woman with bubbles

15 Creative Ways to Save Money

Whether you’re building your emergency fund or putting a portion of your paycheck away for you and your family, chances are you’re saving money. It’s possible this all-important financial habit can feel tedious and boring, but with a little creativity and determination, saving can be interesting, dynamic, and exciting.

15 Creative Ideas to Save Money

1. Identifying Your Saving Goals

Not sure how to make saving money fun? You could start by identifying your goals. Are you saving up for a big purchase, like a down payment on a house? Are you saving for your child’s future education?

Once you’ve figured out what you want to accomplish, you could determine a target amount of money you’d like to save. While this number might change over the course of your savings journey, you can always readjust your plan.

If you have an idea of how much money you’d like to work toward saving, you can consider diving deeper into your finances to pinpoint realistic objectives. Enter SoFi Relay.

SoFi Relay can give you a big-picture snapshot of your money: It has tools that can help you track and categorize your spending and cashflow. You could review these numbers to figure out if you have room in your budget to save. The best part is that SoFi Relay comes at no cost to SoFi members!

Of course, that’s just one such tool you can use. Once you’ve reviewed your individual financial circumstances and have a better idea of your savings goal(s), you could try these fun ways to save money.

2. Finding a Saving Buddy

With the right company, even the most mundane tasks can be enjoyable. You could talk about your savings goals with your friends and family members to potentially identify a saving buddy with similar objectives.

An ideal saving buddy will be supportive of your financial goals, flexible about changing plans in order to accommodate your specific savings needs, and have a positive money mindset.

Checking in with your buddy regularly could help keep you both stay on track and you can celebrate each other’s accomplishments. If you’re stressed about how to make saving money fun, you could brainstorm creative tactics with your saving buddy and implement them together.

3. Seeking Out Free Activities

Saving money does not have to be synonymous with missing out on exciting opportunities around you. You could enjoy free activities offered in your area.

Perhaps your local park offers free theater performances or concerts in the summer, or your area bookstore hosts interesting literary panels and author discussions with no attendance fee. Think about the resources provided by your local library, such as book clubs, language exchange programs, craft nights, and movie screenings.

4. Getting Creative and DIY

A potential hands-on and fun way to save money is adopting a DIY (do-it-yourself) attitude. You could create things using materials you already own instead of buying new products. When meal-prepping for the week ahead, think about recipes that incorporate ingredients you already have in your pantry.

You could make your own household cleaners out of vinegar, lemon rinds, and herbs or face masks and toners using fresh ingredients like avocado, tea, honey, and oatmeal. There are ways to reuse materials that might otherwise be thrown out or recycled: Newspapers and coupon booklets could make great wrapping paper, and old cereal boxes might be repurposed into desk organizers.

5. Gamifying Savings

If you’re looking to break up the monotony of saving, you could consider incorporating games and challenges into your overall savings plan. A friendly competition with your saving buddy could be seeing who can save the most money every week, month, and/or year.

Creating small rewards for reaching your goals might be an incentive, too. (Bonus points if these rewards are free!) No-spend weeks, where you refrain from spending any money for seven days, also might help with saving. You could make it fun by taking out a $20 bill from the ATM at the beginning of each month, for example, and not spending it.

6. Swapping Goods and Trading Skills

Getting serious about saving money doesn’t mean you need to give up “luxuries” such as exercising, new clothes and accessories, or home goods. Trading skills and swapping goods are two potential examples of how to make saving money fun while not depriving yourself of the things you want.

You could go to your favorite yoga studio and ask if they have a work-trade program where you can clean or complete administrative duties in exchange for classes. A clothing swap with your friends could refresh your closet at no cost. You might also consider an informal exchange with skilled friends.

For example, if you’ve been eyeing an original painting from your artist pal but don’t have the funds to pay her, you could offer your website design services (or some other helpful skills) for the painting.

7. Increasing Income

Sometimes, cutting down on expenses might not be the most effective way to reach a savings goal. It might be easier, in some cases, to make a bit more money than to reduce costs, especially if you are spending more than 50% of your income on non-discretionary expenses like groceries and debt payments.

A SoFi credentialed financial advisor can help you determine if increasing your income is an appropriate action based on your individual financial profile.

If so, you could reflect on your particular skills and/or hobbies to see if there is a way to translate one of them into an income stream.

For example, if you love to knit, you could start an online store for your yarn creations. If you have a knack for stringing words together, you could offer your writing or editing services in a freelance capacity. A successful side hustle could help bring additional money into your bank account and add more fun and enjoyment in your life.

8. Switch Your Bank

If your bank seems to be charging you endless fees and offers little interest on your savings account, switch! You might consider a credit union instead of a big name bank—credit unions are run as financial co-ops, meaning each member has a stake in business as a de facto owner.

Banking with a credit union will usually allow more flexibility and lower fees. Credit unions are typically smaller than most big banks, while offering the same services. As nonprofits, they are designed to serve their members, paying higher interest rates on deposits as well.

Switching to a reputable online lender, like SoFi, could be right for you. We recently launched SoFi Checking and Savings®, a checking and savings account, which allows you to spend, save, and earn all in one product.

It doesn’t have any account fees (subject to change), is mobile-friendly, and you can access your money from any ATM that accepts Mastercard, even internationally (subject to change).

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account and start earning 1% APY on your cash!

9. Split Your Direct Deposit into Checking and Savings

If you have regular paychecks, one of the easiest ways to start saving a bit more money is to guarantee some automatically ends up in a separate savings account, making it that much harder to spend. If you have a checking account, odds are you have a savings account too, or at least access to one.

Maybe you find it hard to remember to put some money away into savings, or harder still, to force yourself to part with it. So, splitting your direct deposit into two accounts helps make sure your savings grows every paycheck, without you needing to worry about transferring the money. Check with your HR department or your online pay system to see if you can add a bank account and designate a certain amount of each paycheck to go into your savings account as part of your direct deposit.

Most banks also have the option to set up recurring transfers yourself between your accounts, so if you don’t have the option to split up your paycheck, or would prefer not to, look to see if your bank is able to do an internal automatic transfer on the day after you get paid. Then, when your paycheck hits your account, your designated amount will get transferred into savings without you having to think twice.

10. Change Your Due Dates for Bills

Having extra money in your savings account doesn’t help if you are constantly pulling from it to pay bills. When you don’t have enough money in your checking account to pay for something, you can incur an overdraft fee.

If you are overdrafting frequently, especially at certain times of the month when big payments are due, consider changing the due dates of some of your bills. Sometimes spreading out your larger payments—like credit card bills or student loans—throughout the month can help when those more inflexible dates, like rent, roll around.

By changing the date of some of your bills, hopefully you will be able to overdraft less frequently. This will encourage you to not touch your savings account, as opposed to pulling from it every time your checking account balance gets precariously low.

11. Save Every $5 Bill

This is a classic adult remix of the piggy bank you had as a kid. Only this time, instead of squirreling away quarters from the tooth fairy, take every $5 you get and put it in a separate drawer at home. Keep all of these $5 in the back of a closet somewhere, tucked away and out of sight.

Once you get into the habit of identifying $5 as “no spend” bills, you’ll find it can really be a creative way to save money—depending on how much cash you usually carry, of course.

The benefit of this method is that $5 isn’t really enough to miss if you are just putting away a bill or two, but that at the end of the year, it can easily add up to enough cash to help with holiday shopping, a loan payment, or even a nice donation to your favorite charity, without having to touch your savings in the bank.

12. Take Advantage of Cash Back Credit Cards

Simply put, if you have a credit card that has a decent rewards program, you can likely get your rewards in cash. While getting cash back won’t boost your savings directly, it can allow you to spend rewards points instead of your savings.

However, if you tend to carry over a balance on your credit card, cash back cards may not be a good solution for you right now.

13. Round Up Your Purchases Automatically

Apps like Qapital and BoostUp will round up your purchase to the nearest dollar and then save the change for you. Digit analyzes your income and spending, and then takes out a small amount every few days and saves it in a rainy day fund in the app for you. These apps all connect to your bank accounts, making it an easy and fun way to save money automatically.

Without having to think about anything besides the initial setup, and without taking out big chunks of your income each month, apps that round up into savings can easily help boost your goals of saving more. Plus, the amount they save for you is small, so you aren’t likely noticing $1 or even a few cents when it transfers, which can add up to hundreds per year.

14. Consolidate Credit Card Debt with a Personal Loan

You can always spend more on a credit card. You can’t spend more on a loan. While there is conflicting advice about whether it’s important to pay off your debt before building up your savings, you shouldn’t let debt deter you from saving, if possible. That’s why paying off your credit card debt with a personal loan is a creative way to shake up your finances.

If you owe money on more than one credit card, or have an especially high balance relative to your credit limit, take a look and see if the rates on a personal loan would help lower your monthly payments. Often, taking out one personal loan to cover the cost of multiple credit cards can help you with savings in the long run; while you’ll still be paying off the personal loan, if your credit cards had higher interest rates, you’ll be done paying off the total sooner, leaving more cash free for savings.

15. Automate Your Savings into an Investment Account

It’s the age-old financial advice worth repeating here: if your company offers a match on your 401K savings, take advantage of it! If your company match is 6 percent, you should set your contribution at 6 percent to get the most out of your retirement funds.

Most company wealth management accounts can be set to automatically deduct contributions from your paycheck, but you can schedule other automatic investments too. You can make scheduled, recurring transfers between your bank account and your wealth management account.

