How to Get a Credit Card for the First Time

How to Get a Credit Card for the First Time: A Step-By-Step Guide

Getting a credit card for the first time comes with a unique set of challenges. A lack of a credit history can make it harder to qualify, and you’ll have a learning curve when it comes to how to choose and use your first credit card. However, the actual process of applying for a credit card for the first time isn’t all that different from applying for a second or a tenth credit card.

Keep reading to learn how to get your first credit card.

Qualifying for a Credit Card

When someone applies for a credit card, the credit card issuer will take a number of factors into consideration, including their credit score and income, when deciding whether to approve their application. It’s also necessary to make sure you’re old enough to get a credit card — you usually must be at least 18 years old.

Someone’s credit score can indicate how likely they are to pay back their credit card on time. The higher someone’s score is, the more creditworthy they appear. Income is also a major factor that’s considered, especially when figuring out someone’s credit card limit. Applicants under the age of 21 who can’t show independent income generally must get a cosigner.

Additionally, those applying for a certain type of credit card, such as a student credit card, will have to make sure they meet that card’s particular requirements. While a student credit card may be available to those with no or limited credit, the cardholder generally must be enrolled in a qualifying program.

Recommended: Charge Cards Advantages and Disadvantages

How to Apply for a Credit Card With No Credit History

It can be difficult to qualify for a credit card before you’ve built a credit history, given what a credit card is. The catch? It takes credit to build credit. Thankfully, there are a few credit card options that consumers can consider if they don’t yet have a credit history.

Starter Credit Card

Starter credit cards are a type of credit card designed for consumers who have no credit history or a very limited credit history. Starter credit cards help cardholders build a credit history when they use the card responsibly. If they make on-time payments each month, they’ll see their credit score rise over time and will start to build a solid credit history.

Generally, starter credit cards don’t come with the best rates and terms, but when used to make purchases someone can afford to pay off each month, they can be a very helpful financial tool. Student credit cards are an example of starter cards that can help someone establish a credit history.

To apply for a starter credit card, you generally must provide the following:

•   Social Security number

•   Sources of income

•   Monthly housing or rent costs

Those under the age of 21 who do not have your own source of income will need to get an adult cosigner who’s over the age of 21. For those who are applying for a student credit card as their choice of starter credit card, the credit card issuer may request information such as the name of your school or program, your major, and your expected year of graduation.

Secured Credit Card

Another credit card option for those who are new to credit is a secured credit card. With a secured credit card, the cardholder must deposit money to use the card.

The amount they deposit will act as their credit limit, and they’ll then borrow against that deposit. For example, if they deposit $500, they can make up to $500 worth of purchases anywhere that accepts credit card payments. Once they pay off their card balance, they can spend up to $500 again.

When at least the credit card minimum payments are made on time, the cardholder will build a credit history and improve their score. Functionally, a secured credit card works more similarly to a debit card but helps to build credit.

Applying for a secured credit card requires much of the same information as applying for an unsecured credit card. This includes your name, address, Social Security number, and income information. Additionally, it’s necessary to have the cash on hand to make the security deposit. Depending on the card, there may or may not be a credit check required.

How to Choose Your First Credit Card

When shopping around for a credit card, it’s a good idea to compare the fees, interest rates, and cardholder benefits of multiple credit cards. Here’s why these factors matter when choosing a first credit card:

•   Credit card fees. From annual fees, to foreign transaction fees, to late fees, all credit cards have some fees that cardholders need to be aware of. Certain transactions, such as buying a money order with a credit card, can also involve fees. Being aware of the fees a card may charge and finding a credit card with low fees can help save money.

•   Interest rates. If a cardholder carries a balance, they’ll need to make interest payments. Credit cards interest rates are displayed as annual percentage rates (APRs) and the higher someone’s APR is, the more they’ll pay in interest. What’s considered a good APR for a credit card will vary depending on someone’s credit profile as well as the type of card they’re applying for, but it’s generally below the average rate, which is around 16%.

•   Rewards. From cash back to travel points to discounts at major retailers, credit cards can come with some pretty cool rewards. It’s worth comparing the rewards offerings of multiple credit cards to see where it’s possible to benefit more from good credit habits. Keep in mind, however, that the top rewards cards are usually reserved for those with solid credit histories.

How to Apply for a Credit Card

The process of figuring out how to apply for a credit card online for the first time is usually pretty straightforward. When it’s time to apply for a credit card, the applicant generally needs to supply the following information as a part of the credit card issuer’s application process:

•   Identification (such as a Social Security number)

•   Source of income (such as pay stubs or W-2s)

•   Credit score (generally a score starting in the mid 600s is required)

Further information may also be requested, as the process can vary somewhat from issuer to issuer.

Once you’ve submitted your credit card application, you’ll wait to get an approval or a denial. It may take just minutes to get a response, or it may be a few days or even a few weeks. The creditor must send a decision within 30 days at the most.

If you’re approved, you’ll then receive your new card in the mail. You won’t have to worry about replacing it until your credit card expiration date, at which point the issuer will send you a new card.

How to Use Your First Credit Card

The key to using your first credit card is to limit charges to those that you can afford to pay off — and then making sure you do so in a timely manner. Doing so will ensure you never miss a payment, which will boost your credit score, and avoid late payment fees and interest payments.

Further, paying off your balance at the end of each month (or more often) will help keep credit utilization rate low. Credit utilization measures how much credit someone is using in comparison to how much they have available. The lower someone’s credit utilization, the more their credit score will benefit.

For instance, a potentially good way a student could use their first credit card is to limit their purchases to their textbooks for a semester. This will put guide rails on their spending as they learn to budget and stay on top of their credit card statements.

As someone adjusts to using a credit card, it’s also important to gain an awareness of credit card safety best practices. For instance, be on the lookout for credit card skimmers, which are devices attached to credit card readers designed to steal your information. Also be wary of sharing your credit card information, such as the CVV number on a credit card, with anyone.

What Should You Do if Your Application Is Denied?

If someone’s credit card application is denied, the best thing they can do to move forward is to work on improving their credit score. This will improve their creditworthiness, and thus their odds of getting approved in the future. Making on-time payments and keeping a low balance on an existing credit card are both ways to improve a credit score.

But if someone can’t qualify for any credit cards, how can they improve their credit score? In this scenario, one option is to become an authorized user on a family member’s credit card, such as a parent’s.

When someone is an authorized user, their score will improve as the main account holder makes on-time payments. However, both the account holder and authorized user’s credit scores are at risk if either party makes purchases they can’t afford, so it’s important that everyone has a plan for paying off the bill at the end of the month.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Things You Need to Know as a First-Time Credit Card User

When someone is a first-time credit card user, it’s important that they understand the basics of how a credit card works. Specifically, they’ll need to know what interest rates and fees they may end up paying by using their credit card (especially if they plan to carry a balance).

Using a credit card can feel like shopping with free money, but at the end of the month, the cardholder needs to be prepared to pay their balance off in full. Otherwise, they risk paying more for the purchases they already made in the form of interest and fees. Once debt starts racking up, it can become hard to get rid of.

What If You Are Not Ready to Apply for a Credit Card?

Applying for a credit card for the first time is a big responsibility. If someone isn’t ready to take on the responsibility, they do have the option of using a debit card to gain some of the convenience that comes with a credit card.

A debit card is attached to a bank account and allows the account holder to make payments without keeping cash on hand. Debit cards don’t involve borrowing money, so interest rates aren’t a concern.

However, debit card holders will still need to look out for potential fees. Additionally, debit cards don’t have quite the level of protections that credit cards offer, such as the option to request a credit card chargeback.

FAQ

What is a good credit limit for a starter credit card?

The credit limit for a starter credit card is usually low. With a secured credit card, the limit is the amount of the security deposit that the cardholder makes.

What are the requirements to apply for a credit card?

To apply for a credit card, it’s usually required that the applicant provide proof of income and identifying information such as a Social Security number. They will also need to have an acceptable credit score to qualify.


Photo credit: iStock/Demkat

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

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

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.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.

1Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on purchases. No rewards points will be earned with respect to reversed transactions, returned purchases, or other similar transactions. When you elect to redeem rewards points into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, SoFi Active Invest account, SoFi Credit Card account, or SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your rewards points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.

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What Is Credit Card Protection? How It Works

The Ultimate Guide to Credit Card Protection and How to Use It

Credit cards can offer a number of additional protections, including if you were to lose your job or otherwise become unable to pay your bills. Some credit card protections, like travel insurance, are perks of the card included in the annual fee. For others, like credit card payment protection, you may have to opt in and pay an additional fee.

Read on to learn more about the types of credit card protection you can get, how they work, and when they may be worth it.

What Is Credit Card Protection?

Credit cards may offer various forms of protection in their perks and benefits. These protections can help protect your purchases and ensure you don’t pay for charges that aren’t yours. They can also help you in a dispute with a vendor. For example, if you ordered an item that never made it to you, and the merchant won’t give you a refund, you could invoke a credit card chargeback with your credit card company.

Perhaps the most common form of protection associated with the term ‘credit card protection’ is credit card payment protection insurance. This is an insurance plan that you can opt into for a monthly fee that would offer protection if something were to happen that prevented you from paying your bills.

Recommended: Charge Cards Advantages and Disadvantages

Types of Credit Card Protection

Some of the types of protection that may be available on credit cards include:

•   Fraud protection

•   Return protection

•   Price protection

•   Purchase protection

•   Travel insurance

•   Car rental insurance

Read on for more details on each of these forms of credit card protection.

Fraud Protection

A key part of what a credit card is, fraud protection is a big reason why people use credit cards over debit cards or cash. If someone were to steal your credit card number or your physical card, fraud protection shields you from being responsible or liable for charges.

Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, creditors cannot “take actions that adversely affect the consumer’s credit standing until an investigation is completed.” This means that all credit card companies will launch an investigation if fraud occurs, during which you will not be held liable (though make sure to make your credit card minimum payment so you don’t incur late fees or a ding to your credit during the investigation).

Some credit card companies may go beyond that and offer even more fraud protection, including $0 liability. (The FCBA caps liability in case of fraud at $50 if the thief presents the card. The liability is $0 if the card is not physically present, as in the case of someone stealing a credit card number and using it online).

While fraud protection can offer peace of mind, it’s also important to be proactive about recognizing fraud. If you lose your credit card, call your issuer to have the card frozen. And always let your issuer know ASAP if you notice a charge that isn’t yours.

Return Protection

Return protection is another form of purchase protection offered by some credit cards. It allows you to return an item for a set period of time defined in your membership agreement. This return window may offer more leeway than that of the merchant you made the purchase from (for example, 90 days instead of 30 days.)

There are exclusions to what can and can’t be returned. Further, there also may be a cap on the cost of the item being returned, as well as an annual cap per card, though it depends on how your credit card works specifically.

Price Protection

Have you bought something, only to see the item go on sale a few weeks later? That’s where credit card price protection comes in. With this perk, you may be able to receive a refund for the difference in price if you purchased something with your card.

Generally, it’s your responsibility to track price drops. And your issuer may have certain terms, such as limiting the protection to price drops within a set time period. Price protection also may exclude certain types of purchases, such as tickets to sporting events or concerts.

Purchase Protection

Similar to return protection, purchase protection can help protect you if purchases are lost or damaged, or services aren’t rendered or delivered as expected. Generally, you would bring the issue up with the merchant or service provider. But if they don’t initiate a refund, then you can dispute the charge with your credit card company. This process initiates what’s called a credit card chargeback.

There may be limitations and exceptions to purchase protection. It can be a good idea to talk directly with the merchant before reaching out to your credit card company.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can be a big reason to put a trip on a credit card. In fact, some card issuers offer insurance as a perk for using the card.

The specifics of travel insurance depend on the card issuer, but it may include insurance for lost luggage, or coverage for trip interruption or cancellation. In general, these insurance policies may not be as comprehensive as a standalone policy, but they can provide some peace of mind when planning a trip.

Car Rental Insurance

Car rental insurance is another type of insurance offered as a credit card perk. If you rent a car with the credit card, the card may provide insurance protection in case of damage. Generally, this includes collision/loss damage waiver coverage.

Car rental insurance through your credit card may allow you to forego the insurance options offered by the car rental agency. However, as with any insurance policy, it’s a good idea to read the fine print to know exactly what is and is not covered.

How Credit Card Protection Works

Most protections are part of the overall perks and benefits of the card. But credit card payment protection is a little bit different. It’s generally an opt-in program that offers protection if you are no longer able to pay your credit card bill. The protection offered can be short term, such as for a life event like a change in employment, or long term, extending for 12 to 24 months in the event of a job loss or hospital stay.

Usually, credit card payment protection carries an additional monthly fee. Also note that payment protection doesn’t let you off the hook from paying the bill down the road. Rather, for a set period of time, your credit card issuer would offer a break on making payments or lower your minimum payments due, as well as pause any fees. Your issuer will continue to report your account in good standing during that time.

Tips to Keep Your Credit Card Safe

Protection programs can give you peace of mind. But losing a credit card or dealing with fraudulent activity can be stressful regardless of what protections you have in place. It can also potentially open the door to identity theft, which could potentially harm your credit.

That’s why it’s smart to set up some smart security behaviors. Read on for some tips for how to keep your credit card safe.

Practice Credit Card Protection From Day One

When you’ve applied for a credit card, keep an eye out for the card to arrive in the mail. It should come in between five and 14 days; your issuer may provide a timeline.

If you don’t receive your card within that time period, call your issuer. They will issue you a new one. And as soon as you do get your card, follow the steps to set it up for use.

Keep Your Account Number Private

Don’t write down your credit card account number. Also consider whether or not you want to save payment information online. While it can be convenient, it could leave your information vulnerable. If you are using your credit card to make a payment, make sure that you are doing so through an encrypted service.

Keep Your Information Current

Make sure that the email address, mailing address, and telephone number on file with your card issuer are up to date. That way, you are aware of any communication between you and your card issuer. Further, this will prevent a new card from being delivered to the wrong address.

Be Careful With Your Receipts

While federal law prohibits how much credit card information is on receipts, this may not be true in other countries. If you’re traveling abroad, it may make sense to be even more mindful about how you dispose of receipts.

Secure Your Devices and Networks

Being mindful of how and when you use your credit card online can help you avoid fraud. Using your own network, rather than public WiFi, can be one security step. It can also be helpful to check that a website uses encryption for payment.

Protect Yourself Online

When you’re using a credit card for payment, it’s important to be cyber-savvy. Credit card scams to try to obtain your information or your credit card number are not uncommon.

You’ll want to be on the lookout for phishing attempts. If a merchant or bank asks you to email your credit card number, call the merchant directly. Know that banks will never ask for sensitive information over email.

Additionally, pay attention to any odd links, misspellings, or emails that include a link. Instead of following the link within the email, consider manually typing in the URL of a website.

Check Your Account Often

It can be good to get in the habit of regularly checking your credit card balance. Doing so a few times a week, instead of just waiting for a statement to come out, can alert you to fraud as soon as it happens. And remember, a fraudster could steal your information even if your physical card has always remained in your possession.

Report Lost Cards and Fraudulent Activity Right Away

If you see something odd on your credit card balance, let your card issuer know right away. The same goes if you can’t find your credit card.

Even if you’re 99% sure your card is somewhere in your house or car, it can be a good idea to call your card issuer. In some cases, they can freeze your card. This means that you’ll be able to unfreeze it once you’ve found it, without getting a new card and a new card number.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

What Does Credit Card Payment Protection Cover?

In general, credit card payment protection insurance has restrictions regarding when it applies, and it may require documentation.

Some reasons you may be able to request long-term credit card payment protection may include:

•  Job loss

•  Disability

•  Hospitalization

•  Death of a child, spouse, or domestic partner

•  Leave of absence (for family or child care, or for military duty)

•  Federal or state disaster

Meanwhile, you may be able to get short-term protection for the following reasons:

•   Marriage

•   Divorce

•   Graduation

•   Childbirth

•   Adoption

•  Retirement

•   New job and job promotion

•   A move to a new residence

Situations that may not qualify for payment protection include incarceration or voluntarily leaving your job, such as to pursue higher education.

Pros and Cons of Payment Protection

Is payment protection right for you? That depends. The opt-in program usually costs an additional fee. Plus, while paying your full balance each month is ideal, you could potentially pay the credit card minimum payment if you were going through hard times to keep your account in good standing, though your annual percentage rate (APR) would still apply.

In many cases, it may make sense to focus on bringing down your balance so your minimum payment is relatively low. That way, if the worst were to happen, you might still have wiggle room in your budget to handle minimum payments.

Pros of Payment Protection Cons of Payment Protection
Gives you a breath on monthly payments Will incur an additional monthly fee, adding to your balance
Offers peace of mind May be other assistance options with no added cost
Helps protect your credit in the event you can’t make payments Generally limited to two years of assistance
Pauses your credit card’s fees Limits on what qualifies for protection insurance to kick in

Is Credit Card Payment Protection Worth It?

Weighing the pros and cons of credit card payment can help you assess whether it makes sense for you. If you carry a very high balance and are in the process of paying it down, payment protection may give you peace of mind — especially if you don’t have a good APR for a credit card. But keep in mind that you could potentially switch to minimum payments during a hard time and still maintain your payment history.

To decide whether credit card payment protection is right for you, read the fine print and assess how the fees would impact your overall financial picture. Also take into consideration your current financial situation, your savings account balance, and the general stability and security of your job and lifestyle.

Credit Card Protection Scams and How to Avoid Them

As credit cards offer protection, scammers see opportunities — and these can be tailored, beyond just credit card skimming. There are several credit card protection scams that may target card holders, including:

•   Phone scams offering loss protection for a fee. Some scammers have been calling people and telling them they may be liable for charges beyond $50 on their credit card. They then try to get people to buy loss protection and insurance programs. If you get this call, know that credit cards include fraud protection at no additional fee — plus, your liability is limited to $50 by law. Call your credit card company if you have any questions about its fraud protection programs.

•   Scams claiming your account has been compromised. In this case, the scammer will ask you to provide personal details, such as your credit card number, claiming your account has been compromised. Don’t ever give sensitive credit information over text or email. If someone calls claiming to be your credit card company, call the company directly from the number on the back of the card, instead of any number you may get during a call.

•   Fraudulent text alerts. Scammers also may send text messages asking for your CVV number on a credit card to “fix” a security problem. A real credit card company would never ask for this information.

•   Fake account protection offers. Any account protection should come directly from your credit card company, not from a third party. If you receive these offers, don’t take them up on it.

The Takeaway

Credit card protection can be one of the great benefits of using a credit card. While some credit card protections are standard, including fraud protection, it can be helpful to weigh what protection offers are important to you and what you’ll get the most use out of if you’re adding on any others. With credit card payment protection insurance, for instance, you can get protection if something were to happen that prevented you from paying your bills, but you’ll owe an added monthly fee.

FAQ

Are there limits to credit card payment protection?

There may be limits on what qualifies for credit card payment protection, and your issuer may need to see proof of hardship. Further, there may be a time limit on how long credit card payment protection is offered.

Is there a time limit on credit card payment protection?

Generally, issuers have a time limit for credit card protection policies. These vary between issuers, but may be as short as several months or as long as two years, depending on the circumstances.

Should I get credit card payment protection insurance?

Credit card protection insurance may incur an additional fee, unlike other protection options offered as part of your overall perks and benefits within your card. That fee can add to your balance. If your credit card balance is at or near $0, credit card payment protection insurance may not be necessary.


Photo credit: iStock/9dreamstudio

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

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

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.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.

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.

1Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on purchases. No rewards points will be earned with respect to reversed transactions, returned purchases, or other similar transactions. When you elect to redeem rewards points into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, SoFi Active Invest account, SoFi Credit Card account, or SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your rewards points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.

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History of Credit Cards: When Were Credit Cards Invented?

History of Credit Cards: When Were Credit Cards Invented?

Curious to know when credit cards were invented? There were actually a number of early iterations of what we know and use today as a credit card, with the first versions of the concept dating back to the early and mid 1900s.

Let’s take a look at the major milestones in the history of credit cards and how this payment method developed.

Invention of Credit Cards

Who invented credit cards? As mentioned before, there were several precursors to the modern version of the credit card. Credit card history can be traced back to 1914, when Western Union rolled out the idea of “Metal Money,” which was granted to a handful of customers and allowed them to push back payment until a later date.

The next iteration of credit cards was introduced in 1946, when New York City banker John Biggins introduced the Charg-it card. These charge cards were usable within a two-block radius of Biggins’ bank. Purchases made by customers were forwarded to his bank account, and merchants were reimbursed at a later date.

Recommended: Charge Cards Advantages and Disadvantages

When Were Credit Cards First Used?

Let’s take a look at when different types of credit cards were first used, from the first store card to the first international card.

First Store Cards

The first store card that gained widespread use was the Diners Club Card. The idea for the card arose when businessman Frank McNamara misplaced his wallet and couldn’t pay for dinner at a New York City restaurant. The good news is that his wife was there to cover the tab.

In 1950, McNamara returned to the same restaurant with his business partner, Ralph Schneider, where he used a cardboard card to pay the bill. That card was the Diners Club Card, and the dinner became known as the “First Supper.”

First Bank Cards

In 1958, American Express developed its first credit card that was made of cardboard. The next year, the plastic credit card was developed and released.

Also in 1958, Bank of America mailed its credit card to certain segments of the market in California, where it was based. The bank offered a pre-approved limit of $300 to 60,000 customers in Fresno.

Then, in 1966, Bank of America’s BankAmericard became the country’s first general use credit card, meaning more places would accept credit card payments with it.

First Interbank Cards

In 1966, a cluster of California banks joined together to form the Interbank Card Association (ITC). The ITC soon rolled out the nation’s second major bank card. Initially called the Interbank card and later the Master Charge, this card became Mastercard in 1979.

First International Cards

The first international credit card is claimed to be the Diners Club card, mentioned above. It’s said to have become the first globally accepted charge card in 1953 when businesses in Cuba, Mexico, and Canada began accepting payments from those with Diners Club cards.

And in 1970, Bank of America rolled its BankAmericard on a global scale, prompting the formation of the International Bankcard Company (IBANCO).

Regulation and Litigation

Over the decades, credit cards have undergone several rounds of regulation. Let’s take a look at some of the major regulatory milestones in the history of credit cards:

1970:

•   The Fair Credit Reporting Act was passed to regulate the collection, access, and use of consumer credit report data.

•   Also this year, the Unsolicited Credit Card Act was introduced to prohibit credit card issuers from sending credit cards to customers who didn’t request them.

1974:

•   The Fair Credit Billing Act of 1974 was created to protect consumers from unfair credit billing practices. It stated that consumers have the right to dispute unauthorized charges, charges made due to errors, and charges when goods are undelivered and services not rendered.

•   The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) was passed, which prevented lenders from discriminating against credit card applicants based on gender, race, age, religion, marital status, national origin, and whether you receive benefits from a public assistance program. It also specified that a lender can’t charge higher fees or a higher than average credit card interest rate for any of those reasons.

1977:

•   The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was introduced to prevent debt collectors from using deceptive, unfair, or abusive practices in their efforts to collect debt that have gone to default and are in the hands of debt collectors. It limited calls to between the hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and prohibited contact at an unusual time or place. Further, it specified that if you’re represented by a debt attorney, the debt collector must stop calling you and reach out to your attorney instead.

2009:

•   The CARD Act boosted consumer protection by “establishing fair and transparent practices related to the extension of credit.” It prohibits credit card issuers from offering credit without first gauging the consumer’s ability to pay, and introduced special rules when it comes to extending credit to consumers under the age of 21. The CARD act also limits the amount of upfront fees an issuers can charge during the first year after an account is opened, as well as the instances that issuers can charge penalty fees.

Technological Evolution of Credit Cards

Here are some of the main technological milestones and changes of credit cards throughout their history:

1980s: Magnetic Stripe
Credit card networks and banks started rolling out cards with the magnetic stripe, which became widely adopted. While it’s on the verge of being phased out, consumers still use magnetic stripe for payment today.

2004: Contactless Credit Cards
Contactless credit was used for the first time in 2004. They started to become more popular in 2008, when major credit card networks like Visa, Mastercardm and American Express started offering their own versions of contactless cards.

2010: Chip Cards
Pin-and-chip technology made its way to America in 2010. This technology offers greater security than magnetic credit cards, which can be copied. These days, the majority of credit cards in America have EMV chips.

2011: Mobile Wallets
In 2011, Google introduced the first mobile wallets, and Apple followed in its footsteps in 2012. In 2014, Apple Pay was released, followed by Android and Samsung Pay in 2015. As mobile wallets are stored on your smartphone, they grant greater security than physical cards, which can be more easily stolen. Plus, smartphones have security features, such as fingerprint recognition and passcodes, which make them more secure.

How Do Credit Cards Work?

Credit cards are a tangible card that you can use to make purchases. If you’re wondering how credit cards work, they’re a type of revolving loan, which means that you can tap into your line of credit at any given time to borrow funds up to your credit limit, which is set when you apply. Your line of credit gets depleted when you make transactions, and it gets replenished when you pay back what you owe.

Credit cards have an interest rate, expressed as annual percentage rate (APR). This represents how much interest you pay during an entire year. You’ll only pay interest if you have a remaining balance after your payment due date. When you pay the full balance that you owe on your card, your balance is zero and you will not owe interest. When you pay more than you owe, or if a merchant issues you a refund for an amount larger than your total balance, then you have a negative balance on your credit card.

Credit cards might also come with perks, such as rewards points and cashback. Cardholders may also enjoy additional benefits like travel insurance and discounts at select merchants. Credit cards also have built-in security features, such as pin-and-chip technology, fraud monitoring, and a three-digit CVV number on a credit card.

As for how to apply for a credit card, you’ll first want to know your credit score, as this will indicate which cards you may be eligible for. You may consider applying for preapproval to determine your odds of getting approved. When you’ve compared your credit card options and decided which one is right for you, then you can apply online, over the phone, or through the mail.

Credit Cards and Credit Scores

Credit cards can have a major impact on your credit score. For one, your account activity is reported to the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Making on-time credit card minimum payments can help your credit, as payment history makes up 35% of your FICO consumer credit score. On the flipside, making late payments can drag down your score.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on how much debt you rack up relative to your total amount of credit available. Your credit utilization ratio, which measures how much of your available credit has been used, accounts for 30% of your score. It’s generally recommended to keep your credit utilization below 30% to avoid adverse effects to your credit score.

Other factors related to how your credit card can impact your score include the length of your credit history, which makes up 15% of your score, and your mix of credit, which accounts for 10% of your credit score. Having an account open for longer and holding a mix of different types of credit accounts both can help boost your score.

Types of Credit Cards

Nowadays, there are a number of types of cards to choose from. Let’s take a look at the different types of credit cards in modern times.

Rewards Cards

Rewards cards feature a way to earn rewards through travel miles, cash back, or points. You usually collect rewards when you make purchases. For example, you may earn one point for every dollar spent.

You usually can redeem the rewards you earn in different ways, such as on travel accommodations, airline tickets, gift cards, merchandise, or as credit toward your balance statement.

Low-Interest Cards

As the name suggests, low-interest cards feature a low APR. Having a card with a low APR can certainly benefit you if you carry a credit card balance or plan to use your card to make a large purchase, as you may be able to save money on interest.

When looking for low-interest credit cards, you usually need to have a strong credit score to qualify.

Credit Building Cards

If you have a short credit history or less-than-stellar credit score, a credit building card can help you boost your credit. As payments made on a secured credit card are reported to the three major credit bureaus, using your card can help build your credit as long as you stay on top of your payments.

While these cards are more accessible than many other credit cards out there, they also tend to have higher interest rates and fees. They may also offer a lower credit card limit.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

The Future of Credit Cards

As demonstrated in the past few decades, credit card technology is constantly evolving to meet the needs and demands of consumers. The next time you reach your credit card expiration date, you could see an updated product in the mail.

It’s expected that contactless payments, which increased in popularity during the pandemic, will continue to proliferate. In the future, it may even become possible to make payments via voice command tools.

Additionally, the security used in credit cards will continue to evolve. It’s anticipated that magnetic stripe cards will soon fall by the wayside, getting replaced by biometric cards, which use fingerprints and chip technology to enhance security.

Looking for a new credit card?

As you can see from learning the history of credit cards, a lot has changed since the payment method was first introduced. Credit cards remain as popular a payment method as ever, and it’s expected they’ll continue to evolve as technology and consumer needs shift.

When you’re looking for a credit card, it’s important to consider what features you want it to have and how you’d like it to serve your needs. One option is to apply for a credit card with SoFi.

The SoFi Credit Card offers unlimited 2% cash back on all eligible purchases. There are no spending categories or reward caps to worry about.1



Take advantage of this offer by applying for a SoFi credit card today.

FAQ

Who invented credit cards?

There were several early iterations of credit cards, so it’s difficult to pin down exactly who invented credit cards. The credit may go to businessman Frank McNamara and his business partner Ralph Schneider, who invented the Diners Club Card, the first store card to gain widespread use. However, there were more limited versions of credit cards around before that.

How were credit cards first used?

While the concept of paying by credit can be traced back to ancient civilizations, the first modern day example of paying with a credit card was the Diners Club card, which could be used at restaurants. However, this card had one major difference between modern credit cards: you had to pay off the balance in full each month.

What was the first type of credit card?

The first type of credit card was most likely the Diners Club card, introduced in 1950. It was the first credit card that could be used at multiple establishments.


Photo credit: iStock/DoubleAnti

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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.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

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1Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on purchases. No rewards points will be earned with respect to reversed transactions, returned purchases, or other similar transactions. When you elect to redeem rewards points into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, SoFi Active Invest account, SoFi Credit Card account, or SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your rewards points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.

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How to Invest in Agriculture

How to Invest in Agriculture

Many people think of investing in agriculture as owning farmland and operating a farm. Many investors overlook this business area when deciding where to put their money because they don’t see themselves toiling the land. But there are various options to invest in agriculture without being a farmer.

Farmland investing is just one way to invest in agriculture. Additionally, investors can invest in farming-related exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and real estate investment trusts (REITs) or trade commodities to take advantage of the agricultural markets.

What Are Agriculture Investments?

Investing in agriculture is more than just owning some farmland and working the land. Agriculture can be an alternative investment that diversifies an investor’s portfolio. Investors can get exposure to agriculture and farming by investing in businesses involved in the whole farming process, from the seeds in the ground to the distribution of products to grocery stores.

4 Ways to Invest in Agriculture

1. Agriculture Stocks

Investors can put money into various publicly-traded companies that provide services in the farming industry. These agribusiness firms range from those involved in actual crop production — though many crop producers are privately held — to companies in the farming support businesses. The farming support businesses include companies that make fertilizer and seeds, manufacture farming equipment, and process and distribute crops.

Companies in the agriculture industry include, but are not limited to:

•   Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM): A large food processing and commodities trading firm

•   Deere & Company (DE): Known as John Deere, this company manufactures agricultural machinery and heavy equipment

•   Corteva, Inc. (CTVA): An agricultural chemical, fertilizer, and seed company

•   The Mosaic Company (MOS): A large company that produces fertilizer and seeds

•   AppHarvest Inc (APPH): A small-cap company involved in indoor farms and crop production

2. Agriculture ETFs and Mutual Funds

Investors who don’t want to pick individual stocks to invest in can always look to mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that provide exposure to the agricultural industry. Agriculture-focused mutual funds and ETFs invest in a basket of farming stocks, commodities, and related assets, allowing investors to diversify farming exposure.

3. Farm REITs

Farm and agricultural real estate investment trusts (REITs) own farmland and lease it to tenants who do the actual farming. REITs that invest in farmland can be a good option for investors who want exposure to farmland without actually owning a farm.

This type of investment can provide investors with various benefits. For example, a REIT is a type of liquid asset, meaning an investor can quickly sell the investment on the stock market. In contrast, if an investor were actually to own farmland, trying to sell the land could be a drawn-out and complex process. Other benefits include regular dividend payments and geographical and crop diversification.

Recommended: Pros and Cons of Investing in REITs

4. Commodities

Agricultural commodities are the products produced by farms, like corn, soybeans, and wheat.

Trading commodities can be a profitable, though risky, endeavor. Investors who trade commodities look to take advantage of the market’s volatility for short-term gains. Usually, this is done by trading futures contracts, though large investors may actually purchase and sell the physical commodities.

Commodity trading can be risky, especially for a novice investor. ETFs with exposure to commodities may be better for investors with lower risk tolerance.

Recommended: Why Is It Risky to Invest in Commodities?

Benefits and Risks of Investing in Agriculture

Benefits

One of the significant benefits of agriculture investments is that people always need to eat, so there will usually be some demand support for businesses in the industry. Because of this, some investors view the sector as somewhat recession-proof and a good way to diversify a portfolio.

Another benefit is that farmland REITs and certain agriculture stocks can provide passive income through regular dividend payouts. Additionally, farmland investments can provide a hedge against rising inflation.

Risks

The agricultural and farming sector can be fickle, as it’s subject to various risk factors that can impact investments. Uncertainties stemming from weather to government policies to the global commodities markets can cause volatile swings in prices and income that affect investments in the sector.

Here are some risks facing agricultural investments:

•   Production risk: Major weather events, crop diseases, and other factors can affect the quantity and quality of commodities produced.

•   Market risk: The global markets for commodities can affect farming and agricultural business as prices can swing wildly, making crop production and agribusiness demand uncertain.

•   Financial risk: Farms and related businesses often use debt to fund operations, so rising interest rates and credit tightening can hinder companies in the industry.

•   Regulatory risk: Changes in taxes, regulations, subsidies, and other government actions can impact agricultural businesses and investments.

Are Agriculture Investments Right for You?

It might seem like agriculture investments are risky, but with that risk comes reward. If an investor’s risk tolerance allows for it, agricultural investments can provide diversification in a portfolio.

The Takeaway

Fortunately for investors who want to put money into the agriculture sector, they don’t necessarily need to buy a farm. Several investment vehicles can fit their needs to get exposure to farming. Farmland REITs, agribusiness stocks, and farming and commodity ETFs can be options to build wealth in the farm business.

Investing in agriculture doesn’t have to be as hard as owning a farm and working the land. Investors can start investing in agriculture by trading stocks and ETFs for as little as $5 with SoFi Invest®.

Check out how to start investing with SoFi today.

FAQ

Is agriculture worth investing in?

Agricultural investments can help diversify a portfolio. Depending on what areas of the agriculture business you invest in, the assets can produce steady income and long-term capital gains.

How much should I invest in agriculture?

Determining how much you should invest in any asset class depends on your financial goals and personal risk tolerance. It would be best if you didn’t put too much of your money into the agriculture sector; you want a diversified portfolio.

How do I invest in a farm?

Buying a farm can be difficult; you would need a lot of capital for a down payment, just like any other piece of real estate. If you want exposure to farmland, agriculture and farm-related REITs can be a good option, especially for retail investors.


SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

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15 Technical Indicators for Stock Trading

15 Technical Indicators for Stock Trading

Using technical analysis to research stocks is a common strategy to profit from short-term movements in security prices. While some stock analysis tools are fundamental in nature, technical stock indicators typically seek patterns in past price and volume data to give investors and traders insights about how a stock might move in the future.

Naturally, every stock indicator has its pros and cons. Technical indicators can be used by traders to analyze supply and demand forces on stock price, to help investors to understand market psychology, or to manage risk. But while stock indicators and trading tools can help with buy and sell points, false signals can also occur.

For that reason, although technical indicators can assist with trend identification, it’s best to combine different indicators when conducting your stock analysis.

Learn more about the pros and cons of using the following 15 trading tools in your strategy.

How Do Stock Technical Indicators Work?

Technical analysis uses various sets of data and indicators, such as price and volume, to identify patterns and trends. It does not use fundamental analysis to look at the underlying companies, their industries, or any macroeconomic trends that might drive their success or failure.

Rather, technical analysis solely analyzes a stock’s performance. Technical indicators are often rendered as a pattern that can overlay a stock’s price chart to predict the market trend, and whether the stock would be considered “overbought” or “oversold.”

One of the basic tenets of technical analysis is that history tends to repeat itself. By examining certain patterns in light of past outcomes, analysts can make an educated guess about where stock prices might be headed. That said, past performance is never a guarantee of future stock price movements, so traders must bear this in mind.

Knowing many of the most popular trading tools might benefit your investing strategy with easier to spot buy and sell signals. You don’t have to know every single technical indicator, and there are many ways to analyze stocks, but using multiple stock indicators may improve trading results. You can also use these stock indicators to help you manage risk when you are actively trading.

Trend indicators are some of the most important technical trading tools since identifying a security price’s trend is often a first step to forming a strategy. Long positions are often initiated during uptrends, while short sale ideas can occur when prices are in an established downtrend.

Volume technical indicators are also helpful to gauge the power or conviction of an asset’s price move. Some believe that the higher the stock volume on a bullish breakout or bearish breakdown, the more confident the move is. Higher volume could signal a lengthier trend continuation.

Two Types of Technical Indicators

Technical indicators generally come in two flavors: overlay indicators and oscillators.

Overlay Indicators

An overlay indicator typically overlays one trend onto another on a stock chart, often using different colors to distinguish between the lines.

Oscillator Indicators

On a technical analysis chart, an oscillator tracks the distance between two points in order to gauge momentum. The moving average is a common oscillator; it’s considered a lagging indicator as it measures specific intervals in the past.

An oscillator indicator can help traders determine support and resistance in certain price trends, so they can decide whether to sell or buy.

Oscillator indicators can be leading or lagging:

•   A leading indicator tracks current market movements to anticipate where the trend is headed next.

•   A lagging indicator is based on recent history and seeks patterns that will indicate potential price movements.

Top 15 Stock Indicators for Technical Analysis

It’s important to remember that these trading tools were developed based on the belief that mathematically derived patterns may be valuable as predictors of stock movements. Past performance, however, is not a guarantee of future results. So while it can be useful to employ stock technical indicators, they are best used in combination before deciding on a potential trade.

Also, many of these trading tools are lagging indicators, which can lead to an inaccurate reflection of current and future market conditions.

Following are 15 of the most common technical stock indicators, along with their advantages and disadvantages.

1. Moving Averages (MA)

A moving average (MA) is the average value of a security over a given time. The MA can be Simple Moving Average (SMA), Exponential Moving Average (EMA), and Weighted Moving Average (WMA).

A moving average smooths price volatility and is taken as an indicator of the direction a price may be headed. If the price is above the moving average, it’s considered an uptrend versus when the price moves below the MA, which can signal a downtrend. Moving averages are typically used in combination with each other, or other stock indicators, to identify trends.

Pros

•   Using moving averages can filter out the noise that comes from price fluctuations and focus on the overall trend.

•   Moving average crossovers are commonly used to pinpoint trend changes.

•   You can customize moving average periods: common time frames include 20-day, 30-day, 50-day, 100-day, 200-day.

Cons

•   A simple moving average may not help some traders as much as an exponential moving average (EMA), which puts more weight on recent price changes.

•   Market turbulence can make the MA less informative.

•   Moving averages can be simple, exponential, or weighted, which might be confusing to new traders.

2. Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD)

The Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) also helps investors gauge whether a security’s movement is bullish or bearish, but it uses two different MAs to do so. Often, a 26-period exponential moving average is subtracted from a 12-period EMA to spot trading signals. Then a signal line, based on a shorter period EMA, is plotted on top of the MACD to help reveal buy and sell entry points.

Traders use the convergence or divergence of these lines to identify when bullish or bearish momentum is high.

Pros

•   The MACD, used in combination with the relative strength index (below) can help identify overbought or oversold conditions.

•   The MACD can be used to indicate a trend and also momentum.

•   Can help spot reversals.

Cons

•   May provide false reversal signals.

•   Responds mainly to the speed of price movements; less accurate in gauging the direction of a trend.

3. Relative Strength Index (RSI)

RSI is a tool that identifies bullish vs. bearish price momentum. The relative strength index is an oscillator — a tool that builds a trend indicator based on the price movement between two extreme values. It ranges from 0 to 100. Generally, above 70 is considered overbought and under 30 is thought to be oversold.

Pros

•   Can help investors spot buy or sell signals.

•   May also help detect bull market or bear market trends.

•   Can be combined with moving average indicators to spot breakout trends or reversals.

Cons

•   The RSI can move without exhibiting a clear trend.

•   The RSI can remain at an overbought or oversold level for a long time, making this tool less useful.

•   It does not give clues as to volume trends.

4. Stochastic Oscillator

The stochastic oscillator has two moving lines, or stochastics, that oscillate between and around two horizontal lines: The primary “fast” moving line is called the %K, while the other “slow” line is a three-period moving average of the %K line.

A signal is generated when the “fast” %K line diverges above the “slow” line or vice versa. The stochastic oscillator uses a 0 to 100 value range.The two horizontal lines are often pre-set at 30 and 70, indicating oversold and overbought levels, respectively, but can be modified.

Pros

•   Since it’s plotted on a 0 to 100 scale, it’s possible to gauge overbought and oversold levels.

•   Traders can adjust time frame and range of prices to reduce market fluctuation sensitivity.

•   Can be used by day traders.

Cons

•   A security can remain overbought or oversold for long periods as the range of oscillations is not always proportionate to a security’s price action.

•   It can be useful for implementing an overall strategy, but not for gauging the overall market sentiment or trend direction.

5. Williams %R

Similar to the stochastic oscillator, above, the Williams %R (a.k.a. the Williams Percent Range) is also a momentum indicator — but in this case it moves between 0 and -100 to identify overbought and oversold levels and find entry and exit points in the market. The Williams %R compares a stock’s closing price to the high-low range over a specific period, typically 14 days.

Readings between 0 and -20, which are in the top 20% of price during the look-back period, are considered overbought. Readings between -80 and -100, which are in the lowest 20% of price during the look-back, are considered to be oversold.

Pros

•   You can combine different short and long time periods to compare trends.

•   Identifies overbought and oversold levels.

Cons

•   False signals can happen if price strength or weakness leads to a brief movement in the Williams %R above 70% or below 30%.

•   There is no volume analysis with the Williams %R.

6. Bollinger Bands

Bollinger Bands are a set of three lines that help measure the relative high or low of a security’s price in relation to previous trades. The center line is the Simple Moving Average (SMA) of the stock price. The other two trendlines are plotted two standard deviations away from the SMA (one positively, one negatively). These can be adjusted.

The upper and lower lines show the high and low boundaries of the security’s expected price movement (90% of the time). The middle line shows real-time price action moving between those bounds as it fluctuates day-to-day.

Pros

•   Helps traders identify volatility.

•   Can help point to trading opportunities.

Cons

•   Large losses are possible when volatility surges unexpectedly.

•   Does not identify cycle turns quickly enough at times.

7. On-Balance Volume (OBV)

OBV is a little different from the other indicators mentioned. It primarily uses volume flow to gauge future price action on a security or market. When there’s a new OBV peak, it generally indicates that buyers are strong, sellers are weak, and the price of the security will likely increase. Similarly, a new OBV low is taken to mean that sellers are strong and buyers are weak, and the price is trending down.

The numerical value of the OBV isn’t important — it’s the direction that matters. Declining volume tends to indicate declining momentum and price weakness, while increasing volume tends to indicate rising momentum and price strength.

Pros

•   Volume-based indicator gauges market sentiment to predict a bullish or bearish outcome.

•   OBV can be used to confirm price action and identify divergences.

Cons

•   Hard to find definitive buy and sell price levels.

•   False signals can happen when divergences and confirmations fail.

•   Volume surges can distort the indicator for short-term traders.

8. Accumulation / Distribution Line (ADL)

The ADL is a momentum indicator that traders use to detect tops and bottoms and thus predict reversales. It does this by using volume versus price data to identify divergences and thereby show how strong a trend might be. For example: If the price rises but the ADL indicator is falling, then the accumulation volume may not actually support a true price increase and a decline could follow.

Pros

•   Traders can use the AD Line to spot divergences in price compared with volume that can confirm price trends or signal reversals.

•   The ADL can be used as an indicator of the flow of cash in the market.

Cons

•   Doesn’t capture trading gaps or factor in their impact.

•   Smaller changes in volume are hard to detect.

9. Average Directional Index (ADX)

The Average Directional Index (ADX) also helps investors spot asset price trends and to quantify the strength of those trends. ADX shows an average of price range values that indicate expansion or contraction of prices over time — typically 14 days, but it may be calculated for shorter or longer periods. Shorter periods may respond quicker to pricing movements but may also have more false signals. Longer periods tend to generate fewer false signals but may cause the indicator to lag the market.

The ADX uses positive and negative Directional Movement Indicators (DMI+ and DMI-). ADX is calculated as the sum of the differences between DMI+ and DMI- over time. These three indicators are often charted together.

Pros

•   Can help identify when price breakouts reflect a solid trend.

•   Can send signals to traders to watch the price and manage risk (e.g. thru divergences).

Cons

•   Can generate false signals if used to analyze shorter periods.

•   Can’t be used as a standalone indicator.

10. Price Relative / Relative Strength

Relative Strength should not be confused with the Relative Strength Index (above). Relative Strength is more of an investment strategy than a specific indicator. It involves comparing one asset to another or the broader market and helps traders find securities that are trending on a relative, not absolute, basis.

Pros

•   A stock indicator that helps compare one security’s price to another to find which is outperforming.

•   Can plot one stock versus a competitor or market benchmark.

Cons

•   Does not provide exact buy and sell levels.

•   False breakouts and breakdowns can happen.

•   Mean reversion can lead to losses for momentum traders.

11. Relative Volume (RVOL)

RVOL relays to traders how near-term volume compares to historical volume. The higher RVOL is, the more other traders might be paying attention to and trading the asset. Think of it as the stock being “in play.” Stocks that have a lot of volume have more liquidity and tend to trade better than stocks with low relative volume. The RVOL is displayed as a ratio.

So if it is showing 2.5 relative volume, that means it is trading at 3.5 times its normal volume for that time period.

Pros

•   Can offer clues to identify unusually powerful price moves.

•   High and low volume is easily detected by use of being above or below a value of one (1).

Cons

•   While volume is important, it does not give exact buy and sell price levels.

•   Volume surges can be fickle — like around an earnings date.

12. Rate of Change (ROC) and Momentum

ROC is just what it sounds like — the speed at which a stock is moving compared to its trend. The indicator measures a stock’s percentage price change compared to how it moved in recent periods. Like many of the tools mentioned, it can be used to spot divergences.

Pros

•   Works better in trending markets.

•   When used with other trading tools can help traders spot strong momentum.

•   A technical trading tool that can identify overbought and oversold levels.

•   Ideal for spotting divergences.

Cons

•   False signals can happen when the indicator suggests a price trend reversal will take place.

•   Does not give higher weight to more recent price action.

13. Standard Deviation

An asset’s standard deviation is a fundamental statistical tool to get a sense of volatility. It uses historical volatility to arrive at a percentage that is used to reflect how much a security moves. While volatility can indicate potential risk, it can also signal the potential for opportunity.

Pros

•   Mathematically captures the volatility of a stock’s movements, i.e. how far the prices moves from the mean.

•   Provides technicians with an estimate for expected price movements.

•   Can be used to measure expected risk and return.

Cons

•   Does not provide precise buy and sell signals.

•   Must be used in conjunction with other indicators.

14. Ichimoku Cloud

Ichimoku clouds are used to show support and resistance areas on a price chart in an extra-illustrative manner. An Ichimoku Cloud is comprised of five separate calculations that examine multiple averages, and uses the difference between two of the lines to create a shaded area (the cloud) that aims to predict support and resistance levels. It is also employed to identify momentum and trend. It is thought to provide more data than a simple candlestick chart.

Pros

•   A leading indicator of price.

•   Indicates support and resistance areas.

•   Useful for gauging the direction and intensity of a price trend.

Cons

•   Can give many false signals in trendless markets.

•   Can be confusing to traders given its complexity.

15. Fibonacci Retracements

Fibonacci Retracements are based on the golden ratio discovered by mathematician Leonardo Pisano in the 13th century. At its core, a Fibonacci retracement is a mathematical measurement of a particular pattern. The Fibonacci sequence and ratio are used to form support and resistance lines on a price chart.

Pros

•   Offers clues about where a stock might find support and resistance.

•   Helps define exit and entry levels.

•   Can be used to place stop-loss orders.

Cons

•   The use is subjective.

•   Some say Fibonacci Retracements are simply a self-fulfilling prophecy: if many traders are using these ratios, then outcomes will reflect this.

•   No logical proof of why it should work.

The Takeaway

Technical analysts use past price and volume data to help traders identify price trends and make buy and sell decisions. It’s important to know that technical analysis does not use fundamentals to assess the underlying companies, their industries, or any macroeconomic trends that might drive their success or failure. Rather, technical analysis solely analyzes a stock’s performance.

Technical indicators are often rendered as a pattern that can overlay a stock’s price chart to predict the market trend, and whether the stock would be considered “overbought” or “oversold.” There are countless stock technical indicators in existence, and it can quickly become overwhelming to learn them all. It might be more useful to focus on a handful of the most popular trading tools so you can execute a strategy that works for you.

To start trading stocks and gain a hands-on understanding of how technical indicators work, you can open a brokerage account online with SoFi Invest®. You can trade stocks, fractional shares, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and IPO shares right from your laptop or phone. As a SoFi member, you will have access to many online resources — including financial professionals who can guide you in your financial journey. Get started now!


SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

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