Why Was My Bank Account Application Denied?

What to Know if You’ve Been Denied a Checking Account

It’s certainly a frustrating experience to be denied a checking account, but you can find out why you were rejected and take steps to get approved. The truth is, your bank account application could be denied for many reasons. Maybe you had some issues in the past (say, closing an account with a negative balance) or perhaps there’s just a plain old mistake in your record.

Whatever the case, you probably want to repair the situation ASAP. Having a checking account is a hub for many people’s financial life. It’s where your pay is likely deposited and how you pay your bills.

So let’s take a look at:

•  Why your bank application was denied

•  What your ChexSystems record might have on file

•  How a second-chance checking account could help

•  Steps to take before reapplying for a checking account

Reasons Why You May Be Denied a Checking Account

Are you wondering, “Why was I denied a checking account?” There are a few reasons that could be the determining factor in this situation. Many people wonder if they can be denied a checking account because of their credit score. Typically, banks don’t pull your credit report when you apply for an account. Your credit score is a measure of your creditworthiness; how well you do in terms of borrowing and repaying money, from whether you pay your utility bills on time to whether you have credit charge offs on your cards.

What they do look at is a similar record but for how well you have handled your banking life. Consumer agencies provide banks with information about your prior checking account activity. ChexSystems is one of the most well-known of these banking reporting agencies. It collects information from banks on your checking account activity and assigns you a score depending on how well you manage your bank accounts. The banks use this score to decide whether to qualify you for a checking account. If you have a poor score (we’ll share more details on that in a minute), you may be denied.

But your ChexSystems report is not the only reason a bank may deny you a checking account. There might be a simple error in your personal information. For example, your name might be spelled wrong or your Social Security number could be incorrect. The bank will try to electronically verify these data with a third party, and any errors will cause the application to be rejected.

You will also have to provide proof of identity, such as a copy of your driver’s license or passport, and if there are discrepancies between the documents and the information typed into an application, the application may be rejected.

Let’s now take a closer look at what might be responsible for your being rejected for a checking account.

Recommended: How Often Should You Monitor Your Checking Account?

Negative Information on ChexSystems

Negative items on your ChexSystems report may get you denied for a checking account. They can cause banks to consider you a high risk for financial services. Negative information that could cause your application to be rejected include one or more of the following:

•  Forced account closures

•  Bounced checks or overdrafts

•  Suspected fraud or identity theft

•  Unpaid fees or negative bank balances from a current or closed accounts

•  Too many account applications submitted over a short period

These negative marks on your record can last up to five years.

Errors on Your ChexSystems Report

Just as you may have credit report errors, so too can your ChexSystems report have mistakes. This could trigger your bank account application to be rejected, even if your past checking account management was good. You can obtain a copy of your ChexSystems report once a year or whenever your application for a bank account is denied. (Keep in mind, though, that applying for a bank account too many times will be a black mark against you. If you get rejected, it’s probably a good idea to investigate your banking report vs just putting in more applications.)

If you are denied a bank account, check whether simple errors on your ChexSystems report could be the reason.

Bad Credit

Your credit score can affect a bank’s decision regarding a checking account. ChexSystems collects data related to both debit and credit accounts, and a low credit score may play a role. If unpaid debts and fees are reported to a collection agency, and that information finds its way to the credit reporting bureaus, your credit score will be negatively affected.

Recommended: What Is Considered a Bad Credit Score? 

Bankruptcy

If you have filed for bankruptcy, the bank will find out when it checks your background. Depending on the bank’s stipulations, they may decide that you are too much of credit risk to offer you a bank account. Your borrowing capacity will be significantly limited by bankruptcy, as will the number of financial institutions willing to provide you with financial services, such as a checking account.

Identity Can’t Be Verified

An application for a bank account may be rejected simply because there are mistakes and/or the information entered does not match the documents you submitted. For example, if you have recently moved, the verification source may not recognize your new address, or you might have answered security questions incorrectly when prompted by the verification system.

Here are other reasons your identity might not be verified:

•  Your submission had an error or typo.

•  Your credit profile may contain erroneous information.

•  Your credit report could be frozen if there is suspicion of fraud or identity theft.

•  Your documents may have expired.

•  Your documents may be unreadable.

•  You may have submitted a phone number that is not associated with your address.

Recommended: How To Read A Credit Report

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

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Alternative: Second-Chance Checking Account

So let’s say your bank account application was denied. How do you get that checking account that you need? Here’s one route: Some banking institutions offer a second-chance account for those denied a traditional checking account. A second-chance account provides limited services, but it can help improve your financial life if managed responsibly.

These accounts often come with high fees, but you can upgrade a second-chance account to a regular checking account within a year or two if you pay the fees and maintain a positive balance. These accounts can help you on your path to building a solid banking history.

Steps to Take Before Reapplying for a Checking Account

If you’ve been denied a checking account, you may well want to apply elsewhere immediately. But a word of warning: Doing so could cause your application to be rejected if you request a new account too often. To maximize your chances of success, take the following steps before you reapply.

1. Find Out Why Your Application Was Denied and Ask the Bank to Reconsider

By law, the bank should tell you why your application was denied. Regardless of the bank’s information from a reporting agency, the bank makes its own decisions when approving account applications. You may be able to overturn the bank’s decision depending on the circumstances. It’s probably worthwhile to make that request.

2. Check Your Banking Report

You can obtain a copy of your ChexSystems report once a year and whenever you are denied a bank account if the report is the cause of your rejection. Visit the ChexSystems’ website or call 800-428-9623.

3. Look for Errors and Fraudulent Activity

Once you have your ChexSystems report, look for fraudulent activity or mistakes in information such as your name, address, phone number, or Social Security number. For any errors contact the agency, and be ready to provide supporting information to ensure the issue gets corrected.

4. Clean Up Your Report

Look at the negative actions on your report and fix them; you can file a dispute for anything erroneous by going to the ChexSystems website. Pay off any debts and unsettled fees. Ask to have the negative activity removed. Otherwise, they can stay on your report for up to five years.

The Takeaway

Having your application for a bank account denied is an upsetting experience that can definitely limit your financial life. The root of the problem could be that ChexSystems or another consumer reporting agency has given the bank information indicating that you are a high-risk customer. But your application could also have been rejected because mistakes were made or your identity couldn’t be verified. By taking steps to remove errors and repair damage, you’ll be on the road to get the accounts you need to keep your money safe and keep your financial life humming along.

When you’re ready to apply for bank accounts again, check out what SoFi has to offer. When you open our linked Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get an array of benefits that make banking a breeze and help your money grow. You’ll earn a whopping 1.25% APY and pay zero account fees. Plus, you’ll have access to your paycheck two days early.

Bank smarter with SoFi.

FAQ

Can you get a bank account if you’ve committed fraud?

If you have committed fraud, you will likely have a history with ChexSystems, and you are likely to find your bank account application declined. However, you can get a second chance checking account. If you maintain a positive balance and pay the monthly fees, you can probably upgrade to a regular checking account within a year or two.

How do I get my bank account after being blacklisted?

ChexSystems will blacklist you if you show a pattern of questionable behavior like failing to pay fees or committing fraud. You can try to remedy the record by paying off debts, but otherwise, your record could be with you for up to five years. You can seek out a second chance loan and hope that you can upgrade to a regular checking account within two years if you manage your account responsibly.

How long do fraud investigations last?

There’s no formal limit on the length of an investigation. Typically, they take about 45 days. But remember, if you are found guilty, that negative information can stay on your ChexSystems report for up to five years.


Photo credit: iStock/skynesher

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 1.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 0.70% APY on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 1.25% APY is current as of 4/5/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
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Guide to Withdrawing From a Tax-Free Savings Account

Guide to Withdrawing From a Tax-Free Savings Account

A Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) allows Canadian residents 18 and older to save money on a tax-free basis. If you need to take money from your account, you can make a tax-free savings withdrawal at any time. It sounds like an ideal way to boost your financial health and wealth, and it can be.

So let’s take a closer look at these accounts. There are some additional rules that apply to TFSA withdrawals and there are also limits on annual contributions. If you’re eligible to open a Tax-Free Savings Account, it’s helpful to understand how they work. To help you do that, we’ll delve into, among other topics,

•   What a Tax-Free Savings Account is

•   What is the contribution room on a TFSA

•   When and how you can withdraw from a Tax-Free Savings Account.

What Is a Tax-Free Savings Account?

A Tax-Free Savings Account or TFSA is a special type of savings account for Canadian residents. If you live in Canada, are 18 or older, and have a Social Insurance Number (SIN), you can open a TFSA to set aside money on a tax-free basis. Non-residents who have an SIN can also open a Tax-Free Savings Account but contributions are subject to a 1% tax each month they remain in the account.

TFSAs can be offered by banks, credit unions, insurance companies, and trust companies. A TFSA can be established as a deposit account, annuity contract, or arrangement in trust. You don’t need to have earned income to open and contribute to a TFSA.

A TFSA is not the same as an RRSP or Registered Retirement Savings Plan. The main difference between a TFSA vs. RRSP is tax treatment. RRSP contributions are tax-deductible; TFSA contributions are not. Additionally, withdrawals from an RRSP are taxable while a TFSA offers the advantage of tax-free savings withdrawals.

So when can you withdraw money from a tax-free savings account? The short answer is any time you like. But there are some rules to understand with regard to withdrawals from a TFSA and the contributions you’re allowed to make each year.

What Is the TFSA Contribution Room?

The TFSA contribution room is the maximum amount you can contribute to your account for the year. All contributions you make during the year, including replacement or re-contribution of withdrawals made from your account, are factored in when calculating your contribution room.

There are a few exceptions, however. For instance, none of the following count toward your contribution room:

•   Qualifying transfers

•   Exempt contributions

•   Specified distributions

So why does the contribution room matter? One reason: penalties. If you go over your available TFSA contribution room at any time during the year, you’ll have to pay a tax penalty. It will equal 1% of the highest excess amount in the month, and it’s calculated for each month excess contributions remain in your account.

TFSA Contribution Limits

The Canada Revenue Agency establishes annual contribution limits for TFSAs. These limits are periodically adjusted for inflation. For 2022, the TFSA contribution limit is $6,000. This is similar to the maximum annual contribution limit for U.S.-based savers who open a traditional or Roth IRA.

One thing to know about TFSAs is that the contribution room accumulates over time, even if you haven’t opened an account yet. This means if you didn’t contribute for a certain year, you may be able to catch up and put in funds later.

Here’s how contribution room has accumulated since these accounts were introduced in 2009:

•   From 2009 to 2012, the annual TFSA dollar limit was $5,000

•   For 2013 and 2014, the annual TFSA dollar limit was $5,500

•   In 2015, the annual TFSA dollar limit was $10,000

•   From 2016 to 2018, the annual TFSA dollar limit was $5,500

•   For years 2019 to 2021, the annual TFSA dollar limit was $6,000

As of 2022, the total lifetime contribution allowed to a TFSA was $81,500.

Earnings on investments do not affect your contribution room. So if your investments go up in value over time, that wouldn’t reduce the amount you’re able to contribute to a TFSA.

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

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Recommended: Is There Such a Thing as a Safe Investment?

How to Calculate Your TFSA Contribution Room

All of these numbers and years may sound a little confusing at times. But there’s help: If you need to see your TFSA contribution room, the Canada Revenue Agency allows you to do so by:

•   Logging in to My Account

•   Using the MyCRA mobile app

•   Contacting your authorized representative

•   Calling the Tax Information Phone Service (TIPS) at 1-800-267-6999

You can also calculate your TFSA contribution room yourself. This is something you may want to do, as contributions you’ve made for the current year may not be included in the contribution room figure available through My Account, the mobile app, or by phone.

The Canada Revenue Agency publishes a worksheet you can download to calculate your contribution. To make the calculation, you’ll need to know three things:

•   Unused TFSA contribution room from previous years (that is, if you did not max out your contribution, by how much?)

•   Withdrawals made from a TFSA the previous year

•   Annual TFSA contribution limit

With TFSAs, you have the ability to replace withdrawals from previous years and have them count toward your contribution room.

So let’s say you opened a TFSA in 2009 and maxed out annual contributions through the end of 2019. But in 2020, you only contribute $1,000, leaving a $5,000 unused contribution. Meanwhile, you withdraw $3,000. At the beginning of 2021, your contribution room would be $15,000 ($6,000 for the 2021 annual limit + $3,000 for the withdrawal + $5,000 for unused contributions in 2020).

What If I Can’t Contribute the Maximum Contribution Room Amount?

All this talk of maximum contribution limits for TFSAs may have you wondering, “What if I can’t put that much into my account?” It’s a common situation. If you’re not financially able to max out your contribution room for any given year, you can carry forward unused contributions to the next year. This allows you to make larger contributions in tax years where you might have more funds available.

That’s an advantage compared to different types of retirement plans or other tax-advantaged savings accounts. If you’re saving in a Roth or traditional IRA, for example, you’d only be able to save up to $6,000 per year. With a TFSA or even an RRSP, on the other hand, the contribution room is cumulative. That means you don’t have to miss out any opportunities to max out those plans.

Recommended: Important Retirement Contribution Limits

Current TFSA Withdrawal Rules

When can you withdraw from a Tax-Free Savings Account? TFSA withdrawal rules offer flexibility, in that your money is accessible to you when you need it. Withdrawing money from your TFSA doesn’t lower the total amount of contributions you’ve already made from the current year. But withdrawals are added back to your contribution room for the following year.

So again, say you have $40,000 in your TFSA and you withdrew $5,000 at the end of 2021. You could take that $5,000 and add it to the $6,000 contribution limit for 2022 and contribute a total of $11,000 for the year. That figure might also be increased by any unused contribution amounts you have from previous years.

If you’d like to replace or re-contribute withdrawals in the same year, you can only do that if you have an available TFSA contribution room. If you don’t have available contribution room but you replace contributions anyway, then you’ll be subject to that 1% over-contribution tax penalty we mentioned previously.

When Can I Withdraw Money From My TFSA?

You might wonder, “Can I withdraw money from a Tax-Free Savings Account at any time?” The answer is a yes, according to the Canada Revenue Agency, which can lead to a big sigh of relief in some situations. This would be a tax-free savings withdrawal. So, for example, you might withdraw money from a TFSA, without being taxed, in order to:

•   Pay college expenses

•   Put a down payment on a home

•   Make repairs or renovations to a home you already own

•   Buy a car

•   Start a business

The only exception is if you’ve invested some or all of your TFSA money in products that are subject to lock-in rules. That includes GICs or Guaranteed Investment Certificates. A GIC is roughly the Canadian equivalent of a certificate of deposit (CD). They both are financial products in which you agree to leave your money in the investment for a set period of time while earning interest.

How Much Can I Withdraw From My TFSA?

There are no limits on how much you can withdraw from a TFSA at any given time. Just remember that if you want to replace those contributions or re-contribute them for the year, your ability to do so may be limited by what you’ve already deposited for the year.

For that reason, it may be a good idea to keep a running tally of how much you’ve contributed for the year and any withdrawals you make. This can help you avoid a tax penalty for making over-contributions. You can also see whether it’s possible to re-contribute withdrawals in the current tax year versus having to wait until the next year.

How Much Can I Save With a TFSA?

The amount you can save with a TFSA is determined by your contribution room, as explained earlier. If you’re opening a TFSA in 2022, then you’d be able to contribute $6,000 for the year. TFSA rules allow savers to accumulate contribution room beginning at age 18.

Let’s consider how age impacts saving in a TFSA. Say you were 18 in 2009 when TFSAs were introduced. You could open one of these accounts today and still be able to make contributions for all the years you’ve missed. On the other hand, if you turned 18 in 2019, then you’d only have accumulated contribution room beginning with that year.

TFSA Tax Withdrawal Implications

TFSA withdrawals are tax-free; there are no tax implications for taking money from your account. That’s why they are considered a very valuable savings opportunity. As noted, the only real tax penalty you have to worry about is the 1% penalty that applies if you make contributions over your available contribution room for the year.

TSFAs allow the money in your account to grow tax-free until you need to withdraw it. So you could open a TFSA at age 18 and deposit money up to your contribution room each year until age 65 and not pay a dime in taxes on any of it. For that reason, it can be beneficial to open a TFSA alongside an RRSP to save for the future.

Things to Consider When Contributing to and Withdrawing from TFSAs

Now that you understand when can you withdraw from your Tax-Free Savings Account balance, it’s helpful to consider when it makes sense to do so. Here are some tips for starting a retirement fund using a TFSA:

•   Contributions are not tax-deductible, nor are capital losses

•   Withdrawals are tax-free

•   Over-contributions can trigger a 1% tax penalty

•   Withdrawals can be replaced in the same year only if you have available contribution room

•   Unused contribution room can be carried forward to future years

•   Withdrawals can be added back to your contribution limit for the next year

Also, note that you can have more than one TFSA. But the amount you can contribute to all your TFSAs is aggregate and determined by your annual contribution room.

The Takeaway

Opening a TFSA can make good financial sense if you’re looking for a tax-advantaged way to save and invest money for the future. These Tax-Free Savings Accounts let you withdraw funds without paying any taxes on the money, which can be a real plus. But before starting a TFSA, it’s important to understand the rules for making contributions and when exactly you can withdraw money from your account. This intel will help keep your savings on track, today and tomorrow.

Of course, a TFSA isn’t the only way to save. You could also open an online banking account with SoFi. Our Checking and Savings, when opened with direct deposit, help make the most of your money. You’ll earn a highly competitive 1.25% APY to boost your balance, and there are no account fees to eat into your funds.

SoFi: The smarter way to bank.

FAQ

Can I withdraw money from my tax-free savings account?

You can withdraw money from a Tax-Free Savings Account at any time, tax-free. Withdrawals can be added back to your TFSA contribution room for the next tax year.

What are the rules for withdrawing from a TFSA?

Withdrawals can be made at any time from a TFSA, and those withdrawals are tax-free. You can replace or re-contribute withdrawals in the same tax year, only if you have available contribution room. Any withdrawals that are not replaced in the same tax year can be carried forward to the next year.

What happens if you lose money in your TFSA?

When you put money in a TFSA, you have the option to invest it in different securities. The value of your TFSA is linked to the value of those investments. If you lose money in your TFSA because the value of your investments declines, you cannot deduct those capital losses on your taxes.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 1.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 0.70% APY on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 1.25% APY is current as of 4/5/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
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How Do I Check My Credit Score Without Paying?

How Do I Check My Credit Score Without Paying?

Many of us want to check our credit scores without paying, and the good news is: Yes, you can get that three-digit number for free from a variety of different sources. Your credit card company or lender may offer a free way to check your credit score. Also, you can get a copy of your credit report from the three credit bureaus: Experian, Transunion, or Equifax, without having to pay a dime.

Why is this free intel such a gift? Because keeping tabs on your credit score can help you spot discrepancies or potentially fraudulent activities. It can also help you monitor your progress if you’re working hard to increase your score. A solid credit score can elevate your creditworthiness and actually pay off. A higher score may well unlock lower loan rates and other benefits.

So, to help you understand what to look for when reviewing your credit score, here’s a breakdown of everything you should know:

•   What a credit score and why you should check it

•   When a credit-score check can hurt your score

•   How to get a free look at your credit score.

What Is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a three-digit number that lenders and creditors use to assess your creditworthiness. In other words, it helps lenders decide the probability of you repaying a loan or a line of credit to their institution. Credit scores are usually broken down into two types: generic and custom scores.

You can find your generic credit score with the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion). Information from all lenders and businesses are compiled to calculate your generic score.

Conversely, individual lenders may create their custom credit scores to determine your likelihood of repayment. These scores include credit reporting from the three major credit bureaus and other data from their profile, such as your repayment history. The purpose of this type of credit score is to determine your creditworthiness with regard to a specific type of lending (like a mortgage) or a particular lender.

It’s worth remembering that different scoring models use unique formulas to calculate your credit score. Companies like VantageScore and FICO will each have their own guidelines to determine your credit score. Therefore, your credit score may vary across several different scoring models.

Recommended: Why Do I Have Different Credit Scores?

What Is a Credit Score Range?

Now you know that your credit score may vary a bit, depending on whether it’s pulled from one of the big agencies or whether it’s a custom score. But let’s take a closer look at the number itself. Credit scores typically range between 300 and 850. Usually, the higher your credit score, the less risky you are perceived in the eyes of lenders. A bad credit score can result in your paying more to borrow money or even being declined.

Score ranges usually look like the following:

•   Poor: 300-579

•   Fair: 580-669

•   Good: 670-739

•   Very good: 740-799

•   Excellent: 800-850

How Do I Check My Credit Score Without Paying

Now that you know the answer to “Can I find my credit score for free?” is yes, you’re probably curious to know just how yours stacks up. Here’s how to find out your number without paying a cent:

•   Check out a credit score website. The first free way to check your check score is to visit a site that offers access to your credit score. For example, you can get your free FICO® Score through Experian at AnnualCreditReport.com . You are allowed one complimentary copy of their credit report from all three sources annually. As you check your free score, make sure you review the terms and conditions carefully. You may be offered the chance to opt into subscriptions and other services that will involve a fee.

•   Ask your credit card company or lender. You might be able to view your credit score by logging into your account. If not, your creditor or lender can point you in the right direction to access your score.

•   Stop by a credit counselor. Often, credit counselors can help you scratch that “How can I get my credit score for free?” itch. So, to find one in your neck of the woods, you can visit the nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling, or NFCC .

Why You Should Check Your Credit Score

Monitoring your credit score is important, and to do it for free is that much better. Here, some of the most important reasons to review your number:

•   You can spot discrepancies or potential fraud. Unordinary activities will reveal themselves when you keep tabs on your credit score. You can immediately spot red flags when something seems unusual (say, your score drops 40 points for no reason). This way, you can act right away, work toward getting your score back on track, or file a dispute if you detect fraud.

