Getting a High-Limit Credit Card: How It Works

Getting a High-Limit Credit Card: How It Works

Having a high credit limit can be a good idea for a variety of reasons. First of all, if your credit limit is too low, it may make it hard to use your card for your regular monthly expenses. Having a high credit limit can positively impact your credit score as well. You’ll just make sure that having a credit card with a high limit doesn’t influence you to spend more than your budget allows.

Before you move forward with securing a high-limit credit card, you’ll want to know your options for how to get a high-limit credit card. If you’re worried about securing the highest credit card limit possible, there are a couple factors you’ll want to take into account, too.

What Is a High-Limit Credit Card?

For reference, the average credit card limit for Americans was $30,365 in 2020, according to data from the credit bureau Experian. So if you have a credit card with a limit above that average, you may consider that to be a high-limit credit card.

In general, however, there isn’t a specific dollar amount that makes a credit card a “high-limit” credit card. What’s considered a high credit card spending limit for some people may not be a high limit for others with a different financial situation. Keep in mind that higher credit limits generally require excellent credit to qualify for, meaning a score of 800 and up.

How Can a Higher Credit Limit Help You?

There are two ways that having a credit card with a higher credit limit can help your financial situation.

First, increasing your credit card limit can make it easier to manage your monthly finances. If your credit limit is at or below the amount of your average monthly expenses, you may find it difficult to manage your budget without having to make additional credit card payments.

Second, having a higher credit limit will decrease your credit utilization rate, which can have a positive impact on your credit score. Your credit utilization rate looks at how much of your available credit you’re using, and the less you’re using, the better it is for your credit score. If you increase your credit limit but don’t add to your current balances, you’ll end up using a lower percentage of your available limit.

Factors to Consider

There are a couple factors you’ll want to consider before attempting to get a high-limit credit card.

The Timing

First, make sure that the timing is right for you and your specific financial situation. Your credit card limit is determined by the financial information you provide on your credit card application, especially your income. If you’re in a situation where your income is about to increase (either due to an upcoming bonus, a change in job, or something else), you may want to wait until after your income increases before trying to get a high-limit credit card.

Your Credit Report

Credit card issuers also look at your credit report when choosing whether to issue you a credit card and how much of a credit line to extend. Make sure that you check your credit report before applying and ensure that there are no errors or discrepancies. If there are any errors, you can contact the credit bureaus to have them fixed.

Options for Getting a High-Limit Credit Card

If you think you’re well-positioned to ask for an increase, here are your potential options for how to get a credit card with a high limit — or at least a higher limit than what you currently have.

Contact Your Card Issuer

If you already have a credit card that you enjoy using and want to keep, you can try to contact your card issuer to request a higher limit. You may be able to do so by calling the number listed on the back of your credit card or sending a message online. Explain the credit limit you’re looking for and why you feel that it’s justified.

This approach may be a good idea if your financial situation has improved since you opened the card. This could be due to an increase in income, a new job, or paying down other debt.

Look Out for Automatic Increases

Many card issuers will regularly review the accounts of their cardholders. In some cases, they’ll automatically and proactively increase your credit limit if you’ve been using your credit card responsibly. This is especially common for cards with lower initial limits and cards designed for those with a less robust credit history.

If your issuer has not already increased your credit limit, you can contact them and ask for a higher limit.

Apply for a New Card

Another option is applying for a new card. If you’re not happy with your current credit card or if your current card issuer will not increase your credit limit, getting a new credit card can be another option.

Before applying, make sure that you have checked your credit report for any inaccuracies and paid down outstanding debt if possible. That will help improve your odds of getting a higher credit limit.

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

How High Should Your Credit Limit Be?

There is not a set amount for how high your credit limit should be. Instead, it depends on your specific financial situation.

Aim for a credit limit that is at least twice the average amount you spend on your credit card each month. That will help keep your credit utilization percentage low. And remember that the absolute best thing you can do to help your credit score is to pay your statement off in full, each and every month.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

Choosing the Best High-Limit Credit Card

Many premium and luxury credit cards will offer relatively high credit limits, especially if you have a high credit score and a high income. So instead of looking for the credit card that gives you the absolute highest limit, you might instead consider the overall perks and benefits of each different card. When evaluating different cards, some things to look out for include:

•   Rewards: Take a look at whether a credit card offers rewards and if so, in what form. Perhaps you’d prefer to earn cash-back rewards for the simplicity over credit card points. From there, compare to see which card offers a more generous rewards rate and has better redemption options.

•   Annual fees: You’ll also want to look at whether a card charges an annual rate. If it does, do the math to see if the rewards you’ll earn can offset this cost.

•   Customer service: If you were ever to have an issue with your credit card, it’s important to have a reliable customer support team to turn to. When weighing which card to get, take into account the reputation of their customer support and general customer satisfaction.

•   Luxury or travel perks: Beyond rewards, many credit cards also offer an array of other benefits. This can include rental car insurance, travel insurance, discounts for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, airport lounge access, hotel stays, and more.

•   Sign-up bonuses: A generous welcome bonus can also help you decide between two otherwise comparable cards. Some credit cards offer bonus cash-back rewards or points when cardholders spend a certain amount within a specific period of time after opening the card.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

Alternatives to High-Limit Credit Cards

If you’re not able to qualify for a high-limit credit card or simply aren’t sure it’s the right route for you, there are other options to explore instead.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Home Equity Loan or Home Equity Line of Credit

Depending on what you’re using your credit card for and why you want a high credit limit, you might consider a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC). Both a home equity loan and a HELOC allow you to capture some of the equity in your home. You can then use that money for other expenses.

Business Line of Credit

If you have a business that’s looking for extra flexibility with accounts receivable and ongoing payments, you might consider a business line of credit. While there are business credit cards that offer high limits, you might be better off with an actual business line of credit. Business lines of credit often base their credit limits based on the monthly or annual gross or net income of the business.

Personal Loan

Another option to consider might be a personal loan, especially if you have good credit and/or a relatively high income. Qualifying for a personal loan can give you money upfront in exchange for regular monthly payments. You can then use that money for whatever projects or expenses make sense for your situation.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

The Takeaway

There can be advantages to having a high-limit credit card, like added flexibility in managing your monthly finances as well as the possibility of improving your credit score. Just make sure that you remain focused and diligent in paying off your statement in full, each and every month. You don’t want a higher credit limit on your credit card to encourage you to spend more.

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.

FAQ

Can you get an unlimited credit limit?

Unless you are ultra-wealthy or have a very special relationship with your credit card issuer, you’re unlikely to get a credit card with no limit at all. There are, however, some credit cards (like the American Express Platinum card) that have no preset credit card spending limit. That means that instead of a standard credit limit, your limit is flexible and may go up and down as your spending habits change.

Should I get a credit card with a higher limit?

Before deciding to get a credit card with a higher limit, you should ask yourself why you want to increase your limit. Is it to better manage your monthly finances? Are you trying to lower your credit card utilization? These can both be good reasons to increase your credit limit. But if you’re just trying to increase it to use as a status symbol or “just because,” you may want to think twice before doing it.

What is the highest credit card limit?

There isn’t a definitive and published answer for the highest possible credit limit. Credit limits are issued to individuals and businesses based on their credit history and income. It’s not unreasonable to think that there are credit cards with a six- or even seven-figure limit. As a data point, the average credit card limit for Americans was $30,365 in 2020.

How can I get a higher credit limit?

The best way to see if you qualify for a higher credit limit is to contact your issuer. You can call the number on the back of your card or reach out via your online account. If you’ve been regularly using your card and paying your bill in full, your issuer may agree to increase your limit. If your income or other financial situation has changed, that’s another reason to contact your issuer and see if you can get a higher credit limit.


Photo credit: iStock/Prostock-Studio

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 .

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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What Is Credit Card Arbitrage and Is It Worth It?

What Is Credit Card Arbitrage and Is It Worth It?

It can be tough to turn down an easy money opportunity — and that’s what credit card arbitrage seems to offer investors. But in reality, the strategy, which involves borrowing money with a 0% or low-interest credit card and then putting that money into an investment that earns a higher rate of return, does carry some risks. And it isn’t necessarily a good fit for average investors.

If you’ve heard of credit card arbitrage and wondered if it’s something you should try, read on for a rundown of the risks and rewards — and what this seemingly “free” strategy could ultimately end up costing you.

Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card

What Is Credit Card Arbitrage?

Let’s say you’re a savvy kid with your eye on making a buck. You see a bicycle for sale at a price that seems too good to be true. So, you borrow some money from your big brother and promise to pay him back a little each week (without interest, because he’s a good guy), and you buy the bike at the bargain price.

You ride around on the bike for a while, and pay your brother every week. You then turn around and sell that bike for twice what you paid — you give your brother the amount you still owe him and pocket the difference.

With credit card arbitrage, or balance transfer arbitrage, the idea is basically the same. You sign up for a credit card with a low or 0% annual percentage rate (APR). Then, you use that credit card account to put money into an investment that will earn more than the interest rate you’re paying on the credit card balance you’re carrying.

You follow one of the basic credit card rules of making at least the minimum payment each month. When the card’s introductory rate expires, you take the money you need out of the investment, pay off the remaining balance on the card, and keep the difference as your profit.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Credit Card Arbitrage Strategies

What you decide to invest in using a credit card may depend on a few different factors. This includes how much you can borrow, the length of your introductory rate (which is usually six to 18 months), and your tolerance for risk.

Some possible investments for your credit card arbitrage strategy include a high-yield savings account, a certificate of deposit, and short-term bond ETFs.

High-Yield Savings Account

A high-yield savings account may be a good option for risk-averse investors attempting credit card arbitrage. You can’t lose the money because it’s protected at banks by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and at credit unions by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). However, you may have to keep a minimum balance to avoid a monthly service fee.

An alternative to attempting credit arbitrage using a high-yield savings account might be to save using an online-only financial institution. Online banks tend to offer more competitive rates than brick-and-mortar banks.

Certificate of Deposit

Another investment with limited risk is a short-term (six months to a year) or no-penalty certificate of deposit, or CD. A CD may offer a higher interest rate than a savings account, and it also will be insured by the FDIC.

The benefit of a no-penalty CD over a short-term CD is that if you find a higher return elsewhere, you can withdraw your money and move it without paying a fee. Otherwise, you’ll face an early withdrawal penalty if you try to take your money out of a CD before the term is over.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Short-Term Bond ETFs

A bond exchange-traded fund (ETF) that holds short-term bonds may be another low-risk option to consider. Bond ETFs are traded on the stock market, so they’re more liquid than other types of bonds and bond funds. And funds that have a shorter term are less exposed to changing interest rates.

Still, if you’re unfamiliar with bond ETFs, you may want to take some time to research the pros and cons of this investment — including the potential for loss and how to reduce trading costs.

Pros and Cons of Credit Card Arbitrage

As mentioned, there are definite downsides to credit card arbitrage. However, there’s the potential for gains, too. Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of credit arbitrage:

Pros

Cons

May be an easy way to make money if you can find the right investment Difficult to find a safe investment that makes the strategy worth the effort and risk
A low-interest card with cash-back rewards or points could add to the strategy’s benefits Consequences for late payment could eat into expected profit
Making timely payments could help your credit score Taking out a card and using up your available credit could negatively affect your credit score

The upside to using credit card arbitrage is the potential to make some extra money with very little effort. If you’ve worked hard to earn and maintain a credit score that qualifies you for a credit card with a 0% or low-interest rate, you can use that card to fund an investment and, if all goes well, quickly pocket a profit.

If you choose a credit card that offers credit card rewards, such as cash back or points, that could be an added benefit. Further, by always making at least the minimum payments on the credit card and repaying the balance on time, you might help build your credit score. (Although if you qualify for a low-interest card, you probably already have good credit.)

Unfortunately, there are also plenty of downsides to credit card arbitrage — starting with finding an investment that works well with the strategy. Though in recent months the Federal Reserve has been bumping up its benchmark interest rate, it may take a while before those increases lead to noticeably higher yields on savings accounts and CDs.

Depending on how much you decide to borrow and how long your introductory period lasts, the small amount you might earn from your investment may not be worth the effort or risk of using your credit card.

And there are risks involved with credit arbitrage. For starters, you can expect to feel some effects if you make a late payment on your card. You might have to pay a late fee or, worse, the credit card company could cancel your promotional interest rate and immediately begin charging a substantially higher interest rate on the account. That could take a significant bite from your profits.

Your credit score also could suffer — even if you make timely payments. Just opening a new line of credit may temporarily lower your score. And if you borrow all or a large portion of your available credit, it could affect your credit card utilization ratio, which also can negatively affect your credit score.

You also can expect your credit score to go down if you do end up making a late payment (or payments). Payment history is the No. 1 factor in determining your FICO Score.

Considering Credit Card Arbitrage? What to Know

There’s an old saying in investing: Don’t risk more than you can afford to lose. Or, as your mom might put it: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Credit arbitrage may look like an easy and “free” way to make some extra money, but it’s a strategy that’s probably best left to investment professionals. If you do decide to attempt it, here are a few things you can do in advance to protect yourself:

•   Have a backup plan. What would happen if you suddenly lost your job or had unexpected expenses from an illness or accident? Unless you have a healthy emergency fund or your investment can be easily liquidated, you could quickly run into financial trouble.

•   Make sure you understand the terms of your credit card agreement. How long does the introductory period last? (The longer the better.) What happens if you miss a payment? What’s the rate when the promotional period expires?

•   Know yourself. This strategy requires using a credit card responsibly. If you aren’t clear on how credit cards work or think you’ll be tempted to use your card for a spending spree instead of investing, you may want to think twice before moving forward.

•   Don’t forget about fees. Run the numbers to be sure your investment will still pay off after you cover fees and other costs.

Recommended: 10 Credit Card Rules You Should Know

Other Ways to Save and Make Money Using Your Credit Card

If the concept of credit card arbitrage is new to you, it may be because there are other popular ways to use a credit card to save and make money. Here are some other options to consider.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Earning Cash Back

With a cash-back rewards card, cardholders can get back a percentage of the money they spent on purchases during a billing cycle. That percentage varies from one card to the next — and there also may be different ways you can receive your cash rewards. You may be able to apply the cash directly to your balance, put it toward gift cards or charitable giving, or have the money deposited directly into your checking account.

Getting cash-back rewards can be an especially effective strategy if you use your card for frequent and/or major purchases and pay down your balance every month.

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

Earning Rewards Points

Some card issuers offer a rewards program based on credit card points. Cardholders may be able to put their points toward multiple purposes, including travel (flights, hotels, car rentals), statement credits, cash back, and more. The value of points may vary depending on the specific credit card as well as how you opt to redeem earned points.

Investing Your Rewards

You also may be able to invest with credit card rewards. For instance, if you earned cash-back rewards from your credit card spending, you could redeem your rewards as a direct deposit or check. Then, you could use that money to invest with credit card rewards basically — either in a literal investment, such as stocks or index funds, or even in yourself, through additional job training or classes.

Shopping Online to Earn Bonus Rewards

Some credit cards offer bonus rewards for shopping online or through an app. Card issuers may have different rules for their rewards (think goods instead of services, or certain brands only) so it’s a good idea to check out a rewards program’s requirements before signing up.

Using a Balance Transfer Card to Pay Down Debt

Another possibility is to use a no-interest balance transfer credit card to pay down debt. Once you move your balance from a high-interest card to the new card, you’ll have several months to pay down your debt without accruing any additional interest.

Just as with credit card arbitrage, it’s important to be sure you make your monthly payments on time, though, or you could see a big jump in your card’s interest rate. Also keep in mind that a balance transfer fee will apply, so be sure to factor that into the equation.

Using a 0% APR Card

Planning to take a dream trip or make a major purchase? A no-interest credit card could allow you to finance your big spend without accruing interest. You’ll just want to make sure you can pay off the balance within the promotional period, and make your payments on time.

The Takeaway

You may have heard credit card arbitrage, or balance transfer arbitrage, touted as an easy way to make some extra cash. But the process, which involves using a no- or low-interest credit card to finance an investment that earns a higher rate of return, isn’t as simple as it may seem. It can require careful planning, financial savvy, and some research to find the right investment for this strategy. And even if all goes well, the payoff may not be worth the time and effort.

There are other, more proven, ways to save or invest using a low-interest and/or rewards credit card. When you get a credit card through SoFi, for example, your cash-back rewards are worth more if you use them to pay down an eligible SoFi loan, deposit as cash in your SoFi Checking and Savings account, or add to your SoFi Invest account. And because SoFi is always working to keep costs low, members don’t have to worry about losing money to high fees.

Learn how you can spend, save, and invest with a SoFi credit card.

FAQ

Are there risks involved in credit card arbitrage?

Yes. Even if your investment seems super safe and like it won’t lose money, if you don’t make your monthly payments on time, or if you can’t pay off the balance before the promotional period is up, you could find yourself in a financial bind.

Is credit card arbitrage legal?

Yes. But just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should. There are other more proven ways to save and invest using a credit card.

How much can you make with credit arbitrage?

The amount you can make using credit card arbitrage depends on several factors. This includes how much you choose to borrow and invest, your card’s interest rate, how much your investment pays, the length of your card’s promotional period, and the fees you might incur when investing.


Photo credit: iStock/Prostock-Studio


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 Earnings Season?

What Is Earnings Season?

Earnings season is the period of time when publicly-traded companies release their quarterly earnings reports, as required by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Earnings season is important for investors because it provides insight into a company’s financial health and performance.

The financial results reported during an earnings season can help investors and analysts understand a company’s prospects, how a specific industry is performing, or the state of the overall economy. Knowing when earnings season is can help investors stay up to date on this information and make better investment decisions.

When Is Earnings Season?

Earnings season occurs four times a year, generally starting within a few weeks after the close of each quarter and lasting for about six weeks. For example, the earnings season for the first quarter, which ends on March 31, would typically begin in the second week of April and wrap up at the end of May.

Earnings season normally follows this timeline:

•   First quarter: Mid-April through the end of May

•   Second quarter: Mid-July through the end of August

•   Third quarter: Mid-October through the end of November

•   Fourth quarter: Mid-January through the end of February

However, not all companies report earnings on this schedule. Companies with a fiscal year that doesn’t follow the traditional calendar year may release their earnings on a different schedule.

Many retail companies, for instance, have fiscal years that end on January 31 rather than December 31, so they can capture the results from the holiday shopping season into their annual reports. Thus, these firms may report their earnings toward the end of earnings season, or even after the typical earnings reporting period.

Investors interested in knowing when companies will report earnings can check Nasdaq , Yahoo! Finance , and other websites to see the earnings calendars.

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Why Is Earnings Season Important for Investors?

Earnings season is an important time for investors to track a company’s or industry’s performance and better understand its financial health.

During earnings season, companies release their quarterly earnings reports, which are financial statements that lay out the revenue, expenses, and profits. This information gives investors a better understanding of how a company is operating.

Moreover, earnings season is also when companies provide guidance for the upcoming quarters, sometimes during the company’s quarterly earnings call. This guidance can give investors an idea of what to expect from a company in the future and help them make more informed investment decisions, especially if investors use fundamental analysis to choose stocks.

💡 Recommended: The Ultimate List of Financial Ratios

The following are some additional effects of earnings season:

Volatility

You may notice fluctuations in your portfolio during earnings seasons because of stock volatility. The release of earnings reports can significantly impact a company’s stock price. If a company reports better or worse than expected earnings, for example, it may result in a spike or dip in share price. And even if a company surpasses expectations for a given quarter, its forward-looking outlook may disappoint investors, causing them to sell and drive down its price. For this reason, earnings season is often a period of high volatility for the stock market as a whole.

Investment Opportunities

Many investors closely watch earnings reports to make investment decisions, especially traders with a short-term focus who hope to take advantage of price fluctuations before or after a company’s earnings report.

And investors with a long-term focus may pay attention to earnings season because it can give clues about a company’s future prospects. For example, if a company’s earnings are consistently increasing, it may be a suitable medium- to long-term investment. On the other hand, if a company’s earnings are decreasing quarter after quarter, it may mean that it is a stock investors want to avoid.

💡 Recommended: Short-Term vs Long-Term Investments

State of the Economy

Earnings season can help investors and analysts get a better picture of the overall economy. If most earnings reports are coming in below expectations or companies are revising their financial outlooks because they see trouble in the economy, it could be a predictor of an economic downturn or a recession.

And even if the overall economy is not at risk of a downturn, earnings season can help investors see trouble in a specific sector or industry if companies in a given industry report weaker than expected earnings.

Earnings season may give investors a holistic view of the state of the stock market and economy and help them make better investment decisions than focusing on specific stocks alone.

The Takeaway

Earnings season provides investors with valuable insights into the performance and outlook of specific companies, the stock market, and the economy as a whole. However, for most investors with a long-term focus, each earnings season shouldn’t be something that causes you too much stress. Even if some of your holdings spike or plummet because of an earnings report during earnings season, it doesn’t mean you want to make a rash investment decision based on a single quarter’s results. You still want to keep long-term performance in mind.

If you want to build a long-term portfolio, the SoFi app can help. With a SoFi online brokerage account, you can trade stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with no commissions for as little as $5.

Take a step toward reaching your financial goals with SoFi Invest.


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Budgeting for Buying a House

Buying a house is a major step, and planning to purchase a home can be a lot of fun. You get to figure out where you’d hang your favorite artwork, plant a vegetable garden, put the PlayStation — and maybe contemplate taking on some DIY projects yourself.

But there’s another, more nuts-and-bolts aspect to your pursuit of the American Dream: how to budget for a house. Most people in the U.S. are homeowners, with the latest Census data revealing that 65.8% had attained this status in the second quarter of 2022. So that’s a good indicator that buying your own home is within reach.

Doing so will likely require you to be smart about your finances, both as you save and then take on the responsibility of owning a home. To help you be successful in this pursuit, read on for the intel you need, such as:

•   How do I know how much house I can afford?

•   What are the costs/fees to consider?

•   What will my ongoing costs be?

•   How can I budget for a house?

Up-front Expenses

First, consider how much you would have to fork over if you find that perfect center-hall Colonial or loft-style condo. Once an offer on a new home is accepted, there are certain costs the buyer needs to pay right off the bat and, in most cases, out of their own pocket. These are called up-front expenses. Here are a few to prepare for as you consider how to budget for a house:

Down Payment

You may have heard of the traditional 20% down payment guideline, which helps you avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI) on applicable loan programs. Additionally, a higher down payment can sometimes result in better loan terms (such as a lower interest rate) which may translate into lower monthly mortgage payments.

Yep, it’s a lot of money to try to save, but if you can swing it, in the long run, applying a 20% down payment will likely save you from paying thousands of dollars in additional mortgage interest over the life of the loan.
Can’t pull together that big a chunk of change? Look into your options for a mortgage lender with lower or no down payment. Some options:

•   The minimum down payment for a first-time homebuyer on a conventional loan can be as low as 3%. You may also need a certain credit score of, say, 620, to qualify for this kind of mortgage.

•   An FHA government loan that is open to everyone typically requires a down payment of at least 3.5%.

•   Veteran VA loans or government USDA loans may allow eligible borrowers to finance up to 100% of their home’s cost. In other words, no down payment is required.

It’s worth noting that, regardless of the size of your down payment, buying may still significantly reduce your overall monthly expenses, compared to your current rent and real-estate market conditions. Given the current high rates of inflation and housing market shortages, buying can be a good option, depending on your specific circumstances.

2% to 5% Closing Costs

You can likely expect to pay an estimated 2% to 5% of your home price for closing costs, and save accordingly. For example, if you buy a home that costs $300,000, you may be required to pay between $6,000 and $15,000 in closing costs.

Worth noting: Some costs are fixed and not tied to the price. In these cases, the percentage can be higher for the lower range and lower for the higher purchase price range.

What exactly comprises closing costs? This can be bank charges like origination fees and any points you may have purchased to buy down your interest rate. There are also costs like the appraisal fee, a title search, and others.

Keep in mind that there are alternatives to paying the closing costs out-of-pocket, such as requesting a seller credit, requesting a lender credit, or tapping an applicable down payment/closing costs assistance loan program. These can help you minimize this expense.

Moving Costs

Don’t forget when budgeting for buying a house that you will need funds to actually move in. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a generous pal with a van, you are probably going to have to hire a moving company when it’s time to get settled in your new home. According to the American Moving and Storage Association, the average intrastate, or local, move is $2,300, and the average move between states is $4,890.

These costs can vary widely, of course. If you are moving with just a bedroom’s worth of furniture versus a whole house, your price tag will be lower. It’s wise to comparison-shop for moving companies and factor this expense into your own budgeting for a home move.

If you are moving for work reasons, check with your company to see if they offer a relocation package to help cover some or all of the moving costs.

New Furniture and Appliances

Your new house may not have the same dimensions and style of your old house. That could mean that you need to buy new furniture and appliances. When budgeting for buying a house, you might want to talk to friends or relatives who have moved recently and inquire about unexpected expenses as well. For example, it’s not uncommon when you move to have to purchase such items as new locks, shower rods, and window treatments. These can add up quickly.

You might want to start a savings account for these types of purchases — some of them may be unexpected and costlier than you imagined.

Recommended: First-Time Homebuyer Guide

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


Ongoing Expenses

Now that you’ve figured out the details related to the actual purchase, consider the expenses that will accrue once you are a homeowner. This is a very important step when budgeting for buying a house. These recurring charges are a vital part of the calculations of how much home you can afford.

Monthly Charges

First, consider how much you’ll be spending every month on your monthly mortgage payment and related costs. PITIA (principal, interest, property taxes, homeowners insurance, and other assessments) is an acronym describing all the components of a mortgage payment. Here’s how it breaks down:

•   P: The principal is the “meat” of the monthly payment amount — paying down the principal will reduce the loan balance.

•   I: Interest is what you are charged for borrowing the money.

•   T: Taxes refer to your property taxes.

•   I: This “I” refers to insurance. This includes both your homeowners and mortgage insurance, if applicable.

•   A: The other assessments refer to things that may be applicable to the home you purchase such as Homeowner Association Dues, Flood or Earthquake Insurance, and more.

HOA Dues

HOA stands for homeowners association. These dues usually apply to a condo, co-op, or property owned in a planned community.

The charge is usually monthly (but it could also be charged quarterly or annually), and it typically goes to maintaining the community (landscaping, garbage collection, repairs, and upgrades).

Before purchasing a property with HOA dues, it can be important to ask the Homeowners Association for a complete HOA questionnaire. With this in hand, you can view how healthy the association is, whether there is any outstanding litigation due to structural or other issues, etc. These could mean increased costs down the road.

Maintenance and Lawn Care

Your budgeting probably won’t stop once you’ve moved and settled into your new home. Expenses will likely continue to knock on your door — landscaping, roof repair, and water heater replacement are just a few items that might require ongoing financial consideration.

You may want to budget for 1% to 4% of the cost of your home in maintenance each year to pay for these expenses. However, deferred maintenance costs may require more funding, depending on the age, quality of construction, where you live, and more.

Pest Control, Security, Utilities

The cost of electricity, gas, water, and phones differ from market to market. This is also true with pest control, and services that help ensure your home is secure and safe. You could find yourself paying more (or even less) for these services in your new home.

How Much House Can You Afford Quiz

Planning Ahead

So now that you understand the costs associated with homeownership, whether they are one-time or ongoing, you can get to work on how to budget for a house.

Ideally, you want to cover the homebuying costs and then be able to afford your monthly carrying costs without racking up debt. The standard advice is that your monthly housing expenses should account for up to 28% of your monthly pre-tax income. Given the inflationary times we live in and how expensive some housing markets can be, it’s not uncommon to find people spending more than that right now.

Here, some advice on figuring out what you can afford.

Target Mortgage Costs

Do your research on the different types of mortgage loan programs. Determine what your price range is given the current interest rates, which have climbed considerably over the past year. Find the programs that may best suit you, so you’ll feel confident you can bid and afford a home once you have your down payment saved. Don’t forget to factor in those other PITIA expenses mentioned above as you think about your own monthly income and cash outflow when you’re a homeowner.

Build a Budget

Once you have these costs calculated, you can then start budgeting for buying a house. You’ll want to accumulate your down payment, while taking care of current bills and other financial obligations, of course.

•   Create a line item budget. You’ll want to note how much money you have coming in and how much goes out toward your needs (housing, food, medical expenses, debt repayment). Then you’ll see what’s left for your wants (think travel, dining out, clothes, entertainment) and start saving it, whether for your future home or retirement.

   Don’t skimp, though, on establishing an emergency fund. In a pinch, these funds can keep you from using your credit card and running up even more debt.

•   Assess where you can save more. To ramp up your savings for your house, look for ways to economize. Could you drop a subscription or two to streaming channels, or perhaps eat out less often?

   Also see what you can do to avoid high-interest credit card debt, which can take a bite out of anyone’s budget. You might want to take advantage of a zero-interest balance transfer credit card offer, or investigate whether a lower-interest personal loan could help you pay off your debt and save money.

•   Use automatic transfers. Help yourself hit your savings goals by automating payday transfers from checking to savings. That way, you won’t see the cash in your account and be tempted to spend more.

•   Bring in more moolah. If the numbers aren’t adding up to bring your homebuying plans within reach fast enough, consider using windfalls (a tax refund, a bonus at work, a birthday gift of cash from a relative) to plump up your savings. Also consider ways to bring in more income, like pursuing a part-time gig in your free time. Additional money is a key benefit of a side hustle.

Ready to Buy?

Once you have your savings set, you can begin to look for different mortgage loan options. SoFi, for example, offers competitive rates, and qualifying first-time homebuyers can put as little as 3% down. It takes just minutes to start your application online.

Ready to purchase your dream home? Find your rate with SoFi.


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.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

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.

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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Make an Offer on a House in 6 Steps

It can be hard to find the sweet spot when making an offer on a home, but the home-buying process involves more than naming a price.

Assuming that you’ve been preapproved for a mortgage and that you’re finding homes in your price range, there’s a usual method to follow in submitting an offer that stands out but also protects you.

In a red-hot market chock-full of bidding wars, waived contingencies, and cash buyers, a house hunter may end up making multiple offers without success and getting caught up in the frenzy.

But, as interest rates climb, the market is showing signs of cooling a bit. So let’s imagine a less heated market. Here’s a general guide to submitting an offer that can take you from homebuyer to homeowner. Read on to learn:

•   What making an offer on a house involves

•   The steps for making an offer in real estate

•   What to do if you change your mind when making offers in real estate

Making an Offer on a House

So let’s say you’ve found that mid-century ranch or sleek townhome of your dreams. You’re ready to go for it. Here’s how the process of making an offer in real estate typically goes.

1. Determine Your Offer Price

A home’s listing price is often determined by comparing it to similar homes in the area that are for sale, then adjusting up or down based on additional amenities or detrimental issues. But as the old saying goes, “A home is generally worth what someone is willing to pay for it.”

You might find a property that’s fairly well-priced and consider coming in close to asking, but you may want to adjust your offer if you feel that it’s priced too high or needs a lot of work.

There are lots of things to consider when trying to find the right offer price.

•   A common way to break down a listing amount is by price per square foot, but that often includes only the heated, livable spaces. A home can (and should) be priced higher than average for the area if it includes extra rooms like a garage or attic, outbuildings, or extra land, which add to its value. Superior workmanship or permitting in place for potential changes can also play a role in increasing a price.

•   Check the home’s history on the multiple listing service. It records every transaction related to the house, including previous buy and sell dates, price fluctuations, and how long the home has been on the market. It can give you a good idea of where the sellers are coming from in terms of what they paid for the property.

•   Take a look at other properties in the area that have recently sold. Is the price per square foot more or less than the home you have your eye on? One key to an accurate read on the local market is to ensure that you’re comparing apples to apples when it comes to the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, garage space, and other amenities. Your broker can likely provide what are known as “comparables” for the area to help with this process.

Recommended: Mortgage Pre-Approval Need to Knows

2. Incorporate All the Fees

It can also be important to look at factors not directly related to the price of the property that could affect your overall cash flow. One big consideration is closing costs, which typically average 2% to 6% of the total cost of the home. So let’s say you are considering a $400,000 mortgage; the closing costs (origination fees, title search, any points, and more) would be between $8,000 and $24,000.

Some closing costs are traditionally split by the buyer and seller, but if you’re short on cash, you may consider a higher offer price as long as the seller pays your portion of the closing costs.

It’s also important to estimate the amount of money you’ll spend making repairs or changes to the property once you move in. As long as the repairs are not related to health or safety issues, which could affect financing, one tactic could be to lower your offer price in order to free up cash for future upgrades.

Or you might plan on getting a home improvement loan or home equity line of credit after buying the house, provided you have enough equity to access those funds.

3. Determine Your Earnest Money Deposit

The next step in making an offer in real estate is to figure out your earnest money. What’s earnest money? It’s a good-faith deposit that buyers place with the offer up front, usually amounting to around 1% to 3% of the offer price, to show that they are serious, especially when there are multiple offers on a property.

It’s held in escrow by the title company. Showing purchase intent in this way can help a buyer get to the top of the seller’s list.

Customs and laws pertaining to an earnest money deposit can vary from state to state, and even from county to county, so it’s important to understand the rules that determine when the money is (and isn’t) refundable.

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


4. Protect Yourself With Contingencies

The time between a signed offer and closing day is called the due diligence period, and it’s when the buyer will normally set up a home inspection and possibly a land survey or other inspections for specialty items, such as a septic system or a pool, and the lender will order an appraisal.

Because the contract is signed before inspections and the appraisal take place, contingencies give you an out if you discover a deal-breaker.

Here are the most common contingencies when making offers in real estate:

•   Financing. This lays out the specifics of the financing that will be used by the buyer, which must be fully approved by the lender within the contingency period. This protects the buyer in case financing falls through.

•   Appraisal. If the appraisal comes back lower than the agreed-upon price, the seller and buyer may find themselves renegotiating.

•   Inspection. The buyer usually has 10 days after signing the contract to order an inspection, and the contingency remains in place until it comes back without uncovering any major issues with the property that were previously unknown. Based on the findings, the buyer can cancel the contract or negotiate repairs or the purchase price, which may be referred to as seller concessions if they agree to pay.

•   Title search. A preliminary title report shows the home’s past and present owners and any liens or judgments against the property. If any title disputes are unable to be resolved before closing, you have the option to exit the sale.

In some situations, the list of contingencies can be long. But once they’re all satisfied and lifted during the given timeframes, the option to buy turns into a binding commitment to purchase the home.

5. Submit a Written Offer

In real estate, the best way to make an offer official is to put it in writing. If you’re working with a real estate agent, the agent will have a form that you can fill out together that lists the offer price and contingencies and covers all the state rules and regulations.

If you’re flying solo, working with a real estate lawyer or title company can help to ensure that your offer covers all the necessary legal language and is legally valid.

This concept goes both ways. As the buyer, it’s a smart idea to make sure all correspondence, counteroffers, and property disclosures are put in writing by the seller as well.

Recommended: How to Win a Bidding War

6. Move Ahead, Move On, or Move Things Around

Once you submit your written offer, one of three things is likely to happen: The sellers sign the document and enter into a binding contract, they reject the offer outright, or they submit a counteroffer.

In this last case, the sellers might counter back with changes that are better suited to them. (If your offer includes a price reduction to accommodate repair costs, for example, the seller might ask for the full asking price and offer a credit back at closing instead.)

A counteroffer puts the ball back in the buyer’s court for approval, rejection, or another counteroffer, and it can keep going back and forth until both parties agree to the terms and sign the document or one party calls it a day.

What If You Change Your Mind About Buying a House?

Contingencies give you a way out in the event of some unforeseen issue, but what if you just decide you don’t want the house? Cold feet can be a real thing!

Although the laws vary by state on this topic as well, in most instances a buyer is allowed to withdraw an offer until the moment the offer is accepted, However, once the offer document is signed by both parties, it’s considered a binding agreement.

At that point, the sellers may be well within their rights to walk away with your earnest money if you don’t decide to move forward.

The Takeaway

How to make an offer on a house? It pays to understand comps, contingencies, the temperature of the market, earnest money, and counteroffers. Then, you consider your price, keeping track of all fees that will be involved, and make your bid in writing, typically with what’s known as an earnest money deposit, and await the seller’s response.

If you’re just starting to shop for mortgage financing options, getting a feel for your rate and loan amount might be inspiring.

SoFi offers fixed-rate home loans with competitive rates and as little as 3% down for qualifying first-time homeowners. Plus, the process is fast and simple.

Find your rate in a snap today.


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.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

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