What NFT Music Is, How It Works, & Why It Matters

Guide to Music NFTs: What They Are and How They Work

You may be familiar with digital artworks that have been turned into non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and sold to collectors. Now NFT music, or music NFTs, are emerging as the hot new crypto collectible.

What does NFT mean, and why have these virtual products taken the world by storm? An NFT is basically a piece of intellectual property that has been minted into a non-reproducible digital asset that is logged on a blockchain.

NFTs, and NFT music, are also part of a broader technological shift toward digital products and lifestyles that reflect the emergence of Web 3.0, also known as Web3, a blockchain based evolution of Web 2.0.

We’ll explain what music NFTs are, how they work, and more, below.

What Are Music NFTs?

Music NFTs are digital assets that grant holders the ownership rights to music clips. Like other NFTs, which grant their holders ownership to images or digital artwork, NFT music does so with audio recordings. By minting music NFTs (read more if you’re asking yourself “what is NFT minting?”), musicians and artists are able to provide original digital assets to interested investors, while adding to their own revenue streams.

This is critical given that the music industry has been undergoing a massive transformation since the days of Napster, with streaming services and copyright issues compromising legacy systems. Artists have sought to find ways to leverage technology for their own benefit. And NFTs, based on blockchain technology, have emerged as a promising income source.

NFTs have gained popularity in recent years in large part due to the pandemic. Many artists generate revenue through touring — by selling merchandise, and getting a cut of ticket sales. But when the pandemic struck, all of that revenue dried up. As such, some turned to music NFTs as a way to incorporate a new revenue stream.

How Do Music NFTs Work?

Music NFTs work more or less the same way that other NFTs work in that they grant ownership to a unique piece of property to the holder. They use the same underlying cryptocurrency technology, blockchain, that cryptos such as Bitcoin are built on. Music NFTs, then, take the form of digital tokens, which their owners keep safely in digital crypto wallets.

Web 3.0 technology is growing as well, and because it’s also decentralized and permissionless, like many forms of crypto, it supports the widespread use of NFTs.

Music NFTs are minted, and then ownership details are grafted into a blockchain network, and when they are transacted, the details of those ownership changes are likewise recorded on the blockchain — similar to various other types of cryptocurrency transactions.

The big difference between NFT music and, say, purchasing a song or album on Amazon or another retailer, is that the NFT owner becomes the actual owner of the song itself. They own the asset, whereas purchasing a digital music track from a retailer only grants you the right to listen to the song. In effect, it’s licensing.

How Music NFTs Are Created

The creation of music NFTs is also the same process as creating image-based NFTs. That process, which is called “minting,” can only begin after there’s an underlying asset to mint. In this case, that would be a song or audio recording of some kind.

Let’s say a musician wants to mint a new song into an NFT and sell it. They would first need to select the necessary tools and platforms, such as which digital wallet they’d want to use for storing their assets, and which platform they’d like to use to execute the transactions (OpenSea is a popular choice, for example, as is Rarible and Mintable).

The musician would also need crypto to pay for minting fees and other transactions, as many platforms only accept crypto.

Using a platform like OpenSea, the minting process involves a few steps, but it’s fairly straightforward. It mostly involves selecting the audio track the musician wishes to mint, adding a title and some cover art, a description, and adding a few additional details.

Finally, the musician would choose a blockchain network to mint onto (usually Ethereum), and then hit the big red button to mint the song into an NFT.

From there, it can be sold to an investor.

Where Music NFTs Are Bought and Sold

The next logical question: Where can you sell or buy music NFTs? Or, how to buy and sell NFTs in general? The answer: An NFT marketplace. And again, there are many out there. OpenSea is one of the more prevalent, but a few simple Google searches will yield many more. It’s up to you to choose one.

In terms of the actual process of buying and selling music NFTs, it’s important to keep in mind that NFTs usually trade for ETH or native blockchain tokens, so you may not be able to fork over cold, hard USD cash in exchange for one.

How NFT Music Is Valued

Music NFTs have value for the same reason that any other digital asset, including other types of NFTs, have value: They’re scarce, and people are willing to pay for them. So, when they go up for sale, their value is ultimately determined by what an investor or music fan is willing to pay for them.

When it comes to music NFTs in particular, artists are creating digital assets — one-of-a-kind assets, at that — that are likely to catch the attention of many would-be NFT owners and investors.

Pros and Cons of NFT Music

NFTs are unique digital assets tied to blockchain technology and various crypto platforms. As such, they have their pros and cons:



Provide unique investment opportunities for music fans. Blockchain platforms may be vulnerable to hacks or even collapse.
Easily purchased and sold with a digital wallet. The NFT market is highly speculative, with a risk of volatility.
Popular artists are creating NFTs, validating the space. Unclear what the future of NFTs might be.

Notable NFT Music

One reason that music NFTs have become so popular is that some big-name artists are getting in on the action. Here’s a handful of recent examples that are notable for their success:

•   Kings of Leon: The rock band released an entire album, “When You See Yourself,” as an NFT in March 2021, generating millions of dollars.

•   Grimes: The singer sold a package of songs and digital art in early March 2021, likewise making millions of dollars.

•   3LAU: The electronic musician released a collection of NFTs in February 2021.

•   Haleek Maul: In 2021, the rapper sold four songs as NFTs, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars.

•   Mike Shinoda: Shinoda, a former member of the rock band Linkin Park, has also taken to NFTs, releasing a mixtape last year in the form of NFTs.

The Future of NFT Music

It’s hard to say what the future holds for music NFTs, but it’s hard to ignore the sales number. In 2018, for example, NFT sales overall totaled about $40.7 million. But in 2021 sales reached more than $44 billion — and shows no signs of slowing. Indeed, the prevalence and popularity of many digital assets is likely to grow, given the adoption of Web 3.0 technology.

For musicians, the ability to sell their music as NFTs offers some clear benefits, and possibly could allow them to make more money than they would under a traditional recording contract.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why many people think music NFTs are here to stay.

The Takeaway

Music NFTs are the music industry’s take on non-fungible tokens, blockchain-based digital assets that allow artists and musicians to sell audio content in a new format. As mentioned, they’ve taken off over the past couple of years largely due to the pandemic, and offer musicians a new way to derive additional revenue from their work.


What is NFT music?

Music NFTs are similar to other types of NFTs, except that they comprise audio files rather than digital artwork or pictures.

How can you buy NFT music?

You can purchase music NFTs from an exchange, of which there are many. There are some that are designed specifically for the music industry.

How is NFT music used?

Music NFTs can be used as investments (you hold onto them and hope they gain value so you can earn a return), or for personal enjoyment.

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Guide to Zero-Coupon Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

Guide to Zero-Coupon Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

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

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

What Is a Zero-Coupon CD?

To understand zero-coupon CDs, let’s recap how a certificate of deposit works. A CD account, also referred to as a time-deposit or term-deposit account, is designed to hold money for a specified period of time. While the money is in the CD, it earns interest at a rate determined by the CD issuer — and the investor cannot add to or withdraw from the account.

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

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

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

Recommended: CD Loans, Explained

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

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

Remember: Withdrawing money from a CD early can trigger an early withdrawal penalty equal to some or all of the interest earned.

How Do Zero-Coupon CDs Work?

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

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

In a sense, that’s similar to how the coupon rate of a bond works. A bond’s coupon is the annual interest rate that’s paid out, typically on a semiannual basis. The coupon rate is always tied to a bond’s face value. So a $1,000 bond with a 5% interest rate has a 5% coupon rate, meaning a $50 annual payout until it matures.

Real World Example of a Zero-Coupon CD

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

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

At the end of the five years, the bank pays you the full $10,000 face value of the CD. So you’ve received $400 per year in interest income for the duration of the CD’s maturity term — or 5% per year. You can then use that money to purchase another zero-coupon CD or invest it any other way you’d like.

Tips When Investing in a Zero-Coupon CD

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

•   What the CD is selling for (i.e., how big of a discount you’re getting to its face value)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pros of Zero-Coupon CDs

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

•   Higher return potential than regular CDs

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

•   Suited for longer-term goals

•   Can be federally insured

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

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

Cons of Zero-Coupon CDs

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

•   No periodic interest payments

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

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

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

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

How to Collect Interest on Zero-Coupon CDs

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

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

How to Value Zero-Coupon CDs

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

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

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

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

The Takeaway

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

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

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

If you’re eager to earn a higher rate on your savings, you’ve got a lot of options — including the new high-yield bank account with SoFi. With SoFi, you don’t pay management fees or account fees, and you can earn a competitive APY.

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


What is a coupon on a CD?

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

Is a certificate of deposit a zero-coupon bond?

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

Are CDs safer than bonds?

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

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

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

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

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Historical 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Trends

Historical 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Trends

Historically speaking, mortgage rates have remained relatively low since the Great Recession, with some fluctuation at times due to market conditions. As a result, a generation of homebuyers has become accustomed to a low 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

But with mortgage rates on the rise, it can put a sour taste in the mouths of people trying to join the ranks of homeowners in the country. They may be thinking that they missed an opportunity to buy a home. However, it’s important to look at the history of mortgages and mortgage rates to put the current conditions into context.

The History of Mortgage Rates

The modern history of mortgage lending in the U.S. began in the 1930s with the creation of the Federal Housing Administration. From the 1930s through the 1960s, a combination of government policy and demographic changes made owning a home a normal part of American life. During this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage became the standard for home buying.

When discussing the fluctuation of mortgage rate trends, analysts usually refer to the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Here’s a look at the trend of these mortgage rates since the 1970s.

The 1970s

Throughout the 1970s, mortgage rates rose steadily, moving from the 7% range into the 13% range. This uptick in rates was due, in part, to the Arab oil embargo, which significantly reduced the oil supply and sent the U.S. into a recession with high inflation — known as stagflation.

As a result, Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker made a bold change in monetary policy by the end of the decade, raising the federal funds rate to combat inflation. Though the Federal Reserve doesn’t directly set mortgage rates, its monetary policy decisions can still impact many financial products, including mortgages.

The 1980s

The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit an all-time high in October 1981 when the rates hit 18.63%. The Federal Reserve’s tight monetary policy affected this high borrowing cost and put the economy into a recession. However, inflation was under control by the end of the 1980s, and the economy recovered; mortgage rates moved down to around 10%.

The 1990s and 2000s

Mortgage rates continued a downward trend throughout the 1990s, ending the decade at around 8%. At the same time, the homeownership rate in the U.S. increased, rising from 63.9% in 1994 to 67.1% in early 2000.

Several factors led to a housing crash in the latter part of the 2000s, including a rise in subprime mortgages and risky mortgage-backed securities.

The housing crash led to the Great Recession. To boost the economy, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to make borrowing money cheaper. Mortgage rates dropped from just below 7% in 2007 to below 5% in 2009.

Recommended: ​​US Recession History: Reviewing Past Market Contractions

The 2010s

Mortgage rates steadily decreased throughout most of the 2010s, staying below 5% for the most part. The Federal Reserve enacted a zero-interest-rate policy and a quantitative easing program to prop up the economy during this time following the Great Recession. This helped keep mortgage rates historically low.

The 2020s

The Federal Reserve reduced the federal funds rate to near-zero levels in March 2020, causing a drop in rates of various financial products. The effects of the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic pushed mortgage rates below previous historic lows. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit 2.77% in August 2021.

However, with inflation reaching levels not experienced since the early 1980s, the Federal Reserve reversed course. The central bank started to tighten monetary policy in late 2021 and early 2022, which led to a rapid increase in mortgage rates. In May 2022, the average mortgage rate was above 5%. While this is below historical trends, it’s the highest rate since 2018.

Recommended: How Rising Inflation Affects Mortgage Interest Rates

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Why Do Mortgage Rates Change?

As we can see from looking at interest rate fluctuations, major economic events can significantly impact mortgage rates both in the short and long term. As noted above, this has to do primarily with the Federal Reserve.

Federal Reserve actions influence nearly all interest rates, including mortgages through the prime rate, long-term treasury yields, and mortgage-backed securities. The Federal Reserve sets the federal funds benchmark rate, the overnight rate at which banks lend money to each other.

Recommended: Federal Reserve Interest Rates, Explained

This rate impacts the prime rate, which is the rate banks use to lend money to borrowers with good credit. Most adjustable short-term rate loans and mortgages use the prime rate to set the base interest rates they can offer to borrowers. So, after the Federal Reserve raises or lowers rates, adjustable short-term mortgage loan rates are likely to follow suit.

Longer-term mortgage rates have also risen and fallen alongside economic and political events with movement in long-term treasury bond yields. In the short term, a Federal Reserve interest rate change can affect mortgage markets as money moves between stocks and bonds, affecting mortgage rates. Longer-term mortgage rates are influenced by Fed rate changes but don’t have as direct an effect as short-term rates.

Can Changing Rates Affect Your Existing Mortgage?

If you have a mortgage with a variable interest rate, known as an adjustable-rate mortgage, changing rates can affect your loan payments. With this type of home loan, you may have started with an interest rate lower than many fixed-rate mortgages. That introductory rate is often locked in for an initial period of several months or years.

After that, your interest rate is subject to change — how high and how often depends on the terms of your loan and interest rate fluctuations. These changes are generally tied to the movement of interest rates, but more specifically, which index your adjustable-rate mortgage is linked to, which can be affected by the Fed’s actions.

However, most adjustable-rate mortgages have annual and lifetime rate caps limiting how high your interest rate and payments can change.

If you took out a fixed-rate mortgage, your initial interest rate is locked in for the entire time you have the home loan, even if it takes you 30 years to pay it off.

Recommended: What Is a Good Mortgage Rate?

The Takeaway

If you are in the market to buy a home, it might be tempting to rush and buy while rates are low and on the rise. Or, you may put off buying a home until rates decrease in the future. However, you never want to time the market. As mentioned above, mortgage rates are near historic lows and are constantly fluctuating, so choosing the perfect time to buy a home based on the ideal rate can be difficult.

Additionally, there are many factors to consider when buying a home beyond the mortgage rate. It’s important to understand all aspects of your finances, personal situations, and housing market trends before buying a home.

If you think you’re ready to buy a home, SoFi can help. With SoFi Mortgage Loans, you can find a competitive rate even in a rising rate environment. Turn your dream home into a reality with flexible terms, competitive mortgage rates, and down payments as little as 3% for qualified first-time homebuyers.

If you’re interested in taking out a mortgage, check out SoFi Mortgage Loans today.

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How to Calculate Expected Rate of Return

When investing, you often want to know how much money an investment is likely to earn you. That’s where the expected rate of return comes in; it’s calculated using the probabilities of investment returns for various potential outcomes. Investors can utilize the expected return formula to help project future returns.

Though it’s impossible to predict the future, having some idea of what to expect can be critical in setting expectations for a good return on investment.

What Is the Expected Rate of Return?

The expected rate of return — also known as expected return — is the profit or loss an investor expects from an investment, given historical rates of return and the probability of certain returns under different scenarios. The expected return formula projects potential future returns.

Expected return is a speculative financial metric investors can use to determine where to invest their money. By calculating the expected rate of return on an investment, investors get an idea of how that investment may perform in the future.

This financial concept can be useful when there is a robust pool of historical data on the returns of a particular investment. Investors can use the historical data to determine the probability that an investment will perform similarly in the future.

However, it’s important to remember that past performance is far from a guarantee of future performance. Investors should be careful not to rely on expected returns alone when making investment decisions.

Recommended: Building An Investment Portfolio

How To Calculate Expected Return

To calculate the expected rate of return on a stock or other security, you need to think about the different scenarios in which the asset could see a gain or loss. For each scenario, multiply that amount of gain or loss (return) by its probability. Finally, add up the numbers you get from each scenario.

The formula for expected rate of return looks like this:

Expected Return = (R1 * P1) + (R2 * P2) + … + (Rn * Pn)

In this formula, R is the rate of return in a given scenario, P is the probability of that return, and n is the number of scenarios an investor may consider.

For example, say there is a 40% chance an investment will see a 20% return, a 50% chance that the investment will return 10%, and a 10% chance the investment will decline 10%. (Note: all the probabilities must add up to 100%)

The expected return on this investment would be calculated using the formula above:

Expected Return = (40% x 20%) + (50% x 10%) + (10% x -10%)

Expected Return = 8% + 5% – 1%

Expected Return = 12%

What Is Rate of Return?

The expected rate of return mentioned above looks at an investment’s potential profit and loss. In contrast, the rate of return looks at the past performance of an asset.

A rate of return is the percentage change in value of an investment from its initial cost. When calculating the rate of return, you look at the net gain or loss in an investment over a particular time period. The simple rate of return is also known as the return on investment (ROI).

Recommended: What Is the Average Stock Market Return?

How to Calculate Rate of Return

The formula to calculate the rate of return is:

Rate of return = [(Current value − Initial value) ÷ Initial Value ] × 100

Let’s say you own a share that started at $100 in value and rose to $110 in value. Now, you want to find its rate of return.

In our example, the calculation would be [($110 – $100) ÷ $100] x 100 = 10

A rate of return is typically expressed as a percentage of the investment’s initial cost. So, if you were to sell your share, this investment would have a 10% rate of return.

Recommended: What Is Considered a Good Return on Investment?

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Different Ways to Calculate Expected Rate of Return

How to Calculate Expected Return Using Historical Data

To calculate the expected return of a single investment using historical data, you’ll want to take an average rate of returns in certain years to determine the probability of those returns. Here’s an example of what that would look like:

Annual Returns of a Share of Company XYZ



2011 16%
2012 22%
2013 1%
2014 -4%
2015 8%
2016 -11%
2017 31%
2018 7%
2019 13%
2020 22%

For Company XYZ, the stock generated a 21% average rate of return in five of the ten years (2011, 2012, 2017, 2019, and 2020), a 5% average return in three of the years (2013, 2015, 2018), and a -8% average return in two of the years (2014 and 2016).

Using this data, you may assume there is a 50% probability that the stock will have a 21% rate of return, a 30% probability of a 5% return, and a 20% probability of a -8% return.

The expected return on a share of Company XYZ would then be calculated as follows:

Expected return = (50% x 21%) + (30% x 5%) + (20% x -8%)

Expected return = 10% + 2% – 2%

Expected return = 10%

Based on the historical data, the expected rate of return for this investment would be 10%.

However, when using historical data to determine expected returns, you may want to consider if you are using all of the data available or only data from a select period. The sample size of the historical data could skew the results of the expected rate of return on the investment.

How to Calculate Expected Return Based on Probable Returns

When using probable rates of return, you’ll need the data point of the expected probability of an outcome in a given scenario. This probability can be calculated, or you can make assumptions for the probability of a return. Remember, the probability column must add up to 100%. Here’s an example of how this would look.

Expected Rate of Return for a Stock of Company ABC




Outcome (Return * Probability)

1 14% 30% 4.2%
2 2% 10% 0.2%
3 22% 30% 6.6%
4 -18% 10% -1.8%
5 -21% 10% -2.1%
Total 100% 7.1%

Using the expected return formula above, in this hypothetical example, the expected rate of return is 7.1%.

Calculate Expected Rate of Return on a Stock in Excel

Follow these steps to calculate a stock’s expected rate of return in Excel:

1. In the first row, enter column labels:

•   A1: Investment

•   B1: Gain A

•   C1: Probability of Gain A

•   D1: Gain B

•   E1: Probability of Gain B

•   F1: Expected Rate of Return

2. In the second row, enter your investment name in B2, followed by its potential gains and the probability of each gain in columns C2 – E2

•   Note that the probabilities in C2 and E2 must add up to 100%

3. In F2, enter the formula = (B2*C2)+(D2*E2)

4. Press enter, and your expected rate of return should now be in F2

If you’re working with more than two probabilities, extend your columns to include Gain C, Probability of Gain C, Gain D, Probability of Gain D, etc.

If there’s a possibility for loss, that would be negative gain, represented as a negative number in cells B2 or D2.

Limitations of the Expected Rate of Return Formula

Historical data can be a good place to start in understanding how an investment behaves. That said, investors may want to be leery of extrapolating past returns for the future. Historical data is a guide; it’s not necessarily predictive.

Another limitation to the expected returns formula is that it does not consider the risk involved by investing in a particular stock or other asset class. The risk involved in an investment is not represented by its expected rate of return.

In this historical return example above, 10% is the expected rate of return. What that number doesn’t reveal is the risk taken in order to achieve that rate of return. The investment experienced negative returns in the years 2014 and 2016. The variability of returns is often called volatility.

Recommended: A Guide to Historical Volatility

Standard Deviation

To understand the volatility of an investment, you may consider looking at its standard deviation. Standard deviation measures volatility by calculating a dataset’s dispersion (values’ range) relative to its mean. The larger the standard deviation, the larger the range of returns.

Consider two different investments: Investment A has an average annual return of 10%, and Investment B has an average annual return of 6%. But when you look at the year-by-year performance, you’ll notice that Investment A experienced significantly more volatility. There are years when returns are much higher and lower than with Investment B.


Annual Return of Investment A

Annual Return of Investment B

2011 16% 8%
2012 22% 4%
2013 1% 3%
2014 -6% 0%
2015 8% 6%
2016 -11% -2%
2017 31% 9%
2018 7% 5%
2019 13% 15%
2020 22% 14%
Average Annual Return 10% 6%
Standard Deviation 13% 5%

Investment A has a standard deviation of 13%, while Investment B has a standard deviation of 5%. Although Investment A has a higher rate of return, there is more risk. Investment B has a lower rate of return, but there is less risk. Investment B is not nearly as volatile as Investment A.

Systematic and Unsystematic Risk

All investments are subject to pressures in the market. These pressures, or sources of risk, can come from systematic and unsystematic risks. Systematic risk affects an entire investment type. Investors may struggle to reduce the risk through diversification within that asset class.

Because of systematic risk, you may consider building an investment strategy that includes different asset types. For example, a sweeping stock market crash could affect all or most stocks and is, therefore, a systematic risk. However, if your portfolio includes bonds, commodities, and real estate, you may limit the impact of the equities crash.

In the stock market, unsystematic risk is specific to one company, country, or industry. For example, technology companies will face different risks than healthcare and energy companies. This type of risk can be mitigated with portfolio diversification, the process of purchasing different types of investments.

Expected Rate of Return vs Required Rate of Return

Expected return is just one financial metric that investors can use to make investment decisions. Similarly, investors may use the required rate of return (RRR) to determine the amount of money an investment needs to generate to be worth it for the investor. The required rate of return incorporates the risk of an investment.

What is the Dividend Discount Model?

Investors may use the dividend discount model to determine an investment’s required rate of return. The dividend discount model can be used for stocks with high dividends and steady growth. Investors use a stock’s price, dividend payment per share, and projected dividend growth rate to calculate the required rate of return.

The formula for the required rate of return using the dividend discount model is:

RRR = (Expected dividend payment / Share price) + Projected dividend growth rate

So, if you have a stock paying $2 in dividends per year and is worth $20 and the dividends are growing at 5% a year, you have a required rate of return of:

RRR = ($2 / $20) + 0.5
RRR = .10 + .05
RRR = .15, or 15%

What is the Capital Asset Pricing Model?

The other way of calculating the required rate of return is using a more complex model known as the capital asset pricing model.

In this model, the required rate of return is equal to the risk-free rate of return, plus what’s known as beta (the stock’s volatility compared to the market), which is then multiplied by the market rate of return minus the risk-free rate. For the risk-free rate, investors usually use the yield of a short-term U.S. Treasury.

The formula is:

RRR = Risk-free rate of return + Beta x (Market rate of return – Risk-free rate of return)

For example, let’s say an investment has a beta of 1.5, the market rate of return is 5%, and a risk-free rate of 1%. Using the formula, the required rate of return would be:

RRR = .01 + 1.5 x (.05 – .01)
RRR = .01 + 1.5 x (.04)
RRR = .01 + .06
RRR = .07, or 7%

The Takeaway

There’s no way to predict the future performance of an investment or portfolio. However, by looking at historical data and using the expected rate of return formula, investors can get a better sense of an investment’s potential profit or loss.

There’s no guarantee that the actual performance of a stock, fund, or other assets will match the expected return. Nor does expected return consider the risk and volatility of assets. It’s just one factor an investor should consider when deciding on investments and building a portfolio.

If you’re ready to build your portfolio, SoFi Invest® can help. With a SoFi Invest investment account, you can trade stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with no commission for as little as $5. And if you would like help creating an investment portfolio, SoFi automated investing uses a portfolio of ETFs based on your goals, risk tolerance, and projected timeline.

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How do you find the expected rate of return?

An investment’s expected rate of return is the average rate of return that an investor can expect to receive over the life of the investment. Investors can calculate the expected return by multiplying the potential return of an investment by the chances of it occurring and then totaling the results.

How do you calculate the expected rate of return on a portfolio?

The expected rate of return on a portfolio is the weighted average of the expected rates of return on the individual assets in the portfolio. You first need to calculate the expected return for each investment in a portfolio, then weigh those returns by how much each investment makes up in the portfolio.

What is a good rate of return?

A good rate of return varies from person to person. Some investors may be satisfied with a lower rate of return if its performance is consistent, while others may be more aggressive and aim for a higher rate of return even if it is more volatile. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide what is considered a good rate of return.

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Authorized User on a Credit Card: Everything You Need to Know

Understanding exactly what it means to be an authorized user on a credit card account is important for both the cardholder and the credit card authorized user. There are some rules and restrictions involved, but in general, becoming an authorized user on a solid cardholder account can help build an authorized user’s credit history and potentially boost their score.

Here’s what you need to know, from what an authorized user on a credit card is exactly to the process of adding an authorized user to a credit card.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

What Is an Authorized User?

An authorized user is someone that the primary cardholder — the individual who owns the credit card account and is responsible for charges to the card — has authorized to use their card.

Unlike a primary cardholder, an authorized user on a credit card is not subject to credit checks and other credit card issuer requirements in order to use the card. However, the individual — who is often a spouse, child, or other family member — must meet the card issuer’s age requirements. The primary cardholder may also have to pay a fee to add the authorized user. The number of authorized users allowed on each card varies depending on the credit card issuer.

An authorized user may get a card with their name and the primary cardholder’s account number on it that they can then use. Or, they can simply use the primary cardholder’s card to make purchases.

Additionally, authorized users may have access to the cardholder’s account information, such as their credit limit, available balance, and fees. They can make payments, report lost or stolen cards, and initiate billing disputes.

That said, any charges made by an authorized user are ultimately the responsibility of the primary cardholder. Authorized users also generally can’t close an account, add another authorized user, or change the card’s PIN, credit limit, or interest rate.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Responsibilities of an Authorized User

Even though authorized users are allowed to make monthly payments, they’re not responsible for payments — no matter how much they may have spent on the card. Rather, the responsibility of making on-time monthly minimum payments always falls to the primary cardholder.

In many cases, primary cardholders will work out some type of payment system under which an authorized user can reimburse the primary cardholder for their share of the bill. With this system, the primary cardholder can keep track of credit card charges and more easily spot unusual or potentially fraudulent activity on the card as well as credit card chargebacks. Additionally, a system can ensure payments are made on time and that any spending on the credit card is done responsibly.

In other cases, authorized users may make their payments directly to the credit card issuer. With this arrangement, however, the primary card holder still holds the ultimate responsibility of making the minimum monthly payment on time.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Authorized User vs. Joint Credit Card

It’s easy to confuse authorized users with joint credit card holders. But there are some key differences between the two.

With a joint account, both cardholders are legally responsible for making payments. Joint cardholders also must meet credit card issuer requirements, such as a minimum credit score, and go through the application process in order to get the card.

Joint accounts are commonly used by partners who share their finances. Not all credit card issuers allow joint accounts though, and they are becoming less common.

Benefits of Having an Authorized User on Your Credit Card

There are compelling reasons why you may want to either become an authorized user or add an authorized user to your credit card account. Here are the benefits for both parties involved.

Benefits for the Authorized User

Becoming an authorized user can help someone to establish their credit and boost their credit scores if the primary cardholder has a history of on-time payments and low credit utilization (in other words, not charging cards to the max). This can be especially helpful for teenagers and young adults who may not yet have had the opportunity to establish a credit record.

Most credit card issuers will report authorized user credit activity to the credit bureaus, thus building a credit history for the authorized user. The primary cardholder can check with their credit card issuer to see if authorized user’s activity is being reported and if the card issuer has all of the relevant information necessary to do the reporting. If the issuer does report, all of the details of the card will be included in the authorized user’s credit history, including the credit limit, the amount of credit being used, and payment history.

By the same token, if the primary cardholder misses payments or makes late payments, this could negatively impact the authorized user’s credit score.

Benefits for the Primary Cardholder

Building credit for the authorized user can also benefit the primary cardholder who’s looking to help a child or other family member establish themselves financially. By helping the authorized user establish a good credit record, the authorized user will be more likely to qualify for their own credit card sooner and potentially secure lower interest rates and access to better rewards.

Plus, cardholders have the benefit of knowing that a child or other user has access to a credit card in an emergency or other situation where funds are immediately necessary.

Adding or Becoming an Authorized User on a Credit Card

Only a primary cardholder can add an authorized user to their card. To do so, you’ll generally go through the following steps:

1.    Notify your credit card issuer. Let your card issuer know that you would like to add an authorized user to your card. In most cases, you can do this over the phone or by filling out a form online.

2.    Have the necessary information on hand. You may need the name, Social Security number, date of birth, and contact information for the authorized user you intend to add to the card.

3.    Check what will get reported to the credit bureaus. It’s important to find out if the card company will report credit information about the authorized user to the credit reporting bureaus. This will help the authorized user to establish a credit history.

4.    Determine if you’ll get a card for the authorized user in their name. If so, this second credit card will get sent to you. From there, you can decide if you want to give the card to the authorized user or only have them use your card.

Removing an Authorized User on a Credit Card

A primary cardholder can remove an authorized user from their card at any time. Simply call or go online to request a change.

Keep in mind that the authorized user may see a change in their credit score if they are removed. This is because credit score calculations take into account both the age of credit accounts and the number of open accounts, both of which may decrease when an authorized user drops off the card of someone with a more established credit history.

What Are the Next Steps After Becoming an Authorized User?

As mentioned above, authorized users and primary cardholders will want to come up with a solid plan. Specifically, they’ll want to discuss how the card can be used, how much the authorized user can spend, and when and how the authorized user will make payments (either to the cardholder or directly to the card issuer). Making payments on time is extremely important to help avoid late fees and credit score dings for both the primary cardholder and the authorized user.

How to Monitor Your Credit as an Authorized User

If you’re an authorized user eager to build credit, it can be helpful to monitor your credit report to make sure your activity is being accurately reported. You can retrieve a free copy of your credit report each year from all three credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — through AnnualCreditReport.com.

It’s also important for both the authorized user and the primary cardholder to be cautious and mindful about how their activity can affect one another’s credit, which is something credit monitoring can help keep in check. Irresponsible credit usage by either party can have implications for the credit of both the primary cardholder and the authorized user.

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

The Takeaway

Authorized users are typically added to an account held by a family member or other responsible adult. held by a family member or other responsible adult. However, it’s important for both parties to keep in mind that while their credit usage has the potential to improve their credit, it can also cause damage if payments are late or credit is maxed out.

Whether you're looking to build credit, apply for a new credit card, or save money with the cards you have, it's important to understand the options that are best for you. Learn more about credit cards by exploring this credit card guide.


How many authorized users can I add to a single card account?

Each credit card issuer has different rules concerning the number of authorized users permitted. You’ll find this information in the terms and conditions for your credit card. Some credit card issuers charge a fee for each authorized user added on your account.

Is credit activity reported to the credit bureau for an authorized user?

In most cases, credit card issuers report activity to the credit bureaus for an authorized user as well as the primary card holder. Building or improving credit in this way can be a benefit of becoming an authorized user. Check with your credit card issuer to find out if authorized user credit activity is reported.

Does adding someone as an authorized user help their credit?

Building or improving your credit record can be a big benefit of becoming an authorized user, especially if the primary cardholder has a good credit rating and continues to make on-time payments. In order to boost your credit record, however, the credit card issuer needs to report your activity to the credit bureaus.

Photo credit: iStock/cokada

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

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .


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