Smartphone and credit card

Pros & Cons of Online and Mobile Banking

Online and mobile banking are growing in popularity, thanks to how they can make transactions faster, easier, and more secure. Indeed, the number of Americans who are going all in on managing their finances this way continues to grow. Recent research shows that about 27% of Americans use online-only banks.

Whether you are among that crowd or are using your traditional bank’s website or app, online and mobile banking have many advantages. And as with most financial services, there are also downsides to consider. Here, take a closer look at this important facet of your personal finances, so you can decide which banking style suits you best.

What Is Online Banking?

There are two aspects of online banking. Most traditional retail banks offer digital banking as well as the ability to conduct business at a branch. Their mobile and online banking options can allow you to conduct your banking without going to a branch. You might, say, use your smartphone to transfer funds to another bank account or do a mobile check deposit.

But often, the term “online banking” is used to refer to online-only banking vs. traditional banking, meaning you manage your personal finances completely online. Since online banks typically have no physical locations and therefore lower overhead, they can usually offer consumers a higher annual percentage yield (APY) on deposit accounts and other perks.

💡 Quick Tip: Make money easy. Open a bank account online so you can manage bills, deposits, transfers — all from one convenient app.

Pros of Online Banking

To better understand online banking, consider these upsides:

Higher Interest Rates and Lower Fees

As mentioned, online-only banks tend to offer a higher interest rate on savings accounts and possibly checking accounts, too. Currently, the national interest rate on savings accounts is 0.46%. At some online-only banks, however, you can find an APY of 4.60%, or 10 times higher.

In addition, these banks may offer lower or no fees. Stashing your cash in one of these banks can be a way to avoid bank fees, such as account maintenance charges and the like.

Recommended: APY vs. Interest Rate: What’s the Difference?

No Minimum Balance

Many traditional banks still require you to maintain a minimum balance or else be charged a monthly fee. In terms of how much money you need to open an account online and keep it in good standing, you may be in for a pleasant surprise. A number of digital financial institutions allow a balance of just a few dollars, and you still won’t be hit with charges on your statement.

Convenience

Online banks are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which means you can take care of transactions after normal bank hours. You can manage your money whenever and wherever.

ATM Access

Most online banks are part of an online network of ATMs, such as MoneyPass or Allpoint. What’s more, there is generally no fee for using these ATMs. If the financial institution doesn’t partner with an ATM network, they will typically offer to refund ATM fees up to a certain number of withdrawals.

Enhanced Online Experience

As digital innovators, online-only banks may provide a better user experience when online or in the app. Expect to get the latest tools and access to a wealth of features such as round-up savings programs or a dashboard that helps you track your earnings, spending, and savings.

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!


Cons of Online Banking

There are, however, some potential downsides to managing money this way. Consider these potential issues with online banking:

No In-Person Assistance

While most online banks provide a customer service line or chat function, they generally do not offer personal bankers. This means that there is no one available face-to-face to help you with your banking needs, such as setting up accounts, applying for loans, and getting a document notarized. If you are a person who wants and appreciates this kind of personal connection, you may not be well-suited to digital banking.

Limited Services

There may be some services that you aren’t able to enjoy with an online-only bank. It may or may not offer credit cards, car loans, and mortgages; you may not be able to deposit cash easily, as you can at a brick-and-mortar bank branch. Every online bank is different, so do your research to see what services they offer.

Limited ATM Access

Although many online banks will have a network of tens of thousands of ATMs that customers can access, others may offer less robust options vs. traditional retail banks. It’s worthwhile to see exactly where a digital bank has allied ATMs near your usual haunts, like your home and office, before signing up.

Is Online Banking Safe?

People may worry about whether online banking is safe. The truth is, traditional banks are no more or less secure than online-only banks, and vice-versa. All are at a very minimal risk of a hack. Also, any bank that is insured by the FDIC guarantees the same amount of protection in the highly unlikely case of a bank failing: $250,000 per depositor, per ownership, per insured institution. That’s true regardless of whether the bank is online or not. Digital banks generally tend to offer similar fraud protection programs as brick-and-mortar banks.

Recommended: What Do You Need to Open a Bank Account Online?

The Takeaway

Whether you call it online banking, mobile banking, or digital banking, keeping your funds with an online-only bank can offer many rewards. You’re likely to earn a higher interest rate and pay fewer fees, for instance. But those who like banking in person at a branch may choose to stick with a traditional bank. Think carefully about what suits your financial style and needs best.

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.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


*Awards or rankings from NerdWallet are not indicative of future success or results. This award and its ratings are independently determined and awarded by their respective publications.

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.

SOBK-Q224-1890351-V1

Read more
Brokered Certificates of Deposit (CDs): What Are They and How They Work

Brokered Certificates of Deposit (CDs): What They Are and How They Work

A brokered CD is a CD that’s sold by a brokerage firm or a deposit broker (an individual that can place financial deposits in an institution on behalf of a third party), rather than a bank. Brokered CDs may offer higher rates than traditional CDs sold at a bank, but they may also entail greater risk for investors.

Before investing in brokered CDs, it’s important to understand how they work, how they differ from traditional CDs, and the potential pros and cons of these accounts.

What Is a Brokered Certificate of Deposit?

A certificate of deposit is a type of savings account that allows you to deposit money and earn interest over a set time period called the term, which is usually a few months to five years. When a traditional CD reaches maturity, you can withdraw the principal plus interest, or roll it over to another CD. Traditional CDs are generally FDIC insured.

A brokered CD is a CD that’s offered by a broker or brokerage firm that’s authorized to act as a deposit broker on behalf of an issuing bank. These CDs often function more like bonds and they may be sold on the secondary market. Brokered CDs tend to be FDIC insured — as long as the CD was bought by the broker from a federally-insured bank.

What is a brokered CD in simpler terms? It’s a CD you buy from a brokerage. A deposit broker buys the CDs from a bank, then resells them to investors. Brokered CDs are held in a brokerage account. They can earn interest, but instead of only being static investments that you hold until maturity like traditional CDs, you can trade brokered CDs like bonds or other securities on the secondary market.

Compared to a standard CD, a brokered CD may require a higher minimum deposit than for a traditional bank CD. The trade-off, however, is that brokered CDs may potentially offer higher returns than you could get with a regular CD.

💡 Quick Tip: Help your money earn more money! Opening a bank account online often gets you higher-than-average rates.

How Brokered CDs Work

To buy a brokered certificate of deposit, you first need to find a deposit broker that offers them. Banks can issue CDs specifically for the customers of brokerage firms. These CDs may be issued in large denominations, say several million dollars. The brokerage would then break that large CD into smaller CDs to offer to its customers.

You could buy a brokered CD, depositing the minimum amount required or more. The brokered CD then earns interest, with the APY typically corresponding to the length of the maturity term. While longer terms typically earn higher interest rates, currently, short term CDs are offering higher rates because banks believe the Federal Reserve may cut the interest rate in the future. For example, you might be offered a 12-month brokered CD earning 5.40% or a 24-month brokered CD that yields 5.25%.

Ordinarily, you’d have to keep the money in your CD until the CD matures (if you withdraw the funds before the CD matures, you could face an early-withdrawal penalty). You could then roll the original deposit and interest into a new CD or withdraw the total amount.

With brokered CDs, on the other hand, you have the option to sell the CD on the secondary market before it matures.

Examples of Brokered CDs

Many online brokerages offer brokered CDs, including Fidelity, Vanguard and Charles Schwab, to name just a few. Here are the rates on some brokered CDs, as of late May 2024.

Vanguard: Up to 5.50% APY for a 10- to 12-month brokered CD

Fidelity: Up to 5.40% APY for a 6-month brokered CD

Charles Schawb: Up to 5.51% APY for a 3-month brokered CD

Advantages of a Brokered CD

Brokered CDs can offer several advantages, though they may not be the best option for every investor. Here are some of the potential benefits of a brokered certificate of deposit.

More Flexibility Than Traditional CDs

Brokered CDs can offer more flexibility than investing in bank CDs in the sense that they can have a variety of maturity terms, so you can choose ones that fit your needs and goals. You might select a 90-day brokered CD, for example, if you’re looking for a short-term investment or choose one with a 2-year maturity if you’d prefer something with a longer term. It’s also possible to purchase multiple brokered CDs issued by different banks and hold them all in the same brokerage account for added convenience.

Easier to Get Money Out Early on the Secondary Market

With a standard CD, you’re more or less locked in to the account until it matures. (While you could take money out early if your bank allows it, it’s likely you’ll pay an early withdrawal penalty to do so. This penalty can reduce the amount of interest earned.) Brokered CDs don’t have those restrictions; if you need to get money fast then you could sell them on the secondary market, effectively cashing out your principal and interest gains — without a penalty.

Higher Yields Than Standard Bank CDs

Deposit brokers that offer brokered certificates of deposit can use the promise of higher interest rates to attract investors. Rather than earning 1.00% on a CD as you might at a bank, you could potentially earn 5.00% or more with a brokered CD. If you’re seeking higher returns in your portfolio with investments that offer greater liquidity, brokered CDs could hit the mark.

You may also get a higher yield from a brokered CD versus a bond, with greater liquidity to boot.

Potential to Make Profit Once It Reaches Maturity Even If Interest Rates Fall

Interest rates for brokered CDs are locked until maturity. So even if rates fall during the maturity period, you could still profit when you sell the brokered CD later. As a general rule, shorter-term brokered CDs are less susceptible to interest rate risk than ones with longer terms.

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!


Disadvantages of a Brokered CD

Brokered CDs can have some drawbacks that investors need to know about.

Long-Term Brokered CDs Expose Investors to Interest Rate Risk

As mentioned, the longer the CD term the more exposure you have to interest rate risk. Brokered CD prices are subject to fluctuations on the secondary market. If interest rates rise, this usually has an inverse effect on the market price of existing brokered CDs. That means if you were to sell those CDs before maturity, you run the risk of getting less than what you paid for them.

Different Risk When Interest Rates Fall

You can also run into a different type of risk when rates are dropping if your brokered CDs are callable. A callable CD means the issuing bank can terminate or call the CD prior to maturity, similar to a callable bond. Callable brokered CDs can be problematic when rates drop because you’re forced to cash in your investment. In doing so, you’ll miss out on the full amount of interest you could have earned if you’d been able to hold the CD to maturity.

Temptation to Sell May Be Costly

The early withdrawal penalty associated with bank CDs actually serves an important purpose: It keeps you from taking money out of your CD early. Since brokered CDs don’t have this penalty, there’s nothing stopping you from selling your CDs on the secondary market whenever you like. That means it’s easier to cash out your investment, rather than sticking with it, which could cost you interest earnings.

Comparing Brokered CDs to Other CDs

When deciding whether or not to invest in a brokered CD, it can be helpful to compare them to other types of CDs to see how they stack up.

Brokered CD vs Bank CD

Bank CDs are typically purchased from a bank. They are purchased for a set period of time and must be held until maturity. If you want to cash out the CD early you will generally have to pay an early withdrawal penalty.

Brokered CDs are purchased from a deposit broker or brokerage house. They don’t have early withdrawal penalties so you can sell them on the secondary market if you choose to do so.

Brokered CD vs Bull CD

A bull CD is a CD that offers investors an interest rate that’s tied to an index or benchmark like the S&P 500 Index. Investors are also guaranteed a minimum rate of return. Bull CDs can also be referred to as equity-linked or market-linked CDs.

Brokered CDs earn interest but the rate is not tied to a market index. Instead, the rate is fixed for the maturity term.

Brokered CD vs Bear CD

Bear CDs are the opposite of bull CDs. With this type of CD, interest is earned based on declines in the underlying market index. So in other words, you make money when the market falls.

Again, brokered CDs don’t work this way. There is no index correlation; returns are based on the interest rate assigned at the time the CD is issued.

Brokered CD vs Yankee CD

Yankee CDs are CDs issued by foreign banks in the U.S. market. For example, a Canadian bank that has a branch in New York might offer Yankee CDs to its U.S. customers. Yankee CDs are typically suited to higher net worth investors, as they may require $100,000 or more to open. Unlike brokered CDs, which have fixed rates, a Yankee CD may offer a fixed or floating rate.

This chart offers an at-a-glance comparison of the CDs mentioned above and how they work.

Brokered CD

Bank CD

Bull CD

Bear CD

Yankee CD

Issued by a bank, sold by a brokerageIssued and sold by a bankIssued by a bank, sold by a brokerageIssued by a bank, sold by a brokerageIssued by a foreign bank and sold in the U.S.
Earns a fixed interest rateEarns a fixed interest rateEarns an interest rate that correlates to an underlying indexReturns are tied to an underlying market indexMay offer a fixed or floating rate
Maturity terms are fixed; however, brokered CDs can be sold on the secondary market before maturityMaturity terms are fixedInvestors are guaranteed a minimum rate of returnInterest is earned based on declines in the marketMaturity rates can be fixed or variable
May be FDIC-insured when issued by a qualifying bankFDIC-insuredNot FDIC-insuredNot FDIC-insuredNot FDIC-insured

How to Buy a Brokered CD

If you’d like to buy a brokered CD, you’ll first need to find a brokerage that offers them. You can then open a brokerage account, which typically requires filling out some paperwork and verifying your ID. Most brokerages let you do this online to save time.

Once your account is open, you should be able to review the selection of brokered CDs available to decide which ones you want to purchase. When comparing brokered CDs, pay attention to:

•   Minimum deposit requirements

•   Maturity terms

•   Interest rates

•   Fees

Also, consider whether the CD is callable or non-callable as that could potentially affect your returns.

Are Brokered CDs FDIC Insured?

Brokered CDs are generally FDIC-insured if the bank issuing them is an FDIC member. The standard FDIC coverage limits apply. Currently, the FDIC insures banking customers up to $250,000 per depositor, per account ownership type, per financial institution. You have to be listed as the CD’s owner in order for the FDIC protection to kick in.

There is an exception if brokered CDs function more like an investment account. In that case, you would have no FDIC protection. The FDIC does not consider money held in securities to be deposits and encourages consumers to understand where they’re putting their money so they know if they’re covered or not.

However, it’s possible that you may be covered by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) if a member brokerage or bank brokerage subsidiary you have accounts with fails.

Are Brokered CDs Better Than Bank CDs?

Brokered CDs do offer some advantages over bank CDs, in terms of flexibility, liquidity, and returns. You’re also free from withdrawal penalties with brokered certificates of deposit. You could, however, avoid this with a no-penalty CD.

What is a no-penalty CD? Simply put, it’s a CD that allows you to withdraw money before maturity without an early withdrawal fee. Some banks offer no-penalty CDs, along with Raise Your Rate CDs and Add-On CDs to savers who want more than just a standard certificate of deposit account.

Here’s something else to keep in mind. You’ll typically need more money to invest in brokered CDs vs. bank CDs. And you’re taking more risk with your money, since brokered CDs are more susceptible to market risk and interest rate risk.

Bank CDs, by comparison, are generally lower-risk investments.

When to Consider Brokered CDs Over Bank CDs

You might choose a brokered CD over bank CDs if brokered certificates of deposit are offering competitive rates and you plan to hold the CD until maturity. Even if rates were to rise during the maturity period, you could still realize a gain when it’s time to cash the CD out.

Paying attention to interest rates can help you decide on the right time to invest in a brokered certificate of deposit. Also, consider the minimum investment and any fees you might pay to purchase the CD.

When to Consider Bank CDs Over Brokered CDs

You might consider bank CDs over brokered CDs if you’d prefer to take less risk with your money. CDs are designed so that you get back the money you put into them, along with the interest earned. Typically, the only time you might lose money from a bank CD is if you cash it out early and have to pay an early withdrawal penalty.

Bank CDs may also be more attractive if you don’t want to tie up your money in a single brokered CD. For example, instead of putting $10,000 into a single brokered certificate of deposit you might spread that out across five or six bank CDs with different maturity dates instead.

This is called CD laddering. Creating a CD ladder can provide some flexibility, since it may be easier to avoid early withdrawal fees if a maturity date is always on the horizon. You could also use a CD ladder to capitalize on rising rates by rolling CDs over once they mature.

Finally, keep in mind that buying CDs is not the only way to save money and potentially help it grow. For instance, if you’re committed to saving, and you want to earn more interest than you’d get with the standard savings account, you might also want to consider opening a high-yield savings account. Taking some time to explore your options can help you determine the best savings vehicles for your needs.

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

Can you lose money on a brokered CD?

It’s possible to lose money on a brokered CD if you sell it prior to maturity after interest rates have risen. Higher rates can cause the market price of brokered CDs to decline, meaning you could end up selling them for less than what you paid.

Are brokered CDs a good idea?

While it depends on your specific situation, a brokered CD might be a good idea if you understand the risks involved. Brokered certificates of deposit can offer the potential to earn higher interest rates than regular CDs. But it’s also possible to lose money with this type of CD. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons.

What is the difference between a brokered CD and a bank CD?

A brokered CD is issued by a bank and sold by a brokerage. Bank CDs are issued by banks and offered directly to their customers. Brokered CDs may have higher minimum deposit requirements and offer higher interest rates. They are also typically more flexible than bank CDs because you can sell them on the secondary market, while you are required to hold onto bank CDs for the full term or risk paying an early withdrawal penalty.


Photo credit: iStock/Anchiy

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.

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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


*Awards or rankings from NerdWallet are not indicative of future success or results. This award and its ratings are independently determined and awarded by their respective publications.

SOBK-Q224-1874471-V1

Read more
What Is a Bump-Up Certificate of Deposit?

What Are Bump-Up Certificates of Deposit? All You Need to Know

A bump-up certificate of deposit (CD), also known as a step-up CD or raise-your-rate CD, is a type of savings account that allows the account owner to “bump up” or increase the interest rate they earn if rates rise during the CD term. Typically, one bump up is allowed, and the other terms of the CD remain the same after that.

The initial interest rate of a bump-up CD is lower than other types of CDs, but it comes with the potential opportunity to earn a higher rate.

What Is a Bump-Up CD?

A bump-up certificate of deposit is a type of savings account that is similar to an ordinary CD in many ways.

If an investor opens a bump-up CD account, it will start out with a certain interest rate. The investor will be required to deposit a certain amount of money to open the account and agree to keep it there for a specified period. The major difference between a bump-up CD and a traditional CD is that the account owner can potentially increase the interest rate they earn if rates go up during the term of the CD. This bump up is typically allowed only once during the CD term.

How a Bump-Up CD Works

If, during the term of a CD, the issuer’s interest rates increase, the CD account owner can ask the issuing bank to raise the interest rate they earn on their CD. This is quite different from a standard savings account, where the account owner has no control over the interest rate. So if the initial rate on a bump-up CD is 4.00%, and during the maturity term the rate increases to 5.00%, the account holder can request a bump up to 5.00%.

If the interest rate drops to 4.50% sometime after that, the investor is protected and keeps their bump up to 5.00%.

Usually, interest rates can only be increased one time during a CD term, but some banks do offer multiple bump-ups if the term of the CD is long. Also important to note is that some banks may put a cap on how high the interest rate can be bumped on a CD. So if interest rates go up a lot, CD owners may not be able to fully take advantage. Generally, bump-up CDs have a two- to four-year term. Like a regular CD, these accounts are FDIC-insured.

Recommended: How to Invest in CDs

Example of a Bump-Up CD

Say an investor opens a bump-up CD with a two-year term and a rate of 4.00%. One year into the CD term, the issuing bank’s interest rates rise, and they now offer 5.00% on the same type of CD. The investor can request that the rate on their CD be increased to the new rate of 5.00% for the second year of its term.

In this example, if the investor deposited $10,000 into the CD when they opened it and earned 4.00% on their money for the full two-year term, by the end of the term they would have $10,816.00 at the maturity date. However, if they earned 4.00% for the first year and 5.00% for the second year, at the maturity date they would have $10,900.00, or about $84 more. That might not seem like a lot, but when you’re saving and investing for the future, every little bit helps.

Advantages of Bump-Up CDs

There are some benefits to bump-up CDs, including:

•   Ability to raise the CD’s interest rate during its maturity term instead of having to wait or open a new CD

•   The potential to get new, higher rates without any early withdrawal penalties

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!


Disadvantages of Bump-Up CDs

Bump-up CDs come with some drawbacks as well. Here are some to consider.

•   Since bump-up CDs typically allow only one bump up, they are recommended for investors who have a deep understanding of the interest-rate system and what might happen during their investment term.

•   The initial interest rate on bump-up CDs tends to be lower than other types of CDs. So even though there is the ability to raise the rate later, a traditional certificate of deposit may still earn more interest since it likely starts at a higher rate.

•   Interest rates may not go up during the CD term, locking the investor into the initial lower rate.

•   If interest rates do start to increase, timing the bump-up on a CD can be challenging. By bumping up earlier you can take advantage of a higher interest rate for more time, but you could miss out on an even higher rate that might come later.

How to Open a Bump-Up CD

Banks and credit unions offer bump-up CDs just like they offer checking and savings accounts. To open a bump-up CD, an investor deposits a certain amount, and the CD has a particular starting interest rate and term. Once the bump-up CD is open, the account owner can contact the issuing bank or credit union to increase the rate if it rises during the CD term. As mentioned, bump-up CDs typically offer the account holder just one opportunity to request a rate increase.

Factors to consider when opening a CD include:

•   Maturity term of the CD: Bump-up CDs tend to have longer terms than traditional CDs, such as two years or more.

•   Bump-up frequency: Does the CD offer the opportunity to bump up more than once? Many don’t but some may.

•   Initial interest rate: If interest rates don’t rise, the initial rate will be the ongoing rate throughout the CD term. And bump-up CDs tend to have lower interest rates to begin with.

•   Minimum deposit to open the account: Some bump-up CDs may require higher minimum deposits than traditional CDs, depending on the issuer.

•   Early withdrawal rules and penalties: Inquire with the financial institution what the consequences might be for cashing in the CD before the term ends.

•   Fees: Typically, there aren’t fees involved with CDs, but that isn’t always the case. Find out if there are any fees and how much they are.

Alternatives to Bump-Up CDs

There are several other types of interest-bearing deposit accounts and CD investment strategies that investors may want to consider, such as:

Traditional CD

A traditional CD has a fixed interest rate over the course of its maturity term. Traditional CDs often earn higher rates than bump-up CDs. They also usually have shorter terms.

CD Laddering

Since it can be hard to predict what will happen with interest rates in the future, another investing strategy is to create a CD ladder.

A CD ladder is a portfolio of CDs that each have a different interest rate and maturity term. This strategy provides an investor with a range of interest rates, allowing them to take advantage of changes in the market. Each time one of their CDs matures they have some funds to put into a new CD or cash out. Usually, a longer-term CD will have a higher rate, but by opening some shorter-term CDs as well, investors can put their money into new ones if interest rates increase, rather than opening a bump-up CD.

Here is an example of how an individual might set up a CD ladder with five rungs if they have $10,000 to invest:

•   $2,000 in a one-year CD

•   $2,000 in two-year CD

•   $2,000 in a three-year CD

•   $2,000 in a four-year CD

•   $2,000 in a five-year CD

As each CD matures, they can reinvest the funds into a new CD if interest rates are rising.

Step-Up CD

Similar to a bump-up CD, step-up CDs allow investors to take advantage of rising interest rates. The difference is, with a step-up CD, the issuer automatically raises the interest rates at certain intervals throughout the CD term. With a bump-up CD the rate is not automatically increased.

If you are looking for ways to bump up your savings, there are some other options in addition to CDs that you may want to consider. For instance, one way to potentially increase your savings is with a bank account with competitive rates, such as a high-yield savings account. You can shop around and explore the different savings options to see what might be right for you.

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

What is an 18-month bump-up CD?

An 18-month bump-up CD is a certificate of deposit savings account that earns a certain amount of interest over the course of 18 months. If interest rates rise during that time, the account owner can request that the interest rate their CD earns be increased to the new rate.

When should I bump up my CD?

If you have a bump-up CD, you may want to consider a bump up when interest rates rise. However, remember that you are typically only allowed to bump up the rate once during the term of the CD. For this reason, bump-up CDs are generally best for investors who have a deep understanding of the interest-rate system and what might happen to rates during their CD term.

Who has bump-up CDs?

Bump-up CDs are typically offered by banks, online banks, and credit unions. You can explore bump-up CD options at different financial institutions to find one with the best rates and terms for you.


Photo credit: iStock/sihuo0860371

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.

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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


*Awards or rankings from NerdWallet are not indicative of future success or results. This award and its ratings are independently determined and awarded by their respective publications.

SOBK-Q224-1874512-V1

Read more
What Happens if You Overdraft Your Savings Account?

Can You Overdraft Your Savings Account?

It is possible to overdraft a savings account, which is when your balance drops below zero. This could happen if you forgot to deposit a check into the account and then transferred funds out, for instance. Or maybe you moved more money out of the savings account into your checking than you actually had. These and other glitches can leave you with a negative balance in your savings.

Consequences of Overdrawing a Savings Account

An overdraft occurs when there is a withdrawal from your account that results in the balance being below zero — sometimes called a negative balance. There are several ways this can happen. Maybe an automatic withdrawal was processed or you wrote a check against your savings account and you didn’t have enough in the account to cover the transaction.

When the negative balance kicks in, a couple of different things could happen next. Much depends on your particular financial institution and the terms you agreed to when you opened the savings account.

Among the possibilities:

•   You may be charged an overdraft fee: If you signed an agreement to opt into overdraft coverage, your financial institution will allow you to overdraft on your account, typically for a fee. (That is, they will authorize the transaction and allow for it to be completed, extending you a loan.) The amount of the fee will differ depending on your account and your bank. Some financial institutions may even charge you every day and/or for additional withdrawals while your account has a negative balance. Considering that the average overdraft fee is about $35, this cost can really add up.

•   Your transaction is declined: Your financial institution may decline the transaction if you don’t have overdraft protection. In this case, the transaction won’t go through. In addition, you could face a non-sufficient funds fee, or NSF fee. In many cases this amount is similar to an overdraft fee.

•   You have a linked account, and the linked account is used to cover the cost. This usually happens when you overdraw a checking account, and a linked savings account covers the difference. However, you may be able to link your savings account to another account (typically at the same financial institution) as a backup. If an account goes down to zero or below, then money would be withdrawn from the backup account to complete the transaction. In many cases, this service is free, though that depends on your bank.

Understanding Overdraft Protection and Fees

Financial institutions offer overdraft protection programs to help ensure your transactions proceed smoothly in case you reach a negative balance. These programs vary somewhat. Options may include linking a checking and savings account together — funds will be transferred automatically for the negative balance. Or the bank might allow the transaction to go through, and you’ll be charged a fee until you make up for the difference.

Federal regulations require banks to allow account holders to opt into overdraft protection for ATM and debit cards for point-of-sale transactions (or purchases). If you don’t opt in, you won’t be able to overdraft — your bank will deny the transaction. In this case, you won’t be charged any bank fees. However, this may not apply to recurring payments, bank transfers, or checks.

As we mentioned, your financial institution may charge you a fee for each transaction that involves overdraft protection, though banks typically have a maximum amount they’ll charge per day. For example, if you transferred $1,200 for your rent payment out of your savings, and you only had $1,000 in your account, you’ll have a negative balance. This results in a $200 overdraft (if you have coverage), plus you’ll pay about a $35 overdraft fee. If you don’t get paid until a week later to make up the difference, your account will continue to have a negative balance. Let’s say your bank ends up charging you a daily fee which adds up to an extra $10 for that week (this is just an example — it depends on the bank), totaling $45 in fees. And even if your bank denies the transaction, you may still have to pay the NSF fee, which could be about $35.

As you can see, overdrafting on your savings account can get expensive. That’s why it’s a smart idea to rectify the situation as soon as possible and prevent it from happening in the future.

Steps if You Have Overdrawn on Your Account

If you’ve overdrawn on your savings account, here’s how to get out of the negative-balance zone.

•  Deposit funds: Once you’ve overdrafted, make a deposit into that account as soon as possible. Doing so can prevent you from being hit with multiple overdraft fees, especially if you know you need to make more withdrawals in the next day or so.

•  Ask to have the fee waived: If this is the first time you’ve had a negative balance, you can contact your financial institution to request to have the fee waived. If you’ve been a loyal customer and have remained in good standing with your accounts up until now, the bank may not charge you.

•  Pay the overdraft fee: If your bank rejects your request to have the fee waived, it’s best to pay it as soon as possible. You can typically do that by making a deposit into the overdrawn account. While your bank likely won’t take drastic measures like closing your account, be aware that letting a bank account sit with a negative balance could wind up hurting your credit score if the matter gets sent to a collection agency.

•  Settle payment with the payee: If your payment didn’t go through, then you’ll need to contact the person or company you owe and make arrangements for alternative payment. Depending on the type of payment, you could face a late or returned payment fee, which you’ll also need to pay.

Tips for Avoiding Overdraft Fees

There are ways to avoid overdraft fees. Here are some methods that can help.

1. Sign Up for Text or Email Alerts for Low Balance

Many banks allow you to sign up for email or text alerts when your savings account reaches a certain threshold. By doing so, you have time to deposit additional funds so you won’t risk your bank account going to zero or a negative balance.

2. Check Your Bank Account Regularly and Review Statements

Logging into your bank account online or through your banking app allows you to quickly see your balance and any upcoming transactions. By keeping on top of your account, you’ll typically be able to see if you’ll need to have more funds on hand, and you’ll have time to make those deposits. You may find that checking your account balances a few times a week is a helpful habit.

3. Review and Compare Automatic Payment Dates to Withdraw Dates

Looking at when money actually gets withdrawn from your account will help you plan better. For instance, if you know you’ll have a few withdrawals totaling $600 on the 15th of each month, you can plan to make sure you have that much in the account then. (Having a buffer is nice, too, if you can swing it.)

4. Revisit Your Budget

Reviewing your budget occasionally will help you see whether you’re overspending in certain areas. If so, working to cut back on expenses can prevent overdrafts. This is especially important during times when basic living expenses can creep up and require budget recalibration.

5. Build an Emergency Fund

You’ve probably heard the advice that it’s wise to have a rainy-day fund with enough cash in it to cover a few or several months’ worth of expenses. Having this kind of buffer will help when unexpected circumstances arise. These situations could range from a big medical bill to your laptop dying to being laid off. Aim to keep your emergency fund in a separate account, far from your everyday accounts, so you’re not tempted to spend it.

6. Consider Overdraft Protection and Coverage

Check into what your financial institution offers in terms of overdraft protection or coverage, and see if it makes sense for you. This may involve opening what is essentially a line of credit, so proceed carefully and find out what it will cost you. Make sure you understand what your responsibilities are, including fees and when a withdrawal from a linked account may occur.

The Takeaway

Overdrafting on your savings account can happen, and it can result in fees. There are several smart tactics that you can use to avoid this scenario — and ways to cope if your balance does wind up in negative territory. Planning ahead for these kinds of money-crunch situations is a wise idea as life is full of unexpected expenses.

Choosing a bank account that covers you for a certain amount of overdrafts and/or one low to no monthly or minimum-balance account fees is another option you may want to explore as part of your money management strategy.

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

Can I overdraft my savings account at the ATM?

It depends on whether or not you have opted into overdraft coverage. Banks are required to allow account holders to opt into overdraft protection for ATM and debit cards for point-of-sale transactions . If you don’t opt in, you won’t be able to overdraft. Your bank will deny the transaction and you won’t be charged a fee. If you do opt in, the bank will allow the transaction and charge you an overdraft fee, which is typically about $35.

Can you go negative in a savings account?

Yes, you can go negative in a savings account. This might happen if you write a check for more than you have in the savings account, for instance. If the bank allows the transaction to go through, you end up with a negative balance in your savings account. In this case, if you’ve signed up for your bank’s overdraft coverage, you will be charged an overdraft fee, which is typically around $35. You may owe additional fees as well if you don’t put money into the account right away.


Photo credit: iStock/damircudic

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

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

SoFi® 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.


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

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

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

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

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

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


*Awards or rankings from NerdWallet are not indicative of future success or results. This award and its ratings are independently determined and awarded by their respective publications.

SOBK-Q224-1902144-V1

Read more

Guide to Choosing a Credit Card

With so many options available, choosing a credit card isn’t as simple as signing up for whichever card happens to be popular at the moment. Instead, you should consider things like your credit score, preferred features, and spending habits.

After all, there are many different types of credit cards meant for different purposes. Making the best choice is about not only knowing your approval odds, but also how you intend to use the card after signing up. Using a step-by-step approach for how to choose a credit card will help you make the right decision for your situation.

Where To Begin When Choosing a Credit Card

Choosing a credit card is a matter of understanding which type of credit card works best for you. You’ll want to consider a number of factors, including:

•   Your credit score

•   How you plan to use your new credit card and which features you’ll need

•   How the card stacks up to other options

•   The card’s interest rates and fees

•   Which rewards you want

•   Any sign-up bonuses offered

Read on to learn more about each of these items and what specifically to look for.

Checking Your Credit Score

Checking your credit score should be one of the first steps you take before applying for a new credit card. One of the best ways to know your approval odds is to check your score.

One way to do so is to use AnnualCreditReport.com . This website allows you to request a copy of your credit report from each of the major credit reporting bureaus: Experian®, Equifax®, and TransUnion®. Federal law allows you to request one copy of your credit report from each reporting bureau per year.

However, you may want to check your credit score more often than once per year, especially if you are in the process of building your credit. Fortunately, several big banks allow you to check your FICO® score — the most widely used credit score — on a monthly basis.

There are several credit scoring models available, but most lenders use FICO, so getting this score can be a good way to gauge your chance of approval. These checks won’t guarantee you’ll get approved for a credit card, but they can help you get a better sense of where you stand. Plus, pulling your credit report won’t hurt your credit score.

Identifying the Features You Need

There are many different types of credit cards, each of which has its own set of features. Identifying the features you need can help you find the right credit card, as how credit cards work varies depending on the type.

Credit Builder Credit Cards

Some credit cards are meant for those who are working on building their credit. This could include college students, those trying to repair their credit, or anyone with little to no credit history.

In those cases, you might need a secured credit card or a student credit card. Secured credit credit cards require a security deposit, usually around a couple or a few hundred dollars, that is fully refundable. Your credit limit is usually equal to your security deposit, so the card issuer has little risk of losing money. Student credit cards, on the other hand, are usually unsecured and may have special perks for students.

Here are some features to look for in credit builder credit cards:

•   No annual fee: If you are working to build your credit, annual fees could make things more difficult.

•   Credit limit increases: Credit limits often start low with these cards; some offer credit limit increases if you use your card responsibly.

•   Free credit score: Some credit builder cards offer free credit score monitoring to let you know where you stand.

Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Balance transfer credit cards are ideal for consolidating and paying off debt. Thus, the key with this type of card is finding one that keeps fees as low as possible:

•   0% introductory APR: Balance transfer credit cards may come with low or 0% balance transfer APR for a specified introductory period, sometimes lasting a year or more. Some even have a separate 0% APR introductory period for purchases. This can allow you to avoid paying much in interest for a certain period of time and instead put your money toward paying down the principal balance.

•   Balance transfer fees: These cards often charge separate balance transfer fees, which you should be aware of if you plan to transfer large balances.

Rewards Credit Cards

Credit card rules say that you shouldn’t get a card just for the points. However, rewards credit cards may come with a variety of benefits. These include cash back, points and miles, and various perks, such as rental car insurance and airport lounge access. You can redeem points and miles for statement credits, gift cards, flights, and hotels, so you’ll have to decide what’s most important to you.

Here are some rewards credit card features to consider:

•   Sign-up bonuses: Some rewards credit cards include sign-up bonuses that can be worth hundreds of dollars.

•   Low or no annual fee: While some of these credit cards have annual fees, not all of them do.

•   Rewards categories: Rewards credit cards generally let you earn a percentage of your purchases in cash back or points/miles. Some have higher earning rates for certain categories, such as groceries or travel. Look for one that earns a lot of points where you normally spend the most.

•   Other perks: These cards can come with a variety of other perks, from UberEats credits to free hotel nights. If you never travel, for example, you may not be interested in free hotel stays.

Narrowing Your Choices by Doing Research and Asking Questions

The key to how to pick a credit card is understanding how you want to use it. While some credit cards are more like generalists, doing many things somewhat well, others are niche cards that are great in certain scenarios. Consider what’s most important to you and how much you need certain features.

Once you’ve decided which type of credit card you want, the next step is to compare some of the best options. For instance, if you want a rewards credit card and don’t want to pay a high annual fee, look for no annual fee rewards credit cards. For balance transfer credit cards, you can look for ones with the lowest fees, including a lengthy 0% introductory APR. Also keep in mind you don’t need to rely on one card to meet all of your needs — here’s a primer on how many credit cards you should have.

Identify a handful of cards that look like good candidates based on your research. Once you have two to three cards that seem like the right fit, you might want to submit a prequalification form. This process will give you a hint about whether you might qualify — and it won’t affect your credit score. Prequalification doesn’t guarantee approval, but it will help you know where you stand.

Familiarizing Yourself With the Interest Fees and Rates

Having a basic understanding of interest rates and fees will help you avoid paying more than expected to use your new credit card.

Different types of credit cards tend to come with varying interest rates. For instance, the minimum annual percentage rate (APR) for travel cards tends to currently range between 18.24% and 29.99%. However, the maximum APR for these credit cards can be slightly lower than the maximum for 0% APR and low-interest credit cards.

Of course, fees also matter. Balance transfer cards might have a 0% introductory period, but a fee may apply every time you initiate a balance transfer. Depending on the card, other fees may be involved, such as late fees and penalties, annual fees, and foreign transaction fees. Be sure to review all relevant fees before signing up for and using a credit card.

Deciding Which Rewards You Want

You also may need to decide which type of rewards you’ll want to earn. There are a few different types of rewards that credit cards can offer:

•   Cash back: With a cash back rewards credit card, you will earn a percentage in cash on each eligible purchase you make with your card. You could get a flat rate across categories, or you may earn a higher rate in specific categories. Or you might see offers for unlimited cash back. If you want to earn rewards across spending categories and don’t want to worry about calculating and converting, cash back might be the right rewards option for you.

•   Points: Another way to earn credit card rewards is through points. You’ll earn a certain number of points for every dollar spent, with the rate and redemption options varying depending on the issuer. The perk of points is that you can redeem them in a number of different ways, including cash back, travel, charitable donations, statement credits, gift cards, and more.

•   Miles: If you’re a frequent flier, you might prefer earning airline miles. Credit cards that allow you to earn miles let you redeem your rewards for flights and other travel-related perks, such as hotel stays or access to airport lounges.

Looking at Sign-Up Bonuses

Some credit cards feature sign-up bonuses to attract new customers. Usually, you have to spend a certain amount in the first three or four months of opening the card. If you meet the minimum spending threshold within that time frame, you’ll receive cash, points, or miles as a reward. The trick is to ensure you can meet the spending threshold on time.

There can be a wide range of bonus amounts; for instance, the Chase Freedom® Student credit card has a $50 bonus for making a purchase in the three months. On the other end of the spectrum is the American Express Platinum Card, which at the time of writing offers 125,000 points after spending $8,000 in the first six months. Most sign-up bonuses, however, fall somewhere in between.

Choosing the Card With the Highest Overall Value

There are several credit cards available that offer similar benefits. In those cases, you will want to compare them directly to one another and find features that give one card the edge. Here are a few things to consider for each type of credit card:

Student and secured credit cards:

•   Credit limit increases: Some student credit cards will automatically increase your credit limit if your account remains in good standing.

•   Flexible credit lines: Some secured credit cards give you access to a larger credit line than your deposit.

0% introductory APR or balance transfer credit cards:

•   No late fees or penalties: Some credit cards waive these fees, which might be helpful when transferring balances.

•   Installment plans: Some balance transfer cards offer installment plans to help you repay your balance over time.

Rewards or travel credit cards:

•   Low spending threshold: Requirements to earn sign-up bonuses can vary; look for one that’s well within your budget.

•   Points transfer: Some travel credit cards let you transfer points to airlines or hotels, which can lead to better redemption rates in some cases.

How Your Credit Score Affects Your Chance of Approval

Your credit score is one of the biggest factors in determining whether you’re approved for a credit card. If you have poor or no credit, you probably won’t get approved for a card that requires very good to excellent credit, regardless of other factors, given what a credit card is and how the approval process works.

Luxury credit cards, for example, may require a credit score of 670 or higher. If your score is higher, you might be approved for one of these cards (though approval is not guaranteed). If your credit score is below 670, however, your approval odds will probably be quite low.

While a credit score and credit card offers are intertwined, that may not be the only factor a card issuer considers. Issuers might also look at things such as your employment status and income. This is one of the reasons that a good credit score doesn’t guarantee approval.

Still, a better credit score can help you secure the credit card you want. As such, you might consider taking steps to build your credit score before applying for a credit card, such as by making on-time payments or lowering your credit utilization ratio.

What Comes Next After Choosing a Credit Card?

If you’ve already submitted prequalification forms, you should have some idea about your approval odds for each card. As mentioned, those forms do not guarantee approval but can serve as a valuable guideline.

Once you have chosen a credit card, it’s time to apply. Some general steps are to:

1.    Visit the card issuer’s website and click apply.

2.    Fill in the required information.

3.    Submit your application.

In some cases, you may receive instant approval (or denial). In others, the card company will need more time to review your application. If approved, you can usually expect to receive your card in the mail in seven to 10 business days.

If you are denied, you can call the card’s reconsideration line and provide additional information. Perhaps you forgot some additional sources of income that could help your case. Anything that may help is worth mentioning.

Recommended: Does Applying for a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score?

The Takeaway

Deciding which credit card is best for you can be a long and arduous process. However, once you have a better understanding of what you need, the process of choosing a credit card doesn’t have to be so complicated. Some credit cards are simply better than others, and picking them is a surprisingly easy choice after comparison shopping.

Whether you're looking to build credit, apply for a new credit card, or save money with the cards you have, it's important to understand the options that are best for you. Learn more about credit cards by exploring this credit card guide.

FAQ

How does your credit score determine the card to choose?

Your credit score is one of the most important factors in deciding which credit card to choose. For example, if your credit score is poor, you probably won’t be approved for a premium card with excellent rewards that requires good to excellent credit.

How do you choose a credit card for the first time?

In most cases, the best choice for your first card should have no annual fee. Some good choices are student credit cards (for students) or secured credit cards. These cards are ideal for building credit and often have low fees.

What is the most important factor when choosing a credit card?

The most important factor when choosing a credit card is probably how you intend to use it. For example, a premium credit card may offer excellent benefits for the frequent traveler, but someone who just wants to earn cash back on groceries may not benefit from travel perks.


Photo credit: iStock/Eva-Katalin

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 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.

SOCC-Q224-1910756-V1

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender