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Here’s What You Can Do With Leftover Foreign Currency

Traveling abroad can be life-changing. By hopping on an airplane for a few quick hours, you’ll get to experience new cultures, try new foods, see new sites, and have the chance to walk in someone else’s shoes — even if it’s just for a few short days. Heck, you may even make a friend or two along the way.

However, getting to see, do, and eat new things can get expensive. Between hotel costs, plane tickets, sightseeing tours, restaurants, and nights out on the town, that vacation to a new country could quickly become a financial mountain.

Though you’ll likely want to come home with at least a souvenir or two you purchased on your sojourn, there is one thing you’ll probably want to leave behind — extra foreign currency that merely goes to waste upon landing.

Even the best budgeters may end up with some extra cash at the end of a trip. And since you can’t spend that foreign currency back home in the United States, you’ll need to come up with an alternative plan for all those foreign coins and bills now burning a hole in your pocket.

Sure, those bills may be pretty (Have you seen the Australian dollar?), but it won’t do you any good hanging as art on the wall. And you don’t want to miss out on saving or spending that money on things you need at home.

Instead of letting it go to waste, here are a few things you could choose to do with that leftover foreign change once your trip is done and your regular life sets in again.

What to Do with Extra Foreign Currency

Using It to Pay Part of Your Hotel Bill on Vacation

This might seem obvious, but there’s nothing worse than arriving at your gate with five minutes until boarding, only to realize you’ve still got about $80 worth of Moroccan dirham or Turkish lira left in your wallet.

That’s why it’s crucial to be smart about your spending and track your expenses while you’re on your trip by creating a travel budget. A trip specific budget can help you keep your spending in check and help you make sure you don’t have any local currency left by the time you depart.

If you don’t spend all your money that’s OK too; it’s just important to keep track. In fact, the earlier you realize you’ll have leftover money, the better. Sometimes hotels will let you split your bill up, so that you can use up your extra currency and then put the rest on a credit card.

Just remember to save enough for the cab ride to the airport — Uber or Lyft aren’t available everywhere and not every cab accepts credit.

Recommended: 27 Tips for Finding the Top Travel Deals

Shopping Duty Free

If you have a fair chunk of foreign currency leftover, consider making a stop at the Duty Free stores upon departure. This can be a good strategy if you are buying something you’d use ordinarily, like your favorite perfume or liquor, or if you’re still looking to buy a souvenir from the destination.

However, some countries, especially those that are sensitive to inflation, don’t accept foreign currency (except for euros and dollars) at Duty Free, so double-check that your change is eligible before you show up at the register with a cart full of goods.

Donating to Charity

Thanks to UNICEF’s Change For Good initiative , you may not have to exchange a dime. This program involves a partnership with several international airlines to help passengers donate their excess change.

On these flights, passengers receive envelopes in which they can donate their leftover foreign currency. If you’re not flying with a partner airline and still want to donate, you can mail your change to the organization.

Some airports have similar initiatives and programs that raise money for different charities around the world — all you need to do is find the box or envelope and stuff it full of your extra change. It’s a great way to do good and not let that spare money go to waste.

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!


Exchanging It

Although exchanging physical money comes with a fee, this can be one way to recoup your cash if you aren’t planning on visiting the country again anytime soon.

But where can you exchange foreign currency in a pinch?

Since money exchanges have notoriously high rates, make sure to search the exchange rates before using just any kiosk.

Although it is counterintuitive, airports are known to have some of the worst exchange rates. It might be worth waiting if you know there will be another option available when you get home. It simply may not be financially worthwhile to exchange foreign currency to USD if you only have a small amount leftover.

Your local bank or credit union is likely to exchange currency for a small fee. It may be possible to deposit foreign money into your bank account. You could make a few calls before you even leave for your trip to find out who will exchange or accept your cash and for what charge. If you have enough money left over from your vacation, it could be worth the additional effort.

Recommended: Ways to Be a Frugal Traveler

Saving It for Another Time

If you know you’ll be visiting again, why not store your extra foreign currency with your passport? Not only will you be able to keep the money, but you’ll save yourself a trip to the ATM upon arrival at your destination.

This can be one of the easiest solutions to the “what to do with leftover foreign coins” problem. And it might encourage you to start planning your return visit and growing your travel fund.

Regift Leftover Coins as a Quirky Souvenir

If you’re wondering what to do with foreign coins, know that they can be a fun gift to a child or currency collector in your life. It can be an opportunity to teach kids about both the world at large and about money. Bonus points if they are from a country with a cool design on their currency — like the Egyptian pound with pharaoh Tutankhamun.

Any leftover old foreign coins or bills can be a thoughtful gift for any of your friends or family members traveling to the same spot. Bonus points if it’s for friends heading out on a honeymoon.

There’s no better way to send them on their first trip as a married couple than with a little dough lining their pockets.

Recommended: Can You Use Your Credit Card Internationally?

The Takeaway

If you wind up with excess foreign currency at the end of a trip, you have a few options. You might save it for later, donate it to a charity, exchange it, or gift it to a friend. Depending on how much money you have, when (if at all) you plan on returning to your destination, and how much you’re willing to pay in fees, there’s an option that will likely be the right choice for you.

About traveling and fees: Your bank can make a difference in how much you pay in charges. For instance, if you open an online bank account with SoFi, you’ll have access to any Allpoint® Network ATM (there are 55,000+ globally), and you won’t get charged a fee. No fees are charged here in the United States, either.

In addition, SoFi Checking and Savings accounts earn a competitive APY with direct deposit and charge zero account fees.

Bank better at home or away with SoFi.

FAQ

Where can I donate leftover foreign currency?

UNICEF’s Change for Good program accepts donations on a number of international airlines. Leftover change may also be mailed to this program. You may also see other opportunities to donate currency at airports, benefiting various charities, as well.

Can I exchange my foreign currency at a bank?

If you’re wondering, “Where can I exchange my foreign coins and bills?” you will find that many banks offer to exchange currency for their clients. However, some will only do so for a limited number of currencies. A fee is usually involved, but it is likely to be lower than what you will pay at an airport currency exchange.

What is the meaning of leftover currency?

Leftover currency is typically foreign money that you have at the end of a trip. Before or after you return home, you can exchange it to recoup its value, donate it, or find another way to use it.

Is leftover currency legitimate?

Leftover currency is legal tender in the country you have traveled to, but when you return home, it will not be usable. Therefore, it may be wise to exchange it or donate it.


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.

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What Is a Cashier’s Check & How Do You Get One?

What Is a Cashier’s Check?

Checks may not be as common as they once were, but there’s one kind of check that remains a gold standard in financial transactions: a cashier’s check.

If you’ve never heard of one before or are not sure how they work, you are probably not alone. Cashier’s checks aren’t typically used in most people’s daily banking.

Guaranteed by the bank, these checks are used for special kinds of transactions. They are typically a faster and more secure way to make a payment than using a credit card or writing a personal check. You may need to use one when you’re making a large purchase, putting a downpayment on a home, or completing another major transaction.

Read on to learn more about this financial tool, including answers to these questions:

•   What is a cashier’s check?

•   When should you use a cashier’s check?

•   How much are fees for a cashier’s check?

•   How can you get a cashier’s check?

•   Are there cashier’s check scams?

Here’s the lowdown.

How Does a Cashier’s Check Differ From Other Checks?

Unlike a personal check, a cashier’s check is a check that is issued by the bank or credit union, rather than the buyer (or payer).

Sometimes called an “official bank check,” the funds from a cashier’s check are drawn against the bank’s account rather than the payer’s personal account. This means the bank stands behind the check and guarantees that the recipient, or payee, can deposit or cash it and receive the promised funds.

Here are some more specifics:

•   The person who deposits a cashier’s check generally runs a much lower risk of having the check bounce. In addition to the frustration this can trigger, bounced checks can lead to hefty fees for both parties in the transaction.

•   Cashier’s checks are also considered more secure than personal checks because they are generally harder to forge. Cashier’s checks will have several security measures in place, such as watermarks and color-changing ink, making the possibility of a counterfeit more rare.

•   Cashier’s checks are typically faster than a personal check in terms of when the money also gets transferred to another account. With personal checks, the money doesn’t leave a person’s bank account until the payee cashes the check. That could be days, weeks, or sometimes never (in the event the check gets lost).

   But, when a person goes to the bank to get a cashier’s check, the amount is immediately transferred out of their account and into the hands of the bank. You can think of a cashier’s check like a prepaid check.

The Original Check

Curious about how cashier’s checks came into being? They date as far back as the 1500s in Holland. As an international center of trade, Amsterdam was home to merchants and banks, and many of them didn’t want to lug around bags of cash to conduct business.

Instead, banks held onto customer’s money and when they needed to pay for something, the teller (then called the “cashier”) at the bank would write a check or bill for that amount.

As they say, the rest is history. Check writing was adopted across the continent and evolved from there. Soon, cashiers weren’t the only people writing checks; account holders could too. Then we evolved to having today’s checkbooks.

Recommended: A Complete Guide to Ordering Checks

When to Use a Cashier’s Check

Cashier’s checks can be used in a variety of transactions, but they’re most likely to be used in one of the following scenarios:

High Dollar Payments

Because of their relative security, cashier’s checks are typically used for larger ticket transactions and payments between people (or businesses) that don’t know each other. For instance, if you were buying a used car from a stranger who listed it online, a regular check might not be sufficient. A cashier’s check could be a better option.

Instead of hoping that a buyer has funds available in their checking account, a person can be reasonably confident that a bank has enough cash on hand to pay what’s needed.

Real Estate Transactions

Cashier’s checks are often used in real estate transactions because they’re generally paid out faster than personal checks. The money is guaranteed, and the transaction is more secure.

These checks are often required when a person is making a down payment on a home. Also, a landlord might ask for a cashier’s check for the security deposit on a rental.

In Lieu of Cash

Not unlike ancient merchants, people might use cashier’s checks today to avoid dealing with stacks of cash.

If someone buys something pricey off an online second-hand marketplace, like a boat, the seller might ask for payment to be made in a cashier’s check instead of cash, so they don’t have to count the bills.

When Personal Checks Are Not Accepted

When personal checks are not accepted at a business, the store still might accept a cashier’s check. It can be worth asking if you find yourself in this situation and don’t want to pay in cash.

Cashier’s Check Fees

Cashier’s checks typically aren’t free. You’ll likely have to pay for the privilege of having one created for you. Depending on the policy of the bank or credit union, the cost of getting a cashier’s check can run around $10.

The fee is due at the time of writing the check. In order to cover that cost, the payer will need to have the extra money in cash or available in their bank account, so it can be directly deducted from the account.

There usually is no fee involved for depositing a cashier’s check, however.

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!


How to Get a Cashier’s Check

Wondering where to get a cashier’s check? You can get one at a bank or credit union, either in person or online.

If you’re going to a brick and mortar bank location, getting the cashier’s check issued shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, provided you have all the required information and documents.

Most banks will only write cashier’s checks for customers who have an account with them. If a credit union member wants a cashier’s check, they can usually get one from any credit union, not just the one they bank with, but ask beforehand to be sure.

If you don’t have a bank account, you may be able to have a cashier’s check written at a financial institution, but you will likely have to bring the funds in the form of cash. For large amounts, this can obviously be challenging.

Some online banks allow their customers to request a cashier’s check online. However, this isn’t as speedy as the process inside a bank branch. Customers will need to request the check, then wait for it to be mailed to them.

The process of getting a cashier’s check will vary based on a person’s bank or credit union. However, a person will generally need:

•   Money in their account. Remember, a cashier’s check immediately deducts funds from the payor’s checking account. That means they’ll need to have the funds available when they write the check. Alternatively, some banks and credit unions allow customers to bring in cash to be converted to a cashier’s check.

•   A valid ID. Typically, a person needs their license, passport or other government-issued photo ID to confirm their identity.

•   Payment information. A person will need to tell the bank exactly how much the check is for. It is important to have the precise amount because that number is printed on the check and cannot be changed.

You also need the name of the payee (the person or business the check should be payable to), and any other details (for example, you may want to add a “memo” or note on the check, such as a reference number).

The Difference Between Cashier’s Checks and Money Orders

Similar to a cashier’s check, money orders are guaranteed funds.

However, money orders can be purchased at many different locations. This includes banks and credit unions as well as post offices, grocery stores, drug stores, and check cashing companies.

On average, money orders have lower fees than cashier’s checks — often customers will only pay a few dollars per order. But money orders also have a limit on their value, they can typically only be made up to $1,000. If you’re trying to put a down payment on a house or buy a used car, this may not cover the amount needed.

If a person doesn’t have a bank account, they may choose to use money orders when transactions require secured funds.

Money orders may seem preferable to cashier’s checks, since they are often cheaper and available in more locations. However, one of the most significant differences between the two is availability of funds.

While cashier’s checks and money orders both guarantee funds, money orders will typically take a little longer to deposit. Generally, with a cashier’s check, a person can expect up to $5,000 within a day. However, with a money order, only $200 may be available within 24 hours after it’s deposited.

Additionally, if the transaction is over $1,000, it might not make sense to use money orders. For example, if someone needs $5,000 in certified funds and the money orders cost $3 each, it would cost $15 in fees. Contrast that with a single cashier’s check, where it might just cost $10 in fees.

Both cashier’s checks and money orders are secure methods of payments, but when the payee needs the funds immediately, they might require a cashier’s check.

Beware of Cashier’s Check Scams

When they’re legitimate documents issued by a bank or credit union, cashier’s checks are relatively safe. If you are selling something of value, you can typically view a cashier’s check with confidence because the bank promises to pay — not just the person who hands you the check.

Unfortunately, not all cashier’s checks are legitimate.

There’s a common scam, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) , involving what appear to be cashier’s checks. Here’s how they usually unfold:

•   The fraudster sends payment in the form of a cashier’s check for more than the agreed upon amount. The scammer will ask you, the payee, to cash it anyway and simply send the excess money back to them (or to somebody else).

•   Because your bank assumes the check is valid, it allows you to withdraw the funds. You likely would go ahead and send the overage back, as directed.

•   The check is then discovered to be fake, your bank reverses the deposit, and you have been cheated out of that overage amount. Some banks also charge the depositor a returned item fee, even if the account doesn’t overdraw.

Once a victim of this type of fraud sends money to a thief or spends the money, they often have no recourse other than to try and find the scammer themselves — which may not be easy, and might require hiring private help.

Your bank typically does not help. Local police often lack the resources to track down a scammer who may be in another country.

Another kind of bank fraud to watch out for: forged or fake cashier’s checks. With a good printer and advanced graphic-editing skills, some forged cashier’s checks can fool even a seasoned bank teller.

To help combat potential fraud when receiving a cashier’s check from a stranger, it’s a good idea to inspect it prior to depositing it. Look for typos, a bank phone number (check that it works), and common security features like watermarks and a security thread (a thin embedded strip you can detect when the check is held up to light).

Payees can also play it safe by waiting for the check to be completely verified and deposited before spending it (which can take up to two weeks for some cashier’s checks).

Another safeguard is to only accept exact payments in a cashier’s check. If you must take a check for more than the amount due, you may want to inform the seller that you’ll wait at least two weeks before returning any of the money.

Recommended: How to Verify a Check Before Depositing

The Takeaway

Cashier’s checks are checks that banks issue and guarantee, and they are often needed for large purchases, like a car, or the down payment on a house. These checks are printed by your bank or credit union and include the name of the recipient (or payee) and the amount of the check.

When compared to personal checks, cashier’s checks are generally more secure for sellers because the checks shouldn’t bounce. But sellers need to be on the lookout for fakes, which can cause serious problems.

Cashier’s checks might be the norm for some transactions, but there are other secure ways to send money. With a Checking and Savings online bank account with SoFi, users can send money quickly and securely to anyone right from the app. All you need to initiate a transfer, is the receiver’s phone number or email.

That’s not the only advantage to having an online bank account with SoFi. Our Checking and Savings, when opened with direct deposit, will pay you a super competitive interest rate, which could help your money 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

How can you get a cashier’s check?

Cashier’s checks are available both online and in-person from your financial institution. You will need to be able to verify your ownership of your account as well as provide details on the amount of the check and exactly to whom it should be written.

What’s the purpose of a cashier’s check?

A cashier’s check is a fast and secure form of payment, typically used for big-ticket items like the down payment on a house or buying a car or boat. With these checks, the bank, not the account holder, is guaranteeing the funds, making them significantly more reliable than standard checks.

How safe are cashier’s checks?

Because cashier’s checks are guaranteed by the bank writing them, they are a very secure form of payment. That said, it’s important to be aware of the scams out there in which forged and fraudulent documents that look like cashier’s checks are used. Educate yourself about these scams so you can avoid getting cheated.


Photo credit: iStock/TARIK KIZILKAYA

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.


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.


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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Cash vs Credit Card: Key Differences to Know

Despite the saying, “cash is king,” there are pros and cons to using cash over credit cards in everyday transactions. Likewise, credit cards have their own share of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to making purchases.

Here’s what you need to consider when choosing cash vs. credit cards, and when you might opt for using one method of payment over the other.

Defining Cash and Credit Cards

Cash is the legal tender — whether coins, paper bills, or other notes — that you can exchange for goods and services. According to Merriam-Webster, cash is considered “ready money” in that you actually own the value of the cash and can use it immediately during a transaction.

Credit cards, on the other hand, can also be used to purchase goods and services. However, you’re borrowing the funds from a third party (i.e. a bank) to make your purchase today, with the promise that you’ll pay the credit card balance back later.

When to Consider Using Cash

Deciding whether to use cash vs. credit depends on your purchasing situation and preferences. Situations when paying with cash is preferred might include:

•   Buying goods or services from merchants who only accept cash

•   When your credit or income doesn’t qualify for a credit card

•   Limiting your spending to a specific amount

•   Keeping your personal information private during a transaction

•   Avoiding credit card-related fees

•   Avoiding credit card debt

You can also use cash to grow your money through an interest-bearing deposit account, instead of spending it. If you’d like to build your savings fund, you can only do so using cash.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Benefits of Using Cash

Since cash represents the monetary value you actually have, it makes budgeting simple. If you have $100 in cash to spend for the weekend, for instance, you’re focused to make careful decisions in how you spend that finite cash amount. After you’ve depleted your cash, you can’t make additional purchases until you have more cash.

Additionally, cash provides some convenience despite its additional physical bulkiness in your wallet. For merchants, the benefit of cash vs. credit cards is that they save money on credit card processing fees. To avoid this, some merchants only accept cash payments, while others offer a nominal discount as an incentive for customers to pay using cash.

Cash can also widely be used by any consumer, regardless of their credit score. This makes cash a more accessible payment method for everyday purchases. It also doesn’t contain any of your personal data, so if a private and untraceable purchase is important to you, cash is beneficial.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Drawbacks of Using Cash

The biggest drawback to using cash vs. credit, however, is that it caps your buying power to only the amount of cash you have. Although this can be a benefit as mentioned above when you’re on a budget, it can restrict your ability to make larger purchases today.

For example, if your car unexpectedly needs a repair that costs $800, but you only have $500 in cash to pay upfront, you’ll have to make a tough decision. You might be forced to shop around for a cheaper car repair shop, spend time negotiating a lower price with the current mechanic, or possibly wait on the repair until you have the additional funds necessary. All of this can cost you extra time, and possibly earning potential if you rely on your car to drive to work.

Aside from fixed purchasing power, physical cash is harder to trace between transactions. Your personal information isn’t tied to cash bills in your pocket. This means that if you lose it or it gets stolen, and it’s used by someone else, it’s harder to get back.

When You Might Consider Using a Credit Card

There are many use cases for credit cards, if you qualify for one. Some situations when a credit card might make sense include:

•   Making a larger purchase now and paying it off later

•   Breaking down a large purchase into smaller installment payments

•   Earning points, miles, or cash back on purchases using a rewards credit card

•   Unlocking additional purchase protections

•   Building your credit profile

Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card

Benefits of Using a Credit Card

Using a credit card as a payment method for daily transactions offers various benefits when managed responsibly. For example, if you don’t have enough cash for a purchase, a credit card lets you buy it now and pay it back the following month.

You can also choose to take out a credit card cash advance (though typically at a higher APR than your standard purchase APR), or even send money with a credit card.

With a credit card, you get to choose how you’ll repay your purchases, whether in full when your billing statement is due, or incrementally over multiple months. The caveat is that letting a balance roll over to the next month incurs interest charges.

Since all credit card activity is reported to the credit bureaus, on-time payments and other factors can be favorable to building your credit history and credit score. A high credit score can help you qualify for competitive interest rates and terms on other consumer credit products, like other credit cards and loans.

Credit cards also offer benefits and rewards that cash doesn’t provide. Rewards credit cards let you earn points or miles that you can then redeem for travel, cash back, gift cards, merchandise, special experiences, and more.

Different credit cards can also offer benefits like travel cancellation protection, warranty insurance, and more. For example, some cards feature purchase protection, which replaces an item that was lost, stolen, or damaged, if it was purchased using the card.

Another major perk when using a credit card is that it limits your liability when unauthorized or fraudulent purchases or activity occurs on your account. Depending on when you report the unusual activity, you might only be liable for up to $50 of those charges. Some credit cards even have zero-liability policies.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

Drawbacks of Using a Credit Card

Interest charges, expressed as an annual percentage rate (APR), are one of the biggest disadvantages to using credit vs. cash. With how credit card payments work, unless you make full, on-time credit card payments each month, interest charges will likely apply to balances that roll over from one month to the next.

If you roll over a balance, you’ll not only pay more money toward your purchases, but your outstanding debt can snowball quickly. This can prove financially damaging to your everyday finances and to your credit if you fall behind on payments while amassing growing debt.

Certain credit cards also incur annual fees for the privilege of using them. This is money that you’ll pay out-of-pocket upfront. With a credit card, you can also incur other fees, such as foreign transaction fees, late payment fees, balance transfer fees, and more.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

Is Using a Debit Card the Same Thing as Using Cash?

Using a debit card is similar to using cash. In fact, one of the biggest differences between a credit card and debit card is that debit cards draw funds from the cash that you already have in your personal checking or savings account. Still, a debit card provides the convenience of swiping or tapping a card on a payment processing machine, like a credit card, to process a digital transaction between your bank and the merchant’s bank.

However, debit cards carry many of the same disadvantages as cash. For one, a debit card limits your purchasing power to the amount that’s in your checking or savings account. Additionally, debit cards don’t offer the same level of protection against unauthorized or fraudulent activity as credit cards do.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

Understanding Your Spending Habits Is Key to Picking Which to Use

Taking stock of your buying habits can help you decide whether cash vs. credit is a better option for you. When considering these two payment options, think about the following:

•   How much do you spend each month?

•   How much discretionary income do you have?

•   Where do you typically make purchases — online or in a brick-and-mortar store?

•   Do you tend to overspend or stay within a budget that you can afford?

•   If you’re thinking about a credit card, what’s your goal?

By answering these questions, you will likely be able to tell which payment method will be more convenient for you. For instance, if you’re trying to curb your spending, then cash might be the better bet, given how credit cards work. On the other hand, if you’re primarily an online shopper or you’re trying to build your credit history, a credit card could be worth exploring.

The Takeaway

Cash helps you contain your spending to the money you actually own. This can potentially limit the amount of debt you’d take on through credit. It can also offer convenience when it comes to shopping through cash-only merchants. The caveat is the risk you’re taking on if the cash is lost or stolen since it can be difficult to get back.

Meanwhile, credit cards offer you peace of mind if your card is lost or stolen. They provide greater protection against unauthorized activity, including fraudulent payments. However, access to borrowed funds puts you at risk for getting deeper into debt if you’re unable to repay your balance on time each month. With responsible borrowing habits, however, credit cards can be a handy way to make purchases.

If you want the convenience and protection of using a credit card, consider a card that offers you cash-back rewards on every purchase.

FAQ

Which is better when traveling, cash or credit?

When traveling, credit cards are a safer option to carry than cash. It can be difficult and near impossible to trace and verify whether lost or stolen cash belongs to you. If a credit card is lost or stolen, the card issuer can freeze new transactions on the account, and your maximum liability for fraudulent charges is $50, or nothing at all.

Are credit cards safer than cash?

Yes, credit cards are safer than cash. Credit cards reduce your liability in the event of unauthorized or fraudulent activity.

What is the difference between cash and credit cards?

Cash is a physical currency and liquid asset that provides you with purchasing power. When you use cash toward a purchase, you don’t owe that amount to another entity. Conversely, a credit card is a physical tool that lets you increase your purchasing power using borrowed money. You’ll need to repay purchases made to your credit card, possibly plus interest charges.

Cash or credit, which is more convenient?

Whether cash or credit is more convenient is subjective. For example, while many merchants accept credit cards, some only accept cash payments. However, as more businesses accept digital payments and transition to cashless transactions, a credit card might be more convenient.


Photo credit: iStock/Ridofranz



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 .


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Money Market vs Capital Market: What's the Difference?

Money Market vs Capital Market: What’s the Difference?

While the money market and the capital market are both aspects of the larger global financial system, they serve different goals for investors. In a nutshell, the money market is where short-term debt and lending takes place; the capital market is designed for long-term assets, such as stocks and bonds. The former is considered a safer place to park one’s money; the latter is seen as riskier but potentially more rewarding.

Understanding the difference between money market and capital market matters plays a role in understanding the market as a whole. Whether you hold assets that are part of the money market vs. capital market can influence your investment outcomes and degree of risk exposure.

Learn more here, including:

•   What is the money market and how does it work?

•   What is the capital market and how does it work?

•   How do capital markets and money markets differ?

•   How to decide whether to invest in the money market or capital market.

•   Alternatives to the capital and money markets.

What Is the Money Market?

The money market is where short-term financial instruments, i.e. securities with a holding period of one year or less, are traded. Examples of money market instruments include:

•   Bankers acceptances. Bankers acceptances are a form of payment that’s guaranteed by the bank and is commonly used to finance international transactions involving goods and services.

•   Certificates of deposit (CDs). Certificate of deposit accounts are time deposits that pay interest over a set maturity term.

•   Commercial paper. Commercial paper includes short-term, unsecured promissory notes issued by financial and non-financial corporations.

•   Treasury bills (T-bills). Treasury bills are a type of short-term debt that’s issued by the federal government. Investors who purchase T-bills can earn interest on their money over a set maturity term.

These types of money market instruments can be traded among banks, financial institutions, and brokers. Trades can take place over the counter, meaning the underlying securities are not listed on a trading exchange like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or the Nasdaq.

You may be familiar with the term “money market” if you’ve ever had a money market account. These are separate from the larger money market that is part of the global economy. As far as how a money market account works goes, these bank accounts allow you to deposit money and earn interest. You may be able to write checks from the account or use a debit card to make purchases or withdrawals.

How Does the Money Market Work?

The money market effectively works as a short-term lending and borrowing system for its various participants. Those who invest in the money market benefit by either gaining access to funds or by earning interest on their investments. Treasury bills are a great example of the money market at work.

When you buy a T-bill, you’re essentially agreeing to lend the federal government your money for a certain amount of time. T-bills mature in one year or less from their issue date. The government gets the use of your money for a period of time. Once the T-bill matures, you get your money back with interest.

What Is the Capital Market?

What are capital markets? The capital market is the segment of the financial market that’s reserved for trading of long-term debt instruments. Participants in the capital market can use it to raise capital by issuing shares of stock, bonds, and other long-term securities. Those who invest in these debt instruments are also part of the capital market.

The capital market can be further segmented into the primary and secondary market. Here’s how they compare:

•   Primary market. The primary market is where new issuances of stocks and bonds are first offered to investors. An initial public offering or IPO is an example of a primary market transaction.

•   Secondary market. The secondary market is where securities that have already been issued are traded between investors. The entity that issued the stocks or bonds is not necessarily involved in this transaction.

As an investor, you can benefit from participating in the capital market by buying and selling stocks. If your stocks go up in value, you could sell them for a capital gain. You can also derive current income from stocks that pay out dividends.

Recommended: What Is an Emerging Market?

How Does the Capital Market Work?

The capital market works by allowing companies and other entities to raise capital. Publicly-traded stocks, bonds, and other securities are traded on stock exchanges. Generally speaking, the capital market is well-organized. Companies that issue stocks are interested in raising capital for the long-term, which can be used to fund growth and expansion projects or simply to meet operating needs.

In terms of the difference between capital and money market investments, it usually boils down to three things: liquidity, duration, and risk. While the money market is focused on the short-term, the capital market is a longer term play. Capital markets can deliver higher returns, though investors may assume greater risk.

Understanding the capital market is important because of how it correlates to economic movements as a whole. The capital market helps to create stability by allowing companies to raise capital, which can be used to fund expansion and create jobs.

Differences Between Money Markets and Capital Markets

When comparing the money market vs. capital market, there are several things that separate one from the other. Knowing what the key differences are can help to deepen your understanding of money markets and capital markets.

Purpose

Perhaps the most significant difference between the money market and capital market is what each one is designed to do. The money market is for short-term borrowing and lending. Businesses use the money market to meet their near-term credit needs. Funds are relatively safe, but typically won’t see tremendous growth.

The capital market is also designed to help businesses and companies meet credit needs. The emphasis, however, is on mid- to long-term needs instead. Capital markets are riskier, but they may earn greater returns over time than the money market.

Length of Securities

The money market is where you’ll find short-term securities, typically with a maturity period of one year or less, being traded. In the capital market, maturity periods are usually not fixed, meaning there’s no specified time frame. Companies can use the capital market to fund long-term goals, with or without a deadline.

Financial Instruments

As mentioned, the kind of financial instruments that are traded in the short-term money market include bankers acceptances, certificates of deposit, commercial paper, and Treasury bills. The capital market is the domain of stocks, bonds, and other long-term securities.

Nature of Market

The structure and organization of the money market is usually informal and loosely organized. Again, securities may be traded over-the-counter rather than through a stock exchange. With the capital market, trading takes place primarily through exchanges. This market is more organized and formalized overall.

Securities Risk

Risk is an important consideration when deciding on the best places to put your money. Since the money market tends to be shorter term in nature, the risk associated with the financial instruments traded there is usually lower. The capital market, on the other hand, may entail higher risk to investors.

Liquidity

Liquidity is a measure of how easy it is to convert an asset to cash. One notable difference between capital and money market investments is that the money market tends to offer greater liquidity. That means if you need to sell an investment quickly, you’ll have a better chance of converting it to cash in the money market.

Length of Credit Requirements

The money market is designed to meet the short-term credit requirements of businesses. A company that needs temporary funding for a project that’s expected to take less than a year to complete, for example, may turn to the money market. The capital market, on the other hand, is designed to cover a company’s long-term credit requirements with regard to capital access.

Return on Investment

Return on investment or ROI is another important consideration when deciding where to invest. When you invest in the money market, you’re getting greater liquidity with less risk but that can translate to lower returns. The capital market can entail more risk, but you may be rewarded with higher returns.

Timeframe on Redemption

Money market investments do not require you to hold onto them for years at a time. Instead, the holding period and timeframe to redemption is likely one year or less. With capital market investments, there is typically no set time frame. You can hold onto investments for as long as they continue to meet your needs.

Relevance to Economy

The money market and capital market play an important role in the larger financial market. Without them, businesses would not be able to get the short- and long-term funding they need.

Here are some of the key differences between money markets and capital markets with regard to their economic impacts:

•   The money market allows companies to realize short-term goals.

•   Money market investments allow investors to earn returns with lower risk.

•   Capital markets help to provide economic stability and growth.

•   Investors can use the capital market to build wealth.

Money Market

Capital Market

Offers companies access to short-term funding and capital, keeping money moving through the economy.Provides stability by allowing companies access to long-term funding and capital.
Investors can use interest earned from money market investments to preserve wealth.Investors can use returns earned from capital market investments to grow wealth.
Money market investments are typically less volatile, so they’re less likely to negatively impact the financial market or the investor.Capital market investments tend to be more volatile, so they offer greater risk and reward potential.

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Deciding Which Market to Invest In

Deciding whether to invest in the money market or capital market can depend on several things, including your:

•   Investment goals and objectives

•   Risk tolerance

•   Preferred investment style

If you’re looking for investments that are highly liquid and offer a modest rate of return with minimal risk, then you may turn to the money market. On the other hand, if you’re comfortable with a greater degree of risk in exchange for the possibility of earning higher returns, you might lean toward the capital market instead.

You could, of course, diversify by investing in both the money market and capital market. Doing so can allow you to balance higher-risk investments with lower ones while creating a portfolio mix that will produce the kind of returns you seek.

Alternatives to Money and Capital Markets

Aside from the money and capital markets, there are other places you can keep money that you don’t necessarily plan to spend right away. They include the different types of deposit accounts you can open at banks and credit unions. Specifically, you may opt to keep some of your savings in a certificate of deposit account, high-yield checking account, or traditional savings account. Here’s a closer look:

Certificate of Deposits

Certificate of deposit accounts or CDs are time deposit accounts. When you put money into a CD, you typically agree to leave it there for a set time period. In exchange, the bank pays interest to you. Once the CD matures, you can withdraw your initial deposit and the interest earned or roll the entire amount into a new CD.

CDs are a safe way to invest for the short- or long-term. Maturity terms can range from 28 days or extend up to five years. The longer the CD term, the higher the interest rate the bank may pay. Withdrawing money from a CD prior to maturity will usually trigger an early withdrawal penalty, which makes them a less liquid option for saving.

Recommended: What is a Certificate of Deposit and How Does it Work?

High-Yield Checking Accounts

Checking accounts are designed to hold money that you plan to use to pay bills or make purchases. Most checking accounts don’t pay interest but there are a handful of high-yield checking accounts that do.

With these accounts, you can earn interest on your checking balance. The interest rate and APY (annual percentage yield) you earn can vary by bank. Some banks also offer rewards on purchases with high-yield checking accounts. When looking for an interest-checking account, be sure to consider any fees you might pay or minimum balance requirements you’ll need to meet.

Traditional Savings Accounts

A savings account can be another secure place to keep your money and earn interest as part of the bargain. The different types of savings accounts include regular savings accounts offered at banks, credit union savings accounts, and high-yield savings accounts from online banks.

Of those options, an online savings account typically has the highest interest rates and the lowest fees. The trade-off is that you won’t have branch banking access, which may or may not matter to you.

The Takeaway

There are lots of reasons why people do not invest their money. A lack of understanding about the difference between money market vs. capital market investments can be one of them. Once you understand that the money market typically involves short-term, lower-risk debt instruments, while the capital market likely revolves around longer-term ones with higher risk and reward, you will be on your way to better knowing how the global financial market works.

When it comes to the goal of making your money grow, consider banking with SoFi. When you open our bank account online with direct deposit, you’ll get a double boost. You’ll earn a hyper competitive APY and you won’t pay any account 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

What are the similarities between a money market and capital market?

Both the money market and the capital market are intended to make it easier for businesses and companies to gain access to capital. The main differences between money markets and capital markets are liquidity, duration, and the types of financial instruments that are traded. Both also represent ways that consumers can potentially grow their money by investing.

How is a money market and capital market interrelated?

The capital market and the money market are both part of the larger financial market. The money market works to ensure that businesses are able to reach their near-term credit needs while the capital market helps companies raise capital over longer time frames.

Why do businesses use the money markets?

Businesses use the money market to satisfy short-term credit and capital needs. Short-term debt instruments can be traded in the money market to provide businesses with funding temporarily as well as to maintain liquid cash flow.


Photo credit: iStock/AndreyPopov

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.


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

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

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hands holding cash

How to Buy in Bulk: Beginners Guide

Lately, it’s been hard to avoid the news that inflation is rising and fast. It’s been equally hard to not feel the sting when paying for groceries or other basics. Those are ka-ching moments, but not in a good way.

One option for dealing with high prices, whether now or during a period of less intense inflation, is to buy food and household items in bulk. It can help reduce your monthly spending.

How much money you can potentially save will vary depending on the item, but some experts estimate that bulk buying can cut your bills by 20%, and sometimes significantly more.

Keep in mind, though, that buying in bulk doesn’t always save. Indeed, buying multiples or large quantities of some items can be a losing proposition if much of it ends up going unused or entices you to consume more than you normally would.

To help you avoid the potential downsides, here are some smart shopping strategies for buying in bulk, including:

•   The pros and cons of buying in bulk.

•   What to stock up on?

•   What you may want to skip?

•   What tips to try when buying in bulk?

•   Where to buy in bulk.

Why Buy in Bulk?

As mentioned above, inflation can be intense; it soared to 9.1% in June of 2022. Food prices are heading upwards, too. The average cost of groceries to feed a family of four in the United States runs between $682 to $1,361 a month.

Families, as well as individuals, may be able to reduce spending on food and other household goods and improve their financial health by buying in bulk, since the cost per unit (or ounce) is generally lower. Here are some of the key benefits of shopping this way:

•   Lower costs, as noted above. A benefit of buying in bulk is saving cash.

•   Convenience, since your home will be well-stocked. You’ll save time since you won’t have to run out and purchase items as often.

•   Lower gas costs. Fewer trips to the store, in turn, saves on gas.

•   Eco-friendliness. Driving to the store less often reduces your carbon footprint. What’s more, buying one, say, 10-pound bag of rice is likely to involve less packaging than 10 one-pound containers.

•   An easier time managing emergencies. Another reason why stockpiling can be a smart buying habit is that if there’s a bad storm or heatwave, you’ll be well-supplied and won’t have to brave the elements.

Drawbacks of Buying in Bulk

Despite all the great reasons above to opt for jumbo sizes of toilet paper and family packs of drumsticks, buying in bulk isn’t always a smart money rule to follow. There are few downsides to consider. These include:

•   Having to pay upfront, rather than spacing out the purchases. For instance, a grocery run with a mega-pack of burgers and loads of juice boxes will cost more than a small-scale supermarket visit.

•   When you have a large quantity of something on hand, you might be tempted to overuse it or overeat it.

•   Buying in bulk requires storage space (plus a large enough car to transport purchases).

•   Buying in bulk means less variety in the products you use.

•   Items bought in bulk can sit around past their expiration or “best by” dates. It can be hard to use up a large container of, say, fresh fruit before they go bad.

•   Bulk buying for many products requires a warehouse club membership or other additional cost.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

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Things To Buy in Bulk

Bulk buying can be a great way to save on household items and foods that you use or consume daily or have a long shelf life. These include:

•   Household supplies (e.g., toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, tissues, trash bags)

•   Cleaning supplies

•   Laundry detergent

•   Pet food (though keep in mind that some pet food is perishable)

•   Pasta

•   Rice

•   Dry beans

•   Toiletries (e.g., shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, moisturizer, soap)

•   Canned goods

•   Peanut butter

•   Cereal

•   Flour

•   Vitamins

•   Diapers/wipes

•   Beverages that are safe to store at room temperature

•   Batteries

•   School and office supplies

•   Lightbulbs

Recommended: 15 Creative Ways to Save Money

What Not to Buy in Bulk

While there’s often lots of temptation when buying in bulk, hit the pause button in some cases, or you may be wasting your hard-earned money. In general, buying perishables in bulk may not make good economic sense. For instance:

•   Fruits and vegetables. While the jumbo packages of strawberries or avocados may be cheaper per unit than your grocery store, that’s only a good deal if you actually eat them all.

•   Buying meat in bulk may only make sense if you have a large freezer where you can store it (keeping in mind that some meats should not be frozen for more than six months).

•   Avoid stocking snack foods and treats in bulk if you think that you or other members of the household might overindulge.

Recommended: How to Protect Yourself from Inflation

Tips for Buying in Bulk

Buying in bulk can be an easy way to save money. To get the most out of it, you may want to keep some of these shopping strategies in mind.

Shop With a List

Write a shopping list before going to buy in bulk. Otherwise, you might be tempted to buy more than you need or can afford. For instance, products you sample in store or see at the end of the aisle, as you make your way to the registers, can cause you to blow your weekly budget.

Keep a Calculator Handy

When buying in bulk, it’s wise to keep in mind that it’s not the price of the item, but rather the price per unit (or ounce) that matters. If the unit price isn’t listed, using the calculator on your phone (or bringing a separate one) when bulk shopping can help ensure you are getting a good deal.

Recommended: The 50/30/20 Budget Rule, Demystified

Consider Quality

Typically, buying generic and store-brand versions of products is going to be cheaper than buying brand-name items. But before you go totally in that direction, remember that quality can count too. If a cheaper paper towel isn’t very absorbent, you may end up using more each time you use it, and erasing that savings. Buying a 12-pack of store-brand peanut butter, only to discover you don’t care for the taste at all is another example of why this is an important consideration.

Keep an Eye on Expiration Dates

Before purchasing something in bulk, it’s a good idea to check the expiration date and then calculate how long it will likely take you to consume the product.

If you won’t go through it before the expiration date arrives, any savings could be wiped out when you toss it in the garbage.

Protect Bulk Items From Pests

Because moths, roaches, and other pests may go after food, it’s a good idea to seal food products well when they are not being used.

Keeping flour, pasta, and other bulk food items in airtight containers can help with pest control.

Go in on Bulk Purchase With Friends

If you want to get the savings from buying in bulk but don’t have the storage or a large enough household for it to make sense, why not buddy up? You might want to ask some friends or neighbors if they want to split the product and the costs. Maybe you buy bulk meat, bread, snacks, and cereal, and a friend takes care of the produce and beverages. Then you each swap half to the other, and settle up costs as needed. That way, everyone can save money.

Where to Buy in Bulk

You can generally buy in bulk at any grocery store or mass market retailer, simply by buying larger than usual sizes. That said, there are certain stores that are specifically designed for it.

Popular bulk stores include Costco, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Sam’s Club, Smart & Final, and Big Lots.

Costco, BJ’s, and Sam’s Club all require a membership fee, which can range from $45 to $60 per year.

Along with being able to buy food and household products in bulk, these stores may also have perks, like convenient on-premises tire centers and pharmacies, plus discounts on entertainment and travel expenses, which can help defray that annual membership charge.

In addition to these locations, there are also a growing number of environmentally-friendly bulk food stores that may ask you to bring your own containers or sell reusable ones. Stocked with items like grains, nuts, dried fruits, coffee, tea, soaps, and more, they may describe themselves as “zero-waste.” You can find a directory in your area on Litterless .

The Takeaway

Buying in bulk can be a great way to save cash if the product bought is something you use regularly, won’t go bad before you can use it all, is cheaper per unit at a bulk store, and is not lower in quality than what you typically buy. While not appropriate for every item on your shopping list, it can help you make a dent in the costs of some basics and stay on budget.

Now, what to do with all that money you’re going to save by buying in bulk?

If you put it into an high-yield bank account, like SoFi Checking and Savings, you can start earning a competitive interest rate on that money right away, plus you won’t pay any account fees. Additionally, withdrawing cash is fee-free at 55,000+ Allpoint network ATMs worldwide.

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.


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

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

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