Can You Overdraft a Credit Card?

In most cases, it isn’t possible to overdraft a credit card. If you opt in to over-the-limit charges, it may be possible to exceed your credit card’s limit. However, “overdraft” usually refers to overdrawing a bank account, not a credit card.

It’s more likely that your purchase will be denied rather than overdrawn. If you do go over the limit, you might get hit with additional fees, and your credit could suffer as a result.

What Does It Mean to Overdraft a Credit Card?

Each time you use your credit card, your balance increases, given how credit cards work. If you aren’t making payments against that balance, it will move closer and closer to your credit limit. Eventually, your balance could get high enough that you run up against that limit.

Usually, though, you won’t be able to go beyond your credit card spending limit. Instead, your card will be declined if you attempt to make a purchase that would put you over the limit. This is the result of the CARD Act of 2009.

Since the CARD Act, you can’t go over your card’s limit unless you specifically opt in to allow overages. In that case, it may be possible to go beyond your credit card’s limit.

What Happens If You Overdraft Your Credit Card

What happens when you try to overdraft your credit card depends on whether you have opted in to over-limit charges. If you haven’t, your card will likely be declined; otherwise, you could incur fees and a hit to your credit.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

Declined Transactions

By default, most credit cards today should not allow you to go over your credit limit. Instead, your card will probably be declined.

For example, imagine you have a credit limit of $5,000 with a current balance of $4,800. If you try to spend $250, in most cases it will not result in a $5,050 balance on your card. Because your limit is $5,000, your card will probably be declined when you attempt to complete the transaction for the $250 purchase.

Over-Limit Fees

Since the CARD Act of 2009, you can’t be charged over-limit fees unless you opt in to them. In that case, you will be charged an over-the-limit fee that is usually up to $35. However, the fee is limited to the amount you exceed your limit. For example, if you go $15 over your credit limit, the over-limit fee can’t be more than $15.

The CARD Act also says that banks must disclose over-limit fees in your credit card contract. If for some reason you have opted into over-limit fees, you should be able to opt out of these fees at any time.

Impact on Credit Score

If you go over the limit for your credit card, your credit score might take a hit. While there’s no magic number for credit utilization, the rule of thumb is usually that you should limit your utilization to 30%. Your utilization is your outstanding balances divided by your credit limit. Because your balance for the credit card in question is greater than the limit, your ratio would exceed 100%. That might cause your credit score to drop until you lower the ratio.

One thing to keep in mind is that credit utilization is calculated using all of your outstanding credit. In other words, if you have five different credit cards, your utilization takes all of their balances and credit limits into account. If you have many credit cards and most of them have no balances, going over the limit on one credit card won’t necessarily hurt your credit score.

Either way, it’s best to avoid this situation due to the over-limit fees. This is also why it’s important to discuss spending habits with any authorized users on a credit card to avoid hitting your limit.

How to Avoid Overdrafting Your Credit Card

If you go over the limit on your credit card, there are several steps you can take to rectify the situation. These steps will help you prevent the situation in the future and improve your credit.

Make Additional Repayments

One of the most important credit card rules is that you should pay more than the minimum amount due each month. Indeed, paying more than you normally pay might be a good idea, especially if the credit card that’s over its limit is a significant part of your total credit picture.

Say you have a minimum payment of $40, and you normally pay that amount each month. In that case, consider upping your payment to $50 instead. Anything you can pay above the minimum will help you reduce your credit utilization; the more you can pay, the better. This can also help you from falling into credit card debt (and here’s what happens to credit card debt when you die).

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Request a Credit Limit Increase

Another way to reduce your credit utilization is to request a credit limit increase. For instance, if you have a total credit balance of $5,000 and a total credit limit of $10,000, your utilization is 50%. If you currently have a credit card with a limit of $3,000 and can increase that limit to $4,000, your total credit limit becomes $11,000. Hence, even if your balances stay the same, your credit utilization ratio will drop to about 45%.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

Contact Your Provider

Sometimes, credit card issuers will increase your credit limit automatically, such as you if you’ve used your credit card responsibly over time. If not, you can call your card issuer and ask them to increase your credit limit. Usually, it’s best to do this after you’ve had the card for at least a few months.

When you make the request, the credit card company may review one or more of your credit reports. Keep in mind that this could result in a hard inquiry into your credit history; these checks cause a temporary dip in your credit score. The card issuer may also request proof of income, employment status, or monthly rent or mortgage payments.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

The Takeaway

It usually isn’t possible to overdraft a credit card. You may be able to go over the credit limit, but only if you opt in to over-limit fees. If you do opt in, your credit could take a hit, and you might have to pay additional fees if you exceed your credit card’s limit.

And paying fees is never something you want. If you want to avoid credit card fees, the SoFi credit card has no foreign transaction fees. Plus, your APR will go down by 1% if you make 12 consecutive on-time monthly payments. Learn how to apply for a SoFi Credit Card today.

FAQ

Do credit cards allow overdrafts?

Credit cards usually do not allow overdrafts. In fact, “overdraft” is usually a banking term that refers to your checking or savings account balance dropping below $0. With credit cards, it may be possible to go over the limit if you opt in to over-limit fees.

Can you overdraft with no money on your card?

With credit cards, your balance increases as you make purchases. Hence, in this scenario, it would only be possible to overdraft a credit card if a single purchase would put you over the limit. And even then, you must have opted in to over-limit charges; otherwise, the transaction will simply be declined.

Can you overdraft a credit card at an ATM?

In most cases, you won’t overdraft a credit card at an ATM. You might be able to overdraft when requesting a cash advance, but even then, it may not be possible unless you have opted in to overdraft protection.

How can you ask for a credit limit increase?

Sometimes, credit card companies will increase your limit automatically. If that doesn’t happen and you want an increase, you can call your credit card issuer directly and ask for an increase.


Photo credit: iStock/AsiaVision

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.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) 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.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
SOCC0522018

Read more
What Can Increase or Decrease Credit Card APR?

Reasons a Credit Card APR Can Increase or Decrease

The annual percentage rate (APR) of your credit card has a big impact on how much it costs you to carry a credit card balance. In some cases — especially if you have a variable interest rate — your APR can change, causing your credit card interest rate to increase or decrease.

Understanding when and how these changes might occur can help you choose the right credit card and control how much you spend on interest. Here’s a look at what can increase your credit card’s APR and some of the factors that could cause it to decrease as well.

What Is Credit Card APR?

A credit card’s APR, or annual percentage rate, is the interest rate you’ll pay on the money you borrow, stated as an annual rate. Your credit card APR will tell you how much your credit card costs you in terms of interest on the balance you carry. However, it won’t tell you anything about other fees and other credit card charges you may incur.

Credit cards will typically have a separate APR for credit card purchase interest charges, balance transfers, and cash advances. The APR you receive when you open a credit card will depend on a benchmark interest rate as well as factors like your creditworthiness, as determined by your credit score.

However, the definition of APR will vary depending on what type of loan product you’re talking about. In contrast to credit cards, the APR on other types of loans is determined by interest rates, the length of the loan, and lender fees.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

What Can Cause Your Credit Card’s APR to Increase?

If you see your APR spike you may wonder, why did my credit card interest rate go up? Well, there are a number of reasons that credit card APR can increase. Your credit card company can increase your APR on new transactions as long as they give you 45 days’ notice. The company is not allowed to increase your APR during the first year after your account is opened.

Further, there are only certain cases in which your card company can raise rate on existing balances, including when:

•   An introductory rate expires

•   You have a variable rate card and the benchmark interest rate rises

•   You’re 60 days late making your minimum payment

•   You successfully comply with, or fail to meet, the terms of a workout agreement

No matter how the increase occurs, it’s important to realize that your credit card payments increase when your interest rate increases.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Prime Rate Rises

Your credit card will have either a fixed or variable credit card interest rate. If you have a credit card with a variable rate, that rate is largely based on a benchmark interest rate. The benchmark that many credit card companies use is what’s known as the prime rate. And when the prime rate rises, your APR will rise, too.

What causes the prime rate to rise? An increase could be caused by a change in the federal funds rate, which is the Federal Reserve’s recommendation for what banks should be charging when they make overnight loans to help each other meet federal reserve requirements.

One rule of thumb states that the prime rate is equal to the federal funds rate plus three.

Late Payments

Your credit card interest rate may also increase if you’re 60 or more days behind on paying your credit card minimum. This is what’s known as a penalty APR. Not only may this rate apply to your overdue balance, it may also raise interest payments on future purchases.

End of Introductory APR Offer

Some cards offer 0% APR on purchases or balance transfers for an introductory period. During that time, you won’t pay any interest on balances that you carry from month to month. However, once the introductory period is over, your APR will jump to the regular purchase interest rate, which will apply to any remaining balance on your account.

High Credit Card Balance

If you carry a growing credit card balance from month to month, or you’ve hit your credit limit and are unable to make payments, your card company may decide to raise your APR on new transactions.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

Failure to Meet the Terms of a Workout Agreement

If you had trouble paying off your credit card debt in the past, you may have renegotiated the terms of your agreement, which is known as a workout agreement. When you successfully complete it, your card company may return your APR to what it was prior to the arrangement, which may have temporarily reduced your interest rate. On the other hand, if you fail to comply with the agreement, your card company may also decide to raise rates.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Recent Cash Advance

As mentioned above, credit card companies often typically set different APRs for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances. If you’ve recently taken out a cash advance, you may have triggered the cash advance APR. This APR might be higher than the APR offered to you for regular credit card charges.

What Can Cause Your APR to Decrease?

There aren’t as many triggers that will send your credit card APR back down, but here’s a look at a couple to be aware of.

Prime Rate Falls

Once again, changes in the prime rate have a big impact on your APR. If the prime rate falls, your variable rate may also go down. In fact, taking advantage of tumbling interest rates is one of the biggest advantages of variable rate loans.

Negotiating for a Lower Rate

If you’d rather not sit around waiting for the prime rate to go down (or if it’s on an upward trajectory), one of the best ways to lower your credit card APR is by simply asking. Negotiating for lower rates and fees is one of the important credit card rules to know. (You can also negotiate on other things, such as credit card spending limits.)

You can improve your odds in this negotiation by arming yourself with some key information. First, get familiar with your credit score and make sure that it’s as high as possible. You may boost your score by paying down debts and making sure to correct any errors on your credit report.

Also make sure to highlight your history with the company. Credit cards want to hold on to long-standing customers with a good history of paying their bills on time.

If your credit card company rejects your first attempt at negotiation, don’t be afraid to ask again or to speak to a manager who may have more power to make decisions about your account.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

The Takeaway

Your APR has a huge impact on how much it will cost you to carry credit card debt. As you choose a credit card, it’s important to shop around for the card that offers the lowest interest rate.

Still, your APR may rise at some point — especially if the prime rate increases or a low introductory offer expires. However, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with the new rate. You may get some relief if the prime rate falls again, and you can always negotiate with your card company to see if they can lower your rate.

In the market for a new card? Consider SoFi. With the SoFi Credit Card, your APR will drop by 1% after 12 months of on-time payments of at least the minimum amount due. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to earn cash back rewards.1

FAQ

How can I lower my APR on my credit card?

You can try to lower the APR on your credit card by negotiating with your lender. Increase your odds of success by ensuring you have a history of paying your bills on time and a strong credit score.

How does the prime rate affect my credit card APR?

If you have a variable APR, when the prime rate rises, so too will your APR. When the prime rate falls, your APR falls as well.

Can the APR on a credit card change?

Yes, the APR on a credit card can change for a variety of reasons. This can include a shift in the prime rate, the expiration of a low introductory offer, or being 60 days late on paying your credit card minimum.


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.
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
website
.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) 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.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Photo credit: iStock/tolgart
SOCC0422011

Read more
person holding blue credit card

How Refinancing Credit Card Debt Works

The pandemic may have slowed consumer spending over the last few years, but spending is on the rise again — along with consumer debt. Americans carry, on average, three credit cards and have $5,525 in credit card debt. Overall, U.S. credit card debt is $71 billion higher than it was one year ago.

That amount of debt can be a challenge to pay down along with regular monthly household expenses. Some people may choose to refinance their high-interest credit card debt in an effort to secure a lower interest rate or a lower monthly payment. Refinancing credit card debt can be one way to make progress toward eliminating it completely.

What Is Credit Card Debt?

If you’re putting more purchases on credit cards than you can pay off in a monthly billing cycle, you have credit card debt.

Interest will accrue on the balance that carries over to the next billing cycle. If you don’t pay at least the minimum amount due, you’ll likely also be charged a late fee. Since credit cards use compound interest, you’ll be charged interest on accrued interest and fees. That can add up quickly and make it more difficult to get out of debt.

Carrying a balance on more than one credit card can make the debt even more difficult to manage. If your goal is to be free of credit card debt, refinancing can be one way to achieve that.

