In the Money (ITM) vs Out of the Money (OTM) Options

In the Money (ITM) vs Out of the Money (OTM) Options

Trading options contracts involves many unique concepts and terminology that investors need to understand. Among the most important is understanding whether an option is “in the money” or “out of the money.”

Knowing the difference between being “in the money” (ITM) and “out of the money” (OTM) allows the holder of a contract to know whether they’ll enjoy a profit from their option. The terms refer to the relationship between the options strike price and the market value of the underlying asset.

“In the money” refers to options that have profit potential if exercised today, while “out of the money” refers to those that do not. In the rare case that the market price of an underlying security reaches the strike price of an option exactly at the time of expiry, this would be called an “at the money option.”

Recommended: How to Trade Options for Beginners

What Does “In the Money” Mean?

In the money (ITM) describes a contract that would be profitable if its owner were to choose to exercise the option today. If this is the case, the option is said to have intrinsic value.

A call option would be in the money if the strike price is lower than the current market price of the underlying security. An investor holding such a contract could exercise the option to buy the security at a discount and sell it for a profit right away.

Put options, which are a way to short a stock, would be in the money if the strike price is higher than the current market price of the underlying security. A contract of this nature allows the holder to sell the security at a higher price than it currently trades for and pocket the difference.

In either case, an in the money contract has intrinsic value, so the options trader can exercise the option and make money doing so.

Example of In the Money

For example, say an investor owns a call option with a strike price of $15 on a stock currently trading at $16 per share. This option would be in the money because its owner could exercise the option to realize a profit. The contract gives the holder the right to buy 100 shares of the stock at $15, even though the market price is currently $16.

The contract holder could take shares acquired through the contract for a total of $1,500 and sell them for $1,600, realizing a profit of $100 minus the premium paid for the contract and any associated trading fees or commissions.

While call options give the holder the right to buy a security, put options give holders the right to sell. For example, say an investor owns a put option with a strike price of $10 on a stock that is trading at $9 per share. This would be an in the money option. The holder could sell 100 shares of stock at a price of $10 for a total of $1,000, even though it only costs $900 to buy those same shares. The contract holder would realize that difference of $100 as profit, minus the premium and any fees.

What Does “Out of the Money” Mean?

Out of the money (OTM) is the opposite of being in the money. OTM contracts do not have intrinsic value. If an option is out of the money at the time of expiration, the contract will expire worthless.

Options are out of the money when the relation of their strike prices to the current market price of their securities are opposite that of in the money options.

For calls, an option with a strike price higher than the current price of the underlying security would be out of the money. Exercising such an option would result in an investor buying a security for a price higher than its current market value.

For puts, an option with a strike price lower than the current price of its security would be out of the money. Exercising such an option would cause an investor to sell a security at a price lower than its current market value.

In either case, contracts are out of the money because they don’t have intrinsic value – anyone exercising those contracts would lose money.

Example of Out of the Money

For example, say an investor buys a call option with a strike price of $15 on a stock currently trading at $13. This option would be out of the money. An investor might buy an option like this in the hopes that the stock will rise above the strike price before expiration, in which case a profit could be realized.

Another example would be an investor buying a put option with a strike price of $7 on a stock currently trading at $10. This would also be an out of the money option. An investor might buy this kind of option with the belief that the stock will fall below the strike price before expiration.

What’s the Difference Between In the Money and Out of the Money?

The premium of an options contract involves two different factors: intrinsic value and extrinsic value. Options that have intrinsic value at the time they are written to have a strike price that is profitable relative to the current market price. In other words, such options are already in the money when written.

But not all options are written ITM. Those without intrinsic value rely instead on their extrinsic value. This value comes from speculative bets that investors make over a period of time. For this reason, assets with higher volatility often have their options contracts written out of the money, as investors expect there to be bigger price swings. Conversely, assets considered to be less volatile often have their options written in the money.

Options written out of the money are ideal for speculators because such contracts come with less expensive premiums and are often created for more volatile assets.

Recommended: Popular Options Trading Terminology to Know

Should I Buy ITM or OTM Options?

The answer to this question depends on an investor’s goals and risk tolerance. Options that are further out of the money can be more rewarding, but come with greater risk, uncertainty, and volatility. Whether an option is in or out of the money (and how far they’re out of the money), and the amount of time before the expiry of the option impacts the premium for that option, with riskier options typically costing more.

Whether to buy ITM or OTM options also depends on how confident an investor feels about the future of the underlying security. If a trader feels fairly certain that a particular stock will trade at a much higher price three months from now, then they might not hesitate to buy a call option with a very high strike price, making it out of the money.

Conversely, if an investor thinks a stock will fall in price, they can buy a put option with a very low strike price, which would also make the option out of the money.

Beginners and those with lower risk tolerance may prefer buying options that are only somewhat out of the money or those that are in the money. These options usually have lower premiums, meaning they cost less to buy. There are also generally greater odds that the contract will wind up in the money before expiration, as it will take a less dramatic move to make that happen.

Investors can also choose to combine multiple options legs into a spread strategy that attempts to take advantage of both possibilities.

Recommended: 10 Important Options Trading Strategies

The Takeaway

Options contracts don’t have to be exercised to realize a profit. Sometimes investors buy contracts with the intent of selling them on the open market soon after they become in the money for quick gains. In either case, it’s important to consider if an option is in the money or out of the money when buying or writing options contracts, as well as when deciding when to execute them.

While SoFi does not offer options trading at this time, it does provide a great way to for investors to get started. By opening an account on the SoFi Invest brokerage platform, you can build a portfolio of stocks, exchange-traded funds, and cryptocurrencies.

Photo credit: iStock/damircudic


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.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. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Options involve risks, including substantial risk of loss and the possibility an investor may lose the entire amount invested in a short period of time. Before an investor begins trading options they should familiarize themselves with the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options . Tax considerations with options transactions are unique, investors should consult with their tax advisor to understand the impact to their taxes.
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What is a Futures Contract? Definition & How Futures Work

What Is a Futures Contract? Definition & How Futures Work

Futures contracts are a type of financial derivative that investors use to speculate on the price of a security at a forthcoming date. These typically trade on separate futures exchanges, which allow for higher volumes of trading.

Recommended: A Guide to Derivatives Trading

What Is a Futures Contract?

Futures contracts, or futures, are legal agreements to either buy or sell a given security, commodity, or asset at a specific time in the future, for a previously agreed-upon price. For investors, they offer access to commodities and other markets they might not be able to access otherwise. They can also act as a way to protect against volatility.

One important feature of a future contract is that both buyers and sellers can execute the contract regardless of the current market price of the underlying asset when the contract expires.

Investors use futures contracts when they believe that the underlying security will go up or down by a certain amount of time over a fixed period of time. The futures contract buyer enters a legal agreement to buy the underlying asset at the contract’s expiration date. On the other side of the trade, the futures contract seller agrees to deliver the underlying security at the agreed-upon price, when the contract expires.

The majority of futures contracts on a futures exchange are standardized by date and price, to allow for higher trading volumes and simpler transactions.

Investors can buy futures contracts to make money – or to hedge against losses – resulting from the price increases or decreases in stocks and commodities like oil, as well as other financial instruments.

How Do Futures Contracts Work?

In a futures contract, the purchaser gets to buy a given asset at a predetermined price. That can help protect against big price swings up or down, making them popular not only with investors, but with companies that rely on commodities that experience sudden price changes.

Example of a Futures Contract

An airline, for example, might buy an oil futures contract to lock in the price of the oil that it will need to buy in order to get its jets off the ground in the coming months. Purchasing the futures contract allows the airline to guard against the financial harm of a sudden rise in the price of fuel. The risk to the airline, however, is that oil prices will go down – in which case, it will miss out on those lower prices.

On the other side of this hypothetical transaction is a fuel distributor, which has millions of gallons of oil in its inventory. It would sell the oil futures contract as a way of maintaining a steady market for its oil in the coming months. That’s because the airline buying the futures contract must buy the fuel at the agreed-upon price on the dates specified in the contract. That removes some risk for the oil distributor, but it also creates a risk if oil prices climb before the futures contract expires. Should that happen, the oil distributor will still have to sell the oil at the lower price specified in the futures contract.

To stay with this example, in the futures contract, the airline and the oil distributor will set and agree upon the terms, specifically the price of the oil and the expiration date upon which the contract expires. In this contract, the distributor agrees to sell 1,000 barrels of oil at $50 per barrel, in exactly 90 days. If the price of oil in 90 days is $75 per barrel, then the airline will have gotten a good deal. If a barrel of oil falls to $35, then the oil supplier will have protected itself against the price declines.

What’s the Difference Between Futures and Options?

Futures and options are both derivative contracts. However, futures contracts oblige the buyer or seller to complete the deal at the contract’s expiration, while options contracts give traders the right but not always the obligation to execute the contract when it expires.

Recommended: 10 Important Options Trading Strategies

Both futures and options share some of the same trading terminology. For example, both investors in both types of derivatives will need to consider it’s bid-ask price. The bid price is the highest price a buyer will pay for the contract, while the ask price is what the seller will accept.

Investors can also purchase options on future contracts. In a call option on a future, the buyer has the right to buy a futures contract at a specific price at a specific future date. In a put option, the buyer has the right to sell the futures contract at a specific price at a specific date.

Recommended: Call vs Put Options: What’s the Difference?

Futures Contracts Pros & Cons

Futures trading can be a profitable strategy, but it also has some drawbacks that investors should consider.

Benefits of Futures Contracts

• Futures contracts act as a hedge against the risks related to price volatility.

• Most futures markets are highly liquid, allowing traders to buy and sell when they want.

• Futures may give investors access to commodities, and other markets not normally accessible to everyday investors.

• Futures contract pricing is determined by adding the cost of carrying the underlying asset to its spot price.

Downsides of Futures Contracts

• Futures contracts can be a high risk investment. In some cases, a futures contract can lose all of its value and trade at $0 when it expires.

• Futures contracts can reduce or eliminate potential gains from price swings in the underlying securities or assets.

• Futures contracts themselves are often highly volatile, with their prices fluctuating wildly.

• You may have to pay high commission charges on high-volume trades.

How Investors Use Futures Contracts

But not everyone who buys an oil futures contract plans to take delivery of the oil it represents. Retail investors also use futures as a way to protect their investments against volatility. Those futures investors who buy and sell the contracts to make money off the price changes that the contracts themselves undergo.

To go back to the example of an oil futures contract, an investor owns a contract, and the price of oil rises, allowing the contract owner to buy oil for less than the market price. The investor will be able to sell that contract for more than they purchased it for. The investor will then sell the contract on the futures market.

Other investors use futures contracts related to other commodities, including corn, soybeans and wheat. But there are also futures markets where investors can buy futures contracts that offer them the ability to bet on the future of currencies, individual stocks or stock indices like the S&P 500 or 10-year Treasury bills. Investors may choose to buy futures, rather than the securities themselves, to reduce their volatility exposure.

How to Trade Futures Contracts

There are several steps to trading futures contracts.

1. Open a brokerage account

To trade futures contracts, the first thing you’ll need is a brokerage account. You may also need your broker to give approval for margin and options privileges in your account.

2. Set a trading strategy

Before jumping into the futures market, develop a strategy. That strategy could involve technical analysis based on market data, or fundamental analysis based on the investment’s underlying economic and financial trends.

Some investors even try out their strategy using hypothetical trades before they start trading with real money. This allows you to understand the risks of potential trades without actually losing money.

3. Research trades that make sense for your investment strategy

Most brokerages that offer futures trading have an online platform you can use to research specific securities and see futures contracts available to buy or sell.

4. Double-check the terms

Make sure that the contracts will do what you think. That means confirming the selling and purchase price of the contract, the expiration, and the fees.

5. Develop your skills

Whether doing it on paper, or with real money, you’ll want to refine your strategy over time. You may find that you make more profitable trades in a specific sector, for example, or need to work on staying calm as security prices rise and fall. Practice will allow you to improve, and get more out of the futures strategy you’ve developed.

The Takeaway

Futures contracts are a type of investment that can offer access to commodities markets, as well as a way to protect against volatility. They can be a helpful tool to some investors, but they’re also risky and can be an expensive way to invest.

While SoFi does not offer futures contracts, it does provide a great way for investors to get started building a portfolio. The SoFi Invest brokerage platform offers an active investing solution that allows you to choose stocks and exchange-traded funds without paying commissions. SoFi Invest also offers an automated investing solution that invests your money for you based on your goals and risk, with no Sofi management fee.

Photo credit: iStock/fizkes


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.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. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Options involve risks, including substantial risk of loss and the possibility an investor may lose the entire amount invested in a short period of time. Before an investor begins trading options they should familiarize themselves with the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options . Tax considerations with options transactions are unique, investors should consult with their tax advisor to understand the impact to their taxes.
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When to Count Your Home Equity as Part of Your Net Worth

When to Count Your Home Equity as Part of Your Net Worth

Your home may be your largest asset, but should you include it in your net worth calculations? In some situations, it’s a good idea, and in others, not so much.
Some say you should list all assets as part of your net worth, including your home. Others contend that you have to live somewhere, and any money you have tied up in your home is essentially earmarked for that purpose.

Generally, though, when using tools to tap your home equity, you may want to include your house as part of your net worth. But when calculating retirement savings, it’s a no-go.

How to Calculate Net Worth

At its most basic, net worth is everything you own minus everything you owe.

To calculate your net worth, tally the value of all or your assets, including bank accounts, investments, and perhaps the value of your home or vacation home. Then subtract all or your debts, including any mortgage, student loans, car loans, and credit card balances.

If the resulting figure is negative, it means that your debts outweigh your assets. If positive, the opposite is true.

There is no one net worth figure that everyone should be aiming for. Your net worth, though, can be a personal benchmark against which you can measure your financial progress.

For example, if your net worth continues to move into negative territory, you know that it is time to tackle debts. Hopefully, you’ll see your net worth grow, which can give you some idea that your savings plan is working or your assets are increasing in value.

Your home may, strangely, function as both an asset and a liability. Your home equity—the part of the home you actually own—can be an asset. But your lender may still own part of your home. In that case, mortgage debt is a liability.

As you track your money and take your financial pulse, you may find that your home is simultaneously your biggest asset and biggest liability.

When to Include Your Home in Net Worth

Generally speaking, you may want to include your home as part of your total assets and net worth when you want to leverage the value of the equity you have stored there.

You can tap the equity in your home with a number of financial products. Here’s a look:

Home Equity Loan

A home equity loan allows you to borrow money that is secured by your home. You may be able to borrow up to 85% of the equity you have built up. For example, if you have $100,000 in home equity, you may have access to an $85,000 loan.

The actual amount you are offered will also be based on factors such as income, credit score, and the home’s market value.

You repay the lump-sum loan with fixed monthly payments over a fixed term.

As with home improvement loans, which are personal loans not secured by the property, you can use a home equity loan to pay for home renovations.

Or you can use a home equity loan for goals unrelated to your house, like paying for a child’s college education or consolidating higher-interest debt.

Just remember that if you fail to repay the loan, the lender can foreclose on your home to recoup its money.

Home Equity Line of Credit

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is not a loan but rather a revolving line of credit. You may be able to open a credit line for up to 85% of your home equity.

You can borrow as much as you need from your HELOC at any time. Accounts will often have checks or credit cards you can use to take out money. You make payments based on the amount you actually borrow, and you cannot exceed your credit limit.

HELOCs use your home as collateral. If you make late payments or fail to pay at all, your lender may seize your home.

Traditional Refinance

A traditional mortgage refinance replaces your old mortgage with a new loan. People typically choose this path to lower their interest rate or monthly payments.

They may also want to pay off their mortgage faster by changing their 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage, for example, reducing the amount of interest they pay over the life of the loan.

How do net worth and home equity come into play? One important metric lenders use when deciding whether you qualify for a mortgage refinance is your loan-to-value ratio (LTV), how much you owe on your current mortgage divided by the value of your home.

The more equity you have built in your home, the lower your LTV, which can help you secure a refinanced loan and influences the rate of the loan.

Cash-Out Refinance

A cash-out refinance replaces your mortgage with a new loan for more than the amount of money you still owe on your house.

The difference between what you owe and the new loan amount is given to you in cash, which you can use to pursue a number of financial needs like paying off debt or making home renovations.

Your cash-out amount will typically be limited to 80% to 90% of your home equity, and interest rates are typically a little bit higher thanks to the higher loan amount.

Recommended: Cash-Out Refinance vs HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit)

Reverse Mortgage

A home equity conversion mortgage, the most common kind of reverse mortgage, allows homeowners 62 and older to take out a loan secured by their home.

Borrowers do not make monthly payments. Interest and fees are added to the loan each month, and the loan is repaid when the homeowner no longer lives there, usually when the homeowner sells the house or dies, at which point the loan must be paid off by the person’s estate.

When Not to Include Your Home in Net Worth

There are a few instances when it doesn’t make sense to include your home in your net worth, or you aren’t allowed to.

Retirement Savings

If you’re using your net worth to get a sense of your retirement savings, it may not make sense to include your home, especially if you plan to live there when you retire.

Your retirement savings represent potential income you will draw on to cover your living expenses. Your home does not produce a stream of income on its own, unless you tap your equity using one of the methods above.

Applying for Student Aid

A family’s net worth can have an impact on eligibility for federal student aid. The more assets a family has, the more that need-based aid may be reduced.

However, the equity in a family’s primary residence is a nonreportable asset on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Most colleges use only the FAFSA to decide aid.

Several hundred colleges, usually selective private ones, use a form called the CSS Profile, which does ask applicants to report home equity, though a number of schools, such as Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, and MIT, have moved to exclude home equity from their considerations for aid.

When Becoming an Accredited Investor

An accredited investor may participate in certain securities offerings that the average investor may not, such as private equity or hedge funds. Accredited investors are seen to be financially sophisticated enough, or wealthy enough, to shoulder the risk involved with such investments.

To become an accredited investor, you must have earned more than $200,000 (or $300,000 together with a spouse or spousal equivalent) in each of the prior two years, or you have a net worth over $1 million. However, you cannot include the value of your primary residence in your net worth.

The Takeaway

Whether or not you include your home in your net worth will depend largely on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you plan to tap your equity, then it is an important figure to include. But it’s not always included when it comes to things like student aid or retirement income.

While your mind is on home equity, maybe you’ve thought about a cash-out refinance, or maybe it’s time to sell and buy anew.

If you’re curious about a home loan or mortgage refinance, see what SoFi offers.

It takes two minutes to check your rate.

Photo credit: iStock/Chainarong Prasertthai


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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

SoFi’s Relay tool offers users the ability to connect both in-house accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score provided to you is a Vantage Score® based on TransUnion™ (the “Processing Agent”) data.
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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CD Loans, Explained

CD Loans, Explained

Certificates of deposit can be a useful tool for saving for short- or long-term goals. But it’s also possible to use a CD to secure a loan.

A CD-secured loan, also referred to as a CD/savings secured loan or share-secured loan, is a type of personal loan that uses the value of a CD account as collateral. They can be found through banks, credit unions, and online lenders.

Here’s a closer look at how CD loans work and how they stack up against unsecured personal loans.

What Is a CD Loan?

With a CD-secured loan, the lender holding your CD uses the money in your CD as collateral. If you don’t repay the loan, the bank can use the CD to cover any losses.

Let’s also answer what is a certificate of deposit? When you open a CD account, you’re depositing a certain amount of money for an agreed-upon time period. During this maturity period, the bank or credit union pays you interest on the money you’ve allotted to the CD.

At the end of the term, you could withdraw your initial deposit and interest earned or roll it over to a new CD. If you withdraw the money early, you’ll pay a penalty. To avoid that, a CD loan could come in handy.

You may invest in CDs if you’re looking for a safe place to keep your money while earning interest. Similar to savings accounts and money market accounts, CDs come with FDIC protection, up to the applicable limits.

How Do CD-Secured Loans Work?

If you take out a CD loan, the lender will charge interest. So you’ll be earning interest on the CD but paying interest on the CD-secured loan (if your CD is paying under 1%, loan rates might start at 2% over that rate).

Some of the general characteristics of CD loans are:

• Low fixed interest rates

• Predictable monthly payments

• Continued interest earned on the CD funds

• Can use the loan for a variety of expenses

How much you can borrow with a CD-secured loan depends on the lender. You may be able to borrow a particular maximum dollar amount based on your CD value or up to 100% of the value.

Some lenders establish a set end for repaying the loan, and others give you the entirety of the CD term to repay what’s owed. In addition, some may offer an interest rate reduction when you enroll in automatic payments and no prepayment penalty if you repay the loan early.

Who Might CD Loans Be Right For?

In general, you might consider a CD loan if:

• You have cash saved in a CD that you’re comfortable using as collateral for a loan

• You have a financial emergency and you want to be able to access the money in your CD without paying an early withdrawal penalty

• You’re unsure if you’d be able to qualify for another loan or line of credit based on your credit history or income

• Your bank or credit union’s CD loan terms are more attractive than the options

With that in mind, here are the main pros and cons to weigh with a CD/savings secured loan.

CD Loan Pros

A CD-secured loan may offer these benefits:

• Interest rate may be lower than other personal loans

• Predictable payments, thanks to a fixed rate

• The ability to build credit

• Earning of some interest as your CD matures

• Avoidance of early withdrawal penalty

• Potentially faster and easier approval than for other types of loans

CD Loan Cons

Here’s why you might think twice about a CD loan:

• You risk forfeiting all the money in your CD if you default on the loan

• Your CD funds may be frozen during the loan term so you won’t be able to make emergency withdrawals if needed

• CD loans aren’t as common as other types of personal loans, so your bank or credit union may not offer them

• Your lender may charge fees

• Borrowing limits are determined by your CD’s value

CD Loan vs. Personal Loan

While CD-secured loans can be convenient, there are reasons why you may want to consider an unsecured personal loan instead.

You don’t have to put your savings or other assets on the line to borrow money, and you don’t risk losing them if you default on a personal loan for some reason.

Next, you may be able to borrow more with a personal loan than you could with a CD-secured loan.

You may be able to find and get approved for an unsecured personal loan with an interest rate that is competitive with a CD loan’s. Lenders may consider:

• How much you want to borrow

• What the money will be used for

• Your credit scores

• Income

Debt-to-income ratio

Recommended: What Is Considered a Bad Credit Score?

The Takeaway

CD-secured loan or unsecured personal loan? Each has its benefits and drawbacks. Borrowing from a certificate of deposit puts it at risk if, for any reason, you can’t repay the loan.

SoFi offers unsecured personal loans ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 with a fixed rate and no fees.

If you need cash, check your rate on a SoFi Personal Loan today.

Photo credit: iStock/PeopleImages


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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.
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
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What's a Promissory Note?

What’s a Promissory Note?

Most people will borrow money at some point in life, and some will lend money. While an IOU might suffice for smaller amounts, a more binding agreement can be helpful when dealing with larger sums. With a promissory note, two parties formalize the lending of money.

Through this legal agreement, both the borrower and the lender consent to clearly defined repayment terms. Promissory notes can be used for a variety of purposes, including personal and commercial transactions.

Here’s a guide to common types of promissory notes, how to create one, and when they may be a good fit for borrowing or lending money.

Intro to Promissory Notes

Put simply, a promissory note is a written promise to pay someone a certain amount by a specified time. The type of promissory note and agreement between the issuer and payee dictate the payment schedule and amount.

Generally, promissory notes include the principal amount, interest rate, date and place of issuance, and signatures from the lender and borrower. There may also be provisions for late fees and recourse if a borrower defaults.

Similar to loans, promissory notes may be secured or unsecured. Unsecured notes are issued based on the borrower’s ability to repay, whereas secured notes use collateral such as real estate or a vehicle.

A promissory note may be issued by a financial institution, but this financing is commonly provided by individuals or businesses, too. Essentially, promissory notes allow anyone to act as a lender, which can be useful for creating legal documentation of a lending agreement between family members and friends.

Types of Promissory Notes

There are several types of promissory notes. Usually, the nature of the loan determines the appropriate type. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common varieties.

Line of Credit Promissory Note

Borrowers can withdraw any portion of funds from a line of credit, up to the established maximum loan amount. Once the money is taken out, the borrower is liable for repaying the lender.

A promissory note can be used to guarantee that the borrower repays money withdrawn from the line of credit. The promissory note can determine the interest rate, repayment schedule, and if the line of credit is secured or unsecured.

According to the 2020 Small Business Credit Survey from Federal Reserve Banks, business lines of credit and home equity lines of credit had approval rates of 79% and 69% , respectively. While a promissory note may be used by these traditional lenders, they are an option for creating a line of credit from other sources.

Investment Promissory Note

Businesses looking to access capital can sell promissory notes to investors instead of taking out a conventional business loan or a line of credit.

Through an investment promissory note, businesses receive capital from investors in exchange for fixed repayments. In the event a business is unable to repay, the investors may acquire the company.

Generally, investment promissory notes are sold at a discount to account for the impact of inflation on future payments. Promissory notes may be sold publicly in some cases but are most often purchased by corporate entities and experienced investors with high net worth who can handle the greater level of risk.

Businesses must be licensed to sell investment promissory notes, which must be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Investors can verify promissory notes at the SEC’s EDGAR database .

Real Estate Promissory Note

Promissory notes can be used in mortgages and other real estate purchases. In practice, borrowers use a home or other property as collateral for a real estate promissory note.

While promissory notes can accompany a mortgage, they are in fact different. The note provides legal documentation of the borrower’s promise to pay, whereas the mortgage outlines the lender’s recourse for foreclosure if the borrower cannot repay the loan. A mortgage may also require a loan contract and more detailed financial information to qualify.

Real estate promissory notes can be used outside a mortgage. For example, two individuals could create such an agreement. Although the lender may not have the power of foreclosure, they can secure the agreement with the authority to place a lien on the property if a borrower defaults. A property lien creates a public record of a borrower’s unpaid debt.

Keep in mind that real estate promissory notes can be traded through brokerages without the borrower’s consent.

Student Loan Promissory Note

College students will likely be required to sign a promissory note for both private and federal student loans.

For private lenders, each student loan may carry its own promissory note since terms can vary. Anyone taking out federal student loans must sign a Master Promissory Note to promise repayment of loans, fees, and interest to the U.S. Department of Education. The MPN can cover multiple loans within a 10-year time frame for authorized schools.

Recommended: Understanding Your Student Loan Promissory Note

Vehicle Promissory Note

A vehicle promissory note creates a binding document that promises a borrower will pay a lender for a car or other type of vehicle. This agreement can be between two individuals or a borrower and a conventional lender, such as a bank.

Aside from repayment terms and conditions, it’s important to include the vehicle’s make, model, year, body, and VIN in a promissory note.

Personal Loan Promissory Note

It’s not uncommon to sign a promissory note when acquiring a personal loan from a traditional lender.

A promissory note can also be used for a personal loan between friends and family. Formalizing the loan amount and repayment terms through a promissory note can help avoid disagreement and protect both parties down the line. Compared with typical personal loan requirements, a promissory note can be a more flexible financing option.

Having financial information like credit score and proof of income at the ready can streamline getting approved for a personal loan.

Promissory Note Repayment Options

Besides type, promissory notes can differ by repayment method. Borrowers can expect to repay money and interest through one of the following options:

Lump sum: This requires the entire amount to be repaid in a one-time payment on a specific date. Lump-sum payments are more common with small loans.

Due on demand: The borrower must repay the loan upon the lender’s request. Due on demand payment is used frequently for promissory notes between friends and family members. Any promissory note without written payment terms is considered due on demand.

Installment: Installment payments follow a specified schedule (monthly, for instance) to pay back a loan over a longer period of time. Usually payments are structured as equal amounts and include interest.

With (or without) interest: A promissory note can define the interest rate and any related contingencies.

In some cases, a promissory note may employ a combination of repayment options. For example, a vehicle promissory note may include an upfront lump sum followed by installment payments.

What Does a Promissory Note Look Like?

There are different laws in every state regarding promissory notes. One common feature of promissory notes is that they must be written. A verbal agreement between two parties will not qualify as a promissory note or carry the same legal enforceability.

Promissory notes must also include language outlining an agreement and unconditional promise for the borrower to repay the loan. Additionally, the repayment must constitute money, rather than labor, professional services, or other capital.

Other details and elements generally needed in a promissory note include the following:

Amount or principal: How much was borrowed and is to be repaid

Payor: The party promising to repay the debt

Payee: The party lending the money

Interest rate: States how much interest is charged and how it is calculated

Start date: The date the promissory note becomes effective and funding is released to the payor

Maturity date: When the interest and principal must be repaid in full

Without these elements, lenders may have trouble enforcing the promissory note.

The Takeaway

Promissory notes create a binding promise to repay borrowed money. This financial agreement can be used when borrowing money from individuals and financial institutions.

If you’re weighing options, consider a personal loan with SoFi.

SoFi offers no-fee fixed-rate personal loans of $5,000 to $100,000, and the application can be completed entirely online.

Find your rate on a SoFi Personal Loan in a matter of minutes.

Photo credit: iStock/fizkes


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