What Is a Tradeline on a Credit Report?

What Is a Tradeline on a Credit Report?

A tradeline is the term used by the three major credit reporting bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to describe any one of the accounts listed on your credit report. Each account has its own tradeline, and each tradeline contains information about the creditor, your account, and your debt.

Tradelines make up a good portion of your credit report, which means the information within them plays a big role in determining your credit score. And, as you probably know, your credit score is an important number that can prove your creditworthiness and help you snag lower rates on loans, among other benefits.

The more you understand about what a tradeline is and what creditors see when they read your credit report, the better equipped you’ll be to use that information to maintain the best credit score possible.

So to help you with that pursuit, let’s look at:

•   What a credit tradeline is and how it works

•   What information is reported by your creditors

•   How tradelines can impact your credit and banking

•   The risks and rewards of buying tradelines

•   Alternatives to credit tradelines

What Is a Credit Tradeline?

If you’re wondering, “What is a credit tradeline?” you are probably not alone. It’s not an everyday personal finance term. So let’s define it: A tradeline in a credit report is a record for each of the credit accounts that you have. This includes revolving credit accounts, such as credit cards, and installments loans, such as student loans, auto loans, mortgages, and personal loans.

Each tradeline may contain a host of information reported by the creditor about themselves and your debt.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

What Information Is Reported by a Creditor?

When it comes to knowing what a tradeline is on a credit report, you may be surprised by just how much intel is shared. Quite a lot of information is reported about a creditor and your debt. The list includes:

•   Creditor’s name and address

•   Type of account

•   Partial account number

•   Date the account was opened

•   The account’s current status

•   Date of latest activity

•   Original loan amount

•   Credit limit

•   Current or recent balance

•   Monthly payment

•   Payment history

•   Date the account was closed, if this situation applies

By looking at a tradeline, you can view all of the most recent information reported by your creditors to the three credit reporting bureaus, all in one place. This is the information that will have an impact on your credit score.

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Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

What Other Information Is Gathered by the Credit Bureaus?

In addition to the information listed above, the credit reporting bureaus will also gather:

•   Personal information, including your name, date of birth, Social Security number, home address, phone number and employer

•   Information from the public record, including bankruptcies

•   Who has made recent inquiries about your credit and when (for example, if you’ve applied for new credit and a hard inquiry has been made)

The credit bureaus don’t know everything about you, however. They don’t have access to information such as your income, bank account balances, or marital status, though the report could include a spouse’s name if a creditor reports it.

How a Credit Tradeline Works

Tradelines are like the heartbeat of your credit report. Without them, you can’t have a score. If you are keeping your credit utilization low (that is, keeping your balance low vs. your limit on credit cards), paying your bills on time, and showing that you are a dependable borrower, your tradelines will be positive. Your three-digit credit-score number will be in good shape.

If, on the other hand, you pay your bills late, skip payments, and rack up loads of debt, your tradelines will reveal negative information. Your score is likely to be low or decline.

What Are Tradelines for Credit Used for?

So now you understand that your credit score is calculated based on the information provided in your tradelines. Let’s take it a step further in terms of how tradelines for credit are used.

Creditors use your score to help them determine whether or not to extend credit to you and what terms and interest rates they’re willing to offer. Good credit is important. For example, if you have a good credit score, your lender may see you as less of a risk and offer a lower interest rate on a loan. Higher risk loan applicants with lower scores may be offered much higher rates. In other words, buying a car or home will be that much more expensive if your score is low.

While your credit score gives lenders an overall sense of the shape of your personal finances and credit history, it doesn’t give them any details. For those, they may look at individual tradelines contained within your credit report.

How Tradelines May Affect Your Credit and Banking

Your tradelines have a direct impact on your credit, since activity within the account is used to calculate your credit score.

Here’s a closer look at the five factors used to generate your FICO score, and the weightings used for each.

•   Payment history: 35%

•   Amounts owed: 30%

•   Length of credit history: 15%

•   New credit: 10%

•   Credit mix: 10%.

Any credit activity that pertains to one of those categories can have an impact on your score when reported in your tradeline. For example, delinquent payments could damage your credit history. Or closing an account may have an impact on your length of credit history.

When Are Credit Tradelines Removed?

From time to time, a tradeline can be removed from your credit report. For example, if you’re an authorized user of a credit card and you are removed from the account, the tradeline will be dropped from your credit report in about two months.

When you close an account, the tradeline isn’t removed immediately. In fact, if that account has a positive impact on your credit score, the tradeline may stay on your report for as long as 10 years. Nice!

Worth noting: If a tradeline was opened fraudulently — someone opened a credit line or took on a loan in your name without your knowledge — you may ask to have the tradeline removed. In fact, it can be a very good idea to do so. It can help boost your credit score since many fraudulent accounts contain negative credit information.

What Happens to Your Banking When a Tradeline Is Removed?

Removing a tradeline can be a positive or negative thing for your credit. If the tradeline was associated with positive information, removing it can hurt your credit. Luckily, a positive closed account stays on your report for a decade.

Closing an account with negative information can be a plus for your credit score. If an account is delinquent when it’s closed, the entire account will be removed after seven years.

How Is This Information Collected?

Creditors report the information collected in the tradelines to the credit reporting bureaus. They do so voluntarily, at their discretion, and on their own timeline, though the credit bureaus prefer that credit information is updated every month.

Each credit bureau may use different sourcing for the information they gather. What’s more, while some creditors will report to all three bureaus, some may only report to two, one, or even none of them.

Why You Should Check for Errors

As we’ve mentioned above, your tradelines are the source of information that determines your credit score. So it’s important to check your credit report regularly to make sure that there are no errors negatively impacting your score. Inaccurate information could also be a sign of identity theft.

You can request one free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus each year, according to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. Since you can get three reports each year, you could even request one report every four months, to help ensure your finances are as up-to-date as possible. A popular site to check your credit report is Annualcreditreport.com .

You may also consider signing up with a credit score monitoring service.

Can You Buy New Tradelines?

Some companies will offer the opportunity to buy tradelines to boost your score. It’s not necessarily advisable to purchase from these third-party services.

Here’s how they work. First, a little background info: When you’re trying to build credit, one common strategy is to become an authorized user on an already existing account. For example, your parents might make you a user on their credit card. Good credit history and maintaining a low balance on this account could help you build credit.

When you purchase a tradeline, you enter into a similar agreement with a stranger. You’ll pay a third-party service to set up the transaction. You won’t know the person whose account you’re joining, and you will not be able to use the account. The account will usually remain open to you for a short period of time only.

You are paying for the privilege of being on this account, which will supposedly help raise your credit rating.

Is Buying Tradelines Legal?

Technically speaking, buying tradelines through a reliable tradeline service is legal. Congress has said that under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, authorized users cannot be denied on existing credit accounts, even if the person being authorized is a stranger.

That said, there are times when working with a tradeline service can lead to serious issues.

For example, a company may say you can hide bad credit or a bankruptcy using a credit privacy number. In reality, this might be someone else’s Social Security number, landing you in the middle of an identity theft scam.

You might also find yourself buying into an account that’s gone into default. You could end up as the primary owner of the account, which could hurt your credit.

Also, watch out for companies that use a process called address merging in which the company claims the authorized user (that would be you) lives at the same address as the account holder. This is fraudulent, and it indicates that you are not working with a reliable company.

Risks of Buying Credit Tradelines

Whenever you give out your personal information, including to a tradeline supplier, you are putting yourself at risk of identity theft.

By attempting to take a shortcut to build credit, you also won’t be doing yourself any favors. Beyond the risk of identity theft and other entanglements, you’ll be robbing yourself of the chance to build good financial habits. And this could come back to bite you in the end if you never learn to manage debt responsibly on your own.

How Banking Can Improve Your Credit Report

If you’re looking to improve your credit score, there are a number of alternatives to buying tradelines that you can pursue.

•   Always pay your bills on time. Your payment history makes up the bulk of your credit score. Pay close attention to your checking account and bills; make sure you can and do make regular debt payments on time and in full. Consider automated bill pay to help ensure you never miss a payment.

•   Pay down debts. Your available credit plays a large role in the calculation of your credit score. Your credit card utilization ratio, as we mentioned above, shows how much or your available credit you’re using. You can calculate your ratio by dividing credit card balance by loan limit. If your utilization rate is over 30%, improve your credit score by paying down your balance. Aim to keep your score at under 10%.

•   Check your credit reports regularly. Learn to read your credit report. Alert the credit bureaus to any inaccuracies. Your credit score should change for the better shortly after a mistake is corrected.

Alternatives to Credit Tradelines

If you’re trying to build credit over time, there are also alternatives to tradelines.

•   Become an authorized user. You may wonder, “Isn’t this what purchasing a tradeline is?” The answer is yes, but it’s far better to become an authorized user on the account of someone you know well or are related to. You’ll have the opportunity to use the account and learn healthy credit habits. Just don’t abuse this privilege.

•   Apply for a secured credit card. Secured credit cards require you to make a security deposit to receive a line of credit. This deposit often becomes your credit limit. These cards are easier for people with no credit history to qualify for, and they help you build credit.

•   Get credit for paying bills. You might look into services that allow you to get credit for on-time payment of bills that usually don’t count towards your credit score. This may include bills for everything from your utilities to your streaming service.

The Takeaway

The tradeline for each of your revolving credit or installment accounts contains all the information necessary to generate your credit score. Understanding your tradelines can help you understand the ways in which you can boost your score. Manage those tradelines well, and you may unlock lower interest rates on loans and other elements of financial health.

Here’s another way to boost your financial health: by banking with SoFi. Our linked Checking and Savings accounts, when opened with direct deposit, earn you a top-notch APY so your money grows faster. And we don’t cut into those earnings with fees, either. We won’t charge you monthly, minimum-balance, or overdraft (up to $50) fees.

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

FAQ

Are tradelines good for credit?

The information contained with your tradelines is used to generate your credit score. It reflects how well you manage credit and can therefore be either good or bad, depending on whether you have been paying back debt on time and how much debt you are carrying.

How much will a tradeline boost my credit?

Adding a tradeline can actually lower your credit in the short-term. For example, it will lower the average age of your accounts, which can have a negative impact on your length of credit history. However, if you can maintain the account over the long-term and keep up with payments, the new account may provide a boost to your credit score.

How do I get tradelines on my credit?

Tradelines are added to your credit report when you open new lines of credit or take out new loans. A tradeline is also added when you become an authorized user on another person’s account.


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.


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.


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SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi 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. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. 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 is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.

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 .

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16 Ways to Reward Yourself Without Breaking Your Budget

16 Ways to Reward Yourself Without Breaking Your Budget

Who doesn’t like to hear the words “Good job!” or “I’ve got a little treat for you”? Almost no one. And the fun part is, you can be the person bestowing good will upon yourself.

As recognition for wrangling a tough work project, getting through a stressful week, being a good friend, or finishing a home-repair project, it’s important to pat yourself on the back. And there’s room in almost any budget for a little reward. Low-cost and free treats can serve as positive reinforcement without launching you on that slippery slope of overspending.

If you need help getting started, read on to learn:

•   Why treating yourself is essential

•   How to reward yourself on a budget

Why Treating Yourself Is Essential

Treating yourself is a form of self-care, which is a way of showing yourself kindness by engaging in acts that make you feel good. Studies on self-care have found it can help reduce or eliminate anxiety and depression, manage stress, and increase happiness.

Treats or self-rewards are a pat on the back; a way of recognizing that you’re doing a good job and meeting goals. Fortunately, there’s room in almost any budget for them. Whether an occasional bouquet of supermarket roses or a TGIF beer with friends, these purchases are unlikely to wreak havoc on your finances or trigger a situation in which you can’t stop overspending.

Recommended: Guide to Practicing Financial Self-Care

Rewarding Yourself: 16 Different Ideas

Maybe you asked for and got a raise at work, buckled down on your budget, finally cleaned out your closets, or just feel you need a lift after a draining week. It’s time to treat yourself. Consider these free or low-cost rewards:

1. Drop in for a Single Yoga Class

Yoga provides a plethora of physical and mental benefits, such as helping to relieve back and neck pain, improve sleep quality, and reduce stress. Many yoga studios offer drop-in classes, with the average price about $16 a class. If that’s a bit steep, YouTube features an array of free yoga videos led by experienced instructors.

2. Get a Cup of Fancy Coffee

Making coffee at home saves tons of money, but there’s nothing like the occasional barista-made cappuccino or flat white from your favorite coffee shop. Whether you have one as Monday motivation to start your week off right or reward yourself on a weekend AM, it can be a low-cost bit of self-care.

3. Pick up a Bouquet of Flowers

Treat yourself to some colorful blooms from your local grocery store. Research has shown flowers can improve mood and increase happiness.

4. Buy Yourself Your Favorite Ice Cream

Many of us have cheered up a kid with an ice cream cone. Why not do the same thing for yourself? Mint chip, strawberry, and good old vanilla just begin to describe the possibilities.

5. Go for an Inexpensive Mani-Pedi

Many nail salons offer weekly specials that include a manicure, pedicure, and perhaps a short massage. It can be an affordable way to help you look and feel good. Go ahead and pamper yourself on a budget.

Recommended: 15 Creative Ways to Save Money

6. Take a Nap

Few things feel as good as a power nap. If you work from home, schedule one as you see fit; office workers can squeeze one in on weekends. A snooze of 30 to 60 minutes can refresh you, improve your mood, and increase alertness. It’s a great way to treat yourself without spending money. Just beware of sleeping more than an hour though; it can leave you feeling groggy and interfere with your nighttime slumber.

7. Stream Some Shows

Streaming channels such as Hulu, Apple TV+ and Paramount+ offer free trial periods ranging from a week to a month. That could be enough time to binge-watch those shows you’ve been hearing about without necessarily signing up for a monthly subscription.

Recommended: 7 Ways to Achieve Financial Self-Discipline

8. Camp Out

Camping for a night or two is typically an inexpensive pursuit. Being out in nature, taking a walk in the woods, and looking up at the constellations at night can be a wonderful treat and spirit-reviver. Not for you? How about an afternoon of forest bathing near your home? All that means is spending time in nature, focusing on the sights, sounds, and smells of the woods.

9. Visit a Local Museum

Whether you look at Old Masters art or challenging avant-garde works, a museum visit can immerse you in beauty and share refreshing new perspectives. Most museums either have specific days or times when entry fees are free or reduced.

10. Get Crafty

Having a creative outlet is not only a way to relieve stress, it’s also fun. A good self-reward can be to spark your creativity with anything from an adult coloring book to a ceramics lesson.

11. Have a Nice Lunch or Dinner Out

Most of us grab takeout now and then, but a special self-reward can be to plan a meal at a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try or sampling a type of food you don’t usually eat. Invite a friend you’d like to catch up with; that can make it more memorable. Tip: Check out special offers, like a prix fixe menu, to make your outing even more affordable.

12. Spend a Day at the Beach

Sun, sand, and surf have a way of restoring one’s spirits, as does the sound of seagulls. It’s a terrific way to spend a day, even off-season. You might have to pay for parking, but otherwise, this outing can be a very low-cost way to treat yourself.

Recommended: Sticking to a Summer Budget

13. Visit a Thrift Shop or Flea Market

Shopping second-hand, especially one where the proceeds go to a charitable organization, is a great way to reward yourself with inexpensive clothing, jewelry, books, cookware, and maybe even the perfect acoustic guitar. You’re also helping the environment since thrifting keeps items out of landfills and incinerators.

Recommended: A Guide to Ethical Shopping

14. Take a Mental Health Day

It may take some planning and organization, but gifting yourself a day off to rest and recharge can help prevent burnout and reduce stress. Spend it however you like: Lazing on the couch, out taking photos, or visiting a friend you haven’t seen in a while.

Recommended: Making Money Through Social Media

15. Listen to Live Music

Sure, you could splurge on a major concert, but local bars, beer gardens, and other spots often have live music without any sticker-shock tickets. Whether it’s folk, Zydeco, or classic-rock covers, you’re likely to feel better for it. Music has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve one’s mood.

16. Buy a Good Book

A good story can transport you away from daily life. Why not treat yourself to one? You can stop by the bookstore and purchase that book you’ve been wanting or listen to it while you’re taking a walk, driving, or relaxing at home. Borrow an audiobook from the library or enjoy a 30-day free trial at Audible.com.

The Takeaway

Everyone needs and deserves a treat now and then: a reward for saving money, getting kudos at work, or finally organizing your coat closet. Self-care can boost your mental health and keep you motivated with your goals. There are endless ways to treat yourself, and plenty of ways to do so without busting your budget. With the ideas described here, you can reward yourself and stay on track money-wise, which is a win-win.

How about opening a bank account that rewards you, too? With SoFi’s Checking and Savings, you’ll earn an amazing APY when you sign up with direct deposit. Plus you won’t pay any account fees, so your money could grow faster.

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 it called when you reward yourself?

People use a variety of terms in addition to reward. These include a treat, self-reward, self-care, positive motivation, and positive reinforcement.

What if I feel guilty when rewarding myself?

Some people feel guilty when rewarding themselves. This may be because they were raised in a household that felt people should work hard without reward or because they believe rewards will make them “soft” and unmotivated. However, rewards can actually help people recharge, achieve more, and enjoy life more, so try giving yourself permission.

How do I not go overboard when rewarding myself?

It’s wise to have your self-rewards as a line item on your budget to avoid going overboard. That “fun money” doesn’t have to be a lot: Many treats are low-cost or even free.


Photo credit: iStock/Prostock-Studio

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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.

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Compulsive or Impulsive Shopping: How to Combat It

Compulsive or Impulsive Shopping: How to Combat It

Spending money on purchases is a part of daily life (groceries, for instance) and can be a pleasure (those cool new boots you’ve been eying for weeks). But for some people, shopping gets out of hand and becomes impulsive or compulsive shopping. They literally “can’t resist” buying and find themselves purchasing often and when they don’t really need anything.

Both compulsive and impulsive shopping can negatively impact your finances and personal life, though they are not the same thing. If you feel as if you can’t control your spending and your money management is suffering from it (such as debt is piling up), know that you can take steps to regain control.

Here, you’ll learn:

•   What compulsive shopping is

•   Causes of compulsive shopping

•   What impulsive shopping is

•   Causes of impulsive shopping

•   How to take control of compulsive or impulsive shopping

What Is Compulsive Shopping?

Compulsive shopping is defined as an uncontrollable desire to shop, resulting in a person investing large amounts of time and money in the activity. People who shop compulsively tend to make purchases regardless of whether they need or want an item — or can actually afford it.

Compulsive shopping, or compulsive buying behavior (CBB), is considered a mental health condition that can have negative consequences financially and personally. It can become a preoccupation and involve the loss of self-control. Compulsive shoppers may use excessive spending as a coping method to mask feelings of low self-esteem, stress, and anxiety. They may feel a high when buying something but often experience disappointment and guilt afterwards.

Characteristics of compulsive shopping include:

•   Obsessive research over coveted items

•   Making unnecessary purchases

•   Potentially dire financial issues as a result, such as bankruptcy, credit card debt, and foreclosure

Causes of Compulsive Shopping

Approximately 6% of adults experience compulsive shopping, which can express a variety of emotional needs and wants, such as:

•   Perfectionism. The shopper may be focused on finding the perfect item, which brings them feelings of satisfaction once discovered.

•   Desire to be in control. Purchasing items can make them feel as if they have achieved something when other aspects of their life are not well managed.

•   Childhood trauma, neglect, or abuse. If a person has endured this kind of pain, buying items may feel like a reward that offsets this negativity.

•   Feelings of loneliness and depression. Buying items can be an exciting mood-lifter; a kind of high.

•   Mood, anxiety, or personality disorders. Compulsive shopping can be a self-soothing behavior.

What Is Impulsive Shopping?

Impulsive shopping is somewhat different from compulsive shopping, though some mental-health professionals consider them to be aspects of the same issue. Impulsive shopping tends to happen when a person gets caught up in the moment and spontaneously buys something. It’s a purchase without any forethought, planning, and it’s often not within a person’s budget.

People who impulse-shop are usually influenced by external triggers, such as seeing an item on sale or positively responding to a store’s atmosphere. Everyone indulges in some impulse-fueled retail therapy now and then. However, when these immediate gratification purchases become habitual, the behavior can morph into something uncontrollable and financially damaging. When it has this kind of negative impact, it nudges into the realm of a disorder.

Causes of Impulsive Shopping

Impulsive shopping can have a variety of causes, including:

•   Wanting to ease negative feelings or improve one’s mood with a “pick-me-up”

•   A need for fun or entertainment

•   Lower levels of self-control

•   Fear of missing out (FOMO) on items or experiences other people have

•   Materialism; placing value on owning possessions

Compulsive vs Impulsive Shopping: What’s the Difference?

While these two behaviors’ names may sound similar, they are actually distinct. Here are the key differences when one compares impulsive vs. compulsive shopping:

Compulsive

Impulsive

Resembles addictive behavior Can develop into addictive-like behavior if left unchecked
Buying things regularly Buying is more occasional and situational
Shopping is planned and premeditated Shopping is unplanned and spontaneous
More internally motivated by uncomfortable emotions More externally motivated and influenced by shopping environments and marketing

Tips for Combating Compulsive or Impulsive Shopping

Impulsive and compulsive shopping can tip into the danger zone and ruin your budget and financial fitness. They can also take up too much mental space. If you have entered that realm and perhaps are carrying a hefty amount of debt, taking control of the situation can feel overwhelming. But there is help. Consider these suggestions on how to get started if you think you’re a shopaholic:

Seeking Some Professional Help

Individual counseling with a mental health professional can help you get to the emotional root of your buying issues. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can effectively treat these shopping behaviors. Medication may also help manage unwanted or intrusive thoughts about shopping. Group therapy can also be beneficial.

Paying Close Attention to Spending Habits

Figuring out your particular shopping triggers can help you avoid or eliminate them. For instance, when buying, do you use credit cards instead of paying with cash or a debit card? Make shopping a priority over paying bills? Grocery shop without making a list? Being honest about how and why you may engage in certain overspending behaviors is vital to understanding the issue. Changing spending habits can then help you manage your finances better.

Recommended: Are You Bad with Money? Here’s How to Get Better

Having an Accountability Mentor

Get some support: A financial counselor, advisor, partner, family member, or friend can assist you on your journey to curb compulsive or impulsive spending. Try taking a trusted, non-judgmental confidant with you when you go shopping. Ask them to help rein you in if you start overbuying. You can also consider having them hold onto your credit cards to eliminate access, chat regularly with you to keep tabs on your progress, and be a sympathetic listener when you need to talk through your feelings.

National 12-step program support groups such as Debtors Anonymous (especially if you’ve racked up credit card debt) and Spenders Anonymous are also an option. They can connect you with others who are dealing with similar issues.

Setting a Budget

Creating and sticking to a budget allows you to gain control over your spending. A well-thought out budget will help with personal accountability and achieving financial discipline. Since life needs to be about balance and we all need to spend money on something fun here and there, try to set yourself up with the flexibility to splurge sometimes. This will help keep you from feeling completely deprived.

One suggestion is to consider incorporating the 50/30/20 budget rule. This guideline recommends spending up to 50% of your after-tax income on must-haves (say, housing, car payments, utilities, healthcare, and groceries). Then, take 30% of your money and reserve it for wants such as dinners out, vacations, concert tickets, electronics, and clothing. The remaining 20% should be allocated for investments, an emergency fund, debt repayment, or savings.

Recommended: 10 Personal Finance Basics

Minimizing Temptation

Many stores are carefully designed to get you to shop and spend, perhaps to an extreme. If a store’s atmosphere — the design, the scents, the music — tends to get you buying, avoid it. Don’t walk down the streets filled with your favorite shops; try to escape the triggers that make you shop too much. If you often spend free time at the mall or online shopping, sign yourself up for a class, take up a new sport, volunteer, or find other ways to fill the hours.

Online promotional discounts, coupon codes, and the ease of electronic transactions can make compulsive or impulsive shopping easier and more appealing. Go ahead and unsubscribe from retailer emails.

Curbing social media exposure can help, too. Research suggests ads and posts from social media influencers and seeing purchases from people in your social networks may encourage a “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality, often leading to impulsive and compulsive buying.

Starting a No-Spend or 30-Day Savings Rule

A quick way to stop spending money is to freeze any non-essential spending for an entire month. Commit to a 30-day shopping ban on things such as clothing, make-up, tech gadgets, or take-out, and see how much extra money you have at the end of the month. The difference may be eye-opening and help you break the cycle.

Successfully controlling your spending can provide a feeling of accomplishment and a confidence boost. Participating in a no-spend challenge can even become a fun game; you can involve other budget-conscious friends and know you’re all in it together.

Recommended: Using a Personal Loan to Pay Off Credit Card Debt

The Takeaway

Although there are differences between compulsive and impulsive shopping, both can seriously affect your financial and personal life. Facing your impulsive or compulsive shopping habits can be daunting, but taking positive, concrete steps is likely to help conquer the problem. Getting past this spending issue, whether by shifting your behaviors or seeking professional help, can be a positive step, both for you personally and for your finances.

Want to get a better handle on your spending? Get started today by signing up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account. You can easily track your weekly spending on our dashboard. What’s more, when you open a SoFi online bank account with direct deposit, you’ll earn a competitive APY and pay no fees, so your money could grow that much faster.

Discover the benefits of banking with SoFi today.

FAQ

Is breaking a budget a sign of compulsive shopping?

Breaking your budget is not necessarily a sign of compulsive shopping. However, if you regularly deviate from your budget, spend money allocated for needs on wants, and find yourself saddled with credit card debt, you may need to rein in your compulsive spending. Analyze your shopping habits and budget to understand your behavior better.

Is making an impulse purchase a bad thing?

The reality is, most of us make occasional impulse buys, and they are not always such a bad thing. However, if this kind of shopping becomes habitual and leaves you with debt, pay attention and take steps to improve the situation.

How do I limit impulse purchases?

One way to limit impulse purchases is to avoid stores or websites where you know you tend to overspend. Also, ask yourself, “Do I need this or do I just want it?” when tempted to make a purchase. If the answer is the latter, wait 24 hours, and see if you still really want it. Your desire may dwindle during that cooling-off period.


Photo credit: iStock/jacoblund

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.


SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi 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. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. 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 is a VantageScore® 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.

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.

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Can You Deduct Overdraft Bank Fees on Your Taxes?

Can You Deduct Overdraft Bank Fees on Your Taxes?

Overdraft fees are never fun, but there’s a bright spot: In some circumstances, these charges can be tax deductible.

As you are probably well aware, both overdraft fees and taxes are an unavoidable part of life that can involve reducing your hard-earned cash. Which is why it can be really satisfying to use overdraft fees to save on taxes. This payback time, however, is typically not available for the average person who works a nine-to-five job.

So who can deduct these charges? Read on to learn:

•   What are overdraft fees?

•   Can I deduct overdraft fees on my taxes?

•   What other bank fees can be deducted?

•   What are tips for claiming bank-fee tax deductions?

What Are Overdraft Fees?

Before answering the question, “Are overdraft fees tax deductible?” it helps to understand how these charges work. An overdraft fee is assessed when someone authorizes a payment (such as when making a purchase with a debit card or by writing a check), but there isn’t enough money in their bank account to completely cover the cost of the transaction.

A bank may choose not to decline the payment and instead may charge the account holder an overdraft fee. If someone overdrafts multiple times in a day, they might be charged a fee for each overdraft. Or there may be a limit on how many times their bank or credit union might charge them a fee.

How Much Are Overdraft Fees?

Typically, each overdraft is assessed a charge of $35 or so. If you were to, say, make a bunch of payments like rent, utilities, and car payment on the first of the month and all of these triggered overdraft fees, you can imagine how quickly the amount can add up.

What Happens When You Overdraft Your Account?

Once someone realizes they overdrafted, they need to add more money to their bank account — at least enough to cover the amount they overdrafted and the cost of any overdraft fees they were charged. If someone doesn’t add enough money to their account, then the next time they make a deposit, the bank is likely to automatically withdraw that amount from their account.

What’s more, if the account holder doesn’t add more funds, then eventually the bank may choose to close their account. The debt would likely fall into the hands of a collections agency, which isn’t very fun for the consumer.

One way account holders can protect themselves from overdrafting is to set up an automatic transfer from a linked account (like a savings account) that steps in to save the day. There are pros and cons to overdraft protection. It may be offered for free; sometimes this service costs a fee, but even then, it’s usually less than an overdraft fee.

Who Can Deduct Overdraft Fees on Their Taxes?

Avoiding overdraft fees is a common goal, but despite your best efforts, these charges may still crop up and you may hope to write them off on your tax return. Whether or not you can do so depends on who is hoping to get a deduction. Sorry to say, but individuals who earn income from an employer can’t write off overdraft fees on their taxes. Only those who qualify in the following ways can write off their overdraft fees when tax season rolls around:

•   Self-employed individuals

•   Those who receive an IRS 1099-MISC form

•   Anyone who operates an unincorporated limited liability company (LLC)

•   People who practice a profession as a sole proprietorship

•   Landlords who receive income from rental properties

And there’s a catch: These people can only write off overdraft fees that occur during the normal course of business operations. They may not write off their personal overdraft fees.

What Bank Fees Are Considered Business Expenses?

Aside from overdraft fees, other bank charges can be considered business expenses. Take note of the following:

•   Account service charges

•   Credit card fees

•   ATM charges

•   Incoming and outgoing wire fees

•   Printing and depositing check fees

Other Bank Fees That Can Be Deducted

Overdraft fees aren’t the only charges that can potentially be deducted at tax time. As noted briefly earlier, business-related banking charges like credit card fees, ATM charges, and account service charges can be written off on taxes. However, you must own a business, be a sole proprietorship, or otherwise earn business income and incur these fees while running your business.

The cost of printing and depositing checks, incoming and outgoing wire fees, and other charges related to running a business are totally deductible on taxes as well.

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!


Bank Fee Write Off Example

Let’s look at an example of how a business owner may be able to write off bank fees. Imagine that Paul owns a bakery. He has a business bank account and uses a debit card to make last-minute purchases, plus a business credit card to make larger ongoing purchases. On Monday, he realizes he is out of flour. He places a bulk order for flour using his business credit card, but runs to the store to buy flour for the next few days using his debit card attached to his business bank account.

The problem is, Paul forgot to check his business bank account and is short on funds. As a result he overdrafts at the store. In all this rush, he forgot his credit card bill was due that very day and ended up paying it late, missing out on one of the benefits of automatic bill payments. What a Monday, and an expensive one at that!

What bank fees paid this month could Paul write off on his taxes?

•   Bank account management fee

•   Overdraft fee

•   1/12 of his credit card’s annual fee (assuming he saves up for it and pays it annually)

•   Credit card late fee

All of these fees are a major headache and poor Paul has to pay them, but at least he can write them off on his taxes.

Recommended: Beneficial Banking Account Alerts

Can You Deduct Bank Fees Even if You Do Not Own a Business?

You may be wondering, but what if I don’t own a business; can I deduct bank fees from taxes? It’s only possible to claim overdraft and other bank fees on your taxes if you own a business or work for yourself. Even then, they can only deduct business banking fees that occur during the course of business, not personal banking fees. So if you overdraft on your personal account, that can’t be taken as a deduction at tax time.

Tips for Claiming Bank Fee Tax Deductions

Let’s look at some ways to claim bank fees as tax deductions. Every penny counts, after all.

•   It’s required that business owners file an IRS Schedule C (Form 1040) , Profit or Loss from Business form, in order to deduct business expenses.

•   Any bank charges can be deducted as “other expenses.”

•   If someone can claim deductions because they earn rental property income, they’ll file the Schedule E (Form 1040), Supplemental Income and Loss form.

•   It’s only possible to declare bank charges that occurred in the year for the return being filed.

•   If someone realizes they have unclaimed charges from past years, they need to amend their previous returns and refile them.

•   The IRS wants to see bank accounts that relate to business expense deductions only being used for business purposes; no mixing in personal transactions.

Banking With SoFi

When tax time rolls around, only people who earn business income can potentially deduct overdraft fees related to their work. But even if you don’t have a business account, there are still ways to minimize the impact of overdraft and other banking fees.

See how SoFi can help you bank better in this way. When you open SoFi Checking and Savings with direct deposit, you’ll pay no account fees; if that direct deposit is $1,000 or more monthly, SoFi overdraft coverage will take care of up to $50 for you. What’s more, we pay a competitive APY so your money can grow faster. No fees, higher interest? Yes, please.

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 bank charges are tax-deductible?

Those who earn business income can deduct bank fees from their taxes. These include overdraft fees, account service charges, and ATM fees that relate to their business.

How do I claim overdraft fees?

People who earn business income and accrue overdraft fees during the course of business can claim these charges by filing the IRS Schedule C (Form 1040), Profit or Loss from Business. If someone earns rental income as a landlord, they can file Schedule E (Form 1040), Supplemental Income and Loss.

Are there taxes on bank fees?

No, you don’t pay taxes on bank fees. Also, some people may be able to deduct bank charges from their taxes, provided they are business bank fees, not personal ones.


Photo credit: iStock/monkeybusinessimages

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.


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

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

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.

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Bank Guarantee vs Letter of Credit: What’s the Difference?

Bank Guarantee vs Letter of Credit: What’s the Difference?

A bank guarantee and a letter of credit are quite similar. With both instruments the issuing bank accepts a customer’s liability if the customer defaults on the money it owes, is a promise from a lending institution that ensures the bank will step up if a debtor can’t cover a debt.

Bank guarantees are often used in real estate contracts and infrastructure projects, while letters of credit are primarily used in global transactions.

Bank guarantees represent a more significant contractual obligation for banks than letters of credit do.

With a guarantee, the seller’s claim goes first to the buyer, and if the buyer defaults, then the claim goes to the bank. With letters of credit, the seller’s claim goes first to the bank, not the buyer. Although the seller will likely get paid in both cases, letters of credit offer more assurance to sellers than guarantees generally do.

What Is a Bank Guarantee?

Bank guarantees serve a key purpose for businesses. The bank, through their due diligence of the applicant, provides credibility to them as a viable business partner in a particular business dealing. In essence, the bank puts its seal of approval on the applicant’s creditworthiness, co-signing on behalf of the applicant as it relates to the specific contract the two external parties are undertaking.

A bank guarantee is an assurance from a bank regarding a contract between a buyer and a seller. Essentially, the bank guarantee acts as a risk management tool. A bank guarantee provides support and assurance to the beneficiary of the payment, as the bank guarantee means that the bank is assuming liability for completion of the contract.

This means that if the buyer defaults on their debt or obligation, the bank makes sure the beneficiary receives their payment.

Any business can benefit from a bank guarantee, but especially small businesses that would be more affected if a payment from a business partner or customer falls through.

Bank guarantees only apply to a certain monetary amount and last for a set period of time. There will be a contract in place that dictates in which scenarios and at what point in time the guarantee is applicable.

Before taking on a bank guarantee, the bank does research on the applicant to make sure they are credible and will act as a reliable business partner. In a way, a bank guarantee serves as a seal of approval as the bank has good reason (they’re on the hook for the money) to only accept creditworthy applicants.

Types of Bank Guarantees

There are a few different types of bank agreements, here’s a closer look at the main ones.

Financial Bank Guarantee

With a financial bank guarantee the bank guarantees that the buyer repays all debts they owe to the seller and if they fail to pay those various types of debts, the bank has to assume responsibility for the money owed. The buyer will need to pay a small initial fee when the guarantee is issued.

Performance-Based Bank Guarantee

When it comes to a performance-based guarantee, the beneficiary has the right to seek reparations from the bank if contractual obligations aren’t met due to non-performance. If the counterparty doesn’t deliver on promised services, then the beneficiary will have the choice to claim resulting losses caused by the lack of performance.

Foreign Bank Guarantee

Foreign bank guarantees can apply to unique scenarios such as international export situations. In this case, there may be a fourth party involved — a correspondent bank operating where the beneficiary resides.

What Is a Letter of Credit?

A letter of credit (sometimes referred to as a credit letter) is a document provided by a financial institution such as a bank or credit union that guarantees a payment will be made during a business transaction. The bank acts as an impartial third party throughout the transaction.

When the bank issues a letter of credit, they are assuring that the purchaser will in fact pay for any goods or services on time and in full. If the buyer doesn’t make their payment on time and in full, the bank that issued the letter of credit will guarantee that they will make the payment instead. The bank will cover any remaining overdue balance as long as it doesn’t surpass the full purchase amount.

Letters of credit are commonly used in international trade (but can be used domestically as well) where, understandably, companies require more certainty when making deals across borders. A letter of credit can provide security and confidence to importers and exporters since they know the issuing bank guarantees the payment.

Applicants for letters of credit need to work with a lender in order to secure this backing. The applicant will need to provide a purchase contract, and a copy of the purchase order or export contract (among other documents) during the application process. Applicants will pay a fee to obtain the letter of credit and it usually equates to a percentage of the amount the letter of credit backs.

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Types of Letters of Credit

There are multiple types of letters of credit, with some being more common than others, and some applying to unique situations. Here’s a look at the main types.

Commercial Letter of Credit

This type of letter of credit applies to commercial transactions and is commonly used for international trade deals. In this case the bank makes a direct payment to the beneficiary.

Standby Letter of Credit

A standby letter of credit acts as a secondary payment method. The bank will pay the beneficiary if they are able to prove they didn’t receive the promised product or service from the seller.

Revolving Letter of Credit

A revolving letter of credit can help secure multiple transactions when two parties anticipate doing multiple deals.

Traveler’s Letter of Credit

With a traveler’s letter of credit, the issuing bank guarantees to honor letters of credit signed at certain foreign banks.

Confirmed Letter of Credit

This type of letter of credit specifies that the seller’s bank will be the party to ensure that the seller receives payment if the buyer and their issuing bank default on the agreement.

Special Considerations

Bank guarantees and letters of credit differ slightly, but both serve the same purpose — to give confidence and protection during transactions. Because the financial institutions that back these guarantees confirm that the buyer is creditworthy in the case of a bank guarantee or a letter of credit, the seller can be confident that the transaction should go through as planned if they have one of these agreements in place. If it does not, they know they’ll still receive payment from the institution that backed the agreement.

Key Differences between a Bank Guarantee and Letter of Credit

These are the most important differences to know about a bank guarantee vs. a letter of credit.

Liability

With some letters of credit the bank pays the seller directly so they take on the primary liability.

With a bank guarantee they only pay if the buyer fails to do so, so they take on a secondary liability.

Risk

The bank takes on more risk with a letter of credit as they take on the primary liability, but that means the seller and customer take on more risk with a bank guarantee.

Number of Parties Involved

At least three parties are involved in letters of credit and bank guarantee transactions. To start there is the buyer, seller, and a bank or other type of financial institution. With a letter of credit, a lender also gets involved. Sometimes two banks (more common in foreign transactions) are involved in a letter of credit or bank guarantee.

Payment

With a bank guarantee, the bank only makes payment if the buyer fails to do so. With a letter of credit this is also usually the case, but the bank can be more involved in the transaction, so disputes tend to be resolved faster.

The Takeaway

When considering a letter of credit versus bank guarantee, both can help two parties involved in a transaction feel more confident that the seller will be paid and the buyer will receive the goods or services promised — or they will be reimbursed by the bank that issued the agreement. Each type of agreement is especially helpful when conducting business across borders.

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FAQ

How is a letter of credit different from a bank guarantee?

When it comes to a bank guarantee vs. a letter of credit, both letters of credit and bank guarantees function very similarly. The main difference is that with a letter of credit the bank takes on more risk than they do with a bank guarantee.

What is a bank guarantee and how does it work?

Essentially a bank guarantee is an assurance from a bank that a contract between a buyer and a seller will be executed or they will reimburse the wronged party accordingly.

What is the primary difference between a standby letter of credit and a bank guarantee?

The main difference between a letter of credit and a bank guarantee is risk level. With a bank guarantee the bank takes on less risk than they do with a letter of credit.


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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.


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