Guide to Automated Credit Card Payments

If you’re like many cardholders, you will likely want to take advantage of any opportunities to streamline your finances. A commonly used credit card feature that can make life more convenient is automated credit card payments, or credit card autopay. It’s a way to have your bill paid seamlessly on time so you don’t have to wonder, “Is my credit card payment due around now? Have I already paid it for this month?”

Understanding what autopay is and how it works can help you decide if enrolling in automatic payments is right for you. There are definite benefits to setting up autopay, but there are downsides to take into account as well. You’ll also need to consider how you’d like to configure credit card autopay, as there are a few different options.

In this guide, you’ll learn about all this topic and gain the insight you need to decide if autopay for your credit card is a good fit for you.

What Is an Automated Credit Card Payment and How Does It Work?

An automated credit card payment, or autopay, is a recurring payment that’s scheduled for the same day each month. The automatic payment is typically made on a date that’s either before or on the statement due date.

Autopay allows cardholders the convenience of making credit card payments on a periodic basis without having to manually set up payments. This also helps with avoiding late or missed payments.

When you enroll in automated credit card payments through your credit card issuer, you’re authorizing the issuer to request a certain payment amount on a specific date from your banking institution. When the autopay date arrives, your card issuer’s bank will send your bank an electronic request for the payment amount you’ve set up.

Your bank then will fulfill the payment request and send it to the merchant’s bank (i.e., your card issuer).

Credit Card Autopay Options

There are a few ways to approach automatic bill payments through your card issuer. Each has its benefits and caveats, so assess your own financial situation before choosing an autopay strategy for your credit card.

Paying the Minimum

One option is establishing automated credit card payments for the minimum amount that’s due on your billing statement. The minimum payment is the smaller amount due that’s shown on your statement or online account, and the amount varies based on your total charges at the close of your card’s billing cycle.

Selecting to pay the minimum can be useful if you don’t have enough money to repay the entire statement in one fell swoop. By paying the minimum, you’ll fulfill the issuer’s minimum requested payment and keep your account in good standing — which, in turn, helps keep your credit score in good standing.

However, this means you’ll roll over the remaining statement balance into the next billing period, which will lead to incurring interest charges. That’s one aspect of how credit cards work.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card?

Paying the Full Balance

You also can choose to pay the full balance as shown on the billing statement for each recurring payment. Paying the full balance is beneficial, because it allows you to avoid rolling a balance into the next billing cycle. This, in turn, means you can avoid interest on a credit card.

However, since your balance will likely vary month to month, you need to be sure you have enough cash in your bank account to cover it. Otherwise, you could wind up overdrafting.

Paying a Fixed Amount

Another option is to set up automated credit card payments for a specific, fixed amount. For example, if you exclusively use your card to pay your fixed monthly cell phone bill of $50, you can establish an autopay for $50 toward your account on a recurring schedule. You can also use this option if you’d like to make extra credit card payments throughout the month.

Benefits of Automatic Credit Card Payments

Choosing a credit card that allows autopay can be helpful for various reasons. These are a few of the major upsides to enrolling in automated credit card payments:

•   You won’t risk forgetting about a credit card payment due date.

•   You’ll avoid penalty fees and penalty annual percentage rates (APRs) for making a late payment.

•   Your positive payment history is maintained.

Drawbacks of Automatic Credit Card Payments

There are also some caveats to consider before you set up autopay. This includes the following:

•   You might face other fees if you have insufficient funds when using autopay.

•   You might slack on reviewing your monthly credit card statement for red flags.

•   You might inadvertently overspend on your card because you feel as if you’ve got the payment covered.

Factors to Consider Before Setting up Automatic Credit Card Payments

Before setting up automated credit card payments, honestly assess your finances and habits. Verify that you have sufficient deposits into your checking or savings account to cover the autopay amount you’ve set up.

And if you do set up automatic credit card payments, make sure you continue to check your monthly billing statements. Confirm that all transactions are yours and are accurate, and that your total spending is still manageable.

Setting up Automatic Credit Card Payments

The exact process for how to set up automatic credit card payments can vary somewhat from issuer to issuer, but in general, it’s pretty easy to do.

•   You will need to first log on to your credit card account either online or through the mobile app. It’s also possible to call the number listed on the back of your card to have someone talk you through it.

•   Pull up the section labeled payments, and you should then be able to find an option to manage or set up autopay. You’ll need to connect a bank account where the payments will get pulled from and select the date and frequency at which you’d like the payment to occur.

•   You should also be able to select which payment option you’d like (minimum due, the full balance, or another amount).


💡 Quick Tip: When using your credit card, make sure you’re spending within your means. Ideally, you won’t charge more to your card in any given month than you can afford to pay off that month.

Tips for Stopping Automatic Payments on Credit Card

What if you have credit card autopay activated on your account but need to halt automated payments moving forward? Federal law protects your right to rescind authorization for automatic payments. Here are a few ways to go about it:

•   Turn off autopay through your card issuer. Many credit card issuers give cardholders the ability to turn autopay on or off through the app or via their online account’s payment settings. Just make sure you do so before the next automated payment is processed.

•   Revoke authorization from your card issuer. Call your credit card issuer to revoke authorization for autopay. Then follow up the call with a written letter revoking authorization, and requesting a stop to automatic payments on your account.

•   Request a stop payment order from your bank. You can also contact your bank to place a stop payment order on any automated payment transactions requested by the card issuer.

Regardless of how you stop automated payments from occurring, continue reviewing your monthly statement and account activity to ensure that the autopay has ceased.

What Happens if You Overpay Your Credit Card Balance?

Let’s say you inadvertently set up autopay to higher than the balance — what could you do then? Typically, credit card overpayments are processed as a negative balance. A credit for the overpaid amount should be reflected on the next billing statement, assuming your new transactions bring your account above a zero balance.

However, you do have the right to request a refund from the card issuer, instead of having it applied as a credit. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has in place regulatory credit card rules for card issuers when it comes to an overpayment on your card account. It states that upon receipt of a consumer’s written refund request for an overpayment, an issuer must provide the refund within seven business days.

The Takeaway

Automated credit card payments are a convenient option and can mean one less thing to remember. In addition to helping you keep your card account in good standing, autopay can provide peace of mind. By automating payments, you’ll more easily avoid credit card late payments, penalty fees, and penalty APRs for late payments.

Whether you're looking to build credit, apply for a new credit card, or save money with the cards you have, it's important to understand the options that are best for you. Learn more about credit cards by exploring this credit card guide.

FAQ

Is it a good idea to automate monthly credit card payments?

Whether enrolling in automated credit card payments is a good idea depends on your current financial situation. You must reliably have the payment amount in your checking or savings account each month and not be at risk of overdrawing or having insufficient funds. Also consider your other financial responsibilities and personal money management habits to decide if automated payments are right for you.

Do automatic payments affect your credit score?

Thirty-five percent of your FICO® credit score calculation is based on your payment history. Automatic payments can help you make on-time payments for at least the minimum balance due so your payment history builds or remains positive. As long as the deposit account that automatic payment is drawn from has adequate funds, the credit card autopay transaction can be advantageous to your credit profile.

Do banks charge for automated credit card payments?

No, banks and credit card issuers don’t typically charge an additional fee to make automated credit card payments. Autopay is intended as a payment convenience for cardholders. But ultimately, it helps card issuers and banks better secure repayment from customers, thereby lessening the risk of a late payment or delinquent account.


Photo credit: iStock/PeopleImages

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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 .

SOCC1023002

Read more
man on couch using credit card

Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

A credit card can serve as a fantastic financial tool and offer a number of perks, from the opportunity to build your credit to the chance to rake in lucrative rewards. However, using a credit card responsibly is key to reaping those benefits. Otherwise, a credit card is more likely to harm your financial well-being than help it.

Using a credit card responsibly involves sticking to basic rules like making on-time payments and avoiding practices such as spending more with your card than you can afford to pay off. By learning some tips for how to use a credit card responsibly, you’ll be well on your way toward making the most out of this financial tool.

How Do Credit Cards Work?

A credit card is a payment card that offers access to a revolving line of credit. You can tap into this credit line for a variety of purposes, including making purchases, completing balance transfers, and taking out a cash advance. Cardholders can borrow up to their credit limit, which is largely determined based on their creditworthiness and represents the maximum amount they can borrow.

It’s necessary to make at least a minimum payment by the due date each month in order to avoid a late fee. However, to avoid paying interest entirely, cardholders must pay off their balance in full each month; interest accrues on any balance that rolls over from month to month.

Many credit card companies charge compounding interest, which means that not only will you owe interest on any outstanding balance, you’ll also end up paying interest on the interest. That’s because this interest is calculated continually, then added to your balance, and it may be compounded daily. You may be shocked to see how much credit card interest you’ll pay if you only make the minimum payment each month.

Understanding Your Statement

A crucial component of knowing how credit cards work is understanding your monthly credit card statement. Your statement contains a number of important pieces of information about your credit card account, including:

•   Your account information

•   Your account summary, including your payment due date

•   All purchases made with the card

•   Your total credit card balance

•   The minimum payment due

•   When the credit card payment is due

•   Your available credit

•   Interest charges

•   Rewards summary

Many of these details are key to know in order to ensure you’re using a credit card wisely. For instance, knowing your payment due date will ensure you make your payment on time, avoiding any late fees and a ding to your credit score.

Checking on your available credit can help you ensure you’re not using too much of your credit, which can drive up your credit utilization rate and subsequently drag down your score.

10 Tips For Using a Credit Card Responsibly

To make the most of your credit card, here are several credit card rules to keep in mind — as well as some guidance on what credit card behavior to avoid.

1. Avoid Making Too Many Impulse Purchases

To use a credit card responsibly, you want to avoid overspending with it. How many is “too many” purchases depends upon how much your impulse buys cost and how easily they fit into your budget. If you know you can pay off your credit card balances and otherwise meet your monthly expenses and savings and other financial goals, then that’s an entirely different situation from one in which your impulse purchases are too costly to promptly pay off and/or prevent you from meeting other financial responsibilities or goals.

If you enjoy making spontaneous buys, you may consider including this as a line item in your monthly budget and then sticking to it. This could add enjoyment to your life without causing financial problems down the road.

2. Use the Right Credit Card

There are a variety of different types of credit cards, and depending on how you plan to use your credit card, one option may make more sense than another. Some credit cards are there to help you build your credit, while others pay out generous rewards.

Selecting which card is right for you requires a look at your financial habits and current situation. For example, if you know that you often end up needing to carry a balance, then it may make sense to find a card that prioritizes low interest rates. Or, let’s say you’re a frequent vacationer — in that case, you might benefit from a travel rewards card.

3. Take Advantage of Benefits Offered

Interested in another way to use your credit card responsibly? Signing up for eligible rewards programs can help cardholders make the most of their card. Each type of credit card may have slightly different reward programs. See what the full range perks offered by your card are — and if you’re not sure, check the card’s website or ask the credit card company for specifics. For example, you might need help understanding what unlimited cash back really means in terms of how you might benefit.

Once you know what perks are available, you can use them strategically. You may discover that the card(s) you have don’t provide the best benefits for you. For example, maybe your card offers one of its highest rewards rates for gas purchases, but you don’t do much driving. In that case, you might be better served by a rewards card that offers a flat rewards rate or that prioritizes a category in which you’re a frequent spender.

Finally, if you’re earning rewards points, it’s also important to consider the best way to use them. Sometimes it’s possible to get a bigger bang for your buck if, say, you use your rewards points at an approved store rather than opting for cash back.

4. Sign Up for Automatic Payments

To avoid missing payments or making them late, consider signing up for automatic payments or autopay. By enrolling in autopay, you’ll regularly have money transferred from a linked account each month in order to cover the amount due (or at least the minimum payment required).

Another option is to sign up for automatic reminders about payment due dates (by text, for example, or by email). You can do this through the credit card company or via a calendar app.

What’s most important is coming up with a plan that works best for you to ensure you make your payments on time. Otherwise, you could face late fees and adverse effects to your credit score.

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

5. Regularly Check Your Statements

Mistakes do happen on credit card statements and, unfortunately, fraudulent activities could impact your account. Check your statement every month to ensure that you made all the charges that appear, and that any payments you’ve made are accurately reflected.

If something is missing, review the statement dates to see if the transaction may have happened right after the statement cut-off date, for instance. If something seems off, contact your credit card company for clarification. In the case of any potentially fraudulent activity, it’s important to report credit card fraud to your credit card company immediately.

6. Pay More Than the Minimum

You’ve just read about how credit card interest works, so you’ll remember that only making the minimum payment doesn’t get you out of paying interest. To avoid credit card interest charges, you’ll need to pay off your monthly statement balance in full.

Understandably, this isn’t always possible, but even then, it still helps to pay as much above the minimum as you can afford to. This will at least cut down on the outstanding balance that accrues interest.

7. Don’t Close Out Old Cards

While it might seem logical to close out an older credit card you’re no longer using, you’ll want to think twice before you cancel a credit card. That’s because doing so can have adverse implications for your credit.

For starters, canceling a credit card will lower your credit utilization rate, which compares your total outstanding balance to your overall available credit limit. Closing out a card will cause you to lose that card’s credit limit, thus lowering the amount of credit you have available.

Closing an old card could also have an impact if the card in question is one of your older accounts. Another factor that contributes to your credit score is the age of your credit. By closing out an old account, you’ll lose that boost in age.

That being said, there are scenarios where it might make sense to close a card, such as if it charges a high annual fee. Just be mindful of the potential effects it will have on your credit before moving forward.



💡 Quick Tip: Aim to keep your credit utilization — the percentage of your total available credit that you’re using at any given time — below 30% (or lower). This could help you to maintain a strong credit score.

8. Maintain a Low Credit Utilization Rate

Another key tip for responsible credit card usage is to avoid maxing out your cards. Instead, aim to keep a lower credit utilization rate — ideally below 30%. The lower you can keep this utilization rate, the better it is for your credit score.

9. Avoid Unnecessary Fees

Another part of using a credit card responsibly is being aware of all of the fees you could face, and then taking steps to steer clear of those costs. Your credit card terms and conditions will spell out all of the fees associated with your card, as well as the card’s APR (or annual percentage rate) and the rules of its rewards program.

Many credit card fees are pretty easy to avoid. For instance, if you’ll incur a fee to send money with a credit card, simply avoid doing that and look for an alternative route. Similarly, you can avoid late payment fees by making on-time payments, and over-the-limit fees by not maxing out your credit card.

10. Avoid Applying for Too Many Cards

As you get into the swing of things with using your credit card, you may feel tempted to keep acquiring new cards, whether to keep on earning rewards or to capitalize on enticing welcome bonuses. But proceed with caution when it comes to applying for credit cards.

Applying for credit cards too frequently can raise a red flag for lenders, as it may suggest that you’re overextending yourself and desperate for funding. Plus, each time you submit an application for a credit card, this will trigger a hard inquiry, which can ding your credit score temporarily. Consider waiting at least six months between credit card applications.

The Takeaway

When used responsibly, credit cards can be helpful for a whole slew of things, from making online purchases to building your credit. The key phrase to keep in mind is “when used responsibly.” To stay on top of your credit cards, tips like signing up for automatic payments, making the most of the rewards programming, and using the right type of credit card for your needs are all important.

Whether you're looking to build credit, apply for a new credit card, or save money with the cards you have, it's important to understand the options that are best for you. Learn more about credit cards by exploring this credit card guide.


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 .

SOCC1023001

Read more
close-up keyboard delete key

Can You Remove Student Loans from Your Credit Report?

Editor's Note: For the latest developments regarding federal student loan debt repayment, check out our student debt guide.

Paying student loans on time can have a positive effect on your credit score and help build a good credit history. On the flip side, when you have a late or missed student loan payment, that can be reflected on your credit report as well. Delinquent payments can lower your credit score and have financial repercussions, such as impacting your ability to qualify for a new credit card, car loan, or mortgage.

If you’re wondering how to remove student loans from a credit report, the answer is that it’s only an option if there’s inaccurate information on the report. Student loans are eventually removed from a credit report, however, after they’re paid off or seven years after they’ve been in default. Here’s what to know about student loans on a credit report, what happens when you default on a loan, and how to remove student loans from a credit report if there’s inaccurate information.

What Is a Credit Report?

Before considering the impact of student loans on your credit report, it’s helpful to review what a credit report is. It’s a statement that includes details about your current and prior credit activity, such as your history of loan payments or the status of your credit card accounts.

These statements are compiled by credit reporting companies who collect financial data about you from a range of sources, such as lenders or credit card companies. Lenders use credit reports to make decisions about whether to offer you a loan or what interest rate they will give you. Other companies use credit reports to make decisions about you as well – for example, when you rent an apartment, secure an insurance policy, or sign up for internet service.


💡 Quick Tip: Ready to refinance your student loan? With SoFi’s no-fee loans, you could save thousands.

Defaulting on Student Loans

It’s also worth reviewing what happens when a student loan goes into default. One in ten people in the United States has defaulted on a student loan, and 5% of total student loan debt is in default, according to the Education Data Initiative.

The point when a loan is considered to be in default depends on the type of student loan you have. For a loan made under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program or the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, you’re considered to be in default if you don’t make your scheduled student loan payments for a period of at least 270 days (about nine months).

For a loan made under the Federal Perkins Loan Program, the holder of the loan may declare the loan to be in default if you don’t make any scheduled payment by its due date. The consequences of defaulting on student loans can be severe, including:

•   The entire unpaid balance of your student loans, including interest, could be due in full immediately.

•   The government can garnish your wages by up to 15%, meaning your employer is required to withhold a portion of your pay and send it directly to your loan holder.

•   Your tax return and federal benefits payments may be withheld and applied to cover the costs of your defaulted loan.

•   You could lose eligibility for any further federal student aid.

And you don’t have to default on your student loans to experience the consequences of nonpayment. Even if your payment is only a day late, your loan can be considered delinquent and you can be charged a penalty fee.

Temporary Relief for Borrowers Behind on Payments

The pandemic-era pause on federal student loan payments that was established in March 2020 finally came to an end in the fall of 2023. After more than three years of having this financial responsibility off their plates, federal student loan borrowers must now fit payments back into their budgets. However, in order to protect financially vulnerable borrowers from facing the steep consequences of missing payments during this transition, the Biden Administration established a 12-month “on-ramp” program to help them adjust.

From Oct. 1, 2023, to Sept. 30, 2024, borrowers who don’t pay their federal student loans will be free of the usual repercussions. Specifically, this means that:

•   Loans will not be considered delinquent or in default.

•   Missed payments will not be reported to the credit bureaus.

•   Missed payments will not be referred to debt collection agencies.

•   Unpaid student loan interest will not capitalize (be rolled into the principal balance) once the on-ramp period ends.

However, payments missed during this period will be due once it ends. Additionally, any missed payments will not count toward forgiveness under income-driven repayment or Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).

How Long Do Student Loans Remain on a Credit Report?

If you are delinquent on your student loans or go into default, that activity is reported to the credit bureaus. It will remain on your credit report for up to seven years from the original delinquency date.

The good news is that the more time that passes since your missed payment, the less impact it has on your credit score.

The exception to this is a Federal Perkins Loan, which is a low-interest federal student loan for undergraduate and graduate students who have exceptional financial need. This type of loan will remain on your credit report until you pay it off in full or consolidate it.

On the other hand, if you made timely payments on your loan and paid it off in full, it may appear on your credit report for up to 10 years as evidence of your positive payment history and can boost your credit score.

How Do I Dispute a Student Loan on My Credit Report?

It’s a good habit to periodically check your credit report. You can request a free report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—by visiting annualcreditreport.com. The bureaus are required by law to give you a free report every 12 months. However, through the end of 2023, you may request your report weekly at no cost.

There are three reasons your student loan might have been wrongly placed in default and reported to the credit bureaus by mistake. Here’s how to begin the process to correct these errors:

1. If You Are Still in School

If you believe your loan was wrongly placed in default and you are attending school, contact your school’s registrar and ask for a record of your school attendance. Then call your loan servicer to ask about your record regarding school attendance.

If they have the incorrect information on file, provide your loan servicer with your records and request that your student loans be accurately reported to the credit bureaus.

2. If You Were Approved for Deferment or Forbearance

If you believe your loan was wrongly placed in default, but you were approved for (and were supposed to be in) a deferment or forbearance, there is a chance your loan servicer’s files aren’t up to date. You can contact the loan servicer and ask them to confirm the start and end dates of any deferments or forbearances that were applied to your account.

If the loan servicer doesn’t have the correct dates, provide documentation with the correct information and ask that your student loans be accurately reported to the credit bureaus. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a borrower may appeal the accuracy and validity of the information reported to the credit bureau and reflected on their credit report.

Recommended: Student Loan Deferment vs Forbearance: What’s the Difference?

3. Inaccurate Reporting of Payments

If your loan has been reported as delinquent or in default to the credit bureaus, but you believe your payments are current, you can request a statement from your loan servicer that shows all the payments made on your student loan account, which you can compare against your bank records.

If some of your payments are missing from the statement provided by your loan servicer, you can provide proof of payment and request that your account be accurately reported to the credit reporting agencies.

Recommended: How to Build Credit Over Time

In all three cases, if you believe there is any type of error related to your student loan on your credit report, it’s best practice to also send a written copy of your dispute to the credit bureaus so they are aware that you have reported an error.

Why Your Student Loans Should Stay on Your Credit Report

You generally can’t have negative, but accurate, information removed from your credit report. However, you can dispute the student loans on your credit report if they are being reported incorrectly.

On the bright side, if you’re paying your student loans on time each month, that looks good on your credit report. It shows lenders that you are responsible and likely to pay loans back diligently.


💡 Quick Tip: When refinancing a student loan, you may shorten or extend the loan term. Shortening your loan term may result in higher monthly payments but significantly less total interest paid. A longer loan term typically results in lower monthly payments but more total interest paid.

When You’re Having Problems Paying Your Student Loans

If you’re having difficulty making regular payments on your federal or private student loans, there are steps you can take before the consequences of defaulting kick in.

One option is to apply for student loan deferment, which allows you to reduce or pause your federal student loan payments for up to three years. During this time, interest on subsidized loans does not accrue. Or you could pursue student loan forbearance, which allows you to reduce or pause payments for up to a year if you’re facing a temporary financial hardship.

You can also contact your loan servicer to discuss adjusting your repayment plans.

Additionally, if you’re having trouble paying your student loans on time, you may be able to make your loans more affordable through a federal income-based repayment plan. These plans, including the new Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan, cap your payments at a small percentage of your discretionary income and extend the repayment term out to 20-25 years. Once the repayment period is up, any remaining balance is forgiven (though you may be subject to income taxes on the canceled amount).

Refinancing your student loans may also be an option—if you extend your term length, you may qualify for a lower monthly payment. Note that while these options provide short-term relief, they generally will result in paying more over the life of the loan.

When you start making your payments by the due date each month, you may see that your student loans can become a more positive part of your credit report. Again, while these options provide short-term relief, they generally will result in paying more over the life of the loan.

The Takeaway

While you generally can’t remove student loans from a credit report unless there are errors, it isn’t a bad thing if you make payments on time. If a loan is delinquent, it will be removed from your credit report after seven years, though you will still be responsible for paying back the loan.

If you’re having trouble making loan payments, there are ways to make repayment easier. Borrowers with federal student loans can look into forgiveness, an income-driven repayment plan, or a change to the loan’s terms.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.


With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.

FAQ

Is it illegal to remove student loans from a credit report?

There’s no legal way to remove student loans from a credit report unless the information is incorrect. If you think there’s an error on your credit report, you can contact your loan servicer with documentation and ask them to provide accurate information to the credit reporting agencies. It’s also a good idea to send a copy of the dispute to the credit bureaus as well.

How do I get a student loan removed from my credit report?

If you paid your student loan off in full, it may still appear on your credit report for up to 10 years as evidence of your positive payment history. It takes seven years to have a defaulted student loan removed from a credit report. Keep in mind you are still responsible for paying off the defaulted loan and you won’t be able to secure another type of federal loan until you do.

How can I get rid of student loans legally?

If you have federal student loans, options such as federal forgiveness programs or income-driven repayment plans can help decrease the amount of your student loan that you need to pay back. If you have private or federal student loans, refinancing can help lower monthly payments by securing a lower interest rate and/or extending your loan term. If you refinance a federal loan, however, you will no longer have access to federal protections and benefits. And you may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.



SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


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.


External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SOSL0923028

Read more

What Does Credit Reference Mean for an Apartment?

Finding an affordable apartment you love in the neighborhood of your choice can feel like you’ve won the lottery. But before you can call the movers, you’ll need to take the first step and go through the screening process. In most cases, this means filling out a rental application.

Rental applications are a way for landlords to determine whether or not a potential tenant will be responsible when it comes to paying the rent. In order to do so, the property owner or management company may also ask for a credit reference. This is a person, company, or document that provides details about your credit history.

There are different types of credit references, and your landlord may require more than one to ensure you’ll be a no-risk, trustworthy tenant.

What Are Credit References on a Rental Application?

Along with asking for your name, address, employment information, and past residential history on your application, a landlord will want to make sure you regularly meet your financial obligations. After all, a landlord or property manager doesn’t want to take a risk on someone who doesn’t pay their monthly rent in full and on time. This is where a credit reference comes into play.

Credit references are documents, businesses, or individuals that can verify your credit history. Similar to character references a prospective employer might request before they hire you, a credit reference refers to a person or a company with whom the applicant has had a positive financial relationship.

The credit reference provides the landlord with details about an applicant’s financial situation, such as the length of the financial dealings with the entity, the applicant’s payment record, and whether they’re in any debt.

Check your score with SoFi

Track your credit score for free. Sign up and get $10.*


How Does a Credit Reference on a Rental Application Work?

When you decide upon an apartment rental, the first thing you need to do is notify the landlord or property manager as soon as possible, especially if you live in a city where rental competition is stiff. If the place is still available, you’ll be asked to submit a paper or electronic rental application.

Depending on the landlord or property manager’s application process, you may be asked to provide credit references on the form. This could entail listing any current creditors’ names and contact information, detailing the amounts owed on any loans, or answering whether or not you’ve ever declared bankruptcy.

After you’ve completed the application, the landlord will typically contact the credit sources you provided. It’s best to be honest when filling in any past and present financial information on the application. If not, chances are the landlord will find out on their own during the credit reference check. Not being truthful at the start can be a glaring red flag for the landlord, increasing the likelihood they’ll reject the application.

Types of Credit References

There are several kinds of credit references a landlord may use to confirm you’re in good financial shape and will be able to afford the monthly rent. Financial agreement documents such as asset documentation, credit reports, and character reference letters are some things landlords often request.

Read on to learn about three types of credit references a landlord may require:

Credit Report

Credit reports — a credit check used by employers, lenders, and landlords to gauge how responsible a person is when it comes to managing credit and handling their financial obligations — are the most commonly used credit reference. These statements detail someone’s credit history, including their payment record, current account balances, and any outstanding debts, including those referred to a collection agency.

There are three major credit bureaus that issue credit reports. A landlord may use one or two of these credit reporting agencies or order a more comprehensive tri-merge credit report, which culls data from all three companies.

As part of their credit check, landlords may request your FICO score or, less commonly, your VantageScore. In either case, this is a three-digit number that reflects how dependable you are when it comes to paying back borrowed debt. Both companies use a 300-850 credit score range.

Landlords typically look for a score of 600 or above. Depending on whether they pull your credit score through FICO or VantageScore, where the number lands in the 600 plus range may be considered a good or fair credit score. For instance, FICO’s fair credit scores are between 580 and 669, while their good credit range is between 670 and 739. VantageScore’s fair credit scores range from 601 to 660, and good credit falls between 661 to 780.

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a landlord cannot run a credit check without your prior authorization. And, if you do give permission to run a credit check, the landlord may charge you an additional fee, so be sure to check your rental application carefully.


💡 Quick Tip: Check your credit report at least once a year to ensure there are no errors that can damage your credit score.

Asset Documentation

Asset documentation gives proof of a person’s financial assets and is considered a highly effective type of credit reference. Landlords may want to know if an applicant has back-up funds for rent in case there are unseen circumstances, such as job loss.

A landlord may ask you to provide certain documents, such as several months’ worth of statements from your current checking, savings, retirement, and/or investment accounts. In order to obtain these records, you’ll need to ask the financial institutions who manage your assets to provide them to the landlord or property management company, unless you can supply them on your own.

Recommended: Do Banks Run Credit Checks for a Checking Account?

Character and Credit Reference Letters

Professional and personal references can be a great option for vetting someone’s financial reliability. While a landlord might be more interested in your credit score and asset documentation, a character reference letter may help give you an edge.

Character reference letters can come from a previous landlord, employer, faith leader, professor, or an entity you’ve previously done business with, like a utility company. Ideally, you’ll want to get a letter from any source that can speak to your reliability and conscientiousness and explain why you’d be an ideal tenant.

How Do Credit References Impact Rental Applications?

Credit references can have a significant impact on whether or not you get the apartment. If the landlord reviews your credit history and has any concerns about your income to debt ratio or low credit score, they can turn you down.

On the flip side, seeing a stellar record of paying your bills on time and verifying you’ve been a trustworthy tenant in the past can help convince a landlord you’re the right choice.

Examples of Credit References

•   Letters of reference from any former landlords stating you’ve paid your rent routinely and have had an issue-free relationship

•   A copy of your credit report

•   Checking or savings account bank statements

•   Documentation from a utility company listing a positive payment history

•   Character reference letters from personal or professional acquaintances

When You Need Credit References on an Apartment Application

Generally, landlords will want credit references when considering whether to approve an application of a first-time renter, someone who makes a lower salary, or a person who has no credit history. In such scenarios, the renter will want to consider having a guarantor or cosigner on the application.

Guarantors or cosigners are people who have good credit and can sign the lease with you. A cosigner can be a parent, family member, or friend who agrees to take legal responsibility for paying your rent if for some reason you can’t.

How Long Does It Take to Process a Rental Application?

In most cases, rental applications are approved within 24 to 72 hours. Property management companies that oversee larger complexes and have ample staff can process applications faster than a solo landlord.

It may take longer to approve an application when, for example, you’re applying with a cosigner or if you’re renting with roommates. That’s because there are more people involved, more credit references to gather, and more credit reports to pull.

Tips for Credit References

Prepare in Advance

You may not be initially required to provide credit references on your application, but that doesn’t mean a landlord won’t ask for it later. Get your ducks in a row by gathering any necessary paperwork and reaching out to anyone you may want as a character reference.

If you think you’re going to need a cosigner, start a conversation with that person so they’re not totally blindsided or asked to commit at the last minute.

Check Your Credit Report

Running and reviewing your credit report can tip you off to any errors, indicate any fraudulent activity, and provide your current credit score. You can also resolve any credit issues that might give a landlord a reason to reject your application.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, you are entitled to request one free copy of your credit report every year from each of the three credit bureaus. You can order your free report by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com . Note that all three credit report providers are offering free weekly online credit reports until the end of 2023.

You can also sign up for credit score monitoring through SoFi and get insights on your financial health and credit.

Choose Your Character References Carefully

Make sure the people you’re asking to vouch for your dependability are those you trust, know well, and will be able to communicate clearly what makes you a good renter.

Don’t Be Afraid to Give the Landlord a Head’s Up

Sometimes a lower credit score or a record of late or missed payments may not be your fault. Certain life events can cause financial upheaval, such as being a victim of identity theft, getting laid off, or abruptly losing a roommate, leaving you responsible for the entire rent.

Writing a letter to the landlord offering an explanation for the spotty record — and attesting you’re working hard to improve your credit — may save you from being rejected outright.


💡 Quick Tip: An easy way to raise your credit score? Pay your bills on time. Setting up autopay can help you keep your account in good standing.

The Takeaway

When applying for a rental apartment or home, providing solid credit references allows a landlord or a property manager to determine your ability to pay the rent in full every month. Credit references can impact whether or not your application is approved. Knowing what types of credit references you may have to produce — and taking care to monitor your credit report and clean up any issues — can help boost your odds of landing that coveted home.

Take control of your finances with SoFi. With our financial insights and credit score monitoring tools, you can view all of your accounts in one convenient dashboard. From there, you can see your various balances, spending breakdowns, and credit score. Plus you can easily set up budgets and discover valuable financial insights — all at no cost.

See exactly how your money comes and goes at a glance.

FAQ

What should I put as a credit reference?

Your landlord will typically be the one to dictate what credit references they want. But if they only run a credit report, you may want to send along anything else that could bolster your financial worth, such as savings and investment account statements.

What is an example of a credit reference for an apartment application?

Examples of credit references may include your bank, previous landlords, companies whose bills you pay regularly, supervisors, or your faith leader.

How do you get a credit reference?

You may be able to obtain a credit reference by requesting a copy of your credit report, authorizing a credit check, or asking for a character reference letter.

How many credit references do you need?

It depends on the landlord. While some won’t ask for any credit references, others will require one or more. To be safe, it’s probably a good idea to plan for at least two

Can you buy a credit reference?

No. Credit references need to be earned by capably managing your money, paying your bills, and having minimal debt. While you can pay a credit repair company to go over your credit report and dispute any errors on your behalf, you still have to do the heavy lifting of diligently meeting your overall financial responsibilities.


Photo credit: iStock/FluxFactory

SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc.’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.

*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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.

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 .

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SORL0523008

Read more
Guide to Building Credit With No Credit History

Guide to Building Credit With No Credit History

Credit is often regarded as a catch-22: You have to have credit to access credit products, particularly borrowing opportunities that are more competitive. For example, a positive credit history can help you access consumer loans at a lower interest rate, or qualify for a credit card with a lucrative rewards program. But without an existing credit history, it might be hard to get approved for these opportunities.

However, everyone starts with zero credit history. Building a credit profile doesn’t happen overnight, but learning how to build credit when you have none can help you get there.

What Is Established Credit?

Establishing credit means that you have a history of past and currently active credit accounts with which you borrowed money from an entity or financial institution to purchase goods or services.

Lenders and creditors review your established credit to decide whether to extend you new credit. It’s also evaluated by employers, utility companies, and landlords to help them decide whether to accept your application or offer you service.

5 Tips to Build Credit With No Credit History

It is possible to build credit even with no credit history. If you have no credit, build credit using one or more of the following strategies.

1. Become an Authorized User

One way to build credit with no credit is to ask a family member or friend who has good credit to add you as an authorized user on their credit card account. Some lenders report card activity to the credit bureaus for both the primary cardholder and any authorized users on the card, so the primary cardholder’s good credit behavior could reflect positively on your credit.

As an authorized user, you aren’t liable to repay the debt on the card. However, the reported data still will reflect on your credit history.

2. Get a Secured Credit Card

Getting a credit card for the first time can be challenging if you immediately apply for an unsecured card that isn’t tied to collateral. A secured card can be easier to obtain when building credit from no credit — just make sure the card issuer reports the account’s activity to the credit bureaus.

Secured cards typically require you to make a small initial deposit into a separate bank fund. The card issuer then gives you a credit card usually with a credit limit that matches your deposit amount. As you use the card and make prompt payments, you can build credit. Once you achieve at least a fair credit score, you may be able to get upgraded to an unsecured credit card.

3. Report Your Rent and Utility Payments to Credit Bureaus

To boost your progress in building credit with no credit, you can self-report your on-time rent payments, cell phone payments, and everyday utility bills.

Third-party services, like Piñata and Rental Kharma, give you momentum to develop your credit history using your rental payment track record. Similarly, the credit bureau Experian empowers consumers to establish their credit profile by reporting phone and utility bill payments via Experian Boost.

4. Apply for a Retail Card

Credit cards that you can only use at a specific merchant, like a gas card or department store card, are typically easier for consumers with no credit history to get approved for. Plus, retail cards’ lower credit limit and restricted use makes them a good option if you’re looking to build credit.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due?

5. Take Out a Credit-Builder Loan

A credit-builder loan is an installment loan that’s typically for a small amount, like a few hundred dollars. The lender puts this amount into a separate savings account on your behalf, and you’ll make payments to repay that loan.

During this process, the lender will report your account activity to the credit bureaus. And once the loan’s term ends, you’ll get the money that accumulated from your regular payments.

How Long Does It Take to Build Credit for a Beginner?

Establishing your credit can take anywhere from three to six months, and it typically takes at least six months to develop a credit score. Once your credit account is active and there’s borrowing and repayment activity on the account, your lender or card issuer will report the new account and its activity to the credit bureaus.

What Credit Score Should You Start With?

A starting credit score doesn’t start at zero. The baseline, or lowest FICO score you can have, is actually 300. If you are building credit from no credit, however, you simply wouldn’t have a credit profile to your name, meaning you’d have no credit score as opposed to a low credit score.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Tips for Using a Credit Score to Your Advantage Once You Have It

Once you’ve gone through the necessary motions to build credit, here’s how you can make the most of it:

•   Shop around before opening new credit accounts. Lenders and credit card issuers are competing for your business. Compare product features, interest rates, fees, and terms before moving forward with a new loan or credit card to ensure you get the most competitive option available to you.

•   Apply for credit cards with better rewards. Once you’ve established your credit and are confident that you can borrow responsibly, consider applying for a credit card that offers a rewards program. For example, look into cards that offer cash back, points, or miles so you get a little something back from purchases you’d already make.

•   Maintain responsible borrowing habits. After you’ve put in so much work to build your credit score, you don’t want to wreck it. So follow responsible borrowing habits, like not borrowing more than you can afford to pay back based on your monthly expenses and income.

•   Be aware of the factors affecting credit scores. Understand how paying off debt affects your credit score, as well as how your credit utilization, credit age, credit mix, and new accounts influence your score. By knowing what makes up your credit score, you’ll better know how to continue building it.

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

The Takeaway

There are many ways to build your credit when you have no credit history. However, all of the strategies above take a few months to get your credit record established. Once you have a credit score going, you can access other credit products, like rewards credit cards.

Whether you're looking to build credit, apply for a new credit card, or save money with the cards you have, it's important to understand the options that are best for you. Learn more about credit cards by exploring this credit card guide.

FAQ

How fast can you build credit with no credit?

Generally, if you’re starting with no credit, it can take anywhere from three to six months to build your credit. The exact timeline depends on the credit scoring model that’s used and your lender’s timeframe for reporting new accounts to the credit bureaus.

What is the easiest way to establish a credit history?

The easiest way to establish a credit history is by asking to become an authorized user on a family member or close friend’s credit card account. This approach bypasses having to personally submit your own credit card application. Instead, you’ll piggyback on the primary account holder’s positive borrowing and repayment practices to build your credit record.

What is my credit score if I have no credit?

If your credit profile is nonexistent — meaning you’ve never opened a credit-based account under your name — you won’t have a credit score at all. Having a credit score of 0 is actually a myth; instead of a number, you’re simply considered credit invisible.

How long does it take to build credit from 0 to 700?

The time it takes for consumers who are new to establishing their credit to reach a credit score of 700 varies. However, generally, if you have no credit you could potentially reach a 700 credit score after six months of a reported payment history.


Photo credit: iStock/fizkes

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies 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.

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 .

SOCC1122008

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender