Guide to Shared Branch Credit Unions

Guide to Shared Branch Credit Unions

Shared branch credit unions allow members to access banking products and services at other credit union branches that belong to a wider network. Joining a shared branch credit union can make managing your financial accounts more convenient if you live, work, or study in an area where your home credit union doesn’t have branches.

The types of transactions that can be carried out via shared branching are typically the same as those allowed by the home branch. There are, however, a few things you may not be able to do, so here’s a closer look.

Read on to learn:

•   What is shared branch credit union and how does it work?

•   What can members do at a shared branch?

•   What can’t members do a shared branch?

•   Pros and cons of shared branching.

What Is Shared Branching?

Shared branching is the practice of allowing members of one credit union to carry out financial activities at branches of other credit unions that are all located within the same branch network.

Here’s one example: The Co-Op Shared Branch managed by Co-Op Solutions, for example, offers access to more than 5,600 shared branches in the U.S. and over 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs. This shared branching network includes credit unions in all 50 states. This can be very convenient in terms of being able to bank at a variety of locations.

As long as your home credit union, meaning the credit union where you maintain your accounts, is part of a shared branching network, then you can access your accounts at other credit unions within the network. You don’t need to be a member of multiple credit unions to benefit from this sharing system.

Shared branching is a significant departure from traditional banking. If you have checking and savings accounts at Chase Bank, for example, you likely wouldn’t be able to walk into a Bank of America and conduct business.

How Can I Use a Shared Branch?

To use a shared branch credit union, you first have to determine whether your home credit union belongs to a sharing network. Co-Op Solutions, for instance, simplifies this process. It offers a shared branch and ATM locator tool that you can use to find shared credit union branches near you.

Once you find a shared branch, you can visit in-person to manage your accounts. You’ll need to bring a form of photo identification to verify your identity. You may also need to provide your phone number and the last four digits of your Social Security number. And of course, you’ll need the name and account number for your home credit union.

Generally, you can use a shared branch credit union much the same as your home credit union. That means you can use the ATM to make withdrawals or check account balances. If you need to make a deposit or complete other transactions, you can do those through a teller either inside the branch or at the drive-thru.

What Can Members Do at a Shared Branch?

For the most part, shared branch credit unions allow you to carry out the same range of transactions as you would at your home branch. If you’re not sure what a particular shared branch credit union allows, you may be able to find a list of services on the credit union’s website.

Here are some of the most important transactions you can complete via shared branching.

Deposits and Withdrawals

Credit union members can deposit funds to their accounts and make withdrawals through a shared branch credit union. That’s convenient if you need to deposit cash or withdraw money from your accounts. You may also choose to make deposits in-person if you’re concerned about mobile deposit processing times. (And if you’re wondering, “Is mobile deposit safe?”, the answer is yes.)

Transfer Money Between Accounts

Shared branching also allows members to move money between accounts. For example, you may want to shift some of your savings to checking or to a money market account at your credit union.

Can you move money from one bank to another via shared branching? Yes, if you have accounts at more than one credit union. If you need to transfer money from your credit union to a financial institution that’s not part of a shared branch network, then you’ll need to link the external account to schedule an ACH transfer or wire transfer.

If you need to send funds overseas, keep in mind that not all credit unions participate in the SWIFT banking system, which is used to facilitate international wire transfers.

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Make Loan Payments

Credit union members can make payments to auto loans, personal loans, mortgages, and other loans through shared branches. You’ll need the loan number to make your payment. Being able to pay through a shared branch credit union could help you to avoid missed due dates.

What Can Members Not Do at a Shared Branch?

While shared branch credit unions allow for flexibility, there are some things members cannot do. If you belong to a shared branch credit union network, here are some of the things that are typically prohibited.

Open a Bank Account

If you’re visiting a co-op shared branch credit union, you can’t open a new account with your home credit union. Instead, you’d need to go to one of your home credit union’s branches or visit the credit union’s website to open the accounts. Of course, you could ask how to open a business bank account or personal bank account options at the shared branch if you’re interested in being a member of that credit union.

Access Deposited Funds Immediately

Just like banks, credit unions process transactions according to a set schedule. When you deposit money at a shared branch credit union, you can’t expect to be able to withdraw it right away. The deposit hold time or processing time can vary by the credit union. You may be able to expedite processing if the credit union allows it, but you may pay a fee for that.

Withdraw an Unlimited Amount of Money

Shared branch credit unions can impose limits on the amount of money members can withdraw each day. For example, members of the Co-Op Solutions Shared Branch Network limit members to $500 per day in withdrawals when accessing funds at shared branches. That limit may be higher or lower than the limit imposed by your home credit union.

Open an Individual Retirement Account

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) offer a tax-advantaged way to save money for retirement. Credit unions can offer IRAs to savers, though you typically cannot open one through a shared branch. Instead, you’ll need to go to your home credit union to open an IRA either in-person or online.

Benefits of Shared Branching

If you prefer credit unions to traditional banks, then belonging to a shared branch credit union can offer some advantages. Remember, you don’t have to do anything special to enjoy the benefits of shared branching, other than belonging to a credit union that’s part of a sharing network. You don’t have to open multiple bank accounts to have privileges at more locations.

Convenience

Shared branch credit unions make it convenient to access your money wherever you are, as long as there’s a shared branch location nearby. So whether you’re traveling for business, taking a family vacation, or planning a move, you don’t have to worry about leaving your credit union accounts behind.

Flexibility

Doing business at a shared branch credit union allows for flexibility since you can do most of the things you’d be able to do at your home branch. Again, the main things you wouldn’t be able to do include opening new checking or savings accounts, opening an IRA, or applying for a loan. You’d only be able to do those things if you also choose to become a member of the shared branch credit union.

Avoid Fees

How do banks make revenue? By charging fees for the services they provide. Being part of a shared credit union may help you avoid some fees. If you use a shared-branch credit-union ATM network while you’re traveling, you may be able to avoid out-of-network ATM surcharges. While shared branch credit unions may charge fees for certain services, others may be provided free of charge.

Drawbacks of Shared Branching

While shared branching does have some advantages, there are some potential downsides to consider. Here are some of the main cons of using shared branch credit unions.

Availability

Credit unions are not obligated to join a shared branch network. If your home credit union isn’t part of a sharing network, then you’ll be limited to using only that credit union’s branches. That could make managing your accounts more challenging if you regularly travel for business, school, or pleasure.

(However, many people today are used to banking without bricks-and-mortar locations, which is a key difference between online banking versus traditional banking. This availability issue may not be a big concern to some who do their money management online or via an app.)

Withdrawal Limits

As mentioned, credit unions that are part of the Co-Op Solutions network can limit you to cash withdrawals of $500 per day. If you need to withdraw a larger amount in cash, you’d need to find a branch of your credit union to do so, assuming your credit union has a higher daily cash withdrawal limit.

Use Limitations

Shared branch credit unions can be used to do quite a few things but they’re not all-encompassing. There are some transactions that you’ll only be able to do at your credit union’s branch or via the credit union’s website or mobile app.

The Takeaway

Deciding where to keep your money matters. Shared branch credit unions can make banking easier. With shared branches, you don’t have to be limited to a certain geographic area when managing bank accounts in person or via ATM. You can avoid fees by being part of a large network of connected credit unions. While there are some drawbacks, the benefits of convenience and cheaper banking costs can be very appealing to some consumers.

Of course, there’s a lot to be said for online banking and its associated benefits. You can also save money on fees, earn higher interest rates on deposit accounts, and be able to complete many transactions via an app.

SoFi, for example, offers online banking with competitive rates and no fees when you sign up with direct deposit. You can access your money fee-free at more than 55,000 Allpoint network ATMs too.

Better banking is here with up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

Should I join a credit union or a bank branch?

It depends on your needs. Joining a credit union could make sense if you’re looking for lower interest rates on loans and fewer fees, provided you meet the credit union’s requirements to join. If you do choose to join a credit union for those benefits, you can still open an account at a traditional or online bank and enjoy the benefits those offer.

Is it good to be part of a credit union?

Credit union membership can offer certain perks that you may not always get at a bank. For example, credit unions may charge lower interest rates for loans while offering higher interest rates on deposit accounts. You may also be able to get access to discount programs and other special incentives for being a member.

Can I withdraw money from any bank branch?

You can withdraw money from any branch of your bank, either by seeing a teller or using the ATM to access your accounts. However, you wouldn’t be able to walk into a branch of Bank A to withdraw cash from accounts held at Bank B.


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


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government 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, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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Business Check vs. Personal Check: What's The Difference?

Guide to Business Checks vs Personal Checks

While business checks and personal checks may seem like the same thing, there are actually some important differences. Sure, all checks can be used to pay bills or cover other expenses using funds in a linked checking account. But the main difference between a personal check and a business check is the source of funds. Personal checks are drawn on personal accounts; business checks are drawn on business checking accounts.

Each sort of check has its time and place. To understand how business checks vs. personal checks work in more detail, here you will learn:

•  What is a business check and how does it work

•  What is a personal check and how does it work

•  When to use a business check vs. a personal check

•  The differences between business checks and personal checks.

What Is a Business Check?

A business check is a check that’s written from a business checking account. Banks and credit unions can offer business checking accounts to sole proprietors, limited liability companies (LLCs), and other kinds of businesses that need a safe, secure place to keep their money. Business checks are often one of the features included with these accounts.

Business bank accounts can also offer a debit card for making purchases or cash withdrawals. They typically allow for ACH transfers of funds to pay bills or vendors. But there are some instances where it could make sense — or even be necessary — to use business checks instead. For example, you may need to write or print paper checks to cover payroll for employees.

How Does a Business Check Work?

When someone opens a business bank account, the bank may give them a set of business checks and a checkbook. If you are wondering what a checkbook is, they are simply a small folder or book that contains your checks and a check register, which is where you’ll write down deposits and credits for your account. Check registers can help you balance your checkbook.

To use a business check, you’d simply make the check out to the payee, then fill in the required information. That includes the date and amount of the check, as well as a signature. Business checks typically have a memo line where you can record what the check is being used for.

The payee can then take that business check to their bank to deposit it or cash it. The amount written on the check is then deducted from the business checking account on which the check is drawn. When the check is deposited, it typically takes two days to clear (or for the funds to become available).

What Does a Business Check Look Like?

Business checks look much like personal checks, in terms of the type of information they include. On the front of a business check, you should see the following:

•  Business name and address

•  Check number (in the upper right hand corner)

•  Payee name (where it says Pay to the Order of)

•  Date

•  Dollar amount, in numbers

•  Dollar amount, in words

•  Payer’s signature

•  Memo line

•  The bank’s routing number

•  The account number

•  Bank’s name and address

Business checks may also include room to include the business logo or a watermark.

There may be an attached transaction stub on the left hand side of the check. You can use this stub to record the details of the transaction, including the date the check was written, the amount, and to whom it was paid.

Business checks can be hand-written like personal checks, or they can be filled digitally and printed out.

What Is a Personal Check?

A personal check, on the other hand, is a check that’s drawn against a personal checking account. Most but not all checking accounts offer checks and check-writing; some even offer free starter checks to new customers.

Personal checks are paid using personal funds. So you might write a personal check to repay a friend you borrowed money from, for example, or to pay your rent. Likewise, you could receive a personal check made out to you that you could deposit into your bank account or cash it. In terms of where to cash personal checks without a bank account, the options include check cashing services, supermarkets, and convenience stores.

Personal checks are not the same as other types of checks, including certified checks and traveler’s checks. (If you’re unfamiliar with how to use travelers checks, these are paper certificates that can help you pay for things overseas without having to exchange hard currencies.)

How Do Personal Checks Work?

Personal checks work by allowing individuals to pay bills or make other payments to individuals, businesses, and other organizations. When you open a checking account, the bank may give you paper checks with your name and account number printed on them. You can then use these checks to make payments.
When someone receives a personal check and deposits it in their account, their bank requests the transfer of funds from the bank on which the check was drawn. These transfers are processed electronically. Processing times can vary, though it typically takes a couple of business days for a check to clear.

If someone writes a personal check and doesn’t have sufficient funds in their account to cover it, that check will “bounce”. When a check you write bounces, your bank can cover the amount for you but they can charge overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees for that convenience.

Bounced checks typically don’t show up on consumer credit reports or affect credit scores, though banks may report them to ChexSystems. A consumer credit reporting agency, ChexSystems collects information about closed checking and savings accounts.

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Can I Use a Personal Check for a Business Account?

Personal accounts and business accounts are separate banking products. That being said, you could use personal checks to pay for business expenses. For example, you could write out a personal check to pay a business lease or make payments to a business loan. And you could use funds in a business account to pay for personal expenses.

If you’re using personal checks for a business account or business checks for personal expenses, it’s a good idea to maintain good records of what expenses you’re paying. That can make it easier to add up your deductible business expenses when it’s time to file taxes. Also, if you ever need to review your business or personal account (say, for legal reasons or an audit), it can be hard to remember which funds were used where. This is a good reason to keep the accounts separate or make sure your record-keeping is very thorough.

Using Business Checks vs. Personal Checks

When you need to write a business check vs. personal check can depend on the circumstances. For instance, some of the most common uses for business checks include:

•  Employee payroll

•  Federal and state tax payments

•  Making payments to vendors

•  Paying operating costs, such as rent or utilities

•  Repaying a business loan

•  Making any large purchases that are necessary for the business.

Personal checks can be used to meet a different set of needs. Examples of when you might write a personal check include:

•  Paying utility bills, rent, or the mortgage

•  Buying groceries

•  Repaying personal debts

•  Making payments to loans

•  Covering school-related expenses if you have kids (like lunch money or PTA fundraisers)

•  Paying college tuition

•  Covering doctor bills.

You can also sign over a personal check you receive to someone else. That’s a type of third-party check.

Recommended: How do I sign over a check to someone?

Whether you need business checks or personal checks, it helps to know where to order checks safely. You can get checks online from check-printing companies or order them through your bank.

Differences Between a Business and Personal Check

Whether you’re using business checks or personal checks, one thing is true: They can be a dependable, convenient alternative to using a debit card, credit card, ACH transfer, or wire transfer. But if you’re still wondering how are business checks different from personal checks, here are a few other noteworthy distinctions.

Size of the Check

Personal checks are usually somewhere around 6″ x 2″ x 3″ in size. Business checks, on the other hand, may be larger in size. For example, they may be 8″ x 2″ x 3″ instead. The larger size allows for easier printing and more room for writing out checks by hand.

Security of the Check

Check fraud can threaten a business’s bottom line. For that reason, many check printers include built-in security measures to minimize the chances of a business check being stolen or otherwise used fraudulently. Those measures can include watermarks, thermochromatic ink, fluorescent fibers, chemical sensitivity indicators, and special security on the back of the check. These features all help to verify check authenticity.

How Much Each Check Costs

As mentioned, banks can sometimes offer starter checks for free when you open a new checking account. This benefit may not be included with business checking accounts, which means you’ll need to buy checks yourself. The amount you pay can depend on the type of check, any added features you choose to include, and the number of checks printed. You might pay three cents per check or a quarter or more per personal check, depending on where you order from, the features you want, and how quickly you want them printed and delivered.

Business checks range from about $28 for 600 checks (barely a nickel each) to 20 cents or more per check.

There can be other charges associated with checks. For example, you may also pay separate fees when purchasing cashier’s checks for a business or personal account. Cashier’s checks are drawn against the bank’s account, not yours. In terms of what does a cashier’s check look like, they’re similar in appearance to personal and business checks. However, they’ll typically have the words “Cashier’s Check” printed on the front in an area that’s easily visible.

Check Conversion Protection

Check conversion is a process in which paper checks are converted to electronic ACH debits. Both consumer and business checks can be converted in this way. Converted checks usually clear faster, but it’s possible that you may not want this for checks written from a business account. In that case, you could order business checks that include an optional Auxiliary On-Us field to exclude them from conversion.

Why to Consider Having Separate Checks

Using one bank account for business and personal expenses might seem less stressful, since you’re moving money in and out of the same place. Having a business checking account and a separate personal checking account can offer some advantages, however.

Here are some of the most notable reasons for having a separate checking account for your business:

•  Writing checks with your business name can add credibility to your venture, since it looks more professional.

•  Maintaining separate accounts can make it easier to keep track of business finances and expense reporting for tax purposes.

•  Establishing a business checking account could make it easier to get approved for business loans or lines of credit if you have a good banking history.

You may also prefer to have separate business and personal checking accounts as an added protection against creditor lawsuits. Depending on how your business is structured, money in a personal checking account may be safe from collection efforts if you’re sued by a creditor.

The Takeaway

Business checks and personal checks serve similar functions; they both transfer funds from one account to another. However, they do have some important differences, and knowing when to use a business check vs. personal check can help keep your finances organized.

When you open an online bank account with SoFi, paper checks are included at no charge with our Checking and Savings. If you sign up with direct deposit, you’ll also be rewarded with no fees and a super competitive APY.

Better banking is here with up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

Can you cash a business check?

You can cash a business check if your bank allows it. You’ll need to endorse the check properly and show proof of identification to cash it, the same as you would with any other type of check.

What should be on a business check?

A business check should include the business name and address, the payee’s name, the amount of the check, the date, and the payer’s signature. The check will likely be pre-printed with the bank’s name and address, a routing number and account number, as well as a check number. A business check may also include a memo line to record the purpose of the check.

Do checks need to say LLC?

Checks do not need to say LLC unless your business is structured as an LLC. If your business operates as a sole proprietor, partnership, S corporation, or anything other than an LLC, then you wouldn’t need to include that designation.


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


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government 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, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Guide to Micro Savings Accounts

Guide to Micro Savings Accounts

Saving money can be a challenge, especially for those with a lower household income. To help individuals and families with lower incomes save, some financial institutions offer a type of bank account known as a micro saving account. A micro savings account works similarly to a traditional savings account, but it’s designed for consumers who can only make small deposits. It can also be helpful for anyone else who finds that stashing away small amounts suits them. Regardless of your income, if micro saving suits your financial style, it can be a win-win.

Here, you’ll learn:

•   What is a micro savings account?

•   How are micro savings accounts used?

•   The pros and cons of micro savings accounts.

•   Alternatives to a micro savings account.

What Is a Micro Savings Account?

A micro savings account (also sometimes seen written as microsavings account) is a savings account that can help meet the financial needs of consumers with smaller household incomes. It can also suit any saver who likes to tuck away small amounts here and there.

A micro savings account works a bit differently from how a savings account works at most financial institutions. Micro savings accounts typically don’t have a minimum deposit requirement, don’t charge service fees, and are more flexible regarding the possible amount of withdrawals.

Many financial institutions that offer micro savings accounts do so to incentivize consumers to save $1,000 a year by encouraging them to save just $20 a week. They often have educational initiatives in place to help guide micro savings account holders towards meeting this goal.

Benefits of Micro Savings Accounts

The following benefits are typically associated with micro savings accounts:

•   Low-risk savings account that can earn interest

•   Little to no upfront costs

•   No credit checks required for new account holders

•   Additional microfinance services such as microloans may be available for account holders

•   Lower or fewer fees or no fees at all

•   No minimum account balance requirements

•   More flexible withdrawal limits

Disadvantages of Micro Savings Accounts

There aren’t any real disadvantages associated with micro savings accounts. That said, here are a few small downsides worth considering:

•   Savings accounts tend to have a smaller return than other forms of investing (such as a CD vs. a savings account)

•   Micro savings accounts can be harder to find than normal savings accounts

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 Are Micro Savings Accounts Used For?

Let’s take a closer look at what micro savings accounts are used for. The reasons why people tend to open them include:

•   Creating a regular savings habit

•   Saving money consistently in smaller amounts

•   Keeping savings separate

•   Managing money through a mobile app

Here’s a closer look.

Creating a Regular Savings Habit

Micro savings accounts can help savers boost their liquid assets at an incremental level while giving them the chance to earn interest on their savings. Financial institutions offer micro savings accounts to help encourage good saving habits. These accounts can help remove barriers to saving for those who can’t afford to put away a lot of money. They can also suit those who like to save a little money here and there.

Saving Money Consistently in Smaller Amounts

One of the ideas that drives micro savings accounts is the concept that consistently saving small amounts of money can add up and make an impact. It may not seem that worthwhile at first glance, but setting aside $10 a week can help make a difference. That sum can begin to build a savings fund that can help consumers meet their financial goals or avoid taking on debt when unexpected expenses arise.

Keeping Savings Separate

Storing money in a checking account makes it a lot harder to ignore when spending temptations arise. By keeping money safely stored in a savings account (where it can grow slowly but surely if not touched) can make it easier to keep it separate from spending money. Maybe you are saving for a vacation or you need a new washer/dryer. Whatever your goal is, when the time comes that you are wondering, “Can I spend money from a savings account?” the funds will be there for the taking.

Managing Money Through a Mobile App

Today, lots of people love the convenience of using apps for P2P transfers and other activities. That ease is available with the many micro savings accounts that can be managed through mobile banking accounts. These can make it simpler to monitor spending and saving.

There are also micro savings apps (like Acorns and Stash) that have automated savings features that make it easier to save small amounts of money.

Alternatives to Micro Savings Accounts

If you don’t find a micro savings account that meets your needs, there are alternative saving options that can offer similar benefits. Here are two options worth considering.

•   Credit unions: Because credit unions are member-owned, unlike not-for-profit financial institutions such as banks, they tend to charge less fees and offer higher interest rates on savings. Applying to a credit union where you can consider opening a checking vs. savings account (or perhaps both) may be able to replace the purpose of a micro savings account.

•   High-yield savings accounts: High-yield savings accounts work the same way that normal savings accounts do but they tend to have a much higher interest rate on deposits. A high-yield savings account is a great way to take advantage of the power of compound interest and help your money grow faster.

   These savings accounts can often be found through online banks. Because these institutions don’t have the overhead of bricks-and-mortar locations, they may be able to afford to offer higher interest rates.

   You don’t have to do anything differently than you would with a normal savings account to earn this extra interest. You can add small deposits as funds become available.

Recommended: A Guide to High-Yield Savings Accounts

The Takeaway

Saving money is hard and requires a lot of discipline. Micro savings accounts are designed to help those with lower incomes or who simply like to save little by little. These accounts typically allow you to make small contributions, charge fewer (or no) fees, and have lower minimum balance requirements. Having the right savings account can make it easier to meet your financial goals. These “slow but steady” savings tools can help you progress on the path to financial wellness.

Another way to save successfully: Open a new bank account with SoFi. When you sign up for Checking and Savings with direct deposit, you’ll earn a competitive APY on savings, and don’t have to pay any account or overdraft fees. (If you direct-deposit $1,000 or more monthly, you’ll be able to access your paycheck up to two days early.)

Better banking is here with up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

How do I create a micro savings account?

Creating a micro savings account works the same as opening any type of savings account. First, you will need to open a bank account or just the savings account by filling out an application and providing the necessary identifying information and documentation. Once you’ve opened the account, you can start making contributions to the micro savings account.

What are the advantages of micro savings?

The main advantages of micro savings accounts are rooted in accessibility: These accounts tend to have no or lower account fees, have smaller or no minimum account balance requirements, and have more flexible withdrawal options. They make it easy to save with small contributions. Many financial institutions that offer micro savings accounts also offer educational initiatives and mobile banking apps that make it easier to learn how to save more money.

Are micro savings apps worth it?

Yes, micro savings apps are worth downloading, as they can make it a lot easier to achieve savings goals. Alongside making it easier to track spending and saving habits, micro savings apps even have automated savings features that make it easier to stash away small amounts of money.


Photo credit: iStock/princessdlaf

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 deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government 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, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

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.

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

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Guide to Market-Linked Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

Guide to Market-Linked Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

The primary difference between a market-linked CD (MLCD) and a traditional CD is that a regular CD pays a fixed rate of interest, while the market-linked CD tracks a basket of underlying securities or an index like the S&P 500. These accounts are sometimes called equity-linked CDs or stock CDs.

Otherwise, an MLCD is similar to a traditional certificate of deposit, in that it’s a time-deposit account with a fixed term during which the investor’s funds are unavailable. The principal (though not the gains) is federally insured up to $250,000. But market-linked CDs come with some risks — including the possibility of zero gains at maturity. To decide whether a market-linked CD is right for you, keep reading.

Recommended: What is a Certificate of Deposit?

What Is a Market-Linked CD?

Investing in CDs offers some familiar advantages, chiefly that the CD investor can deposit their funds for the specified term (typically a few months to a few years), and count on a steady rate of return until the CD reaches maturity.

The CD’s total return is unlikely to be high, especially when comparing deposit accounts, because it’s based on current interest rates, but there is little to no market risk. Traditional CDs are federally insured, whether by a bank or a credit union, for up to $250,000. For this reason, traditional CDs are considered a fairly low-return, low-risk investment.

Market-linked CDs share some of these features — e.g. the investor deposits funds for a set period of time, and the funds are unavailable until the CD matures. But the returns of an MLCD are, as the name suggests, linked to the stock market, which adds in a layer of potential reward, but also potential risk.

Unlike traditional CDs, which are considered cash equivalents, market-linked CDs are more like securities.

How Do Market-Linked CDs Work?

Unlike traditional CDs, market-linked CDs do not offer fixed interest payments. Rather the return is based on the underlying investments or market index the CD tracks. Some of these market benchmarks include equity, commodity indexes, or a basket of commodities or currencies. But investors don’t see precisely the same gains and losses as the market.

Typically, the upside of MLCDs is capped in one of two ways. For example, the return on a market-linked CD will be determined by its participation rate, i.e. the percentage of the upside you will see. For example, an 80% participation rate means you only receive 80% of the gains from the underlying market. An interest cap refers to an MLCD where there is simply an upper limit for any gains.

Fortunately, the principal amount deposited in the CD is protected. At maturity, investors will get their full deposit back. But if the market underperforms, the CD may not have any gains. In other words, at maturity there is no guarantee your return will be more than your deposit amount.

Recommended: How Do CD Loans Work?

How to Calculate the Return of a Market-Linked CD

The reason for creating market-linked CDs goes back to the days when banks couldn’t sell securities, and these products offered investors a workaround. Consider that the average stock market return is about 9.0% over time, and it’s easy to see why investors might want this feature.

To calculate the return of a market-linked CD, financial institutions average out the close price of the underlying index over a certain period of time. For this method, you can take the average of the index’s different values in two different periods.

Another method you can use is the point-to-point method which involves identifying two values. The first is the value of the index when the market-linked CD was issued, and the other is the value of the index before the CD’s maturity date, which is referred to as the ending point. The difference between these two values will yield the expected return on your market-linked CD.

The final return also assumes that the funds are left in the CD until maturity. Withdrawing funds earlier than the maturity date — whether that’s two months or 20 years — will trigger early withdrawal penalties.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


Pros of Market-Linked CDs

Market-linked CDs have several favorable characteristics that may be appealing for investors who are looking for alternatives to conventional CDs, or directly investing in the stock market without having too much risk exposure.

•   Protection: Market-linked CDs protect your principal and when held to maturity, the principal is backed by the bank that issues it. In the scenario where the underlying market declines during the period where you hold the CD, investors are protected from losses.

•   Insurance: Market-linked CDs are also FDIC- or NCUA-insured for up to $250,000 on the principal investment, not investment earnings.

•   Potentially higher returns: Market-linked CDs have the ability to provide investors with higher returns than traditional CDs. Because the underlying is based on a collection of stocks, commodities, or indexes, there is a chance market-linked CDs can outperform traditional CDs.

•   Return on original deposit: At time of maturity, you will get the full amount of your original deposit regardless of the performance of the underlying market index or securities. If you choose to sell your market-linked CD prior to maturity on the secondary market, there is no guarantee that you will get the full amount of your principal back.

Cons of Market-Linked CDs

Investors must also consider the risks associated with holding market-linked CDs.

•   Liquidity risk: Investors must be aware that when opening a market-linked CD, they are locking up their money for a period of time, and they must be willing to hold on to the CD through its maturity to achieve the full benefits, even though they are not obligated to do so. If you need access to the capital in the CD and want to withdraw money, you may incur withdrawal fees.

•   Market risk: Market-linked CDs that are linked to the equity markets are subject to volatility, which can impact the market-linked CD returns. Other factors can influence market-linked CDs such as changes in interest rates.

•   Taxes: MLCD earnings are taxed as interest income, not as capital gains, and thus investors will pay a higher rate for their earnings. Also, interest must be reported annually, even though it’s not paid until maturity.

•   Little or no profit: The worst scenario is holding a market-linked CD to maturity — but not making a profit. Even though your original principal will be protected, there is no guarantee that you will make more than your deposit amount.

   You may have the possibility of greater gains if you invest your money in an exchange-traded fund (ETF) or index fund directly, which provides similar diversification benefits. However, you are still exposed to market risk, and your original principal is at risk.

How to Open a Market-Linked CD

•   At the financial institution of your choosing, you can open a market-linked certificate of deposit by choosing the interest rate and maturity date.

•   Next, deposit the amount of money you are able to lock up for a period of time.

•   Some market-linked CDs have a minimum investment requirement and a maximum deposit limit per account which must be considered.

Alternatives to a Market-Linked CD

Alternatives to market-linked CDs could include dividend-paying stocks. There are some publicly traded companies that pay out a portion of their profits to shareholders in the form of dividends. This can be consistent and reliable income, and can provide higher yield compared to that of a market-linked CD.

Another option could be investing in a bond fund. Similar to a CD, bond funds have different maturity dates, either short term or long term, and can offer competitive yields. Depending on the creditworthiness of the bonds, the yield can vary. Bonds with a high credit rating which are lower risk may have a lower yield than bonds with a lower credit rating, but the latter may come with higher risk. The choice of bond fund depends on the investor’s risk tolerance.

Investors may also consider a high-yield savings account, which is lower risk but yields less than a market-linked CD. These types of accounts are more for emergency funds but if you are looking for the lower risk options to store your cash, high yield savings accounts can be another alternative to a market-linked CD.

When to Consider Investing in Market-Linked CDs

Investors may be interested in a market-linked CD if they are looking for an alternative for a traditional CD and for the potential for higher returns. Market-linked CDs may also offer some diversification, and protection of principal investment.

If you are looking for exposure to the broader stock market with managed risk, a marked-linked CD may be a suitable option because it’s viewed as an alternative to directly investing in the stock market. That said, market-linked CDs are insured products and are not considered securities.

The Takeaway

Market-linked CDs are, as the name implies, a sort of hybrid savings/investment option. They offer some of the features of traditional CDs: You invest your money for a fixed period of time; if you withdraw funds before the maturity date you face an early withdrawal penalty; and your funds are federally insured for up to $250,000.

Because MLCDs are market-linked, though, a CD’s performance is tied to underlying securities or a market index. Thus investors don’t receive a fixed interest rate, and returns can fluctuate. Typically these CDs are also capped in terms of the gains they can provide. And while an investor’s initial principal deposit is protected from a market drop, you can still lose money if you withdraw funds early or try to sell this type of CD on the secondary market. Finally, like any other investment in the markets, there’s no guarantee that a market-linked CD will see a profit by the time it matures.

If you’re interested in getting a top rate for your savings, consider opening a new bank account with SoFi and setting up an all-in-one Checking and Savings. You can earn a competitive APY when you qualify and set up direct deposit (which is a smart way to increase savings anyway). Get started on your savings plan today!

Better banking is here with up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

What is a market-linked CD?

Market-linked CDs are certificates of deposits that can be linked to stocks, commodities, an index — or a mix of these — depending on the type of return the investor is seeking, and their risk tolerance.

Is a market-linked CD a security?

No. A market-linked CD is federally insured in the event of bank failure or fraud, so your principal is protected up to $250,000. Insured products are not considered securities.

What is a stock market CD?

A stock market CD is another name for a market-linked CD, and is linked to a broad stock market index like the S&P 500. This means the CD’s performance will adjust as the index changes.


Photo credit: iStock/MicroStockHub

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


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government 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, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

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.


Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.

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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What Is A Personal Line of Credit & How Do You Get One?

What Is a Personal Line of Credit and How Do You Get One?

A personal line of credit is a type of revolving credit line that can be used to pay for a variety of personal expenses. This is different from a personal loan, which is an installment loan — awarded in a lump sum to the borrower that must be repaid at specified intervals.

While both options allow you to borrow money there are benefits and drawbacks of each. Continue reading for more information on personal lines of credit and when this type of financing may make the most financial sense.

What Is a Personal Line of Credit?

A personal line of credit is what’s known as a revolving credit vehicle. It’s similar to a credit card in that:

•  It has a maximum credit limit.

•  A minimum payment is required every month.

•  When the debt on the credit line is repaid, money can be withdrawn again.

Although a personal line of credit doesn’t include a physical card, it’s still possible to write checks, withdraw cash at an ATM, and transfer money into another account. Generally speaking, the interest rates on a personal line of credit are lower than those on a credit card.

Personal lines of credit may be secured — requiring collateral — or unsecured — not requiring collateral. For example, a home equity line of credit is secured. This is a very popular option, so much so, that it’s often referred to by people in the know by its acronym alone — HELOC.

💡 Recommended: What Is a HELOC and How Does It Work?

Whether secured or unsecured, some lines of credit require minimum payments of interest and principal, while others only require interest payments for a period of time. This is known as the draw period.

That means that for a certain period of time you can draw money from your line of credit and most borrowers are usually required to make interest payments.

After the draw period is over, the line of credit is no longer revolving (meaning, you can’t borrow against it anymore), and you’re required to make interest and principal payments.

Where to Get a Personal Line of Credit

Not every bank or lender will offer personal lines of credits though they can be found at some banks, banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions.

How to Get a Personal Line of Credit


The process for applying for a personal line of credit is usually similar to applying for other loans or credit cards. Lenders may accept applications online, in-person, or over the phone, and specific application requirements may vary by lender.

Before formally applying, review your credit score and shop around at different lenders to compare the rates and terms you may qualify for. Many lenders will allow you to see if you prequalify, which may require a soft credit check, which won’t impact your credit score. Also be sure to evaluate any fees associated with the line of credit and review the draw period and repayment periods.

Once you’ve determined which loan you’d like to apply for, gather the required documentation (such as statements for proof of income). Your chosen lender will generally have a list of required documents. From there, you’ll fill out the application and wait for approval. At this stage, the lender will usually complete a hard credit inquiry which may impact your credit score.

When to Use a Personal Line of Credit


Personal lines of credit typically offer greater flexibility when it comes to accessing the loan and repaying it than other types of financing like a personal loan or credit card.

If you’re planning to do a home renovation, for example, you may not need a big chunk of money all at once. A line of credit allows you to access money over time (versus all at once) to pay for things in dribs and drabs as you pick out the tile for your kitchen and your contractor finally gets around to installing it. This flexibility can reduce your interest charges because you are only borrowing money you plan to use immediately.

Another benefit of a line of credit is that you can pay it off and then typically borrow from it again. This makes it a great backup to have in case you suddenly experience an expensive emergency that you don’t want to put on your credit cards.

You can also choose a line of credit with a draw period (similar to a HELOC) that allows you to only pay interest on the money borrowed for a period of time.

Awarded Best Online Personal Loan by NerdWallet.
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Drawbacks to a Personal Line of Credit


One drawback is that it can be difficult to get an unsecured line of credit with a good interest rate because they can be more difficult to qualify for than some other types of loans, such as a HELOC. This is because personal lines of credit are unsecured loans, and therefore, more risky for the lender. Without collateral, the lender needs to be sure that the borrower has the ability to pay back their loan. That’s why for some, it may be easier to qualify for a HELOC — but it means that you’re jeopardizing your home if you fail to repay it.

Also, the flexibility that comes with a line of credit may be a double-edged sword. The ability to keep borrowing for an extended period of time could lead to feeling tempted to take on more debt or take longer to pay off debt… all of which could mean more interest charges over time.

Using a Personal Loan as a Personal Line of Credit Alternative


When comparing a personal line of credit vs a personal loan, the major difference is that a personal loan is, as mentioned, an installment loan. Like a personal line of credit, personal loans can be used to pay for nearly any personal expense. Borrowers receive a lump sum payment and pay back the loan in installments. Personal loans may have fixed or variable interest rates.

A personal loan may make more sense for borrowers who have a firm idea of their budget or a fixed expense, such as for medical bills, buying an engagement ring, or consolidating debt. Additionally, depending on creditworthiness, the average interest rate on a personal loan may be lower than that of a personal line of credit. Though interest rates will vary by lender so evaluate the options available to you.

Also compare any fees or penalties associated with the personal loan. If a personal loan has a prepayment penalty, you may not be able to pay off the personal loan early.

Other Personal Line of Credit Alternatives


HELOC. As mentioned, this is a home equity line of credit. Borrowers tap into the equity in their home to borrow a line of credit. This is a secured loan where the house functions as the collateral. This can help borrowers qualify for a more competitive interest rate than with an unsecured personal line of credit, but it also means that if the borrower has issues repaying the HELOC, their home is at risk.

Credit Cards. In certain situations, a credit card may be used to help pay for emergency expenses. Be aware that credit cards generally have high interest rates — the average credit card interest rate was 14.56% in February 2022, according to recent data available from the Federal Reserve .

Secured Loans for a Specific Purpose. For example, if you are buying a car consider a car loan over a personal line of credit or personal loan.

The Takeaway


Personal lines of credit offer flexibility for borrowers because they are a revolving line of credit that functions similarly to a credit card. Borrowers can continue drawing on the line of credit for a set period of time to cover the cost of necessary expenses.

Personal loans are an alternative to consider for borrowers who are paying a fixed cost.

If you’re in the market for a personal loan — consider SoFi, which offers low fixed interest rates and have no fees required.

If you think a personal loan might be right for you, check out SoFi personal loans to see if you may qualify.


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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 website .

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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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