends using a drip (Dividend Reinvestment Plan).
  • Fundrise does not have a minimum net worth or income requirement like most private investment funds do.
  • This is a 100% passive real estate investment.
  • Fundrise gives you diversified exposure to real estate.
  • Fundrise supports retirement accounts.
  • Monthly redemption periods eliminate the temptation for panic selling.

Fundrise Cons

  • Fundrise cannot guarantee liquidity.
  • Distributions (dividends) are not guaranteed.
  • Distributions (dividends) are taxed as ordinary income rather than capital gain rates.
  • The platform has a limited track record of four years and not a long investment history.

Fundrise: The Bottom Line

Fundrise may be a great platform for passive investors who are looking to gain access to private real estate markets.

The Fundrise platform may also a good option for investors who are looking to diversify asset classes and have less correlation to the overall stock market.

Since you can only liquidate your positions quarterly, investors may be less tempted to actively trade in and out of positions. In addition, you can automate your dividend reinvestment plan, allowing compound interest to build up in your account.

In most cases, Fundrise is best for investors with a minimum 5 year time horizon. Real estate is not a highly liquid investment and inexperienced investors need to take this into consideration. While Fundrise does offer a 90 day satisfaction guarantee, you should not invest if you have a short-term investing mentality.

Click here to invest with Fundrise!

What Is LendingClub?

LendingClub is a peer to peer lending platform that allows investors to earn interest in return for lending money to borrowers on the platform.

You can choose which type of lenders to lend to and earn interest on a monthly basis.

Essentially, you act as the bank in this transaction. Instead of going to a bank for a loan, borrowers go to this platform looking for financing.

These loans are then split up into notes, and investors can invest in portfolios of these notes or pick and choose them. This asset class was traditionally reserved for financial institutions, but now it is available to average retail investors.

What Is Peer To Peer Lending?

Peer to peer lending takes a modern approach to the traditional bank loan.

Traditional lending has been reserved for the banks for hundreds of years. Now, investors can get rid of the middleman and lend directly to borrowers. This allows investors to fund loans and earn principle and interest in return.

It also allows borrowers to take out loans and make monthly payments on those loans.

LendingClub acts as the exchange; its’ purpose is to connect lenders and borrowers. By enabling this mutually beneficial relationship, and creating the note structure, LendingClub collects a 1% investment management fee on any interest payment received by an investor. 

LendingClub is a cutting edge peer to peer lending platform.
Peer To Peer Lending Explained Simply

Note Structure

The LendingClub platform offers a wide variety of notes ranging in grade and quality.

LendingClub ranks each note based on its relative risk to the investor and rates them from A to E.

Notes rated A are of the highest quality and E being the lowest quality.

LendingClub identifies a notes risk using a set of criteria such as credit score, debt to income ratios, credit history and activity of the borrower. The higher the risk, the higher the interest rate on the note. Therefore investors who take higher risk and invest in E grade notes will have the highest interest rates.

Notes graded E also have the highest risk of losing part, if not all, of their investment.

Each LendingClub note has a different risk associated with it from A to E.
LendingClub Note Risk Structure

It is recommended by LendingClub to invest in a number of different notes in order to diversify your exposure to a variety of different borrowers and lower your risk. We all have heard the saying, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket."

Investors may choose to invest in a variety of different notes with different risk aiming to lower the volatility and overall risk of their portfolio.

Investing Strategies

When choosing the specific notes you would like to invest in, you have different options for investment strategies.

LendingClub offers both manual and automated investments on its platform. You have the ability to manually select specific notes and perform any due diligence before investing in a single note. This is a good option for investors that are more hands on and would like to implement their own unique investment style.

This manual investment strategy will allow you to hand pick each note.

LendingClub investors can manually select what notes they want to invest in.
LendingClub Manual Strategy

LendingClub also offers automated investing on their platform. You will select your investment criteria and risk tolerance and LendingClub will automatically purchase notes on your behalf. This saves the investor time and applies a consistent investment approach across your portfolio.

This approach is geared towards the passive investor.

Investment Time Horizon

LendingClub recommends investors plan on holding their investments until maturity. Currently, LendingClub offers two time horizons for their notes; 36 months and 60 months.

Because there is greater risk in notes that have longer maturities, the interest rates are slightly higher for 60-month notes compared to 36-month notes.

You have the option to sell your notes before maturity on a secondary market, but liquidity is never guaranteed. That being said, you can buy and sell LendingClub notes to other investors on the Folio investing platform. This provides liquidity to investors and allows more flexible investing.

Borrower Account Fees

There is no application fee for LendingClub, however there are often origination fees for borrowers.

Borrows pay up to 5% of the loan balance on the origination of the loan. These fees vary by the loan type and grade. Check with LendingClub to understand what origination fees may be involved. Investors do not pay these origination fees.

Investor Account Fees

LendingClub has certain transaction fees when investing on their platform. There are no fees when purchasing notes, however there is a 1% transaction fee whenever you receive payment from a borrower.

LendingClub also has fees when performing transactions on the Folio platform, the secondary market where you can sell notes you own. There is a 1% fee for selling any notes on Folio.

LendingClub IRA accounts have a $100 annual fee.

LendingClub will pay your IRA maintenance fee on your behalf if in the first year you maintain a balance of at least $5,000 in LendingClub notes. In subsequent years you must maintain at least $10,000 in LendingClub notes to have the fee waived.

LendingClub Pros

  • LendingClub offers an alternative investment that may be less correlated to the stock market.
  • Lenders can achieve diversification by investing in a variety of different notes. 
  • You can set up automated investing on LendingClub.
  • Exposure to an asset traditionally reserved for the banks.

LendingClub Cons

  • LendingClub charges a 1% fee for every payment received by an investor.
  • All LendingClub loans are unsecured, meaning there is a greater risk for lenders in the case of a default by a borrower.
  • All investment as at risk. Investors have no FDIC protection or guarantees of investment returns.
  • Any interest earned on LendingClub is taxed as ordinary income and not capital gains tax rates.

LendingClub: The Bottom Line

LendingClub allows investors to diversify by investing in an asset class traditionally reserved for banks.

Because LendingClub is a private investment, shares or notes are not traded on a major exchange. As a result, this asset class may be less correlated to the overall stock market but may be less liquid if you'd like to sell.

One negative of investing in interest bearing assets such as peer to peer lending is that all interest is taxed as ordinary income and not at capital gains tax rates. If you plan on investing in LendingClub, you may want to consider investing in a tax sheltered retirement account.

Fundrise vs LendingClub: The Verdict

Alternative investments to the traditional stock and bond portfolio may be a good option for an investor trying to diversify their holdings.

Both LendingClub and Fundrise can be good alternatives and provide investment exposure to different types of assets.

In the end, you should be conscious of the risks and opportunities with each investment option.

LendingClub gives you the option to lend money to a variety of borrowers and earn interest on a monthly basis.

Fundrise, on the other hand, is a good option to gain exposure to the commercial and residential real estate markets with a small initial investment.

What Are The Differences?

One of the core differences between Fundrise and LendingClub is the historical returns. Based on historical performance, returns on Fundrise range from 8% to 12% per year. On the other hand, returns on LendingClub range from 6% to 8% per year.

It is important to remember that both Fundrise and LendingClub have a limited operating history.

Another key difference is collateral. Through LendingClub, you are investing in unsecured debt like personal or medical loans. Through Fundrise, you are investing in secured debt where the real estate serves as collateral.

If you are not comfortable with investing in unsecured debt, peer to peer lending is not for you!

Both LendingClub and Fundrise collect a 1% fee for managing your investments.

The minimum to invest with Fundrise is $500 while the minimum to invest with LendingClub is $1,000.

Click here to invest with Fundrise!

There are countless ways to invest in real estate. Fundrise is just one of the many options. This may not be the best fit for you based on what you are looking for out of the investment. Check out our comprehensive guide on real estate investing to learn more and explore other avenues!

fundrise vs lendingclub
Article written by Ed Canty, CFP®
Ed is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. At his day job, Ed helps clients plan for retirement, manage their investments, and navigate their tax situation. In his free time, Ed enjoys golfing, traveling, fishing, and wrenching on his old car.

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