•   You can gain insight into your financial situation. Understanding your credit score can help you determine when it’s a good time to purchase a home or refinance your mortgage. For example, if your score is less than ideal, you may want to hold off on making big moves until you boost your score. The delay may help you qualify for more favorable terms and interest rates.

•   You can better compare financial products. Lenders have different criteria and credit score requirements to qualify for specific products. So, knowing your credit score can help you determine if applying for a particular product is worth it or if you should explore other options.

•   You can pinpoint ways to improve your score. Having a handle on your credit score and the factors used to calculate it can help you optimize it. Some resources and websites may offer simulations so you can see how changing certain factors will alter your credit score.

When Will a Credit Check Hurt My Score?

You may have heard that a credit-score check can lower your number. In some cases, it can. But when you check your own credit score, it won’t affect those digits. Pulling your score is referred to as a soft inquiry, and you can do so without impacting your credit score. At the very least, you should review your number before applying for any financing like a home or auto loan or a new credit card. Knowing where you stand is important, as your score can impact whether you are offered credit and at how good of a rate.

However, when you apply for new credit, the lender or creditor will conduct what’s known as a hard inquiry. This can indeed impact your score. For every new hard inquiry, your credit score may drop five points. When a potential lender looks into your file, it indicates that you may plan to take on more debt. Hence, the score drops. If you have several hard inquiries back-to-back, your credit score may decrease more than a few points. Some hard inquiries that could affect your credit include:

•   Applying for a mortgage, auto loan, or personal loan

•   Submitting a new utility application

•   Applying for a new credit card

•   Requesting a credit limit increase

•   Renting an apartment

Take note, though: Rate shopping, to see where you can get the best deal on credit, doesn’t count as a hard inquiry. So, you can explore the most favorable rates without harming your credit. This is because credit bureaus consider rate shopping a financially responsible move. Therefore, they include this logic in their credit calculations and treat it differently than a standard hard inquiry.

When you’re rate shopping, know that FICO combines all inquiries when applying for student loans, auto loans, or mortgages as long as applications are submitted within a 45-day window. However, some lenders use the older FICO model, which has only a 14-day window for application submissions. If you are looking for a loan, keep these timeframes in mind so your research doesn’t wind up decreasing your credit score.

Recommended: How Student Loans Affect Your Credit Score

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Is It Possible to Check Your Credit Score Through Your Bank?

Your bank accounts are the hub of so much of your financial life, you may wonder if your bank can help you check your credit score. It’s possible to view your credit score through many different financial institutions.

However, the bank may only show you the credit score it uses for its financing decisions. While there are many different versions of the FICO Score, banks commonly use either FICO Score 8 or 9. They may also use your VantageScore for lending decisions. Knowing the credit scoring model your bank uses can help you determine whether you’ll qualify for the most favorable lending terms available.

How Might Your Credit Score Impact the Credit Cards You Qualify for?

Recommended: Average Savings by Age

We’ve mentioned that there are advantages to having a good credit score, and that’s true when it comes to credit card approval. Here’s what you should know:

•   First, the best reward cards usually require you to have excellent credit scores. The card issuer may give you full access to the best introductory offers and reward incentives if you have a good credit score. You may even be able to receive invitations to exclusive events, complimentary subscriptions to streaming services, or other benefits.

•   Another perk of a good credit score is snagging the most favorable Annual Percentage Rate (APR), also known as your annual interest rate. Card issuers usually give the best rates to the applicants with the highest credit scores.

•   Lastly, you may have a higher credit limit on your card if you have a better credit score. Higher credit limits may make some people think, “Great! I can spend more,” but that’s not how it works. A higher credit limit can help your credit utilization ratio, which is one factor credit bureaus use when assessing your credit score. Your credit utilization ratio is the percentage of credit you’re using versus your limit. Ratios of 30% is often considered the limit of what you want to use, and many believe that 10% is a more financially prudent number. So, having a high limit can help keep your credit utilization low as long as you use your credit responsibility. On the other hand, your credit utilization will work against you if you max out your credit card.

Recommended: What is Liquid Net Worth

The Takeaway

There are several free ways to access your credit scores, such as through your lender, a credit-monitoring website, or a credit counselor. Accessing your score regularly can help you ensure there is no fraudulent activity while also making progress toward your goals. It can also help you improve your score so you can enjoy the best possible rates on credit as well as other benefits.

Knowing and optimizing your credit score is one important part of being financially responsible. Another path: Finding the best bank to suit your needs. If you’re shopping for a good place to put your money, consider SoFi. Our linked Checking and Savings accounts can help your money earn more money. Sign up with direct deposit, and you’ll get a hyper-competitive 1.25% APY. What’s more, you won’t pay any account fees, and you’ll be able to access your paycheck two full days early.

Are you ready to bank better? Come and check out SoFi.

FAQ

Does it cost money to check your credit score?

There are several different ways you can access your credit score free of charge. These include asking your lender or bank, visiting a credit-monitoring site, or stopping by a credit counselor.

Can you check your credit without impacting your credit score?

Checking your credit is considered a soft inquiry, which means it will not impact your score. So, you can check it as often as you want without worrying about decreasing your number.

Can your bank provide your credit score?

Yes, many banks will share your credit score. However, keep in mind that there are numerous credit score models, so your bank may only provide the one they use to assess your creditworthiness. It may or may not be the figure that other lenders use, however.


SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 1.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 0.70% APY on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 1.25% APY is current as of 4/5/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Photo credit: iStock/Anchiy
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How to Stop or Reverse ACH Payments: All You Need to Know

How to Stop or Reverse ACH Payments: All You Need to Know

Sometimes, no matter how careful you are with your bank account, you may want to cancel an ACH payment, and fortunately, it is very often possible to do so. Even if you previously sent out a recurring automatic payment, you can hit the brakes on that transaction.

Many of us have learned to rely on ACH payments, which can be used for a business’s payroll, tax payments, bill payments, account transfers, and more. You may well pay many of your monthly bills this way, from your utilities to your streaming service subscription. Because of this popularity, consumers and businesses alike can benefit from understanding how ACH works. Beyond that, knowing how to halt a payment — one that could potentially derail your financial health — is vital, too.

With that in mind, here is what you need to know about:

•   What ACH payments are

•   How to stop ACH payments or cancel an ACH payment

•   How to reverse an ACH payment

•   How to spot common ACH frauds

Recommended: What is Liquid Net Worth

What Are ACH Payments?

ACH payments are a method of money transfer between banks made through the ACH or Automated Clearing House network. NACHA (National Automated Clearing House Association) governs these transactions, which can be an alternative to other payment options, like credit cards.

With ACH, the source of the funds come directly from a bank account. So they are quite seamless and convenient; no paper checks or postage stamps required. They are also open to both consumers and businesses alike as long as they have a U.S. bank account.

One downside of ACH transfers, though, is that they can take longer than options like a wire transfer. When you compare a wire transfer vs. an ACH payment, wired funds can transfer within a day. In terms of how long an ACH payment takes, it may be several days. However, ACH has the upper hand in terms of cost: They are generally less expensive than other payment processing methods and often free.

ACH payments can break down into two categories: ACH credit and ACH debit.

An ACH credit is like a virtual check. The payer tells the ACH network to transfer their account funds to the payee’s account. In contrast, ACH debit (the more popular version of ACH transfer) involves a recipient pulling funds from the payer’s account. (For instance, this kind of payment occurs when you authorize your car loan to be automatically debited on a certain day of each month.) Merchants often prefer this kind of automatic debiting as it reduces the possibility of late or failed payments.

Can ACH Payments Be Canceled or Returned?

So, let’s say you just moved and forgot to cancel your gym membership at your old location. You realize that a payment is about to be sent out. Or maybe you set up a one-time payment to a vendor but notice (oops!) that you typo’d the amount? Now what? Can you stop an ACH payment from a checking account or other bank account?

Breathe a sigh of relief. Yes, you can cancel or return an ACH payment. This is partially possible due to the time frame of ACH transfers. ACH transfers can take multiple days to settle, and, as a result, you have more time to stop or reverse your transaction.

However, rules can vary depending on your bank or financial institution. For example, some may be able to cancel an ACH transfer online or over the phone. Meanwhile, other institutions may require a written form requesting cancellation.

Recommended: Average Savings by Age

How to Reverse ACH Payments

Let’s look at reversing an ACH payment in a little more detail. At some point, an ACH transfer may involve a mistake. It’s easy to type in the wrong dollar amount or otherwise err when it comes to making payments without cash in hand. Regardless of the circumstances, you have to wait for the payment to go through first. Then, you can reverse the ACH payment.

Banks have different ways of conducting this process (we’ll go into more detail on this in a moment), so check with yours on the exact protocol. Once the payment is interrupted, the bank should reach out to the account holder after the payment reverses to confirm the details.

ACH Reversal Requirements

Let’s learn a little bit more about this process. NACHA, the organization that oversees ACH payments, has specific qualifications that determine if an entry is erroneous. If these details are satisfied, you are then allowed to reverse your payment without an issue. To qualify, an entry must meet one of the following conditions:

•   Be a duplicate of a previously initiated entry

•   Transferred on the wrong date

•   Include a mistake in the sender or recipient’s account number

•   Transferred the incorrect amount

These scenarios cover many of the situations that would lead you to cancel or reverse a payment.

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account and start earning 1.25% APY on your cash!


How to Stop an ACH Payment

So you want to cancel a payment because perhaps it was sent incorrectly or you no longer want to complete the transaction? Let’s learn how to cancel an ACH payment.

In this situation, it’s actually to your benefit that ACH payments take several days to settle. This means you have some time to halt an ACH transaction if you need to. However, every bank operates differently and may have its own rules on how to stop an ACH payment. For example, you may find that your bank can cancel an ACH payment online or over the phone. But other institutions may need you to submit a physical form canceling the transaction. Check with the institution that holds your account to find out how to proceed.

You can also cancel your recurring ACH debit payments. But you have to do that within three business days before the funds are due. You will probably need to contact the entity expecting your payment. The exact method might depend on your situation. Some companies may accept a phone call, while others might need a written authorization.

After that, you’ll need to address the financial institution associated with the transfer and let them know about the change. In some cases, this may require a stop payment order which instructs the bank to hold off on any automated transaction. This gives you time to formally cancel your payment arrangement. This can come with a fee, but it varies bank by bank. Check with yours for details.

How to Update Direct Deposit Details

A quick look at the other side of the coin: Let’s say you are receiving funds by direct deposit (perhaps your paycheck or government payments), and realize you need to update your details. If you have changed bank accounts — maybe you found a high-interest account you can’t resist — you’ll need to let the entity that is sending you funds know your new info. You may be able to do this online for benefits like Social Security payments; otherwise, calling the issuer of the deposit may be another option. If it’s your paycheck you’re concerned about, contact your HR department to see the best way to share your new account specifics.

You’ll probably want to do this a few days before a deposit usually hits, since ACH payments take a few days to process.

Common ACH Frauds

While the ACH network makes sending money to businesses or services fast and simple, it is not perfect. As a result, people can use the system to their advantage. It is possible for a company or consumer to face fraud when making an ACH transfer.

There are various tools at criminals’ disposal these days. But they may only need two details to commit ACH fraud: your bank routing number and your business checking account number. With this information, the criminal may be able to use your finances to pay for anything from services to goods. And they can have the additional option to make these payments either online or by phone.

Typically, fraudsters collect this information via malware and phishing emails. Web transactions are also an easy way to obtain your personal data. For example, scammers might offer you overseas money, discounted products, or other appealing lies. They hope that you will be fooled and enter your account details so they can then commit fraud.

You can protect yourself against fraud by being wary of text messages and emails asking for account verification (they may be phishing and/or have malware embedded) and taking the time to double-check, by phone or other means, requests to update your information. Your bank may also be able to place an ACH block or filter on your account to prevent unauthorized transactions. Contact your bank’s fraud prevention team to learn your options.

The Takeaway

The ACH network is a valuable payment processor that consumers and businesses in the U.S. rely on. However, situations can arise that may trigger you to want to stop or reverse a payment, such as if you had entered details incorrectly. Fortunately, it’s possible to stop ACH payments from your checking account or reverse the ACH payment. Then you can notify the others impacted and get your banking transactions back on the right track again.

Here’s another way to bank better: Check out SoFi. When you open our Checking and Savings accounts with direct deposit, you’ll earn a stellar 1.25% APY. What’s more, you won’t pay any account fees; no monthly or minimum balance charges. So you keep more of your hard-earned dough.

Get set to bank smarter with SoFi.

FAQ

How long will it take to reverse an ACH payment?

A rejection or return of an ACH payment can usually be settled within two business days. However, some cases can take as long as two months (or 60 days) if the transaction is disputed.

Can you amend an ACH transfer?

Yes. ACH users can revoke their ACH payment authorization and stop the transfer. However, they must notify their biller as well as the bank or credit union that holds the account from which the funds would be deducted.

How do I stop ACH payments on my checking account?

If you want to stop an ACH payment, you’ll need to contact your bank at least three days before the ACH transfer’s date. This may involve an ACH payment stop request submitted in writing within a 14-day time frame. A small fee may be involved in halting the payment.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 1.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 0.70% APY on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 1.25% APY is current as of 4/5/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Photo credit: iStock/insta_photos
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What Is a Good Interest Rate for a Savings Account?

What Is a Good Interest Rate for a Savings Account?

When searching for a good interest rate for a savings account today, you’re lucky if you find a rate close to or over 1%. To snag the best possible rate, you will probably be banking at an online bank. These financial institutions, which don’t have bricks-and-mortar branches, tend to pay more than traditional banks. They save money by being virtual and pass the savings on to their clients.

Interest rates do fluctuate, but here we’ll take a look at the latest numbers in terms of savings account interest rates and how your money can grow faster. We’ll cover:

•   How interest rate works

•   What the national average for savings account interest rates is

•   How to earn higher interest

•   How to open a savings account that will earn high interest

How Interest Rate Works

Interest is a small fee paid for the privilege of borrowing money. Interest can be charged against credit cards, loans, and other types of financial products. In the case of savings accounts, you earn interest for lending your money to the bank or financial institution. Typically, savings accounts contain money that you aren’t planning to use right away to pay bills. Why people open a savings account is a very variable matter: It might be to have money set aside for a rainy day, to grow towards a down payment on a house, or to finance an upcoming vacation.

The interest rate determines how much you’ll earn for keeping money in a savings account, which the bank can then use. For instance, say you have a savings account that earns simple interest, paid annually. In this case, if you have $1,000 and earn 1% interest, you would have $1,010 at the end of the first year. You would then have $1,020 after the second year, $1,030 after the third year, and so on.

But there are different ways interest is compounded. Savings accounts usually pay compound interest. With compound interest, you earn interest on the entire balance, including previous interest payments. Using our previous example, your compound interest would accrue like this:

$1,000 * 1.01 = $1,010
$1,010 * 1.01 = $1,020.10
$1,020 * 1.01 = $1,030.30

As you can see, with compound interest, you earn interest on top of the interest that was already paid. However, in the real world, the way savings accounts earn interest is slightly more complicated. The timing at which the interest can vary. Some banks may compound interest daily and pay out monthly. As a result, each interest payment will be a fraction of the annual percentage yield (APY). However, the money continues to compound daily, allowing it to grow more quickly the longer you keep it in your account.

Since interest rates are low overall right now, it may feel as if your savings won’t be growing much. But consider this: An interest rate of 1%, compounded daily for 10 years, will add more than 10% to your initial investment’s value.

Recommended: What is Liquid Net Worth

What Is the National Average for Savings Account Interest Rates?

The most recent national savings account is 0.06% on average, according to the FDIC . That rate comes in at double the rate for interest checking, which has an average rate of 0.03%. Money market accounts fare slightly better with a rate of 0.08%. If you’re wondering, “Is that a good interest rate for a savings account,” you need to remember the context. Interest rates have been and could be much higher, but right now, this is where the range of rates is. Your best bet is probably to find a savings account that pays as high of a rate as possible while delivering the features that are most important to you.

Keep in mind that the national average savings account rate is just that — a national average that includes all banks insured by the FDIC. Perhaps more importantly, the average is weighted by each bank’s share of domestic deposits. This matters because some of the country’s largest banks have savings account rates that are even lower than the current national average.

It’s also important to note that savings account interest rates usually rise and fall with rates set by the Federal Reserve. When the Fed slashes interest rates, APYs on savings accounts fall. When the Fed raises interest rates, savings accounts have higher yields.

Regardless of the Fed’s interest rates, traditional savings accounts usually don’t pay much interest. However, there are ways to find a better return on investment, which we’ll cover in the next section.

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account and start earning 1.25% APY on your cash!


Is There a Way to Earn a Higher Savings Account Interest Rate?

There are two basic ways to earn a higher savings rate: with a high-yield savings account or by linking your checking and savings accounts. We’ll cover each of those in more detail.

High-yield Savings Accounts

High-yield savings accounts offer interest rates many times higher than the national average. These accounts are usually only available at online banks, meaning they have no brick-and-mortar locations. In addition, they tend to offer a fairly basic set of services; you may not be able to deposit cash in high-yield savings accounts. In many cases, you can only deposit money by electronic bank transfer. But the benefit of these types of high-interest accounts for savings is obvious: You can earn close to or even over 1% APY on your money, which given the current averages, is a good rate for a savings account.

Another limitation to these accounts may be a federal regulation that limits you to six monthly withdrawals. However, this guideline can apply to all savings accounts, and it has been suspended in recent years by some banks. Inquire at your bank to know their policy. Checking accounts have no such limitation.

Money held in a high-yield savings account is usually FDIC-insured, meaning your money is protected in the rare event of a bank failure up to $250,000 per depositor and per account category. This makes them a good place to set aside extra cash for an emergency fund or to meet short-term savings goals.

Linked Accounts

If you have a checking account at a traditional brick-and-mortar bank, you might be able to increase your interest rate by opening a savings account at the same institution. Some banks will offer a higher interest rate if you have both a checking and a savings account with them and link the two.

Although savings rates on linked accounts are higher, everything is relative. Opening a linked account might allow you to increase your APY from 0.01% to 0.02%. Banks might also increase the rate a bit more with higher account balances.

Recommended: Average Savings by Age

Alternatives to Savings Accounts

Savings accounts are a popular way to set aside money for a savings goal, to earn some extra interest, or both. But there are a few different financial vehicles that can help you achieve your goals.

CDs

Certificates of deposit (CDs) are savings accounts that hold a certain amount of money for a set period of time, such as six months or five years. In general, the longer the period, the higher the interest rate. Most major banks offer these accounts. When you redeem a CD (also known as when a CD matures), you receive the money you deposited plus interest. Or you can reinvest it in a new CD. Like savings accounts, CDs are FDIC-insured for up to $250,000. It’s worth noting that most CDs will penalize you if you withdraw the funds before the agreed-upon time period ends. You might lose some or all of the interest earned to that date, and possibly even a bit of the principal.

Government Savings Bonds

Government savings bonds are similar to CDs, but you open them with the government instead of a bank. For example, Series I savings bonds, issued by TreasuryDirect , offer attractive interest rates, currently 9.62% at press time. Series I bonds can be held and continue earning interest for up to 30 years but you can redeem a bond sooner. However, you must hold them for at least five years. If you cash them sooner, you forfeit interest from the previous three months.

Money Market Accounts

Money market accounts are similar to savings accounts, and many banks offer them. They, too, earn interest while possibly being limited to six withdrawals per month. However, withdrawals by ATM do not count against that limit. These accounts may have a higher initial deposit or balance requirements than savings accounts (in some cases, up to six figures). However, they do come with higher returns, though currently the range is to a large extent under 1% APY. Note that money market accounts are different from money market funds, which are accounts you can open with investment firms.

How to Open a High Interest Savings Account

If you have internet access, opening a high-interest savings account should be a simple process. Because these accounts are generally offered online, opening an account is as easy as visiting the institution’s website.

From there, you can open a savings account online; the entire process should only take perhaps 10 minutes. To complete the application, be prepared with the appropriate documents, such as your Social Security number and driver’s license. You will also want to have your bank account number and routing number in order to link your checking account. This will allow you to transfer money between your checking account and your savings account.

The Takeaway

Interest rates work by paying you for keeping your money in an account with a financial institution. While traditional banks pay interest on their savings accounts, they can be quite low compared to savings vehicles like high-yield savings accounts offered by online banks, CDs and money market accounts. By taking a little time to shop around and find the right fit, you should be able to find the right savings vehicle to help you stash cash for emergencies or a future goal…and earn money while doing so.

One great option to consider comes from SoFi: Our Checking and Savings linked accounts offer a 1.25% APY when you sign up with direct deposit. That rate is 41 times the national checking account average. And we charge no monthly, minimum balance, or overdraft fees. These accounts are a great way to help your money grow faster.

Are you ready to bank smarter? See what SoFi offers.

FAQ

What is the average interest rate for a savings account?

According to the FDIC, the current national average interest rate for savings accounts is 0.06%.

What is considered a high-interest savings account?

High-interest savings accounts are usually offered exclusively online and offer interest rates many times the national average. These accounts may have a limited scope of services, such as not offering ATM cards or cash deposits.

Is 1% a good interest rate?

In general, 1% is likely to be much higher than the interest rates offered by traditional banks at any given time. However, interest rates are based on the rates set by the Fed. In 2019, for instance, some online banks offered interest rates above 2%. However, many online banks currently have rates under 1%.

How much interest does $10,000 earn a year?

How much interest $10,000 earns in a year will vary on several factors, such as the interest rate and how often interest is compounded. If we assume a 1% interest rate, $10,000 compounded annually earns $100 in interest. Compounded daily, the same interest rate earns $100.50 in a year.


SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 1.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 0.70% APY on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 1.25% APY is current as of 4/5/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Photo credit: iStock/MicroStockHub
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