What Can Increase or Decrease Credit Card APR?

Reasons a Credit Card APR Can Increase or Decrease

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

Understanding when and how these changes might occur can help you choose the right credit card and control how much you spend on interest. Here’s a look at what can impact your credit card’s APR.

What Is Credit Card APR?

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

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

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

Recommended: What Is a Charge Card

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

There are a number of reasons that credit card APR can increase. Your credit card company can increase your APR on new transactions as long as they give you 45 days’ notice. The company is not allowed to increase your APR during the first year after your account is opened.

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

•   An introductory rate expires

•   You have a variable rate card (most credit cards have a variable rate) and the benchmark interest rate rises

•   You’re 60 days late making your minimum payment

•   You have completed or don’t comply with the terms of a workout agreement, which has renegotiated the terms of your agreement for a period of time

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

Prime Rate Rises

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

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

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

Late Payments

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

End of Introductory APR Offer

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

High Credit Card Balance

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

Failure to Meet the Terms of a Workout Agreement

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

Recent Cash Advance

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

Recommended: What Is the Average Credit Card Limit?

What Can Cause Your APR to Decrease?

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

Prime Rate Falls

Once again, changes in the prime rate have a big impact on your APR. If the prime rate falls, your rate may also go down if you have a variable rate (as most credit cards do).

Negotiating for a Lower Rate

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

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

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

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

The Takeaway

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

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

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 can I lower my APR on my credit card?

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

How does the prime rate affect my credit card APR?

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

Can the APR on a credit card change?

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


Photo credit: iStock/tolgart

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 .

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What to Do if Your Credit Score Is Falling

Your credit score is one of your most valuable assets, and it’s important to take action if you notice that yours is dropping. Many credit card issuers now offer customers free credit monitoring, and there are other ways to check your credit score without paying.

Let’s dive in.

Reasons Why Your Credit Score Can Drop

There are several factors that affect your credit score. Here’s a look at some common scenarios:

Check your score with SoFi Insights

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


Late or Missing Payments

When it comes to determining your FICO score — a type of credit scoring model used in 90% of lending decisions in the U.S. — your payment history matters. A lot. It’s the largest factor in FICO’s credit scoring formula. Missed or late payments can cause your score to drop by as much as 180 points and could remain on your credit reports for up to seven years. Signing up for autopay is one way to help ensure your bills are paid on time.

Credit Utilization Increased

Credit utilization refers to how much of your credit you’re using, and it can indicate to potential lenders how well you manage your finances. It’s also the second-largest factor in your FICO credit score. The general rule of thumb is not to use more than 30% of the credit available to you. If your credit utilization rate is higher than that, you may see a drop in your credit score.

If you need help keeping tabs on where your money is going, consider using online tools like a money tracker. Besides monitoring spending, it can also provide insights on your finances.

Recent Application for a Mortgage, Loan, or Credit Card

Applications for new credit may only make up 10% of your FICO credit score, but that can still have an impact. That’s because lenders often pull a hard inquiry when you apply for credit, which may cause your score to fall slightly. The good news is, the dip is usually temporary.

A Credit Limit Decreased

If your credit limit decreases, that means you have less available credit. And this can cause your credit utilization rate — or debt-to-credit ratio — to increase. Why does that matter? Your credit utilization rate is one of the factors lenders consider when you apply for credit. In general, lenders consider a debt-to-credit ratio of 30% or below as “excellent.”

You Closed a Credit Card

You may want to think twice before closing a credit card, especially if it’s one you’ve had in good standing for a while. When you close a credit card, your total credit line decreases and your debt-to-credit ratio may increase. This could temporarily lower your credit score.

Inaccurate Information on Your Credit Report

Need another reason to routinely keep a close eye on your credit report? Having inaccurate information — say, defaults on loans you don’t have — could potentially hurt your credit. If you spot a credit report error, be sure to dispute it (more on that below).

Recommended: Does Checking Your Credit Score Lower Your Rating?

Major Event Such as Foreclosure or Bankruptcy

Having your home foreclosed or filing for bankruptcy are major issues that have the potential to damage your credit score for several years. For instance, Chapter 13 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for seven years, while Chapter 7 bankruptcy stays on for 10 years. Meanwhile, a foreclosure remains on your report for seven years.

Check Your Credit Report

If you’ve noticed a significant drop in your credit score, it’s worth looking over your credit report. Typically, your credit report updates every 30 to 45 days and includes key information about your credit history such as:

•   Your history of on-time and delinquent payments

•   How often you’ve applied for credit

•   How many accounts you have open and closed

•   Any accounts that are in collections

Every 12 months, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting companies at AnnualCreditReport.com. Be sure to carefully review reports from all three companies, as there may be some differences between what’s reported with Transunion vs. Equifax vs. Experian.

Another option? Signing up for credit score monitoring, which can offer score updates and financial insights.

Dispute Credit Report Information You Believe to Be Incorrect

If you find information on your credit report that’s not accurate, you have the right to dispute it. And the good news is, doing so won’t negatively affect your credit score.

To get the ball rolling on resolving errors, you’ll need to file a formal dispute with the credit reporting company. You can contact them online or by mail or phone. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) also offers helpful tips on how to file a dispute .

Take Actions to Build Your Credit

Is your credit score not where you want it to be? There are things you can do to help improve it.

One helpful step to take is to pay all of your bills when they’re due, as consistent, on-time payments can significantly raise your credit score over time. Automating your finances is one way to help ensure you don’t miss a due date. It’s also a good idea to focus on catching up past-due accounts so they’re current.

Another step to consider is to limit your credit utilization ratio so your credit balances aren’t too high in relation to your credit limit. You can explore setting up balance alerts that alert you when you’re nearing the recommended 30% credit utilization ratio. You may also want to consider paying your credit card bill more frequently, say, twice a month instead of once a month.

A third strategy is to pay off what you owe. Having a debt repayment plan in place can help, and there are several approaches to consider. Two common ones are the snowball method (where you pay off debts in order from the smallest balance to the largest) and the avalanche method (where you pay off accounts in order from the highest interest rate to the lowest).

What Is a Good or Bad Credit Score?

FICO credit scores run the gamut from 300 to 850, so where does a “good” credit score fall? While there’s no one magic number, most lenders consider scores between 670 and 739 “good.” If your FICO score is between 740 to 799, it’s classified as “very good”; 800 and higher is “exceptional.”

What about scores below 670? If yours falls in the 580 to 669 range, it’s considered “fair.” That means it’s below the average score of consumers, though you may not have issues getting a lender to approve you for a loan. A score of 580 or less is considered “poor,” and could signal to lenders that you’re a risky borrower.

Credit Score Tips

Since paying your bills on time factors heavily into your credit score, you should take steps toward preventing late payments. One good way to do that is to enable auto-pay on your credit cards and other loans.

You can also reduce your credit utilization by trying to minimize the outstanding balances reported to the credit bureaus. For example, if you make payments just before your statement closing date, the lower balance is reported, which reduces your credit utilization.

The Takeaway

Your credit score is invaluable. Lenders use it as they review your applications for credit, as do landlords, prospective employers, and utility providers. So it’s crucial to keep track of your credit score and take action when it falls.

If your score takes a noticeable dip, the first step is to find out why your credit score fell. This may involve carefully checking your credit reports and disputing errors with the credit reporting company. Next, it’s a good idea to take steps to improve your score, which can include paying bills on time, paying off debt, and limiting your credit utilization ratio.

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.

SoFi helps you stay on top of your finances.

FAQ

Should I be worried if my credit score dropped?

Changes in a credit score are normal. That said, if yours dropped significantly, and you don’t know why, then you should consider reviewing your credit report and disputing any inaccuracies. However, if the drop is small and expected, then there’s no reason for concern. For example, if you applied for a new credit card, you might see your credit score temporarily drop a bit.

How long does it take to recover from credit score drop?

It all depends on the size of the drop and the cause. If you have higher credit utilization, for instance, your score will likely recover when your utilization ratio drops. But if you have a record of delinquent payments or a default, it can take much longer to recover. And with major events, such as bankruptcy or foreclosure, it may take many years until your credit score fully recovers.

Why is my credit score going down when I pay my bills on time?

While your payment history is the most important factor in your credit score, it’s not the only one. If you are paying your bills on time, your credit score could still drop if your credit utilization is increasing or you have a short credit history.


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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.

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 .

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

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.

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.

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What Is a Billing Cycle for a Credit Card?

What Is a Credit Card Billing Cycle?

You can count on your credit bill arriving every month, thanks to your billing cycle, or the length of time between one statement’s closing date and the next. But how does a billing cycle for a credit card work and does it impact your credit score? Many of us aren’t exactly sure, even if we regularly swipe and tap our cards in daily life.

Understanding the ins and outs of a credit card billing cycle can help you manage your money, make sure you have enough set aside to pay your bills, and avoid unnecessary fees.

Definition of a Billing Cycle

A billing cycle on a credit card 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.

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.

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. That way you can plan ahead to have enough money in your checking account to cover it.

How Does a Credit Card Billing Cycle Work?

Credit card billing cycles coincide with a certain day of the month. During each billing cycle, new transactions are added to your billing statement. Your swipes, taps, online purchases, and credits are all being tracked and compiled.

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 of at least the minimum amount due by that date to avoid incurring late fees on top of those typically 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 such information 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 may be able to change is the date when your credit card payment is due. You may find that helpful because a different due date might suit your situation better.

For instance, you might be able to sync up your payment due date to fall after you get paid, so you know there’s money in your bank 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. 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 information about your credit usage, including any instances of late payments on your credit cards. Late payments can have a 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.

It’s also important to be aware that paying your bills on time, all the time, can be one potential way to help build your credit.

Why Understanding Your Billing Cycle Is Important

Understanding your billing cycle and how it works is key to your financial health. Here’s why:

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

•   Understanding your billing cycle may 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 efficiently. 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 as well as possibly 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.

Another way to help reach your financial goals is to make sure you have enough money in savings. And choosing the right savings vehicle can potentially help your money grow. You may want to explore such options as a high-yield savings account, for instance. Paying your bills and saving for the future are important tools for securing your financial future.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

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 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.

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 of 2009.


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

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4.60% APY
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 recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit 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, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, 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.


*Awards or rankings from NerdWallet are not indicative of future success or results. This award and its ratings are independently determined and awarded by their respective publications.

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 .

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What Is an ACH Routing Number? And Where Can I Find It?

Guide to ACH Routing Numbers

An ACH routing number is a nine-digit code that identifies a financial institution during an electronic financial transaction. It ensures that money transferred using the ACH (Automated Clearing House) network is taken from and sent to the right place. ACH transfers are usually faster than paper checks and are used for various transactions like autopay and direct deposits.

Since ACH routing numbers play a vital role in everyday banking, let’s take a closer look.

What Is an ACH Routing Number?

An ACH routing number is essentially a digital address for your bank. It’s used specifically for transfers made using the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network, a system that facilitates electronic payments and direct deposits between financial institutions in the U.S.

Smaller banks and credit unions may have only one ACH routing number, while big banks may use several different ACH routing numbers based on region.

You’ll need your bank’s ACH routing number for a number of financial transactions. This includes setting up direct deposit at work, getting a tax refund directly deposited into your bank account, authorizing a one-time online payment, setting up autopay, and using a P2P payment app.

To set up an ACH transaction, you also need to provide your account number, which (unlike an ACH number) is unique to you. Your account number identifies the specific account, such as a traditional or online checking account, within the bank you want to use for the ACH credit or debit.

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How Do I Find My ACH Routing Number?

Let’s say you want to sign up to pay your homeowner’s insurance automatically every month or you need to enroll in a P2P app to send someone money. To find your bank’s ACH routing number, you have a few options.

Using Your Checkbook

If you have paper checks, you can find your routing number by looking at the string of numbers printed along the bottom of a check. Your bank’s routing number is the first set of nine digits on the bottom left. It is usually followed by your account number and then the check number.

blank check with ach routing number

Using Your Online or Mobile Bank Account

Another way to get your ACH routing number is to go to your bank’s website and sign into your account. Methods vary by bank but, typically, here’s how you do it: Click on the last four digits of your account number (which appears above your account information) and choose “see full account number” next to your account name. A box will then open to display your bank account number and routing number.

You can also find your ACH routing number by signing into your bank’s mobile app. Typically, you just need to choose your account title and then tap “show details,” and your bank account and routing number will appear.

Using the Internet

If you don’t have access to online banking, you can also find your ACH routing number by going to your bank’s official website. You can then use the search function to look for “ACH routing number” or check the “Help” or “FAQ” sections.

Another option is to do a simple internet search. Put “ACH number” and the name of your bank into a search engine and you should be able to find it. Keep in mind that some large banks may have multiple regional ACH numbers. You want to make sure you are getting the one associated with your location.

Contacting Customer Service

If you can’t get online, you can always contact your bank’s customer service department by phone. They can provide you with the correct ACH routing number.

What Are ACH Routing Numbers Used For?

ACH routing numbers serve several essential functions in the banking system. Here are some of the main uses for ACH routing numbers:

•   Direct deposit Employers use ACH routing numbers to deposit salaries directly into employees’ bank accounts. This method is fast, secure, and convenient for both employers and employees.

•   Bill payments Many people use ACH routing numbers to pay bills electronically. This includes payments for utilities, mortgages, and other recurring expenses.

•   Tax refunds The IRS and state tax agencies use ACH routing numbers to deposit tax refunds directly into taxpayers’ bank accounts.

•   Transfers between accounts ACH routing numbers are used to transfer money between different bank accounts, whether within the same bank or between different banks. This is common for personal transactions, such as moving funds from a checking account to a savings account.

ACH vs ABA Routing Numbers: The Differences

An ABA (American Bankers Association) routing number is similar to an ACH routing number in that it identifies your bank. However, these numbers are used in different contexts.

ACH routing numbers are specifically used for electronic transactions processed through the Automated Clearing House network. This includes direct deposits, bill payments, and other electronic funds transfers. ABA routing numbers (also known as check routing numbers) are used for processing paper checks and for wire transfers. ABA and ACH simply refer to the method in which the money is moved.

These days, the same nine-digit number can serve as both an ACH routing number and an ABA routing number, which means that the ABA and ACH routing number for your bank is likely the same. If that’s the case, your bank will simply refer to its ABA/ACH routing number simply as its “routing number.”

Some banks, however, may provide separate ACH numbers (for electronic transfers) and ABA numbers (for checks and wire transfers).

ACH vs ABA Routing Numbers: History

ABA numbers were created in 1910 by the American Bankers Association (ABA) to help facilitate the sorting, bundling, and shipping of paper checks. They are still used for the processing of paper checks (and also for wire transfers).

More than a half century later, in the late 1960s, a group of California banks banded together to find a speedier alternative to check payments. They launched the first ACH in the U.S. in 1972; that was a key milestone in the evolution of electronic banking.

ACH vs ABA Routing Number: Numerical Differences

In the past, ABA and ACH numbers were slightly different, specifically the first two digits. Today, though, they are typically identical. Your bank’s ABA routing number and ACH routing number are likely to be one and the same. The reason is that both ABA and ACH numbers are used for the same purpose — transferring funds to the correct destination.

The Takeaway

An ACH routing number is a nine-digit code that identifies a bank during an electronic financial transaction. The ACH system has been used for decades and makes life easier by keeping transactions quick and secure. While ACH numbers used to be different from ABA routing codes, today these two numbers are typically the same.

Whether you are setting up direct deposits, paying bills, or transferring money between accounts, it’s essential to know your bank’s ACH routing number. You can find it by looking at your checks, logging into your account, or doing a simple online search. It’s that easy.

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FAQ

Is the routing number different for ACH and wire transfers?

In some cases, the routing number for ACH transactions may be different from the routing number used for wire transfers. ACH routing numbers are used for electronic transactions processed through the Automated Clearing House network, such as direct deposits and bill payments.

Wire transfers, which are often faster and more direct, require an ABA or wire transfer routing number. It’s a good idea to confirm with your bank to ensure you use the correct routing number for the type of transaction you are making.

Do all banks have an ACH routing number?

All banks and credit unions that process ACH transactions have an ACH routing number. This nine-digit number is your bank’s digital address, and is essential for facilitating electronic transactions such as direct deposits and bill payments. Each financial institution has its own specific ACH routing number to ensure that transactions are routed correctly.

Is your ACH number your account number?

No, your ACH routing number is not the same as your account number. The ACH routing number is a nine-digit code that identifies your bank or financial institution. Your account number, on the other hand, is a unique identifier for your specific bank account within that institution.

Both numbers are required for electronic transactions, but they serve different purposes. The routing number directs the transaction to the correct bank, while the account number specifies the particular account to be credited or debited within that bank.


Photo credit: iStock/fizkes

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 recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit 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, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, 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.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

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Is a Credit Card Needed to Rent a Car?

Guide to Renting a Car With or Without a Credit Card

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•   Alamo

•   Avis

•   Budget

•   Dollar

•   Enterprise

•   Hertz

•   National

•   Sixt

•   Thrifty

•   Turo

Recommended: Buying a Car with a Credit Card

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

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

Proof of Reliability

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

Ability to Collect Repair Fees

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

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

Ability to Collect Tickets and Fees

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

Benefits of Using a Credit Card for a Car Rental

Here are just a few potential perks of swiping your credit card for a car rental:

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

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

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

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

Typical Rental Car Credit Card Interest Charges

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

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

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

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due?

The Takeaway

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

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 so you can use your credit card responsibly.

SoFi Travel has teamed up with Expedia to bring even more to your one-stop finance app, helping you book reservations — for flights, hotels, car rentals, and more — all in one place. SoFi Members also have exclusive access to premium savings, with 10% or more off on select hotels. Plus, earn unlimited 3%** cash back rewards when you book with your SoFi Unlimited 2% Credit Card through SoFi Travel.

Wherever you’re going, get there with SoFi Travel.

FAQ

Do I need a credit card for rental car insurance?

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

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

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

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

What form of payments are accepted for renting a car?

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

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

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


Photo credit: iStock/skynesher

**Terms, and conditions apply: The SoFi Travel Portal is operated by Expedia. To learn more about Expedia, click https://www.expediagroup.com/home/default.aspx.

When you use your SoFi Credit Card to make a purchase on the SoFi Travel Portal, you will earn a number of SoFi Member Rewards points equal to 3% of the total amount you spend on the SoFi Travel Portal. Members can save up to 10% or more on eligible bookings.


Eligibility: You must be a SoFi registered user.
You must agree to SoFi’s privacy consent agreement.
You must book the travel on SoFi’s Travel Portal reached directly through a link on the SoFi website or mobile application. Travel booked directly on Expedia's website or app, or any other site operated or powered by Expedia is not eligible.
You must pay using your SoFi Credit Card.

SoFi Member Rewards: All terms applicable to the use of SoFi Member Rewards apply. To learn more please see: https://www.sofi.com/rewards/ and Terms applicable to Member Rewards.


Additional Terms: Changes to your bookings will affect the Rewards balance for the purchase. Any canceled bookings or fraud will cause Rewards to be rescinded. Rewards can be delayed by up to 7 business days after a transaction posts on Members’ SoFi Credit Card ledger. SoFi reserves the right to withhold Rewards points for suspected fraud, misuse, or suspicious activities.
©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).


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.

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