7 Ways to Secure a Lower Interest Rate Mortgage

Obtaining a mortgage with a reduced interest rate is a crucial objective for many prospective homeowners. Getting a good interest rate can save borrowers thousands of dollars over the course of a loan and have a big impact on your financial health.

It takes research and preparation to navigate the complicated world of mortgage rates, but making the effort can pay off with lower monthly payments and significant long-term savings.

What Is the Best Way to Get a Lower Mortgage Rate?

Although there’s no one-size-fits-all approach that will help homebuyers qualify for a mortgage at a reduced mortgage rate, there are a few crucial steps one can take. These include carefully tending your credit score and diligently comparing lenders and financing choices.

This may be especially daunting to first-time homebuyers, but borrowers who learn how to lower their mortgage interest rate can better their chances of long-term financial stability and successful homeownership.

💡 Quick Tip: SoFi’s award-winning mortgage loan experience means a simple application — we even offer an on-time close guarantee. We’ve made $7.5 billion in home loans so we know a thing or two about what makes homebuyers happy.‡

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


Pros and Cons of a Lower Mortgage Rate as a Home Buyer

As a prospective homeowner, getting a reduced mortgage rate could offer many benefits, though there are a few potential challenges as well.

Pros:

•   Decreased monthly payments: A lower interest rate usually results in a lower monthly mortgage payment, giving you more money for investments or other expenses.

•   Long-term savings: Depending on the loan amount and term, even a small interest rate reduction can save a significant amount of money over the course of the loan — possibly tens of thousands of dollars. Experiment with a mortgage calculator to see how the interest rate and loan term impact the total interest paid over the life of the loan.

•   Building equity faster: As a result of lower interest rates, a larger portion of your monthly payment is applied toward paying off the loan, hastening the process of building equity in your house.

Cons:

•   Qualification requirements: Borrowers with a strong credit rating, steady income, and a sizable down payment are frequently eligible for the lowest rates offered by lenders. Achieving these requirements may prove difficult for some buyers.

•   Higher upfront costs: Securing a lower interest rate may require paying higher upfront costs, such as points or a big down payment.

•   Limited availability: Some purchasers may find that the lowest advertised rates are only accessible to customers who qualify for certain loan types under particular circumstances.

•   Market volatility: Interest rates can change over time for an array of economic reasons. An adjustable-rate mortgage may offer a borrower a low initial interest rate, but savings could be outweighed by rate hikes in the future.

Recommended: The Best Affordable Places to Live in the U.S.

Ways to Get a Lower Mortgage Rate

If you’re wondering how to get a lower interest rate on a mortgage, here are tactics you’ll want to take a look at:

Shop for Mortgage Rates

Finding the best loan terms for a house purchase requires doing your research on mortgage interest rates. Get quotes first from a variety of lenders, such as banks, credit unions, and online lenders. Consider whether you are eligible for a loan guaranteed by the government, such as a VA loan (from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) or an FHA loan, backed by the Federal Housing Administration. Don’t accept the first mortgage deal you run across; shop around and compare rates offered by different lenders.

To evaluate rates, fees, and terms side by side, make use of online comparison tools. Never be afraid to ask a lender if they can match a competitor’s rate or give better conditions. Other considerations, like closing expenses and the caliber of the customer service, may influence your choice of mortgage, and the lowest rate that is advertised may not always be the best one. Make sure you have researched your selection and that it is in line with your long-term financial objectives.

Nurture Your Credit Score

Borrowers with better credit scores usually receive reduced rates from lenders. A better rate might result from paying your bills on time, cutting overall debt, fixing any inaccuracies on your credit report — or all three. Get a copy of your credit report from each of the big credit reporting agencies, check it for accuracy, and quickly request fixes for any inaccuracies. Next, focus on paying off current debts on time, maintaining modest credit card balances, and refraining from creating new credit lines unnecessarily.

Choose Your Loan Term Carefully

Investigate different types of mortgage loans, including fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs). Each type has a different interest rate structure and set of requirements. Shorter loan terms of 15 or 20 years usually have cheaper interest rates than 30-year mortgages, which results in significant savings over the course of the loan. They also typically have larger monthly payments.

Longer loans spread out payments over an extended period of time, which lowers the monthly payment but comes with higher overall interest charges. When choosing a loan term, take your cash flow, long-term objectives, and financial status into account. While a longer term could offer more flexibility with lower monthly payments, choosing a shorter term can help save money and allow you to pay off the mortgage sooner.

Make a Larger Down Payment

Increasing your down payment is one of the best ways to get a lower mortgage rate. For borrowers who are able to make a substantial down payment — typically 20% or more of the purchase price of the home — lenders frequently offer lower interest rates. A higher down payment shows financial responsibility and lowers the lender’s risk, which makes for a more desirable borrower. Borrowers can also eliminate private mortgage insurance (PMI) with a sizable down payment, which further reduces your monthly payment. Although stowing away a down payment takes time and discipline, there could be significant interest savings over the course of the loan.

Buy Mortgage Points

Purchasing discount points, sometimes referred to as mortgage points, can be a calculated move to obtain a cheaper mortgage rate. Each point costs 1% of the total loan amount and lowers the interest rate by a specific amount, usually 0.25% per point. Although purchasing points necessitates a one-time payment, it might provide substantial savings during the loan term. Before you purchase points, make sure you set aside cash reserves for emergencies. And ask yourself if you plan to stay in the house past the breakeven point (the point at which the monthly savings from a lower payment equal the initial cost of purchasing points).

Lock in Your Mortgage Rate

Once you’ve found a good rate and gone through the mortgage preapproval process, locking in your rate is a crucial step in protecting against potential rate increases during the closing process. When a rate is locked in, the lender agrees to guarantee the agreed-upon interest rate for a predetermined amount of time — usually 30 to 60 days — while the loan application is being processed. This guarantees that the rate won’t change during this time, even if market rates rise. If rates drop, though, one might not be able to benefit from the lower rates unless the lender has a float-down option.

Refinance Your Mortgage

If mortgage rates drop significantly (or your financial profile improves markedly) after you purchase your home, refinancing your mortgage can cut monthly payments and total loan costs. But it’s crucial to take into account refinancing charges, like appraisal and closing costs, and balance these against the possible savings from a lower rate. Homebuyers should think about long-term financial objectives and how refinancing fits within their total budget. Working with a reliable lender and thoroughly weighing options can help one decide if refinancing is the best course of action.

đź’ˇ Quick Tip: Have you improved your credit score since you made your home purchase? Home loan refinancing with SoFi could get you a competitive interest rate with lower payments.

Searching for Mortgage Rate Tips

Start by keeping an eye on market developments and learning how the economy affects mortgage rates. To be eligible for reduced rates, carefully manage your credit score. You can also get reasonable rates and better conditions by shopping around and comparing offers from different lenders. To optimize savings, think about the advantages of increasing your down payment, buying discount points, and selecting the ideal loan term. Lock in a cheaper rate while the market is favorable.

Recommended: Home Loan Help Center

The Takeaway

Prospective homeowners can improve their chances of obtaining a favorable rate and ultimately save a large amount of money over the course of their loan by raising their credit score, shopping around for the best rates, and negotiating with lenders. Market conditions, lender competition, and your individual financial situation will factor into your mortgage terms. Greater financial stability can be achieved from taking proactive measures to achieve a cheaper mortgage rate, whether through buying discount points or increasing the down payment.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

Can you ask your mortgage company to lower your interest rate?

Yes, you can negotiate with your mortgage company to potentially lower your interest rate before you sign on for a loan. After you have a mortgage, you could ask your lender about a mortgage recast or a refinance.

What makes mortgage interest rates go down?

Mortgage interest rates can decrease due to factors such as economic downturns, changes in federal monetary policy, and market competition among lenders.

Can you negotiate a lower interest rate on a mortgage?

Yes, you can use variables like your creditworthiness, the state of the market, and lender competition to negotiate a lower interest rate on a mortgage.


Photo credit: iStock/Delmaine Donson
SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

‡SoFi On-Time Close Guarantee: If all conditions of the Guarantee are met, and your loan does not close on or before the closing date on your purchase contract accepted by SoFi, and the delay is due to SoFi, SoFi will give you a credit toward closing costs or additional expenses caused by the delay in closing of up to $10,000.^ The following terms and conditions apply. This Guarantee is available only for loan applications submitted after 04/01/2024. Please discuss terms of this Guarantee with your loan officer. The mortgage must be a purchase transaction that is approved and funded by SoFi. This Guarantee does not apply to loans to purchase bank-owned properties or short-sale transactions. To qualify for the Guarantee, you must: (1) Sign up for access to SoFi’s online portal and upload all requested documents, (2) Submit documents requested by SoFi within 5 business days of the initial request and all additional doc requests within 2 business days (3) Submit an executed purchase contract on an eligible property with the closing date at least 25 calendar days from the receipt of executed Intent to Proceed and receipt of credit card deposit for an appraisal (30 days for VA loans; 40 days for Jumbo loans), (4) Lock your loan rate and satisfy all loan requirements and conditions at least 5 business days prior to your closing date as confirmed with your loan officer, and (5) Pay for and schedule an appraisal within 48 hours of the appraiser first contacting you by phone or email. This Guarantee will not be paid if any delays to closing are attributable to: a) the borrower(s), a third party, the seller or any other factors outside of SoFi control; b) if the information provided by the borrower(s) on the loan application could not be verified or was inaccurate or insufficient; c) attempting to fulfill federal/state regulatory requirements and/or agency guidelines; d) or the closing date is missed due to acts of God outside the control of SoFi. SoFi may change or terminate this offer at any time without notice to you. *To redeem the Guarantee if conditions met, see documentation provided by loan officer.​​
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.

ÂąFHA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by FHA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. FHA loans require an Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP), which may be financed or paid at closing, in addition to monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP). Maximum loan amounts vary by county. The minimum FHA mortgage down payment is 3.5% for those who qualify financially for a primary purchase. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
†Veterans, Service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserve may be eligible for a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by VA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. VA loans typically require a one-time funding fee except as may be exempted by VA guidelines. The fee may be financed or paid at closing. The amount of the fee depends on the type of loan, the total amount of the loan, and, depending on loan type, prior use of VA eligibility and down payment amount. The VA funding fee is typically non-refundable. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
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Personal Loans vs Car Loans: What’s the Difference?

For most Americans, having a car is a necessity. We need it to get to work, school, the grocery, the doctor, and all our weekly errands. Unfortunately, both new and used cars are expensive — and auto loan rates are on the rise as well.

So when buying a car, does it ever make sense to use a personal loan instead of traditional financing? We’ll break down the difference between personal loans and car loans and when you might want to use the former to buy a new set of wheels.

Personal Loan vs Auto Loan: An Overview

You can use a personal loan for almost anything, including buying a car. But why would you use a personal loan to purchase a vehicle when there are very specific loans — auto loans — to finance this purchase?

As we’ll see, personal loans can offer some benefits over car loans, including less buyer risk, no down payment needed, better negotiating power, and potential savings on car insurance. But car loans still have their place and may be cheaper in the long run.

Personal Loans

A personal loan allows you to borrow money from a bank, credit union, or lender to fund nearly any kind of purchase. People commonly use personal loans for debt consolidation, home renovations, weddings, vacations, and even new and used car purchases.

Personal loans can be unsecured (no collateral required) or secured (collateral required). For the sake of our personal loan vs. auto loan comparison, we’ll be looking at unsecured personal loans, as they’re more common.

Recommended: Types of Personal Loans

How Interest Rates Work on Personal Loans

Because unsecured personal loans aren’t backed by any collateral, interest rates tend to be higher than what you’d get for a car loan. Average personal loan interest rates vary depending on your credit score and the loan terms, but typically, they max out at 36%.

Most personal loans come with fixed rates, meaning your interest rate will stay the same over the life of the loan. It is possible, however, to get a variable-rate personal loan. Check out our guide to fixed vs. variable rate loans to figure out which is right for you.

Terms for Personal Loans

Personal loan terms vary by lender, but you can typically take out a loan with a repayment term of one to seven years. The faster you pay it off, the less you’ll pay in interest — but your monthly payments will be much larger.


💡 Quick Tip: Before choosing a personal loan, ask about the lender’s fees: origination, prepayment, late fees, etc. SoFi personal loans come with no-fee options, and no surprises.

Car Loans

When buying a new or used car through a dealership, the dealer’s finance department can help you find a loan through a bank or credit union. Alternatively — or when buying from a private seller — you can shop around for a car loan from various banks and credit unions on your own.

Auto loans are usually secured loans, meaning the car you’re buying serves as collateral. This means, if you fall behind on payments, the lender can repossess your car. (It’s possible, but less common and more expensive, to get a car loan without putting the car up as collateral.)

How Interest Rates Work on Car Loans

The collateral on the car loan reduces the risk to the lender, which usually results in a lower interest rate. Still, auto loan interest rates depend on your credit score.

Car loan rates for both new and used cars have increased in recent years, but they’re still typically lower than the average personal loan rate. Notably, car loan refinancing rates are lower than regular financing rates.

Terms for Car Loans

Like personal loans, car loans might stretch 84 months (that’s seven years), but some are as short as 24 months (two years). Also like personal loans, it’s common to repay your car loan over three to five years.


💡 Quick Tip: In a climate where interest rates are rising, you’re likely better off with a fixed interest rate than a variable rate, even though the variable rate is initially lower. On the flip side, if rates are falling, you may be better off with a variable interest rate.

Can You Use a Personal Loan to Buy a Car?

Yes, you can use a personal loan to buy a car. In fact, you can use a personal loan for (almost) anything. However, it often makes more sense to get traditional vehicle financing when buying a car.

Recommended: Personal Loan Calculator

Is It Better to Get a Personal Loan to Buy a Car?

In some ways, it can be better to buy a car with a personal loan. You don’t have to stress about saving up for a down payment, there’s no risk of your car being repossessed, and you might even have more negotiating power at the dealership.

However, many buyers prefer the structure of an auto loan. These loans tend to be cheaper in the long run because of the lower interest rates. And they’re easier to get — both because of lower credit score requirements for car loans and because dealerships can help you find the best car loan for you.

Pros & Cons: Car Loan vs Personal Loan

Buying a car with a personal loan instead of an auto loan has its share of advantages, but there are also drawbacks to consider.

Pros

•   Less risk: When you take out a car loan, the car itself serves as collateral for the loan. If you miss enough payments, the lender could repossess your vehicle. With an unsecured personal loan, you don’t face that risk, though there are still consequences if you default on a personal loan.

•   More negotiating power: When you don’t have to go through the hassle of securing financing, the car buying process is much easier and faster for you and the dealer. That means you might be able to negotiate a better deal, like a discount for paying in full.

•   Lower insurance costs: When financing a car, the lender may require you to carry comprehensive, collision, and gap insurance. But when you pay for the vehicle outright with the funds from your personal loan, no one can require you to carry those car insurance coverages.

•   No need to save for a down payment: Personal loans don’t require a down payment. Though some have origination fees, you might even be able to roll those into the cost of the loan. That means you could use a personal loan to get a car with no money down.

Cons

•   Higher cost: Interest rates are typically higher for personal loans, which means you’ll end up spending more money on your car in the long run than you would if you got traditional auto financing. Origination fees for personal loans may also be higher than they are for car loans.

•   Higher credit score requirements: Because auto loans are secured by the vehicle being financed, lenders are a little more willing to work with lower credit scores. The credit score you need for a personal loan is typically higher (around 670), though this varies by lender.

•   More insurance risk: There may not be an auto lender requiring you to carry comprehensive, collision, or gap insurance, but declining those coverages just because your personal loan lender doesn’t mandate them could open you up to a lot of risk. If your car is totaled and you don’t have the proper coverage to get reimbursed, you’ll still be on the hook for making your personal loan payments — so think carefully before minimizing your car insurance coverage.

The Takeaway

Both auto loans and personal loans can help you get behind the wheel of a new (or used) daily driver. Determining which type of loan is right for you comes down to your needs and preferences.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.


SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Personal Loan overall.

FAQ

Is it easier to get a personal loan or car loan?

Getting a car loan is usually easier than getting a personal loan. That’s because car loans are secured by the vehicle you’re buying. That means less risk to the lender, who will be willing to accept lower credit scores.

Should I take out a personal loan to buy a car?

While you can get an auto loan through a bank, credit union, or the dealership, you can also pay for a car with a personal loan. Personal loans reduce your risk — there’s no chance of your car being repossessed — and they may give you more negotiating power. However, personal loans typically cost more in the long run.

Am I allowed to use a personal loan to buy a car?

Yes, you can use a personal loan to buy a new or used car. In fact, you can use personal loans for just about anything. Just read the fine print of any loan agreement to make sure.


Photo credit: iStock/skynesher

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


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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How a Personal Loan Can Boost Your Credit Score

Will a Personal Loan Build Credit?

One factor lenders look at during loan processing is the applicant’s credit score. It’s a good idea to review your own credit reports before applying for a loan to see if there are any errors that can be corrected and possibly increase your credit score, if needed.

If your credit score is not as high as you’d like it to be, it may seem counterintuitive to consider taking on debt to increase it. But it’s a method that has some merit. Making timely payments on a personal loan may have a positive effect on a person’s credit score. Let’s take a look at what factors go into calculating a credit score and how taking out a personal loan can affect it.

Do Personal Loans Help Build Credit?

If a borrower makes on-time, regular payments on a personal loan — or any loan, for that matter — that information will typically be reflected in their credit history and can be one way to build credit. It’s a good idea to ask the lender if they report payment history to the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If the lender doesn’t report the information, it won’t affect the borrower’s credit positively or negatively.


đź’ˇ Quick Tip: A low-interest personal loan from SoFi can help you consolidate your debts, lower your monthly payments, and get you out of debt sooner.

When Does a Personal Loan Help You Build Credit?

Someone who doesn’t have much of a credit history or wants to improve their credit score because they understand the importance of good credit might wonder if a personal loan will build credit. It certainly can be one method to do so, but only if handled responsibly. A personal loan to build credit can be an effective tool if the payments are made regularly and on time.

The terms “credit” and “credit score,” while closely related, are not the same. Generally, when the term “credit” is used, it’s referring to a credit report, which is a summary of a person’s financial history. The information contained in a credit report is what affects your credit score. So, while the two are different, they’re used together in lending and other credit matters.

To find financial areas needing improvement, you can review your credit report for individual elements that figure into the calculation of your credit score. Credit score updates can happen every 30 to 45 days, depending on when lenders report payment information to the credit bureaus, and small fluctuations are normal.

Recommended: 11 Types of Personal Loans

Your Payment History

The way you handle debt is the most important factor in determining your credit score. It accounts for 35% of a person’s FICO® Score. How you’ve repaid — or not repaid — debt in the past is considered a good indicator of how likely you are to repay future debt and is something lenders look at closely.

Missing payments or late payments on a personal loan might hurt your credit score.

Your Credit Utilization Ratio

Second only to payment history, having a large debt-to-credit ratio, also called your credit utilization ratio, can damage your credit score. It accounts for 30% of the total FICO Score and takes into account both revolving debt (e.g., credit cards) and installment debt (e.g., personal loans).

This ratio is calculated by dividing how much you currently owe by the total credit available to you. Credit cards offer a good example: If you have a monthly limit of $10,000, and typically carry a balance of $9,000 on your card each billing period, your utilization ratio would be 90%.

The Age of Your Credit History

Since the age of your credit history is a factor in your credit score, the ideal situation is to start building credit early. That’s not always feasible, though. If you don’t have much of a credit history yet, a personal loan to build credit can be useful.

As long as the loan’s payment history is positive, the longer a loan is listed on your credit report, the more likely it is to have a positive effect on your credit score.

Adding Different Types of Credit

An additional factor that can impact your credit score is the mix of different types of credit you might have, such as credit cards, student loans, and mortgage loans. In general, your credit score will benefit from a healthy mix of different kinds of debt on your credit report.

Having both revolving debt, like credit cards or lines of credit, as well as installment debt, such as a personal loan, can have a positive effect on your credit score if you’re making regular, on-time payments on the debts.

If you currently have only credit cards, adding a personal loan to your credit mix can go a long way in establishing multiple types of credit and potentially boosting your credit score.

Recommended: Personal Lines of Credit vs Credit Cards

When Doesn’t a Personal Loan Help You Build Credit?

We’ve covered some of the ways a personal loan can help build credit, but there are situations in which a personal loan might have a negative effect on your credit.

Late Payments

Making late payments on any type of debt, including a personal loan intended to build credit, will likely have the opposite effect. Lenders place a great deal of importance on a person’s payment history. If a lender sees a lot of late or missed payments on your credit report, they are probably more likely to see you as a credit risk.

Short-Term Loan

Short-term loans can be predatory loans. They are meant to help someone make ends meet until their next paycheck, but they can be next to impossible to actually pay off because of the extraordinarily high interest rates typically charged.

Lenders of these types of loans may not report payments to the credit bureaus, essentially negating any effect your responsible repayment might have. If you’re thinking of taking out a personal loan to improve your credit score, a short-term loan is probably not the best option.


đź’ˇ Quick Tip: Just as there are no free lunches, there are no guaranteed loans. So beware lenders who advertise them. If they are legitimate, they need to know your creditworthiness before offering you a loan.

The Takeaway

Personal loans have many direct benefits, such as access to cash, predictable payments, and consolidating high-interest debts. But can a personal loan help you build credit? Possibly. A loan’s secondary impact on your credit score can be meaningful for your borrowing future. Making your personal loan payments on time may help you improve your credit score and your future borrowing options.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.


SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Personal Loan overall.

FAQ

Do personal loans raise credit scores?

If repaid on time with regular payments, a personal loan is one financial tool that might have a positive effect on a person’s credit score. There are a variety of factors that go into the calculation of a credit score, though, and it’s wise to pay attention to all of them.

How long does it take to build credit with a personal loan?

Building credit means building a history, which doesn’t happen overnight. It might take about six months to see results from diligently making on-time personal loan payments.

Is taking out a personal loan bad for credit?

Taking on new debt can have a temporary negative effect on your credit score. But over time, as long as you make regular, on-time payments, a personal loan has the potential to help your overall creditworthiness.

Which types of personal loans typically help build credit?

There are many different types of personal loans you can use to build up your credit. If you have no credit history, you may want to explore a credit builder loan or secured credit card. Both can help you establish a positive credit profile. But keep in mind, the type of loan you take out is not as important as how you manage the debt.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


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 .

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

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

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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Understanding Bond Valuation

What Is Bond Valuation?

Bond valuation is a way of determining the fair value of a bond. Bond valuation involves calculating the present value of the bond’s future coupon payments, its cash flow, and the bond’s value at maturity (or par value), to determine its current fair value or price. The price of a bond is what investors are willing to pay for it on the secondary market.

When an investor buys a bond from the issuing company or institution, they typically buy it at its face value. But when an investor purchases a bond on the open market, they need to know its current value. Because a bond’s face value and interest payments are fixed, the valuation process helps investors decide what rate of return would make that bond worth the cost.

How Bond Valuation Works

First, it’s important to remember that bonds are generally long-term investments, where the par value or face value is fixed and so are the coupon payments (the bond’s rate of return over time) — but interest rates are not, and that impacts the present or fair value of a bond at any given moment.

To determine the present or fair value of a bond, the investor must calculate the current value of the bond’s future payments using a discount rate, as well as the bond’s value at maturity to make sure the bond you’re buying is worth it.

Some terms to know when calculating bond valuation:

•   Coupon rate/Cash flow: The coupon rate refers to the interest payments the investor receives; usually it’s a fixed percentage of the bond’s face value and typically investors get annual or semi-annual payments. For example, a $1,000 bond with a 10-year term and a 3% annual coupon would pay the investor $30 per year for 10 years ($1,000 x 0.03 = $30 per year).

•   Maturity: This is when the bond’s principal is scheduled to be repaid to the bondholder (i.e. in one year, five years, 10 years, and so on). When a bond reaches maturity, the corporation or government that issued the bond must repay the full amount of the face value (in this example, $1,000).

•   Current price: The current price is different from the bond’s face value or par value, which is fixed: i.e. a $1,000 bond is a $1,000 bond. The current price is what people mean when they talk about bond valuation: What is the bond currently worth, today?

The face value is not necessarily the amount you pay to purchase the bond, since you might buy a bond at a price above or below par value. A bond that trades at a price below its face value is called a discount bond. A bond price above par value is called a premium bond.

đź’ˇ Quick Tip: Are self-directed brokerage accounts cost efficient? They can be, because they offer the convenience of being able to buy stocks online without using a traditional full-service broker (and the typical broker fees).

Get up to $1,000 in stock when you fund a new Active Invest account.*

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*Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $25 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. See full terms and conditions.

How to Calculate Bond Valuation

Bond valuation can seem like a daunting task to new investors, but it is not that onerous once you break it down into steps. This process helps investors know how to calculate bond valuation.

Bond Valuation Formula

The bond valuation formula uses a discounting process for all future cash flows to determine the present fair value of the bond, sometimes called the theoretical fair value of the bond (since it’s calculated using certain assumptions).

bond valuation formula

The following steps explain each part of the formula and how to calculate a bond’s price.

Step 1: Determine the cash flow and remaining payments.

A bond’s cash flow is determined by calculating the coupon rate multiplied by the face value. A $1,000 corporate bond with a 3.0% coupon has an annual cash flow of $30. If it’s a 10-year bond that has five years left until maturity, there would be five coupon payments remaining.

Payment 1 = $30; Payment 2 = $30; and so on.

The final payment would include the face value: $1,000 + $30 = $1,030.

This is important because the closer the bond is to maturity, the higher its value may be.

Step 2: Determine a realistic discount rate.

The coupon payments are based on future values and thus the bond’s cash flow must be discounted back to the present (thanks to the time value of money theory, a future dollar is worth less than a dollar in the present).

To determine a discount rate, you can check the current rates for 10-year corporate bonds. For this example, let’s go with 2.5% (or 0.025, when expressed as a decimal).

Step 3: Calculate the present value of the remaining payments.

Calculate the present value of future cash flows including the principal repayment at maturity. In other words, divide the yearly coupon payment by (1 + r)t, where r equals the discount rate and t is the remaining payment number.

$30 / (1 + .025)1 = $29.26

$30 / (1 + .025)2 = 28.55

$30 / (1 + .025)3 = 27.85

$30 / (1 + .025)4 = 27.17

$1030 / (1 + .025)5 = 1,004.87

Step 4: Sum all future cash flows.

Sum all future cash flows to arrive at the present market value of the bond : $1,117.70

Understanding Bond Pricing

In this example, the price of the bond is $1,117.70, or $117.70 above par. A bond’s face or par value will often differ from its market value — and in this case its current fair value (market value) is higher. There are a number of factors that come into play, including the company’s credit rating, the time to maturity (the closer the bond is to maturity the closer the price comes to its face value), and of course changes to interest rates.

Remember that a bond’s price tends to move in the opposite direction of interest rates. If prevailing interest rates are higher than when the bond was issued, its price will generally fall. That’s because, as interest rates rise, new bonds are likely to be issued with higher coupon rates, making the new bonds more attractive. So bonds with lower coupon payments would be less attractive, and likely sell for a lower price. So, higher rates generally mean lower prices for existing bonds.

The same logic applies when interest rates are lower; the price of existing bonds tends to increase, because their higher coupons are now more attractive and investors may be willing to pay a premium for bonds with those higher interest payments.

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Is Investing in Bonds Right for You?

Investing in bonds can help diversify a stock portfolio since stocks and bonds trade differently. In general, bonds are seen as less risky than equities since they often provide a predictable stream of income. Investors can consider bonds as an investment, and those with a lower risk tolerance might be better served with a portfolio weighted highly in bonds.

Performing proper bond valuation can be part of a solid research and due diligence process when attempting to find securities for your portfolio. Moreover, different bonds have different risk and return profiles. Some bonds — such as junk bonds and fixed-income securities offered in emerging markets — feature higher potential rates of return with greater risk. “Junk” is a term used to describe high-yield bonds. You can take on higher risk with long-duration bonds and convertible bonds. Some of the safest bonds are short-term Treasury securities.

You can also purchase bond exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and bond mutual funds that own a diversified basket of fixed-income securities.

The Takeaway

Bond valuation is the process of determining the fair value of a bond after it’s been issued. In order to price a bond, you must calculate the present value of a bond’s future interest payments using a reasonable discount rate. By adding the discounted coupon payments, and the bond’s face value, you can arrive at the theoretical fair value of the bond.

A bond can be priced at a discount to its par value or at a premium depending on market conditions and how traders view the issuing company’s prospects. Owning bonds can help diversify your portfolio. Many investors also find bonds appealing because of their steady payments (one reason that bonds are considered fixed-income assets).

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

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INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

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.

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected]. Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing.
Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.


Fund Fees
If you invest in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) through SoFi Invest (either by buying them yourself or via investing in SoFi Invest’s automated investments, formerly SoFi Wealth), these funds will have their own management fees. These fees are not paid directly by you, but rather by the fund itself. these fees do reduce the fund’s returns. Check out each fund’s prospectus for details. SoFi Invest does not receive sales commissions, 12b-1 fees, or other fees from ETFs for investing such funds on behalf of advisory clients, though if SoFi Invest creates its own funds, it could earn management fees there.
SoFi Invest may waive all, or part of any of these fees, permanently or for a period of time, at its sole discretion for any reason. Fees are subject to change at any time. The current fee schedule will always be available in your Account Documents section of SoFi Invest.


Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.

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What Is Impact Investing?

Impact investing is a strategy that seeks to create both financial return and positive social or environmental impact. Impact investments can be made in both publicly traded companies and private companies or funds, and can take the form of equity, debt, or other assets.

In recent years, many investors have become increasingly aware of potential adverse societal effects to which their investments may contribute. These can include effects on health, the environment, and human rights. As such, large firms and foundations have increasingly decided to put capital to work to minimize these negative effects. For investors, it helps to be aware of the growing trend of impact investing to determine whether it is a suitable wealth-building strategy for a portfolio.

How Does Impact Investing Work?

Impact investing is typically, but not always done by large institutional investors and private foundations, though individual investors can do it as well. These organizations invest in various areas, including affordable housing, clean water, and renewable energy. Impact investments in these areas can benefit both developed and emerging markets.

The term “impact investing” is relatively new, but the concept of investing for both financial return and social good is not. Impact investing began in the early 1900s, as numerous philanthropists created private foundations to support their causes.

The concept of impact investing has expanded to include a broader range of investors and investment vehicles. Impact investing may be practiced by individuals, foundations, endowments, pension funds, and other institutional investors.

The growth of impact investing has been fueled by several factors, including the rise of social media and the increasing availability of data and analytics. Impact investing is also being driven by the growing awareness of businesses and investors’ role in solving social and environmental problems. Individual investors can take this new knowledge and consider index funds that focus on various causes.

Characteristics of Impact Investments

As outlined by Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), the following are considered characteristics of credible impact investments:

•   Investor intentionality: An investor must intend to make a measurable positive impact with their investment. This requires a certain level of transparency about both financial and impact goals. The investor’s intent is one of the main differentiators between traditional investments and impact investments.

•   Utilize data: Impact investments must use data and evidence to make informed decisions to achieve measurable benefits.

•   Manage impact performance: Specific financial returns and impact goals must be established and managed.

•   Contribute to the growth of the industry: The goal of impact investments is to further social, economic, or environmental causes. Impact investing toward these goals must be intentional and measured, not just guesswork.

Impact Investing vs Socially Responsible Investing

Impact investing is often associated with “socially responsible investing” (SRI). Both SRI and impact investing seek to generate positive social or environmental impact, but they differ in some ways.

SRI typically focuses on actively avoiding investments in companies involved in activities that are considered harmful to society, such as the manufacture of tobacco products or the production of weapons. SRI also typically focuses on promoting corporate policies considered socially responsible, such as environmental sustainability or gender diversity.

In contrast, impact investing focuses on making investments in companies or projects that are specifically designed to generate positive social or environmental impact.

Impact Investing vs ESG

The main difference between impact investing and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) is that impact investing is focused on investments that are expected to generate a positive social or environmental impact. In contrast, ESG considers a range of environmental, social, and governance factors in investing decisions.

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Why Is Impact Investing Important?

While some investors may not think impact investing is important at all, others may think the exact opposite. For those investors, impact investing may be considered important for a few key reasons.

First, it allows investors to put their money into companies or projects that they believe will positively impact society or the environment. Second, impact investing can help attract more capital to social and environmental causes.

When more people invest in companies or projects that aim to make a difference, it can help to increase the amount of money and resources available to make positive change happen. Those investments, however, may not offer the best opportunities to generate returns. While there’s no way to know for sure how an investment will shake out over time, investors should familiarize themselves with the concept of opportunity costs.

Finally, impact investing can help create jobs and support businesses working to improve society or the environment. This can have a ripple effect, as these businesses often provide goods or services that benefit the community.

đź’ˇ Quick Tip: How to manage potential risk factors in a self-directed investment account? Doing your research and employing strategies like dollar-cost averaging and diversification may help mitigate financial risk when trading stocks.

Examples of Impact Investing

Impact investing is usually done by institutional investors, large asset managers, and private foundations. Some of the largest foundations and funds focused on impact investing include, but are not limited to:

•   The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: This foundation has a $2.5 billion Strategic Investment Fund. This fund makes direct equity investments, provides low-interest loans, and utilizes other impact investing tools in promoting global health and U.S. education.

•   The Ford Foundation: The foundation has committed to invest a portion of its endowment to address social problems while seeking a risk-adjusted market rate of financial return. Its mission-related investments are focused on affordable housing, financial inclusion, and other areas in the U.S. and across the Global South.

•   The Reinvestment Fund: The Philadelphia-based nonprofit finances housing projects, access to health care, educational programs, and job initiatives. It operates primarily by assisting distressed towns and communities in the U.S.

Types of Impact Investments

There are various impact investment areas, including but not limited to microfinance, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and affordable housing.

Impact investments don’t have to be equity investments either; they come in many different investment vehicles, like bonds and alternative investments.

Evaluation Methods for Impact Investors

There are many ways to measure impact investments. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a popular framework for measuring impact. The SDGs are a set of 17 goals that the United Nations adopted in 2015.

The SDGs include goals such as “no poverty,” “zero hunger,” and “good health and well-being.” Each SDG has a specific target to be achieved by the year 2030.

Impact investors often seek to invest in companies or projects that will help achieve one or more of the SDGs. For example, an impact investor might invest in a company working on a new technology to improve water quality, contributing to the SDG goal of ensuring access to water and sanitation for all.

Another popular framework for measuring impact is the Impact Management Project (IMP). The IMP is a global initiative that seeks to develop standards for measuring and managing impact.

💡 Quick Tip: Did you know that opening a brokerage account typically doesn’t come with any setup costs? Often, the only requirement to open a brokerage account — aside from providing personal details — is making an initial deposit.

How to Start an Impact Investment Portfolio

Though foundations and institutional investors are the heart of the impact investing world, individual investors can also make investments in companies and funds that may positively impact society. Here’s how to do it.

1.    Decide what type of investment you want to make, whether that’s in a stock of a company, an exchange-traded fund (ETF) with an impact investing strategy, or bonds.

2.    Next, research the different companies and funds, and find a diversified selection that fits your desires.

3.    Finally, make your investment with a brokerage and monitor your portfolio to ensure that your investments have a positive impact.

In order to become an impact investor, it’s wise to consider both the financial potential of an investment, as well as its social, environmental, or economic impact.

Some investors have a higher risk tolerance than others, and some might be willing to take a lower profit in order to maximize the potential positive impact of their investments.

The Takeaway

Impact investing involves making investments with aims of improving certain outcomes in the world, which may come at the expense of potential returns. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how to balance financial return and social or environmental impact. Impact investors must make investment decisions that are aligned with their values and objectives.

Not all impact investments are created equal. Some impact investments may have a higher financial return potential than others, but may also have a lower social or environmental impact. Similarly, some impact investments may have a higher social or ecological impact but may also have a lower financial return potential. Impact investors must consider both financial return and social or environmental impact when making investment decisions.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.


SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

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.

Fund Fees
If you invest in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) through SoFi Invest (either by buying them yourself or via investing in SoFi Invest’s automated investments, formerly SoFi Wealth), these funds will have their own management fees. These fees are not paid directly by you, but rather by the fund itself. these fees do reduce the fund’s returns. Check out each fund’s prospectus for details. SoFi Invest does not receive sales commissions, 12b-1 fees, or other fees from ETFs for investing such funds on behalf of advisory clients, though if SoFi Invest creates its own funds, it could earn management fees there.
SoFi Invest may waive all, or part of any of these fees, permanently or for a period of time, at its sole discretion for any reason. Fees are subject to change at any time. The current fee schedule will always be available in your Account Documents section of SoFi Invest.


Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected]. Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing.
Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.


Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.

Claw Promotion: Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $25 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. See full terms and conditions.

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