Guide to Cleared Funds

Cleared Funds: Definition and Breakdown of Funds Clearing Time

We live in a fast-paced world and are accustomed to immediate gratification. Just as we can get groceries delivered in minutes and order a new movie online with a few clicks, so too do we often expect our bank deposits to be available immediately.

But it doesn’t always work that way when it comes to finances. Some things do require a wait, even though it may seem like they should happen instantaneously. When money is put into a bank account, it can take a while for the deposited funds to appear and become available. Here’s a simple breakdown of how long it takes for funds to clear.

What Are Cleared Funds?

Depositing money into a bank account doesn’t always make those funds appear immediately. It can take time for the funds to clear and become available to use. This is because banks and credit unions may place a temporary hold on the deposit. When this happens, the account holder can see their “total balance” on their account and their “available balance.” The latter is the amount of the total balance minus any pending deposits. The available balance is, as the name indicates, what is available for use.

Why Banks Put a Hold on Deposits

One reason why banks don’t immediately declare deposits to be cleared funds is to help avoid issues that can arise when a deposit bounces. Having a brief waiting period helps protect customers from bank fraud and from paying unnecessary fees. If a bank were to allow a customer to spend funds from a check that ends up bouncing, the customer would then need to repay the bank the amount they deposited and probably pay an overdraft fee (even if the customer wasn’t at fault).

Some holds take longer than others. The federal government regulates the max amount of time a banking institution can hold onto the funds before they make them available to the account holder. Banks and credit unions also have their own policies regarding how long it will take for funds to become available after a deposit, which can be shorter than federal regulations. It can be helpful to review your bank’s policies for holding deposits so you can get a better idea of when cleared funds will become available. That way, you won’t accidentally overdraw your account.

How Do Cleared Funds Work?

Cleared funds appear in a bank account, such as a checking account, after the holding period ends. Usually, this holding period lasts until the next business day, but it can take longer. Weekends and holidays can slow this process down. The type of deposit made can also affect the timeline.

Here’s a specific example: If you deposit a check via an ATM that is not part of your bank’s network, you will probably have to wait a while to access the money. It may take up to five days before that check becomes available cash in your account.

Compare that to the case of electronic deposits made via the Automated Clearing House (ACH). The funds can actually clear and become available as soon as the same day. Having a paycheck deposited via direct deposit can help you access your money a lot faster than if you deposited a check at an ATM.

Breakdown of Times of Cleared Funds

All banks and credit unions have their own timeline they follow surrounding cleared funds. In addition, the federal government sets a maximum limit for how long they can make consumers wait to access their deposit.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the federally allowed wait times for different types of transactions, from wiring money to check deposits.

Type of Deposit

Timeline

Direct DepositUp to the second business day
Wire TransferUp to the second business day
Paper check (less than $200)*Next Business Day
Cash*Same day or next business day
U.S. Treasury check*Next Business Day
U.S. Postal Service money order*Next business day
State or local government check*Next business day
Casher’s, certified, or teller’s check*Next business day
Mobile check depositUp to second business day
Federal Reserve and Federal Home Loan checks*Next business day
Any other checks or non-U.S. Postal Service money ordersSecond business day
Deposits made at an ATM owned by the customer’s financial institutionSecond business day
Deposits made at an ATM not owned by the customer’s financial institutionFifth business day

*Deposited in person.

It’s worth noting that these are the maximum hold times allowed; in many cases these deposits happen much quicker. Again, it’s worth reviewing the bank’s funds availability policy. This will be listed in the account agreement given to you, the account holder, when you opened an account. You can also ask the bank for a copy of their holding policies or look online for it.

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When Can You Withdrawal Cleared Funds?

Deposits often clear in segments. That is, a portion of the funds will become available in your checking account before the whole amount deposited is ready for use. In most cases, the bank has to allow the customer to access $225 from the deposit at the start of the next business day. You could either withdraw cash or write a check. Usually the rest of the deposit is available on the second business day, unless something occurs to trigger a delay.

Cleared Funds vs Available Funds

The terms “cleared funds” and “available funds” both refer to funds that are available for immediate withdrawal or use. It’s important to keep in mind that simply depositing a check doesn’t mean you can use the money right away.

•   Regarding a deposit, the $225 that must be made available by the next business day is known as your cleared or available funds. So on the next day, you can go ahead and use that amount.

•   However, the rest of your deposit may not yet be available. If you try to draw against it, you are risking overdraft and charges. The full amount of the deposit may take up to a few more days to become ready for use.

Reasons Why Deposits May Be Delayed Until They Become Cleared Funds

There are a few different reasons why deposits can be delayed on their path to becoming cleared funds. Let’s examine some of these.

Deposits Over $5,000

When it comes to large deposits (excluding cash or electronic payments), the bank is typically required to make the first $5,525 of the deposit available by the second business day and the remainder available on the seventh business day, or later.

Recommended: Where to Cash a Check Without Paying a Fee

Brand New Customer Accounts

Newer customer accounts (less than 30 days old) can experience deposit delays up to nine days. Although with official checks and electronic payments, partial funds can be available the next day. (If you are in this situation and in a rush to make a payment, you can look into other ways to send money to another’s bank account, such as P2P apps. These can draw upon other available funds.)

Post-Dated or Fraudulent Checks

If a bank has reason to suspect a deposit is suspicious (such as if a check appears to be fraudulent), then it may hold the funds for longer than normal. A couple of examples of what might cause this kind of hold:

•   A check is post-dated, meaning it’s been filled out to show a date that is in the future.

•   A check is more than 60 days old.

The Takeaway

Cleared funds are the funds that become available once a deposit to a bank account clears. That means the money is ready for use. The timeline for funds clearing depends on several factors, such as where, when, and how the deposit was made and how large the amount is. Some funds may clear right away, while others can take a few days. However, federal laws are in place regarding how long a bank can wait to clear funds. By understanding this process, you can likely manage your financial life a little better and avoid situations that involve overdrafts or bounced checks.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


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

FAQ

What is the difference between a cleared balance and an available balance?

A cleared balance (or cleared funds) and an available balance are the same thing — it’s the amount of money in your account that is available for immediate withdrawal or use.

How long does it take to get money cleared?

Some deposits clear as soon as the same day, but most generally clear the next business day. In some cases, though, a deposit can take as long as nine days to clear. Check with your bank to know their timelines.

Can you reverse a cleared check?

Once a check has cleared, there is little that can be done to reverse the transaction. If, however, a cleared check is to be found fraudulent, it may be possible for a bank to intervene.


Photo credit: iStock/RgStudio

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.


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.

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

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Guide to Zero-Coupon Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

Guide to Zero-Coupon Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

A zero-coupon certificate of deposit or zero-coupon CD is a type of CD that’s purchased at a discount and pays out interest at maturity. Zero-coupon CDs can offer higher yields than standard CDs for investors who have the patience to wait until maturity to collect their original deposit and the interest earned.

Zero-coupon certificates of deposit are similar to bonds in that both are considered lower-risk, fixed-income instruments, but they serve different purposes in a portfolio. Understanding how a zero-coupon CD works can make it easier to decide if it’s a good investment for you.

What Is a Zero-Coupon CD?

To understand zero-coupon CDs, it’s important to know how a regular certificate of deposit works. A CD account, also referred to as a time-deposit or term-deposit account, is designed to hold money for a specified period of time. While the money is in the CD, it earns interest at a rate determined by the CD issuer — and the investor cannot add to the account or withdraw from it without penalty.

CDs are FDIC or NCUA insured when held at a member bank or credit union. That means deposits are insured up to $250,000.

CDs are some of the most common interest-bearing accounts banks offer, along with savings accounts and money market accounts (MMAs).

A zero-coupon certificate of deposit does not pay periodic interest. Instead, the interest is paid out at the end of the CD’s maturity term. This can allow the purchaser of the CD to potentially earn a higher rate of return because zero-coupon CDs are sold at a discount to face value, but the investor is paid the full face value at maturity.

By comparison, traditional certificates of deposit pay interest periodically. For example, you might open a CD at your bank with interest that compounds daily. Other CDs can compound monthly. Either way, you’d receive an interest payment in your CD account for each month that you hold it until it matures.

Once the CD matures, you’ll be able to withdraw the initial amount you deposited along with the compound interest. You could also roll the entire amount into a new CD if you’d prefer.

Remember: Withdrawing money from a CD early can trigger an early withdrawal penalty that’s typically equal to some of the interest earned.

How Do Zero-Coupon CDs Work?

Ordinarily when you buy a CD, you’d deposit an amount equal to or greater than the minimum deposit specified by the bank. You’d then earn interest on that amount for the entirety of the CD’s maturity term.

With zero-coupon CD accounts, though, you’re purchasing the CDs for less than their face value. But at the end of the CD’s term, you’d be paid out the full face value of the CD. The discount — and your interest earned — is the difference between what you pay for the CD and what you collect at maturity. So you can easily see at a glance how much you’ll earn from a zero-coupon CD investment.

In a sense, that’s similar to how the coupon rate of a bond works. A bond’s coupon is the annual interest rate that’s paid out, typically on a semiannual basis. The coupon rate is always tied to a bond’s face value. So a $1,000 bond with a 5.00% interest rate has a 5.00% coupon rate, meaning a $50 annual payout until it matures.

Real World Example of a Zero-Coupon CD

Here’s a simple example of how a zero-coupon CD works. Say your bank offers a zero-coupon certificate of deposit with a face value of $10,000. You have the opportunity to purchase the CD for $8,000, a discount of $2,000. The CD has a maturity term of five years.

You wouldn’t receive any interest payments from the CD until maturity. And since the CD has a set term, you wouldn’t be able to withdraw money from the account early. But assuming your CD is held at an FDIC- or NCUA-member institution, the risk of losing money is very low.

At the end of the five years, the bank pays you the full $10,000 face value of the CD. So you’ve essentially received $400 per year in interest income for the duration of the CD’s maturity term — or 5.00% per year. You can then use that money to purchase another zero-coupon CD or invest it any other way you’d like.

💡 Quick Tip: Typically, checking accounts don’t earn interest. However, some accounts do, and online banks are more likely than brick-and-mortar banks to offer you the best rates.

Tips When Investing in a Zero-Coupon CD

If you’re interested in zero-coupon CDs, there are a few things to consider to make sure they’re a good investment for you. Specifically, it’s important to look at:

•   What the CD is selling for (in other words, how big of a discount you’re getting to its face value)

•   How long you’ll have to hold the CD until it reaches maturity

•   The face value amount of the CD (and what the bank will pay you in full, once it matures)

It’s easy to be tempted by a zero-coupon certificate of deposit that offers a steep discount between the face value and the amount paid out at maturity. But consider what kind of trade-off you might be making in terms of how long you have to hold the CD.

If you don’t have the patience to wait out a longer maturity term, or you need the money in the shorter term, then the prospect of higher returns may hold less sway for you. Also, keep in mind what kind of liquidity you’re looking for. If you think you might need to withdraw savings for any reason before maturity, then a standard CD could be a better fit.

Comparing zero-coupon CD offerings at different banks can help you find one that fits your needs and goals. You may also consider other types of cash equivalents, such as money market funds or short-term government bonds if you’re looking for alternatives to zero-coupon CDs.

Recommended: How to Invest in CDs: A Beginner’s Guide

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Pros of Zero-Coupon CDs

Zero-coupon CDs have some features that could make them more attractive than other types of CDs. The main advantages of investing in zero coupon certificates of deposit include:

•   Higher return potential than regular CDs

•   Guaranteed returns, since you’re unable to withdraw money before maturity

•   Suited for longer-term goals

•   Can be federally insured

Zero-coupon CDs are lower-risk investments, which can make them more appealing than bonds. While bonds are considered lower-risk investments generally, if the bond issuer defaults, then you might walk away from your investment with nothing.

A zero-coupon certificate of deposit, on the other hand, does not carry this same default risk because your money is insured up to $250,000. There is, however, a risk that the CD issuer could “call” the CD before it matures (see more about this in the next section).

Cons of Zero-Coupon CDs

Every investment has features that may be sticking points for investors. If you’re wondering what the downsides of zero-coupon CDs are, here are a few things to consider:

•   No periodic interest payments

•   No liquidity, since you’re required to keep your money in the CD until maturity

•   Some zero-coupon CDs may be callable, which means the issuer can redeem them before maturity, and the investor won’t get the full face value

•   Taxes are due on the interest that accrues annually, even though the interest isn’t paid out until maturity

It may be helpful to talk to your financial advisor or a tax professional about the tax implications of zero-coupon CDs. It’s possible that the added “income” from these CDs that you have to report each year could increase your tax liability.

How to Collect Interest on Zero-Coupon CDs

Since zero-coupon CDs only pay out at interest at the end of the maturity term, all you have to do to collect the interest is wait until the CD matures. You can direct the bank that issued the CD to deposit the principal and interest into a savings account or another bank account. Or you can use the interest and principal to purchase new CDs.

It’s important to ask the bank what options you’ll have for collecting the interest when the CD matures to make sure renewal isn’t automatic. With regular CDs, banks may give you a window leading up to maturity in which you can specify what you’d like to do with the money in your account. If you don’t ask for the money to be out to you it may be rolled over to a new CD instead.

How to Value Zero-Coupon CDs

The face value of a zero-coupon CD is the amount that’s paid to you at maturity. Banks should specify what the face value of the CD is before you purchase it so you understand how much you’re going to get back later.

In terms of whether a specific zero-coupon CD is worth the money, it helps to look at how much of a discount you’re getting and what that equates to in terms of average interest earned during each year of maturity.

Purchasing a $10,000 zero-coupon CD for $8,000, for example, means you’re getting it at 20% below face value. Buying a $5,000 zero-coupon CD for $4,500, on the other hand, means you’re only getting a 10% discount.

Of course, you’ll also want to keep the maturity term in perspective when assessing what a zero-coupon CD is worth to you personally. Getting a 10% discount for a CD with a three-year maturity term, for example, may trump a 20% discount for a five-year CD, especially if you don’t want to tie up your money for that long.

The Takeaway

Investing in zero-coupon CDs could be a good fit if you’re looking for a lower-risk way to save money for a long-term financial goal, and you’d like a higher yield than most other cash equivalents.

Zero-coupon CDs are sold at a discount to face value, and while the investor doesn’t accrue interest payments annually, they get the full face value at maturity — which often adds up to a higher yield than many savings vehicles. And because the difference between the discount and the face value is clear, zero-coupon CDs are predictable investments (e.g. you buy a $5,000 CD for $4,000, but you collect $5,000 at maturity).

As with any investment, it’s important for investors to know the terms before they commit any funds. For example, zero-coupon CDs don’t pay periodic interest, but the account holder is expected to pay taxes on the amount of interest earned each year (even though they don’t collect it until they cash out or roll over the CD).

If you’re eager to earn a higher rate on your savings, you’ve got a lot of options to explore — including a high-yield bank account or a regular CD.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

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

FAQ

What is a coupon on a CD?

The coupon on a CD is its periodic interest payment. When a CD is zero coupon, that means it doesn’t pay out interest monthly or annually. Instead, the investor gets the full amount of interest earned paid out to them when the CD reaches maturity.

Is a certificate of deposit a zero-coupon bond?

Certificates of deposit and bonds are two different types of savings vehicles. While a CD can be zero-coupon the same way that a bond can, your money is not invested in the same way. CD accounts also don’t carry the same types of default risk that bonds can present.

Are CDs safer than bonds?

CDs can be safer than bonds since CDs don’t carry default risk. A bond is only as good as the entity that issues it. If the issuer defaults, then bond investors can lose money. CDs, on the other hand, are issued by banks and typically covered by FDIC insurance which generally makes them safer investments.


Photo credit: iStock/Joyce Diva

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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.

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

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What Happens if a Check Bounces? Tips on What to Do Next

Bounced Check: What Happens if a Check Bounces?

Bounced checks are sometimes referred to as rubber checks because, instead of going through, they “bounce” back to the payer’s bank unpaid. No money is transferred, and the person who was expecting to be paid doesn’t receive their funds. The payer will typically get hit with fees and could also face other negative consequences. The recipient of a bounced check may also get hit with a fee.

Understanding what happens when a check bounces, who gets charged, and how to manage the situation can help you navigate this common financial issue.

Key Points

•   When a check bounces, that means it can’t be processed or paid.

•   Bounced checks can occur due to insufficient funds, errors in writing the check, closed accounts, stop payment orders, old checks, or fraud.

•   Bounced checks can result in fees for both the check writer and the recipient.

•   Bounced checks typically do not directly impact credit scores but can lead to missed and late payments (which may impact credit).

•   There are steps you can take to address a bounced check, whether you wrote it or received it.

What Is a Bounced Check?

A bounced check, also known as a nonsufficient funds (NSF) check, is a check that cannot be processed typically because the payer’s checking account does not have enough funds to cover the payment. When a check is deposited, the recipient’s bank requests the funds from the payer’s bank. If the payer’s account lacks sufficient funds, the payer’s bank returns the check unpaid, causing it to bounce.

Here’s a look at some other reasons why a check might bounce.

•   Account closure: If the account has been closed before the check is deposited, it will bounce.

•   Incorrect information: Errors in writing the check, such as a mismatch between numbers and words for the check amount, can lead to a bounced check. That’s why it’s important to know how to properly fill out a check.

•   Stale date: A check can bounce if it’s not cashed or deposited within six months of the date the check was written.

•   Stop payment order: A stop payment order can be requested by the payer if they want to prevent it from being deposited. This might happen if they believe the check got lost or they no longer wish to pay for a service.

•   Fraudulent activity: Checks written on accounts that do not belong to the payer, or those involved in fraudulent activity, will also bounce.

What Fees Come With Bounced Checks?

Both the payer and the payee can incur fees when a check bounces. Here’s a look at the fees that can result and who gets charged.

Nonsufficient funds (NSF) fee: If you write a check you don’t have sufficient funds to cover, your bank will typically charge an NSF fee. The average NSF fee is around $20.

Merchant fee: If the bounced check was written to a business, that business may also add on some charges. Many states allow merchants to charge customers up to $40 for the work of handling a bad check.

Overdraft fee: In some cases, a bank covers the check amount despite insufficient funds. This is known as an overdraft. The check won’t bounce, but you’ll likely get hit with an overdraft fee, which can run around $27.

Late payment fees: If the bounced check was intended for a bill payment, such as a credit card bill, you may also get hit with a late payment fee from the biller.

Returned check fee: If you’re on the receiving end of a bounced check, your bank may charge you a returned check fee for processing a bounced check. In addition, you might assume the check cleared and end up spending money you don’t actually have. This can result in overdrafting your own account and fees.

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!


What Happens if My Check Bounces?

You might accidentally end up bouncing a check if you write a check without looking into your account balance first, or if a check you wrote to someone doesn’t get cashed for a few months and you no longer have sufficient funds in your account to cover it.

When your check bounces, you will likely get hit with bank fees. But there are some other negative consequences that can follow as well. Here are some to keep in mind.

Outstanding Debt

When a check bounces, the payee doesn’t receive the promised funds. This means you still have an outstanding bill. For example, if your rent check bounces, the landlord doesn’t receive your payment. This means you have an outstanding debt to your landlord until you can pay the rent.

Potential Harm to Your Banking Reputation

Banks report consumer banking behavior to ChexSystems, an agency that collects and shares information about a person’s banking history with financial institutions. If you have a history of bounced checks (or other problems like unpaid fees and forced account closures), your ChexSystems report will reflect that. A blemished report could make it hard for you to open a new bank account in the future.

Risk of Account Closure

If you bounce enough checks, your bank could freeze or close your account. If you’re having trouble managing your checking account, it’s a good idea to reach out to a bank representative and explain your situation. The bank may be willing to work with you if they see you are actively trying to resolve the problem.

Recommended: 3 Reasons Why You Have a Frozen Bank Account

Legal Consequences

It’s illegal to knowingly write bad checks. If you write checks and you’re aware that you don’t have enough money to cover them, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or even a felony, depending on the amount and quantity of unpaid transactions.

What Should I Do if My Check Bounces?

If you discover that your check has bounced, it’s crucial to act quickly to mitigate the consequences. Here are key steps to follow.

1.    Contact the payee. You’ll want to reach out to the payee as quickly as possible, explain the situation, and express your intention to resolve the issue. This can help maintain goodwill and prevent further actions.

2.    Pay up quickly. Whether you add funds to your account and write a new check or find a different way to make the payment, making good on what you owe can help prevent the bounced check from turning into an outstanding debt. While a bounced check doesn’t get reported to the credit bureaus, if it leads to a missed or late payment, it could potentially impact your credit.

3.    Request a fee waiver. It can be worthwhile to ask your bank if they can waive the NSF fee, especially if it’s your first offense or due to an unexpected situation.

4.    Monitor your account. You’ll want to keep a close eye on your account balance and transactions to avoid future bounced checks.

What Should I Do if I Receive a Bounced Check?

If you receive a bounced check, you’ll want to contact the payer promptly. Inform them that the check has bounced and request immediate payment via an alternative method.

If the payer assures you that funds are now available, you can attempt to redeposit the check. If possible, you might opt to cash the check at the issuer’s bank so that if it bounces again, you won’t get hit with another NSF charge by your bank.

If you’re having trouble getting a response from the check issuer, you might next want to send them a “bad check” demand letter. This is a formal request for payment that you send to the issuer by certified mail. It’s a good idea to include as many details as possible in the letter.

If the payer continues to be unresponsive or unwilling to pay, you may need to take legal action. Typically this involves suing the check issuer for the money owed in small claims court.

Preventing a Check From Bouncing

Preventing bounced checks involves careful financial management and awareness. These safeguards can help.

•   Monitor your account. It’s important to regularly check your account balance and transactions to ensure you have sufficient funds. You can use your bank’s app or a budgeting app to keep track of exactly what’s going in and out of your account.

•   Set up alerts. Many banks offer account alerts via text or email for low balances or large transactions. Utilizing these alerts can automate the process of checking your balance and can help you stay informed.

•   Consider overdraft protection. This service can cover transactions when your account lacks sufficient funds, typically for a fee. Your bank might also allow you link your checking account to your savings account or line of credit at the same bank. When there’s not enough cash in your checking account to cover a transaction, money will automatically be transferred from the linked account. Before you use this option, though, you’ll want to check to see whether your bank charges a fee for the service.

•   Maintain a buffer balance. Though you might prefer to keep most of your cash in a high-yield savings account to benefit from the interest, it’s a good idea to keep a financial buffer in your checking account to cover unexpected expenses and avoid overdrafts.

•   Don’t accept payment by personal check. To avoid receiving a bad check, you may want to request payment by a cashier’s check, certified check, or money order, which come with more guarantees than a personal check.

Recommended: Avoiding Overdraft Fees: Top 10 Practical Tips

The Takeaway

Bounced checks can lead to expensive fees and even make it difficult to open new checking and savings accounts. However, you can avoid them with a little planning and attention to detail. Key measures include keeping a close eye on your account balance, setting up account alerts, and implementing safeguards like overdraft protection and linked accounts. If you’re in the market for a new checking account, you might also want to look for a bank that doesn’t charge overdraft fees.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


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

FAQ

Who gets charged for a bounced check?

Unfortunately, both the check writer and the recipient often have to pay a fee if a check bounces. The person who wrote the check may have to pay a nonsufficient funds (NSF) fee and potentially a merchant fee. The recipient of the bounced check may be charged a returned check fee.

Can you get in trouble for depositing a check that bounces?

Depositing a bounced check does not typically result in trouble for the depositor, but it can lead to inconvenience and fees. Your bank may charge a returned check fee for the failed deposit. If you repeatedly try to deposit known bad checks or are involved in fraudulent activities, however, you could face legal consequences.

How long does it take for a bad check to bounce?

The time it takes for a check to bounce can vary, but it generally takes a few days to a week. When a check is deposited, the payee’s bank will submit it to the payer’s bank for verification. If the payer’s bank identifies insufficient funds or other issues, the check will be returned unpaid. This process typically takes two to five business days, but it can take longer depending on the banks involved and the specific circumstances.

Do bounced checks affect my credit score?

Bounced checks do not directly impact your credit score, as they are not typically reported to credit bureaus. However, the consequences of a bounced check can indirectly affect your credit. If the bounced check leads to unpaid bills, collections, or legal action, these events can be reported to the consumer credit bureaus and negatively impact your credit.


Photo credit: iStock/nortonrsx

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.


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.

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

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Guide to Callable Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

Guide to Callable Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

A callable CD is a certificate of deposit that pays interest like a regular CD, but can be “called” or redeemed by the issuing bank before the maturity date, limiting the return for the investor.

Regular CDs are designed so that investors get back their principal, plus a fixed amount of interest, when the CD matures. But those who own callable CDs may not get the interest they expected if the bank calls the CD early.

Callable CD interest rates tend to be higher because of this potential risk.

What Is a Callable CD?

A callable CD, like a callable bond, means that the bank has the power to terminate the CD before the maturity date. This may happen if there is a drop in interest rates.

For example, if an investor opens a bank account and buys a 2-year callable CD, the bank could close it out as soon as six months after it’s opened, or any time after that, generally at six-month intervals; it depends on the terms of the CD. The investor would then get back their principal and the amount of interest earned up to that point.

It’s important to note that only the issuer has the ability to call the CD early. The investor must leave their money in the CD until it’s called or reaches maturity, or they will likely face an early withdrawal penalty.

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How Does a Callable CD Work?

Callable CDs are similar to regular CDs, which are time-deposit accounts offered by banks, credit unions, and brokerages. These accounts provide a fixed interest rate on the funds the account holder has deposited for a specific term (usually a few months to a few years).

Callable CDs generally offer higher interest rates. But unlike a regular CD, a callable CD has a “call” feature which allows the financial institution to decide whether it wants to stop paying the account holder the higher interest rate. This typically occurs when interest rates begin to drop. At that point, the issuer can close out the CD and return the funds to the investor, plus any interest earned up to that point.

The bank typically offers a premium interest rate to account holders in exchange for the risk that the CD might be called.

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

Callable CD Example

Let’s say an account holder decides to deposit $10,000 into a callable CD that has a three-year maturity with a 5.00% interest rate. The bank, however, decides to call the CD after a year because interest rates dropped, and the bank can now offer CDs at a 4.00% interest rate.

In this case, the account holder would get their $10,000 back along with the interest accrued prior to the bank’s redemption of the CD. That would be about $500 versus more than $1,500 the investor might have earned if they had been able to hold the CD to maturity.

Are Callable CDs FDIC Insured?

Callable CDs, like most types of CDs, are insured up to $250,000 by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or the National Credit Union Association (NCUA) if the CD is issued by a credit union. If there is a bank failure, federal deposit insurance protects the money held in a callable CD up to that amount.

If the CD was issued by a brokerage, which is generally known as a brokered CD, the CD is not technically FDIC-insured. However, the brokerage’s underlying purchase of the CD from a bank typically is FDIC-insured (though it’s a good idea to check to make sure before you open a brokered CD).

Maturity Date vs Callable Date

The maturity date is when the certificate of deposit reaches maturity and the investor can redeem the CD for the principal plus interest accrued during the length of the CD. They can choose to take the earnings or renew the CD.

The callable date is the earliest date at which the CD issuer can close the CD. The first callable date can generally be as soon as six months after the CD was opened, and can typically occur any time after that, at six-month intervals (for example, one year, 18 months, two years, and so on).

Be sure to read the terms of any CD, but especially callable CDs, as the callable date can vary. For example, you could buy a callable CD with a 5-year maturity date and a one-year callable date (the earliest date the issuer can call the CD). That means, at the very least, your money would earn a year’s worth of interest.

Pros of Callable CDs

There are several advantages that may come with opening a callable CD.

•   Callable CDs typically pay higher interest rates compared to regular CDs. Since account holders are taking on the risk of the bank redeeming the callable CD prior to its maturity, the account holder gets a higher interest rate in exchange for taking on this risk.

•   Like most CDs, callable CDs are generally considered lower-risk investments. If the bank decides to terminate the CD before its term, you will typically still receive the original deposit amount as well as the interest that accumulated until that time.

•   In the event of a bank failure, your money is federally insured up to $250,000.

Cons of Callable CDs

While there are positives to callable CDs, these saving vehicles can have some downsides.

•   If the account holder needs access to capital and has to withdraw their money prior to the callable CD’s date of maturity, they are subject to early withdrawal penalties which can eat up some or all of the interest earned.

•   In the event that interest rates decline, there is a possibility that the bank could call the CD early, in which case the account holder would not receive the same return they would have if the callable CD were to finish its full term.

Where to Open a Callable CD

You can open a callable CD with a bank or credit union, or with some brokerages. The financial institution should be FDIC-insured or National Credit Union Administration-insured so your money is protected.

With a brokered CD, the CD should be insured through the bank the brokerage purchased the CD from, but be sure to check that this is the case before opening the CD.

The Takeaway

If you are looking for investments that are generally lower risk, provide predictable returns, and are protected by federal insurance, callable certificates of deposits might fit the bill. Callable CDs could build your savings by paying a higher fixed interest rate for a specific period of time. However, the account holder takes the risk that the bank might exercise the call option, and close the account before the CD matures.

If you’re interested in earning a higher rate on your savings, you may want to consider other savings vehicles as well, such as a high-yield savings account with a competitive APY that’s higher than the rate offered by traditional savings accounts. Explore the options to choose what best suits your needs.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


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

FAQ

What is a callable vs a non-callable CD?

Callable CDs are certificates of deposits that pay interest for a specified term like a traditional CD does, but the callable CD rate tends to be higher because the bank can redeem the CD before it reaches maturity. A regular CD does not have a call feature.

Why would a bank call a CD?

Usually, a bank would call a CD in the event of falling interest rates. The bank redeems the CD because with a drop in rates, it can then pay lower rates to its CD holders.

Can you lose money on a callable CD?

Generally, you cannot lose money on a callable CD, but you might get less of a return than you’d hoped. In the event that the CD is called, the account holder receives the principal along with interest that was accumulated up to that point in time, instead of receiving the return for the full term of the CD.


Photo credit: iStock/hallojulie

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Guide to Banker's Acceptance (BA)

Banker’s Acceptance (BA): Definition, How It Works, Uses

A banker’s acceptance (or BA) is a financial instrument used to guarantee large future transactions, often in the import/export markets. As a debt instrument, it can function as an investment, commonly traded between large banks and institutional investors on the secondary market. It can trade at a discount to par like U.S. Treasury bills in money markets.

BAs play a key role in facilitating international trade and in broader fixed-income markets. While you may not own an individual banker’s acceptance in your checking account, these instruments help promote sound and liquid markets.

What Is Banker’s Acceptance?

A banker’s acceptance (which you may see written as bankers acceptance) is a short-term form of payment guaranteed by a bank; it is often used for international trade transactions.

Banks often make money on the spread between the buy and sell price on a fixed-income asset or through fees and commissions. BAs commonly have a maturity of between 30 and 180 days and trade at a discount to par. Functioning like a post-dated check, they are seen as a relatively safe method of payment for large transactions. BAs are considered short-term debt instruments.

Here are some more details about banker’s acceptance and how these instruments work.

•   The BA is issued and priced based on the creditworthiness of the issuing bank. An investment banker earns a commission for making the transaction.

•   Only customers with a strong credit history can access the BA market. These entities are often corporations involved in international trading (import/export) markets.

•   A banker’s acceptance can also be highly marketable and liquid, allowing money to transfer from one bank to another.


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

How Banker’s Acceptance Works

A banker’s acceptance is considered a time draft. A business can request one from a bank as a way of gaining enhanced security while conducting a deal. The bank essentially promises to pay the firm that is exporting goods a particular amount of money on a certain date. When it does this, it takes funds out of the importer’s bank account.

Typically, the term of a banker’s acceptance is between 30 and 180 days.

Who Issues Banker’s Acceptance?

Not all banks offer BAs. Businesses with a good relationship with a large bank can obtain a banker’s acceptance. It can be an appealing product for an institution entering a large-value transaction. Like signing a check over to someone, the account holder must have enough cash to execute the transaction.

More than a simple checking account transaction, though, obtaining a BA typically requires an amount of credit to be detailed. There are usually fees involved in obtaining a BA, too.

Who Buys Banker’s Acceptances?

Banker’s acceptances are traded by banks and securities dealers on a secondary market, similar to how debt instruments are traded. They are available for a discount on its face value. The exact value may vary with the rating of the bank that has promised payment on the banker’s acceptance.

How Banker’s Acceptance Is Used

Here’s more detail on how banker’s acceptances can be used.

Checks

Think of a banker’s acceptance as a certified check. It’s a relatively safe way to do a transaction. The money owed is guaranteed on a specific date listed on the BA bill. Credit analysis is usually done to verify the creditworthiness of the issuer, so it’s a bit different than how a bank will verify a check before you deposit it.

BAs are frequently used to facilitate the international trading of goods. A buyer of imported products can issue a BA with a payment date after a shipment is scheduled to be delivered. The seller exporting can then take payment before finalizing the shipment. The exporter in this case can hold the BA to maturity or sell it on the secondary market. Unlike a check, the BA is backed by the guarantee of the bank, not an individual.

Investments

Aside from the import/export market, bankers’ acceptances are used commonly in the investment world. Buyers might purchase a BA and hold it to maturity to effectively earn a rate of return on short-term money. Since BAs are seen as very low-risk products, they are used as a cash-like security.

Still, retail consumers usually won’t be able to purchase a BA in an online or traditional retail bank. The purchase is, as noted above, only available to certain financial entities.

Recommended: What Are Some Safe Types of Investments?

Pros and Cons of Banker’s Acceptance

There are a number of positive aspects of bankers’ acceptances to consider.

Pros

First, the upsides of BAs:

Provides Seller Assurances Against Default

Backed by the guarantee of a bank, a banker’s acceptance is regarded as a high-quality fixed-income security that is often liquid and highly marketable. For importers and exporters, financial transactions can be made to facilitate international trading of goods without the risk that one party goes bust.

Buyer Does Not Have to Prepay for Goods

A banker’s acceptance works like a promissory note so the buyer does not have to prepay. Liability can immediately transfer from the issuer of the banker’s acceptance to the bank. The payment is likely debited only on the due date.

Enhances Confidence in the Deal

Part of the process of issuing a banker’s acceptance is usually having a good credit standing and a relationship with a major bank. Since high-risk customers might not be considered, there is strong confidence in BAs traded. There would be no need for the exporting company to worry about default risk; that lies with the banker. While individual investors often do not engage in BA trading, there are important traditional banking alternatives that feature financial solutions to help facilitate transactions.

Cons

While there are many positive aspects of bankers’ acceptances, there are still some risks for those involved in the transaction and trading of BAs. Consider the following:

Bank May Require Buyer to Post Collateral to Hedge Risk

Collateral is sometimes required for a deal to happen. Collateral provides a backstop should the importer be unable to pay. It can reduce risks to the bank and expedite the deal. Think of it like seller concessions to get a deal done, though collateral is generally not used when buying and selling a home.

Buyer May Default

With a banker’s acceptance, the bank accepts default risk, which can be a downside. The issuing bank typically must honor the payment terms even if the account holder, perhaps an importing/exporting corporation, does not have the cash on the payment date. Not all banks choose to be in this market due to the risk that the buyer could default.

Potential Liquidity Risk

Liquidity risk means an individual or financial institution cannot meet its debt obligations in the short term. Investors may not encounter liquidity risk with a banker’s acceptance instrument, but the issuing bank could have liquidity risk from the importer who must pay. This may be a key consideration for a bank issuing a BA. The secondary market for banker’s acceptance products remains highly liquid.

Pros of BAs

Cons of BAs

Provides assurance vs. default Bank may require collateral
Buyer doesn’t need to prepay for goods Buyer may default
Enhances confidence that deal will work Potential liquidity risk

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The Takeaway

A banker’s acceptance is a debt instrument that plays a key role in well-functioning capital markets. BAs help facilitate international trade through bank guarantees. Knowing about this important fixed-income product type can help individuals understand financial markets and institutions.

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FAQ

What is the difference between a letter of credit and a banker’s acceptance?

A letter of credit is a financial instrument that a bank issues for a buyer (the bank client) guaranteeing that a seller will be paid. A banker’s acceptance, on the other hand, guarantees that the bank will pay for a future transaction, rather than the individual account holder.

What is a banker’s acceptance in a real-life example?

An example of a banker’s acceptance would be that, on April 1st, the Acme Bank sends a BA to Back-to-School Supplies, saying it will make funds available on June 1st for a shipment of goods for their client. On June 1st, the school supply company will be able to withdraw those funds.

How safe are banker’s acceptances?

Banker’s acceptances are a relatively safe transaction for all involved, but the exact degree will vary with the creditworthiness of the bank guaranteeing the funds.

Is a banker’s acceptance a short-term investment?

Banker’s acceptances are considered a short-term investment or debt instrument. They are usually traded at a discount, and they are seen as similar to Treasury bills.

Is a banker’s acceptance a loan?

A banker’s acceptance isn’t a loan. It’s a short-term debt instrument, typically with a maturity date of 30 to 180 days.


Photo credit: iStock/Deagreez

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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.

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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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