You get to select the dollar amount, the date and the frequency you want. This is a great way to put your savings to good use — send it into an investment account. There are plenty of other technologies available to help make this easy, too.

The app Acorns invests in a basic investment portfolio by rounding up each purchase you make to the nearest dollar. SoFi offers online stock trading as well as automated investing, with access to a human financial advisor. By automating your savings to transfer over to an investment account, you are setting up your savings to work hard for your future when you might need the money more.

Optimizing Your Savings

Putting away money for your future does not need to be a boring task; there are countless fun ways to save money that could be customized to your specific financial needs and wants.

Starting to save today—even in small amounts—might help prepare you for even more fun in the future. Signing up for SoFi Checking and Savings® could be another way to save money.

Ready to elevate your plan? Sign up for a checking and savings account today.

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.
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.
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 Money® is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member
SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank.
SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.


Read more
What You Need To Know About ATM Withdrawal Limits_780x440

ATM Withdrawal Limits – What You Need to Know

Even though many financial transactions are digital these days, there are times when you still need some money in hand.

ATMs can be a quick, easy solution when you need a fast cash infusion. But banks typically impose a limit on how much money you can withdraw in one day. Some banks also charge fees in exchange for the convenience of getting money at the nearest ATM.

Read on to learn:

•   How much money you can typically withdraw from an ATM.

•   How you can get around these ATM maximum limits if needed.

•   How to sidestep ATM fees.

Why Do Banks Have ATM Withdrawal Limits?

While ATM withdrawal limits can be frustrating, they exist for two important reasons:

Cash Availability

Banks want to make sure there is enough money available for all ATM users. But ATMs can only hold so much cash, and banks only have so much cash on hand at any one given time.

Let’s say you go to an ATM on, say, the Friday before a long holiday weekend to get some spending money and find that there is no cash left. This doesn’t happen often, but it’s a possibility. Capping the amount of money that can be withdrawn at an ATM helps ensure that customers can’t clean out ATMs or drain the bank’s cash reserves.


ATM withdrawal limits also protect consumers. If someone were to get hold of your debit card and PIN number, the ATM withdrawal max would prevent that fraudster from immediately draining your entire checking or savings account.

Withdraw limits help reduce the speed with which a criminal could steal from your account.

How Much Can I Withdraw From an ATM?

The answer depends on a specific bank’s rules around withdrawals, with some capping at $300 and others going as high as $5,000 a day. A limit of somewhere between $500 and $1,000 is common.

In some cases, a withdrawal limit depends on a specific customer’s banking history or account type. A new customer with a basic checking account may have a lower withdrawal limit than an established customer with a premium checking account. If you have a student or a second chance account, your max ATM withdrawal might be lower than if you had a standard checking account.

Whether you are withdrawing from checking vs. savings can also make a difference.

Savings Account Withdrawal Limits

The amount you can withdraw will depend upon your particular bank or credit union. In some cases, savings accounts have a higher cap on how much you can withdraw at any one time. In others, you will find that you can pull more cash from an ATM using your checking account. One thing to be aware of: You may be limited to how many withdrawal transactions you can make per month from your savings account. Check your financial institution’s policies for specifics.

Checking Account Withdrawal Limits

The maximum ATM withdrawal limits for checking accounts can vary a great deal. For example, consider these figures:

•   Chase: $500 to $3,000

•   Citibank: $1,500 to $2,000

•   PNC: $500

•   Vystar Credit Union: $560 to $5,000

ATM Withdrawal Limits vs Daily Purchase Limits

It can also be helpful to keep in mind that ATM cash withdrawal limits are typically separate from daily purchase limits.

You may, for instance, be able to make $4,000 in debit card purchases in one day, but be limited to taking out $500 at the ATM.

Some banks may set a third limit — the total amount of money you can take out of your account via withdrawals and debit card purchases each day. Just like credit limits on your credit cards, these numbers may vary with the financial institution.

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account and start earning up to 2.00% APY on your cash!

How To Work Around ATM Withdrawal Limits

If you need more cash than an ATM will allow you to withdraw, there are a few workarounds that can help as you wrangle your cash management.

Asking For Cash Back While Shopping

In some stores (like grocery stores), it’s possible to ask for cash back at checkout when making a purchase. While cash back may count towards your debit card’s daily purchase limit, it typically doesn’t count towards a daily ATM withdrawal limit.

The store will likely also have a cash back limit that applies on a per purchase basis. That could mean you’ll need to make multiple purchases to withdraw the full amount of cash needed.

Withdrawing From Savings

If you have both a checking and savings account, here’s another possibility: You can withdraw money from a savings account when using an ATM. This can help avoid the daily checking account withdrawal limit. There may, however, still be some limitations on ATM savings withdrawals, and this may vary with the kind of savings account you have.

Withdrawing at the Window

If you bank at a bricks-and-mortar location and the branch is open when you need more money, head inside. You can withdraw the amount you need by seeing a teller.

Fees to Look Out for When Withdrawing Money From the ATM

Many banking institutions have free ATM networks, but you may incur ATM fees if you use a machine outside of your bank’s network. This may include a fee from your bank, as well as a fee from the ATM provider.

These fees can add up quickly. If you were to use an out-of-network ATM, your bank might charge you as much as $1.50, while the ATM provider might charge you $3. In total, you could pay $4.50 for withdrawing your money.

To avoid ATM fees every time you get cash, you may want to look for a bank that doesn’t charge out-of-network ATM fees and/or refunds fees charged by the machine provider. Some banks reimburse fees charged by an out-of-network provider up to a certain amount each month.

Another option is to choose a bank with in-network ATMs that are convenient to where you live and work. You can also reduce fees by withdrawing more money at one time and making less frequent trips to the ATM.

The Takeaway

ATM withdrawal limits are there for your protection as well as the bank’s, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t inconvenient at times.

If you regularly need cash, you may want to find out your bank’s daily ATM withdrawal limits and plan ahead. Or, you can work around the maximums in place and get cash from other sources. By using a bit of smart strategy, you can make sure you have the cash you need on hand.

Love the convenience of the ATM, but not a fan of fees? You might want to consider opening an online bank account with SoFi. Our Checking and Savings allows you to earn, save, and spend all in one account. When you sign up with direct deposit, you’ll earn an incredible 2.00% APY. And members can use more than 55,000+ Allpoint network ATMs worldwide without paying any fees.

Check out everything a SoFi Checking and Savings account has to offer today


Why do ATMs have withdrawal limits?

ATMs have withdrawal limits to help make sure the terminals don’t run out of cash for customers. ATM withdrawal limits also help protect account holders if their card were stolen or hacked; it minimizes how much they could lose in a specific period of time.

What is the difference between checking and savings account withdrawal limits?

Each bank or credit union has its own policies about withdrawal limits. These may depend on the kind of account, how long and responsibly the account holder has been a client, and other factors. The limits from checking and savings might or might not be the same.

What is the maximum amount I can withdraw from an ATM?

The amount you can withdraw from an ATM may range from $300 to $5,000 a day, depending on the financial institution and your particular account. Somewhere between $500 and $1,000 is typical.

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 2.00% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 1.00% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 2.00% APY is current as of 08/12/2022. 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.
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.

Read more
Guide to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)

Guide to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)

Looking for affordable loans and access to bank accounts may not be as easy for some people, especially those of lower income and in rural or underserved areas. That’s where Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs, step in. These organizations aim to serve economically disadvantaged communities.

Here, take a closer look, including:

•   What a CDFI is and how they work?

•   What are the different types of CDFIs?

•   What CDFIs offer?

•   Pros and cons of CDFIs.

What is a Community Development Financial Institution?

Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs, are financial institutions — mainly banks and credit unions — that help those in underserved communities in rural and urban areas. CDFIs were established by the Riegle Community Development and Regulatory Improvement Act of 1994. At the same time, a CDFI Fund was formed to assist these institutions in providing loans (business and personal) and other types of financial assistance to those in need.

To promote accessible products and services, CDFIs typically rely less on common factors such as credit scores and monthly fees when providing loans and bank accounts. (For instance, economically disadvantaged people may have trouble opening a standard checking account if they have a low credit rating and typically be given access to a second chance checking account. A CDFI may offer more options.)

CDFIs may also help invest in the local community by providing tools to build credit, encourage savings, and share other financial literacy tools. Currently, there are around 1,000 CDFIs across the U.S.

How Do CDFIs Work?

CDFIs work by providing products that, among other things, offer individuals and businesses the opportunity to borrow funds at a lower cost and to build their credit. The CDFI Fund, part of the U.S. Treasury, allows financial institutions to offer low-cost loans and mortgages for small businesses and first-time home buyers. CDFIs also can offer credit builder loans to help borrowers build a positive credit history.

Here’s an example of how a CDFI might help underserved communities build financial literacy and save money. If a person needs $400 to pay for a car repair, they might not have the cash available and would instead need a loan. Instead of seeking banking alternatives and, say, heading to a payday loan lender that offers a 350% interest rate, a CDFI might offer a loan with a rate of 20%. Doing so can save the borrower a significant amount in interest and contribute to their financial wellbeing.

What Are the Types of CDFIs?

There are several types of CDFIs; they tend to have similar, but not identical, missions. If you want to understand the specifics of what a CDFI is, you’ll find a few options:

Community Development Banks

Community development banks tend to be for-profit organizations that provide loans to those who are in distressed or underserved communities. Most commonly, borrowers are small businesses, non-profit organizations, local entrepreneurs, and housing developers.

Insured through the FDIC, these loans include business and non-profit loans, mortgages or home improvement loans, and some banking services.

Community Development Credit Unions (CDCUs)

CDCUs are financial institutions that are non-profit and member-owned, offering products and services to both business and consumers. Some of these may include credit counseling, consumer banking products like checking and savings accounts, and business planning for lower-income folks who are members of the CDCU. Given that these services are designed for the economically disadvantaged, customers may not have to deal as often with such issues as figuring out why a bank account is frozen and instead get support and financial literacy training.

They might also gain more services, such as being able to wire money to others.

Community Development Loan Funds (CDLFs)

CDLFs are typically funds that work with small businesses, non-profit organizations, and social-service provider facilities in lower-income communities. These mostly non-profit funds tend to provide pre-development, start-up, and business expansion loans at a lower interest rate. Typically, they also offer extra guidance such as help with business planning.

Community Development Venture Capital Funds (CDVC)

CDVCs provide funds, both equity and debt, for medium-sized businesses to encourage them to create jobs and other resources that help benefit lower-income and other types of underserved communities. Borrowers also tend to be businesses with a high potential for growth to which the CDVC will also provide extensive guidance.

Microenterprise Development Loan Fund

This type of loan fund offers loans and assistance, such as technical support, to lower-income entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals who can’t access conventional loans. These funds are usually non-profit and offer a peer lending model.

Community Development Corporations

Community development corporations are non-profit organizations usually formed by the local community and run by a volunteer board. They aim to use funding and investments to revitalize lower-income communities by offering affordable housing, providing social services, and creating jobs.

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account and start earning 2.00% APY on your cash!

Requirements for CDFI Certification

To be eligible for CDFI certification, a financial organization must have a main mission of offering services to lower-income and underserved communities.

Other eligibility requirements include:

•   Providing financial and educational support services

•   Serving in a minimum of one eligible target market

•   Need to direct a minimum of 60% of their services to at least one eligible target market

•   Maintaining accountability to their defined eligible target market

•   Being a non-governmental and legal entity (except Tribal government entities) when applying for CDFI certification

How Do CDFIs Help People of Lower Income?

These mission-driven financial organizations work specifically to help underserved communities, particularly those who are lower-income. By offering financial services, such as bank accounts and loans, they can elevate the community. Even if funding goes towards businesses, the loan proceeds need to be able to help lower-income communities, whether that’s through job creation or other forms of assistance.

What Do CDFIs Offer to Communities?

CDFIs offers the following products and services to communities:

•   Low-interest loans

•   Affordable housing opportunities

•   Bank accounts for those who may not have access to traditional financial products and services

•   Training such as financial literacy and business development assistance

Benefits of CDFIs

Advantages of Community Development Financial Institutions include:

•   Access to banking services for those who have been denied by conventional means

•   Access to low-interest loans to grow a business or find a more affordable path to homeownership

•   Increased access to financial and business training

•   Potential growth opportunities in lower-income and other underserved communities

Drawbacks of CDFIs

Disadvantages of Community Development Financial Institutions include:

•   Not all areas will have easy access to a CDFI

•   May not always be easy to get loans or funding, depending on the borrower

•   Interest rates may be higher than conventional loans for creditworthy borrowers

•   CDFIs’ ability to provide funds may be limited by investors and the federal government

The Takeaway

Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs, are stepping up to help lower-income and underserved communities access affordable loans and financial products they otherwise may not have. While there are a limited number of CDFIs and funding is not infinite, they are working to improve both funding and financial literacy in some of America’s more vulnerable communities.

For those who are looking to avoid the usual charges that come with personal banking, SoFi has a great fee-free option. When you sign up for Checking and Savings with direct deposit, you don’t pay any fees like monthly, minimum-balance, or overdraft. Need more good reasons to open a new bank account? You’ll also have access to a network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs and earn a 2.00% APY, which is 41 times the national checking account average.

Watch your money grow faster with SoFi.


What is the difference between a bank and a CDFI?

Banks and CDFIs are both types of financial institutions, though the main difference lies in their mission. Banks tend to be for-profit organizations that focus on satisfying their shareholders by generating profits. CDFIs, on the other hand, aim to provide accessible and affordable financial products and services (such as bank accounts and loans) to lower-income and other underserved communities across the U.S.

How does a bank become a CDFI?

A bank can become a CDFI by getting certified by the U.S. Treasury. It needs to meet certain criteria, such as directing at least 60% of its funds towards financial products and services for lower-income communities, as well as navigating other stringent certification processes.

What are the benefits of being a CDFI?

The benefits of being a CDFI include getting additional training resources, networking opportunities with other financial institutions, and some exemptions to lending caps and mortgage rules. Of course, there’s also the benefit of knowing your organization is helping underserved communities grow and thrive.

SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 2.00% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 1.00% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 2.00% APY is current as of 08/12/2022. 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.

Photo credit: iStock/PeopleImages

Read more
Can I Switch Bank Accounts if I Have an Overdraft?

Can I Switch Bank Accounts if I Have an Overdraft?

If you have an overdraft at your current bank account, you may wonder if it is still possible to switch to another bank. While you can switch bank accounts with an overdraft, it will cost you. What’s more, you may be limited to second-chance checking accounts or “no-overdraft” accounts that offer limited services and charge a monthly fee.

That’s because checking account reporting companies like ChexSystems and Early Warning Services monitor your banking activity and produce reports about your habits, much like a credit report. When you overdraw an account or have unpaid fees, these agencies will likely add that to your report, indicating to banks and credit unions a certain level of risk associated with taking you on as a customer. And if a bank closes your account because of an overdraft (called an “involuntary closure”), it may portray you as an even larger risk.

In this guide, you’ll learn the answer to “Can I switch bank accounts if I have an overdraft?” and other important insights. What’s ahead:

•   Is it possible to switch your bank account after overdrafting?

•   What happens when you overdraft?

•   How to find a new bank account?

•   What ChexSystems is and how to improve your banking record.

Is It Possible to Switch Your Account After Overdrafting?

Here’s the answer to the question, “Can I switch bank accounts with an overdraft?”: Yes, you can make a change, though your options may be limited. And even when you switch, you are still responsible for paying off your negative balance in your old bank account.

Because of the potential negative impact on your checking account report, it is a good idea to pay off your negative balance with your bank before switching, if at all possible. Doing so may make it easier to find a new checking account.

What Happens When You Overdraft

When you overdraft on your account, your bank may assess certain overdraft fees, depending on the terms and conditions of your account and what you have opted into. You will then be responsible for paying back the overdrawn amount plus the fee.

Agencies like ChexSystems and Early Warning Services will note this on your report. Your banking report is separate from, but similar to, the credit report that is compiled by the big three agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. While a credit report tracks how responsibly you use credit (paying bills on time, how much debt you have), your banking report chronicles activity like bounced checks.

If you maintain a negative balance and do not pay the fees, the bank may close the account for you. This situation, when you have an involuntarily closed account on your checking account report, can make it much more challenging to convince a bank to let you open a new account.

Remaining bank account fees can even go to collections. In other words, if you avoid paying off the negative balance now, you may one day have to deal with a debt collector.

Recommended: Does Switching Bank Accounts Affect Credit Score?

How to Find a New Bank Account

If you want to switch bank accounts with an overdraft, perhaps because the current bank’s overdraft policy is not ideal for your situation, you have two options:

•   Pay back the negative balance and any overdraft fees. Doing this will allow you to close the account on your terms. It will also minimize any damage done to your checking account report with ChexSystems and Early Warning Services. Then you can assess what kind of bank account would work better for your needs.

•   Look for a second-chance checking account. If you cannot pay back the fees and negative balance right now, the bank may eventually close the account for you. With unpaid fees and potentially an involuntary closure on your report, you may find yourself limited to second-chance checking accounts, sometimes called “no-overdraft” accounts (more on these, below).

Pay Back the Overdraft

If you are able to resolve any overdrafts before closing your account, you will likely find it easier to open a new checking account. Without major blemishes on your report, the door will be open to better accounts, potentially even accounts that offer cash back rewards or pay interest.

In addition to offering interest and/or cash back, higher-caliber checking accounts often offer overdraft coverage with no fees to keep you from falling back into your overdraft habit.

There are other reasons to repay that overdraft on your bank account. With a stronger checking account report, you can typically find that doors open to a variety of banking products that reward you for your responsible behavior. For instance, you might be eligible for rewards checking accounts with no fees and protection from overdraft as well.

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account and start earning 2.00% APY on your cash!

Look for a Second-Chance Checking Accounts

However, if you are unable to pay off the negative balance or if your account was already involuntarily closed, you are not out of options. Some banks and credit unions do not use ChexSystems and Early Warning Services reports, which can make it easier for you to open an account.

You can often find second-chance checking accounts specifically designed for consumers who have been rejected by major banks because of their checking account reports. Such accounts often come with monthly fees that you cannot waive, and they might have additional requirements. Note: These accounts typically do not allow you to overdraft. Some banks will convert these accounts into standard checking accounts after a year or two of good banking behavior.

As an alternative, certain banks and credit unions may offer a prepaid card that operates like a debit card. You can load the card with money to spend. But unlike prepaid gift cards, these cards allow you to receive direct deposits and fund them with checks.

How You May Improve a ChexSystems Report

If you want to potentially improve your ChexSystems report, it’s important to know that negative behavior can linger for a number of years. ChexSystems, Early Warning Services, and any other agencies that report on consumer checking accounts cannot keep information that is older than seven years; some companies remove information after five years.

But you don’t just have to wait for time to pass to improve your checking account report. Here are a few things you can do to clean up your report now:

•   Dispute incorrect information. First and foremost, you can request one free ChexSystems report every 12 months (or any time you are denied an account). Review this report to ensure the information is correct, and dispute any discrepancies with the financial institution and the reporting company. If you have been a victim of bank account fraud, this is especially important; it’s wise to clear up these issues as soon as possible.

•   Pay off unpaid balances. If you have unpaid balances with a bank or credit union that are showing up on the report, you can pay these off, then request that the bank update the information with the reporting company.

•   Take advantage of your no-overdraft account. While you are waiting five to seven years for negative entries to fall off your report, it’s a good idea to avoid any activities that could lead to further bad marks. Utilizing a no-overdraft checking account, though it might carry monthly fees, can be a good way to ensure that you don’t accidentally overdraft again. In the same way you might build credit over time, you can establish a banking history that is mostly free of bad marks.

The Takeaway

Switching bank accounts if you have an overdraft is possible, but it can have long-term effects on your personal finances. If at all doable, restoring balances to $0 and paying overdraft fees before switching accounts is a good idea. It will help you access more flexible banking options at other institutions. However, if you can’t pay the outstanding balance, you might still be able to switch to a second-chance checking account. These accounts are designed for those whose checking account reports contain instances of risky banking activities and can help you build back good banking behavior after overdrafts and the like.

If you are looking for a checking account that offers overdraft coverage with no fees, consider opening a new SoFi Bank Account. When you open Checking and Savings with direct deposit, you’ll enjoy an amazing 2.00% APY, and access to your paycheck up to two days early. With a minimum monthly direct deposit of $1,000, you also get no-fee overdraft coverage.

Bank smarter with SoFi.


Can you close a bank account if you owe an overdraft?

You typically cannot close a bank account if you owe an overdraft. The bank, however, can choose to close your account to protect itself against further risk. This is called an involuntary closure and has a negative effect on your checking account report.

Can you close a bank account with a negative balance?

Generally, you can not close a bank account with a negative balance or unpaid fees. You will need to pay this money back to the bank or credit union before you can close the account.

Can you go to jail for a negative bank account?

A negative or overdrawn bank account is not a criminal offense. However, your account could be sent to collections, and unpaid balances will show up on your checking account report, which could make it difficult to open an account in the future.

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 2.00% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 1.00% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 2.00% APY is current as of 08/12/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s

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.
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/Professor25

Read more
Guide to Demand Deposit Accounts (DDA)

Guide to Demand Deposit Accounts (DDA)

A demand deposit account (DDA) is a type of bank account that is payable on demand. In other words, you can withdraw funds whenever you like. The most recognizable type of demand deposit account is a checking account. That’s right: You probably already have a demand deposit account and didn’t even know it.

While some personal finance sites and experts may conversationally refer to savings accounts as demand deposit accounts, there are key differences that actually keep savings accounts from qualifying.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

•   What is a DDA account?

•   What isn’t a demand deposit account?

•   How to open a demand deposit account.

•   The pros and cons of a DDA.

What Is a Demand Deposit Account?

So what is a demand deposit account (and what is it not)? The Federal Reserve categorizes demand deposit accounts as those that “are payable on demand, or a deposit issued with an original maturity or required notice period of less than seven days, or a deposit representing funds for which the depository institution does not reserve the right to require at least seven days’ written notice of intended withdrawal.”

Wait, what? Bank jargon can get confusing, so let’s break it down more simply. Demand deposit accounts:

•   Don’t have a maturity period.

•   Allow you to access your funds without notice (or less than seven days’ notice).

•   Can earn interest, like a high-yield checking account.

•   Cannot limit the number of withdrawals or transfers you can make.

Because checking accounts do not mature and give you immediate access to your funds (for example, through check writing, debit cards, and ATM withdrawals), these qualify as demand deposit accounts.

Recommended: What is High Interest Checking – and How Does it Work?

What Isn’t a Demand Deposit Account?

Checking accounts are a common type of DDA, but what about other types of bank accounts, like savings accounts, money market accounts, and certificates of deposit?

Savings Deposits

Some people consider savings accounts to be DDAs, but there’s a difference to note. The Federal Reserve’s Regulation D (Reg D) previously limited savings account withdrawals to six per month. In response to COVID-19, the Federal Reserve removed this requirement.

Even though the Federal Reserve has eliminated the six withdrawal limit requirement, savings accounts still do not technically qualify as a demand deposit. Because banks have the right to require at least seven days’ written notice for withdrawals on funds in savings accounts, the government instead classifies savings accounts (and money market accounts) as savings deposits.

However, consumers can typically access their savings funds without a required waiting period, so they can often utilize their savings accounts as if they were demand deposit accounts. A bonus is that savings accounts are usually interest-bearing. Just note that many banks still impose a monthly withdrawal limit, despite Federal Reserve changes, so you may wind up getting hit with fees if you make frequent withdrawals.

Recommended: How Do You Calculate Interest on a Savings Account?

Time Deposits

CDs, which have pre-set dates of maturity, are even less like demand deposits. A CD is a time deposit (sometimes called term deposit). They have set maturity dates and are subject to early withdrawal fees, meaning the funds are less liquid than a checking or savings account. Time deposits can be transferable or nontransferable and negotiable or nonnegotiable. In addition to CDs, time deposits can include club accounts (like Christmas and vacation club accounts).

A bit more on how CDs work: The principle for these accounts is that you, the account holder, commit to having your funds on deposit with a bank for a set period of time. Break that agreement, and you may pay penalties.

How Demand Deposits Work

Demand deposit accounts are designed for on-demand access to your funds. Thus, you should be able to withdraw money to cover purchases at any time.

If your demand deposit account is a traditional checking account, you can spend your money with a debit card, checkbook, transfers, or even peer-to-peer payment apps. Each bank will have its own terms and conditions, but some accounts may pay interest, some may charge fees, and some may grant you fee-free access at certain ATMs, so you can grab your money on the go. Research various accounts carefully before selecting a bank or credit union. This involves reading the fine print, but it’s important as it can help you avoid misunderstandings and various fees.

Types of Demand Deposit Accounts

Checking accounts may be the most obvious type of demand deposit account. Some savings accounts can be accessed on demand these days, as outlined above, but many still have restrictions regarding how often you can make withdrawals.

Money market accounts occupy a kind of middle ground: Some experts classify them as demand deposit accounts, but others do not.

How to Open a Demand Deposit Account

Opening a demand deposit account is equivalent to opening a checking account. Each financial institution will have its own processes for opening an account. Typically, you will need a government-issued photo ID, proof of your current residence (a utility bill, for instance), and often an opening deposit to initiate the account. Many banks allow you to complete this process quickly and easily online.

Advantages of Demand Deposit Accounts

Demand deposit accounts offer multiple benefits to consumers:

•   Easy and immediate access to funds: Whether through check writing, an ATM, or the swipe of a debit card, a demand deposit account enables consumers to spend their money as they see fit.

•   FDIC and NCUA insurance: Demand deposit accounts at banks are typically insured by the FDIC for up to $250,000; those held at credit unions are usually insured by the NCUA for the same amount. FDIC and NCUA insurance makes demand deposits safer than cash in your wallet or under the mattress.

•   Interest: Demand deposit accounts can be interest-bearing. The national average APY for checking accounts, according to the FDIC, is currently 0.03%. You can shop around for better returns (over 1%, for instance), largely at online banks. Because these don’t have the expense of bricks-and-mortar locations, they can pass those savings onto their clients.

Disadvantages of Demand Deposit Accounts

Consumers may find some drawbacks to demand deposit accounts as well:

•   Low earnings: Demand deposit accounts are not required to pay interest. While consumers have easy access to their funds, they are trading away higher earning opportunities they might find with a high-interest savings account, time deposits, or even investments in stocks and bonds.

•   Fees: Some demand deposits accounts charge fees, including monthly maintenance fees. Others require minimum balances that some consumers might not want to keep in the account.

The Takeaway

Demand deposit accounts are a type of bank account that give you immediate access to your funds. Checking accounts are the most common type of DDA. With these, you can withdraw money at will, by check, debit card, ATM, bank transfer, or P2P platforms. Demand deposit accounts are often the foundation of an individual’s financial life, allowing them to spend and manage their money seamlessly.

Banking with SoFi can help smooth the path to smart money management. Enroll in our Checking and Savings with direct deposit, and you won’t pay any fees; you’ll have access to more than 55,000 fee-free ATMs via the Allpoint® Network; and you’ll earn an ultra competitive 2.00% APY.

SoFi: Helping your money grow faster.


Is a DDA number the same as an account number?

A DDA (or demand deposit account) number is typically the same as your checking account number.

What is a personal DDA deposit?

You can fund your DDA directly with transfers from other accounts, check deposits (mobile, in-person, or ATM), or cash deposits. These are all types of personal DDA deposits.

Is a DDA account a checking account?

In most cases, a DDA account is a checking account. There is some debate about whether other types of accounts, such as a money market account, also qualify as a DDA.

What does DDA mean on a bank statement?

DDA stands for demand deposit account, which indicates that funds in the account are immediately available to the account holder.

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 2.00% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 1.00% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 2.00% APY is current as of 08/12/2022. 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.

Photo credit: iStock/jacoblund

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender