Can You Open a Savings Account for an Inmate?

Opening a Savings Account for an Inmate: All You Need to Know

You may wonder if it’s possible to open a bank account for someone who is in prison. The answer to the question is, yes, it may be possible to start a bank account for a prisoner, provided it’s allowed by the Department of Corrections in the state where the individual is incarcerated. (Worth noting: It may also be a challenge to find a bank that offers this kind of account.)

Opening an account can be a positive step. Being imprisoned can limit someone’s ability to pay bills, grow savings, and generally manage their finances. Opening accounts for inmates at external banks can help them to earn interest on savings while saving money on fees. And it can potentially make their reentry into society easier upon release.

While inmates may have access to prison accounts, those can come with high fees, and they typically don’t pay interest. A prison account is a special type of account that allows an inmate to store funds which can be used to pay for hygiene items and other necessities while they’re incarcerated. It doesn’t impact their lives when released.

So, let’s take a closer look at this topic:

•   Whether it’s legal to open a bank account while in prison

•   How to apply for a bank account while in prison

•   What documentation is required to start an account

•   What kinds of accounts are available, including whether joint accounts are a possibility

Let’s start learning about accounts for inmates.

Is It Legal to Open a Bank Account While in Prison?

It’s legal to open a bank account while in prison, unless state law or correctional facility policy specifically prohibits it. The best way to find out whether opening accounts for inmates is allowed is to check with the Department of Corrections in the state where the person is incarcerated.

In Texas, for example, the Department of Criminal Justice encourages inmates to open accounts at an external bank of their choice. They can then link this bank account to their prison account. This can be used to replenish their account for items bought while in prison. Excess funds in their prison account can also be transferred to their external bank account.

The state of New York, on the other hand, prohibits inmates from opening outside bank accounts. Specifically, prisoners are not allowed to open:

•   Checking accounts

•   Savings accounts

•   Stock accounts

•   Mutual fund accounts

•   Money market accounts

•   Certificate of deposit (CD) accounts

•   “In trust for” accounts

Inmates in New York are also barred from receiving distributions from any U.S. savings bonds they might own. Prisoners who enter the system with existing checking accounts or other bank accounts are required to close them.

So, if you are thinking of opening a savings account for an inmate, whether or not you can will depend on where they’re imprisoned. If you’re able to open some kind of savings account for an inmate, the next challenge may be finding a bank that will allow you to do so. Let’s look at that issue in a bit more detail next.

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account and start earning 1.25% APY on your cash!

Why Banks Might Refuse to Help Prisoners

Not all banks are willing to open accounts for prisoners. Financial institutions can establish their own policies for when opening accounts for inmates is or isn’t allowed. If you’re trying to figure out how to open a bank account for an inmate and you’re hitting a brick wall with banks, it could be due to one of the following:

•   The bank requires a valid ID for the inmate, which you don’t have.

•   You have not been granted power of attorney (POA) for the inmate.

•   The inmate has a negative ChexSystems report (which is a reporting system for the banking industry) or previous issues with managing a bank account.

•   The bank is concerned that funds deposited to the account might be seized by a government entity.

•   The bank is concerned that the account may be used to conduct illegal activity.

It’s also possible that banks may be worried about running afoul of any rules or regulations established by their state’s Department of Corrections or Criminal Justice. In that scenario, it may be easier for the bank to simply not offer accounts for inmates to avoid any issues.

Applying for a Basic Bank Account for an Inmate

Let’s say that it is legal in the inmate’s state for them to hold a bank account, and you have found a financial institution that is willing to open an account. The next step would be to begin the account.

Keep in mind that opening accounts for inmates isn’t exactly the same as opening a checking account or savings account for yourself. In terms of how to open a savings account for an inmate, there may be one of three possibilities you can pursue. Again, the options you’re able to choose from could depend on what’s allowed by the inmate’s correctional facility and/or state.

Option 1: Specific Prison/Bank Arrangement

Correctional facilities can allow inmates to have outside bank accounts if they open them at an approved financial institution. For example, in Wisconsin inmates are allowed to open interest-bearing accounts at a bank that’s approved by the Department of Corrections.

If you’re trying to open a bank account for an inmate, you could check with the Department of Corrections or Criminal Justice to find out which banks are approved. The Department of Corrections should also be able to tell you what restrictions or requirements apply when opening accounts for inmates.

Option 2: Applying to Bank of Choice

While some correctional facilities require inmates to open external accounts at approved banks, others give you some leeway in deciding where to bank. As noted, Texas encourages prisoners to open accounts at the bank of their choice if they like.

If you’re trying to open a savings account for an inmate, the hard part may be finding a bank that will allow you to do so. You can start by checking at your current bank to see if it’s an option. If not, you can then try contacting other banks in the area to see which ones offer inmate accounts.

Option 3: Wait Until Release

Though not ideal, an inmate could simply wait until they’re released to open a savings account. This may be easier said than done, however, if the inmate isn’t able to meet the bank’s requirements for account opening.

What kind of requirements exactly? That could mean providing a valid ID and proof of address. And again, something like a negative ChexSystems report could lead the inmate to be denied a bank account. Unpaid balances or suspected fraud are other red flags that may result in an application for a new bank account being rejected.

Can Prisoners Be a Part of a Joint Bank Account?

You might be wondering how to open a joint bank account with an inmate or if it’s even possible. Whether a prisoner can open a joint bank account with someone else can depend on the bank’s policies. If you’re opening a joint bank account and the bank requires you to do so in person, for example, you may need to provide documentation showing why the joint account owner cannot be present.

Required documentation can include having power of attorney granting you legal authority to act on behalf of the inmate. The rules for establishing power of attorney and the scope of powers granted can vary from state to state.

If the bank allows you to open joint accounts online, then you may not be asked for this document. You will, however, likely need to provide the following for a joint account:

•   The inmate’s name

•   Their date of birth and Social Security number

•   A current address, phone number, and email address

If you’re missing any of those pieces of information, you may not be able to proceed with opening a joint account online. You could call the bank to ask how you can finish the account setup if you run into issues.

Keep in mind that managing a joint bank account — one shared with an inmate before they’re incarcerated — may be handled differently. As mentioned, New York requires inmates to close existing accounts before entering prison. But other correctional systems may allow those accounts to remain open.

If you have a joint account with an inmate, it’s important to note whether any court orders exist or are likely to be filed that would allow for seizure of account assets for repayment of non-dischargeable debt. And what is nondischargeable debt? It includes things like back child support, past due tax bills, and federal student loans. Keep in mind that co-borrowers for joint loans are equally responsible for shared debts, even if one person is incarcerated.

Required Documents to Open a Bank Account

Banks typically have a standard list of documents they require to open a bank account. The list can include:

•   Valid government-issued ID

•   Proof of address

•   Social Security number

•   Birth certificate when other forms of ID are unavailable

Opening bank accounts for inmates can require additional documentation if the bank needs a power of attorney form. An attorney can help you complete a power of attorney for an inmate, which may require a visit to the correctional facility if state law prohibits digital signatures. State law can also dictate whether a power of attorney for an inmate needs to be notarized in order to be legally valid.

Types of Bank Accounts for a Prisoner

The types of bank accounts you can open for a prisoner will generally be governed by Department of Corrections policy. But if you’re able to open a bank account for an inmate, you might be able to choose from these options:

•   Checking accounts

•   Savings accounts

•   Money market accounts

•   Certificate of deposit accounts

These options may also be available once an inmate is released. If a former inmate is having trouble getting a regular checking account after release, they might consider second chance checking or a prepaid debit card instead. These can be easier to access and provide support for day-to-day banking in a way that can be very helpful.

•   Second chance checking is designed for people who have been denied a checking account in the past. Usually offered at online or smaller, local banks, these accounts can help people to develop good banking habits so they can upgrade to regular checking later. They may not offer the full array of bells and whistles, and they may involve higher fees.

•   Prepaid debit cards, meanwhile, allow you to load funds onto the card which you can then use to pay bills, make purchases, or withdraw cash at ATMs. A prepaid debit card is not a bank account but it can provide a formerly incarcerated person with a way to manage their money until they can get an account at a bank.

The Takeaway

Having a bank account can be a positive experience for inmates, but opening a bank account for a prisoner can be quite challenging. Not all states allow inmates to start accounts, and not all banks are willing to have prisoners as customers. Whether you’re opening accounts for inmates while they’re incarcerated or after they’re released, choosing the right place to bank matters. Specifically, it’s important to find a bank that offers the best combination of features and benefits for inmates and former inmates and makes it possible for you to open that account before the prisoner is released.

When shopping for bank accounts, though, let’s circle back to the most desirable qualities: High interest and low (or no) fees. SoFi Checking and Savings delivers just that. Sign up with direct deposit, and you’ll enjoy no monthly or minimum-balance fees (we’ll even cover up to $50 in overdraft at no charge to you). What’s more, you’ll also get a very, very competitive interest rate of 1.25% APY which is a great way to help your savings grow.

SoFi Checking and Savings: Banking so smart, you might even say it’s genius.


Can an incarcerated person open a bank account?

Whether an incarcerated person can open a bank account will depend on the policies set by the Department of Corrections in their state. Some correctional facilities allow inmates to have external bank accounts, while others limit inmates to having prison accounts only.

Can ex-prisoners have a bank account?

Ex-prisoners can open bank accounts. However, their banking options may be limited if they have a negative ChexSystems report. Former inmates may consider second chance checking accounts if they’re unable to meet the requirements for a regular checking account.

How much money can a federal inmate have in their account?

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) does not specify an upper limit on how much money a federal inmate can have in their prison account. Inmates can receive funds at a BOP-managed facility, which are deposited into their commissary accounts, by MoneyGram, Western Union, or U.S. Postal Service.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 1.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 0.70% APY on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 1.25% APY is current as of 4/5/2022. Additional information can be found at

Photo credit: iStock/alfexe

Read more
Cardless Withdrawals: How to Do It

Cardless Withdrawals: How They Work and How to Do It

It may sound like a scene out of a scifi movie, but withdrawing cash from an ATM — without using a card — is becoming an increasingly common service.

Just as cell phones have infiltrated so many aspects of our lives, so too are they revolutionizing the way we bank. Now, you can get your hands on a stack of $20s without even inserting that rectangle of plastic. But these innovations to our daily lives can require some getting used to…and can trigger questions.

To help fill you in on how this process works, we’ll go through some key points, such as:

•   What cardless withdrawals are and how they work

•   The pros of cardless withdrawals

•   The cons on cardless withdrawals

Now, let’s dive in and learn how these no-card-needed transactions work.

What is a Cardless Withdrawal?

Thanks to technology, you can withdraw money from an ATM without a debit card and instead use your cell phone. This is good news for plenty of folks who don’t like fumbling for their card or simply prefer the convenience this tech advance can bring.

Cardless withdrawals can allow you to use an app to get your moolah rather than having to find, insert, and then put away your card. Different kinds of technologies (QR codes, NFC, biometrics) may play a role in the transaction. Let’s take a closer look at how exactly this works (don’t worry; we’ll use layperson terms and make it simple) so you can try out or at least be knowledgeable about this new advance in financial access.

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account and start earning 1.25% APY on your cash!

How Cardless Withdrawals Work

How to do a cardless withdrawal? Glad you asked. First things first: You’ll need an ATM that has cardless access. Now, here are some different angles on cardless withdrawals.

Cardless Withdrawals Using an App

With your phone, you initiate a withdrawal using your bank’s mobile app. There’s variation in how these apps work: The bank may send you a code to plug into the ATM or one that you can scan on the ATM. When using the ATM, you press the cardless ATM acceptance mark and enter a code or scan the QR code on the ATM screen.

A quick note about QR (or Quick Response) codes. They have been around for a while, but many of us don’t fully understand how they work. Here’s a crash course in QR codes:

•   They may also be called matrix barcodes.

•   They encode information from left to right and from top to bottom.

•   QR codes hold more data and can encode various types of data because they are encoded in two different directions at once, unlike standard barcodes.

Now, back to how cardless withdrawals work. Once you scan the QR code, you’ll see if any fees are associated with the transaction. Then, you can accept and authenticate the transaction (which may involve using your phone’s biometrics, which are typically, fingerprints, voice recognition, iris scanning, and/or face recognition). Of course, declining and canceling the transaction is a possibility as well. If you move ahead, the ATM receives authorization of the transaction and spits out the cash you requested. No card anywhere in sight!

Another option is to use a contactless payment or digital wallet option like Samsung Pay, Google Pay, or Apple Pay. If you use one of these payment providers, they will likely use near-field communication (NFC). In this situation, you’ll hold your phone close to the ATM so your phone and the ATM can “talk” to each other. You’ll then be able to access the bank account linked to the app.

Scheduling a Cardless Withdrawal in Advance

Many of us enjoy using apps to complete a mobile order and then have it waiting when we zip past the pickup spot. Think about how you might buy an espresso at the cafe in your office lobby while you’re commuting in to work, order a salad at lunchtime and then snag it after running an errand, or refill a prescription so it’s ready as you head home.

Guess what? Depending on your bank, you may be able to schedule a withdrawal in advance through your bank’s mobile app. You choose how much you want to take out before you get to the ATM. Once you schedule your withdrawal, you typically have 24 hours to retrieve it. It makes the whole process that much quicker.

Understanding the Cardless Withdrawal Rules

You can access the same options for transactions with a cardless ATM as you would if you had a physical card, and the rules are similar. For example, if you have withdrawal limits for ATM use with a debit card, those same limits would be applicable for a cardless transaction. Always be mindful of ATM withdrawal limits. They vary at each bank, with some capping at $300 and others as high as $5,000 a day. Much depends on your banking history or account type. For example, a new customer with a basic checking account may have a lower withdrawal limit than an established customer with a premium checking account.

What is a Cardless ATM?

A cardless ATM allows you to withdraw cash without using a debit card. You can do the same things you can with a card, like get cash and find out your account balance. In other words, the cardless-ness is an additional feature to a traditional ATM. Cardless ATMs are not a whole new, separate kind of device. It will look and operate the same as usual.

Pros of Cardless Withdrawals

For sure, there are some upsides to being able to conduct your business without a card in hand. While that probably holds true for deposits and withdrawals, here we’ll stay focused on the process of taking funds out of your account. Benefits to consider include:


It’s pretty nifty to have the ability to get your cash and conduct other transactions without your debit card. As long as you have your phone, you’re good to go. No need to make a trip back to the house if you discover when you get to the bank that you left your card at home. That can be a pain, especially if you have been running around and are a good distance away. It is also smart not to have unnecessary cards with you while you are out and about. There will be less to worry about should you lose your belongings or have an unfortunate encounter with a thief. As long as you keep a good grip on your mobile phone, you’re able to get to your funds.

Simplicity and Savings

With cardless ATMs, you can have access to all your bank accounts at multiple financial institutions. Why does this matter? Say you have two different bank accounts, and the card you need for one is at home. No worries. Your phone will unlock your banking for you. Also, if the one card you have in your wallet isn’t near an in-network ATM where you are at the moment, you don’t have to incur an out-of-network ATM fee. The reason? You’ll have access to the other account that is a part of the network — thanks to your phone. And, silver-lining alert, any time you can avoid paying a fee means more money for your savings.

Less Contact

In these times when there are still concerns about COVID-19 and germs in general, not having to insert your card into an ATM is a plus. Less touching of surfaces that have seen a lot of potentially germy fingertips can be a good way to go.


You may sleep easier at night because there’s no chance of card skimming because you’re not swiping your card. What’s more, you may be able to avoid entering your PIN. That’s a plus since you don’t have to worry about hidden cameras or lurkers getting your digits.

Cons of Cardless Withdrawals

We’ve just made a good case for the benefits of cardless withdrawals. But, as with most things in this world, there are pluses and minuses. Read on to understand the potential downsides of going cardfree.


Truth is, not every ATM has cardless capabilities, and your bank may not have cardless ATMs that are convenient to where you live or work. Before you decide to go the cardless route, investigate what your financial institution offers in terms of ATMs that are near your usual routes. Also, if you’re a road warrior and travel domestically and abroad, get a sense of how much access you will have to cardless ATMs while you are away. Cardless ATMs are no rarity, but they also aren’t everywhere.

Potential for Scams

Your phone will have sensitive information if you go the cardless route. If you lose your phone or it is stolen, that information could be at risk. But there are safeguards. Be sure that you are using all security measures, like biometric security and two-factor authentication, for example. The minute your phone is lost or stolen, contact your bank immediately. Whenever you’re banking online, understand that bank accounts can be breached in cyberspace. Crooks can change your settings. Another tip: Don’t click on emails that you are not 100% sure are from your bank. Beware of copycat and phishing messages. They can do a great job of mimicking legitimate financial institutions.

May Need a Phone Upgrade

Are you one of those people who stand in long lines for the latest, greatest smartphone release? You’re probably going to do fine with cardless withdrawals. But those of us who rely on an old-school cell phone may need an upgrade that can handle your bank’s app and NFC, when required. Otherwise, your device may not have the wherewithal to do cardless transactions.

Let’s see how the benefits and downsides stack up in one easily scanned chart:

Pros of Cardless Withdrawals

Cons of Cardless Withdrawals

Convenience Accessibility
Simplicity and Savings Potential for Scams
Less Contact May Need a Phone Upgrade

The Takeaway

You’ve just faced the future of personal finance. Cardless withdrawals are surely another way technology can help simplify your finances. It’s fast, convenient, and can make everyday banking that much easier. You’ll be able to snag cash without any fiddling around with debit cards or worrying about that plastic being forgotten at home, lost, or stolen. This relatively new technology can help you avoid fees and breeze through your banking — which is exactly how technology should improve your life.

Here’s another improvement to your life that’s possible right now: SoFi Checking and Savings, which earns great interest and minimizes and can even eliminate fees. If you start at SoFi with direct deposit, you’ll earn 1.25% APY while avoiding minimum balance and monthly service fees. We think that’s a terrific way to boost your financial wellness.

Start banking smarter with SoFi.


Do banks do cardless withdrawals?

Yes, you can use your smartphone at an ATM that offers cardless transactions to withdraw money and do other typical tasks at an ATM. The difference is, you never have to insert your debit card.

How do I use a cardless ATM?

To use a cardless ATM, you begin a withdrawal by using your bank’s mobile app. Depending on the particular app and bank network, your transaction may involve entering a PIN, scanning a QR code, and/or implementing biometrics (typically, fingerprints, voice recognition, iris scanning, and/or face recognition) to complete your transaction. Then you’ll receive your funds. If you use a payment provider like Apple Pay, which uses near-field communication (NFC), you’ll hold your phone close to the ATM and access the bank account linked to the app.

Can I withdraw money without an ATM card?

Yes, you can use your smartphone to withdraw money from an ATM without a card, provided the ATM offers cardless transactions. If it does, you can also complete any other tasks that you would do at a typical ATM.

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 1.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 0.70% APY on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 1.25% APY is current as of 4/5/2022. Additional information can be found at
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Photo credit: iStock/hsyncoban

Read more
Can Personal Loan Be Used to Start a Business?

Personal Business Loans: Risks, Appeals, and Alternatives

Starting a new business requires a good idea, customers to whom you can sell your product or service, and money to get you off the ground. A personal loan to start a business can be one option for funding, especially if you don’t yet qualify for a small business loan or you qualify for a personal loan with a low interest rate. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of using a personal business loan to start your business as well as some alternatives to look into.

What Is a Personal Business Loan?

Personal loans to start a business are offered by some banks, credit unions, and online lenders. The borrowed funds are paid back with interest in regular monthly installments. While most loans will specify what you can spend the money on — a mortgage must be used to buy a house, for example — the sum you receive from a personal business loan can be spent in a variety of ways. It’s important to check with your lender about whether their personal loans can be used for business expenses, as some lenders do not allow it.

Your personal loan interest rate is based on a combination of financial factors, including financial history, income, and credit score. Generally speaking, the higher a person’s credit score, the more likely they are to receive a personal loan with favorable terms and interest rates. Applicants with lower credit scores may find it more difficult to qualify for low-interest rates. That’s because lenders tend to see them as at greater risk of defaulting on their payments and, to offset that risk, they might charge a higher interest rate.

Recommended: What Is a Personal Loan?

Why Might You Use a Personal Loan to Start a Business?

Personal loans for business may present a number of benefits compared to some other alternatives.

Ease of Qualification

Banks offer personal business loans based on personal income and credit score. On the other hand, when you apply for a business loan, you’ll likely be asked for quite a bit of information during the application process, including your personal and business credit score, annual business revenue and monthly profits, and how long you’ve been in business. The longer your business has existed, the more likely you are to have a record of revenue and profit, and the more likely you are to qualify.

If your business is brand new, it can be tricky to get a business loan right off the bat, and it may be easier to qualify for a personal loan.

Faster Funding

How long it takes to get approved for a personal loan and receive funding will vary by lender. Online lenders are typically faster than banks and credit unions. However, you are likely to receive funding within seven business days.

By contrast, the process for a business loan can be much slower. For example, it can take 60 to 90 days to receive funding from a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan.

Can Have Low Interest Rates

Personal loan applicants with a positive credit history and a healthy credit score may be able to qualify for a low interest rate. In general, interest rates on personal loans can be much more competitive than those on other types of credit.

Credit cards, for instance — although not an inherently bad choice for business credit — can have higher interest rates than other types of lending options. They may also have penalties and fees that personal loans may not have, such as penalty annual percentage rates (APRs) that go into effect if you make a late payment, over-limit fees if you spend more than your credit limit, annual fees, and more.

Flexibility and Versatility

Personal loans have few restrictions on how you’re allowed to use the money you borrow. That means you can spend on anything from buying or renting a building to marketing materials to purchasing inventory, as long as your lender doesn’t restrict the personal loan funds to non-business purposes.

What Are Some Risks of Using a Personal Loan to Start a Business?

Despite the potential advantages of using a personal loan to help you start your business, there are also potential drawbacks to consider.

Some Lenders Don’t Allow Personal Loans for Business

Some lenders do place certain restrictions on how you spend your personal loan. Being upfront about your intentions to use it for business expenses and asking if that is allowed is a good idea. In some cases, it may not be. However, it’s far better to be honest about how you plan to use a loan than risk breaching the loan agreement. If you end up using a loan in a prohibited way, your lender could force you to repay the full amount of the loan with interest.

Can Mean a Smaller Loan

Personal loans generally offer borrowing limits as low as $1,000 and as high as $100,000 for larger personal loans. For small businesses, this might be plenty. But if you’re a larger business that needs more money, you may be better off looking for a loan that can better meet a business’ financial needs.

Can Have Shorter Repayment Terms

Lending periods for personal loans will vary. Typically you can find loans with term lengths of 12 months to five years, sometimes a bit longer. When compared to some small business loans, this is a relatively short period of time. Consider that for SBA loans, maximum terms can be as much as 25 years for real estate, 10 years for equipment, and 10 years for working capital or inventory.

Personal Credit Score and Assets Could be Affected

If you take out a personal loan and are unable to make monthly payments, you are putting your personal credit at risk. Missed payments may have a negative effect on your credit score, which can make it more difficult for you to access funding in the future.

Recommended: What Is Considered a Bad Credit Score?

May Qualify for Fewer Tax Deductions

In general, the interest you pay on a personal loan is not tax deductible. However, it may be if you use it for business purposes. This can get a bit tricky. You may only deduct interest on the portion of the loan that is used for business expenses. So if you use any of that money to remodel the bathroom in your home, for example, interest on that portion can’t be deducted.

Businesses are able to deduct interest from bank loans, vehicle loans, credit card debt, and lines of credit.

Personal Business Loans vs Small Business Loans

Borrowing money to pay for business expenses is a decision that takes some consideration. There are different reasons you might want or need a business loan, there are many lenders to choose from, and there are different lending options to compare. Here are some things to think about if choosing between a personal loan for business or a small business loan.

Factor to Consider Personal Loan for Business Small Business Loan
Use of funds Some lenders may not allow personal loan funds to be used for business purposes Specifically for business purposes — cannot be used for personal use
Qualification Personal creditworthiness determines approval, interest rate, and loan terms Lenders will require business financials, proof of time in business, and other details, in addition to possibly taking personal credit into account
Interest rate Depending on your creditworthiness, interest rate may be lower than other forms of credit, such as credit cards Depending on the type of loan, interest rates on SBA loans may be lower than some personal loans
Loan amount Up to $100,000 depending on the lender. SBA maximum loan amount is $5 million.

Some lenders may approve working capital loans for up to several million dollars

Funding time Depending on the lender, loan funds may be disbursed as soon as the day of approval or in up to seven days The SBA loan timeline is between 60 and 90 days from application to disbursement.

A working capital loan from a traditional lender may be approved quickly and funded shortly after approval

Tax deductibility Interest is not generally tax deductible Interest may be tax deductible in some cases

Recommended: Business Loan vs Personal Loan: Which Is Right for You?

Alternatives to Personal Business Loans

Personal loans may not be the best option for everyone and are not the only way you can fund your small business. You may also want to consider small business loans or a business line of credit.

Small Business Loans

Small business loans are offered through online lenders, banks, and credit unions. There are a variety to choose from that may be designed for specific purposes. For example, a working capital loan is designed to help you finance the day-to-day operations of your business. An equipment loan can help you replace aging technology and buy new equipment.

SBA loans are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration, whose aim is to help small businesses get off the ground and grow. That means if you aren’t able to make your payments, the SBA will step in and cover 85% of the default loss. By reducing risk in this way, the organization helps businesses get easier access to capital.
Shopping around for the best small business loan rates is a good way to compare lenders and find the one that works best for your unique financial needs.

Business Lines of Credit

A business line of credit is revolving credit, much like a credit card. You are allowed to borrow up to a certain amount and you only pay interest on the amount you are currently borrowing, making this option more economical than a term loan for some business owners. As you repay the funds, the amount of credit available to you reverts back to the original limit and you can borrow the money again.

Another advantage to a line of credit over a term loan is the ability to use a check to pay vendors who may not accept credit cards.

Credit Cards

Credit cards, with a current average interest rate of more than 16%, tend to have higher interest rates than other types of funding. For example, the average finance rate for personal loans is about 9.41%, according to the Federal Reserve.

Also, credit cards are revolving credit. If you don’t pay off the balance each month, you can fall deeper into debt. Whereas, installment loans offer fixed monthly payments with a fixed end date.

Business credit cards may be a good choice for some business owners, though, to keep personal and business expenses separate. They may also offer rewards, perks, and bonuses that make them an attractive option.

Recommended: Breaking Down the Different Types of Credit Cards

Merchant Cash Advance

Funding for a merchant cash advance (MCA) is based on a business’ past credit card receipts. Technically not a loan, an MCA is an advance on future revenue. The business repays the MCA lender a percentage of its monthly sales revenue until the debt is paid in full.

The Takeaway

Taking out a personal loan is one way to fund your small business needs, as long as your lender allows the funds to be used for business expenses. There are alternatives, though, including lines of credit and SBA loans.
SoFi Personal Loan interest rates are competitive and have no fees. You can check your rate in just one minute.

Explore your loan options with SoFi Personal Loans

Photo credit: iStock/fizkes

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

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.

Read more
How to Pay for Cosmetology or Esthetician School

Paying for Cosmetology or Esthetician School

Looking good comes with a cost. Ask cosmetologists. The average price of beauty school is $16,000 a year.

A career in cosmetology can be rewarding. You get a creative outlet and a chance to help others look their best. It also offers flexibility for a good work-life balance. But the licensing process can add up.

Cosmetology and esthetics programs are offered through community, technical, and vocational colleges — accredited institutions that qualify for financial aid. Accreditation broadens the range of financial aid options. Prospective students can consider interest-free payment plans, financial aid from schools, scholarships, grants, and loans from the government or private entities. Read on for more detailed information on the types of financial aid that pay for cosmetology school, and what options don’t.

Esthetician vs Cosmetology School

Esthetician (or aesthetician) licenses specialize in skincare treatment, recommendations, and analysis. Treatments include facials, massages, and waxing. With this license, you can work at spas, salons, or doctor’s offices, such as plastic surgeons or dermatologists.

Cosmetology covers the creative styling of hair, skin, and nails — but also provides basic training in treatments. Students can get an esthetician license through a cosmetology program. A career in cosmetology can lead to work as a makeup artist, hairstylist, or manicurist. License holders typically work in salons, spas, the entertainment industry, and hotels or resorts. The table below outlines some of the differences between an esthetics license and a cosmetology license.


Esthetics License

Cosmetology License

Average School Tuition $7,433 average of top ten US schools $16,000
Subjects Techniques and science behind skin care treatments. Specific subjects include skin anatomy, facial and makeup techniques, hair removal, and medical office esthetics. Hair, skin, and nail care and styling. Specific subjects include dermatology, makeup, and haircutting.
2021 Median Salary $37,300/year $29,680/year
Job Growth 2020-30 29% (Faster than US average) 19% (Faster than US average)
Types of Jobs Skin care specialist (esthetician), makeup artist Hair Stylist, nail technician, makeup artist, barber

Be sure that your school is state-approved. You can search for schools through your local government’s licensing process. Also, it’s helpful to know whether your certificate is transferable to other states and which states accept it. This way, your time and resources aren’t lost.

Below are organizations that can help you find accredited and state-approved programs:

•  Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)

•  Accrediting Council for Continued Education & Training (ACCET)

•  Council on Occupational Education (COE)

•  National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS)

Typical Cost of Beauty Schools

Beauty school programs are generally more affordable than the average four-year program. According to the College Board’s annual Trends in College Pricing report, during the 2021 school year, the average cost of tuition at a four-year nonprofit institution was $38,070. Cosmetology students, in contrast, can expect to pay around $16,000 to complete a degree in their field. But beauty school students still borrow $7,300 per year on average.

Esthetician School

Requirements for esthetics licenses vary by state. Connecticut is the only state that does not require a license.

Students can expect to complete 300 to 1,500 hours depending on state program requirements. Most states require students to pass a state-issued exam to obtain a license after completion of a program. For example, Washington requires students to complete a program of not less than 750 hours and to fill out a license application.

Students can also specialize in esthetics as part of their overall cosmetology program.

Cosmetology School

Each state requires a cosmetology license in order to practice. While requirements differ, most states require three things: you must be 16 or older, hold a high school diploma, and have completed a state-licensed cosmetology program.

Some states also require an exam in order to obtain a license. And some require regular license renewals.

While states can issue a license that covers all cosmetology specialties, some require separate licenses in specializations such as barbering or manicures.

Programs range anywhere from 1,000 to 2,100 hours across states, and usually include retail and business admin training to supplement. Specializing in a field, such as nail care, requires additional hours. Finally, programs are hands-on—meaning students have limited online options.

To find out your state’s requirements, the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology has a registry of state offices. ​​

Possible Funding Source #1: FAFSA®

Does FAFSA pay for cosmetology school? Yes! But, students who apply must be enrolled in an accredited program to be eligible.

The first step to applying for government financial aid is filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. New forms are released each year on October 1st — and the sooner you complete one, the more likely federal grants will be available.

Information provided on the FAFSA helps to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. The government, states, and colleges also use it to determine the amount of financial aid to award you. Schools you list in your form will review your FAFSA and put together an aid offer. If your school’s financial aid does not cover the entire cost of tuition, you can use the FAFSA to apply for federal grants and student loans.

Not familiar with setting up FAFSA? This FAFSA guide provides an overview of the form and the aid options available through the FAFSA. Here’s a brief explainer on some of the aid types that may be available to students.

Recommended: FAFSA 101: How to Complete the FAFSA

Pell Grants

The government awards Pell Grants to students from lower-income families and who have not previously earned a degree. Unlike loans, they do not need to be repaid.

The Pell Grant’s 2022-2023 maximum is $6,895 and students may be eligible for up to twelve terms. The amount is determined by the following:

•  Expected Family Contribution (EFC), or the amount your family can pay

•  Cost of Attendance (COA), finalized in your school offer letter

•  Full-time or part-time status as s student

•  Length of your school’s academic year

Schools will disburse the federal grant to you directly, apply it to your tuition, or both. In order to receive Pell Grants, students must stay enrolled in their respective program of study and fill out the FAFSA form each year.

Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans

The Department of Education also offers Direct Loans. Cosmetology students may be eligible for either subsidized or unsubsidized loans. The government pays for the interest rate of subsidized loans as long as you’re enrolled in a program, for the first six months after leaving school, and during qualifying deferment periods. Interest rates for unsubsidized loans are not covered. Subsidized loans are awarded based on financial need, while unsubsidized loans are not.

Applying for a federal loan offers these key advantages:

•  Low fixed interest rates

•  Flexible repayment plans

•  Possibility of forgiven loans

•  Deferment and forbearance options

Parent PLUS Loans

PLUS loans are available to parents of undergraduate students or graduate or professional students. They offer some of the advantages of federal Direct Loans, but offer higher borrowing limits.

Parents can apply for Parent PLUS Loans on behalf of their children as well. Unlike other federal student loans, these types require a credit check and are not based on financial need.

Possible Funding Source #2: Scholarships

Research scholarships. A good place to start is with your school. Their aid letter will outline scholarships awarded from its program. You can contact them to see if there are additional scholarships you can apply for at the school.

Professional associations also offer scholarships based on need or merit. The below beauty industry associations have lists of scholarships.

•  Professional Beauty Association

•  National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology

•  American Association of Cosmetology Schools

The U.S. Department of Labor also offers a free scholarship finder .

Finally, ethnicity-based groups, employers, or your parent’s employers may also offer tuition assistance and scholarships.

Possible Funding Source #3: Working Part Time

Since cosmetology programs are shorter in duration — working part-time to help pay for college is feasible. Try getting work in your field — as an assistant or admin at an office. That way, you can learn while getting paid — and even get a foot in the door.

Studying and working is a fine balance. It depends on how much time you can commit. If studying fills up most of your week — you may not be able to focus on studying for the career you hope to work in and may also hurt your score needed to pass exams needed to work in the industry.

You can even find working cosmetologists to get advice on how to do both.

Possible Funding Source #4: Private Student Loans

After exhausting all other avenues of aid, private student loans can help cover the difference. A private undergraduate student loan can be offered through banks, credit unions, and online lenders. They can be applied to a range of programs, even applied towards paying for CDL school.

Lenders will perform a credit check to determine your interest rate and how much you are eligible for. Students who don’t have credit scores will need a cosigner, usually a parent.

Possible Funding Source #5: School-Specific Financial Aid

Financial aid availability depends on your school.

Aveda Institute Maryland, for example, offers financial assistance for current and former military servicemen. Paul Mitchell Schools also offer three forms of military financial aid. One includes a My Career Advancement Account Scholarship Program for military spouses.

Delgado Community College in New Orleans provides financial assistance on a first-come, first-serve basis. Students must complete a FAFSA, online scholarship form, and accept or decline their aid offer letter.

Possible Funding Source #6: School-Specific Payment Plans

College tuition payment plans are an option. Instead of paying tuition upfront at the beginning of the year, students pay tuition in installments.

Payment plans are an excellent alternative to taking out loans since plans are generally interest-free. Check with your school for eligibility requirements and deadlines for enrollment periods.

The Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Western Suffolk, Long Island, and Alexander Paul Institute of Hair Design offer no-interest payment plans.

Explore Private Student Loans With SoFi

Cosmetology and esthetician careers require state-approved schooling and licenses. These accredited programs are covered by federal financial aid, and some schools offer financial aid. Zero-interest payment plans can also be a huge help to pay for a program.

If you still come up short of tuition, you can explore private student loans.

SoFi offers student loans that offer qualifying borrowers competitive private student loan rates. Plus, there are no fees and flexible repayment plans. The application process can be completed online.

Find out if you qualify for an undergraduate student loan or graduate student loan in just a few minutes.*


Can FAFSA be used for beauty school?

Yes. States require students to participate in state-approved accredited beauty schools to obtain a license. Students enrolled in post-secondary programs at accredited institutions qualify for financial aid.

Do you work and earn money while in cosmetology school?

Students typically cannot work in their field without a license, unless it’s an unrelated job in the industry. Find out if your school participates in the Federal Work-Study Program. These programs are available to part-time or full-time students with financial needs. Students will usually find jobs at their school or private for-profit employers that have agreements with your school. The jobs are typically relevant to your field of study.

Are beauty schools accredited? How do you select a good program?

Yes, beauty schools can be accredited for post-secondary education. Always check to make sure your program is accredited to avoid predatory schools with poor programming. Consider starting your search with state license departments. The National-Interstate Council Of State Boards Of Cosmetology has a directory of all 50 states’ centers.

Photo credit: iStock/petrovv

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

SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change. SoFi Lending Corp. and its lending products are not endorsed by or directly affiliated with any college or university unless otherwise disclosed.

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.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Read more
4 Types of Wills Explained: Which One is Right For You?

4 Types of Wills Explained: Which One Is Right for You?

Not all wills are alike; there are actually four main kinds and one of them is right for you. Sure, writing a will can be an easy task to put off until “someday.” But what if the worst were to happen before “someday?” That could mean a complicated and emotionally draining legal process for your loved ones. Creating a will not only can provide peace of mind for your loved ones after you die, but it can also provide peace of mind for you right now.

The simple definition of a will is a document that states your final wishes. This alone was sufficient a century ago, when many people had limited property to pass down. But in the modern era, when “property” encompasses everything from the contents of your long-forgotten storage unit to the crypto you decided to buy on a whim, a simple will may not encompass your complex life.

Not only that, but a will is a document that only takes effect after you die. But what if you were medically unable to make decisions? Modern end-of-life documents encompass your wishes if you were medically or otherwise unable to make decisions on your own. Among these documents is one that also has the world “will” in its name.

4 Kinds of Wills

As you begin estate planning, you’ll likely come across four common types of wills. These are:

•   A simple will

•   A joint will

•   A testamentary trust will

•   A living will

Let’s look at each type of will more closely.

What Is a Simple Will?

Like the name, a simple will may be the type of will that pops into your mind when you hear the word “will.” This will can:

•   State how you want your property bequeathed upon death

•   Provide guardianship specifications for minors

Upon death, a simple will is likely to go through a legal process known as probate to divide assets. Sometimes, in the case of high-net worth individuals, probate can be expensive. (For those with complex situations and a positive net worth, a trust can help handle those what-ifs. It can transfer assets out of your estate and into the trust, which can be advantageous in terms of taxes.) But in many situations, a simple will can provide peace of mind for people in good health. Later, these individuals may want to take on more complex estate planning, but a will provides a good foundation when it comes to making sure guardians are named and property is divided according to your wishes.

A simple will can be created through online templates, and the cost can be zero dollars to several hundred dollars. More expensive online options may come with support from an attorney who can help answer simple questions. Once created, a will then needs to be made legal according to state laws. This may include signing the will in front of witnesses. You may also want to have it notarized. Having a hard copy of the will, as well as people who know how to access it in case of your death, can ensure the will is found in a timely manner if you were to die.

What Is a Joint Will?

A joint functions in much the same way as a simple will, except it is a will created by two people, usually who are married to each other. It merges their wishes into a single legal document. In many cases, this kind of will dictates that property will be left entirely to the surviving partner. Here’s the catch, though: Upon death, property will be distributed in the manner dictated by the will — the surviving person does not have the ability or authority to make changes to what the will says once the initial spouse has died.

This can sound streamlined, especially if couples were planning to leave everything to each other anyway. But this type of will can cause headaches. For example, if the surviving spouse has more children or gets remarried, it can be almost impossible to provide for additional people not named in the initial, joint will. There could be problems even if the surviving spouse does not remarry. For example, if the marital home is considered an asset to be given to the couple’s children upon the death of both of the will’s creators, it may be impossible for the surviving spouse to sell a home to downsize.

One alternative that may suit married couples is to create two individual wills. This may provide a greater degree of flexibility and better achieve the desired effect without ruling out all of life’s what-ifs.

What Is a Testamentary Trust Will?

A testamentary trust will is usually part of big-picture estate planning. It is a document that creates a trust that goes into effect when you die. This trust can outline how certain types of property will be divided. A testamentary trust can have certain stipulations (for example, someone only inherits X piece of property when they reach Y age). This can also be used for people with minors or dependents to help ensure that wishes are followed.

What’s more, a testamentary trust can also help provide for pets. Because a pet can’t own property, naming your “fur baby” within a will can set up a legal headache. But a testamentary trust can ensure that your pet will be provided for according to your wishes.

It’s worth noting that a testamentary trust will go through the probate process, and it may not have the same tax benefits for recipients as other types of trusts. Weighing the pros and cons of different trust options can be helpful before settling on the best one for your situation.

What Is a Living Will?

This is a hard topic to think about, but what if you were in an accident and were knocked unconscious? What if you were undergoing treatment for a serious medical condition and couldn’t fully grasp the options offered to you? There’s a way to put a trusted relative or friend in the decision-making role. A living will, which is also known as an advance directive, specifies your wishes if you were medically incapacitated or unable to make or communicate decisions about your medical care. It also stipulates who your healthcare proxy, also known as a medical power of attorney, would be to make medical decisions on your behalf.

If you are creating a living, you may also want to create a power of attorney document as well. This designates a person, who may or may not be the same person as your healthcare proxy, who has the right to make financial decisions on your behalf. Having a living will can cover unexpected situations that may occur before death and can be an integral part of end of life planning.

The Takeaway

While end of life planning can be a challenging or sad endeavor, it’s an important step in making sure your assets are directed where you want them to go and that other important wishes are executed as you want. There are four main types of wills to help you legally record your plans. You’ll have options; more than one may suit your needs. And you can decide to use online services or work in person with an attorney. In either case, having the appropriate forms completed will give you peace of mind right now — and help smooth things along for your loved ones in the future during a difficult time.

More Protection Coming Your Way From SoFi

End of life planning is one important way to protect your assets and your loved ones while planning for the inevitable. But there are other ways to make sure you are covering your bases and being prepared for difficult scenarios: with different forms of insurance. SoFi has partnered with some of the best in class companies to offer you reliable and affordable auto, homeowners, renters, and life insurance. We make learning about and purchasing these policies extra easy because it’s all online — it’s the SoFi way! Why not explore the options?

Ladder policies are issued in New York by Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York, New York, NY (Policy form # MN-26) and in all other states and DC by Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, Minneapolis, MN (Policy form # ICC20P-AZ100 and # P-AZ100). Only Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York is authorized to offer life insurance in the state of New York. Coverage and pricing is subject to eligibility and underwriting criteria. SoFi Agency and its affiliates do not guarantee the services of any insurance company. The California license number for SoFi Agency is 0L13077 and for Ladder is OK22568. Ladder, SoFi and SoFi Agency are separate, independent entities and are not responsible for the financial condition, business, or legal obligations of the other. Social Finance, Inc. (SoFi) and Social Finance Life Insurance Agency, LLC (SoFi Agency) do not issue, underwrite insurance or pay claims under LadderLifeTM policies. SoFi is compensated by Ladder for each issued term life policy. SoFi offers customers the opportunity to reach Ladder Insurance Services, LLC to obtain information about estate planning documents such as wills. Social Finance, Inc. (“SoFi”) will be paid a marketing fee by Ladder when customers make a purchase through this link. All services from Ladder Insurance Services, LLC are their own. Once you reach Ladder, SoFi is not involved and has no control over the products or services involved. The Ladder service is limited to documents and does not provide legal advice. Individual circumstances are unique and using documents provided is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice.
This article is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SoFi offers customers the opportunity to reach the following Insurance Agents:
Home & Renters: Lemonade Insurance Agency (LIA) is acting as the agent of Lemonade Insurance Company in selling this insurance policy, in which it receives compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies it sells.

Insurance not available in all states.
Gabi is a registered service mark of Gabi Personal Insurance Agency, Inc.
SoFi is compensated by Gabi for each customer who completes an application through the SoFi-Gabi partnership.

Photo credit: iStock/LaylaBird

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender