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Mortgage Broker vs Direct Lender: What’s the Difference?

You’re ready to buy a house, and you need financing. There are two main options: direct lenders and mortgage brokers.

Which should you shop for a mortgage with? If you have credit issues or other needs, considering a broker’s array of options would make sense. If your financial health is solid and you want to save time and money, applying with a direct lender could be a good course of action.

In any case, it’s smart to get a few quotes and compare offers for the same type of loan and term.

What Is a Mortgage Broker?

A mortgage broker is a middleman between the mortgage seeker and lenders, including banks, credit unions, and private mortgage companies.

With a single application, a broker will provide you with access to different types of mortgage loans and, if you choose one, will walk you through underwriting.

Mortgage brokers are licensed and regulated. You’ll want to ensure that any broker you’re interested in working with is credentialed by checking the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry consumer access site. You can also check platforms like the Better Business Bureau and Yelp to see what past clients say.

Brokers are compensated by the borrower or lender. Borrower fees typically range from 1% to 2% of the total loan amount. Lender commissions may range from 0.50% to 2.75% of the total loan amount, but lenders usually pass the costs on to borrowers by building them into the loan.

How to Find a Mortgage Broker

You could ask your current lending institution, friends, family members, or real estate agent for a referral to a mortgage broker.

After checking licensing, you may interview more than one broker before deciding on one. You might want to ask about their fees, lenders they work with, and experience.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


What Is a Direct Lender?

In the mortgage broker vs. lender dichotomy, a direct lender is the bank, credit union, or mortgage company that originates, processes, and funds mortgages.

Mortgage loan officers, processors, and underwriters work for the company. Loan originators usually work on commission.

A loan officer may offer a mortgage at various price points, from a loan with discount points for a lower rate to a no-closing-cost loan, which is when the lender agrees to pay the closing costs in exchange for a higher interest rate.

Recommended: First-Time Home Buying Guide

How to Find a Direct Lender

Most people have a relationship with a bank or credit union, which they might want to expand on by getting a mortgage quote. Then there are myriad online mortgage lenders.

Pulling up the day’s mortgage rates online will conjure a list of direct lenders advertising their rates.

What Are the Pros of Working With a Mortgage Broker?

Because they are able to offer a variety of quotes from different sources, brokers can be useful if you’re looking to easily compare mortgage options.

They may offer specialized loans.

Loan brokers set their own profit margins, so negotiating could be easier.

A broker could be useful if you have concerns like a fair or bad credit score or student loan debt.

What Are the Cons of Working With a Mortgage Broker?

Brokers may have preferred lenders that don’t necessarily offer the best interest rate. And some lenders won’t work with brokers at all.

If paid by lender commission, a broker could be tempted to steer a borrower to a more expensive loan.

Brokers’ loans may take longer to close.

Broker fees tend to be higher, but that could be because the mortgages offered are sometimes more complex. And mortgage brokers may charge borrowers directly (the fee of 1% to 2% of the total loan amount).

What Are the Pros of Working With a Direct Lender?

By working with a direct lender, you’ll skip the broker fees, and you may get a better rate with lower closing costs (although both lenders and brokers can offer “rebate pricing” — a higher interest rate in exchange for lower up-front costs).

A direct lender typically does all the loan processing, underwriting, and closing in-house.

You may be able to negotiate underwriting or origination fees.

What Are the Cons of Working With a Direct Lender?

Comparing rates and terms on your own from a sample of lenders takes time.

You’re limited to the loan programs of the institutions where you decide to shop.

What Works for My Situation?

You’ve probably toyed with at least one home affordability calculator and gotten pre-approved for a loan.

Once you’ve found a home and your offer has been accepted, it’s decision time on a lender. You are not required to stay with the lender you used for pre-approval.

If you have a sparse credit history, subpar credit, or other challenges, a mortgage broker might be able to find a loan program that’s a good fit.

But if you have solid credit, a strong income, and assets, you may be able to save time and money by working with a direct lender.

What about rates? In weighing mortgage broker vs. bank, there might be no difference to speak of. The rate you’re offered depends more on your qualifications than on the lender.

The mortgage loan process can seem mysterious, and a broker or a loan officer at a direct lender can act as a loan seeker’s guide.

That guide should be willing to answer all of your mortgage questions, including those about points, fees, mortgage insurance, and the closing timetable.

You’ll receive loan estimates after applying. When comparing mortgage offers, it’s important to look at more than the interest rate. Be sure to compare APRs.

Look at the fees in the “loan costs” section, and compare closing costs.

Gain home-buying insights
with the latest housing
market trends.


The Takeaway

If you’re in the market for a mortgage, you might think the choice comes down to mortgage broker vs. direct lender. But you may get loan quotes from both and compare them. It’s called shopping, and a home is a rather important purchase.

You might find that the fixed-rate mortgage loans from SoFi stand up to the competition nicely.

Finance a primary home, second home, or investment property. Live large with a jumbo loan.

Get a personalized rate quote in a few clicks.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


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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What Is a Good Interest Rate for a Savings Account?

What Is a Good Interest Rate for a Savings Account?

When searching for a good interest rate for a savings account today, you’re lucky if you find a rate close to or over 1%. To snag the best possible rate, you will probably be banking at an online bank. These financial institutions, which don’t have bricks-and-mortar branches, tend to pay more than traditional banks. They save money by being virtual and pass the savings on to their clients.

Interest rates do fluctuate, but here we’ll take a look at the latest numbers in terms of savings account interest rates and how your money can grow faster. We’ll cover:

•   How interest rate works

•   What the national average for savings account interest rates is

•   How to earn higher interest

•   How to open a savings account that will earn high interest

How Interest Rate Works

Interest is a small fee paid for the privilege of borrowing money. Interest can be charged against credit cards, loans, and other types of financial products. In the case of savings accounts, you earn interest for lending your money to the bank or financial institution. Typically, savings accounts contain money that you aren’t planning to use right away to pay bills. Why people open a savings account is a very variable matter: It might be to have money set aside for a rainy day, to grow towards a down payment on a house, or to finance an upcoming vacation.

The interest rate determines how much you’ll earn for keeping money in a savings account, which the bank can then use. For instance, say you have a savings account that earns simple interest, paid annually. In this case, if you have $1,000 and earn 1% interest, you would have $1,010 at the end of the first year. You would then have $1,020 after the second year, $1,030 after the third year, and so on.

But there are different ways interest is compounded. Savings accounts usually pay compound interest. With compound interest, you earn interest on the entire balance, including previous interest payments. Using our previous example, your compound interest would accrue like this:

$1,000 * 1.01 = $1,010
$1,010 * 1.01 = $1,020.10
$1,020 * 1.01 = $1,030.30

As you can see, with compound interest, you earn interest on top of the interest that was already paid. However, in the real world, the way savings accounts earn interest is slightly more complicated. The timing at which the interest can vary. Some banks may compound interest daily and pay out monthly. As a result, each interest payment will be a fraction of the annual percentage yield (APY). However, the money continues to compound daily, allowing it to grow more quickly the longer you keep it in your account.

Since interest rates are low overall right now, it may feel as if your savings won’t be growing much. But consider this: An interest rate of 1%, compounded daily for 10 years, will add more than 10% to your initial investment’s value.

Recommended: What is Liquid Net Worth

What Is the National Average for Savings Account Interest Rates?

The most recent national savings account is 0.06% on average, according to the FDIC . That rate comes in at double the rate for interest checking, which has an average rate of 0.03%. Money market accounts fare slightly better with a rate of 0.08%. If you’re wondering, “Is that a good interest rate for a savings account,” you need to remember the context. Interest rates have been and could be much higher, but right now, this is where the range of rates is. Your best bet is probably to find a savings account that pays as high of a rate as possible while delivering the features that are most important to you.

Keep in mind that the national average savings account rate is just that — a national average that includes all banks insured by the FDIC. Perhaps more importantly, the average is weighted by each bank’s share of domestic deposits. This matters because some of the country’s largest banks have savings account rates that are even lower than the current national average.

It’s also important to note that savings account interest rates usually rise and fall with rates set by the Federal Reserve. When the Fed slashes interest rates, APYs on savings accounts fall. When the Fed raises interest rates, savings accounts have higher yields.

Regardless of the Fed’s interest rates, traditional savings accounts usually don’t pay much interest. However, there are ways to find a better return on investment, which we’ll cover in the next section.

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!


Is There a Way to Earn a Higher Savings Account Interest Rate?

There are two basic ways to earn a higher savings rate: with a high-yield savings account or by linking your checking and savings accounts. We’ll cover each of those in more detail.

High-yield Savings Accounts

High-yield savings accounts offer interest rates many times higher than the national average. These accounts are usually only available at online banks, meaning they have no brick-and-mortar locations. In addition, they tend to offer a fairly basic set of services; you may not be able to deposit cash in high-yield savings accounts. In many cases, you can only deposit money by electronic bank transfer. But the benefit of these types of high-interest accounts for savings is obvious: You can earn close to or even over 1% APY on your money, which given the current averages, is a good rate for a savings account.

Another limitation to these accounts may be a federal regulation that limits you to six monthly withdrawals. However, this guideline can apply to all savings accounts, and it has been suspended in recent years by some banks. Inquire at your bank to know their policy. Checking accounts have no such limitation.

Money held in a high-yield savings account is usually FDIC-insured, meaning your money is protected in the rare event of a bank failure up to $250,000 per depositor and per account category. This makes them a good place to set aside extra cash for an emergency fund or to meet short-term savings goals.

Linked Accounts

If you have a checking account at a traditional brick-and-mortar bank, you might be able to increase your interest rate by opening a savings account at the same institution. Some banks will offer a higher interest rate if you have both a checking and a savings account with them and link the two.

Although savings rates on linked accounts are higher, everything is relative. Opening a linked account might allow you to increase your APY from 0.01% to 0.02%. Banks might also increase the rate a bit more with higher account balances.

Recommended: Average Savings by Age

Alternatives to Savings Accounts

Savings accounts are a popular way to set aside money for a savings goal, to earn some extra interest, or both. But there are a few different financial vehicles that can help you achieve your goals.

CDs

Certificates of deposit (CDs) are savings accounts that hold a certain amount of money for a set period of time, such as six months or five years. In general, the longer the period, the higher the interest rate. Most major banks offer these accounts. When you redeem a CD (also known as when a CD matures), you receive the money you deposited plus interest. Or you can reinvest it in a new CD. Like savings accounts, CDs are FDIC-insured for up to $250,000. It’s worth noting that most CDs will penalize you if you withdraw the funds before the agreed-upon time period ends. You might lose some or all of the interest earned to that date, and possibly even a bit of the principal.

Government Savings Bonds

Government savings bonds are similar to CDs, but you open them with the government instead of a bank. For example, Series I savings bonds, issued by TreasuryDirect , offer attractive interest rates, currently 9.62% at press time. Series I bonds can be held and continue earning interest for up to 30 years but you can redeem a bond sooner. However, you must hold them for at least five years. If you cash them sooner, you forfeit interest from the previous three months.

Money Market Accounts

Money market accounts are similar to savings accounts, and many banks offer them. They, too, earn interest while possibly being limited to six withdrawals per month. However, withdrawals by ATM do not count against that limit. These accounts may have a higher initial deposit or balance requirements than savings accounts (in some cases, up to six figures). However, they do come with higher returns, though currently the range is to a large extent under 1% APY. Note that money market accounts are different from money market funds, which are accounts you can open with investment firms.

How to Open a High Interest Savings Account

If you have internet access, opening a high-interest savings account online should be a simple process. Because these accounts are generally offered online, opening an account is as easy as visiting the institution’s website.

From there, you can open a savings account online; the entire process should only take perhaps 10 minutes. To complete the application, be prepared with the appropriate documents, such as your Social Security number and driver’s license. You will also want to have your bank account number and routing number in order to link your checking account. This will allow you to transfer money between your checking account and your savings account.

The Takeaway

Interest rates work by paying you for keeping your money in an account with a financial institution. While traditional banks pay interest on their savings accounts, they can be quite low compared to savings vehicles like high-yield savings accounts offered by online banks, CDs and money market accounts. By taking a little time to shop around and find the right fit, you should be able to find the right savings vehicle to help you stash cash for emergencies or a future goal…and earn money while doing so.

One great option to consider comes from SoFi: Our Checking and Savings linked accounts offer a competitive APY when you sign up with direct deposit. And we charge no monthly, minimum balance, or overdraft fees. These accounts are a great way to help your money grow faster.

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

FAQ

What is the average interest rate for a savings account?

According to the FDIC, the current national average interest rate for savings accounts is 0.06%.

What is considered a high-interest savings account?

High-interest savings accounts are usually offered exclusively online and offer interest rates many times the national average. These accounts may have a limited scope of services, such as not offering ATM cards or cash deposits.

Is 1% a good interest rate?

In general, 1% is likely to be much higher than the interest rates offered by traditional banks at any given time. However, interest rates are based on the rates set by the Fed. In 2019, for instance, some online banks offered interest rates above 2%. However, many online banks currently have rates under 1%.

How much interest does $10,000 earn a year?

How much interest $10,000 earns in a year will vary on several factors, such as the interest rate and how often interest is compounded. If we assume a 1% interest rate, $10,000 compounded annually earns $100 in interest. Compounded daily, the same interest rate earns $100.50 in a year.


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.

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.

Photo credit: iStock/MicroStockHub
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Guide to Yankee Certificates of Deposit

Guide to Yankee Certificates of Deposit

A Yankee certificate of deposit is a special type of CD that’s issued domestically by a branch of a foreign bank.

Yankee CDs, sometimes referred to as YCDs in finance, have several features that set them apart from other types of CDs, including higher minimum deposit requirements, short terms, and a lack of FDIC protection.

For those reasons, it’s helpful to understand how a Yankee certificate of deposit investment works and the potential risks involved.

What Is a Yankee Certificate of Deposit?

What are Yankee certificates of deposit? And how does a certificate of deposit work? Let’s compare the two.

First, a regular CD is a deposit account that requires investors to lock up their cash for a fixed period of time (typically a few months to a few years), and in exchange pays a higher interest rate than a traditional savings account. CDs purchased at a bank are generally FDIC insured up to $250,000 (CDs bought at a credit union are NCUA insured up to the same amount).

By contrast, a Yankee certificate of deposit is a CD account that’s issued by a branch of a foreign bank in the U.S., to U.S. customers. In general, the term of a Yankee certificate deposit is less than a year, and the minimum deposit required is more in line with a jumbo CD.

So, for example, a Canadian bank that has branches in the U.S. could offer Yankee CDs to U.S. residents. Even though the CDs would be issued by a foreign bank, they would still be subject to U.S. regulation by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Reserve Board. But a Yankee certificate of deposit would not be federally insured.

Foreign banks that operate in the U.S. can issue Yankee CDs in order to generate capital for making loans or investments. These CDs can be purchased at issuance or on the secondary market.

Recommended: What is Liquid Net Worth

How Yankee CDs Work

As noted above, Yankee CDs work much the same as other types of deposit accounts that are CDs. There are some differences, however, with regard to:

•   Minimum deposits

•   Interest rates

•   Maturity terms

•   Investment risk

Minimum Deposits

Though you might be able to invest in a standard CD with $500 or $1,000, a Yankee certificate of deposit investment might require an initial deposit of $1 million or more. Scotiabank, for instance, issues its Yankee CDs in increments of $250,000 while UBS requires a $1 million minimum deposit for Yankee CDs offered through its Stamford, CT, branch.

A CD of this size issued by a U.S. institution could be categorized as a negotiable CD or NCD. NCDs have a face value of $100,000 or more. But Yankee CDs are not negotiable CDs because they are not FDIC insured.

Fixed and Variable Rates

Interest rates for Yankee CDs may be fixed or variable, which is another difference from other CDs which typically offer a fixed rate, making them more predictable instruments for fixed-income investors.

Shorter Terms

Maturity terms for a Yankee certificate of deposit tend to be shorter (one to three years, depending on the issuer), while regular CDs can have terms ranging from 28 days up to 10 years. The investor cannot access their cash until the CD matures, without triggering an early withdrawal penalty.

Potential Risk

Perhaps the biggest difference between Yankee CDs and other types of CDs is the level of risk involved. Generally speaking, CDs are considered to be safe investments since they offer a practically guaranteed rate of return, and deposits are federally insured up to a certain amount. Yankee CDs, on the other hand, carry certain risks including credit risk and the possibility of lower-than-expected returns if you’re choosing a variable-rate option.

Recommended: Average Savings by Age

Why Does a Yankee CD Matter?

Yankee CDs are not something the everyday investor is likely to be concerned with. After all, most people don’t have $1 million or $50 million to invest into a single CD.

If you’re able to invest in a Yankee CD, however, it’s possible that you could earn a higher rate of return for your money. That’s important if you’re working on building wealth and want to diversify your portfolio.

Are CDs smart investments? They can be, if you’re comfortable leaving money in a CD account until it reaches maturity. Again, with a Yankee certificate of deposit you may be looking at a one- to three-year wait until the CD matures. So given the higher deposit requirements involved, it’s important to consider how comfortable you are typing up larger amounts for that long, and what kind of return you can expect.

From a banking perspective, Yankee CDs matter because they’re a source of capital for foreign banks, which may need U.S. dollars to cover domestic obligations.

Yankee CDs: Real World Example

Scotiabank is one example of a Canadian bank that offers Yankee CDs to U.S.-based savers. The bank, headquartered in Toronto, offers both floating-rate and fixed- rate Yankee certificates of deposit. The bank’s floating-rate products have maturity terms ranging from two to three years, with minimum deposits of $250,000 and target principal amounts ranging from $50 million to $90 million.

The fixed-rate Yankee CD earns an impressive yield and requires a minimum deposit of $250,000, with a target principal amount of $100 million. The maturity period for this CD is also two years. Scotiabank offers these CDs exclusively to institutional investors who are accredited.

Special Considerations for Yankee CDs

There are two important things to keep in mind with a Yankee certificate of deposit investment. First, investors assume a certain amount of credit risk with these CDs.

The quality of these CDs is determined by the credit rating of the issuing bank. Banks with lower credit ratings may be more likely to default on financial obligations, including the payment of interest to CD holders. Tying up large amounts of money in Yankee certificates of deposit issued by banks with questionable credit ratings could therefore be risky.

Second, it’s important to keep in mind that FDIC protection does not apply to these CDs. Ordinarily, CDs issued at FDIC-insured banks are protected up to $250,000 per depositor, per financial institution, per account ownership type, in the rare event that the bank fails. With Yankee CDs, you don’t have that reassurance that your money is safe should the worst happen.

How to Open a Yankee CD

Opening a Yankee isn’t that different from opening any other type of CD. Here are the main steps involved:

•   Locate banks that offer Yankee CDs in the U.S.

•   Compare the Yankee certificates of deposit available, including the minimum deposit and interest rate.

•   Complete the application to open an account.

•   Make your initial deposit.

As noted, it’s important to choose a financial institution with good credit ratings. So you may want to take the additional step of checking credit ratings with Moody’s or Fitch Ratings to measure the bank’s financial health and strength.

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!


Alternatives to Yankee CDs

If you’re looking for CD options that may be more accessible than Yankee CDs, there are some other possibilities. You could use any of the following to reach your savings goals:

•   Standard CDs. A standard CD is a regular CD offered by a bank or credit union that pays interest and has a reasonable minimum deposit.

•   Jumbo CDs. Jumbo CDs are similar to standard CDs but have larger minimum deposit requirements. For example, you may need $10,000 or more to open a jumbo CD.

•   No-penalty CDs. A no-penalty CD allows you to withdraw money from your C before its maturity date without triggering an early withdrawal penalty.

•   Bump up CDs. Raise your rate or bump up CDs allow you to raise your interest rate once or twice during the CD term. This type of CD might be attractive if you expect rates to rise.

•   Add-on CDs. An add-on CD allows you to make additional deposits to your account after your CD has been opened. Ordinarily, CDs don’t allow additional deposits.

You may also consider CD-secured loans if you’re interested in a CD product that can help you build credit. With a CD-secured loan your CD serves as collateral. Your money stays in the CD until maturity, earning interest. Meanwhile, you make payments to the loan which can be reported to the credit bureaus.

Once the CD matures, you can withdraw the principal and interest or roll it into a new CD. You also get the benefit of on-time payment history, which can help to improve your credit score.

The Takeaway

A Yankee certificate of deposit is issued domestically by a branch of a foreign bank to U.S. investors. Yankee CDs are designed to help investors earn a solid return while allowing foreign banks to raise capital via U.S. investors. Due to their high minimum deposit requirements (as much as $1 million or more), these CDs may be better suited to some investors than others; they’re sometimes restricted to institutional investors.

Yankee CDs may offer competitive rates, but they are not federally insured like most U.S.-issued CDs.

If you’re committed to seeing your money grow slowly and steadily over time, the good news is you don’t have to miss out on a great rate when saving money. If you’re banking with SoFi, you can take advantage of SoFi’s all-in-one Checking and Savings. You can sign up for an account right from your phone and pay zero account fees — and if you qualify and sign up with direct deposit, you can earn a competitive APY.

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

FAQ

Can you lose money on a certificate of deposit?

Certificates of deposit (CDs) are generally a safe, secure way to save money. It’s possible, however, to lose money with a Yankee CD if the bank that issued it is unable to meet its financial obligations and pay interest to investors as scheduled.

What are the cons of a certificate of deposit?

Certificates of deposit may offer lower rates of return compared to other investments, which means your money has potential for growth. With bank CDs, savers may face early withdrawal penalties if they take money from their accounts before the CD matures.

How do I redeem a certificate of deposit?

If your CD is reaching maturity or you need to withdraw money for any other reason, you can visit a branch to redeem your CD or do so online if your bank allows it. You’ll need to specify how much money you want to withdraw and where that money should be sent if you’re redeeming CDs online.


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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Refinancing Student Loans to Buy a Car

If you’re thinking about buying a car, it’s important to consider how the purchase will fit into your overall financial responsibilities, including student debt. You’ll want to be sure you can afford both the cost of the car and the ongoing expense of driving and maintaining it.

Refinancing student loans to buy a car is one option that may allow you to free up money to put toward the cost of a car or monthly car payments. Here’s what to know about refinancing student loans to buy a car, if you can use student loans to buy a car, and how to make the choice that’s right for you.

Can I Use Student Loans to Buy a Car?

Federal student loans (and many private ones) are for “qualified” educational expenses, such as tuition, room and board, and books and supplies. And while the cost of transportation (for example, commuting to school) is considered a qualified expense, purchasing a car is not.

So can you use student loans to buy a car if you’re using the car to drive to class? No – only an allowance for the cost of driving the car to school would be an eligible expense. It’s an important distinction: A borrower caught misusing student loan funds can face serious repercussions, including having their loan revoked and the balance becoming immediately due.

Some private loans may have broader criteria for what constitutes an educational expense, and fewer penalties for how you use the loans. Still, using a private student loan to buy a car may not be the most efficient or smartest use of funds. You may end up paying more interest than you would on a typical car loan, and then have fewer funds to go toward the educational expenses you need.

So what do you do if you have student debt and need to buy a car? Refinancing may be an option, and can free up money in your budget to open a car loan. Here’s what to consider before refinancing student loans to buy a car.

Recommended: Should I Buy a New or Used Car?

Refinancing Student Loans to Buy a Car

When you refinance a student loan, you pay off all or some of your loans with a new loan with new terms from a private lender. The primary benefit of refinancing is that you can save money over the life of the loan if you’re able to lower your interest rate.

You can also change the terms of your payment, potentially spreading your payment over a longer period of time, and paying less each month. If you go this route, however, you may end up paying more in interest over the life of your loan.

Refinancing student loans can help lower your monthly payments and have more room in your budget to cover the costs of a car. However, it’s important to understand that if you refinance federal student loans, you’ll lose access to federal benefits and protections, such as income-driven repayment plans and forgiveness. If you’re planning to take advantage of any of these federal programs, refinancing is likely not a good option for you.

Pros of Refinancing Student Loans to Buy a Car

Considering the pros and cons of refinancing student loans to buy a car can help you decide if this choice is right for you. You’ll want to be able to cover the costs of the car as you continue to pay your student loans back. Some of the pros of refinancing a student loan to buy a car include:

Lower Monthly Student Loan Payments Can Offset Car Costs

Refinancing your student loans can lower your monthly student loan payment if you’re able to secure a lower interest rate or extend your loan term. A lower monthly student loan payment can mean that you have more funds to cover the costs of buying or maintaining a new car.

Recommended: Guide to Student Loan Refunds

As mentioned, lowering your interest rate can save you money over the life of a loan. Extending your loan term may not save you money, but it can free up cash to have more funds to put toward the costs of a car.

Simplified Payments Can Make Tracking Car Expenses Easier

When you refinance multiple loans into a single new loan, you’ll have one new monthly payment. This can make it easier to keep track of your student loan payments and be sure you’re making them on time.

And if you’re looking for ways to get a car loan, having a simplified student loan payment can make budgeting easier as you add a new loan to the mix. As mentioned earlier, you may find lower interest rates on car loans than what you’re paying on your student loans — another reason using student loans funds toward car expenses may not be the best choice even if they’re allowed according to your loan terms.

Saving Money on Student Loans Can Help Pay for a Car

Many people explore refinancing even when they don’t need to make an immediate purchase like a car. That’s because refinancing may help save money over the life of the loan if you can lower your interest rate.

And while applying for student loans can be arduous, applying to refinance student loans is relatively straightforward. You can check your rate and get an estimate of loan terms before you officially apply, and an application can generally be completed online. You can also compare refinancing rates without triggering a hard credit check—a credit check is only done once a formal loan application is submitted.

Cons of Refinancing Student Loans to Buy a Car

While refinancing student loans to buy a car can be one way to cover car payments when you have existing student debt, there are cons to this option as well. Here are some of the cons of refinancing a student loan to buy a car.

Recommended: How To Save Up For a Car

Losing Access to Original Loan Terms

If you refinance your loans, you lose access to the terms of the original loan. This may be important to consider if you’re refinancing federal loans.

Refinancing federal loans not only means potentially missing out on federal forgiveness or repayment programs, but also the opportunity for deferment or forbearance if you qualify.

As mentioned earlier, if you plan to take advantage of federal programs, refinancing is likely not a good option for you. Some people may choose only to refinance private loans.

Repayment May Take Longer

If you extend the length of your student loan term when you refinance to lower your monthly payments to offset the costs of a new car, it will take longer to repay your loan and you may end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan.

Overstretching Your Budget

It’s important to make sure that you can afford any car loan that you take out. If you’re planning on getting a car loan or leasing a car, will you be able to comfortably cover your student loans, the car payment, and other bills? What would happen if you were to lose a job or source of income? Those questions can help you assess whether a car payment would stretch you financially.

A borrower who can’t make the payments risks having the car repossessed and damaging their credit. If you ever think you’ll miss a monthly car payment, reach out to your lender to find out what your options are. Down the road, refinancing your car loan is also an option if you’re able to secure better terms.

Pros of refinancing student loans to buy a car Cons of refinancing student loans to buy a car
Lower monthly student loan payments can offset car costs Losing access to federal benefits and protections if you refinance federal loans
Simplified payments can make tracking car expenses easier Longer repayment time if you extend your term
Saving money on student loans can help pay for a car Overstretching your budget if you’re not able to afford the costs of a new car

Recommended: Passive Income Ideas

Refinancing Your Student Loans With SoFi

When you need a new car, you may need to rethink your finances in order to cover the costs. Refinancing student loans to buy a car is one option that can help you free up funds. You may be able to lower your monthly payments and save money over the life of the loan if you qualify for a lower interest rate. You can calculate your potential savings using a student loan refinance calculator.

Refinancing can be a good option if you’re able to qualify for a lower interest rate and are not planning to use any federal programs. When you refinance a federal loan, you lose access to federal benefits and protections.

If you’re considering refinancing your student loans, SoFi offers flexible terms, competitive rates, and no fees.

Learn more about whether refinancing student loans with SoFi is right for you.

FAQ

Do car dealerships look at student loans?

Your student loans appear on your credit report. If you apply for a car loan from a dealership, then they may be able to see your payment history and your credit score on your credit report. Student loans also count toward your debt-to-income ratio which may affect your ability to secure a car loan.

Does financing a car affect student loans?

Financing a car won’t affect your current student loans, but consider how taking on another loan will impact your finances. It’s important to be certain that you’ll be able to pay both your student loan payments and any new car loan payments on time. Refinancing a student loan can help offset the costs of a new car if you can save money by qualifying for a lower interest rate. It can be a good option if you’re refinancing private loans or not planning to take advantage of any federal programs.

Is it smart to buy a car after college?

Buying a car after college is a personal decision. But keep in mind that a lot can change in a few years, and a new car or a lease may be a liability if your plans change. It may make sense to consider buying a used car or holding off on buying a car until you have a sense of what your commute and lifestyle will look like.


Photo credit: iStock/LeoPatrizi

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


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.

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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Buying a Home With Student Loan Debt: How Difficult Is It?

Buying a Home With Student Loan Debt: How Difficult Is It?

While student loan debt can make it harder to qualify for a mortgage, that isn’t necessarily the case for every student loan borrower.

Keep reading to learn more about buying a home when you have student loan debt and how to make the process easier.

How Student Loan Debt Might Affect Buying a Home

Student loan debt isn’t singled out by mortgage lenders, but when someone applies for a mortgage, all of their debt is taken into account when the lender decides whether or not to loan them money and what rates or terms to offer — particularly when it comes to their DTI, or debt-to-income ratio.

More on that in a minute.

Does the Government Have a Student Loan Home Buying Program?

The government doesn’t have a home buying program whose goal is to help people with student loans secure a mortgage, but it does have programs designed to help first-time and repeat homebuyers buy a single-family home, condo, or other primary dwellings, which may be a good fit for borrowers with student loan debt.

FHA loans (guaranteed by the U.S. Federal Housing Administration) are the best known. Applicants with a minimum 580 FICO® credit score qualify for the 3.5% down payment advantage; someone with a 500 to 580 score might be able to get an FHA loan with 10% down.

Lenders of VA loans (backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs or, in the case of Native American Direct Loans, issued directly) and USDA loans (backed or issued by the Department of Agriculture) often accept lower credit scores than would be required for a conventional mortgage.

VA loans usually require no down payment, and USDA loans never do.

Do Student Loans Affect Your Credit Scores?

When it comes to student loan debt and buying a home, what matters more during the mortgage application process than having student loans is a potential borrower’s credit score.

Credit scores, usually from 300 to 850, are made up of factors such as a history of on-time debt payments, how much debt someone has, and what type of debt it is. Mortgage lenders use FICO scores for applications, with some exceptions.

FICO created different scoring models for Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, the three main credit reporting bureaus. Mortgage lenders often receive a single report that contains an applicant’s three credit reports and FICO scores.

Student loan debt can help or hurt your credit scores. If you have a history of making on-time payments to your student loans and having them improves your credit mix, that debt could help your credit scores. If you have a history of making late student loan payments, your credit scores can be negatively affected.

Student Loan Debt-to-Income Ratio

Because debt can, clearly, strain a monthly budget, mortgage lenders evaluate the applicant’s DTI ratio. This is one of the factors mortgage lenders take most seriously, as the ratio accounts for how much of your gross monthly income is spent on your debt payments, including student loans.

DTI = monthly debts / gross monthly income x 100

Typically lenders want to see a DTI of 36% or less, though that is not necessarily the maximum.

If your DTI ratio is high and it makes it hard for you to qualify for a mortgage, there are steps you can take to lower your DTI.

Pay Down Your Debts

One straightforward way for aspiring homebuyers to lower their DTI is to pay off more of their student loan debt.

If they can’t pay off the debt in full, they can try to increase their monthly payments or make principal-only payments. Each month as they pay down their debt, their DTI will improve as long as they don’t take on more debt.

Increase Your Income

One way to improve your DTI is to increase your income by applying for a new job, plotting a promotion, or starting a side hustle. An income boost will make the ratio of debt to income smaller.

Increasing your income can serve a second purpose: You can put the extra funds toward debt repayment, which also will decrease your DTI.

Recommended: Passive Income Ideas

Refinance Your Student Loans

Refinancing student loans can be appealing if you can get a lower interest rate or a better-fitting repayment term.

When someone refinances a private or federal student loan, they take out a new loan from a private lender and use it to pay off the existing loan. If you can secure a lower interest rate and keep or reduce the term, you will spend less on total interest and put more money each month toward principal. It might help to crunch some numbers with a student loan refinancing calculator.

A better interest rate when refinancing is not guaranteed, so it’s worth shopping around for the best deal to see if refinancing is worthwhile. Let’s say you find a good deal but later find a better deal. Can you refinance student loans more than once? Indeed.

It’s important to note that although refinancing a federal student loan into a private one can potentially save the borrower money on interest, the conversion will mean losing access to federal deferment, income-driven repayment programs, and public service loan forgiveness.

Borrowers with federal student loans can consolidate them, but doing so doesn’t save money on interest because the new rate for a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan is simply an average of the loan rates, rounded up to the next one-eighth of a percentage point. Still, the consolidation loan remains eligible for federal benefits.

Income-Based Repayment Plan

A potential homeowner who has federal student loans may choose income-based repayment. Those who enroll tend to have big loan balances and/or lower income.

The four income-driven repayment (IDR) plans base payments on family size and state of residence in addition to income. After 20 or 25 years of payments, borrowers are eligible to have any remaining balance forgiven.

An IDR plan lowers monthly payments, which could free up money to save for a down payment. But the longer loan term may slow down progress toward paying off your debt, so it’s worth thinking about how an IDR plan will affect your DTI ratio over time.

Fannie Mae Guidelines

Lenders often follow Fannie Mae guidelines when deciding whether to approve a conventional home loan, which is one not backed by the federal government and is the most common type of mortgage.

Here are some key guidelines:

•  Minimum credit score: 620

•  DTI ratio: usually up to 45%

•  Income: two years of stable income and employment, with some exceptions

•  Down payment minimum: 3%

•  Private mortgage insurance: required when down payment is under 20%

The Fannie Mae HomeReady® Mortgage is an option for low-income first-time homebuyers and repeat buyers. The loan has pricing that is better than or equal to standard loan pricing and has lower than standard mortgage insurance coverage requirements.

The Takeaway

Having student loans doesn’t necessarily make it harder to qualify for a mortgage, but borrowers may find that refinancing or paying off their student loans frees up room in their monthly budget, which can make homeownership more accessible.

Student loan borrowers dreaming of buying a house may want to consider student loan refinancing with SoFi.

Choose from low fixed or variable rates on a SoFi refi.

FAQ

Does student loan debt have a negative impact on buying a home?

Not necessarily, but student loan debt can lower or nix borrowers’ chances of mortgage approval if their DTI ratio is too high, and late student loan payments can ding credit scores.

Is it possible to buy a home with student loan debt?

Yes, it’s quite possible to buy a home with student loan debt, especially if the mortgage applicant’s income is much higher than their monthly debt payments.

Should you pay down your student loans before buying a house?

It’s not necessary to pay down a student loan before trying to buy a house, but doing so can’t hurt. The student loan balance affects a mortgage applicant’s DTI ratio, and any money freed up in the budget can go toward the down payment, closing costs, or future mortgage payments.


Photo credit: iStock/tonefotografia

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


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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