What Are Commodities? How Do They Fit Into the Stock Market?

Commodities are the raw materials that are the building blocks of most types of production, whether for commercial, military, or industrial goods. Different types of grain, livestock, metals, and energy sources (such as crude oil) are some of the most common commodities.

Although commodities may offer some advantages to investors, commodities are considered a high-risk market, as prices can fluctuate based on numerous factors that are hard to anticipate: e.g. weather events; regional political changes; supply chain issues, and more.

Nonetheless, investing in commodities can be useful for diversification because commodities tend to have a low correlation with traditional asset classes like stocks and bonds. Commodities are considered alternative investments, and thus they may be better suited to some investors than others.

Key Points

•   Commodities are raw materials used in production, including grain, livestock, metals, and energy sources like crude oil.

•   Investing in commodities can offer diversification as they have a low correlation with traditional assets.

•   Commodities can be traded on commodities exchanges through futures contracts or through investment vehicles like mutual funds and ETFs.

•   Commodities prices are influenced by factors like supply and demand, weather events, and geopolitical changes.

•   Commodities trading carries risks due to price volatility and external factors, making it important to consider personal risk tolerance.

What Is a Commodity?

A commodity is a raw material that can be bought, sold, or traded according to its value in producing other types of goods. Some commodities, like sugar or beef, may be consumed directly.

Understanding Commodities

Many of the things you use or consume in everyday life start off in commodity form. For example, the gas you put in your car is created by refining crude oil.

The hallmark of a commodity is that a unit of one type of commodity rarely differs substantially from another unit of that commodity. Thus one bushel of corn is equivalent to any other bushel of corn. One bar of gold is interchangeable with any other bar of gold.

This is quite different from traditional investments like stocks and bonds, where the quality of one stock can vary widely from another; or where one bond may get a triple-A rating and another is rated as junk.

Another difference is that the market forces that impact the movement of stocks or bonds often don’t apply to commodities, which are driven by supply and demand. So an inflationary period could hurt the performance of stocks or bonds, but might benefit commodities when the prices of certain goods rise.

This is one reason why commodities are considered alternative investments, which are not correlated with the movements of more traditional assets and thus can offer investors some diversification.

Trading Commodities

While stocks are traded on a stock exchange, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or Nasdaq, commodities and commodities futures are traded on a commodities exchange, such as the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYME) or the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).

The Chicago Board of Trade has established standards of measurement and grades of quality for different types of commodities that facilitate commodities trading. For example, there are 5,000 bushels of #2 yellow corn per corn contract, and corn can be traded on the spot or cash market, or the futures market.

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Commodity Types and Examples

Broadly speaking, commodities can be divided into one of two categories: hard or soft.

•   Hard commodities generally must be mined or otherwise extracted from the earth.

•   Soft commodities are sourced naturally either through agriculture or cultivation.

Hard and soft commodities can serve different purposes in the global economy and supply chain. Within these broader categories, you can further distinguish specific types of commodities from one another.

Types of Commodities Examples

Hard

•   Energy

•   Precious Metals

•   Industrial Metals

•   Aluminum Copper

•   Crude Oil

•   Diesel

•   Gold

•   Lead

•   Natural Gas

•   Nickel

•   Palladium

•   Platinum

•   Silver

•   Tin

•   Zinc

Soft

•   Agricultural Products

•   Livestock

•   Cattle

•   Coffee

•   Corn

•   Cotton

•   Orange juice

•   Palm Oil

•   Pork

•   Soybeans

•   Sugar

•   Tea

•   Wheat

Hard and soft commodities may be traded globally but have a smaller geographic footprint in terms of where they’re sourced from.

For example, nearly 100 countries around the world produce crude oil, but five countries are responsible for 52% of the supply. China, meanwhile, is the world’s largest producer of wheat, generating around 17% of total production.

How Are Commodities Traded on the Stock Market?

Commodities are most often traded on an exchange using futures contracts. A commodity futures contract is an agreement to either buy or sell a specified quantity of a commodity at some future date at a predetermined price. It’s important to note that commodities futures are not regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Futures are not the only way to trade commodities, however. Investors may also choose to pursue:

•   Direct investment via cash (on the spot market)

•   Mutual funds

•   Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

•   Exchange-traded notes (ETNs)

•   Commodity-linked stocks and bonds

Of these options, direct investment tends to prove the most difficult for individual investors. Trading commodities through direct investment requires the exchange of physical goods. However, physically holding one ton of wheat or 1,000 head of cattle isn’t a realistic expectation for most commodities traders.

Mutual funds and ETFs can offer an easier access point to the commodities market while allowing investors to diversify. Rather than tying up investment dollars in a single commodity, an investor may diversify across several different types of commodities within a single fund or ETF.

Regardless of how someone invests in commodities, there are real risks to weigh. Commodities can be highly volatile as there are a variety of outside factors that can influence the direction in which prices move.

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What Determines Commodities Prices?

Supply and demand play an integral role in determining how commodities are valued. When supply exceeds demand, e.g. if there were a drop-off in the demand for copper, the price of that commodity would also likely drop. But if a new technology like AI emerges, creating demand for precious metals, that could drive some commodities prices up.

Global events, such as widespread flooding or war can also trigger fluctuations in commodity prices.

Volatility in commodities pricing can have far-reaching effects on the global economy. Research from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggests that swings in commodity prices, meaning what a country pays for its imported commodities vs. what it collects for exported ones, have the potential to hinder long-term economic growth, particularly for those countries that are significant exporters.5

The IMF also determined that instability in commodity prices may also increase volatility in domestic inflation. Rising prices for basic domestic goods, such as food or energy, can be especially burdensome in countries that have developing economies.

The Takeaway

What are commodities? Commodities are all around you, from the clothes you wear to the foods you eat, to the technology you use at home and at work.

Within the financial markets, commodities play an important role in price regulation for consumer goods. As an investor, commodities trading can open up new avenues to diversification, though it’s wise to consider how these investments align with your personal risk tolerance.

Ready to expand your portfolio's growth potential? Alternative investments, traditionally available to high-net-worth individuals, are accessible to everyday investors on SoFi's easy-to-use platform. Investments in commodities, real estate, venture capital, and more are now within reach. Alternative investments can be high risk, so it's important to consider your portfolio goals and risk tolerance to determine if they're right for you.


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FAQ

What Is a Commodity vs. a Stock?

A commodity is a raw material that’s used to create something else, such as crude oil that’s refined into gasoline or wheat that’s used to produce bread. Whereas a stock represents an ownership share in a company.

Are commodities riskier than stocks?

Commodities can be riskier than stocks because they’re often speculative in nature and their pricing can be highly volatile. Some types of commodities may prove more stable than others, though it’s important to consider how supply and demand may affect pricing.

What is the safest commodity to invest in?

There are no “safe” investments, and there is always the risk of loss when investing. With commodities, choosing one that is more insulated from fluctuations in pricing can be beneficial, but this can be difficult to predict. Gold and some precious metals may fare well when inflation rises, or there’s increased uncertainty in the markets about interest rates. Again there are no guarantees.


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Dividends: What They Are and How They Work

A dividend is when a company periodically gives its shareholders a payment in cash, additional shares of stock, or property. The size of that dividend payment depends on the company’s dividend yield and how many shares you own.

Not all companies pay dividends, but many investors look to buy stock in companies that pay them as a way to generate regular income in addition to stock price appreciation. A dividend investing strategy is one way many investors look to make money from stocks and build wealth.

Key Points

•   Dividends are payments made by companies to shareholders, either in cash, additional shares of stock, or property.

•   Dividend payments are based on the company’s dividend yield and the number of shares owned by the investor.

•   Dividends can be paid out in cash or additional stock, and they usually follow a fixed schedule.

•   Companies are not required to pay dividends, and dividend payments are not always guaranteed.

•   Dividend stocks can provide regular passive income, offer dividend reinvestment plans, and may have tax advantages.

What Is a Dividend?

A dividend payment is a portion of a company’s earnings paid out to the shareholders. For every share of stock an investor owns, they get paid an amount of the company’s profits.

The total amount an investor receives in a dividend payment is based on the number of shares they own. For example, if a stock pays a quarterly dividend of $1 per share and the investor owns 50 shares, they would receive a dividend of $50 each quarter.

Companies can pay out dividends in cash, called a cash dividend, or additional stock, known as a stock dividend.

Generally, dividend payouts happen on a fixed schedule. Most dividend-paying companies will pay out their dividends quarterly. However, some companies pay out dividends annually, semi-annually (twice a year), or monthly.

Occasionally, companies will pay out dividends at random times, possibly due to a windfall in cash from a business unit sale. These payouts are known as special dividends or extra dividends.

A company is not required to pay out a dividend. There are no established rules for dividends; it’s entirely up to the company to decide if and when they pay them. Some companies pay dividends regularly, and others never do.

Even if companies pay dividends regularly, they are not always guaranteed. A company can skip or delay dividend payments as needed. For example, a company may withhold a dividend if they had a quarter with negative profits. However, such a move may spook the market, resulting in a drop in share price as investors sell the struggling company.

Types of Dividends

As noted, the most common types of dividends are cash dividends and stock dividends.

Cash dividends are dividends paid out in the form of cash to shareholders. Cash dividends are the most common form of dividend. Stock dividends are, likewise, more or less what they sound like: Dividends paid out in the form of additional stock. Generally, shareholders receive additional common stock.

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How Are Dividends Paid Out?

There are four critical dates investors need to keep in mind to determine when dividends are paid and see if they qualify to receive a dividend payment.

•   Declaration Date: The day when a company’s board of directors announces the next dividend payment. The company will inform investors of the date of record and the payable date on the declaration date. The company will notify shareholders of upcoming dividend payments by a press release on the declaration day.

•   Date of Record: The date of record, also known as the record date, is when a company will review its books to determine who its shareholders are and who will be entitled to a dividend payment.

•   Ex-dividend date: The ex-dividend date, typically set one business day before the record date, is an important date for investors. Before the ex-dividend date, investors who own the stock will receive the upcoming dividend payment. However, if you were to buy a stock on or after an ex-dividend date, you are not eligible to receive the future dividend payment.

•   Payable date: This is when the company pays the dividend to shareholders.

Example of Dividend Pay Out

Shareholders who own dividend-paying stocks would calculate their payout using a dividend payout ratio. Effectively, that’s the percentage of the company’s profits that are paid out to shareholders, which is determined by the company.

The formula is as follows: Dividend payout ratio = Dividends paid / net income

As an example, assume a company reported net income of $100,000 and paid out $20,000 in dividends. In this case, the dividend payout ratio would be 20%. Shareholders would either receive a cash payout in their brokerage account, or see their total share holdings increase after the payout.

Why Do Investors Buy Dividend Stocks?

As mentioned, dividend payments and stock price appreciation make up a stock’s total return. But beyond being an integral part of total stock market returns, dividend-paying stocks present unique opportunities for investors in the following ways.

Passive Dividend Income

Many investors look to buy stock in companies that pay dividends to generate a regular passive dividend income. They may be doing this to replace a salary — e.g., in retirement — or supplement their current income. Investors who are following an income-producing strategy tend to favor dividend-paying stocks, government and corporate bonds, and real estate investment trusts (REITs).

Dividend Reinvestment Plans

A dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP) allows investors to reinvest the money earned from dividend payments into more shares, or fractional shares, of that stock. A DRIP can help investors take advantage of compounding returns as they benefit from a growing share price, additional shares of stock, and regular dividend payments. The periodic payments from dividend stocks can be useful when utilizing a dividend reinvestment plan.

Dividend Tax Advantages

Another reason that investors may target dividend stocks is that they may receive favorable tax treatment depending on their financial situation, how long they’ve held the stock, and what kind of account holds the stock.

There are two types of dividends for tax purposes: ordinary and qualified. Ordinary dividends are taxable as ordinary income at your regular income tax rate. However, a dividend is eligible for the lower capital gains tax rate if it meets specific criteria to be a qualified dividend. These criteria are as follows:

•   It must be paid by a U.S. corporation or a qualified foreign corporation.

•   The dividends are not the type listed by the IRS under dividends that are not qualified dividends.

•   You must have held the stock for more than 60 days in the 121-day period that begins 60 days before the ex-dividend date.

Investors can take advantage of the favorable tax treatments of qualified dividends when paying taxes on stocks.

How to Evaluate Dividend Stocks

Evaluating dividend stocks requires some research, like evaluating other types of stocks. There’s analysis to be done, but investors will also want to take special care to look at prospective dividend yields and other variables related to dividends.

In all, investors would likely begin by digging through a stock’s financial reports and earnings data, and then looking at its dividend yield.

Analysis

As noted, investors may want to start their stock evaluations by looking at the data available, including balance sheets, cash flow statements, quarterly and annual earnings reports, and more. They can also crunch some numbers to get a sense of a company’s overall financial performance.

Dividend Yield

A dividend yield is a financial ratio that shows how much a company pays out in dividends relative to its share price. The dividend yield can be a valuable indicator to compare stocks that trade for different dollar amounts and with varying dividend payments.

Here’s how to calculate the dividend yield for a stock:

Dividend Yield = Annual Dividend Per Share ÷ Price Per Share

To use the dividend yield to compare two different stocks, consider two companies that pay a similar $4 annual dividend. A stock of Company A costs $95 per share, and a stock of Company B costs $165.

Using the formula above, we can see that Company A has a higher dividend yield than Company B. Company A has a dividend yield of 4.2% ($4 annual dividend ÷ $95 per share = 4.2%). Company B has a yield of 2.4% ($4 annual dividend ÷ $165 per share = 2.4%).

If investors are looking to invest in a company with a relatively high dividend yield, they may invest in Company A.

While this formula helps compare dividend yields, there may be other factors to consider when deciding on the suitable investment. There are many reasons a company could have a high or low dividend yield, and some insight into dividend yields is necessary for further analysis.

Tax Implication of Dividends

Dividends do, generally, trigger a tax liability for investors. There may be some special considerations at play, so if you have a lot of dividends, it may be beneficial to consult with a financial professional to get a sense of your overall tax liabilities.

But in a broad sense, regular dividends are taxed like ordinary income if they’re reinvested. If an investor receives stock dividends, though, that’s typically not taxable until the investor sells the holdings later on. Further, qualified dividends are usually taxed at lower rates that apply to capital gains – but there may be some variables involved that can change that.

Investors who do receive dividends should receive a tax form, a 1099-DIV, from the payor of the dividends if the annual payout is at least $10.

💡 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.

The Takeaway

Dividends are a way that companies compensate shareholders just for owning the stock, usually in the form of a cash payment. Many investors look to dividend-paying stocks to take advantage of the regular income the payments provide and the stock price appreciation in total returns.

Additionally, dividend-paying companies can be seen as stable companies, while growth companies, where value comes from stock price appreciation, may be riskier. If your investment risk tolerance is low, investing in dividend-paying companies may be worthwhile.

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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.

FAQ

Are dividends free money?

In a way, dividends may seem or feel like free money, but in another sense, they’re more like a reward for shareholders for owning a portion of a company.

Where do my dividends go?

Depending on the type of dividend, they’re usually distributed into an investor’s brokerage account in the form of cash or additional stock. The specifics depend on the type of account that dividend-paying stocks are held in, among other things.

How do I know if a stock pays dividends?

Investors can look at the details of stocks through their brokerage or government regulators’ websites. The information isn’t hard to find, typically, and some brokerages allow investors to search specifically for dividend-paying stocks, too.


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.

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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Should I Use a Dividend Reinvestment Plan?

Dividend Reinvestment Plans: How DRIP Investing Works

A dividend reinvestment plan, or DRIP, allows investors to reinvest the cash dividends they receive from their stocks into more shares of that stock. Hundreds of companies, funds, and brokerages offer DRIPs to shareholders. Reinvesting dividends through a DRIP may come with a discount on share prices or no commissions.

Of course, it’s possible to simply keep the cash dividends to spend or save, or use them to buy shares of a different stock. If you’re wondering, should I reinvest dividends?, it helps to know the pros and cons of dividend reinvestment programs and how they work.

Key Points

•   Dividend reinvestment plans (DRIPs) allow investors to reinvest cash dividends into more shares of the same stock.

•   DRIPs can be offered by companies or through brokerages, with potential discounts on share prices or no commissions.

•   There are two types of DRIPs: company-operated DRIPs and DRIPs through brokerages.

•   Reinvesting dividends through a DRIP may lead to greater long-term returns due to compounding.

•   However, DRIPs have limitations, such as tying up cash, risk exposure, and limited flexibility in choosing where to reinvest funds.

What Is Dividend Reinvestment?

Dividend reinvestment typically means using the dividends you receive to purchase additional shares of stock in the same company rather than taking the dividend as a payout.

When you initially buy a share of dividend-paying stock, you typically have the option of choosing whether you’ll want to reinvest your dividends automatically.

Need a refresher on dividends? Check out what a dividend is and how they work.

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What Is a Dividend Reinvestment Plan?

Depending on which stocks you invest in, you may have the option to enroll in a Dividend Reinvestment Plan or DRIP. This type of plan, offered by about 650 companies and 500 closed-end funds, allows you to automatically reinvest dividends as they’re paid out into additional shares of stock.

💡 Quick Tip: Investment fees are assessed in different ways, including trading costs, account management fees, and possibly broker commissions. When you set up an investment account, be sure to get the exact breakdown of your “all-in costs” so you know what you’re paying.

Types of Dividend Reinvestment Plans

There are two main types of dividend reinvestment plans. They are:

Company DRIPs

With this type of plan, the company operates its own DRIP as a program that’s offered to shareholders. Investors who choose to participate simply purchase the shares directly from the company, and DRIP shares are often offered to them at a discounted price. Some companies allow investors to do full or partial reinvestment, or to purchase fractional shares.

DRIPs through a brokerage

Many brokerages also provide dividend reinvestment as well. Investors can set up their brokerage account to automatically reinvest in shares they own that pay dividends.

DRIP Example

Here’s a dividend reinvestment example that illustrates how a company-operated DRIP works. If you own 20 shares of a stock that has a current trading value of $100 per share, and the company announces that it will pay $10 in dividends per share of stock, then the company would pay you $200 in dividends that year.

If you choose to reinvest the dividends, you would own 22 shares of that stock ($200 in dividends/$100 of current trading value = 2 new shares of stock added to your original 20). If the stock price was $200, you’d be able to purchase a single share; if it was $50, you could theoretically reinvest and own an additional four shares.

If, instead, you want cash, then you’d receive $200 to spend or save, and you’d still have the initial 20 shares of the stock.

Pros and Cons of DRIPs

If you’re wondering, should I reinvest dividends?, it’s a good idea to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of DRIPs. But note, too, that some of the pros and cons may be specific to one of the two types of DRIPs: Those offered through a company, and those through a brokerage.

Pros of Dividend Reinvestment Plans

On the “pros” side, one reason to reinvest your dividends is that it may help to position you for potentially greater long-term returns, thanks to the power of compounding returns, which may hold true whether investing through a company-operated DRIP, or one through a brokerage.

Generally, if a company pays out the same level of dividends each year — whether that’s 2%, 3%, or another amount — and you take your dividends in cash, then you’ll keep getting the same amount in dividends each year (assuming you don’t buy any additional shares).

But if you take your dividends and reinvest them through a DRIP, then you’ll have more shares of stock next year, and then more the year after that — which means, ideally, that the dollar amount of the dividends (at least in our example where the payout percentage is the same each year) will keep rising. Over a period of time, the amount you would receive during subsequent payouts could increase.

An important caveat, however: Real-life situations aren’t often as straightforward as this example, of course. For one thing, stock prices aren’t likely to stay exactly the same for an extended period of time.

Plus, there’s no guarantee that dividends will be paid out each period; and even if they are, there is no way to know for sure how much they’ll be. The performance of the company and the general economy can have a significant impact on company profitability and, therefore, typically affect dividends given to shareholders.

There are more benefits associated with DRIPs:

•   You may get a discount: Discounts on DRIP shares can be anywhere from 1% to 10%, depending on the type of DRIP (company-operated) and the specific company.

•   Zero commission: Most company-operated DRIP programs may allow you to buy new shares without paying commission fees. However, many brokerages offer zero-commission trading outside of DRIPs these days, too.

•   Fractional shares: DRIPs may allow you to reinvest into fractional shares, rather than whole shares that may be at a pricier level than you wish to purchase. This may be an option with either a company-operated or brokerage-operated DRIP.

•   Dollar-cost averaging: This is a common strategy investors use to manage price volatility. You invest the same amount of money on a regular basis (every week, month, quarter) no matter what the price of the asset is.

Cons of Dividend Reinvestment Plans

Dividend reinvestment plans also come with some potential negatives.

•   The cash is tied up. First, reinvesting dividends obviously puts that money out of reach if you need it, which may be particularly true for company-operated DRIP plans. That can be a downside if you want or need the money for, say, home improvements, a tuition bill, or an upcoming vacation.

•   Risk exposure. You should also keep potential risk factors in mind. For example, you may have concerns about the stock market in general, or about the particular company where you’re a shareholder, and reinvesting your cash into more equities may seem unwise.

Or you may need to rebalance your portfolio. If you’ve been reinvesting your dividends, and the stock portion of your portfolio has grown, using a DRIP could inadvertently put your allocation further out of whack.

•   Flexibility concerns. Another possible drawback to consider is that when your dividends are automatically reinvested through a DRIP, they will go right back into the company that issued the dividend. Though some company-operated DRIPs do give investors options (such as full or partial reinvestment), some investors may find that those DRIPs offer limited options as to where to reinvest their funds.

Perhaps you’d simply rather buy stock from another company – an option which may be available through a brokerage-operated DRIP. Note, though, that even brokerage-operated DRIPs may reinvest dividends as soon as they’re paid, so investors may not have a chance to redirect the investment.

•   Less liquidity. Also, when you use a company-operated DRIP, and later wish to sell those shares, you must sell them back to the company in many cases. DRIP shares cannot be sold on exchanges. Again, this will depend on the specific company and DRIP, but is something investors should keep in mind.

💡 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.

Cash vs Reinvested Dividends

Should I reinvest dividends or take cash instead? How you approach this question can depend on several things, including:

•   Your short-term financial goals

•   Long-term financial goals

•   Income needs

Accepting the cash value of your dividends can provide you with ongoing income. That may be important to you if you’re looking for a way to supplement your paychecks during your working years, or for other income sources if you’re already retired.

As mentioned earlier, you could use that cash income to further a number of financial goals. For instance, you might use cash dividend payouts to pay off debt, fund home improvements or put your kids through college. Or you may use it to help pay for long-term care during your later years.

You might consider a cash option for dividends rather than reinvesting dividends if you’re already building sufficient wealth for retirement in your portfolio. That way, you can free up the cash now to enjoy it or address other current priorities.

Cash may also be more attractive if you’re comfortable with your current portfolio configuration and don’t want to purchase additional shares of the dividend stocks you already own.

On the other hand, reinvesting dividends automatically through a DRIP could help you to increase your savings for retirement. This assumes, of course, that your investments perform well and that the stocks you own don’t decrease or eliminate their dividend payout over time.

Tax Consequences of Dividends

For those wondering, do you have to pay taxes on reinvested dividends?, one thing to keep in mind is that dividends — whether you cash them out or reinvest them — are not free money. There may be tax consequences when you receive dividends because if the amount is significant enough, you might need to pay income taxes on what you’ve earned.

Each year, you’ll receive a tax form called a 1099-DIV for each investment that paid you dividends, and these forms will help you to determine how much you owe in taxes on those earnings.

Dividends are considered taxable whether you take them in cash or reinvest them — even though when you reinvest, the money isn’t currently available for you to spend.

The exception to that rule is for funds invested in retirement accounts, such as an online IRA, as the money invested in these accounts is tax-deferred. If you have received or believe you may receive dividends this year, it can make sense to get professional tax advice to see how you can minimize your tax liability.

Should You Reinvest Dividends?

Reinvesting dividends through a dividend reinvestment plan is partly a short-term decision, and mostly a long-term one.

If you need the cash from the dividend payouts in the near term, or have doubts about the market or the company you’d be reinvesting in (or you’d rather purchase another stock), you may not want to use a DRIP.

If on the other hand you don’t have an immediate need for the cash, and you can see the value of compounding the growth of your shares in the company over the long haul, reinvesting dividends could make sense.

The Takeaway

Reinvesting dividends and using a dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP) is an automatic feature investors can use to take their dividend payouts and use them to purchase more shares of the company’s stock. However, it’s important to consider all the scenarios before you decide to surrender your cash dividends to an automatic reinvestment plan.

While there is the potential for compound growth, and using a DRIP may allow you to purchase shares at a discount and with no transaction fees, these dividend reinvestment plans are limiting. You are locked into that company’s stock during a certain market period, and even if you decided to sell, you wouldn’t be able to sell DRIP shares on any exchange but back to the company. Whether you use a DRIP or not, you may want to consider having some dividend-paying stocks as part of a balanced portfolio in your investment account.

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).

Invest with as little as $5 with a SoFi Active Investing account.

FAQ

How do you set up a dividend reinvestment plan?

There are two ways to set up a dividend reinvestment plan. First, you can set up an automatic dividend reinvestment plan with the company whose stock you own. Or you can set up automatic dividend reinvestment through a brokerage. Either way, all dividends paid for the stock will automatically be reinvested into more shares of stock.

Can you calculate dividend reinvestment rates?

There is a very complicated formula you can use to calculate dividend reinvestment rates, but it’s typically much easier to use an online dividend reinvestment calculator instead.

What is the difference between a stock dividend and a dividend reinvestment plan?

A stock dividend is a payment made from a company to its shareholders (people who own shares of their company’s stock). A dividend reinvestment plan allows investors to reinvest the cash dividends they receive from their stocks into more shares of that stock.


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.

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

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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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.
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Guide to Deposit Interest Rates

Guide to Deposit Interest Rates

A deposit account — such as a savings account or interest-bearing checking account — can be an attractive place to park your cash. It’s safe, allows relatively quick access, and even helps you earn a little bit of money, thanks to what’s known as the deposit interest rate.

The deposit interest rate is the amount of interest that a bank or other financial institution will pay you when you make a deposit. (You may also hear it referred to by such terms as simply the interest rate or the APY, for annual percentage yield.) Understanding deposit interest rates can help you choose among banking products and find the one that best suits your needs. Learn more here.

What Is a Deposit Interest Rate?

When you put money into a deposit account, your bank or financial institution will pay you interest. Why? Banks make money by using a portion of the money that’s deposited with them to make loans to other customers, perhaps as a mortgage, business loan, or personal loan.

The bank pays you interest for the privilege of lending out your money. They will then charge a higher interest rate on the loans they make, which is how the bank turns a profit.

Incidentally, just because a bank is loaning out your money doesn’t mean your cash won’t be there when you need it. Banks typically carry a cash reserve to cover withdrawals their customers need to make.

💡 Quick Tip: Banish bank fees. Open a new bank account with SoFi and you’ll pay no overdraft, minimum balance, or any monthly fees.

How Does a Deposit Interest Rate Work?

Deposit interest rates in banking are expressed as percentages. The amount of interest you earn will be based on how much cash you’ve deposited in your account, also known as your principal.

The interest rate you’re offered will vary by account. For example, a simple savings account may offer a relatively low interest rate, while a high-yield savings account or a money market account may offer a higher rate.

Your interest rate will also be determined in part by the federal funds rate. That rate is the amount the Federal Reserve suggests banks charge to lend each other money overnight.

Recommended: How Does a High Yield Savings Account Work?

How Is Deposit Interest Rate Calculated?

Wondering how interest rates are calculated? It usually is done in one of two ways: as simple interest or compounding interest.

Simple interest is a matter of multiplying the principal by the interest rate. As the name suggests, it is easier to calculate. However, most banks will use compounding to calculate interest rates. Compounding interest essentially allows you to earn a return on your returns, which can help your money grow exponentially. So your principal earns interest, and that amount of interest is added to the principal. Then the interest rate gets calculated again at a certain interval based on that pumped-up principal. This keeps happening, helping your savings grow. Interest can compound at various rates, such as continuously, monthly, or annually, depending on the product and financial institution.

Ways Deposit Interest Rates Are Applied by Institutions

Financial institutions can apply interest rates in a variety of ways. First, they can be fixed or variable. A fixed interest rate guarantees that you will receive an interest payment equal to a certain percentage of your principal. This percentage won’t change over the life of the account. So if your interest rate on your money is set at, say, 2%, that is what you will get, period.

A variable interest rate, on the other hand, may change according to shifts in a benchmark interest rate, such as the federal funds rate. As the benchmark rises, so too will the interest rate. What if the benchmark drops? That means you’re paid less interest.

Additionally, some deposit accounts will offer higher interest rates for larger balances. A certificate of deposit, or CD, may offer you better interest rates if you agree to park your cash in the account for a longer term.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


Here’s how to do the math on a couple of examples of deposit interest rates. If you’re a bank customer with $10,000 to deposit, here are two scenarios:

•   Bank 1 is a bricks-and-mortar bank offering 0.01% interest. (Remember, one percentage point is one-hundredth of a whole.) If you deposit your $10,000 for one year, you’ll earn: 10,000 x 0.0001 = 1. At the end of 365 days, you will have the principal plus the interest, or $10,001.

•   Bank 2 is an online bank offering 1.0% interest. If you deposit the same $10,000 for a year, you’ll earn: 10,000 x 0.01 = 100. You’ll have $10,100 at year’s end.

Types of Deposit Interest Rate Accounts

There are a variety of different deposit account types that you might encounter. Here are four of which you should be aware. We’ll explain how each one works.

1. Savings Accounts

Savings accounts are designed specifically as a place for you to put cash you might need in the short-term. For example, you might keep your emergency fund in a savings account, since you’d need quick access to cash if your car’s transmission failed or you had to cover an unexpected medical bill.

Not only does your savings account allow you to earn interest, it is also one of the safest places you can put your money. That’s because the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) guarantees your money, up to $250,000, per depositor, per account category, per insured institution, as it does with the deposit accounts below. That means in the rare case that your bank fails, you will still have access to your money.

You can deposit cash at an ATM, in person, or through mobile deposits. You can deposit checks or cash into the account, too. When you make a deposit, your funds may not be immediately available for use. Check with your bank to understand their rules around fund availability.

2. Interest-Bearing Checking Accounts

Many checking accounts have very low fees and don’t pay interest. As a result, it doesn’t make sense to keep a lot of money in this type of account. In fact, you may want to keep just enough to pay your bills.

Interest-bearing checking accounts are an exception. They allow you to collect interest on your account, which could be a nice perk. After all, you may well have your paycheck deposited there by setting up direct deposit, which can make your funds available quickly. Whatever remains in your account after paying your bills could be earning you some interest.

However, these accounts may be more complicated and expensive, with higher fees and minimum balance requirements. It’s important to make sure that the expense of holding the account doesn’t outweigh the interest paid.

💡 Quick Tip: If your checking account doesn’t offer decent rates, why not apply for an online checking account with SoFi to earn 0.50% APY. That’s 7x the national checking account average.

3. Certificates of Deposit

A certificate of deposit, or CD, is a product offered by financial institutions that offers a higher interest rate if you agree to keep your funds in place for a period of time. Typically, the length of time is from six months to a few years, but it could be anywhere from one month to 20 years. The longer the period, the higher the interest rate you will probably be offered.

Here’s the rub: If you find that you need the money in the CD before the account matures (meaning the agreed-to time period passes), you’ll likely have to pay early withdrawal penalties. That said, it is possible to get CD’s with no-penalties, but you may have to compromise, such as by accepting lower interest rates.

4. Money Market Accounts

Money market accounts, on the other hand, pay interest and allow for withdrawals. They often pay higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts. However, in return, these accounts may require you to make higher initial deposits and they may have minimum balances, which could be $10,000 or more.

Like checking accounts, money market accounts can offer checks and debit cards, though they may limit the number of transactions you may make per month.

The Takeaway

There are a number of different deposit accounts that offer a deposit interest rate, ranging from checking and savings accounts to CDs and money market accounts. The interest rates will likely vary. For example, with CDs, the rates may depend on factors such as account minimums or term of deposit. Understanding these kinds of “fine print” differences will help you find the right match for your needs, whether your goal is the highest possible interest or having enhanced access to your funds.

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

Do you get interest when you deposit money?

When you deposit money in an interest-bearing deposit account, you will start to earn interest. In other words, your money makes money.

Which deposits pay more interest?

The amount of interest you earn will depend on your interest rate and the amount of money in the account. The more money you deposit and the higher the interest rate, the more interest you will earn. Also, online banks typically pay interest rates than bricks-and-mortar banks.

Do all banks have deposit interest rates?

Banks that offer interest-bearing deposit accounts will always offer a deposit interest rate.


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

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

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

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

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

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


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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