Protecting Your Credit Card From Hackers

Protecting Yourself Against Credit Card Hacks

Protecting yourself against credit card hackers — criminals that engage in credit card fraud and identity theft — is a vital part of using your credit card responsibly. Understanding how credit card hacking works and the many ways thieves can gain access to your personal financial information can help you protect both your physical credit card and your digital credit card account information.

Read on to learn how to protect your credit card from hackers, as well as what to do if your credit card is hacked.

What It Means for a Credit Card To Be Hacked

A credit card hack occurs anytime your credit card or credit card account number falls into the wrong hands. That information is then used fraudulently to make purchases and/or to engage in identity theft.

Credit card theft can entail everything from stealing your wallet to hacking into large databases holding hundreds of thousands of credit card numbers.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

Ways Credit Cards Can Be Hacked

Thieves use a variety of ways to get their hands on your credit card information. The biggest money scams in the U.S. are now done digitally through email, text messages, or fake websites. But there are still plenty of old-fashioned scammers who use snail mail, phone calls, and in-person ruses.

Here are some of the most common forms of both types of fraud:

•   Lost or stolen wallet containing credit cards. An old but still common trick for credit card thieves is to steal the physical card, then use it and the information it contains to make fraudulent purchases. In addition, if other personal information is included in your stolen wallet, such as your address and even your Social Security number, thieves can use your identifying information to set up other fraudulent credit accounts.

•   Phishing. Another common credit card hacking method is for a thief to attempt to get ahold of your credit card information through a phone call, text message, or email in which they impersonate a legitimate institution. For instance, a phishing email that appears as if it’s from your banking institution may entice you to click a link that takes you to a page where you’re then asked to enter your account information.

•   Dumpster diving. Criminals search through trash to find discarded statements, receipts, and other documents that contain your credit card number and identifying information such as your name and address. They then use that information to make fraudulent purchases or engage in identity theft.

•   Data breaches. Professional hackers can break into large retail, bank, financial, healthcare, social media, and other websites and steal reams of personal information that often include credit card and other personal financial information from thousands of users. The usual aim is to resell that data on the dark web. From there, criminal buyers use the data to commit credit card fraud and identity theft. If your data is on file at a breached site, you’re at risk.

•   Credit card skimmers. Thieves also can use gadgets that can extract your credit card information when you swipe it to pay or to withdraw money from an ATM. These most commonly are found at gas stations or on outside ATMs, though they’re becoming less common with the introduction of chip technology.

•   Inside jobs. Unscrupulous wait staff, store clerks, health-care billing workers, and others with access to credit card data may take a photo or otherwise copy your card information and use it to make fraudulent purchases. On a larger scale, sometimes these workers are part of a criminal ring that helps access financial data from thousands of individuals that’s then sold on the dark web.

•   Public Wi-Fi networks. Your credit card also may be vulnerable to a credit card hack if you use a public internet connection, which is why it’s important to follow cybersecurity tips. If someone is monitoring the network and you enter any sensitive information, such as your account information, a thief may be able to swipe it.

Protecting Your Physical Card

Although digital credit card theft is more common than ever, plenty of old-fashioned thieves are still out there and would like to get their hands on your physical card. So, it makes sense to stay diligent. Taking these steps can help:

•   Don’t reveal your physical card. Avoid giving your physical card to anyone, and never post photos on social media with your credit card showing.

•   Black out the security code on the back of your card. Instead, you can file it in your password manager or another safe place. If your card is stolen, it’s harder for thieves to use the account information for online purchases if they don’t have your security code.

•   Don’t sign your card. You can limit fraudulent in-person purchases if your stolen card is unsigned. You can write “See ID” in the blank area, then show your ID to store clerks in lieu of a signature. When a thief is asked for ID, they won’t be able to provide it, potentially preventing the transaction from going through.

•   Use a protective sleeve or wallet. These can protect your card from being read by a technical device.

•   Report lost or stolen cards immediately. If your card is compromised, make sure to alert your credit card issuer immediately. They will then close your card and issue a new one immediately. This is also a good idea if you’re notified that you’ve been part of a data breach.

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

Protecting Your Credit Card Account Information

In addition to your physical card, you need to protect your credit card data as well. Big credit card data hacks can mean your personal financial details and credit card account information are vulnerable. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself:

•   Only use reputable shopping sites. Often, fraudulent sites are set up as a ruse to collect credit card information. When you shop online, always buy from trusted merchants.

•   Avoid using your credit card when you’re on public WiFi. It can be easy for criminals to pick up your data when you’re using public internet networks. As such, you’ll want to avoid entering any personal or sensitive information while you’re using these networks, even if you’re on your own personal device.

•   Check your account frequently. Don’t just wait for your statement to arrive in your email every month. Get in the habit of regularly monitoring your credit card activity online, especially if you find your credit card keeps getting hacked. If you find a suspicious charge, report it immediately.

•   Be wary of phishing scams. You may get an authentic-looking email, text or phone call asking for your credit card information. This may be a completely cold call or a data thief looking to fill in information they may not have for you, such as your expiration date or CVV security code. Never give your information to anyone asking for it. Banks, credit card companies, retailers, and other reputable places only take your information if you contact them.

•   Use smart passwords. Use strong passwords that include lowercase and capital letters, numbers, and symbols. Change your passwords frequently and remember that if it’s easy for you to remember, it’s probably easy for a thief to figure out. Password manager software can help you generate and keep track of strong passwords.

•   Sign up for two-factor authentication. With two-factor authentication, a one-time code is texted or voiced to your phone when you log into a financial account. This helps to ensure the account holder is the one logging on. Other types of secure authentication, such as face ID, are beginning to be used by some organizations.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Steps to Take When Your Credit Card is Compromised

If you think you were a victim of credit card fraud and/or identity theft, it’s important to act fast. The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) limits your financial responsibility for credit card fraud to up to $50, so you won’t be on the hook for more than that in the case of bogus credit card charges that have led you to request a credit card refund. Even better, many major credit card issuers offer zero-dollar liability protection.

But if the thieves go on to use your personal information to commit other types of financial fraud, you may be liable. Acting fast will also help minimize the onerous work involved in untangling identity theft.

Here’s what to do if what to do if your credit card is hacked, or you see suspicious charges on your statement or other signs of fraudulent activity:

Contact Your Credit Card Company

As soon as you spot anything, call your credit card company. Tell them you think your card and card information is vulnerable and request a new card with a new account number. Most credit card issuers will comply right away (unlike if you were falsely disputing a credit card charge). However, you may be without a credit card for a bit while you wait for the new one to arrive.

Sign Up for Fraud Alerts

If you’ve received a letter or other notification that your personal data may have been compromised, you can place a fraud alert at all three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — that may be monitoring your account. This stops unauthorized individuals from accessing your account information for a year, at which point you can request for it to be renewed.

Freeze Your Credit

A stronger step than setting up a fraud alert is to freeze your credit. When you ask for a freeze, the three top credit reporting agencies will make sure no one can ask for your credit report without your approval. The downside: A freeze can make it more cumbersome for you to legitimately apply for new credit.

File a Police Report

If you’re a victim of credit card fraud, you may need to file a police report. You may need that documentation as you move through different steps to report identity theft and other fraud as you try to recoup your losses. Your credit card issuer can help you determine if a police report is necessary. You can also report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission on its website.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Credit Card Security and Fraud Protection

There are a number of steps that credit card companies can take to increase credit card security and curb credit card hacks. For instance, some credit cards have two-factor authentication to protect access to your account. At SoFi, for example, we use a device-based security layer in addition to password validation for our credit card. You have the option to receive a security code by text or through Google.

Credit card companies can also offer the option to freeze your card immediately. You often can do so through their website or via their mobile app if you notice suspicious charges or other activity.

And, as mentioned previously, some credit card issuers — including SoFi — offer a zero-liability policy. As long as you report unauthorized or erroneous card transactions no later than 60 days after the first statement on which the problem occurred, SoFi won’t hold you liable for any fraudulent charges.

The Takeaway

Credit card hacks can be costly, onerous, and time-consuming. But you can take steps to avoid hacks by protecting both your physical card and your online credit card information.

Selecting a credit card with identity theft protection, like the SoFi credit card, also can help protect your personal information. And that’s not the only benefit of a SoFi credit card. You also can earn up to 2% cash back when you redeem to save, invest, or pay down an eligible SoFi loan. Find out more about the advantages and apply for a credit card with SoFi today.

The SoFi Credit Card offers unlimited 2% cash back on all eligible purchases. There are no spending categories or reward caps to worry about.1



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

FAQ

How can I protect my credit card from being hacked?

You can take a number of steps to fight credit card hacking methods. This includes checking your account regularly for any suspicious charges, being mindful of potential phishing scams, shopping online with caution, and keeping your physical card and your digital card information safe. If anything were to happen, make sure to report any suspicious activity as soon as possible and to use credit freezes and fraud alerts when necessary.

Can a hacker steal my credit card information?

The answer is a definite yes. Credit card hacks include stealing your physical card or credit card information and making fraudulent purchases directly with your account. Or, thieves may use your stolen personal information to set up a new fraudulent account in your name. Credit card hacks also happen when thieves steal reams of credit card and other personal financial information from databases at large retailers, financial institutions, and other places.

Can hackers use a credit card without a CVV?

Yes, although it can be more difficult for hackers to use a credit card without a CVV. The CVV number is often requested in transactions that don’t occur in-person as an additional layer of security to ensure that the person actually has the physical card.


Photo credit: iStock/Talaj

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.

SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, a statement credit, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.

1Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on purchases. No rewards points will be earned with respect to reversed transactions, returned purchases, or other similar transactions. When you elect to redeem rewards points into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, SoFi Active Invest account, SoFi Credit Card account, or SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your rewards points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.

SOCC0422005

Read more
What Is a Billing Cycle for a Credit Card?

What Is a Credit Card Billing Cycle?

You can definitely count on your credit bill arriving every month, thanks to your billing cycle, or the length of time between one statement’s closing and the next. But what exactly is your billing cycle and how does it work? And does it impact your credit score? Many of us aren’t too sure, even if we regularly swipe and tap our cards in daily life. So let’s take a closer look: Understanding the ins and outs of how your billing cycle works will help you use your card responsibly and avoid unnecessary fees.

Fortunately, understanding the timing of your credit card billing isn’t too difficult. And these cycles tend to work the same way regardless of the card issuer, so you won’t have to relearn the ropes even if you have many different credit cards.

Here, we’ll cover:

•  What a credit card billing cycle is and how long it usually lasts

•  Whether you can change your cycle

•  How a billing cycle can impact your credit score

•  Why knowing your billing cycle is important

Definition of a Billing Cycle

So what exactly is a billing cycle? Let’s define our terms: A billing cycle is the length of time from one billing statement closing date to the next. The exact number of days in a billing cycle may vary, but they usually last from 28 to 31 days. Also known as a billing period, this concept can apply to a variety of financial products, such as credit cards and personal loans.

Credit cards usually have monthly billing cycles and require cardholders to make payments every month. Billing periods must end on the same day of every month, such as on the last calendar day.

Put another way, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau states that each billing cycle should be equal. “Equal” in this case means each billing period must not vary more than four days from its usual length. So your credit card bill has a rhythm to it; you can depend upon it being ready at pretty much the same time (give or take a few days) every month.

How Does a Credit Card Billing Cycle Work?

Now that you know what a billing cycle for a credit card is, let’s dig into how they function. As mentioned in the previous section, credit card billing cycles coincide with a certain day of the month. During each billing cycle, new transactions are added to your billing statement, whether for that salad to-go that you had for lunch or that unexpected dental bill. Your swipes, taps, online purchases, and credits are all being tracked and compiled. (It’s not that different from, say, your bank billing cycle and statement, or a monthly utility bill.)

Then, at the end of the billing cycle, the card issuer will send you a credit card statement, either electronically or by mail. Whether you receive a paper or electronic statement depends upon whether you opt into paperless billing. It’s important to note the due date and make a payment by that date to avoid incurring late fees on top of those already high credit card interest rates.

Fortunately, credit card billing cycles often come with a grace period, which is a time between the end of the billing period and the due date. You won’t be charged interest during this time. By law, credit card companies must deliver your statement to you at least 21 days before the payment due date.

If your credit card is paid in full between the time you receive your statement and the due date, no interest will be charged. However, if there is still a remaining balance after the due date, interest may start to accrue.

How Long Is a Billing Cycle?

The length of a credit card billing cycle can vary, but the length is usually between 28 and 31 days, just like the months of the year.

Credit card billing cycles must be as close to the same length as possible from one month to the next. But they can vary by up to four days to take into account things like weekends, holidays, and months that are different lengths.

Check your statement to find out the exact length of each billing cycle. The first page of the statement usually shows language such as opening and closing date. All of the transactions on the statement fall within that date range.

Can I Change My Billing Cycle?

Your card issuer probably won’t allow you to change some things related to your billing cycle, such as the billing period length. However, one of the things you often can change is your payment when your credit card payment is due. You may find that helpful because a different due date could suit your situation better. For instance, you can sync it up to fall after you get paid, so you know there’s money in your checking account.

Keep in mind that not all card issuers will be flexible with this, and many will only allow you to change your due date within a certain time frame. And if you do request a due date change, it may take one to two billing cycles to take effect. Hence, you should monitor your statement to watch for the change.

Also, note that your card issuer has the right to change the terms and conditions of your credit card agreement at any time. However, if they do so, they generally must notify you 45 days in advance.

How Does A Billing Cycle Affect Your Credit Score?

Your credit card billing cycle can impact your credit score if you aren’t able to pay at least the minimum due on time. That late payment (or a total lack of payment) will wind up being shared. How that works: Most credit card issuers send monthly updates to credit reporting bureaus about your credit usage. The three main credit reporting bureaus are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. These updates usually coincide with your billing cycle date.

On your billing cycle date, reporting bureaus may receive a variety of information about your credit usage, including any instances of late payments on your credit cards. Late payments can have a big negative impact on your credit score, so be sure you are aware of the due date on your statement at the end of your billing cycle. (By the way, paying your bills on time, all the time, can be a great way to boost that credit score.)

Why Understanding Your Billing Cycle Is Important

Now that you’ve learned about how credit card billing cycles work and how long they typically are, let’s pivot to a big-picture topic. Here’s why understanding your billing cycle is important to your financial health:

•  Your billing cycle lets you know when your next payment is due and the minimum amount due. Paying the minimum will let you avoid both penalties and hits to your credit score. Paying the full amount due will avoid accruing interest.

•  Understanding your billing cycle will help you budget more effectively. Because you know when you have to pay your credit card bill, you can set money aside to make your payments on time. You can request your due date be moved a bit to better suit your cash flow, if needed.

•  It will help you monitor your credit card balance more effectively. That purchase you made today might not appear on the last statement issued, but it will appear on the next one. You may use your cycle’s timing to schedule purchases for the optimal time in terms of keeping your balance due in check.

The Takeaway

Your credit card billing cycle is the period of time between one billing statement’s closing date to the next. This period usually lasts between 28 and 31 days and should be as close as possible to the same length every month. Be sure to pay at least the minimum by the due date to avoid penalties and fees, not to mention hurting your credit score. You can request that your due date be moved, if that would help you better manage your budget, and you will likely have a few days’ grace period in which to pay your bill without getting hit with additional charges. Given how high credit card interest rates can be, knowing and following your billing cycle is an important part of being financially responsible.

If you want to avoid fees, another way to do that is by banking with SoFi. When you sign up with direct deposit, our linked Checking and Savings accounts don’t charge you any monthly, minimum balance, or overdraft fees. Plus, you’ll also earn a competitive APY on your balances, so your money grows faster.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall. Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

Why is a billing cycle important?

A billing cycle is important because it keeps you informed of all of your credit card activity for the month. Plus, your payment is due at the end of each cycle (after the grace period), and you want to respect that to avoid accruing additional interest and fees, as well as potentially lowering your credit score.

How long is a billing cycle for a debit card?

Your checking account or debit card may issue regular statements, and the billing cycle length is approximately 30 days. In other words, the length is similar to your credit card billing cycle, but with a debit card, the funds are automatically deducted from your bank account. You don’t get a bill to pay.

What is two-cycle billing?

Two-cycle billing or double-cycle billing is a credit interest calculation. The interest is applied to the average of the prior two months’ outstanding balance. However, the practice was outlawed with the passing of the Credit CARD Act on August 20, 2009.


Photo credit: iStock/RichVintage

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


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


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.

SOBK0222025

Read more
When Do Credit Card Companies Report to Credit Bureaus?

When Do Credit Card Companies Report to Credit Bureaus?

Your credit score is based on the information about your debts and payments reported by lenders to the three main credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The credit reporting bureaus typically ask to receive information once per month. So, credit card companies will usually report card payments to the credit reporting bureaus at the end of your card’s monthly billing cycle, also known as your statement date. Credit card companies typically spread statement dates throughout the month.

Here’s a closer look at how payments are reported to the credit reporting bureaus as well as how factors like on-time payments can affect your credit score.

How Credit Card Payments Are Reported to Bureaus

As mentioned above, credit card issuers typically report to credit bureaus on your regular billing cycle. Each credit card may report at different times, and they may report to some of the major credit bureaus and not others. Reporting is up to the lender’s discretion, so it is also entirely possible that they won’t make a report at all.

Credit bureaus may collect a variety of information, including:

•   Personal information, such as name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, and employer

•   Credit account information, such as balances, payments, credit limits, credit usage, and when accounts are opened or closed

•   Credit inquiries

How Credit Scores and Reports Are Updated

The credit reporting bureaus will generally update your credit score as soon as they receive information from your credit card company. That means that your credit score could change relatively frequently as you make credit card charges, especially if you have multiple credit cards.

Also, because credit card companies only report credit activity periodically, there can be a bit of a lag in how long it takes for a payment to show on your credit card report. When you read your credit report it may not match your current account balances, instead reflecting the last information reported to the bureaus. This situation may be particularly irksome if you’ve paid off debts in hope of boosting your credit score. Fortunately, your information should be updated during the next reporting period.

However, if you notice that no changes are made after a number of months, it’s worth contacting your lender to make sure changes are reported correctly. If they can’t resolve it, you can contact the credit bureau.

Recommended: Charge Cards Advantages and Disadvantages

How Credit Card Balances Affect Credit Score

Credit reporting bureaus may collect information about your credit card balance. There is a popular misconception that carrying a credit card balance from month to month will help you improve your credit score. However, this is a myth. In fact, carrying a balance can actually hurt your score.

An unpaid balance is not necessarily seen as a bad thing. However, credit utilization — how much of your available credit you’re using — can have an impact on your score. If your balance exceeds 30% of your borrowing limit, it may have a negative impact on your score. Those who keep their credit utilization below 10% tend to have the highest credit scores.

It’s best to pay off your credit card balance each month to protect your credit score and to avoid racking up costly interest charges, which can cause your credit card debt to balloon.

How Applying to Credit Cards Affects Credit Score

Before you apply for a credit card, it’s important to know the difference between a hard and soft inquiry. When you apply, you will trigger what’s known as a hard inquiry when a lender requests to see your credit report. In contrast, a soft inquiry occurs when you check your own credit or use a credit monitoring service, for example. Hard inquiries will generally have a negative impact on your credit score, while soft inquiries will not.

Hard inquiries suggest that you are in the market for new credit. That may seem like a no-brainer. But in the eyes of other lenders, a hard inquiry suggests that you may be in some sort of financial stress that makes you a bigger risk for borrowing money. This is especially true if you have many hard inquiries in a short period of time.

Luckily, the hard inquiry stays on your credit report for only two years, and its effects fade relatively quickly.

In general, it’s wise to avoid causing many hard inquiries in a short period of time. There are some exceptions to that rule. If you’re shopping for a mortgage, auto loan, or new utility providers, multiple inquiries in a short period — typically 14 to 45 days — are usually counted as just one inquiry.

How On-Time Payments Affect Credit Score

Your payment history is one of the biggest factors that goes into calculating your credit score. As a result, making payments on time is one of the best things you can do to maintain a strong credit score or to improve your score.

Even a single late payment can have a negative impact on your score, though the missed payment likely will not show up on your credit report for 30 days. If you can make up the payment within that time period, your lender may not report it, though you may still be subject to late penalties.

It’s also important to understand that if you only make a partial payment, that will still usually be counted as late and reported as such to the credit bureaus.

To make sure that you pay bills on time, consider setting up a budget to help control your spending. You might also automate your bill pay to ensure you don’t miss any payment due dates. But if you do so, make sure that you have enough money in your account to cover your credit card balance.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

The Takeaway

The credit reporting bureaus collect all sorts of financial information from your various lenders to create your credit score. Your credit card company likely reports your card activity about once a month. Understanding what information has an impact on your score, and the impact of on-time payments and credit inquiries, can help you keep your score as high as possible and help keep credit card costs down.

Applying for a credit card through SoFi won’t affect your credit score, though an approved application may trigger a hard inquiry.

The SoFi Credit Card offers unlimited 2% cash back on all eligible purchases. There are no spending categories or reward caps to worry about.1



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

FAQ

What time of the month do creditors report to credit bureaus?

Creditors may report to the credit bureaus at any time of the month, though credit card companies will usually make their reports at the end of the billing cycle.

How often do companies report credit?

Credit card companies usually report to the credit bureaus once a month. However, they do so at their own discretion.

How long after paying off debt will your credit score improve?

Your credit score should improve after paying off a debt as soon as that debt payment is reported to the reporting bureaus, usually within 30 days. If your payment doesn’t show up on your report after a few months, contact your lender to make sure it was reported correctly.


Photo credit: iStock/iamnoonmai

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.

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 .

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, a statement credit, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.

1Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on purchases. No rewards points will be earned with respect to reversed transactions, returned purchases, or other similar transactions. When you elect to redeem rewards points into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, SoFi Active Invest account, SoFi Credit Card account, or SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your rewards points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.

SOCC0422007

Read more
woman on laptop with credit card

What Is a FICO Score? FICO Score vs Credit Score

A credit score is one factor used in a lender’s assessment of your creditworthiness when you apply for a lending product, e.g., a loan, line of credit, or credit card. It can also be a factor in lease approval, new utilities setup, and insurance rates. You can have more than one credit score, depending on what credit scoring model a lender uses.

One type of credit scoring model is the FICO® Score, which is used in 90% of lending decisions in the U.S. Since it’s such a widely used determiner, consumers are wise to pay close attention to their own score.

What Is a FICO Score?

The FICO Score is a trademark of the Fair Isaac Corporation. It was the first widely used, commercially available score of its type. FICO Scores essentially compress a person’s credit history into one algorithmically determined score.

Because FICO scores (and other credit scores like it) are based on analytics rather than human biases, the intention is to make it easier for lenders to make fair lending decisions.

What Is the FICO Score Range?

FICO’s base range is 300 to 850: The higher the score, the lower the lending risk a lender might consider you to be.

•   Exceptional: 800 to 850

•   Very Good: 740 to 799

•   Good: 670 to 739

•   Fair: 580 to 669

•   Poor: 300 to 579

Recommended: What Is Considered a Bad Credit Score?

How Is a FICO Score Calculated?

There are five main components of your base score , each having a different weight in the calculation.

•   Payment history: 35%

•   Amounts owed: 30%

•   Length of credit history: 15%

•   Credit mix: 10%

•   New credit: 10%

About two-thirds of your base FICO score depends on managing the amount of debt you have and making your monthly payments on time. Each of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion® — supply information for the calculation of your credit score, so it can vary slightly even if your creditworthiness doesn’t fluctuate.

The base FICO Score range may not be the range used in all credit and lending decisions. There are also industry-specific scores , such as one specifically for auto loans (FICO® Auto Scores), others for credit card applications (FICO® Bankcard Scores), and multiple FICO scores used by mortgage lenders.

Industry-specific FICO scores range from 250 to 900, compared to the 300 to 850 range for base scores.

What Is a Good FICO Score?

Strictly referencing the base FICO Score range, a “good” score is between 670 and 739 on the overall scale of 300 to 850.

But what’s considered acceptable for credit approval might vary from lender to lender. Each lender has its own requirements for credit approval, interest rates, and loan terms, and may assign its own acceptable ranges. Lenders may also use factors other than a credit score to determine these things.

Recommended: Average Personal Loan Interest Rates & What Affects Them

Why Is a FICO Score Important? What Is a FICO Score Used For?

As mentioned above, the FICO Score is used in 90% of lending decisions in the U.S. When a consumer applies for a loan or other type of credit, the lender will look at their credit report and credit score. If there are negative entries on the credit report, which may be reflected in a decreased FICO Score, the applicant may not have a chance to explain those to the lender. Especially in mortgage lending decisions, the lender may have a firm FICO Score requirement, and even one point below the acceptable number could result in a denial.

But what if you’re not applying for credit in the traditional sense? Your FICO Score is still an important number to pay attention to because it’s used in other financial decisions.

•   Renting an apartment. Landlords and leasing agents generally run a credit check during a lease application process. They may or may not look at the applicant’s actual credit score — landlords have a lot of flexibility in how they make leasing decisions — but they do tend to look at the applicant’s credit history and how much debt they have in relation to their income, factors that go into a FICO score calculation. A few late payments here and there may not affect your ability to rent an apartment, but a high debt-to-income ratio may. If you have a lot of income going toward debt payments, the landlord may be concerned that you won’t have enough income to pay your rent.

•   Insurance. One of the industry-specific FICO Scores is formulated for the insurance industry — auto insurance and property insurance. Insurers will typically look at more than just a person’s FICO Insurance Score, but it is one factor that goes in determining qualification for insurance and at what rate. The assumption is that a person who is financially responsible will also take more care when it comes to their home and car.

•   Utilities. You may not think of a utility bill as a debt, but since utilities like gas, electric, and phone are billed in arrears, they technically are a form of debt. “Billed in arrears” means that you are billed for services you have already used. Utility companies want to make sure that you will be able to pay your monthly bill, so they may run a credit check, which may or may not include looking at your FICO Score.

Recommended: What Credit Score is Needed to Rent an Apartment in 2022?

What Affects Your FICO Score?

We briefly touched on how a FICO Score is calculated, but what goes into those different categories? Let’s look at those in more detail.

Payment history (35%)

Do you tend to pay your bills on time or do you have a history of late or missed payments? Your payment history is the most important factor in the calculation of your FICO Score. Perfection isn’t necessary, but a solid track record of regular, on-time payments is important. Lenders like to be assured that a borrower will make their payments, and a past payment history tends to be a good predictor of future payment habits.

Both installment (personal loans, mortgage loans, and student loans, for example) and revolving credit such as credit cards can affect your payment history. Since it’s such an important factor, how can you make sure it’s a positive one for you?

•   Making payments on time, every time, is the best way to make sure your payment history is a positive one. Having a regular routine for paying bills is a good way to accomplish this.

•   Automating your payments may help you make at least the minimum payment on credit accounts.

•   Checking your credit report regularly for errors or discrepancies can help catch things that might have a negative effect on your FICO Score if left uncorrected. You can get a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus once per year at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Amounts owed (30%)

The amount of debt you owe in relation to the amount of debt available to you is called your credit utilization ratio, and it’s the second most important factor in the calculation of your FICO Score. Having debt isn’t at issue in this factor, but using most of your available debt is seen as relying on credit to meet your financial obligations.

Credit utilization is based on revolving debt, not installment debt. If you’re keeping your credit card balance well below your credit limit, it’s a good indicator that you’re not overspending. If you have more than one credit card, consider the percentage of available credit you’re using on each of them. If one has a higher credit utilization than the others, it might be a good idea to use that one less often if you’re trying to increase your FICO Score.

Length of credit history (15%)

The percentage of this factor may not be as high as the previous two, but its importance to lenders should not be underestimated. As with payment history, lenders tend to look at a person’s credit history as predictive of their credit future. If there is no credit history or short credit history, a lender doesn’t have much information on which to base a lending decision.

Since the amount you owe is such an important factor in your FICO Score, you might think that paying off and closing credit accounts would have a positive effect on your score. But that might not be the best strategy.

•   Revolving accounts like credit cards can be a useful tool in your financial toolbox if used responsibly. A credit card account with a low balance and good payment history that has been part of your credit report for many years can be an indicator that you are able to maintain credit in a responsible manner.

•   Installment loans like personal loans are meant to be paid off in a certain amount of time. The account will remain on your credit report for 10 years after it’s paid off. Paying off a personal loan is certainly a positive thing, but paying off a personal loan early could cause the account to stop having that positive effect earlier than it otherwise would.

Recommended: How to Build Credit Over Time

Credit mix (10%)

Having multiple types of credit can have a positive effect on your FICO Score. Being responsible with both revolving and installment credit accounts shows lenders that you can successfully manage your debts.

•   Revolving accounts are those that are open-ended, such as a credit card. You can borrow money up to your credit limit, repay it, and borrow it again. As long as you’re conforming to the terms of the credit agreement, the account is likely to have a positive effect on your credit report and, therefore, your FICO Score.

•   Installment accounts are closed-ended. There is a certain amount of credit extended to you and you receive that money in a lump sum. It’s repaid in regular installments over a set period of time. If you need additional funds, you must take out another loan. A personal loan is one example of an installment loan.

Credit mix won’t make or break your ability to qualify for a loan, but having a good mix of different types of debt indicates to lenders that you’re likely to be a good lending risk.

New credit (10%)

Though lenders like to see that a person has been extended credit in the past, too much new credit in a short amount of time can be a red flag to lenders.

When you apply for a loan or other type of credit, the lender will typically look at your credit report. This is called a credit inquiry and can be a hard inquiry or a soft inquiry. A soft inquiry may be made by a lender to pre-qualify someone for credit or by a landlord for a lease approval, for example.

During a formal application process, a lender might make a hard inquiry into your credit report, which can affect your credit score. FICO Scores take into account hard inquiries from the last 12 months in your credit score calculation, but a hard inquiry will remain on your credit report for two years.

FICO Score vs Credit Score

These two terms — FICO Scores and credit scores — are often used interchangeably. More accurately, though, is that a FICO Score is one type of credit score, the one most often used by lenders when making their decisions. There are multiple types of credit scores, each of them using analytics to create a rating that illustrates a person’s creditworthiness.

The Takeaway

Your FICO Score is affected by how you manage your personal finances, whether that’s a personal loan, line of credit, credit card, or other type of credit product. Although it’s not the only credit score lenders use, it is the one used in the majority of lending decisions in the U.S.

A SoFi Personal Loan is one financial tool that can be used to add some variety to your credit mix. If managed responsibly with regular, on-time payments, your FICO score could be positively affected by having an installment loan like this in the mix. With fixed, competitive rates and no fees required, a personal loan from SoFi could be the right choice for your unique financial situation.

Check your rate on a SoFi Personal Loan


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.


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.

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

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, 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.

SOPL0422003

Read more
Charge Card vs Credit Card: What’s the Difference?

Charge Card vs. Credit Card: Understanding the Key Differences

Though both offer the convenience of buying something now and paying for it later, there’s definitely a difference between a charge card and a credit card when the monthly bill arrives. With a credit card, you can either pay the full amount owed or make a minimum payment and carry the balance forward. With a charge card, no matter how much you owe, you’re expected to pay the monthly bill in full.

That’s not the only thing that sets these cards apart. The two also vary in their accessibility, flexibility, spending limits, and costs. If you’re wondering if a charge card vs. a credit card is a better fit for you, read on for information that could help you understand and compare their key differences.

How Charge Cards Work

In some ways, a charge card is much like a regular credit card. When you use it to make a purchase, you’re borrowing money from the card issuer. And when you pay your bill, you’re paying the card issuer back.

But there are several things about the way charge cards work that make them very different from traditional credit cards. And because of the way they work, there are benefits and risks of charge cards to consider.

As mentioned above, a charge card holder’s obligation to pay the bill in full each month is probably the most important distinction. Because you don’t have the option of carrying forward a balance, you won’t pay any interest. But if you don’t pay the balance in full by the due date, you could be subject to a late fee and restrictions on your future card use.

Another thing that makes a charge card unique is that there’s no pre-set credit limit. This offers charge card holders some added flexibility, but it doesn’t mean you can go out and spend as much as you want any time you want — even if you’ve stayed current with your charge card payments.

A transaction still may be declined if it exceeds the amount the card issuer determines you can manage based on your spending habits, account history, credit record, and other financial factors. To avoid any confusion, card holders can contact their charge card issuer before making a major purchase to ask if the amount will be approved.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

How Credit Cards Work

Because they’re more common, you may be more familiar with how credit cards work than you are with charge cards. With a traditional credit card, card holders are given a pre-set credit limit that’s based on their income, debt-to-income ratio, credit history, and other factors. Once your account application is approved and you receive a card with a unique credit card number, you can use your card as much or as little as you like — as long as you stay within that limit.

Each month when you receive your billing statement, you can decide if you want to repay the full amount you owe or make a partial payment, but you must make at least the minimum payment that’s due. And if you carry forward a balance, you can be charged interest on that amount. (Similar to your spending limit, interest rates are typically based on a card holder’s creditworthiness.)

A credit card is classified as “revolving credit” because there’s no set date for when all the money you’ve borrowed must be repaid. As long as you make at least your minimum payments on time and stay within your credit limit, the account remains open, and you can use the available credit over and over again.

Differences Between a Charge Card and Credit Card

Here’s a side-by-side look at some key differences between charge cards and credit cards:

Charge Card vs. Credit Card
Charge Cards Credit Cards
Full payment required every billing cycle Can carry a balance, but must make minimum monthly payment
Can be difficult to find and qualify for Many options available, even for those with not-so-great credit
Accepted by most U.S. vendors (but less so overseas) Widely accepted in the U.S. and worldwide
No interest charged, but can expect a high annual fee May avoid annual fee, but interest accrues on unpaid balance
Known for prestigious rewards programs Many cards offer rewards, often without an annual fee
No hard spending limit Hard pre-set spending limit

Payment Obligations

With a charge card, you’re required to pay what you owe in full when you receive your monthly billing statement. With a credit card, on the other hand, you can make a full or partial payment, but you’re only required to make a minimum monthly payment.

Even if you’re waiting for a refund that hasn’t yet shown up as a credit on your statement, you’ll be expected to pay the full amount of your charge card bill. With a credit card refund, you’ll just have to make sure you pay at least the minimum amount on your current bill.

Availability

If you’re looking for a new card, you’ll find there are far more credit cards available than true charge cards these days. Even American Express, the only major card issuer that still offers charge cards, has gone with a more hybrid approach.

American Express still offers cards that don’t have a pre-set spending limit. But those cards now come with a feature that — for a fixed fee — allows a card holder to split up eligible large purchases into monthly installments.

There also are some fuel cards, typically geared toward businesses, that are true charge cards.

Credit cards also are generally easier to qualify for than the charge cards that are available. Even if you have a poor or limited credit history, you may be able to find a secured or unsecured credit card that suits your needs.

Acceptance

Whether you shop local most of the time or hope to use your card as you travel the world, you may want to look at the acceptance rates of charge cards vs. credit cards.

Your card may not do you much good if you can’t use it where you like. American Express says its cards can now be accepted by 99% of the vendors in the U.S. that accept credit cards. If you aren’t sure your favorite local boutique or grocer will accept a particular card, you may want to ask or look for the card’s network logo in the store window.

If you plan to use your card overseas, you may want to check ahead on the acceptance rate in that country and also find out if you’ll have to pay a foreign transaction fee. Charge cards tend to have a lower rate of acceptance overseas.

Costs

If you’re trying to decide between a charge card vs. a credit card, how much a credit card costs compared to a charge card — both in interest charges and fees — could be an important consideration.

Interest

You can find a full explanation of how your card issuer calculates interest in your card’s terms and conditions. But as noted above, if you carry forward a balance on your credit card, you can expect to pay interest on the outstanding amount.

According to the Federal Reserve, the average credit card’s annual percentage rate (APR) is currently around 16%. Your rate may be higher or lower, depending on your creditworthiness.

You may not have just one interest rate associated with your account either. Your account may have a different APR for purchases, for example, than for credit card cash advances or balance transfers. Or you might have a lower, introductory APR for the first few months after you get a new card. If, over time, you miss payments or make late payments, the card issuer also could decide to raise your APR.

Because you don’t carry a balance with a charge card, you don’t pay interest. But if you pay off your credit card balance by the due date every month, you also won’t have to worry about accruing interest on a credit card account.

Annual Fees

You won’t pay interest with a charge card, but you may end up paying a significant annual fee just to own the card. (The annual membership fee for an American Express Platinum Card, for example, is now $695.)

Some credit cards also charge annual fees, but you can find many that don’t.

Rewards and Perks

You may decide it’s worth paying a higher annual fee to enjoy the extra benefits some charge cards offer. American Express, for example, has a reputation for offering its card holders prestigious perks, including travel and retail purchase protections, early access to tickets for concerts and other entertainment events, and special offers from partner merchants.

However, plenty of credit cards also come with special benefits, such as cash-back rewards, travel rewards, retail discounts, or even cryptocurrency rewards. And many of those card issuers don’t charge an annual fee.

Both charge cards and credit card issuers also occasionally offer generous welcome or sign-up bonuses to new card holders, so that might be another benefit worth looking at when you’re searching for a new card.

Before you sign up for any card to get the perks it offers, though, it can be a good idea to step back and assess whether it’s worth paying a higher annual fee (or accruing interest on a balance you can’t pay off) to reap those rewards.

Spending Limit

With a credit card vs. a charge card, you’ll know exactly how much you can spend, because your credit card will come with a pre-set limit. You can go online or use an app to check your credit card account at any time to see how much available credit you have.

Charge cards don’t have hard spending limits. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you can use your card to buy a car or take a trip around the world. Your card issuer may decline a charge if you’re spending more than it thinks you can afford.

How Card Choice Can Impact Your Credit Score

When it comes to what a charge vs. credit card can do for (or to) your credit score, there are few things you should know.

Inquiries

Whether you’re applying for a charge card or credit card, you can expect the card company to run a hard inquiry on your credit. This could temporarily lower your credit score, but only by a few points.

Payments

Whether you use a charge card or a credit card, paying your monthly bill on time is critical to building and maintaining a good credit record.

Payment history makes up 35% of your FICO credit score, so consistency is key. If your payment is 30 days or more past due and your card issuer reports it to the credit bureaus, that negative news could remain on your credit report for up to seven years. And it could come back to haunt you when you try to borrow money to buy a car or house.

Utilization

Credit utilization (the percentage of your available credit that you’re currently using) makes up 30% of your FICO score, so it’s important to keep your credit card balances well under the assigned limit.

To maintain or boost your credit score, the general rule is that you should try not to exceed a 30% credit card utilization rate. If you’re using up a big chunk of the pre-set limit on your credit card, it could have a negative effect on your score.

Because charge cards don’t have a pre-set credit limit, it can be difficult to determine if a card holder is at risk of overspending — so neither FICO or VantageScore include charge card information when calculating a person’s utilization rate.

This can have both pros and cons for charge card holders. The advantage, of course, is that you don’t have to worry about negative consequences for your credit score if you spend a lot in one month using your charge card. On the flip side, though, if you have a large amount of available credit that you aren’t using, it won’t do anything to help your score.

Choosing Between Credit Cards and Charge Cards

Deciding whether to apply for a credit card vs. a charge card may come down to evaluating the benefits you’re hoping to get from the card and assessing your own spending behavior. Here are some questions you might want to ask:

•   Does the card offer unique or prestigious perks you think you’ll use?

•   If there’s a high annual fee for the card, does it fit your budget and are the card’s perks worth the cost?

•   Do you have enough money, discipline, and organization to ensure your bill is paid in full every month? Or could there be times when you’ll want to make a partial or minimum payment and carry forward a balance?

•   Is your credit score good or excellent? If not, you may have more options and a better chance of qualifying if you apply for a credit card instead of a charge card.

•   If you think you’ll pay off your card’s balance every month, would a credit card still be a better fit because of the rewards, low or no fees, and wider acceptance from vendors?

Also keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to choose. In fact, you could benefit from owning both a charge card and a credit card. You may find there are reasons to have both types of cards in your wallet.

Recommended: Charge Cards Advantages and Disadvantages

The Takeaway

The terms charge card and credit card are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. A charge card must be paid off every month, so there’s no interest to worry about —but there may be a high annual fee to pay. A credit card allows the user to make a minimum monthly payment and carry forward a balance, but the interest on that balance can add up quickly.

Each individual user must decide which is the better fit for their needs. And a card’s benefits vs. its costs may be a deciding factor.

The SoFi Credit Card offers unlimited 2% cash back on all eligible purchases. There are no spending categories or reward caps to worry about.1



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

FAQ

Is a credit card easier to get than a charge card?

Because these days there are more companies issuing credit cards, it may be easier to find one that suits your needs and has qualifications you can meet — even if you have a poor or limited credit history. There are very few charge cards available anymore.

Does a charge card build credit better than a credit card?

Both a credit card and a charge card can help or hurt your credit score, depending on how you use it.

When do credit cards charge interest?

Most credit cards come with a grace period, which means the credit card issuer won’t charge you interest on purchases if you pay your entire balance by the due date each month. If you fail to pay the entire amount on your statement balance, however, or if you make your payment after the due date, interest charges will likely appear on your next monthly statement.


Photo credit: iStock/9dreamstudio

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.

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.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.

1Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on purchases. No rewards points will be earned with respect to reversed transactions, returned purchases, or other similar transactions. When you elect to redeem rewards points into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, SoFi Active Invest account, SoFi Credit Card account, or SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your rewards points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.

SOCC0422015

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender