Is Market America an MLM or Pyramid Scheme? [Review]

Market America is a big company started in 1992 by JR and Loren Ridinger. It’s known for selling through a method called MLM, where people can earn money by selling products and recruiting others.

Market America has been endorsed by celebrities and featured in popular magazines like Allure, Vogue, US Weekly, and People, which makes it seem trustworthy.

So, here’s the big question: Is Market America a legit MLM or a pyramid scheme? We’ll get into that. And hey, we’ll also fill you in on a better way to make money from home.

Who Am I?

Hey there! I’m Benjamin, the person behind MLM Scam Insider. I used to be a sales rep at an MLM company, so I’ve seen both the good and bad sides of the MLM world.

After college, I joined HSBC as a relationship manager. Unfortunately, I got laid off due to some silly mistakes, and I felt pretty hopeless. During this tough time, a friend suggested I join his team.

He flaunted his success on Instagram with a Lamborghini (later, I discovered he had just rented it), so I believed I could attain the same. I purchased a starter kit from him and became a distributor. However, being a sales representative at an MLM company wasn’t what I had anticipated – it felt like a pyramid scheme. Uncomfortable with the idea of pitching to my friends and family, I only managed to sell a few starter kits.

Fortunately, I discovered how to make money blogging during Covid. So I soon quit my job as a sales rep and focused on my blog about budgeting, later selling it for $170k. Now, I’m a full-time internet entrepreneur running several blogs, including this one.

My goal is to provide you with honest reviews of various MLM companies, using my personal experiences to help you understand what’s really happening. I have connections with friends in the network marketing industry, and my team and I have spoken with different MLM distributors to give you the inside scoop.

What is Market America?

Market America is a well-known company started by JR and Loren Ridinger in 1992. Based in Greensboro, North Carolina, it has over 800 staff members. They offer a wide range of products, from household items to jewelry, endorsed by celebrities and featured in magazines.

However, some critics see Market America as a typical multilevel marketing scheme. They argue that the products are similar to what you find in local stores.

The business model has faced criticism for relying on fees from new members and requiring them to buy a certain amount of products each month to resell.

Market America has even faced legal issues, with a 2017 lawsuit claiming it’s an illegal pyramid scheme.

Market America

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Are Market America Products Any Good?

Market America provides a wide range of products and services in various categories. They have well-known trademarks like the Isotonix line of dietary supplements, along with clothing, shoes, beauty products, electronics, health and nutrition items, children’s products, travel essentials, groceries, and more.

Moreover, Market America has partnered with Sezzle, a publicly traded financial technology company. This collaboration allows shoppers to make purchases in four interest-free installments over six weeks, making it more affordable for customers.

While Market America offers a diverse selection of products, some critics have raised concerns about the quality and uniqueness of these products. Some argue that the items are similar to those found in local stores.

This perception can make selling Market America’s products challenging, as potential customers may question why they should choose these offerings over familiar alternatives.

Is Market America An MLM?

Yes, Market America is an MLM (multi-level marketing) company. When you join their MLM program, you become an independent distributor or “UnFranchise Business Owner.” You can also run an online retail website called a “Partner Store.”

To join, you pay startup and monthly fees, like in most MLMs, and you’re expected to recruit others. Your earnings come from product sales commissions and recruiting new members to your sales team.

As an independent distributor, you won’t get a regular salary from Market America. You run your own business, sell their products, and earn commissions based on your sales and your recruits’ sales.

However, making a significant income just from selling products is unlikely. MLM success often depends on recruiting new members. You earn commissions from the sales and recruits of those you bring in.

MLM is complex. You build a downline of recruits beneath you, and as they recruit, your earnings potential increases. Those at the top of the downline usually have more financial success than those at the bottom.

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Is Market America a Pyramid Scheme?

No, Market America is not a pyramid scheme. It’s a legit MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) company where members make money by selling products and services. Unlike pyramid schemes, Market America doesn’t rely solely on recruitment for income.

In 2017, there was a federal lawsuit against Market America, claiming it targeted Chinese-American immigrants for sales to friends and relatives in Asia. The lawsuit alleged “extortion,” but Market America hasn’t been legally labeled a pyramid scheme.

Pyramid schemes promise money for recruiting others and are unsustainable scams. Members pay a fee, and the company rewards recruiting. Market America has various products, unlike pyramid schemes selling little value. Pyramid schemes can’t sustainably make money for all participants, unlike legitimate businesses

Read more: Pyramid Scheme vs. MLM 

How to Make Money With Market America?

Market America offers opportunities through their “UnFranchise” business. However, before you can get started, you need to sign up and become qualified.

There are several ways to earn money with Market America, with the most common ones including cash back, retail commission, residual commission, shopping annuity, and management bonuses.

Simply put, you can either earn money from product sales commissions or by recruiting new members to your sales team.

One important thing to keep in mind is that Market America charges exorbitant subscriptions, monthly fees, and other charges.

Also, to receive a commission, you must make a certain number of sales each month.

Market America Compensation Plan

Market America’s compensation plan may seem a bit complicated, but don’t worry; we’ll break it down for you.

One of the main ways to earn money is through the Residual Income – Binary Compensation Plan. By recruiting at least two people to join your team, you can earn commissions when they bring in new members. This Binary MLM system keeps separate records for Business Volume (BV) and Internet Business Volume (IBV), allowing you to earn points when you purchase a product for yourself or sell it at retail.

To earn $3600 per week, you need to recruit 200 DBC owners below you, each with 100 BV or IBV ($200 product). While this requires a substantial number of active UFOs, remember that this is not the only path to success in the company.

Another way to earn is through cashback. You can earn cashback by making online purchases and even more when your customers make purchases through you. Depending on the product, you can earn anywhere from 2% to 50% cash back, with an additional 0.5% if you refer someone.

If you want to turn your spending into income, explore the Shopping Annuity. Use and UnFranchise Business to earn credits as you shop.

You can also earn through retail profits by creating a list of preferred customers and offering them a commission ranging from 30% to 50% of the gross retail profit. However, this applies only to sales between two people.

Finally, if you and your team complete the BV commission cycle in the same field, you’ll receive a $600 management bonus. So, the better your team performs, the more bonus money you’ll be eligible for.

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How Much Does It Cost To Join Market America?

The process is simple – just fill out their application form and register on their website. After that, Market America will redirect you to a page where you can purchase a starter kit for $399.

What does the starter kit include, you ask? Well, you’ll get a variety of items ranging from health and personal care products to cosmetics and weight loss solutions. However, it’s important to note that the starter kit doesn’t come cheap.

In addition to the upfront cost, you’ll also need to pay a monthly fee of $50, which adds up to $200 per quarter. That’s an additional expense to keep in mind.

When you start recruiting others to join you in the program, you’ll also need to pay for access to the back office and your own website. The access fee is $20.

To summarize, the costs associated with joining Market America’s MLM program include:

  • Starter Kit: $399
  • Monthly Fee: $50/month or $200/quarterly
  • Access to Back Office and your own domain website: $20
  • Annual Renewal Fee: $99

So, if you’re considering joining Market America’s MLM program, make sure to keep these costs in mind and decide whether it’s a good investment for you.

Market America Success Rate

MLMs, such as Market America, are widely recognized for their low success rates. According to statistics, the majority of people involved in MLMs, including Market America, do not achieve financial success.

Research from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) even suggests that approximately 99% of MLM participants do not make substantial money; instead, they either break even or incur losses.

There are several key challenges that contribute to Market America’s low success rate in their MLM program.

These challenges include the need to meet monthly sales quotas, high upfront costs for joining, and a heavy reliance on recruiting others to build a successful downline.

These factors make it challenging for most members to attain significant income levels, leaving only a small group who find success.

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Pros and Cons of Market America MLM

The Pros

  • Market America offers a wide variety of products and services.
  • Some distributors have reported success and significant income levels within Market America, particularly those who excel in recruitment and sales.
  • The concept of converting everyday spending into potential earnings through the Shopping Annuity can be appealing to some members.

The Cons

  • Joining Market America entails substantial upfront costs, including starter kits, monthly fees, and other expenses.
  • Success in Market America often relies heavily on recruiting new members, which can create pressure and strain personal relationships.
  • Market America’s products are perceived as overpriced compared to similar offerings from competing brands.
  • The complexity of Market America’s compensation plan can be confusing for new members.
  • Market America has faced legal challenges, including accusations of operating an illegal pyramid scheme.
  • MLMs, including Market America, have been criticized for fostering a culture that discourages critical thinking and isolates members from friends and family outside the organization.

Should You Join Market America?

If you’re thinking about joining Market America MLM to make money, I have to be honest – I wouldn’t recommend it. While you could potentially earn a commission, the reality is that it can be a tough journey.

In the beginning, you’ll need to find recruiters to add to your Market America commission, and unfortunately, this can be challenging. To make things harder, you might feel pressured to ask your family and friends to join, which isn’t always a fun experience.

Another issue is that your upline will likely keep asking you to buy more Business Support Material, and all the while, you’ll be struggling to get people to join your downline.

Statistics show that 72.5 to 99.9 percent of MLM members actually lose money. This is because MLMs have sales quotas that require members to keep selling products to remain active and eligible for commissions. If members don’t meet the quota, they won’t get paid. As a result, many MLM members end up losing a significant amount of money before even recruiting one person into the company.

If you’re interested in earning money and having a flexible schedule, I would recommend starting your own online business instead. This way, you can choose what you want to promote, rather than being told what to promote.

Other MLM Opportunities

Here are the other MLM companies we have reviewed:


Amway (Full Review)


Market America (Full Review)


Primerica (Full Review)


Herbalife (Full Review)


Mary Kay (Full Review)


Vector Marketing (Full Review)


Enagic (Full Review)


World Financial Group (Full Review)


Nu Skin (Full Review)


Q Sciences (Full Review)

See our list of the best MLM Companies.

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