What Are Some Benefits of Refinancing Credit Card Debt?

Credit cards are revolving debt and typically have variable annual percentage rates (APRs).

Refinancing credit card debt with an installment loan that has a fixed interest rate, such as a personal loan, will mean you’ll have a fixed end date to your debt and will have the same APR for the entire term of the loan.

If you’re refinancing multiple credit card balances into one new loan or line of credit, you’ll have fewer bills to pay each month. That could potentially make monthly budgeting a simpler task.

Consolidate your credit card
debt with a personal loan from SoFi.


How Might Debt Refinancing Affect Your Credit Score?

Something to keep in mind when your goal is to pay down debt is that it’s a long game.

That being said, in the short term your credit score can decrease slightly when you apply for new credit and the lender looks at your credit report. During the formal application process, the lender will perform a hard inquiry into your credit report, which may result in a slight temporary drop of your credit score.

If you’re comparing multiple lenders, and they offer prequalification, they’ll do a soft inquiry into your credit report, which won’t affect your credit score.

Building your credit — or rebuilding it — through refinancing credit card debt can be possible if you make on-time, regular payments on the new loan. Reducing your credit utilization can be another positive result of refinancing credit card debt. Both of these can potentially increase your credit score.

It’s important not to overuse the credit cards you refinanced into a new loan, however, or you might accumulate even more debt than you started with.

Will Canceling My Unused Credit Cards Affect my Credit Score?

After you’ve refinanced your existing credit card debt into a new loan, you might be tempted to cancel those credit cards. But that strategy could negatively affect your credit score.

Whether it’s a good idea to cancel a credit card really depends on the card. If you’ve had the credit card for a long time, closing it would shorten your credit history, which could result in a credit score drop. But if it’s a card you genuinely don’t have a reason to keep, such as a retail card for a store you no longer shop at or a card that has a high annual fee that can’t be justified with your current spending habits, closing the account might be the right step for you.

If you plan to keep a credit card open, it may be a good idea to use it for a small, recurring charge so the card issuer doesn’t close it for inactivity. Setting up autopay can make this a convenient way to ensure the card stays open but is paid in full each month.

What Are Some Options for Refinancing Credit Card Debt?

Your overall creditworthiness will be a determining factor in finding available refinancing options. Lenders will look at your credit report and credit score, paying attention to how you’ve handled credit in the past and how much total debt you have in relation to your income.

Balance Transfer Credit Card

If you can qualify for a low- or no-interest credit card, you could use it to transfer a balance from another credit card. You’ll typically be charged a balance transfer fee equal to a percentage of the balance you’re transferring. The promotional rate on these types of cards is temporary, sometimes lasting up to 18 months or so, but can be as short as 6 months.

If you pay the transferred balance in full within the promotional period, you may not pay any interest at all, or a minimal amount. However, if you still have an outstanding balance on the card when the promotional period is over, the APR will revert to the card’s standard rate for balance transfers.

Home Equity Loan

A potential source of refinancing funds might be your home, if you have equity in it. Funds from a home equity loan can be used for just about anything, even things unrelated to your home. You can calculate how much equity you have in your home by subtracting the amount you owe on your mortgage from the current market value of your home.

In addition to the amount of equity you have in your home, lenders will typically also look at your income and your credit history to determine how much you might qualify for. It’s common for lenders to limit a home equity loan to no more than 80% to 85% of the equity you have in your home. There are typically closing costs with a home equity loan including appraisal fee, title search, origination fee, or other fees, and can be between 2% and 5% of the loan amount.

A home equity loan is a second mortgage secured by your home. If you fail to repay the loan, the lender can foreclose on your home.

Debt Consolidation Loan

Some lenders offer loans specifically for debt consolidation. These are actually personal loans, the funds from which can be used to pay off your existing credit card debt. Then, you’ll be responsible for repaying the debt consolidation loan. There may be fees charged on this type of loan, so be sure to look over the loan agreement carefully before signing it.

For a credit card consolidation loan to be as effective as possible at reducing your debt, it will ideally have a lower APR than you’re paying on your credit cards. In this way, you would be paying less in interest over the life of the loan. If a lower monthly payment is your goal, you may opt for a longer-term loan, but may pay a higher interest rate.

The Takeaway

Have you resumed pre-pandemic spending habits? If your credit card debt is piling up and you’re finding it challenging to pay it down, you may be considering refinancing. Some credit card refinancing options include balance transfer credit cards with a promotional APR, a home equity loan, or a debt consolidation loan.

A SoFi Personal Loan for debt consolidation may be one option to consider. Personal loans offered by SoFi have competitive, low fixed rates and no fees. You can see the rate you qualify for in just one minute without affecting your credit score.*

View your rate on a SoFi Personal Loan


*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.
SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SOPL19023

Read more
Is a Credit Card Needed to Rent a Car?

Guide to Renting a Car With or Without a Credit Card

Renting a car with a credit card is easier than renting a car without a credit card, but both methods are possible at many major car rental agencies. Car rental companies typically put customers through more hoops to rent a car without a credit card.

In this guide, we’ll cover how to rent a car without a credit card — but also explore the potential perks of paying for a rental car with a credit card, when possible.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Is It Possible to Rent a Car Without a Credit Card?

So do you need a credit card to rent a car? Technically, no, you do not have to have a credit card to rent a car. It’s possible to rent a car with a debit card at some major rental agencies. Some agencies even accept prepaid gift cards, cash, or money orders as a form of payment at the end of the rental.

Each rental agency has its own stipulations about paying by debit card. Some franchises may not follow corporate policy, so it’s always a good idea to call the specific rental agency location to ask about payment options before arriving at your destination.

Common requirements for customers paying for a rental without a credit card include:

•  Security deposit: Many agencies will put a hold on your debit card for the cost of the rental, plus an additional amount. You will not be able to use the money being held for the duration of your trip, which can make funding your vacation more challenging.

•  Credit check: If you are paying with a debit card (or cash), some rental car agencies may perform a credit check. This could result in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which might temporarily lower your score.

•  Identification: Renting a car without a credit card might mean that the rental agency needs to see multiple valid forms of ID.

•  Age: While 25 is often the magic number to rent a car, it is possible to rent a car as a younger driver. Many agencies charge “young driver fees” to do so. However, if you are renting a car with a debit card, agencies may not allow drivers under the age of 25.

•  Proof of return travel: If renting from an airport with a debit card, many agencies want to see a ticketed return travel itinerary as an extra assurance that you will return with the car.

•  Logos: Some rental car agencies require debit or prepaid cards to carry the logo of a major credit card company, like Mastercard, Visa, or Discover.

The following rental car agencies allow you to rent a car without a credit card at participating franchises if you meet their specific requirements (though note this is not an exhaustive list):

•  Alamo

•  Avis

•  Budget

•  Dollar

•  Enterprise

•  Hertz

•  Thrifty

Recommended: Buying a Car with a Credit Card

Why Rental Car Agencies Typically Require a Credit Card to Rent a Car

Why do you need a credit card to rent a car at some agencies, and why do others impose a number of requirements for debit card payments? Here are the reasons rental car agencies require a credit card or other information.

Proof of Reliability

Having a credit card inherently demonstrates to a rental car agency that a creditor trusts you enough to borrow their money. Because rental car agencies can ascertain your creditworthiness from a credit card in your name, they don’t need to run a credit check before loaning you a $25,000 piece of machinery.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

Ability to Collect Repair Fees

If you return the car damaged, the rental car agency will need to pay for these repairs. Car insurance (whether through your own policy, credit card travel insurance, or the agency’s policy) may cover most of the charges, but you still might owe a deductible. Without proper insurance, there is a risk that the repair costs will exceed your security deposit.

Though you can rent a car without a credit card, if you pay with a debit card, the rental agency runs the risk of your checking account not having enough funds to cover the cost. There is a better chance the agency can charge your credit card without hitting your credit limit.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

Ability to Collect Tickets and Fees

Similarly, if you go through any electronic toll booths or receive a ticket without being pulled over (e.g., through a traffic camera), the rental car agency can charge your credit card to pay the outstanding balance. Again, they face less risk of maxing out a credit card than overdrawing a checking account, which is why some agencies prefer customers renting a car with a credit card.

Recommended: The Rental Car Rebound

Benefits of Using a Credit Card for a Car Rental

Using a credit card to pay for a car rental can have its perks. For example, some cards offer cash back like SoFi’s 2% cash back credit card, which means you can earn rewards for using your credit card to pay for your car rental.
Here are just a few potential perks of swiping your credit card for a car rental:

•  It’s easier. As discussed above, renting a car without a credit card can complicate the process.

•  You might have insurance. Some travel credit cards offer car insurance when you use them to pay for a rental car. Research your card’s policy carefully to understand what coverage it provides and how to use it. For example, many credit cards with travel insurance require that you decline the rental agency’s insurance; some only offer secondary insurance, meaning you need to file claims through your own auto insurance first.

•  You might get discounts. Some credit cards offer special discounts at select car rental agencies. Check your card’s policy to understand where and how to get discounted rates.

•  You could earn rewards. As mentioned above, you might qualify for cash back rewards when you opt to cover your rental car with a credit card payment. Other cards may pay out rewards as miles or points. Travel credit cards might even offer extra points for travel-related expenses, like rental cars.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Typical Rental Car Credit Card Interest Charges

When you rent a car, the agency typically puts a hold on your credit card for a set amount, often the value of the rental car agreement; this is commonly called a security deposit. During the rental period, these funds will count toward your credit limit.

When you return the car, the agency will charge you the amount of the rental, plus any fees incurred during the rental (damages, extra days, late drop-off, etc.). If the initial hold was more than the final cost of the rental, the agency will put that amount back on your card.

Because you pay interest on money borrowed with a credit card, it’s possible you might incur interest on the held security deposit. However, paying off a credit card in full every month is a smart strategy for avoiding interest charges given how credit cards work.

Recommended: 10 Credit Card Rules You Should Know

The Takeaway

Renting a car with a credit card makes the process much easier and can have benefits for the renter as well. However, it is possible to rent a car without a credit card. Just be prepared to take additional steps to get behind the wheel.

Thinking about getting a credit card ahead of your next big vacation? For a limited time, new credit card holders† who also sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings with direct deposit can start earning 3% cash back rewards on all eligible credit card purchases for 365 days*. Offer ends 6/30/22.

Take advantage of this offer by applying for a SoFi credit card today.

FAQ

Do I need a credit card for rental car insurance?

You do not need a credit card to purchase rental car insurance. While using a credit card makes it easier to secure a rental, most agencies allow you to pay upon your return with a credit card, debit card, or even cash, a gift card, or a money order. That includes the cost of insurance provided by the rental agency.

However, many car insurance providers cover rental cars in their policies, especially in the United States. Check with your agent to see if you’re covered. Additionally, some credit cards offer rental car insurance when you use them to pay for the rental. Your credit card benefits administrator can explain how, if, and when coverage applies.

Is it easier to rent a car with a credit card or debit card?

Renting a car with a credit card is easier than renting a car with a debit card. Many agencies will let you rent with a debit card; they just have additional requirements for you to meet before renting.

What form of payments are accepted for renting a car?

While rental agencies generally prefer credit cards for payment, some agencies allow you to book and rent a car with a debit card. Upon return, you may be able to pay for the car with a gift card, cash, or money order.

Can I use someone else’s credit card to rent a car?

If you use someone else’s credit card to rent a car, that person must be present to pick up the rental and be the main driver. If you intend to drive the rental, you will likely have to pay a fee for an additional driver, as you can’t be listed as the primary driver when using someone else’s credit card.


Photo credit: iStock/skynesher
†SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS PROSPECTIVELY BASED ON MARKET CONDITIONS AND BORROWER ELIGIBILITY. Your eligibility for a SoFi Credit Card Account or a subsequently offered product or service is subject to the final determination by The Bank of Missouri (“TBOM”) (“Issuer”), as issuer, 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. Please allow up to 30 days from the date of submission to process your application. The card offer referenced in this communication is only available to individuals who are at least 18 years of age (or of legal age in your state of residence), and who reside in the United States.

*You will need to maintain a qualifying Direct Deposit every month with SoFi Checking and Savings in order to continue to receive this promotional cash back rate. Qualifying Direct Deposits are defined as deposits from enrolled member’s employer, payroll, or benefits provider via ACH deposit. Deposits that are not from an employer (such as check deposits; P2P transfers such as from PayPal or Venmo, etc.; merchant transactions such as from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.; and bank ACH transfers not from employers) do not qualify for this promotion. A maximum of 36,000 rewards points can be earned from this limited-time offer. After the promotional period ends or once you have earned the maximum points offered by this promotion, your cash back earning rate will revert back to 2%. 36,000 rewards points are worth $360 when redeemed into SoFi Checking and Savings, SoFi Money, SoFi Invest, Crypto, SoFi Personal Loan, SoFi Private Student Loan or Student Loan Refinance and are worth $180 when redeemed as a SoFi Credit Card statement credit.

Promotion Period: 4/18/2022-6/30/2022

Eligible Participants: All new members who apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card, open a SoFi Checking and Savings account, and set up Direct Deposit transactions (“Direct Deposit”) into their SoFi Checking and Savings account during the promotion period are eligible. All existing SoFi Credit Card members who set up Direct Deposit into a SoFi Checking & Savings account during the promotion period are eligible. All existing SoFi members who have already enrolled in Direct Deposit into a SoFi Checking & Savings account prior to the promotion period, and who apply and get approved for a SoFi Credit Card during the promotion period are eligible. Existing SoFi members who already have the SoFi Credit Card and previously set up Direct Deposit through SoFi Money or SoFi Checking & Savings are not eligible for this promotion.

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.
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.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) 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.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
SOCC0522007

Read more
Guide to Irrevocable Letters of Credit (ILOC)

Guide to Irrevocable Letters of Credit (ILOC)

An irrevocable letter of credit (or ILOC) is a written agreement between a bank and the party to which the letter is issued. Irrevocable letters of credit are used to guarantee a buyer’s obligations to a seller.

Irrevocable letters of credit can be used in different types of financial arrangements to ensure that a seller will be paid, even if the buyer fails to uphold their end of the bargain. These letters of credit are often central to international transactions, though there are other situations where using one might be appropriate.

Here, we’ll review:

•   What an irrevocable letter of credit is

•   How an ILOC works

•   When you might need an irrevocable letter of credit

•   Alternatives to ILOCs

What Is an Irrevocable Letter of Credit?

If you are wondering, “What is an irrevocable letter of credit?” a definition may help. An irrevocable letter of credit represents an agreement between a bank and a buyer involved in a financial transaction. The bank guarantees payment will be made to the seller according to the terms of the agreement. Since the letter is irrevocable, that means it cannot be changed without the consent and agreement of all parties involved.

Irrevocable letters of credit can also be referred to as standby letters of credit. Once an irrevocable letter of credit is issued, all parties are contractually bound by it.

This means that even if the buyer in a transaction doesn’t pay, the bank is obligated to make payment to the seller to satisfy the agreement.

Having an irrevocable letter of credit in place is a form of credit risk management. The seller is guaranteed payment from the bank, which can help to reduce concerns about the buyer failing to pay. And it ensures that the seller will follow through on their obligations by providing whatever is being purchased through the agreement. In simpler terms, a standby letter of credit or irrevocable letter of credit is a sign of good faith on the part of everyone involved in a transaction.

How Does an Irrevocable Letter of Credit Work?

Here’s how an irrevocable letter of credit works. It establishes a contractual agreement between a buyer, a seller, and their respective banks. It effectively creates a safeguard for both the buyer and the seller, in that:

•   Buyers are not required to forward payment until the seller provides the goods or services that have been purchased.

•   Sellers can collect payment for goods and services, as long as the conditions outlined in the letter of credit are met.

The bank issuing the letter of credit acts as a go-between for both sides, guaranteeing payment to the seller even if the buyer doesn’t pay. Assuming the buyer does fulfill their obligations, they would then make payment back to the bank. In a sense, this allows the buyer to borrow from the bank without formally establishing credit in the form of a loan or credit line. (Check with your financial institution to learn what fees may be involved. After all, transaction fees are how banks earn money.)

Before an irrevocable letter of credit is issued, the bank will first verify the buyer’s creditworthiness. Assuming the bank is reassured that the buyer will, in fact, repay what’s owed to complete the purchase, it will then establish the irrevocable letter of credit to facilitate the transaction between the buyer and seller. Irrevocable letters of credit are communicated and sent through the SWIFT banking system.

Recommended: How Exactly Do Banks Make Money?

Irrevocable Letter of Credit Specifications

The exact details included in an irrevocable letter of credit can depend on the situation in which it’s being used. The conditions that are set for the completion of the transaction will also matter. But generally, you can expect an irrevocable letter of credit to include:

•   Buyer’s name and banking information (that is, their bank account and other details)

•   Seller’s name and banking information

•   Name of the intermediary bank issuing the letter of credit

•   Amount of credit that’s being issued

•   Date that the letter of credit is issued and the date it will expire

An irrevocable letter of credit will also detail the conditions that must be met by both the buyer and seller in order for the contract to be valid (and thereby prove the transaction’s creditworthiness). For example, the seller may need to provide written verification that the goods or services referenced in the agreement have been provided before payment can be issued. The letter of credit must be signed by an authorized bank representative. It may need to be printed on bank letterhead to be valid.

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account and start earning 1.50% APY on your cash!


Do I Need an Irrevocable Letter of Credit?

You may need an irrevocable letter of credit if you’re doing business with someone in a foreign country. You may also require one if you are conducting a transaction with a new company or individual (one with which you don’t yet have an established relationship). Irrevocable letters of credit can help to mitigate some of the risk that goes along with international transactions. These letters ensure that if you’re the seller, you get paid for any products or services you’re providing. They also protect you if you’re the buyer, promising that products or services are delivered to you.

An irrevocable letter of credit could also come in handy if you’re still working on building credit for your business and you’re the buyer in a transaction. The bank will pay the money to the seller; you’ll then repay the bank. Payment may be required in a lump sum from your business bank account or another source. Or the bank may also offer the option of repaying it in installments over time. Repaying your obligation could help to raise your business’s creditworthiness in the bank’s eyes. This may make it easier to take out other loans or lines of credit later.

Recommended: How Does a Business Bank Account Work Differently than a Personal Checking Account?

Alternatives to Irrevocable Letters of Credit

An irrevocable letter of credit is not the only way to do business when engaging in international transactions. You may also consider trade credit insurance or another type of letter of credit instead.

Trade Credit Insurance

Trade credit insurance, also referred to as accounts receivable insurance or AR insurance, is used to insure businesses against financial losses resulting from unpaid debts. (Debts could lead you to secure a personal business loan.) You can use trade credit insurance to cover all transactions or limit them to ones where you believe there may be a heightened risk of loss, such as transactions involving foreign businesses.

A trade credit insurance policy protects your business in the event that the other party to a financial agreement defaults. It can insulate your accounts receivable against losses if an unpaid account turns into a bad debt. Purchasing trade credit insurance may be an easier way to manage risk for your business overall, as it’s less involved than an irrevocable letter of credit.

Letters of Credit

A letter of credit guarantees payment from the buyer’s bank to the seller’s bank in a financial transaction. Like an irrevocable letter of credit, it establishes certain conditions that must be met in order for the transaction to be completed. But unlike an irrevocable letter of credit, a standard letter of credit can be revoked or modified.

You might opt for this kind of letter of credit if you’re doing business with someone you don’t know and you want reassurance that the transaction will be completed smoothly. A regular letter of credit may also be preferable if you’d like the option to modify or cancel the agreement.

The Takeaway

An irrevocable letter of credit is something you may need to use from time to time if you run a business and regularly deal with international transactions. It adds a layer of protection to buying and selling, as a bank is saying it will cover the transaction. An ILOC, as it’s sometimes known, can provide reassurance when working with a new business or establishing your company overseas. The letter cannot be changed, so you’re getting solid peace of mind.

If your money management tasks are limited to your personal finances, on the other hand, opening a new bank account online is a simpler solution for paying bills and making purchases.

With SoFi banking, you can earn a competitive rate on savings. SoFi doesn’t charge any fees and you can conveniently manage your accounts online or from your mobile device. Plus, you can get paid up to two days early when you enroll in direct deposit and earn 1.50% APY.

Open your bank accounts with SoFi today.

FAQ

What is the difference between a letter of credit and an irrevocable letter of credit?

A letter of credit and irrevocable letter of credit are largely the same, in terms of what they’re designed to and in what situations they can be used. The main difference is that unless a letter of credit specifies that it is irrevocable, it can be changed or modified by the parties involved.

What is the cost of an irrevocable letter of credit?

Transaction fees help banks make money so it should be no surprise that you’ll likely pay a fee for an irrevocable letter of credit. The fee is typically set as a percentage of the transaction amount, though the rate you’re charged can vary from bank to bank.

Does an irrevocable letter of credit expire?

An irrevocable letter of credit can have an expiration date. If the letter is set to expire, the date should be spelled out clearly in the agreement.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 1.50% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 0.90% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 1.50% APY is current as of 06/28/2022. 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/Photoevent
SOBK0422008

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender