Complete Guide to Loan Protection Insurance

Complete Guide to Loan Protection Insurance

When you take out a loan, you likely have every intention of repaying it in full. But what if something should happen — say, a job loss, illness, or injury — that keeps you from fulfilling your obligation? That’s where loan protection insurance comes in.

Loan protection insurance, also known as credit insurance, is a type of insurance policy specifically designed to cover a borrower’s loan payments should they become unable to make them due to an unforeseen circumstance.

This type of coverage can provide peace of mind — and help protect your credit — in the event of the unexpected. But ​​it comes at a cost, and in some cases, it may not be necessary.

Read on for a closer look at loan insurance, including what it is, how it works, what may be excluded from coverage, and whether or not it’s worth buying.

Loan Protection Insurance Definition

Loan protection insurance is an insurance product that lenders sometimes offer borrowers with certain types of loans, including personal loans. Typically, the insurer will make the loan payments for a set period of time (or up to a predetermined amount) if the policyholder can’t keep up with the obligation because of a covered event.

For example, let’s say you take out a personal loan and opt to purchase credit insurance. If at some point during your repayment term, you lose your job, get into a car accident, or become hospitalized with a serious illness, the insurance can help ensure your debts are paid.


💡 Quick Tip: Before choosing a personal loan, ask about the lender’s fees: origination, prepayment, late fees, etc. One question can save you many dollars.

How Does Loan Protection Insurance Work on Personal Loans?

Personal loan protection insurance is specifically designed to keep a policyholder from defaulting on a personal loan in the event of a financial hardship. Should a covered event take place, the insurer agrees to step in and make payments on the loan for a set period of time, typically between 12 and 24 months.

Events that are often covered by personal loan insurance include:

•   Job loss

•   Sickness

•   Accidents

•   Death

What makes credit insurance unlike other types of insurance policies is that the payments go to the lender, not to the policyholder. Though you’re the one paying the premiums for credit insurance, the payout actually goes to your lender.

Recommended: What Happens If You Default on a Personal Loan?

What Does Loan Protection Insurance Cost?

The cost of loan protection insurance varies widely depending on the insurer, the coverage amount, the length of coverage, your age, the state you live in, and other factors. Typically, the cost is calculated as a percentage of the monthly loan payment, ranging from 1% to 5%. As a result, the larger the loan balance is, the more it costs to insure it.

If you’re considering loan protection insurance, you may want to compare the cost of the policy to other types of insurance — such as life insurance, disability insurance, or accident insurance — especially if these types of coverage are offered for free or at a subsidized rate through your employer.

One way you may be able to reduce the cost of loan protection insurance is to pay the premium in a single payment instead of rolling it into your monthly loan payments. Some credit insurers will offer a sizable discount if you’re willing to pay the full cost of the insurance up front and in full.

What Are the Benefits of Loan Protection Insurance?

Loan protection insurance isn’t necessarily the right fit for everyone, but it does offer some advantages (especially if the policy is reasonably priced). Here are some benefits to consider.

Credit Score

Should an unexpected hardship occur and you’re unable to make your loan payments, loan protection insurance would kick in and prevent you from missing payments or defaulting on the loan — and taking a hit to your credit.

Recommended: What Is Considered a Bad Credit Score?

Save Money

Maintaining a strong credit profile can pay off down the line by helping you qualify for loans with lower rates and better terms. This can help you save you money, and could make the cost of the credit insurance worthwhile. Plus, future employers and landlords may also look at and make decisions based on your credit in the future.

Peace of Mind

Having credit insurance takes some of the pressure off of loan repayment and gives you the comfort of knowing that, should something happen that makes you unable to pay your debt, you’ll be protected.


💡 Quick Tip: With lower fixed interest rates on loans of $5K to $100K, a SoFi personal loan for credit card debt can substantially decrease your monthly bills.

Risks of Having Loan Protection

One big downside to loan protection insurance is that you might end up paying for something you never use. Here are some other drawbacks to consider.

Cost

Loan protection insurance can be expensive compared to stand-alone disability and life insurance policies. It’s worth assessing what type of coverage you already have and comparing the cost of loan insurance to other types of coverage, such as supplemental disability or life insurance.

Coverage Limitations

There may be limitations on coverage that minimize how helpful the policy will actually be. For example, in some cases, a loan protection policy won’t cover a pre-existing illness or won’t kick in if you take on a part-time job or any freelance work after losing your job.

May Not Be Necessary

If your main concern is protecting your family from being liable for your debt should you become unable to pay, know that most loans that are only in your name (and don’t have a cosigner) cannot require your family to make your loan payment if you’re unable to. If you’re not worried about loan default (and potentially losing your assets to creditors), loan protection insurance may not be worth it.

Recommended: Am I Responsible for My Spouse’s Debt?

Common Reasons for Being Refused Loan Protection

Because there are different types of loan protection insurance, and policies can differ from one company to the next, it’s important to review the reasons your policy might not pay out when you make a claim. Here’s a look at some common reasons why claims can be refused.

Part-Time Employment

If you lose your job but take on part-time work to make ends meet, a credit insurance policy may not kick in, and you’ll still need to cover your loan payments.

Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

If you are unable to work because of an illness, injury, or other condition that existed before you purchased the policy, your claim could be refused. It’s important to be clear about which health conditions might not be covered under the policy before you sign up.

Short-Term Employment

If you lose your job because it was a short-term employment contract, you likely won’t qualify for a credit insurance payout, since the work was expected to end at that time.

Self-Employment

Self-employed workers might be able to make a claim if they become sick or disabled, for example, but not if they lose the work that provides their income.

>Being Able to Work Another Type of Job

Recommended: Personal Loan Modification: Is It Possible?

Is Loan Protection Insurance Required?

Loan protection insurance is optional. It’s illegal for a lender to force you to buy the policy in exchange for approving your loan. If you’re securing your personal loan with collateral (a car or some other asset), you may be required to ensure that property, but you don’t have to insure it through the personal loan lender’s policy.

If you feel you were incorrectly told by a lender that because of the purpose of a loan you wouldn’t be approved unless you purchased loan protection insurance, you can submit a complaint to your state attorney general, state insurance commissioner, or the Federal Trade Commission.

Recommended: Does Loan Purpose Matter?

The Takeaway

Loan protection insurance offers borrowers a way to continue making their loan payments and protect their credit scores in the event of an unexpected financial hardship. You can find these policies for different types of lending products, including auto loans, mortgages, personal loans, and credit cards.

However, this protection comes at a cost, and some hardships are excluded from coverage. In many cases, short-term or long-term disability insurance policies can offer better, more cost-effective protection for an unexpected loss of income. So be sure to do your research and read the fine print on all costs and exclusions before you agree to loan protection insurance.

SoFi personal loans offer 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

Can you get protection on a personal loan?

Yes. Loan protection insurance is available for several different kinds of loans, including personal loans. Some lenders also offer their own hardship assistance programs for borrowers who run into trouble making payments due to unexpected circumstances.

What is loan protection insurance?

Loan protection insurance is a type of insurance that is designed to help protect you from defaulting on a loan due to an emergency, loss of income, or unexpected change of circumstances. If a covered event (such as a job loss, accident, or illness) takes place, the insurance would make payments on the loan for a predetermined period of time.

Why should you get personal loan protection insurance?

Personal loan protection insurance can give you the peace of mind that, should you run into financial difficulty, you won’t default on your loan. Avoiding a loan default can help you avoid a host of other negative financial consequences, as well as damage to your credit. However, these policies can be costly and typically come with a number of exclusions. You may find that other types of insurance (such as disability or accident insurance) are more cost effective.


Photo credit: iStock/akinbostanci

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

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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Checking vs Savings Account: Choosing the Best for You

Checking vs Savings Accounts

The main differences between checking and savings accounts is that checking accounts are for spending and come with a debit card and checks, while savings accounts are a place to stash and grow your money via interest earned but your access may be more limited. These two kinds of financial products can form the foundation of how you manage your money day to day.

Read on to learn what the difference between a savings and checking account is, how they are the same, and the role each plays in your financial life.

Key Points

•   Bank transfers move money from one bank account to another.

•   These can be done by online transfers, checks, peer-to-peer services, wire transfers, third-party companies, or bank-to-bank money transfer services.

•   There may be limits on how many bank transfers you can do in a specific time period and the dollar amount.

•   The time it takes to complete a bank transfer may vary with the method.

Quick Comparison of Checking vs Savings Accounts

To help you understand the difference between checking and savings accounts, here is a chart summarizing some key points.

Checking Account Saving Account
Fees Varies Varies
Interest earnings Minimal (if at all) Yes
Debit card access Yes No
Check writing capabilities Yes No
Withdrawal limits None May be capped at 6 per month
Maintenance fees Varies Varies
Minimum opening balance Varies Varies
Best used for Spending Saving

There are similarities when you compare checking vs. savings accounts, such as varied minimum opening deposits, maintenance fees, and other monthly fees. Also, both kinds of accounts are typically insured by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) or NCUA (National Credit Union Administration), which can give you peace of mind.

That said, there are also three major points of difference between checking and savings accounts: how account holders access their money, withdrawal limits, and interest earnings.

Three Major Differences to Know

Consider these three important ways that checking vs. savings accounts can differ.

1. Interest Earnings

When it comes to earning a bit of a return on an online bank account, savings accounts typically offer a higher interest rate than checking accounts. In many cases, checking accounts aren’t interest-bearing, meaning no interest is earned at all. Interest rates for savings accounts vary. The current average is 0.46% APY (compared to a current average of 0.07% APY for checking accounts), according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC. That said, you probably will find higher rates at online banks instead of bricks-and-mortar ones, with rates ranging from 4.35% to 5.15%. By not having physical locations, online banks save money and can pass savings onto their customers.

2. Liquidity

Here’s a key difference between a savings and checking account: Checking accounts are usually used by account holders to access their cash frequently, whether paying monthly bills or buying a latte. Checking accounts generally include a debit card, which can be used for purchases or ATM withdrawals. Checks, while not as popular as they once were, are also typically provided.

Savings accounts, on the other hand, don’t usually come with debit cards. Some financial institutions offer an ATM card for deposits and withdrawals to a savings account. Similarly, they lack checks. This reinforces the idea that these accounts are not for spending.

3. Withdrawal Limits

Checking accounts allow unlimited withdrawals, whereas savings accounts may only allow up to six per month. After that point, the transaction could be denied or the account holder charged a penalty. The bank might even convert the savings account into a checking account.

However, in April 2020, the Federal Reserve lifted this limitation of six transactions imposed through Regulation D. Financial institutions are no longer required to limit savings account withdrawals or transfers to six per month, but some may continue to do so. Check with your financial institution to learn the full story.

Earn up to 4.60% APY with a high-yield savings account from SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings account and earn up to 4.60% APY - with no minimum balance and no account fees.


What Is a Savings Account?

A savings account is an account held at a financial institution such as a bank or credit union, and its primary purpose is to store your funds safely. Most savings accounts allow the account holder to earn interest on the account balance.

A few points to note:

•   Savings account rates are generally higher than those offered with checking accounts (if those pay any interest at all). For this reason, they can be a good option as a savings vehicle for money that the account holder doesn’t need to access frequently.

•   Common uses for savings accounts are emergency funds, short-term savings goals, and funds for occasional expenses. The cash can accumulate in the savings account and have an opportunity to earn interest.

•   As mentioned above, banks can still impose a per-month transaction limit on savings accounts — they’re just not required to by the Fed anymore. There could be fees imposed on these excess transactions, which can add up.

•   Some financial institutions may automatically close an account holder’s savings account or convert the savings account to a checking account if too many withdrawals are made each month on a regular basis.

•   Other financial institutions don’t charge a maintenance fee or require account holders to maintain a minimum account balance, although they may require a minimum deposit to open an account. It’s wise to check with your financial institution to make sure you understand the ground rules.

Benefits of Savings Accounts

Here are some of the upsides of opening and maintaining a savings account:

•   Savings accounts are low-risk, which means you are unlikely to lose money. Rather, you are likely to make money, thanks to interest, especially when that interest compounds.

•   Interest is a plus. By shopping around for high-yield accounts, you may be able to grow your money without the volatility of investing in, say, stocks.

•   Savings accounts are usually insured by the FDIC for up to $250,000 per account holder, per account ownership category, per insured institution. In the highly unlikely event of your bank going out of business, you’d be covered. What’s more, some banks participate in programs that extend the FDIC insurance to cover millions1.

•   Easy access is another plus. Unless term or time deposits, in which your money can be locked up for a specific period of time, savings accounts allow for easy withdrawal of your funds.

•   Peace of mind can come with savings. Having a savings account can help you feel more secure as you work toward your financial goals. For instance, you’ll know that you have funds available if an emergency cropped up.

Recommended: Guide to Using an ATM

What Is a Checking Account?

A checking account is also held at a financial institution, though its primary purpose is to be used for everyday spending. These accounts generally don’t have any withdrawal limits, so account holders can make as many transactions as their heart desires.

•   Debit cards typically come with checking accounts, and can be used for purchases at bricks-and-mortar and online retailers and to withdraw cash from an ATM.)

•   Checking account holders may also be able to use paper checks, either complimentary or purchased by the account holder, which can be used to pay bills and make purchases.

•   Account holders may also access their funds by P2P platforms (such as Venmo or PayPal) and other means.

Checking accounts may not earn as much interest compared to savings accounts, if they earn any interest at all.

Many financial institutions charge the same types of fees for checking accounts and savings accounts, such as monthly maintenance fees. Additional checking account fees may include overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees and out-of-network ATM fees.

Having enough money in the account and sticking with in-network ATMs are good ways to avoid charges like these, but banks are required to disclose certain fees it charges. Take a look at the fee schedule for any particular type of account you are thinking of opening and get acquainted with the details.

Benefits of Checking Accounts

There are many advantages to having a checking account, including:

•   You can pay bills and transfer funds online, in person, or by app; there’s no need to carry around cash for such transactions. Checking accounts can make money management very convenient.

•   Checking accounts are typically insured by the FDIC (or, if you bank with a credit union, NCUA), so your money is safe. Even if the financial institution were to go out of business, you wouldn’t lose your money up to $250,000 per account holder, per account ownership category, per insured institution.

•   Checking accounts can be an affordable way to conduct financial transactions. For instance, your account is likely to come with checks, which can save you the effort and expense of using money orders or other types of payments in many situations.

•   Your checking account may offer rewards, such as cash back opportunities, or if you apply for a loan at the same institution, you may get a better rate.

Recommended: Ways to Avoid Overdraft Fees

The Takeaway

Yes, there are significant differences between checking and savings accounts. They serve quite separate purposes (spending vs. saving) and can be useful in working toward varied financial goals. For many people, however, it’s not a question of which kind of account to open, but where’s the best place to open both.

When you’re looking for the best banks for checking and savings accounts, see what SoFi can offer.

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


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

FAQ

Are interest rates variable on savings and checking accounts?

Savings and checking accounts virtually always have variable interest rates.

Are checking or savings accounts insured?

Yes, both checking and savings accounts are usually insured by the FDIC (or NCUA) for up to $250,000 per account holder, per account ownership category, per insured institution.

Is it better to have most of your money in a savings or checking account?

When comparing checking vs. savings accounts, know this: If you have a chunk of the money that will sit in the bank for a period of time, a savings account can be a wise choice since it will earn interest.


Photo credit: iStock/AleksandarNakic

1SoFi Bank is a member FDIC and does not provide more than $250,000 of FDIC insurance per legal category of account ownership, as described in the FDIC’s regulations. Any additional FDIC insurance is provided by banks in the SoFi Insured Deposit Program. Deposits may be insured up to $2M through participation in the program. See full terms at SoFi.com/banking/fdic/terms. See list of participating banks at SoFi.com/banking/fdic/receivingbanks.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Understanding Market Sentiment

Market sentiment concerns a complicated blend of thoughts, feelings, and actions, all of which have an effect on stock prices and markets. Flip on the cable news and the vibe might have you believe that political statements, economic data points, natural disasters, or global unrest have some sort of predictable or unilateral effect on investing behavior.

And they might! But in a slightly more roundabout way. These events may well change how investors feel about owning certain investments, which leads them to buy or sell those investments. And it is the forces of supply and demand that push asset prices higher or lower. Said another way, investor sentiment, also known as market sentiment, can cause price volatility.

Market Sentiment Defined

The collection of all investor feelings — and actions — amounts to what is called market sentiment. It is a powerful force in the markets and is the subject of much study (and cable news discourse).

Market sentiment is affected by millions of factors daily. That’s because there are at least as many participants in popular marketplaces, like the stock market.

While one investor may be selling stocks because of poor corporate earnings, others might simply sell because they woke up on the wrong side of the bed. It is overly simplified to assume only one cause of changes to asset prices.

💡 Quick Tip: How do you decide if a certain trading platform or app is right for you? Ideally, the investment platform you choose offers the features that you need for your investment goals or strategy, e.g., an easy-to-use interface, data analysis, educational tools.

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

Access stock trading, options, auto investing, IRAs, and more. Get started in just a few minutes.


*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.

Collective Mood Swings

Market sentiment is the phrase used to describe the overall spirit of investors in a market. (The stock market was used in the example above, but market sentiment exists in all investment markets.) Think of market sentiment as a giant mood ring for a particular market at a particular time.

The collective psychology of the market has the power to move stock prices. (How much “we” demand something gives it its value.)

When prices go up, the overall tone of the market is said to be positive, or bullish. When prices move downward, it generally means that investor sentiment is negative, or bearish. Investor attitudes about investments are realized in the price of those investments.

And anyone who watches the market knows that investors can be quite emotional at times. It’s human nature. It’s best that investors accept this reality.

In fact, investors should find it freeing that humans aren’t always rational and that sometimes asset prices can have major swings along with global moods. It is not up to the investor to control the swings of the stock market, but instead to weather them calmly.

While company earnings are the engine that drives stock market returns over time, it is the act of buying and selling that, in the shorter term, can cause the stock market to wiggle.

The stock market is of particular interest when looking at market sentiment. It’s a popular, global market, for one. Second, volatility can be dramatic, unlike markets for bonds. Third, it is easy to witness changes happening in real time.

The stock marketplace is like few marketplaces in the world, where prices are updated constantly in direct relation to the buying and selling of items in question. (Imagine how wild that would be if it happened at a grocery store.)

Market sentiment is considered an important tool for market analysis. It is used to make decisions about the very market the sentiment applies to.

Market Sentiment as an Indicator

When analyzing markets in an effort to predict them, indicators are used. An indicator is a sign or trigger that may hold some sort of valuable information. Market sentiment is one such indicator.

Compare market sentiment as an indicator with fundamental analysis, which largely relates to business performance, projected business performance, and the prevailing conditions for business performance.

Imagine a new tax law that’s expected to have a strong impact on the profitability of businesses in a certain industry. This would be considered a fundamental indicator.

Sometimes sentiment indicators and fundamental indicators can be at odds with each other. Fundamental indicators appear to point in one direction, but investor emotion may say otherwise.

For example, a business could have poor business fundamentals, and investors may still feel exuberant about that company and pile into its stock, which pushes the price of that stock higher.

Examples of Market Sentiment as an Indicator

There are many ways in which market sentiment is used as a market indicator. Then there are even more interpretations for what that data could mean.

It’s important to realize that no market indicators should be taken alone as fact. Why? Market indicators are in the business of predicting the future, which, in the stock market and otherwise, is a difficult thing to do.

In forecasting the general trajectory of the stock market, investor sentiment is sometimes used as a contrary indicator.

As the old adage goes, “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” In a broad sense, when market sentiment is poor, it could indicate that it’s a good time to invest. When market sentiment is hot, it could be a bad time to invest.

When do people feel the worst about investing? At market bottoms, when prices are low. When do investors feel best? After the market has done well, which could indicate that prices are too high.

This is a characteristic of market bubbles, where investor mania causes prices to soar beyond their fundamental value. (Exhibit A was the dot com bubble, which saw investors piling into internet stocks, some of which never had so much as a quarter of positive earnings.)

Another instance in which sentiment might be used to assess an investment is through a strategy called value investing. With this method, investors attempt to uncover underpriced stocks — stocks whose price is lower than the believed value.

This could mean looking for a stock that has a strong fundamental foundation but that has yet to catch fire with investors, or a stock that is being punished (perhaps unnecessarily) by investors. Finding the proverbial diamond in the rough requires both an understanding of a company’s fundamentals and the market sentiment surrounding it.

Day trading, which is the practice of making bets on the price movement of a security during the trading day, relies on what are called technical indicators. And because of the power of investor attitudes to move prices, factors of sentiment can play an important role in short-term market changes.

For example, technical traders may look at a security’s historical price movement, called moving averages, in an attempt to surmise what will happen going forward. It is common to look at both 50-day and 200-day simple moving averages in an attempt to predict what happens next.

Other examples of sentiment indices are the High-Low Index, the CBOE Volatility Index, also known as the “fear” index, and the Bullish Percent Index.

The BPI measures the number of stocks with bullish and bearish patterns according to point and figure charts, ultimately producing a read on the sentiment of the overall market. An output of 50% is neutral, while reads above 80% are bullish and below 20%, bearish.

Some investors might argue that the above technical indicators have a serious limitation: They are using data from the past to project into the future and that the future is more or less unknown.

💡 Quick Tip: When you’re actively investing in stocks, it’s important to ask what types of fees you might have to pay. For example, brokers may charge a flat fee for trading stocks, or require some commission for every trade. Taking the time to manage investment costs can be beneficial over the long term.

Building an Investment Strategy

Market sentiment concerns the overall thoughts, feelings, and actions of market participants, and has an effect on what happens in the stock market. Negative sentiment can drive stock values down, while positive sentiment can lead to market euphoria and higher values.

It can be difficult to keep up with market sentiment, or to even read it accurately. But knowing what sentiment is, and how it can affect the markets, can be important 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).

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

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What Is a Stock Market Crash?

The specter of a stock market crash weighs on the mind of many investors. After all, stock market crashes have played a substantial role in the United States during the 20th and 21st centuries. But knowing what is a stock market crash as well as the history and effects of stock market crashes can help investors weather the storm when the next one occurs.

What Happens When the Stock Market Crashes?

A stock market crash occurs when broad-based stock indices like the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, or the Nasdaq Composite experience double-digit declines over a single or several days. This means that the stocks of a wide range of companies sell off rapidly, generally because of investor panic and macroeconomic factors rather than company-specific fundamentals.

While no specific percentage decline defines a stock market crash, investors generally know one is occurring while it’s happening.

💡 Quick Tip: Before opening any investment account, consider what level of risk you are comfortable with. If you’re not sure, start with more conservative investments, and then adjust your portfolio as you learn more.

What Causes the Market to Crash?

Stock market crashes are usually unexpected and occur without warning. Often, crashes are caused by investor dynamics; when stocks start to sell off, investors’ fear takes over and causes them to panic sell shares en masse.

Though stock market crashes are usually unexpected, there are often signs that one could be on the horizon because a stock market bubble is inflating. A bubble occurs when stock prices rise quickly during a bull market, outpacing the value of the underlying companies. The bubble forms as investors buy certain stocks, driving prices up. Other investors may see the stocks doing well and jump on board, further raising prices and initiating a self-sustaining growth cycle.

The stock price growth continues until some unexpected event makes investors wary of stocks. This unexpected event causes investors to unload shares as quickly as possible, with the herd mentality of panic selling resulting in a stock market crash.

Catastrophic events such as economic crises, natural disasters, pandemics, and wars can also trigger stock market crashes. During these events, investors sell off risky assets like stocks for relatively safe investments like bonds.

Stock markets can also experience flash crashes, where the stock market plummets and rebounds within minutes. Computer trading algorithms can make these crashes worse by automatically reacting and selling stocks to head off losses. For example, on May 6, 2010, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,000 points in 10 minutes but recovered 70% of its losses by the end of the day.

Recommended: What Is the Average Stock Market Return?

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Examples of Past Stock Market Crashes

There have been several crashes in the stock market history, the most recent being the crash associated with the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. The following are some of the most well-known crashes during the past 100 years.

Stock Market Crash of 1929

The most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States occurred in October 1929. The crash occurred following a period of relative prosperity during the Roaring Twenties, when new investors poured money into the stock market.

The crash began on Thursday, October 24, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined about 11%, followed by a 13% decline on Monday, October 28, and a 12% drop on Tuesday, October 29. These losses started a downward trend that would continue until 1932, ushering in the Great Depression.

Black Monday Crash of 1987

On Monday, October 19, 1987, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted nearly 23% in a single day. Known as Black Monday, this selloff occurred for various reasons, including the rise of computerized trading that made it easier for panicked investors to offload stocks quickly, and stock markets around the world crashed.

Dotcom Crash of 2000

The Dotcom crash between 2000 and 2002 occurred as investors started to pull money away from internet-based companies. The Nasdaq Composite index declined about 77% from March 2000 to October 2002.

In the mid to late 1990s, the internet was widely available to consumers worldwide. Investors turned their eyes to internet-based companies, leading to rampant speculation as they snapped up stocks of newly public internet companies. Eventually, startups that enthusiastic investors had fueled began to run out of money as they failed to turn a profit. The bubble eventually burst.

Recommended: Lessons From the Dotcom Bubble

Financial Crisis of 2008

The stock market crash of 2008 was fueled by rising housing prices, which came on the heels of the dot-com crash recovery. At the time, banks were issuing more and more subprime mortgages, which financial institutions would bundle and sell as mortgage-backed securities.

As the Federal Reserve increased interest rates, homeowners, who often had been given mortgages they couldn’t afford, began to default on their loans. The defaults had a ripple effect throughout the economy. The value of mortgage-backed securities plummeted, causing major financial institutions to fail or approach the brink of failure. This financial crisis spilled over into the stock market, and the S&P 500 fell nearly 60% from a peak in October 2007 to a low in March 2009.

Coronavirus Crash of 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic swept the United States in February 2020, the government responded with stay-at-home orders that shut down businesses and curtailed travel. The U.S. economy entered a recession, and the stock market plunged. The S&P 500 fell 30% into bear market territory in just one month, including a one day decline of 12% on March 16, 2020.

What Are the Effects of a Crash?

Stock market crashes can lead to bear markets, when the market falls by 20% or more from a previous peak. If the crash leads to an extended period of economic decline, the economy may enter a recession.

A market crash could lead to a recession because companies rely heavily on stocks as a way to grow. Falling stock prices curtail a company’s ability to grow, which can have all sorts of ramifications. Companies that aren’t able to earn as much as they need may lay off workers. Workers without jobs aren’t able to spend as much. As consumers start spending less, corporate profits begin to shrink. This pattern can lead to a cycle of overall economic contraction.

A recession is usually declared when U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP, shrinks for two consecutive quarters. There may be other criteria for declaring a recession, such as a decline in economic activity reflected in real incomes, employment, production, and sales.

💡 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.

Preventing Stock Market Crashes

Major stock exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) have instituted circuit breaker measures to protect against crashes. These measures halt trading after markets drop a certain percentage to curb panic selling and prevent the markets from going into a freefall.

The NYSE’s circuit breakers kick in when three different thresholds are met. A drop of 7% or 13% in the S&P 500 shuts down trading for 15 minutes when the drop occurs between 9 am and 3:25 pm. A market decline of 20% during the day will shut down trading for the rest of the day.

Suppose a crash does occur, and it threatens to weaken the economy. In that case, the federal government may step in to ease the situation through monetary and fiscal policy stimulus measures. Monetary policy stimulus is a set of tools the Federal Reserve can use to stimulate economic growth, such as lowering interest rates. Fiscal stimulus is generally infusions of cash through direct spending or tax policy.

Investment Tips During a Market Crash

A stock market crash can be alarming, especially when it comes to an investor’s portfolio. Here are some investment tips to consider for navigating a market downturn.

Don’t Panic and Focus on the Long-Term

It will help if you remain calm when the stock market is plummeting. That’s often easier said than done, especially when your portfolio’s value declines by more than 10% in a short period. It’s tempting to join the panic selling, to make sure stock losses are minimized.

But remember, investing is a long game. In general, making decisions based on something happening now when your investing time horizon might be 30 years, may not be the best choice. If you don’t need access to your money right away, it may be better to hold on to your investments and give them time to recover.

Diversify Your Portfolio

Stocks and the stock market get most of the media’s attention, especially when the stock market is crashing, but there are other potential ways to help you realize your financial goals. Other assets like bonds, commodities, or emerging market stocks may be attractive investment opportunities to consider during a crash.

Consider Buying The Dip

While it depends on an individual’s specific situation and risk tolerance, a stock market crash might present opportunities to purchase stocks at a lower, more attractive share price that some investors may want to consider.

The Takeaway

The stock market tends to recover following a stock market crash; it took the S&P 500 six months to recover the losses experienced during the coronavirus crash. So any rash moves investors make during a stock market crash may prevent them from seeing gains in the long term.

A stock market crash can be scary, causing you to panic and fret over your savings and investments. But often, with investing, the best advice is not to make rash decisions. Even during a stock market crash, there may still be some opportunities and strategies to help build wealth over time.

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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FAQ

When was the last market crash?

The last stock market crash was in 2020, at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, when business shut down and the stock market plunged. The S&P 500 fell 30% in just one month. Within six months, however, the S&P 500 had recovered its losses.

What goes up when the stock market crashes?

Bonds generally tend to go up when the stock market crashes, although not always. Government bonds such as U.S. Treasuries typically do best during a market crash, though again, there are no guarantees.

Do stocks recover after a crash?

Historically, the stock market has recovered after a crash, although it’s impossible to say how long a recovery might take. Some stock market recoveries have taken a year or less, some have taken much longer.


Photo credit: iStock/Prostock-Studio

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

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

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.

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

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