Checking vs Savings Account: Choosing the Best for You

Checking vs Savings Accounts: All About the Differences

When it comes to managing everyday finances, some people might consider what type of account is best. Or they might ponder if they need more than one kind of bank account. Understanding the difference between checking and savings accounts and how to use them is a good place to start figuring that out.

In a nutshell, checking accounts are designed for frequent banking transactions such as paying monthly bills, making daily purchases with a debit card, and conducting other transactions involving spending. Savings accounts, on the other hand, are not usually accessed as often. They are instead typically used to hold money being saved to meet a short-term goal (think next summer’s vacation) or as an emergency fund.

Let’s take a closer look at how a checking account vs. a savings account stacks up. We’ll consider which one might be a good choice for a person’s particular financial needs — it could be both — by diving into:

•   The key differences between checking and savings account.

•   What is a savings account and what benefits it offers?

•   What is a checking account and what benefits it offers?

Checking vs Savings Account: Key Differences

To help you understand the differences between checking and savings accounts, here is a chart summarizing the details.

Checking Account Saving Account
Fees Varies Varies
Interest earnings Minimal (if at all) Yes
Debit card access Yes No
Check writing capabilities Yes No
Withdrawal limits None Typically 6 per month
Maintenance fees Varies Varies
Minimum opening balance Varies Varies
Best used for Spending Saving

There are similarities when you compare savings accounts vs. checking accounts, such as varied minimum opening deposits, maintenance fees, and other monthly fees. That said, there are also three major differences: how account holders access their money, withdrawal limits, and interest earnings.

Interest Earnings

When it comes to earning a bit of a return on an online bank account, savings accounts typically offer a higher interest rate than checking accounts. In many cases, checking accounts aren’t interest-bearing, meaning no interest is earned at all. Interest rates for savings accounts vary. The current average is 0.07% APY (compared to a current average of 0.03% APY for checking accounts), according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC. You probably will find higher rates at online banks instead of bricks-and-mortar ones. By not having physical locations, online banks save money and can pass savings onto their customers.

Recommended: APR vs. Interest Rate: What’s The Difference?

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Debit Card Access

Checking accounts are typically used by account holders to frequently access their cash, whether paying monthly bills or buying a latte. Checking accounts generally include a debit card which can be used for purchases or ATM withdrawals.

Savings accounts, on the other hand, don’t usually come with debit cards. Some financial institutions offer an ATM card for deposits and withdrawals to a savings account.

Withdrawal Limits

Checking accounts allow unlimited withdrawals, whereas savings accounts have typically allowed up to six per month. After that point, the transaction could be denied or the account holder charged a penalty. The bank might even convert the savings account into a checking account.

However, in April 2020, the Federal Reserve lifted this limitation imposed through Regulation D. Financial institutions are no longer required to limit savings account withdrawals or transfers to six per month, but some may continue to impose the maximum. Check with your financial institution to learn the full story.

What Is a Savings Account?

If you’d like to tease apart the differences of savings vs. checking accounts a bit more, let’s take a closer look. A savings account is an account held at a financial institution such as a bank or credit union — its primary purpose is to store your funds safely. Most savings accounts allow the account holder to earn interest on the account balance.

Savings account rates are generally higher than those offered with checking accounts (if those pay any interest at all). For this reason, they can be a good option as a savings vehicle for money that the account holder doesn’t need to access frequently. Common uses for savings accounts are emergency funds, short-term savings goals, and funds for occasional expenses. The cash can accumulate in the savings account and have an opportunity to earn interest.

As mentioned above, banks can still impose a per-month transaction limit on savings accounts — they’re just not required to by the Fed anymore. There could be fees imposed on these excess transactions, which can add up.

Some financial institutions may automatically close an account holder’s savings account or convert the savings account to a checking account if too many withdrawals are made each month on a regular basis.

Other financial institutions don’t charge a maintenance fee or require account holders to maintain a minimum account balance, although they may require a minimum deposit to open an account. It’s wise to check with your financial institution to make sure you understand the ground rules.

Benefits of Savings Accounts

Here are some of the upsides of opening and maintaining a savings account:

•   Savings accounts are low-risk, which means you are unlikely to lose money. Rather, you are likely to make money, thanks to interest, especially when that interest compounds.

•   Interest is a plus. Right now, interest rates are fairly low, often well under 1%, but at least you are earning something. And by shopping around for high-yield accounts, you may be able to get a better return without the volatility of investing in, say, stocks.

•   Savings accounts are usually insured by the FDIC for up to $250,000 per account holder, per account type. In the unlikely event of your bank going out of business, you’d be covered.

•   Easy access is another plus. Unless term or time deposits, in which your money can be locked up for a specific period of time, savings accounts allow for easy withdrawal of your funds.

•   Peace of mind can come with savings. Having a savings account can help you feel more secure as you work toward your financial goals. For instance, you’ll know that you have funds available if an emergency cropped up.

What Is a Checking Account?

A checking account is also held at a financial institution, though its primary purpose is to be used for everyday spending. These accounts generally don’t have any withdrawal limits, so account holders can make as many transactions as their heart desires.

•   Debit cards typically come with checking accounts, and can be used for purchases at bricks-and-mortar and online retailers and to withdraw cash from an ATM.)

•   Checking account holders may also be able to use paper checks, either complimentary or purchased by the account holder, which can be used to pay bills and make purchases.

•   Account holders may also access their funds by P2P platforms and other means.

Checking accounts may not earn as much interest compared to savings accounts, if they earn any interest at all.

Many financial institutions charge the same types of fees for checking accounts and savings accounts, such as monthly maintenance fees. Additional checking account fees may include overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees and out-of-network ATM fees.

Having enough money in the account and sticking with in-network ATMs are good ways to avoid charges like these, but banks are required to disclose certain fees it charges. Take a look at the fee schedule for any particular type of account you are thinking of opening and get acquainted with the details.

Recommended: Ways to Avoid Overdraft Fees

Benefits of Checking Accounts

There are many advantages to having a checking account, including:

•   You can pay bills and transfer funds online, in person, or by app; there’s no need to carry around cash for such transactions. Checking accounts can make money management very convenient.

•   Checking accounts are typically insured by the FDIC (or, if you bank with a credit union, by the National Credit Union Administration, or NCUA), so your money is safe. Even if the financial institution were to go out of business, you wouldn’t lose your money up to $250,000.

•   Checking accounts can be an affordable way to conduct financial transactions. For instance, your account is likely to come with checks, which can save you the effort and expense of using money orders or other types of payments in many situations.

•   Your checking account may offer rewards, such as cash back opportunities, or if you apply for a loan at the same institution, you may get a better rate.

Recommended: How Much Are ATM Fees?

The Takeaway

Yes, there are significant differences between checking and savings accounts. They serve quite separate purposes and can be useful in working toward varied financial goals. For many people, however, it’s not a question of which kind of account to open, but where’s the best place to open both. When it comes time to consider savings account vs. checking accounts, the result may well be your realizing you need at least one of each.

Better Banking With SoFi Checking and Savings

An online banking account like SoFi Checking and Savings can be a great banking option. With SoFi Checking and Savings, account holders can spend, save, and earn all in one place. Sign up with direct deposit and earn a highly competitive 1.25% APY — and not pay any account fees. With a convenient mobile app, your account can be managed from wherever you are.

Start banking better with SoFi.

3 Great Benefits of Direct Deposit

1. It’s Faster
As opposed to a physical check that can take time to clear, you don’t have to wait days to access a direct deposit. Usually, you can use the money the day it is sent. What’s more, you don’t have to remember to go to the bank or use your app to deposit your check.

2. It’s Like Clockwork
Whether your check comes the first Wednesday of the month or every other Friday, if you sign up for direct deposit, you know when the money will hit your account. This is especially helpful for scheduling the payment of regular bills. No more guessing when you’ll have sufficient funds.

3. It’s Secure
While checks can get lost in the mail – or even stolen, there is no chance of that happening with a direct deposit. Also, if it’s your paycheck, you won’t have to worry about your or your employer’s info ending up in the wrong hands.

Photo credit: iStock/AleksandarNakic

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi Money® is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member
SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank.
SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 1.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 0.70% APY on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 1.25% APY is current as of 4/5/2022. Additional information can be found at
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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What Is the Difference Between APR and Interest Rate on a Personal Loan?

What Is the Difference Between APR and Interest Rate on a Personal Loan?

Even if you’ve had personal loans explained to you in simple terms, there’s a lot to know when you’re making such a big financial decision. One common misunderstanding for borrowers is the difference between the loan’s APR and the loan’s interest rate.

Although these two terms are often used interchangeably, they refer to slightly different concepts. Let’s take a closer look.

What Is Interest?

For starters, let’s talk about interest. Interest is the cost you pay for the privilege of taking out a loan — the money you’ll owe along with the principal, or the amount of money you’re borrowing.

Interest is expressed in a rate: a percentage that indicates what proportion of the principal you’ll pay on top of the principal itself. Interest may be simple — charged only against the principal balance — or compound — charged against both the principal balance and accrued interest itself. Typically, personal loan rates are an expression of simple interest.

Recommended: Interest Rate Definition: What You Need to Know

Loan APR vs Interest Rate

So now that we know what interest is and how it’s expressed, what’s the difference between an APR vs. interest rate?

APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate and specifically designates how much you’ll spend, as a proportion of the principal, over the course of one year. Furthermore, the APR includes any additional charges on top of interest, such as origination or processing fees, which a straight interest rate does not.

In other words, APR is a specific type of interest rate expression — one that’s more inclusive of additional costs.

Interest Rate


Expression of how much will be paid back to the lender in addition to repaying the principal balance Expression of how much will be paid back to the lender in addition to repaying the principal balance
Includes interest only Expresses cost of the loan over one year including any additional costs, such as origination fees

Why Is My Personal Loan APR Different Than the Interest Rate?

If your personal loan’s APR differs from its interest rate, that indicates that there are additional fees, such as origination fees, included in the total amount you’re being charged. If there were no fees, the APR and interest rate would be identical!

How Important Is APR vs Interest Rate?

No matter how it’s expressed, the interest rate on your loan is very important — because it’s how much you’ll pay in addition to the principal balance. That amount can add up very quickly. Let’s look at an example of a relatively simple personal loan.

Say you take out a personal loan for $5,000 to cover some home repairs. Assuming it’s a simple-interest loan with an interest rate of 5% and a term of five years, you’ll pay back a total of $6,250 — an additional $1,250 on top of the amount you needed in the first place.

APR vs Interest Rate on Revolving Credit Accounts

Personal loans aren’t the only financial product that involve APR and interest rate. Revolving credit accounts — including credit cards — also have interest rates expressed as APR. However, with credit cards, these two rates are one and the same: APR is just the interest rate, and the terms can be used interchangeably.

Credit card issuers may charge other fees, e.g., cash advance fees, late fees, or balance transfer fees as applicable to individual usage. But it’s impossible to predict the type or amount of fees that might be charged to any one card holder.

Although these two expressions are the same, it’s important to understand that the interest rate on credit cards and other revolving credit accounts is usually compound interest, which is precisely why it can be so easy to spiral into credit card debt. When interest is charged on the interest you’ve already accrued, the total goes up quickly.

A single credit card account can have multiple APRs, depending on how the credit is used.

•   Purchase APR: the standard APR for general purchases.

•   Cash advance APR: the rate charged for cash advances made to the card holder.

•   Balance transfer APR: may begin as a low or zero promotional rate, but increase after the introductory period ends.

•   Penalty APR: may be charged if a payment is late by a predetermined number of days.

What Is a Good Interest Rate for a Personal Loan?

The interest rate on your personal loan — or any financial product — will vary based on a wide variety of factors, including your personal financial history (such as your credit score and income) as well as which lender you choose, how big the loan is, and whether or not it’s secured with collateral.

The average personal loan rate hovers between about 10% and 22% at the time of this writing, though some lenders may offer personal loans with interest rates as low as 5% to 6%.

Getting a Good APR on a Personal Loan

To get the best rate on your personal loan, there are some financial factors you can influence over time. Here are some action items to consider.

Improving Your Credit Score

It’s been said before, but it’s true: the higher your credit score, the better your chances are of achieving favorable loan terms and lower interest rates — not to mention qualifying for the loan at all. While there are loans out there for borrowers with bad credit and fair credit, improving your credit score can make your loan a lot more affordable over time.

Paying Down Your Debts

One way to significantly improve your credit score is to pay down your debts. And along with the opportunity to improve your credit, paying down debt will also improve your chances of being approved for a loan because your debt-to-income ratio is one factor lenders look at when qualifying you for a loan — not to mention the fact that it’ll make keeping up with your monthly loan payments a lot easier if you have more leeway in your budget.

Be Careful When Applying for Credit

Applying for too much credit at once can be a red flag for lenders and ding your credit score, so if you’re getting ready to apply for a personal loan, auto loan, or mortgage, try to limit how many times you’re having your credit score pulled.

Credit scoring models do allow for rate shopping, however, so it’s still a good idea to compare multiple lenders over a limited amount of time — a 14-day period is recommended — to find the lender that works best for your financial needs. If done in a short window of time, multiple hard credit pulls for the same type of loan will count as just one.

Recommended: Soft vs Hard Credit Inquiry

The Takeaway

Personal loans and other financial lending products come at a cost: interest. That’s the amount you’ll pay on top of repaying the principal balance itself. Interest is expressed in a percentage rate, most commonly APR, which includes both the interest and any other fees that can increase the cost of the loan.

If you’re looking for a personal loan, whether to fund medical expenses, home repairs, or some other financial goal, SoFi Personal Loans may be the option for you. There are no origination or repayment fees with unsecured personal loans from SoFi, and there are a variety of terms offered to work with many budgets.

Check your rate today


Why is my personal loan APR different than the interest rate?

If the APR on your personal loan is different than the interest rate, it means the lender is charging additional fees, such as origination fees or others.

How important is APR vs interest rate?

The APR is a particularly important figure to look at since it also includes additional costs, giving you a more holistic picture of the price of the loan product.

What is a good APR and interest rate for a personal loan?

Personal loan interest rates vary widely, but can start as low as 5% depending on your personal financial history, the type and amount of the loan you’re borrowing, and your lender.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
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

Photo credit: iStock/Charday Penn

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Differences and Similarities Between Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) vs Personal Lines of Credit

Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) vs Personal Lines of Credit

If you’re looking for a tool you can use to borrow money when you need it, you may be wondering which is the better choice: a personal line of credit or a home equity line of credit (HELOC).

In this guide we’ll look at the similarities and differences of these two types of credit lines — both of which function similarly to a credit card, but typically have a lower interest rate and a higher credit limit. We’ll also cover some of the pros and cons of using a personal line of credit vs. a HELOC.

What Is a Personal Line of Credit?

A personal line of credit (LOC) is a revolving credit account that allows you to borrow money as you need it, up to a preset limit.

Instead of borrowing a lump sum and making fixed monthly payments on that amount, as you would with a traditional installment loan, a personal line of credit allows you to draw funds as needed during a predetermined draw period. You’re required to make payments based only on your outstanding balance during the draw period.

In that way, a personal LOC works like a credit card. Generally, you can pay as much as you want each month toward your balance, as long as you make at least the minimum payment due. And the money you repay is added back to your credit limit, so it’s available for you to use again.

You can use a personal LOC for just about anything you like, as long you stay within your limit.

A personal LOC is usually unsecured debt, which means you don’t have to put up collateral. The lender will base decisions about the amount you can borrow and the interest rate you’ll pay on your personal creditworthiness.

Can a Personal Line of Credit Be Used to Buy a House?

If you could qualify for a high enough credit limit — or if the property you want to buy is being sold at an extremely low price — you might be able to purchase a house with a personal LOC. But it may not be the best tool available.

A traditional mortgage secured by the home that’s being purchased may have lower overall costs than a personal LOC and could potentially have tax benefits for the mortgage holder.

Variable interest rates, which are typical with personal lines of credit, might not be the best option for a large purchase that could take a long time to pay off. Your payments could go lower, but they also could go higher. If interest rates increase, your loan could become unaffordable.

If you use all or most of your personal LOC to make a major purchase like a home, it could have a negative impact on your credit score and future borrowing ability. The amount of revolving credit you’re using vs. how much you have available is an important factor in your credit score calculation, and lenders typically prefer this number to be less than 30%.

Recommended: Personal Loan vs Personal Line of Credit

What Is a HELOC?

A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, is a revolving line of credit that is secured by the equity a borrower has in their home.

Lenders typically will allow you to use a HELOC to borrow up to 85% of your home’s current appraised value minus the amount you currently owe. A lender also may review your credit score, credit history, employment history, and debt-to-income ratio (monthly debts ÷ gross monthly income = DTI) when determining your borrowing limit and interest rate.

Recommended: Home Equity Loans vs Personal Loans for Home Improvement

Personal Line of Credit vs HELOC Compared

If you’re comparing a personal line of credit vs. a home equity line of credit, you’ll find there are many similarities. But there are some important differences to keep in mind as well.


Here are some ways in which a personal LOC and a HELOC are alike:

•   They’re both revolving credit accounts, on which loan funds can be borrowed, repaid, and borrowed again, up to the credit limit.

•   Both have a draw period and a repayment period. The draw period can typically be up to 10 years, with monthly minimum payments required. The repayment period may be up to 20 years after the draw period ends.

•   Access to funds is convenient. Withdrawals can be made by check or debit card, depending on how the lender sets up the loan.

•   Lenders may charge monthly fees, transaction fees, or late or prepayment fees on either. It’s a good idea to understand potential fees before closing.

•   Both typically have variable interest rates, which can affect the overall cost of the line of credit over time.


The biggest difference between a HELOC and a personal LOC is that a HELOC is secured by the borrower’s home, while a personal LOC is typically unsecured. That can impact the borrower in a few ways, including:

•   Interest rates and credit limits can vary. In exchange for the risk HELOC borrowers take (they could risk losing their home if they default on their payments), they generally qualify for lower interest rates. HELOC borrowers also may qualify for a higher credit limit.

•   With a HELOC, the lender may require a current property appraisal, which might slow down the approval process and be an added expense.

•   Approval for an unsecured personal LOC is typically based on the applicant’s creditworthiness. That can make the application process easier, because you probably won’t have to do as much paperwork. But you may need a better credit score and meet other financial benchmarks to qualify for a personal LOC than you would for a HELOC.

•   A borrower assumes the potential risk of losing their home if they default on a HELOC. An unsecured personal LOC does not come with a risk of that significance.

Comparing Personal Line of Credit vs. Home Equity Line of Credit

Attribute Personal LOC HELOC
Flexible borrowing and repayment
Convenient access to funds
Annual or monthly maintenance fee Varies by lender Varies by lender
Variable interest rate
Secured with collateral Typically unsecured
Approval based on creditworthiness *
Favorable interest rates ** **
*Credit and income requirements may be tougher for unsecured personal loans than secured loans.
**Interest rates can vary based on several factors. Rates may be lower for a secured personal LOC than for an unsecured personal LOC, and personal LOC rates, in general, are typically lower than credit card rates.

Pros and Cons of HELOCs

A HELOC works much like a personal LOC, so they share many of the same pros and cons. An added advantage of borrowing with a HELOC, however, is that because it’s secured, the interest rate may be more favorable than that of a personal LOC.

Another plus is that a HELOC may offer a tax benefit. If you use the money to buy, build, or substantially improve the home that secures the loan, and you itemize deductions on your income tax return, you may be able to deduct your HELOC interest payments.

The downside is that if you can’t make your HELOC payments, you risk losing your home. Also, if your home loses value and your equity decreases, the lender may terminate the HELOC or lower your borrowing limit.

Pros and Cons of HELOCs

Pros Cons
Flexibility in how much you can borrow and when. Your home is at risk if you default.
Interest charges are based only on the amount borrowed during the billing period. Variable interest rates can make repayment unpredictable and potentially expensive.
Generally lower interest rates than credit cards or unsecured borrowing. Lenders may require a current home appraisal for approval.
Possible tax advantages. A decline in property value could impact the credit limit or result in termination of the HELOC.

Pros and Cons of Personal Lines of Credit

A personal LOC has both advantages and disadvantages when compared to a HELOC, credit cards, and installment loans.

Because you draw just the amount of money you need at any one time, instead of a lump sum, a line of credit can be a good way to pay for a renovation project, ongoing medical or dental treatments, a wedding, or other expenses that might be spread out over time. You pay interest only on the funds you’ve drawn, not the entire line of credit that’s available, which can keep monthly costs down. As you make payments, the line of credit is replenished, so you can borrow the money repeatedly during the draw period. And with an unsecured personal LOC, you don’t have to worry about coming up with collateral.

But there are downsides to be wary of, as well. Here’s a summary of some of the pros and cons of a personal LOC.

Pros and Cons of Personal Lines of Credit

Pros Cons
Flexibility in how much you borrow and when. Variable interest rates can make repayment unpredictable and potentially expensive.
Interest charges are based only on what you’ve borrowed. Interest rates may be higher than for a secured line of credit or secured loan.
Interest rates are typically lower than credit cards. Qualification can be more difficult than for secured credit.
You aren’t putting your home or another asset at risk if you default. Convenience and minimum monthly payments could lead to overspending.

Alternatives to Lines of Credit

As you consider the pros and cons of a HELOC vs. a personal LOC, you also may wish to evaluate some alternative borrowing strategies, including:

Personal Loans

A personal loan is an installment loan, which means a borrower receives a lump sum of money from the lender and makes fixed monthly payments, with interest, until the loan is repaid.

Most personal loans are unsecured, so the interest rate and other terms are determined by the borrower’s credit score, income, debt level, and other factors.

You lose some flexibility because the credit limit doesn’t replenish as you make payments, and you’ll owe interest from day one on the full amount that you borrow. But if you’re using the loan to make a large purchase, to consolidate debt, or to pay off one big bill, it may make sense to borrow a specific amount and budget around the predictable monthly payments.

Personal loan interest rates and other costs can vary significantly depending on the lender, the borrower, and the terms of the loan. You can use a loan comparison site to check multiple lenders’ rates, or you can go to the lenders’ individual websites to find a personal loan interest rate that’s a match for your goals.

Auto Loan

If you’re getting a personal loan to buy a car, you may want to consider the pros and cons of an auto loan. An auto loan is an installment loan that’s secured by the car being purchased, so qualification may be easier than for an unsecured personal loan or personal LOC.

Most auto loans have a fixed interest rate that’s based on factors like the applicant’s creditworthiness, the loan amount, and the type of vehicle that’s being purchased.

If you buy a vehicle using an auto loan, you won’t receive the lump sum payment ahead of time, as you would with a personal loan. Instead, you’ll be given an approval letter, and the funds will go directly to the dealer or online shopping platform you’re working with.

Down the road, if you think you can get a better interest rate — perhaps because interest rates have gone down or because you’ve improved your credit score — you can always look into refinancing your auto loan with a personal loan or personal LOC.


A mortgage is an installment loan that is secured with the property you purchase with the loan funds.

There are many different types of mortgage loans, and terms can vary substantially depending on the loan and lender you choose. You’ll likely need a down payment to get the loan, and buyers typically pay closing costs equal to a percentage of the purchase price.

A mortgage may have a fixed or adjustable interest rate. An adjustable-rate mortgage typically starts with a lower interest rate than its fixed-rate counterpart, which can be appealing to buyers. But the rate can fluctuate over time, based on the underlying benchmark interest rate or index it’s tied to. With a fixed-rate mortgage, the interest rate stays the same for the life of the loan.

Your ability to qualify for the mortgage terms you want may depend on your creditworthiness, your down payment amount, and the value of the home you plan to buy.

Credit Cards

A credit card is a revolving line of credit that may be used for day-to-day purchases such as groceries, gas, online shopping, or automatic payments on recurring bills.

Convenience can be one of the best things about using credit cards, but it can also be one of the worst. You can use them almost anywhere to pay for almost anything. But it can be easy to accrue debt you can’t repay.

Because credit cards are unsecured in most cases, interest rates can be higher than for other types of borrowing. And if you miss payments or make late payments, the credit card issuer may increase your interest rate. Making late payments or using a high percentage of your credit limit also can have a negative effect on your credit score.

If you manage your credit cards wisely, however, they can have some useful benefits, including cash-back rewards, travel points, and other perks. And if you have solid credit, you may be able to qualify for a low- or no-interest introductory offer that can be a helpful strategy for financing a purchase if you can pay the balance in full before the promotional period ends.

Credit card issuers typically base a consumer’s interest rate and credit limit on their credit score, income, and other financial factors.

Student Loans

If you’re borrowing money specifically to pay for college expenses, it’s a good idea to start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), to see what types of federal student financial aid are available to you. Federal student loans typically offer lower interest rates and more borrower protections than private student loans or other lending options.

But if the federal student financial aid you’re eligible for isn’t enough to cover your education costs, it could be worth comparing what private lenders might offer. Student loan need-to-knows might include interest rates, flexibility of terms, fees, application process, and any benefits for qualifying borrowers.

The Takeaway

A line of credit can be a useful tool for borrowers whose costs are spread out over time, the way they often are when you’re planning and paying for a wedding, a home renovation, or medical treatments. Both HELOCs and personal LOCs can have advantages for borrowers, especially those who don’t want to pay interest from day one on a lump-sum loan that may be more money than they need.

If you’re comfortable putting up your home as collateral, a HELOC may be the right choice for you. But if you aren’t a homeowner, or if you’d prefer not to secure the line of credit with your home, a personal LOC may be a better fit.

If a line of credit isn’t the right option for you, a Personal Loan may be something to consider. An unsecured personal loan from SoFi has low fixed rates, no fees, and terms that will fit a variety of budgets. You can check your rate in just one minute without affecting your credit score.*

Check your rate on a SoFi Personal Loan.


Can you use a personal LOC to purchase a home?

If you qualify for a high enough credit limit — or if the property you hope to buy is being sold at an extremely low price — you might be able to purchase a home with a personal LOC. But a mortgage or other option with a lower and fixed interest rate may be a better solution.

What happens if you don’t use your home equity line of credit?

Having a HELOC you don’t use could give your credit score a boost if it improves your credit utilization ratio (the amount of revolving credit you have available vs. how much you’ve used).

Does a HELOC actually increase your mortgage payments?

The HELOC is a separate loan from your mortgage. The two payments are not made together.

*Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
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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.

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How to save for your dream wedding

How To Save For Your Dream Wedding

A wedding should be one of the most memorable days of your life — but it doesn’t have to break the bank. The average wedding costs nearly $30,000, and that’s not including the engagement rings. Whether you long for a fairy tale wedding or you prefer something more scaled back, there are ways to save for your dream day that will ensure you have the magical moment you’ve always wanted without having to incur massive amounts of debt.

Set a Budget

Do you want a big lavish wedding worthy of the royals? A destination wedding? Or maybe you want something more intimate with just a few friends and family? There are different levels of spending when it comes to weddings, and deciding what is most important to you can help you determine just how much you’ll need to save. Is the venue a priority? The number of people? The food? The DJ (or band)? It’s smart to start by making a list and getting a solid estimate of the costs for each of your need-to-haves and your want-to-haves. And it’s also wise to leave a little wiggle room for unexpected wedding costs. Little things like the marriage license, dress or suit alterations, and even insurance costs, can start to eat into your budget pretty quickly.

Start a Savings Plan

Before you’ve locked in the date, you and your partner can start a savings plan. Some couples open a separate bank account and set up automatic monthly transfers to that account to collect wedding funds. When savings are automated, you often don’t notice the missing funds. And by picking an account with a high-yield interest rate, your money can make money while you continue to plan and save.

And if you’re thinking about a loan, yes, there are people who finance their weddings, but the real question is: do you want to start your marriage with debt or do you want to have a healthy savings strategy in place to use even after the dream wedding is over? If you are leaning toward financing your wedding, be sure to weigh the pros and cons and thoroughly check out all of your options, which can range from credit cards to personal loans.

Put the Wedding First

Sure, you may want to go on vacation, eat at fancy restaurants, and buy those new clothes, but that will put you further from your goal. Instead of spending on those luxuries now, cutting back and putting that money into your shared dream wedding account can help you get to your savings goal quicker. And there are some simple ways to cut back that won’t make you feel deprived. For example, you can take local day trips or regional vacations instead of traveling afar. Eating out just once a month and cooking at home more can cut costs. You could even get swanky and hold cocktail hour with friends at your house instead of going to happy hour. Your new bank account will thank you.

Recommended: The Cost of Being in Someone’s Wedding

Do It Yourself

One way to keep your spending low is to plan the majority of the wedding yourself. If you already have experience managing projects, then this should be within the realm of your abilities. Researching the typical steps and fees associated with weddings before making any concrete decisions can be helpful. If that feels daunting, you may want to keep in mind that wedding planners cost an average of $1,500. And while there are advantages to using a planner (they already have a contact list of professionals and know their rates, saving you a lot of time and energy), the downside is you could be getting a one-size-fits-all experience instead of the personalized ceremony and party you may want.

Comparison Shop

Just like other big expenses, getting more than one quote for each service you need can help you find the best price point to fit your needs and wants. Does your preferred venue charge a premium for a wedding, but a lower price for a party? You may want to consider negotiating the price. Calling multiple DJs and catering services can help you ensure you are not overpaying. New York City is going to have very different rates than, say, Asheville, North Carolina. This might even be a factor in deciding when to have your wedding, too. For a better idea of how much costs can vary, you can check out this comparison of costs by state.

You can wind up saving a ton of money by doing away with an expensive venue altogether and looking for a free or really inexpensive location, like parks, gardens and even beaches.

And if you’re able to hold your celebration on a weekday or during off-season, you’re likely to find some additional savings. For example, you can pick Friday instead of Saturday; or you can have a fall or winter event to help lower your costs.

Reassess the Dress

Maybe your dream wedding includes a Vera Wang gown, but your bank account can’t swing that. Or maybe you want something a little simpler. Consider shopping for a vintage dress and having it altered. Or if you want a more modern look, you don’t necessarily have to buy brand new—wedding dresses are usually only worn once and then either sit in the back of a closet or get sold or donated. Resellers often offer beautiful dresses at a fraction of the initial cost.

Consider this: Dresses less than three years old are usually sold for half their original price. And that Vera Wang might not be out of reach after all if you buy it used. Designer brands can sell for 60 to 70 percent of their original cost.

Where not to Cut Costs

While you might not have much of an appetite on your big day, your guests likely will, so it’s a good idea not to scrimp on the food. It doesn’t have to be a five-star, multi-course meal, but if you want to create a memorable experience for all, it’s smart to offer quality food that doesn’t leave anyone grumbling about “wedding food.”

And what good is a dream wedding if you have bad or no photos to remember it? A good photographer can capture all of the moments of both you and your guests. These are photos that you will cherish when you are older and wiser, that will adorn your dresser and be sent out to family, so skimping here is best avoided if you can. The average cost of a wedding photographer is about $2,500, but It could end up being the best you put toward your special day.

The Takeaway

Saving for your dream wedding might seem impossible, but it’s within your grasp if you’re willing to put in the time and effort. With some ingenuity and careful planning, you don’t have to break the bank. By cutting a few costs and saving those nickels and dimes, the wedding you’ve always wanted can be had.

And should you need a bit of financial assistance to put your wedding savings over the top, a personal loan is a perfectly reasonable option. With low rates and no fees, SoFi can put those final funds at your fingertips the day of your approval, giving you the ability to cover those last costs and turn your attention toward enjoying your big day.

Learn how SoFi can help you finance your big day.

Photo credit: iStock/standret

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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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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see


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Is There a Statute of Limitations on Debt?

Statute of Limitations on Debt: Things to Know

This article is NOT LEGAL ADVICE. If you have a question about a specific situation, please consult with an attorney in your state.

A statute of limitations is a state law that limits the period during which a creditor or debt collector can bring action in court to enforce a contract, such as a loan agreement or note. This means a creditor may not be allowed to sue a borrower in court to force them to pay a debt after the period has expired.

However, the statute of limitations on debt isn’t a wait-it-out solution that simply erases debt once it’s been owed for a few years. There may still be consequences to failing to pay back debts once the statute of limitations for debts has expired — and statutes of limitations don’t apply to some debts, including federal student loans. Here’s what you should know about statutes of limitations on debt.

What Is The Statute of Limitations on Debt?

Essentially, a statute of limitations on debt puts a time restriction on how long a creditor or debt collector is able to sue a borrower in state court to enforce the loan agreement and force them to repay the outstanding debts. In practice, this means that if a borrower chooses not to pay a debt, after the statute of limitation runs out, the creditor or debt collector doesn’t have a legal remedy to force them to pay.

To be clear, just because the statute of limitations has expired, it doesn’t mean that the borrower no longer owes the money, even though it does mean that the lender may not be able to take them to court for non-payment. The borrower will continue to owe the money borrowed, and their non-payment could be reported to the credit bureaus, which would then remain on the report for as long as allowed under the applicable credit reporting time limit. (For further evidence of how long debt can stick around, here’s a look at what happens to credit card debt when you die.)

Statutes of limitations don’t apply to all debts. They don’t, for example, apply to federal student loans. Federal student loans that are in default may be collected through wage or tax refund garnishment without a court order.

How Long Until a Debt Expires?

The length of the statute of limitations is determined by state law. State statutes of limitations on debt vary from three years to more than 10 years, depending on the type of debt and when the contract was entered into.

Figuring out exactly which state’s laws your debt falls under isn’t always as simple as you might imagine. The applicable statute of limitations may be determined by the state you live in, the state you lived in when you first took on the debt, or even the state where the lender or debt collector is located. The lender may even have included a clause in the contract you signed mandating that the debt is governed by a specific state’s laws.

One commonality in every state’s statutes of limitations on debt is that the “clock” does not start ticking until the borrower’s last activity on the relevant account. Let’s say, for example, that you made a payment on a credit card two years ago and then entered into a payment plan with the debt collector last year but never made any subsequent payments. In that case, the statute of limitations clock would start on the date that you entered into the payment plan.

In this example, simply entering into a payment plan counts as “activity” on the account. This can make it confusing to determine if the statute of limitations has expired on your old debts, especially if you haven’t made a payment in a long time.

It may be possible to find out what the statute of limitations is by contacting the lender or debt collector and asking for verification of the debt. Remember that agreeing to make a payment, entering a payment plan, or otherwise taking any action on the account — including simply acknowledging the debt — may restart the statute of limitations.

After the statute of limitations on the debt has expired, the debt is considered time-barred.

Types of Debt

As mentioned, the length of the statute of limitations on debt can vary depending on the type of debt it is. To know which timeline applies, it helps to understand the different types of debt.

Written Contract

A written contract is an agreement that is signed in writing by both you and the creditor. This contract must include the terms of the loan, such as how much the loan is for and how much monthly payments are.

Oral Contract

An oral contract is bound by verbal agreement — there is no written contract involved. In other words, you said you would pay back the money, but did not sign any paperwork.

Promissory Notes

Promissory notes are written agreements in which you agree to pay back the amount of money by a certain date, in agreed upon installments and at a set interest rate. Examples of promissory notes are student loan agreements and mortgages.

Open-Ended Accounts

Open-ended accounts include credit cards and lines of credit. With an open-ended account, you can repeatedly borrow funds up to the agreed upon credit limit. Upon repayment, you can then borrow money again.

Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection

Each state has its own statute of limitations on debt collection. Here’s a breakdown of the varying timelines by state:

Statute of Limitations For Debts By State and Type of Debt

State Written Contract Oral Contract Promissory Note Open-Ended Account
Alabama 6 6 6 3
Alaska 3 3 3 3
Arizona 6 3 6 3
Arkansas 5 3 5 5
California 4 2 4 4
Colorado 3 3 3 3
Connecticut 6 3 6 3
Delaware 3 3 3 3
District of Columbia 3 3 3 3
Florida 5 5 4 4
Georgia 6 4 4 4
Hawaii 6 6 6 6
Idaho 5 4 5 4
Illinois 10 5 10 5
Indiana 6 6 6 6
Iowa 10 5 10 5
Kansas 5 3 6 3
Kentucky 15 5 10 5
Louisiana 10 10 10 3
Maine 6 6 6 6
Maryland 3 3 6 3
Massachusetts 6 6 6 6
Michigan 6 6 6 6
Minnesota 6 6 6 6
Mississippi 3 3 3 3
Missouri 10 6 10 5
Montana 8 5 5 5
Nebraska 5 4 5 4
Nevada 6 4 3 4
New Hampshire 3 3 6 3
New Jersey 6 6 6 6
New Mexico 6 4 6 4
New York 6 6 6 6
North Carolina 3 3 3 3
North Dakota 6 6 6 6
Ohio 8 6 6 6
Oklahoma 5 3 5 3
Oregon 6 6 6 6
Pennsylvania 4 4 4 4
Rhode Island 10 10 10 10
South Carolina 3 3 3 3
South Dakota 6 6 6 6
Tennessee 6 6 6 6
Texas 4 4 4 4
Utah 6 4 4 4
Vermont 6 6 14 3
Virginia 5 3 6 3
Washington 6 3 6 6
West Virginia 10 5 6 5
Wisconsin 6 6 10 6
Wyoming 10 8 10 6

Statutes of limitations on certain old debts may prevent creditors or debt collectors from suing you to recover what you owe. However, it’s important to realize that debt statutes of limitations don’t protect you from creditors or debt collectors continuing to attempt to collect payments on the time-barred debt, such as in the case of credit card default. Remember, you still owe that money, whether or not the debt is time-barred. The statute of limitations merely prevents a lender or debt collector from pursuing legal action against you indefinitely.

Debt collectors may continue to contact you about your debt. But under the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act
, debt collectors cannot sue or threaten to sue you for a time-barred debt. (Note that this act applies only to debt collectors and not to the original lenders.)

Some debt collectors, however, may still try to take you to court on a time-barred debt. If you receive notice of a lawsuit about a debt you believe is time-barred, you may wish to consult an attorney about your legal rights and resolution strategies.

Disputing Time-Barred Debt With Debt Collectors

If a debt collector is contacting you to attempt to collect on a debt that you know is time-barred and you don’t intend to pay the debt, you can request that the debt collector stop contacting you.

One option is to write a letter stating that the debt is time-barred and you no longer wish to be contacted about the money owed. If you’re unsure, it may be possible to state that you would like to dispute the debt and want verification that the debt is not time-barred. If the debt is sold to another debt collector, it may be necessary to repeat this process with the new collection agency.

Remember, even though a collector can’t force you to pay the debt once the statute of limitations expires, there may still be consequences for non-payment. For one, your original creditor may continue to contact you through the mail and by phone.

Additionally, most unpaid debts can be listed on your credit report for seven years, which may negatively affect your credit score. That means that failing to pay a debt may impact your ability to buy a car, rent a house, or take out new credit cards, even if that debt is time-barred.

Statute of Limitations on Student Loan Debt

Statutes of limitations don’t apply to federal student loan debt. If you default on your federal student loan, your wages or tax refunds may be garnished.

If you have federal student loan debt, you may consider managing your student loans through consolidating or refinancing. This can help you decrease your loan term or secure a lower interest rate.

Borrowers who hold only federal student loans may be able to consolidate their student loans with the federal government to simplify their payments. Those with a combination of both private and federal student loans might consider student loan refinancing to get a new interest rate and/or loan term. Depending on an individual’s financial circumstances, refinancing can potentially result in a lower monthly payment (though it may also mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan).

All borrowers with federal loans should keep in mind that refinancing federal loans can mean relinquishing certain benefits, like forbearance and income-based repayment options.

Statute of Limitations on Credit Card Debt

The statute of limitations on credit card debts can generally range anywhere from three years to 10 years, depending on the state. However, the laws in the state in which you live aren’t necessarily what dictates your credit card statute of limitations. Many of the top credit issuers name a specific state whose laws apply in the credit card agreement.

How Long Does the Statute of Limitations on Credit Card Debt Last?

Here’s a look at how long can credit card debt be collected through court proceedings for each state in the U.S.:

Statute of Limitations on Credit Card Debt By State

State Number of years
Alabama 3
Alaska 3
Arizona 6
Arkansas 5
California 4
Colorado 6
Connecticut 6
Delaware 3
District of Columbia 3
Florida 5
Georgia 6
Hawaii 6
Idaho 5
Illinois 5
Indiana 6
Iowa 5
Kansas 3
Kentucky 5 or 15
Louisiana 3
Maine 6
Maryland 3
Massachusetts 6
Michigan 6
Minnesota 6
Mississippi 3
Missouri 5
Montana 8
Nebraska 4
Nevada 4
New Hampshire 6
New Jersey 6
New Mexico 4
New York 6
North Carolina 3
North Dakota 6
Ohio 6
Oklahoma 5
Oregon 6
Pennsylvania 4
Rhode Island 10
South Carolina 3
South Dakota 6
Tennessee 6
Texas 4
Utah 6
Vermont 6
Virginia 3
Washington 6
West Virginia 10
Wisconsin 6
Wyoming 8

Effects of the Statute of Limitations on Your Credit Report

The statute of limitations on credit card debt doesn’t have an impact on what appears on your credit report. Even if the credit card statute of limitations has passed, your debt can still appear on your credit report, underscoring the importance of using a credit card responsibly.

Unpaid debts typically remain on your credit report for seven years, during which time they’ll negatively impact your credit (though its effect can wane over time). So, for instance, if the state laws of Delaware apply to your credit card debt, your statute of limitations would be three years. Your unpaid debt would remain on your credit report for another four years after that period elapsed.

This is why it’s important to consider solutions, such as negotiating credit card debt settlement or credit card debt forgiveness, rather than just waiting for the clock to run out.

How to Know If a Debt Is Time-Barred

To determine if a debt is time-barred — meaning the statute of limitations has passed — the first step is figuring out the last date of activity on the account. This generally means your last payment on the account, though in some cases it can even include a promise to make a payment, such as saying you’d soon work on paying off $10,000 in credit card debt. You can find out when you made your last payment on the account by pulling your credit report, which you can access at no cost once per year at

Once you have that information in hand, you can take a look at state statutes of limitation laws. Keep in mind that it might not be your state’s laws that apply. If you’re looking for the statute of limitations for credit card debt, for instance, check your credit card’s terms and conditions to see which state’s laws apply.

Figuring out all of the relevant information isn’t always easy. If you’re unsure or have any questions, consider contacting a debt collections lawyer, who should be able to assist with answers to all your credit card debt questions.

What to Do If You Are Sued Over a Time-Barred Debt

Even if you know a debt is time-barred, it’s important to take action if you’re sued over it. You’ll need to verify that the statute of limitations has indeed passed, and you’ll need to come forward with that information. It may be helpful to work with an attorney to help you respond appropriately and avoid any missteps.

If you do end up going to court, it’s critical to show up. The judge will dismiss your case as long as you can prove that the debt is indeed time-barred. However, if you don’t show up, you will lose the case.

How to Verify Whether You Owe the Debt

If you’re not sure whether a debt you’ve been contacted about is yours, you can ask the debt collector for verification. Request the debt collector’s name, the company’s name, address and phone number, and a professional license number. Also ask that the company mail you a validation notice, which will include the name of the creditor seeking payment and the amount you owe. This notice must be sent within five days of when the debt collector contacted you.

If, upon receiving the validation notice, you do not recognize the debt is yours, you can send the debt collector a letter of dispute. You must do so within 30 days.

The Takeaway

Statutes of limitations on debt create limits for how long debt collectors are able to sue borrowers in a court of law. These limits vary by state but are often between three to 10 or more years. Once the statute of limitations on a debt has expired, the debt is considered time-barred. However, any action the borrower takes on the account has the potential to restart the statute of limitations clock.

While borrowing money can leave you in a stressful situation where you’re waiting for the clock to run out, it can also help you build your credit profile and access new financial opportunities. The SoFi credit card, for instance, offers up to 2% in cash back rewards. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1 Plus, you can lower your APR by 1% after making 12 on-time monthly payments of at least the minimum due.

Learn more and apply online for a credit card today with SoFi.


Do I still owe a debt after the statute of limitations has passed?

Yes. The statute of limitations passing simply means that the creditor cannot take legal action to recoup the debt. Your debt will still remain, and it can continue to affect your credit.

Can a debt collector contact me after the statute of limitations has passed?

Yes, a debt collector can still contact you after the statute of limitations on debt passes as there isn’t a statute of limitations on debt collection. However, you do have the right to request that they stop contacting you. You can make this request by sending a cease communications letter.

Additionally, if you believe the contact is in violation of provisions in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act — such as if they are harassing or threatening you — then you can file a complaint by contacting your local attorney general’s office, the Federal Trade Commission, or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

When does the statute of limitations commence?

The clock starts ticking on the statute of limitations on the last date of activity on the account. This generally means your last payment on the account, but it also could be when you last used the account, entered into a payment agreement, or made a promise to make a payment.

After the statute of limitations has passed, how do I remove debt from my credit report?

Even if the statute of limitations has already passed, debt will remain on your credit report for seven years. At this point, it should automatically drop off your report. If, for some reason, it does not, then you can dispute the information with the credit bureau.

What state’s laws on statute of limitations apply if I incur credit card debt in one state, then move to another state?

If you’re unsure of what is the statute of limitations on credit card debt, the first thing to do is to check your credit card agreement. Which state you live in may not have an impact, as many credit card companies dictate in the credit card agreement which state court will preside.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
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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.
This article is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice.

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