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6 Top Stock Market Forums to Visit

Stock market forums provide a place for investors to come together online and share specific financial ideas and insights. The main goal of these stock message boards is to help other participants profit in the markets. Some of the most popular stock forums take the sense of community beyond the forum format, too.

Some are financial blogs or research publications where large numbers of investors engage in discussions in the comments section beneath each article. Others are comprehensive investment communities in addition to discussions on many non-financial topics. And some stock market forums and stock message boards more closely resemble social networking sites than traditional messaging boards.

6 Top Stock Market Message Boards and Forums

Many members of the investment community generally want to help one another profit in the markets — that’s typically the common interest that draws participants together. But as with any online community, there can be heated debates, misinformation, and outright trolling in stock forums. The general rules of online interaction apply: Exercise caution when consuming information or engaging in discussions in such communities.

Here is a list of some popular stock market forums and stock message boards, including some that have investment strategies for beginners. Learn the details on how these forums work.

1. InvestorsHub

InvestorsHub is mostly oriented toward investors trying to make profit by speculating on short-term investments or trades. The stock market discussion tends to revolve around riskier securities.

Day trading of penny stocks (stocks trading at prices below $5 per share) is one of the most popular topics at InvestorsHub. The site also explores markets relating to different cryptocurrencies, FOREX, commodities, and stocks. Investors have access to tools for creating model portfolios, charting, newsletters, stock scanners and more, for free.

2. Stockaholics

Stockaholics is a financial forum and active online community that has discussions about investing, stock tips, penny stocks, and market analysis. The community is filled with many traders and investors, and it’s a place where like-minded individuals can connect to talk about the market.

On the moderated boards at Stockaholics, investors can share information, resources, and ideas. There are educational videos for new investors and also forums where they can ask questions.

Investors can also get real time market updates on the site, see streaming live charts, and read the latest financial news.

3. SeekingAlpha

SeekingAlpha (or SA for short) is a website where almost anyone can become a contributor, although only high-quality financial content usually makes the cut and gets published. The term “alpha” refers to a higher rate of return than average, so the name of the site could be translated as “investors seeking returns.”

The SA platform publishes the work of many top-notch investment advisors, money managers, and investment newsletter writers. The comments section underneath each article is where the site takes on the role of a stock market forum.

Most new investors can learn a lot from simply reading articles and comments for free on SeekingAlpha. Those who want to participate could sign up and start asking questions in the comments. More experienced investors could even try their hand at publishing their own articles on the site, then engaging with readers who comment on their articles.

4. Motley Fool Community

The Motley Fool is a high-profile site with millions of users that covers many financial topics that may be helpful to those building an investment portfolio. Their investment forum is called the “Motley Fool Community,” which houses free discussion boards. There are boards for financial planning, learning to invest, real money stock picks, retirement planning, and stocks A to Z, among others.

The Motley Fool Community is focused on investment discussions, of course, but in addition to the typical financial topics, there are boards for things like food and drink, fun and games, religion and culture.

5. StockTwits

StockTwits was designed to be like Twitter for finance folks. The platform has more than eight million registered users, and the company is registered with the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Users can create posts with links, charts, and specialist opinions on stocks in much the same way they can on other social media networks. When a forum member posts about a specific company or stock, he or she can mark the post with a “cashtag” so others can find it.

StockTwits also allows members to create watchlists for the stocks they want to keep an eye on.

Recommended: How to Use Social Media for Investing Tips: The Smart Way

6. Investors Hangout

Investors Hangout has free stock message boards, stock charts and quotes, and news updates. Investors can see the most active stocks of the day and view live charts. There are blog posts on investing, the markets, real estate, business, and personal finance.

Investors can ask questions of and get suggestions from other members. There are also boards on global markets.

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Pros and Cons of Relying on Stock Forums for Information

Whether you’re looking for information on investing for beginners or tools for more experienced investors, stock forums can have some potential benefits, but they also may have serious drawbacks you should be aware of.

Pros

Some advantages of a stock forum may include:

Connecting with other investors.
Stock market forums and stock message boards can be a way to share ideas, opinions, and information with other investors. An individual might get diverse perspectives and potentially helpful insights, for instance.

Access to educational information and special tools.
A number of forums have valuable tools that individuals can access. This might include stock trackers, charts, and even real-time data.

Getting market analysis.
Some forums may have market analysis investors can look at for free.

Cons

When visiting a stock market forum, be sure to proceed with caution and watch out for:

Information that isn’t right for your situation.
Investment advice is not one-size-fits-all. Something recommended on a forum, even by a legitimate financial specialist, may not be right for your particular circumstances or financial goals.

Misinformation.
Some of the information may be wrong, misleading, or fraudulent.

Unverified sources.
Individuals might talk up their qualifications or financial savvy in a forum, but it’s possible that some could misrepresent themselves online. They might also have conflicts of interest that they fail to disclose, such as potential gain from promoting a certain financial or investment product.

Potential to get caught up in the hype.
Some investment strategies touted by some forums may be risky or complicated. Make sure you thoroughly understand these strategies and that you’re comfortable with the potential risks before you decide to try them. And don’t allow yourself to get swept up in hype about possible “big gains,” which could cause you to make a rash decision you might later regret. It’s best to separate your emotions from your finances.

💡 Quick Tip: Newbie investors may be tempted to buy into the market based on recent news headlines or other types of hype. That’s rarely a good idea. Making good choices shouldn’t stem from strong emotions, but a solid investment strategy.

Always Do Your Own Research Before Investing

While you may find it worthwhile and even educational or enlightening to visit a stock forum or stock message board, don’t just take the information at face value. Instead, always investigate and research it thoroughly to make sure it is accurate and legitimate.

In addition, carefully evaluate whether a strategy makes sense for your financial situation, investment goals, and risk tolerance. Weigh the pros and cons and don’t make rash decisions. And finally, remember that there is no sure thing when it comes to investing. At the end of the day, you want to make sure your financial security is safe.

The Takeaway

Stock market forums are online spaces that allow investors and traders to discuss the financial markets, among other things. There are many out there, some more popular than others, and each is different in its own unique ways. Different stock market forums suit the needs of different types of investors, So, before choosing a forum, a potential user might want to consider what their investment goals are.

It’s always important to remember, too, that investors should be critical and skeptical of any tips or advice that they receive, and to do their own research and homework before making investing decisions. There’s a lot of noise on the internet, and it can be difficult to parse out what’s genuine.

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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

What are the advantages of reading a stock market forum?

Stock market forums can be a way for investors to connect with other investors to share ideas, opinions, and information. They might also get access to information from financial professionals, as well as tools like stock trackers, charts, and various data points.

What should I be wary of?

In stock market forums, it’s best to be wary of any tips and advice you may receive, and to always do your own careful research before making investing decisions. Also, be aware that sources could misrepresent themselves online, or they may have a stake or interest in a certain product. And finally, be wary of getting caught up in the hype about an investment and rushing into a decision you could later regret.

What is the most popular stock market forum?

One of the most popular stock market forums is the Motley Fool Community, which has millions of members. The site offers free news and commentary about the stock market, financial planning, investments, and retirement saving, among other topics.


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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.

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.

Advisory services are offered through SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser. Information about SoFi Wealth’s advisory operations, services, and fees is set forth in SoFi Wealth’s current Form ADV Part 2 (Brochure), a copy of which is available upon request and at adviserinfo.sec.gov .

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

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

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

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Are There Loans for 18-Year-Olds With No Credit History?

If you’re an 18-year-old with no credit history, you can get a loan, but your choices may be more limited. You may have to tap into alternative options and sources, such as loans with a cosigner.

That’s because lenders like to lend to people with a history of borrowing and on-time payments. Oftentimes, young people just starting out have no credit history. This means they have no credit accounts in their name or haven’t used credit for a long period of time and the information has been removed from their credit history. Without credit, it can be difficult to access loans or credit cards, rent an apartment or buy a house, and obtain certain subscriptions.

Let’s take a closer look at loans for 18-year-olds.

Benefits of Loans for 18-Year-Olds

Two important benefits of getting a loan as an 18-year-old include gaining access to funds and building up credit history.

Access to Funds

The obvious benefit of getting loans as a young person is that you will have access to the money you need. Depending on the type of loan you get, you may be able to use the funds for a variety of purposes, including:

•   Education

•   Purchasing big-ticket items, such as a car

•   Personal expenses, such as medical or wedding expenses

Build Up Your Credit History

Loans allow you to start building up your credit history, which can help you meet goals such as:

•   Getting a cellphone

•   Accessing utilities in your name

•   Qualifying for a credit card

•   Getting good rates on insurance, a mortgage, or auto loan

Plus, establishing a strong record of borrowing and repayment can position you well for future borrowing.



💡 Quick Tip: Need help covering the cost of a wedding, honeymoon, or new baby? A SoFi personal loan can help you fund major life events — without the high interest rates of credit cards.

Cons of Loans for 18-Year-Olds

While there are benefits to getting a loan when you’re 18, there are downsides to consider as well. Let’s take a closer look at a few.

Limited Loan Amounts

You may not be able to borrow a large loan amount when you’re young and just starting out. For example, if you want to purchase a $500,000 home as an 18-year-old and have no credit history, you’ll likely have difficulty qualifying for this type of loan.

Potentially High Rates

It’s possible to get a loan with no credit as a young person, but lenders may charge a higher interest rate than if you had an established credit history.

Why is that the case? Lenders try to assess your risk level when you apply for anything from a personal loan to a credit card. If they can’t see evidence that you have successfully made loan payments, they may not grant you a loan or they may compensate for that risk by charging you a higher interest rate.

Some lenders consider other aspects of your profile beyond credit history, including whether you can comfortably afford your payments.

Risk of Getting Into Debt

According to a consumer debt study conducted by Experian, Generation Z (those aged 18-26) had a non-mortgage debt average of $15,105 in 2023. This includes credit cards, auto debt, personal loans, or student loans.

While carrying any level of debt can be stressful, there are also financial implications to consider. For starters, if you don’t pay off your balance in a timely way, interest can start to build. Credit cards tend to carry higher interest rates than home or auto loans. This means wiping out credit card debt could take a long time if you only pay the minimum amount.

Then there are potential penalties to be mindful of, such as late fees. You may also face collection costs if you don’t pay your bills, which will remain on your credit report and potentially impact your credit score for years.

Recommended: Why Do People Choose a Joint Personal Loan?

Is a Co-Signer Required When Applying for Loans as an 18-Year-Old?

Not all lenders require a cosigner, so be sure to ask if you’ll need one. In most cases, a loan without a cosigner will likely have a lower loan amount and a higher interest rate.

What exactly is a cosigner? Simply put, it’s a person who agrees to take responsibility for a loan alongside the primary borrower. If one person fails to make payments, it will affect the other person’s credit score.

Applying for a loan with a co-borrower or cosigner can be a quick way to get accepted for a loan.

Understanding Your Loan Status

Like many financial processes, applying for a loan involves multiple steps. Here’s a general idea of what’s involved:

•   Pre-approval: Pre-approval means that your lender takes a look at your qualifications (including a soft credit check). A soft credit check is an inquiry of your credit report.

•   Application: In this part of the process, you submit a formal application, and your lender will verify your information.

•   Conditional approval: You may also get conditional approval for your loan, which means the lender may likely approve you to get a loan as long as you meet all the requirements.

•   Approval or denial: Finally, you’ll either get approved or denied for the loan.

Your lender should be clear with you at every step of the application process.

Recommended: How to Get Approved for a Personal Loan

Private Lender Loan Requirements for 18-Year-Olds

There are no hard-and-fast requirements that encompass private lender requirements. However, lenders generally look at an applicant’s credit score, debt, and income.

Credit Score

There’s no universally set minimum credit score requirement for a loan because rules can vary by lender. It’s worth noting that low-to-no-credit borrowers may be able to access a loan.

Debt and Income

Lenders will check to see how much debt you have and calculate your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, which ideally should be less than 36%. To figure out your DTI, lenders add up your debts and divide that amount by your gross income.

Lenders will also look at your income to ensure you can make monthly payments on your loan. This can include income from your job, a spouse’s income, self-employment, public assistance, investments, alimony, financial aid for school, insurance payments, and an allowance from family members.

Tips for Getting Loans as an 18-Year-Old

If you’re ready to get a loan as a young person, you can take steps to help boost your odds of getting approved.

Show Your Savings

Show the lender what you’ve saved in your accounts, which may include:

•   High-yield savings accounts

•   Certificates of deposit (CDs)

•   Money market account

•   Checking or savings accounts

•   Treasuries

•   Bonds, stocks, real estate, and other investments

Demonstrating savings can help you show that you can repay your loan.

Show Proof of Income

Lenders will likely require you to provide proof of income so they can see how you’ll pay for your loan. But remember, this doesn’t mean just the money you earn from a job. Consider other types of income you receive. For instance, you may not initially think of alimony as a source of income, but a lender might.

Apply for a Lower Amount

Lenders may deny your loan if you choose to borrow more money than you can realistically repay. So if you’re young and have no credit history, you may be able to increase your chances of getting a loan if you apply for a lower amount. You may also want to consider this strategy if you’re denied for a loan and want to reapply.



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

The Takeaway

While most 18-year-olds don’t have a large income or lengthy credit history, that doesn’t mean you can’t qualify for a personal loan. Just remember that funding choices may be more restricted, and you might not qualify for a large amount. If you’re having trouble getting approved, you may want to consider asking someone to cosign the loan, showing proof of income and savings, or applying for less money.

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


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

FAQ

Are there loans for 18-year-olds without a job?

You can get a loan without a job. However, you’ll need to show a lender that you have some form of consistent income, such as through investments, alimony, financial aid, or another source of cash flow.

Are there loans for 18-year-olds without credit?

Yes, loans do exist for 18-year-olds with no credit history. But note that even if you qualify for a loan without credit, it may be a lower amount than you could qualify for if you had a lengthy credit history. You may also not be able to get a low interest rate.

Can I get a loan as an 18-year-old?

Yes, 18-year-olds can get a loan. Your age matters less than your credit history and credit score — or the availability of a cosigner. Keep in mind that you may have trouble getting a loan if you don’t meet a lender’s qualifications. Contact a lender to learn more about your options.

How can I build credit as an 18-year-old?

If you want to start building credit, it may be worth exploring a secured credit card. Similar to a debit card, this type of credit card requires you to put down a cash deposit to insure any purchases you make. For example, putting down a $1,000 deposit, and that becomes your starting credit line on your card.


Photo credit: iStock/SeventyFour

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


Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

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

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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

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What Is a Credit-Builder Loan?

There’s a saying that you have to spend money to make money. But what if you can’t get the money you need for a significant purchase, such as a car or a house?

Accessing credit can be challenging for borrowers who haven’t established a credit history or have mismanaged debt in the past. One option to consider: credit-builder loans.

This financial product is designed to help people with limited or poor credit histories access a modest loan amount and increase their credit scores by repaying it over time. A credit-builder loan doesn’t require a credit score for borrowers to qualify. And it provides an opportunity to restore your credit through affordable loan payments.

Here’s a closer look at this type of loan.

How Does a Credit-Builder Loan Work?

Credit-building loans use monthly repayments to help credit-challenged borrowers build credit. In other words, it’s a personal loan to build credit. Here’s a breakdown of how they work.

First, the primary purpose of a credit-builder loan is for borrowers to demonstrate responsible borrowing behavior over time. As a result, this loan type doesn’t give the borrower a large sum to immediately use, as with a traditional loan.

Instead of providing an upfront lump sum to the borrower, a credit-builder loan requires the lender to deposit the loan amount in an interest-bearing account. The borrower can’t access the funds until they pay off the loan through monthly installments. These loans range from amounts of $300 to $1,000.

Remember, credit-builder loans usually have an interest rate and fees. Therefore, your monthly payment will incorporate the principal, loan origination fees, and interest. The lender might return some of the interest to you at the end of the loan, but every lender differs on the specifics. Therefore, it’s vital to carefully read the terms and conditions of the loan agreement to understand the loan’s total cost and the perks.

The credit-building loan term typically ranges from 6 months to 2 years. Once the loan matures and you’ve made all the required payments, you’ll receive the amount (minus any interest or fees per the loan terms) in the collateral account.

Lastly, building credit takes time, so patience and consistency are key. Improving your credit through this loan can open up opportunities for future loans, credit cards, and other financial products. However, only some financial institutions offer credit-builder loans, so you may need to shop around to find one.


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

How Can a Credit-Builder Loan Help You Build Credit?

When you take out a credit-building loan, you make monthly payments towards the total amount. Your lender reports your payments to the credit bureaus, contributing to a higher credit score.

The low borrowed amount (also called the principal) makes the payments small and manageable. This feature helps borrowers with limited resources successfully pay the loan. Late payments and failure to pay the loan will hurt your credit, so it’s crucial to pay on time and take on a loan with affordable payments.

How to Apply for a Credit-Builder Loan

Applying for a credit-builder loan involves gathering information and choosing the option that best fits your circumstances. Here are the steps you should take.

Check Your Credit Report

Before applying for a credit-builder loan, it’s a smart move to check your credit report. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) once a year through AnnualCreditReport.com. Reviewing your report will help you understand your current credit situation and set goals.

Research Lenders

Not all financial institutions offer credit-builder loans, so you’ll need to research various banks, credit unions, and online lenders. It’s recommended to find a lender that reports to all three credit bureaus to ensure the loan gives you the maximum benefit.

Then, you can ask each lender for information about their credit-builder loan products. Carefully read and understand the terms and conditions of the available loans. Pay attention to details such as the interest rate, fees, monthly payment amount, length of the loan term, and how much accrued interest you’ll receive at the end.

Gather Necessary Documents and Apply

Different lenders have different application requirements, but generally, you will need to provide:

•   Personal identification (e.g., driver’s license, passport)

•   Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

•   Proof of income or employment

•   Information about your current financial situation

•   Monthly housing payment amount

•   References

Remember, a conventional credit check might not be necessary to qualify. Instead, the lender can review your banking history. Positive banking activity such as a checking account with a consistent balance can help your application. On the other hand, a history of bounced checks and unpaid loans can hinder your application.

Make On-Time Payments

If the lender approves your application and sets up the credit-builder loan, you’ll start making monthly payments on the agreed-upon date. Doing so will allow you to build a positive credit history.

Repay the Loan in Full

If you repay the loan successfully, you’ll finish in a span between six months and two years, depending on the loan. After you make the final payment, you’ll receive the principal plus any applicable interest. In addition, your credit history will reflect the on-time payments you worked hard to make.

Credit-Builder Loan Requirements

There are no credit score requirements for credit-builder loans because the goal is for borrowers to improve substandard credit histories. That being said, lenders may charge fees to provide the loan and impose requirements regarding your banking habits.

With credit-builder loans, lenders prefer borrowers with a banking history that demonstrates healthy financial practices. For instance, writing checks that clear instead of bounce is helpful for your application. In addition, little debt and a positive bank account balance are favorable markers. Lenders usually use a borrower activity report from a company like ChexSystems to review this information.

Is a Credit-Builder Loan a Good Idea?

A credit-builder loan can be a good idea for individuals with limited or poor credit histories. It’s essentially a personal loan to build credit. For example, if you’re new to credit and have little or no credit history, a credit-builder loan can help you establish a positive credit history.

Similarly, if you’ve had past financial difficulties that have resulted in a lower credit score, a credit-builder loan can be a tool for gradually boosting your credit score.

However, existing high debt balances may disqualify you from a credit-builder loan. This type of loan may also be insufficient in these situations and exacerbate your current problems because it adds another monthly payment to the pile.

Remember, using a personal loan to build credit can take time, so it’s crucial to be patient and not expect immediate results. It may take several months or even longer to see significant improvements in your credit score with this loan type.

In addition, the payments will work against you if you’re late, so the loan is only beneficial if you can afford the extra monthly expense. Lastly, you can’t access the borrowed funds until you pay off the loan, meaning you won’t receive money for immediate expenses after applying. So, if you’re looking for an infusion of cash to shore up your bank account or consolidate debt, a different loan product is likely a better idea.


💡 Quick Tip: Swap high-interest debt for a lower-interest loan, and save money on your monthly payments. Find out why SoFi credit card consolidation loans are so popular.

The Takeaway

A credit-builder loan is an effective tool for individuals aiming to build their credit profile. By emphasizing responsible borrowing behavior over time, this type of loan differs from conventional loans, as the loan amount is securely held in an interest-bearing account until you pay it off through monthly installments.

This loan type can benefit new borrowers without a credit history. However, it may not be suitable if you have existing high debt balances or need immediate financial assistance. Ultimately, understanding your financial circumstances and goals will help determine whether a credit-builder loan is the right choice for you.

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


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


Photo credit: iStock/Weekend Images Inc.

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


Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

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

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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Roth IRA vs Traditional IRA: Main Differences, Explained

Two of the most popular types of IRA are the traditional IRA and the Roth IRA. It’s helpful to understand the difference between Roth vs. traditional IRA when saving for retirement.

Traditional IRAs are funded with pre-tax dollars, while a Roth IRA is funded with after-tax contributions. The same annual contribution limits apply to both types of IRAs, including catch-up contributions for savers aged 50 and older. For 2024, the annual contribution limit is $7,000, with an additional $1,000 allowed in catch-up contributions. For 2023, the annual contribution limit is $6,500, with an additional $1,000 allowed in catch-up contributions.

Whether it makes sense to open a traditional IRA vs Roth IRA can depend on eligibility and the types of tax advantages you’re seeking. With Roth IRAs, for example, you get the benefit of tax-free distributions in retirement but only taxpayers within certain income limits are eligible to open one of these accounts. Traditional IRAs, on the other hand, offer tax-deductible contributions, with fewer eligibility requirements.

In weighing which is better, traditional IRA vs. Roth IRA, it’s important to consider what you need each plan to do for you.

Key Differences Between Roth and Traditional IRAs

When choosing which type of retirement account to open, it’s helpful to fully understand the difference between Roth vs. traditional IRA options. Here are the main differences between the two types.

Eligibility

Anyone who earns taxable income can open a traditional IRA. Previous rules that prohibited individuals from opening or contributing to a traditional IRA once they reached a certain age no longer apply.

Roth IRAs also have no age restriction—individuals can make contributions at any age as long as they have earned income for the year.

Roth IRAs, however, have a key restriction that a traditional IRA does not: An individual must earn below a certain income limit to be able to contribute. In 2024, that limit is $146,000 for single people (people earning more than $146,000 but less than $161,000 can contribute a reduced amount). For those individuals who are married and file taxes jointly, the limit is $230,000 to make a full contribution and between $230,000 to $240,000 for a reduced amount.

In 2023, that limit is $138,000 for single people (people earning more than $138,000 but less than $153,000 can contribute a reduced amount). For those individuals who are married and file taxes jointly, the limit is $218,000 to make a full contribution and between $218,000 to $228,000 for a reduced amount.

The ceilings are based on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI).

💡 Quick Tip: How much does it cost to open an IRA account? Often there are no fees to open an IRA, but you typically pay investment costs for the securities in your portfolio.

Taxes

With a traditional IRA, individuals can deduct the money they’ve put in (aka contributions) on their tax returns, which lowers their taxable income in the year they contribute. Come retirement, investors will pay income taxes at their ordinary income tax rate when they withdraw funds. This is called tax deferral. For individuals who expect to be in a lower tax bracket upon retirement, a traditional IRA might be preferable.

The amount of contributions a person can deduct depends on their modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), tax filing status, and whether they have a retirement plan through their employer. This chart, based on information from the IRS, illustrates the deductibility of traditional contributions for the 2023 tax year.

2023 Filing Status

If You ARE Covered by a Retirement Plan at Work

If You ARE NOT Covered by a Plan at Work

Single or Head of Household You can deduct up to the full contribution limit if your MAGI is $73,000 or less. You can deduct up to the full contribution limit, regardless of income.
Married Filing Jointly You can deduct up to the full contribution limit if your MAGI is $116,000 or less. You can deduct up to the full contribution limit, regardless of income, if your spouse is also not covered by a plan at work.

If your spouse is covered by a plan at work, you can deduct up to the full contribution limit if your combined MAGI is $218,000 or less.

Married Filing Separately You’re allowed a partial deduction if your MAGI is less than $10,000. You’re allowed a partial deduction if your MAGI is less than $10,000.

With a Roth IRA, on the other hand, contributions aren’t tax-deductible. But individuals won’t pay any taxes when they withdraw money they’ve contributed at retirement, or when they withdraw earnings, as long as they’re at least 59 ½ years old and have had the account for at least five years.

For people who expect to be in the same tax bracket or a higher one upon retirement—for example, because of high earnings from a business, investments, or continued work—a Roth IRA might be the more appealing choice.

Contributions

Contributions are the same for both Roth and traditional IRAs. The IRS effectively levels the playing field for individuals saving for retirement by setting the same maximum contribution limit across the board.

For the 2024 tax year the IRA contribution limit is $7,000, with an extra $1,000 catch-up contribution for those age 50 or older. Individuals have until the April tax filing deadline to make IRA contributions for the current tax year. For instance, to fund an IRA for the 2024 tax year, investors have until the April 2025 tax filing deadline to do so.

For the 2023 tax year the IRA contribution limit is $6,500, with an extra $1,000 contribution for those age 50 or older. Individuals have until the April tax filing deadline to make IRA contributions for the current tax year. To fund an IRA for the 2023 tax year, investors have until the April 2024 tax filing deadline to do so.

As mentioned above, there is no age limit to making contributions to a Roth IRA or a Traditional IRA. As long as a person has income for the year, they can keep adding money to either type of IRA account, up to the limit.

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Only offers made via ACH are eligible for the match. ACATs, wires, and rollovers are not included.

Withdrawals

Generally with IRAs, the idea is to leave the money untouched until retirement. The IRS has set up the tax incentives in such a way that promotes this strategy. That said, it is possible to withdraw money from an IRA before retirement.

With a Roth IRA, an individual can withdraw the money they’ve contributed (but not any money earned). They can also withdraw up to $10,000 in the earnings they’ve made on investing that money without paying penalties as long as they’re using the money to pay for a first home (under certain conditions).

With a traditional IRA, an investor will generally pay a 10% penalty tax if they take out funds before age 59 ½ . There are some exceptions to this rule, as well.

These are the IRS exceptions for early withdrawal penalties:

•   Disability or death of the IRA owner. In this case, disability means “total and permanent disability of the participant/IRA owner.”

•   Qualified higher education expenses for you, a spouse, child or grandchild.

•   Qualified homebuyer. First-time homebuyers can withdraw up to $10,000 for a down payment on a home.

•   Unreimbursed medical expenses that are more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.

Health insurance premiums paid while unemployed.


💡 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.

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

The IRS doesn’t necessarily allow investors to leave money in your IRA indefinitely. Traditional IRAs are subject to required minimum distributions, or RMDs. That means an individual must start taking a certain amount of money from their account (and paying income taxes on it) when they reach age 73—whether they need the funds or not. Distributions are based on life expectancy and your account balance.

If an individual doesn’t take a distribution, the government may charge a 25% penalty on the amount they didn’t withdraw.

For those who, in their retirement planning, don’t want to be forced to start withdrawing from their retirement savings at a specific age, a Roth IRA may be preferable. Roth IRAs have no RMDs. That means a person can withdraw the money as needed, without fear of triggering a penalty. Roth IRAs might also be a vehicle for passing on assets to your heirs or beneficiaries, since you can leave them untouched throughout your life and eventual death if you choose to.

For a helpful at-a-glance comparison of all the differences between a Roth vs traditional IRA, this chart looks at each guideline individually.

Roth IRA

Traditional IRA

Good for… Individuals who are income-eligible and want the benefit of tax-free withdrawals in retirement Individuals who want an upfront tax break in the form of deductible contributions
Age Limit No, you can make contributions at any age as long as you have earned income for the year No, you can make contributions at any age as long as you have earned income for the year
Income Eligibility Yes, you must earn below a certain income limit to be able to contribute No, anyone with earned income for the year can contribute
Funded With Funded with after-tax contributions Funded with pre-tax dollars
Annual Contribution Limits (2024 Tax Year) $7,000, plus an additional $1,000 in catch-up contributions if you’re 50 or older $7,000, plus an additional $1,000 in catch-up contributions if you’re 50 or older
Tax-Deductible Contributions? No Yes, based on income, filing status and whether you’re covered by a retirement plan at work
Withdrawal Rules Contributions can be withdrawn penalty-free at any time; earnings can be withdrawn penalty-free and tax-free after 5 years and age 59 ½ Penalty-free withdrawals after age 59 ½; taxed as ordinary income
Early Withdrawal Penalties Early withdrawals of earnings may be subject to a 10% penalty and ordinary income tax Early withdrawals of contributions and earnings may be subject to a 10% penalty and ordinary income tax
Required Minimum Distributions? No Yes, beginning at age 73
Tax Penalty for Missing RMDs N/A 25% of the amount you were required to withdraw

Deciding Which Is Right for You

Still debating which type of IRA is best for your particular situation? Taking this traditional vs. Roth IRA quiz can give you a better idea of how each IRA works and which might be best suited to your needs.

The Takeaway

For most people, an IRA can be a great way to bolster retirement savings, even if they are already invested in an employer-sponsored plan like a 401(k). You just have to decide which type of IRA is better for you—a Roth or traditional IRA.

When it comes to retirement, every cent counts, and starting as early as possible can make a big difference—so it’s always a good idea to figure out which type will work for you sooner than later.

Ready to invest for your retirement? It’s easy to get started when you open a traditional or Roth IRA with SoFi. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

Help grow your nest egg with a SoFi IRA.

FAQ

Which is better, a Roth or Traditional IRA?

A Roth IRA may be better if you expect to be in a higher income tax bracket in retirement. That’s because with a Roth, you make contributions with after-tax dollars, the money in the account grows tax-free, and you generally withdraw the funds tax-free in retirement. A traditional IRA may be better for you if you expect to be in a lower tax bracket in retirement because you’ll pay taxes on withdrawals then. You can take deductions on your traditional IRA contributions upfront when you make them.

What are the benefits of a Roth IRA vs a Traditional IRA?

Because you make after-tax contributions to a Roth IRA, your money generally grows in the account tax-free and you make tax-free withdrawals in retirement. In addition, with a Roth IRA, you can withdraw your contributions at any time without penalty, and you do not have to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) like you do with a traditional IRA.

What are the disadvantages of a Roth IRA vs a Traditional IRA?

Disadvantages of a Roth IRA include the restriction that you must earn below a certain income limit to be eligible to contribute to a Roth. In addition, you will not get a tax deduction from contributions made to a Roth IRA. However, you will generally be able to withdraw the funds tax-free in retirement.


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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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