# Interesting Debit Card Facts

21 Facts About Debit Cards You May Not Know

You may have a debit card in your wallet and even swipe it multiple times a day. But did you ever take a moment to think about what an impressive invention that little rectangle of plastic actually is?

Debit cards offer an extremely convenient payment method (you may not even need to swipe it in this tap-and-go era) and are a relatively recent addition to banking services.

To learn more about these handy payment cards, keep reading for 21 debit card facts.

21 Interesting Debit Card Facts

Want to learn some interesting facts about debit cards? These are debit card facts that may surprise you.

1. Over 80% of Americans Have a Debit Card

Recent surveys reveal that over 83% of Americans have a debit card. That’s a lot of plastic! Many people have multiple debit cards. One report noted that there were over 6 billion debit cards in the U.S.

2. Most Debit Cards Have a Familiar Logo

Many debit cards feature the Mastercard or Visa logo, even if your bank sends you the card. This means those two familiar card issuers’ networks can help support the transaction.

Over 73% of Americans have a debit card from Visa; almost 60% have one from Mastercard. (Yes, those numbers add up to more than 100%, indicating that many people have multiple cards.)

3. Debit Cards Followed Store Credit

Who came up with the ingenious idea for a debit card? Store cards likely sparked the idea. Before debit and credit cards launched, if someone didn’t want to make payments in cash (or couldn’t afford to), they often had the option to use store credit. U.S. banks actually got the idea for debit cards from the store credit system in the 1940s.

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4. Magnetic Stripes Debuted in 1967

Magnetic stripes quickly became the preferred method for making plastic cards machine-readable in 1967. In early 1971, the American Bankers Association (ABA) endorsed the magnetic stripe — also known as the magstripe — to make plastic debit cards readable on a machine. This helped usher in a new era of convenience, although debit cards were originally better suited for withdrawing cash from an ATM than shopping.

5. Magnetic Stripes Are on the Decline

Nowadays, magnetic stripes are becoming less popular as new technologies evolve. By 2033, Mastercard doesn’t plan to use magnetic stripes on their debit or credit cards at all anymore.

6. Kids Can Get Debit Cards

While 18 is usually the minimum age to open a bank account, some kids’ accounts come with debit cards. Chase offers a First Banking account with a debit card for those ages six to 17, and Greenlight and GoHenry also offer debit cards for young customers.

7. Metal Debit Cards Exist

While many of us are accustomed to plastic debit cards, some issuers make them out of metal. For instance, N26, an online bank overseas, offers premium banking clients a card made of 18 grams of stainless steel, in three different metallic shades.

8. Some Debit Cards Are Going Green

Starting in 2023, Bank of America is beginning to use recycled plastic for all of its debit and credit cards. This move is aimed to help reduce the amount of single-use plastics by 235 tons. It’s a good example of green banking at work.

9. Most People Have Daily Debit-Card Spending Limits

There may be exceptions to the rule, but most debit cards come with limits about how much you can swipe per day. These limits are typically between $400 and $25,000 per day. Check your agreement with your bank to find your financial ceiling.

Recommended: Guide to Paying Credit Cards With a Debit Card

10. The Public Resisted Debit Cards Initially

At first, people said a big “thanks, but no thanks” to debit cards. In 1972, a report commissioned by the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta found that the majority of the public didn’t support any kind of electronic payments system. Times have certainly changed.

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11. You Can Customize the Photo on Your Debit Card

Do you like expressing yourself? Some financial institutions will let you put the photo of your choice on your debit card. For instance, Bank of America shows an example of putting an image of a furbaby on their debit card.

12. A West Coast Bank Released the First Debit Card

Debit cards made their debut in 1978, thanks to the First National Bank of Seattle. However, some say an early forerunner was introduced in the 1960s by the Bank of Delaware and should get credit as the true pioneer. Either way, it shows debit cards have been around for a while.

13. Debit Cards May Carry Fees

While you won’t rack up debt and charges the way you could with a credit card, not all debit card transactions are free. For instance, if you use your debit card to get cash at an out-of-network ATM, you might get hit with a charge. Or if you overdraw your account, you might get a fee similar to those incurred when you bounce a check. Check your account agreement or ask a bank rep for details.

14. UK Banned All Debit Card Surcharges

Originally, debit cards in the UK came with fees, such as processing charges. However, in 2018, the UK government banned any surcharges on debit cards which makes it possible to use them for a transaction of any size, even super small ones, without fees being added.

15. Chip Technology Leads to Contactless Payments

During the pandemic, contactless payments surged in popularity. This was made possible by chip technology. With chip technology, consumers can simply hold their debit card over a payment terminal to make a payment. There’s less risk of passing germs around via touch.

16. Chip Technology Doesn’t Require a PIN

Not only does chip technology make it possible to skip entering a debit card physically into the payment terminal, the use of a PIN may not be required.

17. You Can Be Liable for Charges on a Lost Debit Card

There’s a downside to the convenience of debit cards. If yours is lost or stolen, you’ll be liable for:

•   $0 if reported immediately and before any unauthorized charges are made

•   Up to $50 if you notify the bank within two days

•   Up to $500 if you notify the bank within 60 days after your statement was issued showing unauthorized usage

•   Unlimited if you don’t notify the bank within 60 days of the statement showing unauthorized usage being issued.

18. Some Debit Cards Can Be Used Worldwide

Having a debit card from a well-known issuer like Mastercard or Visa has some benefits. For example, because these two card issuers are so popular, they are accepted as a form of payment in most countries. This can make payments much easier for global travelers. That said, be wary of possible international conversion fees (possibly 1% to 3% of the amount you swipe) plus foreign ATM usage charges.

19. There Were Three Major Players Until 2002

Until 2002, there were three main players in the debit card space. Alongside Mastercard and Visa, Europay was the other big player. In 2002, Europay merged with Mastercard.

20. Debit Cards Are More Popular than Credit Cards

Consumers have the option to use debit cards or credit cards if they don’t want to have cash on them when shopping or if they are shopping online. In one recent study, debit cards were found to be used almost twice as often as credit cards.

21. People Spend Less With Debit Than Credit Cards

While people may use debit cards more often than credit cards, they tend to spend more when using credit cards (almost 30% more), whether purchasing in person or shopping online.

The Takeaway

There’s a whole array of interesting facts about debit cards, from how they were developed to how they are made to how they can be used. What may stand out most among these 21 debit card facts is just how far payment technology has come in recent years and how much more convenient purchasing has become.

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Are debit cards more popular than credit cards?

Debit cards tend to be more popular than credit cards. Recent research found that consumers use debit cards almost twice as much as credit cards. However, when they do use credit cards, consumers typically tend to spend almost 30% more than they do with a debit card.

What is the difference between debit and prepaid cards?

The main difference between debit and prepaid cards is where the funds for payment come from. A debit card is linked to a bank account, but a prepaid card is not. Consumers need to load money onto a prepaid card before they can use it. Once they do so, that amount acts as their spending limit.

What debit card is the most popular?

Most banks offer their own debit card, but the majority of these are backed by one of two issuers, Visa or Mastercard. Currently, Visa is the more popular issuer.

What debit card fact is the most useful?

The most useful debit card fact to know may be either that you have a daily spending limit or that you must report a lost or stolen debit card ASAP to avoid being liable for any unauthorized usage. The longer you wait, the more you might owe.

Photo credit: iStock/Daisy-Daisy

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 4.00% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 1.20% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 3/17/2023. 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.
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Are Unemployment Benefits Taxable?

Are Unemployment Benefits Taxable?

Unemployment benefits can help you get by in the event of job loss, but this money is subject to taxes just like any other source of income. How much your unemployment benefits are taxed depends on your filing status, tax bracket, and state of residence.

In this guide to unemployment benefit taxes, you’ll learn the ins and outs so you can pay Uncle Sam what you owe. Read on to find out:

•   Are unemployment benefits taxable?

•   How are unemployment benefits taxed?

•   What are tips for paying taxes on unemployment benefits?

Do You Have to Pay Taxes on Unemployment Benefits?

Yes, you do have to pay taxes on unemployment benefits. They are taxable like any other income. That means you won’t actually get to keep all the money the government gives you while you’re unemployed. You’ll have to give some of it back, just as you do on many other forms of money you receive. It’s simply part of being a taxpayer.

Recommended: Tips for First-Time Tax Filers

How Is Unemployment Taxed?

Now that you’ve learned that unemployment benefits are taxable, consider the details. How much are the taxes, is it just federal or state taxes too, and how do you pay them?

How Much Are Unemployment Benefits Taxed?

No matter which state you live in, your unemployment benefits are taxed at the federal level. That means everyone — including residents of states without income taxes — must pay taxes on unemployment compensation.

How much you owe depends on your filing status and tax bracket. The United States is on a progressive tax system: In general, the higher your adjusted gross income (AGI), the more you’ll pay in taxes.

For the 2022 tax season (filed in 2023), there are seven federal tax brackets, ranging from 10% to 37%.

Before filing your taxes, you’ll receive a Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments, reflecting your unemployment benefits. This form will indicate how much unemployment compensation you received as well as how much was withheld, if applicable. You’ll need this form, plus any records of quarterly payments (more on those below) when filing your taxes.

Unemployment Benefit Taxes at the State Level

When determining how much unemployment benefits are taxed, don’t forget that federal taxes may not be the only funds due. Depending on where you live, you may have to pay state income taxes on your unemployment compensation, too. Nine states do not have personal income taxes on what are considered wages:

•   Alaska

•   Florida

•   Nevada

•   New Hampshire

•   South Dakota

•   Tennessee

•   Texas

•   Washington

•   Wyoming

If you live in one of those nine states, you don’t have to pay state income taxes on unemployment benefits.

That said, four states that do have a state income tax also don’t tax your unemployment compensation:

•   California

•   New Jersey

•   Pennsylvania

•   Virginia

If you live in one of the remaining 37 states (or Washington, D.C.), you’ll have to pay state taxes on any unemployment earnings.

How to Pay Taxes on Unemployment Benefit

Like it or not, you’ll owe taxes (federal and maybe state) on any unemployment compensation. Now that you know how unemployment is taxed, consider how you can pay those taxes. You have two main options:

•   Have the taxes withheld like you would from a paycheck

•   Estimate and pay the taxes each quarter

Here’s a closer look at each option.

Withholding Taxes

When you initially apply for unemployment, you can ask to have taxes withheld from your payments. However, federal law has established a flat rate of 10% for tax withholding for unemployment benefits.

When you receive income as wages, you can usually specify how much you want to have withheld via filling out Form W-4.

If you expect to be in a higher tax bracket and need to pay more in taxes than what’s being withheld, you can make quarterly estimated payments for the difference.

If you’re currently receiving unemployment compensation and taxes aren’t being withheld, you can submit Form W-4V , Voluntary Withholding Request, to initiate the 10% withholding on future benefit distributions.

Recommended: Does Filing for Unemployment Affect Your Credit Score?

Paying Quarterly

To avoid owing an underpayment penalty when you file your taxes, you may need to make quarterly estimated payments on your unemployment earnings. You can use Form 1040-ES and send in your payment by mail, or you can pay online or over the phone.

If you’re new to estimating taxes, you can use the IRS resource for quarterly taxes , work with an accountant, or use tax software.

Tips for Paying Taxes on Unemployment Benefits

Being unemployed can be stressful, and on top of that, it may be hard to figure out how to properly pay taxes on unemployment benefits you receive. Follow this advice which can help simplify and clarify the process.

•   Opting into tax withholding: When you apply for unemployment, you can opt into automatic tax withholding at a flat 10% rate. While it may not be enough to cover your entire tax liability, it’s a good start — and can keep you from overspending your unemployment compensation.

•   Setting aside money in a high-yield savings account: If you don’t opt in to withholding (or if 10% is not enough to cover your tax liability), you’ll need to pay quarterly estimated taxes on your unemployment income. To avoid accidentally spending that money before it’s due, it’s a good idea to calculate what you’ll owe and put it in an online savings account that you won’t touch until it’s time to pay Uncle Sam. Bonus: You’ll be earning interest on the money.

•   Keeping track of all your earnings and paperwork: Tax filing can be complicated — there are lots of forms to collect and statements to reference. Keeping clean records of benefit distributions and quarterly payments throughout is crucial to preparing for tax season.

•   Using IRS Free File: Because you have to pay taxes on all income, including unemployment, you’ll likely want some help. If your adjusted gross income is below the $73,000 threshold, you can get free guided tax preparation through IRS Free File . If your AGI is too high but you’re feeling overwhelmed by how complicated your taxes are, it might be a good idea to pay for tax software or hire an accountant.

•   Being aware of unemployment fraud: It’s possible for criminals to use your personal information to falsely make unemployment claims in your name. If you receive Form 1099-G for unemployment compensation but did not receive any unemployment benefits, follow the Department of Labor’s steps for reporting unemployment identity fraud .

The Takeaway

Like other forms of income, unemployment benefits are subject to taxes. If you aren’t having taxes withheld from your unemployment compensation — or if the flat 10% rate is not high enough — the IRS requires that you pay quarterly taxes. Paying what you owe on unemployment benefits is an important and necessary step in correctly filing your tax return.

When it comes to paying taxes, you may want to stash away money that will be due later in the year. Or you might need a good place for a tax refund to land. In either of those scenarios (or if you’re just ready to bank smarter), consider opening a SoFi bank account. With our Checking and Savings account, you’ll save and spend in one convenient place, plus you’ll earn a competitive annual percentage yield (APY) and pay zero account fees, both of which can help your money grow faster.

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Do you pay less in taxes when you’re on unemployment?

Your tax rate depends on your adjusted gross income. If you earned less income because you were unemployed — and your unemployment checks are smaller than your paychecks had been — you can expect to pay less in taxes.

Are unemployment benefits taxed in states with no income tax?

Unemployment money is taxed at the federal level no matter which state you live in. However, if you live in a state with no state income taxes, you won’t have to pay state taxes on your unemployment benefits. Four states that levy income taxes also exempt you from paying those state taxes on unemployment compensation: California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Was pandemic unemployment taxed?

Pandemic unemployment was not taxed for the 2020 tax year — to a certain degree. Following the historic job loss associated with the initial wave of COVID-19, the government passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which made the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits non-taxable.

However, this was a one-time exclusion. Though the pandemic continued beyond the 2020 tax year, unemployment income became completely taxable once again.

Photo credit: iStock/PixelsEffect

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 members with direct deposit can earn up to 4.00% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 1.20% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 3/17/2023. 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. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

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.
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.

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What Kitchen Style Do You Prefer? — Take the Quiz

Do you have kitchen envy, daydreaming about Shaker cabinets, farmhouse sinks, or sleek marble countertops? Join the club: Kitchen remodeling is one of the most popular kinds of home renovation projects, with the typical “small” kitchen redo costing upwards of $28,000. These kinds of upgrades can be worthwhile, with more than 70% of the cost being recouped when the home is sold.

Perhaps you’re planning a kitchen refresh. If so, one of the first steps is likely to figure out what your dream kitchen will look like. Once you know that, you can begin to delve into what exactly you want to do and buy and then how to finance it.

So, first things first: To help you get in touch with your inner kitchen designer, consider the three broad categories of styles: traditional, contemporary, and transitional. Which one is for you?

Read on to:

•   Learn more about kitchen styles

•   Take a kitchen personality quiz to zero in on the best fit for your taste

•   Understand how to afford the kitchen you crave

Traditional Kitchen Style

Even when other styles rise in popularity, the traditional kitchen continues to hold its own, remaining among the most popular. At the core of traditional kitchens is a time-honored approach to design that refers to the styles of the past.

Among the signature touches:

•   Raised-panel or glass-front cabinets

•   Warm wood tones

•   An earthy, rustic color palette

•   Classic sinks, faucets, and knobs, such as a farmhouse style in porcelain or marble

•   Molding, whether at ceiling, along the top of cabinetry, or elsewhere

•   Country or European touches often find a place in traditional kitchens, whether that means floral backsplash tiles or lace curtains.

Contemporary Kitchen Style

At the other end of the design spectrum is contemporary kitchen style. Just as the name suggests, these spaces tend to be clean-lined and sleek. Among the typical features are:

•   Cabinets are often slab-style (meaning without knobs) or otherwise minimalist.

•   Typically, these kitchens use sleek materials, whether wood, steel, or lacquer.

•   Color schemes tend to be neutral, from all white and futuristic to grays and beiges to moody black. However, some people like to mix in pops of color.

•   Appliances are typically disguised as cabinetry (you may hear this called paneled appliances) to keep the clean-lined look going.

•   Decorative accessories are discouraged. If you like showing off your teapot collection, this look probably isn’t for you.

Recommended: Cost to Repair a Plumbing Leak

Transitional Kitchen Style

If you find that you appreciate some elements of traditional style and some of contemporary, then a transitional style kitchen may be just right for you. This style combines elements of both styles in a unique way.

For example:

•   Transitional kitchens might include classic, simple Shaker-style cabinets but in bold shade, like teal, which makes them look more modern.

•   Countertops are often quartz or quartzite, which can have the warmth of natural tones but sleek edges.

•   Appliances are often built-in or stainless steel.

•   Pendant lighting, with its clean lines, is a signature of the transitional style.

•   Wood plank flooring, with its traditional warmth, is often incorporated in these kitchens.

•   If you think you’ll be selling your home, then going transitional can be a safe bet to make your home appealing to a broad swath of potential buyers.

Kitchen Style Quiz

Now that you have a basic grounding in these three looks, take the kitchen style quiz.

Now that you have insight onto the kitchen look you gravitate towards, learn more about what remodeling involves.

Remodeling Your Kitchen

A kitchen remodel can be a good way to boost the value of your home, with possibilities ranging from fairly inexpensive — new paint, new faucets, and new cabinet pulls, for example — to a full-scale remodel that could cost you more than $100,000. A few smart strategies:

•   When remodeling, it makes sense to prioritize your spending in a way that creates a kitchen that works well for your lifestyle.

For example, if you and your partner love to cook gourmet meals and experiment with new recipes, it makes sense to allocate your budget to be a true chef’s kitchen, perhaps with a commercial-style range. If, on the other hand, you’re envisioning a kitchen where all the neighborhood kids will gather for pizza and homework, consider that in your design and perhaps budget for a cushy, built-in banquette.

•   It can also be wise to create a budget and keep an eye on which options can wind up being very pricey maneuvers. The cost of rewiring and moving plumbing lines, for instance, can be quite steep. Have a couple of well-recommended tradespeople pitch your job (don’t skimp on checking references) before picking one.

•   Build in contingencies for your project to go over budget and past the deadline. It happens, and being prepared for that kind of wiggle room can help you avoid a lot of stress. For instance, inflation’s impact on kitchen remodeling can be significant so it’s wise to plan ahead on that front.

•   Also stay aware of what changes require a permit (you may be surprised at how often one is needed) and prepare for how that will impact your timeline.

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Financing Your Remodel

Once you’ve decided how you want to update your kitchen and have considered the average cost of a kitchen remodel, then one of the next considerations is how to pay for it. If you need to finance the project, you may have such options as:

•   You could do a cash-out refinance if you have equity in your home. This involves refinancing your current mortgage for its remaining balance plus the amount needed to do your remodel.

•   A home equity line of credit might also make sense if you have equity. This involves using your home as collateral and opening a line of credit (like a credit card) to tap as work is done on your kitchen. You then repay the debt over time.

•   Another secured option is a home equity loan, which gives you a set amount of money to use towards your renovation.

•   It can make sense to consider an unsecured home improvement loan to help you get the remodel done, too.

Because this is a kind of personal loan, this means you don’t need to have home equity nor put your home on the line as collateral.

Like all loan products, there are pros and cons to personal loans. What matters most when financing your kitchen remodel is finding the option that suits your financial and personal needs best.

Recommended: Can I Pay Off a Personal Loan Early?

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At SoFi, applying for an online home improvement loan is quick and easy. Approved loans can be funded in as little as one day, which means you can get started on your remodel more quickly. Plus, SoFi Personal Loans offer fixed rate payments, which can help you budget and keep your project on schedule.

SoFi: We make home improvement loans simple and speedy.

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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.
Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

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What Can Be Used as Collateral for a Personal Loan?

The only time you’d need collateral for a personal loan is if it’s a secured personal loan. Unsecured personal loans — which is what most personal loans are — are only secured by a borrower’s promise to repay the funds, rather than collateral.

But if you do opt for a secured personal loan, whether due to potential for larger loan amounts or more competitive terms, you’ll need an item to put up as collateral. Collateral can include a house, car, boat, and so forth — really, whatever a lender is willing to hold. You may also be able to use investment accounts, cash accounts, or certificates of deposit (CDs) as collateral to get the cash you need.

Secured Loans: Personal Loans With Collateral

Requiring collateral for a personal loan is uncommon, but not unheard of, depending on the type of personal loan you get. Generally, secured loans have more competitive interest rates, larger loan amounts, and more favorable terms.

But if a borrower fails to repay their secured loan, they’ll receive a notice letting them know they’re in default and giving them an opportunity to become current on payments. If the borrower doesn’t pay up, that can lead to loss of the collateral.

There’s a wide range of possibilities when it comes to types of collateral that can be used to secure a personal loan. Some common examples of loan collateral include:

•   Real estate: One option for personal loan collateral is your home or other real estate you own, like an investment property. Even if you don’t fully own your home, you may be able to use the equity you do have as collateral. Just make sure you understand the risk involved — you could lose your home if you’re unable to make payments.

•   Vehicle: You can use a vehicle as collateral when purchasing a car or truck, but some lenders allow you to use the equity in a vehicle to get funds. This may be a better choice than, say, a payday loan. However, you risk losing that vehicle if you can’t make the payments.

•   Bank or investment accounts: You might be able to use a CD or other investment account as collateral. Just know that using these accounts as collateral might prevent you from accessing the funds in the accounts, which is a downside to consider.

Beyond these more standard items, other things that could be used as collateral for a secured personal loan include paychecks, savings accounts, paper investments, fine art, jewelry, collectibles, and more.

Potential Advantages of Secured Loans

If you need to borrow a larger sum of cash, then you might find more success if you put up collateral. A borrower whose credit score isn’t as high as might be required for a riskier unsecured personal loan may find it easier to get approved for a personal loan that’s secured.

Plus, you might receive more favorable rates and/or terms, because the lender has the security of knowing they can possess the collateral if the loan is not paid back. As a personal loan calculator can demonstrate, a lower interest rate can add up to savings quickly.

Downsides of Secured Personal Loans

Perhaps the biggest downside of secured personal loans is that if you fail to make your payments, you could lose the asset that’s securing the loan. Given that houses, investment accounts, and vehicles are common examples of personal loan collateral, that could be a big blow.

Another downside of secured vs. unsecured personal loans is that the application process is generally longer and more involved. This is because the lender needs to assess the asset being put up as loan collateral to verify its value.

Unsecured Personal Loans

As mentioned, unsecured personal loans aren’t backed by collateral. Instead, lenders just need a borrower’s signature promising they’ll pay back funds (as well as a review of their credit history and other financial fitness indicators, of course). Because of this, you may hear unsecured personal loans referred to as signature loans, good faith loans, or character loans.

Student loans are a type of unsecured loan, though they have their own unique terms and repayment options. So are most credit cards, although they tend to have higher rates than what’s typical on an unsecured personal loan.

Potential Advantages of Unsecured Loans

You can typically obtain unsecured personal loans on short notice. If the borrower has sufficient income and a good credit score and history (among other factors), rates can be competitive compared to those of secured loans.

And, of course, with an unsecured personal loan, you wouldn’t be tying up any assets or putting them at risk if you struggle with repayment.

Downsides of Unsecured Loans

Because unsecured loans are riskier for the lender, rates are typically higher than those of secured loans. Additionally, amounts available to borrow are usually smaller.

While it’s true that there isn’t an asset a lender can repossess for nonpayment, lenders can still take action on unpaid unsecured personal loans. Lenders can report the account as in default to the credit bureaus, send the account to collections, and take a borrower to court for nonpayment. This can significantly affect a person’s credit for years to come.

Building or Repairing Credit to Avoid Loan Collateral

If your credit score or credit history is preventing you from getting an unsecured loan, it might make sense to take time to build or repair your credit. This won’t happen instantly, so it won’t be the magic solution if you need a loan now. But if you’d prefer not to put up an asset as collateral, it might be a worthwhile step prior to taking out a personal loan.

Some steps you can take to build or repair your credit include:

•   Pay all existing loans on time, and make sure not to miss any.

•   Get your monthly bills, such as your rent payments or utility bills, added to your credit report by a third-party service.

•   Keep your credit utilization (meaning the total percentage of your available credit you’re using) below 30%.

•   Get caught up on any outstanding balances or past-due debts.

•   Limit applications for new accounts.

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Making a Choice: Secured or Unsecured

Whether a secured or unsecured personal loan is right for you depends on your specific need, financial situation, and credit history, among other factors, though the common uses for personal loans apply to both.

If you’re looking for higher borrowing limits and potentially lower rates, or if you know you may not have as strong of an application, an unsecured personal loan could make more sense. Just think carefully about what asset you decide to put down as collateral, as you do need collateral for a loan of this type.

But if you have strong credit and don’t need to borrow as much money, an unsecured personal loan might make sense. That way, you won’t have to worry about loan collateral. Just remember that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook if you don’t repay the loan — lenders can report the defaulted loan, put it in collections, and even take you to court.

Unsecured Personal Loans at SoFi

If you think an unsecured personal loan is the right choice for you, consider a personal loan from SoFi. Because it is an unsecured loan, you won’t need to worry about loan collateral. Plus, SoFi personal loans have low rates. And, if you sign up for autopay, you could save even more.

Plus, at SoFi, unsecured personal loans are available in amounts up to $100,000. You could use funds for credit card consolidation, home improvements, relocation assistance, unexpected medical expenses, major personal purchases, and more.

Check out an unsecured personal loan from SoFi today.

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.
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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


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Is It a Good Idea To Use a Personal Loan for Investing?

Is It a Good Idea to Use a Personal Loan for Investing?

While a person could theoretically use a personal loan to invest, it is generally not a great idea. That’s because there are a number of risks associated with using a personal loan for investment. For one, there’s always the risk that you could lose the money you invest, which could make it challenging to repay the loan. And then there’s the fact that taking on debt to invest involves paying interest. Depending on the rate you qualify for, you could end up paying more in interest than you make in returns from investing.

If you’re considering using personal loans to invest, it’s important to understand the potential downsides. Weigh those against any possible gains to see if it actually makes sense for you.

Can You Use Personal Loans to Invest?

Personal loans allow you to borrow a lump sum of money that you can use for virtually any purpose. Some of the most common uses for personal loans include home improvements, debt consolidation, vehicle purchases, medical bills, and emergency expenses. You can also generally use a personal loan for investing, unless the lender specifies otherwise. While personal loans typically allow for flexibility in how the money can be used, lenders have the option to impose restrictions.

So why would someone use personal loans to invest anyway? There are different reasons for doing so. For some, personal loans for investing could make sense if:

•   They don’t have other cash available to invest.

•   Shifts in the market have created a buying opportunity they’d like to capitalize on.

•   Personal loan interest rates are low compared to the return potential for investments.

•   They can afford to make the payments on a personal loan.

When Using a Personal Loan to Invest Might Make Sense

Ultimately, whether you should consider using personal loans for investing may hinge on your investment goals, timeline for investing, and risk tolerance. There are some situations where it could make sense.

1. You Can Qualify for the Lowest Rates, Based on Credit

One of the most important factors that lenders consider when approving personal loan applications is credit. Specifically, your credit scores and credit reports will come under scrutiny. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate on a loan is likely to be. If you’re interested in using personal loans for investments then getting the best rate matters.

Why? While you might be earning returns on your investments, you’re paying some of them back to the lender in the form of loan interest. So it makes sense to angle for the lowest rates possible, which are generally offered to those with good to excellent credit.

2. You May Be Able to Pay the Loan Off Early

Being able to pay the loan off ahead of schedule could help you save money on interest charges. Given those potential savings, think about your budget and what you might realistically be able to afford to pay each month to get the loan paid off early.

But be aware that doing so could trigger a prepayment penalty. While SoFi personal loans don’t have any prepayment penalties, for instance, other lenders may charge them. If you get stuck paying a prepayment penalty that could wipe out any interest savings associated with paying the loan off early.

3. You’re Confident About Your Return Potential

Some financial experts might say that personal loans for investing only make sense when the investments are guaranteed to get a return that outpaces what’s paid in interest on the loan. But trying to predict a stock or exchange-traded fund’s future performance is an inexact science and not a recommended practice.

For that reason, it’s important to consider how confident you are about an investment paying off. This is where you may need to do some research to understand what an investment’s risk/reward profile looks like, how well it’s performed in the past, what’s happening with the market currently, and where it might be headed next.

In other words, you’ll want to perform some due diligence before using loans for investments. Looking at both the upsides and the potential investing risks can help with deciding if you should move forward with your personal loan plans.

When You Might Think Twice About Using Personal Loans for Investing

While there may be some upsides to using personal loans for investments, there are some potential drawbacks to weigh as well. Don’t let your dreams of investing success cloud the realities of the risks involved.

1. You Don’t Qualify for the Best Rates

When using personal loans for investing, the math becomes important, since any interest you pay has to be justified by the returns you earn. Even if you’re investing in something that you’re sure is going to result in a sizable gain, you still have to consider how interest will cut into those gains.

If you don’t have great credit then any returns you realize may be overshadowed by the interest you’re paying to the lender. Before applying for a personal loan, it’s helpful to check your credit reports and scores to see where you stand. This can help you gauge what type of interest rates you’re most likely to qualify for if you do decide to go ahead with a loan.

Also know that the total interest cost increases the longer you pay on the loan. If you’re considering a two-year, three-year, or even five-year repayment term, make sure to keep that in mind.

2. You Have a Lower Risk Tolerance

Investments aren’t risk-free, and some are riskier than others. If you’re taking on debt to invest in the market, you have to be reasonably sure that your investment will pay off. In the meantime, you need to be comfortable with the risk that involves.

The stock market moves in cycles, and volatility can affect stock prices from day to day. So it’s good to understand how you typically react to volatility and what level of risk is acceptable to you before taking out a personal loan. If the idea of being stuck with a loan for an investment that doesn’t pan out isn’t something you can stomach, it may not be right for you.

Likewise, you may want to take a pass on a personal loan if you’d be investing in something that you don’t fully understand or haven’t thoroughly researched.

3. Your Income or Expenses Could Change

Taking out a personal loan means you’re committing to repaying that money. While you might be able to afford the payments now, that may not be true if your income or expenses change down the line.

Something investors might not like to think about, but that is a risk, is the possibility that the market doesn’t perform favorably. What happens if there’s a loss on the investment and you have to find other funds to make the personal loan payments? The reality is, even if the investment doesn’t provide the return that’s expected, the lender will still expect payments on that personal loan.

Before applying for a personal loan, ask yourself whether you’d still be able to keep up with the payments if your income were to decrease, your other expenses were to go up, or the investment didn’t see the return you thought it would. If you don’t have an emergency fund in place, for instance, how would you manage the loan payments? Would you have to sell the investment to make a loan payment? Could you borrow money from friends or family?

Thinking about these kinds of contingencies can help you decide if a personal loan for investing is the best way to go.

What to Consider With Personal Loans for Investing

Before taking out a personal loan for investing, there are a few things to keep in mind. For instance, consider factors like:

•   How much you can afford to pay each month toward a personal loan

•   How much you need or want to borrow

•   What the current personal loan interest rates are

•   Which rates you’re most likely to qualify for based on your credit history

•   Any fees a lender may charge, such as origination fees or application fees

•   Whether you’ll be able to repay the loan early and if so, what prepayment penalty might be involved

Beyond credit scores, also consider what else is needed to get approved for a personal loan. For instance, lenders may look at your debt-to-income ratio, employment history, and intended use for the loan proceeds.

Also think about how you want to invest the money. If you’re interested in trading stocks or ETFs, for example, you may want to choose an online brokerage that charges $0 commission fees for those trades. The fewer fees you pay to your brokerage, the more of your investment returns you get to keep.

Awarded Best Online Personal Loan by NerdWallet.
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The Takeaway

Using personal loans for investments carries some definite risks. It’s a strategy to steer clear of if you don’t qualify for the best rate on your loan, you have a lower risk tolerance, or your income or expenses could change down the road. Only in select circumstances could it make sense — though remember there’s no guarantee of any investment returns.

As such, personal loans are likely better left for other purposes, such as covering emergency expenses or making necessary home repairs. If you are considering getting a personal loan, make sure to shop around to find the right offer. Personal loans from SoFi, for instance, offer competitive interest rates.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2023 winner for Best Online Personal Loan overall.

Photo credit: iStock/jacoblund

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 Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Also, past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals, and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC registered investment advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
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For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or prequalification for any loan product offered by SoFi Bank, N.A.
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