9 Smart Ways to Pay Off Student Loans

9 Smart Ways to Pay Off Student Loans

Let’s talk about student loan payments. Woo-hoo! OK, it’s not the most thrilling topic, but know what is serotonin-boosting? Paying off that very last loan.

How to Pay Off Your Student Loans

It’s the unglamorous work that goes on behind the scenes that make or break every business owner, athlete, or creative person. It is helpful to think about student loan repayment like any other big feat worth accomplishing.

It begins with knowing that paying down student loans in a smart and effective way can take a lot of planning, budgeting, and adapting.

While there is no single smartest way to pay off student loans, because everyone’s situation is different, there are steps that will put most borrowers in a position to pay off their student loans without too much pain and on a timeline.

Another goal could be to create a financial plan that includes your loans.

Strategies to Pay Off Student Loans

Here are nine steps to consider including in your student loan repayment plan.

1. Organizing All Of Your Debt, Including Student Loans

Keeping track of your student loans and other sources of debt can be tricky, especially if you are a recent graduate. Consider listing them. Include the student loan servicer, amount of the loan, monthly payment, interest rate, and when the loan should be paid in full.

If you aren’t sure what your monthly payments will be, you can use this student loan calculator to get a rough idea, or you can call your loan servicer.

If you have credit card debt or personal loans, include them on your debt list. With all of your sources of debt, you can then mark on a calendar the date that the monthly payments are due.

While you always need to make the monthly minimum payments on all debts (unless your student loans are within their grace period or are in forbearance), listing them allows you to identify which debts you may want to pay off first.

If you have high-interest credit cards adding up each month, a credit card consolidation loan may be a great option to look at, too.

Once your credit cards are paid off, you’ll want to think about whether your goal is to pay your loans off quickly, or to simply make the monthly payments until the loans are done. The former is one way to save on interest over time.

Some folks do prefer to pay only the minimum monthly amount on their student loans so that they can save a little for other things.

2. Budgeting to Include Loan Payments

It can take time and effort to develop a monthly budgeting system that works for you, but it is doable, and totally worth it.

To get started, track your monthly cash inflows and outflows for two months. Total how much money you spent in each category, including debt payments like student loans.

Once you have a general idea of what you’re spending in each category, you can begin to build a budget framework. For example, if you spend $300 on groceries one month and $350 the next, you can now set a realistic grocery budget. Leave room for annual and quarterly expenses as well as incidentals.

With a budget that is built to include student loan payments, you’ll be more equipped to make all of your payments on time and know how much is available to spend on other wants and needs. Also, understanding how you’re spending will allow you to identify the areas where you’re overspending.

3. Setting Up Automatic Payments

Hopefully your student loan payments are set up to be automatically deducted from your bank account. If they aren’t, you can contact your student loan servicer to set up autopay. That way you won’t miss a payment because you forgot or are somewhere where you can’t access the internet.

Remember, missed or late payments will negatively affect your credit score. Damaged credit could preclude you from opportunities in the future, such as being able to refinance your loans.

Many loan service providers offer a discount if you arrange to autopay. When you sign up, ask if such a discount is available.

See how student loan refinancing could
be a smart way to help
pay off your student loans.


4. Paying More Than the Minimum Monthly Amount

Paying more than the minimum monthly payment can be a great strategy if your goal is to pay off your loan faster than the stated term. You’ll also save on interest over the life of the loan by paying it off sooner. Even small amounts can make a difference.

To do this, instruct your loan servicer to apply any extra payments to the loan principal, or adjust your automatic monthly payment to a higher amount and clarify that you want that extra money dedicated to the principal.

Make sure, after the next month’s payment, that the money was indeed put toward the loan’s principal.

Recommended: Why Making Minimum Student Loan Payments Isn’t Enough

5. Paying a Lump Sum Toward Student Loans

Increasing your monthly payment isn’t the only way to put a dent in your loans; at any point, you are allowed to make a lump sum payment toward the principal.

You could put your tax refund, holiday or birthday money, work bonuses, or inheritance money toward your student debt.

6. Adjusting Your Repayment Plan If Needed

Most federal student loans come with a 10-year repayment plan unless you choose otherwise.

Income-driven repayment plans base payments on discretionary income and family size. The plans lower monthly payments by extending the length of repayment to 20 or 25 years, after which any remaining loan balance is to be forgiven.

Even though your monthly payments are lower, you will pay more interest over time (longer loan terms mean more interest payments, after all). So it’s not a great choice if you want to pay off your student loans quickly or pay as little interest as possible, but it is available to those who are having trouble making their monthly payments.

If you are planning to use the Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program for your federal student loans, you will need to select one of the income-driven repayment plans.

7. Considering Refinancing Your Loans

When you refinance one or more student loans, a private lender like a bank, credit union, or online company pays off your current loans and issues one new student loan, ideally at a lower interest rate. A lower rate could mean substantial savings over the life of the loan.

With federal student loan consolidation, on the other hand, the government bundles your federal student loans into one, using a weighted average of the interest rates, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of a percentage point.

It’s important to note that by refinancing your federal student loans to a private student loan, you will not be able to access federal programs like income-driven repayment plans, PSLF, and government deferment or forbearance. If you don’t need any of those benefits, a lower rate gained by refinancing could be worthwhile.

Exploring refinancing with a private lender takes little time and doesn’t cost anything.

8. Knowing Your Worth and Asking for a Raise

With any pay raise, you can use the extra income toward your financial goals. This could mean increasing the monthly amount you pay toward your student loans or making a lump sum payment.

How much money you earn is an important factor contributing to your financial stability and ability to pay down your student debt. While budgeting is important, so is knowing your worth and asking for more when you deserve it.

If you haven’t already, start keeping track of your successes so that at your next compensation conversation, you have concrete examples on why you deserve a salary bump.

9. Understanding Your Employment Benefits Package

Although student loan repayment help is not as widespread as retirement or health care benefits, more employers are offering that perk to attract and retain employees.

Whenever you’re comparing job offers, it’s a good idea to compare benefits packages; although they’re not flashy like a big salary or company equity, benefits can be just as valuable.

If you’re looking for a new job, you could include student loan repayment help in your search. While it obviously shouldn’t be your only consideration, it’s great to have an idea of what you’re looking for in an employer.

Recommended: Finding Jobs That Pay Off Student Loans

Refinancing Student Loans

Refinancing is among the ways to pay off student loans, and SoFi is a standout in that field. SoFi refinances federal and private student loans with fixed or variable rates and a range of loan terms.

Take a close look at your student loan balance and the rates you’re paying, and then check your refinance rate in two minutes.

FAQ

What is the smart way to pay off student loans?

To pay off any loan, it’s smart to look at the interest rate and repayment term. If you can manage the monthly payments, a short term and a low rate is a winning combo.

If the payments are too painful and a longer term is needed, it could be smart to make extra payments of any amount whenever you can.

The PSLF program forgives any remaining Direct Loan balance after 10 years of on-time payments and qualifying employment. That could be seen as a smart way to pay off federal student loans if a graduate commits to working for a government or nonprofit employer, but the program has had a 98% applicant denial rate.

How can I pay off $100k in student loans in five years?

Say what? Well, it has been done. It might take sacrifice (moving in with relatives, no eating out, no new car), putting chunks that would normally go to rent toward student loan debt, staying motivated by watching and listening to others’ stories of debt repayment, refinancing one or more times, and getting aggressive about payments.

Most refinance lenders will offer a lower rate for a shorter loan term. Of course, the shorter the term, the higher your monthly payments will be, but the less costly the loan will be. A borrower might find that a variable rate, which usually starts lower than a fixed rate, pays off with a short-term loan.

How do I pay off a five-year loan in two years?

By paying extra toward the principal, in dribs and drabs or in a lump sum, and/or refinancing to a lower rate. Federal law prohibits prepayment penalties for federal or private student loans, so that’s not a worry.

To keep your student loan servicer from applying extra amounts to the next month’s payment, tell your servicer, by phone, mail, or online, to apply any extra payments to the loan principal.


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.


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


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

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Can Refinancing Your Student Loans Lower Your Interest Rate?

Can Refinancing Your Student Loans Lower Your Interest Rate?

Yes. The main point of a refinance is to get a lower rate, and graduates who qualify can save serious money.

Interest Rate, Explained

An interest rate is the rate charged to borrow money. Interest is calculated as a percentage of the unpaid principal amount. Federal student loans have a fixed rate, while many private student loans have a fixed or variable rate.

Student loans generate interest daily. Lenders typically add the accrued interest to the balance each month when the bill is generated.

The interest rate paid on any loan may make a big difference. If you have $75,000 in student loan debt and 20-year repayment term, the difference in interest paid with a 6.5% rate and a 4% rate is over $25,000.

To refinance student loans, people with excellent credit and a healthy income — or a solid cosigner — will generally qualify for the lowest rates.

Lowering Your Interest Rate With Consolidation vs Refinancing: How They Differ

For Federal Student Loans

Consolidation is a term reserved for federal student loans and is different from refinancing. Student loans are combined into one loan with a longer term (up to 30 years), reducing the monthly payments. The rate is the average of the existing loans’ rates, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percentage point.

Opting for a Direct Consolidation Loan allows borrowers to retain access to federal programs like deferment, forbearance, and income-driven repayment plans.

But because the new interest rate is the average of the existing rates, rounded up a hair, consolidating loans and drawing out the term usually results in more total interest paid.

Normally, if you had started paying toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness and then consolidated your loans, you’d have to start your qualifying payments over. But a waiver through October 31, 2022, will count repayment on loans before consolidation.

For Private Student Loans

Refinancing means paying off your private or federal student loans with one new loan with a new rate and, sometimes, term.

Refinancing with a private lender may lead to substantial savings.

Then again, it might not be the right move for every borrower. For those with federal student loans, refinancing means losing access to federal student loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment plans.

But borrowers with higher-interest student loans may find the allure of a lower rate — fixed or variable — tempting. If you qualify, you could reduce your payments or save a lot on total interest paid.

Recommended: Can Refinanced Student Loans Still Be Forgiven?

Understanding Your Options to Lower Interest Rate

Federal student loan consolidation is meant to make your monthly payment more manageable by lengthening your repayment term, but it will not lower your rate.

Only by refinancing with a private lender can you try to lower your current private or federal student loan rates. This student loan refinancing calculator can give you an idea of how much you could save by refinancing.

Before you start browsing interest rates, take a look at your current loans. How much do you owe? What are the rates? Are you enrolled in any federal benefits, eligible for any, or hoping to be?

Having this information at the ready can provide valuable insights as you start comparing the rates and terms you might qualify for from different lenders. A rate quote is usually quick and entails only a soft credit pull.

After you’ve determined how much you could potentially save by refinancing, consider looking at other benefits offered by the lender.

Refinancing With SoFi

Refinancing student loans to a lower interest rate makes sense for borrowers who are able to do so and who don’t qualify for or need income-driven plans or other federal programs.

SoFi offers student loan refinancing with low fixed or variable rates, as well as access to member benefits at no cost.

There are no fees when you refinance with SoFi, and the application process can be completed online. If you’re ready to take the next step in paying off student debt, get a rate quote in two minutes.

FAQ

What is federal student loan refinancing?

If you refinance federal student loans, a private lender pays them off with one new private student loan that ideally has a lower rate. Federal student loan consolidation is different.

Do low interest rates apply to student loans?

Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans for undergraduates have a fairly low fixed rate for all borrowers. The rate for Direct Unsubsidized Loans for graduate and professional students is higher. The rate for Direct PLUS loans, for graduate students and parents of dependent undergrads, is yet higher. Most federal student loans also have loan fees that are a percentage of the total loan amount. The fee for PLUS loans has run over 4% in recent years.

Private student loan rates generally are higher than federal student loan rates, but refinancing rates may be quite low for those who qualify. There’s never any cost to refinance, and you can do so as many times as you want.

Can you refinance a student loan for a lower interest rate?

Yes, if you qualify to do so.


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.


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


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

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Tips for When to Consider Refinancing Your Student Loans

Tips for When to Consider Refinancing Your Student Loans

Editor's Note: For the latest developments regarding federal student loan debt repayment, check out our student debt guide.

If you’re like most borrowers, particularly those with six figures’ worth of student loans from graduate or professional school, you might find that looking at your student debt square in the face is a downer, but repayment can be managed.

Is refinancing a good idea? It can be. When? When you can snag a lower interest rate and in a few other situations.

Student Loan Repayment Plans

Chances are you set up a student loan repayment plan after graduation and figured you’d revisit it later — when you’re making more money, when your career is more secure, when you have more time. The standard repayment plan for federal student loans is 10 years. Direct Consolidation Loans have a repayment period of 10 to 30 years.

Putting off the repayment thought is understandable. After receiving your undergraduate or graduate degree, your focus is on other things (like building a career).

But if you let that nebulous “later” turn into “never,” the repercussions can be costly. At some point, refinancing your student loans could potentially save you a significant amount of money. You just need to figure out if it is the right move for you.

When to Finance Your Student Loans

1. Your Current Student Loans Have High Interest Rates

Look at the interest rates you’re paying on your student loans, particularly federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans (graduate or professional), federal grad PLUS loans, and/or private student loans.

Depending on how high your loan balance is and how much you could reduce the interest rates by refinancing one or more loans, your cost savings may be significant.

2. Your Financial Situation Has Improved Since You Took Out the Loans

Maybe you were a starving student when you took out federal or private student loans, but ideally your financial situation has improved with time. This is great news for your bottom line, because a higher credit score and income help a borrower qualify for lower interest rates.

If you expect to stay on an upward financial trajectory, you might even consider refinancing to a variable-rate student loan, which will have a lower starting interest rate than a fixed-rate loan. Variable rates are tied to market fluctuations, though, which means rates that are very low today are likely to go up at some point.

The upshot is that a variable-rate loan could be a good option for a qualified borrower who intends to pay off the loan at a relatively fast pace.

3. You Don’t Plan to Use Certain Federal Student Loan Benefits

Borrowers who go to work in the public sector may qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Some federal programs also offer relief for borrowers who experience financial hardships (such as student loan deferment and forbearance, income-driven repayment plans, and the graduated repayment plan).

If you expect your income to be unpredictable or you’re looking into qualifying public service employment, it probably wouldn’t behoove you to refinance federal student loans. But refinancing could make sense if you don’t plan to tap into any of the federal programs listed above and you can gain a lower rate.

Recommended: Looking for more guidance on your student loans? Explore SoFi’s Student Loan Help Center for tips, resources, guides, and more!

4. You’re Going to Take Out a Large Loan

For loans like mortgage loans, lenders will look at your debt-to-income ratio, among other things. DTI is your monthly debt payments per month, including your future mortgage payments, divided by your gross monthly income. A low DTI generally signals better odds of loan approval and better interest rates.

Decreasing your monthly student loan payment by refinancing, with, say, a long loan term, could lower your DTI.

It might make sense to refinance your student loans at least six months before buying a home or making any other large purchase. That will give you time to recoup the points lost after a hard credit inquiry.

Once the mortgage or other big loan has been secured, you could refinance again, this time picking the lender offering the lowest rate, not just the lowest payment. You can refinance student loans as many times as you wish.

If you think student loan refinancing may be a good option for you, the next step is to check out several refinancing providers to compare interest rates and other features.

Refinance Student Loans With SoFi

You can refinance both federal and private student loans into one new loan with SoFi in an easy, all-online process. You can get your rate in two minutes.

SoFi also offers access to an extensive member network through complementary member experiences like happy hours and dinners.

Which means you could gain more than cost savings when you refinance student loans.

Want to learn more about refinancing your student loans? See your rates in just two minutes.

FAQ

When should I refinance my student loans?

It might make sense to refinance as soon as you have a stable income and good credit that can usher in a lower rate.

Can I refinance student loans after buying a house?

Buying a home creates new debt, and that can make refinancing student loans more difficult. But by waiting several months or even a year to refinance, the dust can settle on the mortgage decision.

Is refinancing my student loans a good idea?

If you’re struggling to repay federal student loans, you might consider an income-driven repayment plan or federal student loan consolidation.

But if you can qualify, your income is stable, and you would save money by refinancing federal or private student loans, that might be a smart move.


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.


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


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

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What Is a Stock Market Crash?

The specter of a stock market crash weighs on the mind of many investors. After all, stock market crashes have played a substantial role in the United States during the 20th and 21st centuries. But knowing the history and effects of stock market crashes can help investors weather the storm when the next one occurs.

What Happens When the Stock Market Crashes?

A stock market crash occurs when broad-based stock indices like the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, or the Nasdaq Composite experience double-digit declines over a single or several days. This means that the stocks of a wide range of companies sell off rapidly, generally because of investor panic and macroeconomic factors rather than company-specific fundamentals.

While no specific percentage decline defines a stock market crash, investors generally know one is occurring while it’s happening.

Recommended: What Is the Average Stock Market Return?

What Causes the Market to Crash?

Stock market crashes are usually unexpected and occur without warning. Often, crashes are caused by investor dynamics; when stocks start to sell off, investors’ fear takes over and causes them to panic sell shares en masse.

Though stock market crashes are usually unexpected, there are often signs that one could be on the horizon because a stock market bubble is inflating. A bubble occurs when stock prices rise quickly during a bull market, outpacing the value of the underlying companies. The bubble forms as investors buy certain stocks, driving prices up. Other investors may see the stocks doing well and jump on board, further raising prices and initiating a self-sustaining growth cycle.

The stock price growth continues until some unexpected event makes investors wary of stocks. This unexpected event causes investors to unload shares as quickly as possible, with the herd mentality of panic selling resulting in a stock market crash.

Catastrophic events such as economic crises, natural disasters, pandemics, and wars can also trigger stock market crashes. During these events, investors sell off risky assets like stocks for relatively safe investments like bonds.

Stock markets can also experience flash crashes, where the stock market plummets and rebounds within minutes. Computer trading algorithms can make these crashes worse by automatically reacting and selling stocks to head off losses. For example, on May 6, 2010, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,000 points in 10 minutes but recovered 70% of its losses by the end of the day.

Examples of Past Stock Market Crashes

There have been several crashes in the stock market history, the most recent being the crash associated with the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. The following are some of the most well-known crashes during the past 100 years.

Stock Market Crash of 1929

The most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States occurred in October 1929. The crash occurred following a period of relative prosperity during the Roaring Twenties, when new investors poured money into the stock market.

The crash began on Thursday, October 24, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined about 11%, followed by a 13% decline on Monday, October 28, and a 12% drop on Tuesday, October 29. These losses started a downward trend that would continue until 1932, ushering in the Great Depression.

Black Monday Crash of 1987

On Monday, October 19, 1987, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted nearly 23% in a single day. Known as Black Monday, this selloff occurred for various reasons, including the rise of computerized trading that made it easier for panicked investors to offload stocks quickly, and stock markets around the world crashed.

Dotcom Crash of 2000

The Dotcom crash between 2000 and 2002 occurred as investors started to pull money away from internet-based companies. The Nasdaq Composite index declined about 77% from March 2000 to October 2002.

In the mid to late 1990s, the internet was widely available to consumers worldwide. Investors turned their eyes to internet-based companies, leading to rampant speculation as they snapped up stocks of newly public internet companies. Eventually, startups that enthusiastic investors had fueled began to run out of money as they failed to turn a profit. The bubble eventually burst.

Recommended: Lessons From the Dotcom Bubble

Financial Crisis of 2008

The stock market crash of 2008 was fueled by rising housing prices, which came on the heels of the dot-com crash recovery. At the time, banks were issuing more and more subprime mortgages, which financial institutions would bundle and sell as mortgage-backed securities.

As the Federal Reserve increased interest rates, homeowners, who often had been given mortgages they couldn’t afford, began to default on their loans. The defaults had a ripple effect throughout the economy. The value of mortgage-backed securities plummeted, causing major financial institutions to fail or approach the brink of failure. This financial crisis spilled over into the stock market, and the S&P 500 fell nearly 60% from a peak in October 2007 to a low in March 2009.

Coronavirus Crash of 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic swept the United States in February 2020, the government responded with stay-at-home orders that shut down businesses and curtailed travel. The U.S. economy entered a recession, and the stock market plunged. The S&P 500 fell 30% into bear market territory in just one month, including a one day decline of 12% on March 16, 2020.

What Are the Effects of a Crash?

Stock market crashes can lead to bear markets, when the market falls by 20% or more from a previous peak. If the crash leads to an extended period of economic decline, the economy may enter a recession.

A market crash could lead to a recession because companies rely heavily on stocks as a way to grow. Falling stock prices curtail a company’s ability to grow, which can have all sorts of ramifications. Companies that aren’t able to earn as much as they need may lay off workers. Workers without jobs aren’t able to spend as much. As consumers start spending less, corporate profits begin to shrink. This pattern can lead to a cycle of overall economic contraction.

A recession is usually declared when U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP, shrinks for two consecutive quarters. There may be other criteria for declaring a recession, such as a decline in economic activity reflected in real incomes, employment, production, and sales.

Recommended: U.S. Recession History: Reviewing Past Market Contractions

Preventing Stock Market Crashes

Major stock exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) have instituted circuit breaker measures to protect against crashes. These measures halt trading after markets drop a certain percentage to curb panic selling and prevent the markets from going into a freefall.

The NYSE’s circuit breakers kick in when three different thresholds are met. A drop of 7% or 13% in the S&P 500 shuts down trading for 15 minutes when the drop occurs between 9 am and 3:25 pm. A market decline of 20% during the day will shut down trading for the rest of the day.

Suppose a crash does occur, and it threatens to weaken the economy. In that case, the federal government may step in to ease the situation through monetary and fiscal policy stimulus measures. Monetary policy stimulus is a set of tools the Federal Reserve can use to stimulate economic growth, such as lowering interest rates. Fiscal stimulus is generally infusions of cash through direct spending or tax policy.

Investment Tips During a Market Crash

A stock market crash can be alarming, especially when it comes to an investor’s portfolio. Here are some important investment tips for navigating a market downturn.

Don’t Panic and Focus on the Long-Term

It will help if you remain calm when the stock market is plummeting. That’s often easier said than done, especially when your portfolio’s value declines by more than 10% in a short period. It’s tempting to join the panic selling, to make sure stock losses are minimized.

But investing is a long game. You don’t want to make decisions based on something happening now when your investing time horizon may be 30 years. If you don’t need access to your money right away, it may be better to hold on to your investments and give them time to recover.

To help curb your impulse to pull out of the market when it is low — and continue investing instead — you may want to consider dollar cost averaging.

Diversify Your Portfolio

Stocks and the stock market get most of the media’s attention, especially when the stock market is crashing, but there are other areas to help you realize financial gains. Other assets like bonds, commodities, or emerging market stocks may be attractive investment opportunities during a crash.

Buy The Dip

As the famous axiom goes, “buy low, sell high.” A stock market crash may present opportunities to buy stocks at a lower, more attractive share price.

The Takeaway

The stock market tends to recover following a stock market crash; it took the S&P 500 six months to recover the losses experienced during the coronavirus crash. So any rash moves you make during a stock market crash may prevent you from seeing gains in the long term.

A stock market crash can be scary, causing you to panic and fret over your savings and investments. But often, with investing, the best advice is not to give in to your feelings. Even during a stock market crash, some opportunities and strategies help grow wealth over time.

If you’re ready to start investing, you can open an online brokerage account with as little as $5 on SoFi Invest®. Active Investing accounts work for people who like to take a hands-on approach to investing — those who want to choose individual stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), or fractional shares themselves to build a personalized portfolio that may help navigate a stock market crash.

Visit SoFi Invest® if you’re ready to build your portfolio and start saving for your short- and long-term goals.


Photo credit: iStock/Prostock-Studio

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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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Opening a Business Bank Account

Opening a Business Bank Account: How Business Bank Accounts Work

Business bank accounts can help owners keep professional transactions separate from personal banking and aid in their business cash management. These accounts often come with special conditions and requirements, and they may have various fees.

Here, we’ll take a closer look at these accounts, their pros and cons, and what it takes to open one. Let’s dive into the details about business bank accounts.

What Is a Business Bank Account?

There are three main types of business banking accounts: checking accounts for everyday use, savings accounts for intermediate and long-term savings, and merchant accounts for accepting debit and credit card payments. In this article, we’ll focus on business checking and savings accounts, available from both online and brick-and-mortar banks.

What Is a Business Checking Account?

A business checking account works much the same way a personal checking account does. You use it to deposit payments and make withdrawals, usually an unlimited amount. Like personal checking accounts, business checking accounts typically pay low to no interest on your balance.

What Is a Business Savings Account?

A business savings account will pay more interest than a checking account, so it can be a good place to park cash on an interim basis. You will likely be limited on how many transactions you can make per month without a penalty (typically six), and there may be a monthly minimum balance to maintain. Many business owners find using both a business checking and savings account can meet their banking needs.

How Long Does Opening a Business Bank Account Take?

If you open up a business bank account — whether it’s checking, savings, or both — the time commitment needed is usually similar to that of a personal checking and savings account. It will likely take just a matter of minutes if you have the necessary information on hand. You will need to provide some details about yourself, your business, and any additional business owners involved in your enterprise. Then, you’ll deposit funds. Keep in mind it can take up to seven business days for final approval before you can actually access funds.

What Is Needed to Open a Business Bank Account?

Whether you open your bank account online or in person, you’ll need documentation of several personal and business details. Different banks may have their own verification requirements, depending on the type of business you own and the type of account you’re looking to open.

Here is a general list of what you might need to have on hand to make the opening process most efficient:

•   Your name, birthdate, and Social Security number

•   Mailing address and all contact information

•   What percentage you own of the business (anyone who owns 25% of the business or more will likely have to disclose personal details and identification)

•   A government-issued photo ID, such as driver’s license or passport

•   Business name and DBA (“doing business as” name) or trade name, if applicable

•   Business address and employer identification number (EIN) (Note: sometimes Social Security numbers suffice)

•   Industry/type of business

Depending on the type of business you own, you may be asked for the following documents:

•   Sole proprietorships may need the business name registration certificate and the business license.

•   Partnerships may need the partnership agreement, business name registration certificate, business license, and the state certificate of partnership.

•   Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) may need the articles of organization, LLC operating agreement, and business license.

•   Corporations may need articles of incorporation, corporate bylaws, and business licenses.

What to Look for in a Business Banking Account

Traditional banks, online banks, and credit unions all offer business bank accounts. All have different fee structures and provide different services. There are many fees and restrictions to consider when choosing a business banking account. But consider this overarching factor: online accounts are usually best for businesses that don’t need to make bank deposits.

Here’s what to compare when you’re looking for an account:

•   Monthly fees, such as account maintenance

•   Any minimum balance requirements

•   No-fee transactions

•   ATM access (for deposits and withdrawals)

•   Transfer, wiring, and payment capabilities

•   Incidental fees (such as, stop payment, overdraft, and nonsufficient funds)

•   Online and mobile banking tools

•   Additional features, such as invoicing, bill pay, or integrations with other business tools (especially tax reporting software)

Benefits of Opening a Business Banking Account

A business account can be a smart tool for a variety of reasons. Business owners may need to keep their personal and business accounts separate for tax and liability reasons. A business bank account also helps you establish a banking relationship that you can draw on in the future for lending or other services that may help your business grow. You will also establish a financial record that can come in handy when it comes time to file taxes and help your concern establish a good credit rating.

Cons of Opening a Business Banking Account

There are very few cases when a business banking account is a bad idea. Some very small sole proprietors may find they don’t need the extra fees and bookkeeping involved. But for most business owners, a separate account can be an efficient tool.

That said, one of the potential drawbacks of a business banking account is fees. High fees that you may not have anticipated can eat into your business profits. Some fees to look out for include monthly fees, transaction fees, monthly balance transfer fees, cash deposit fees, ATM fees, and wire transfer fees. These fees add up fast. Be sure to check thoroughly what fees are involved and compare from one financial institution to another.

Pros of a Business Bank Account

Cons of a Business Bank Account

Keeps professional finances separate from personal May involve additional fees
Establishes a business relationship with a financial institution May involve more bookkeeping
Creates a financial record that can be useful for tax or credit-rating purposes

Choosing a Business Bank Account

Now that you’ve looked at fees, here are some other considerations as you choose your business bank account:

•   Banking online: Business bank accounts with online-only banks can be great for virtual businesses or any business that is not handling daily cash transactions. Many online banks do not require a monthly minimum balance.

•   Network: If you’re banking in person, be sure there is a conveniently located branch near your business. Also, find out how many no-fee ATMs are available in your area.

•   Electronic services: Check if online bill pay, electronic fund transfers, and other electronic services that can support your business are available for low or no fees.

•   Electronic payments: Does your bank accept Zelle and Venmo? If so, are there additional fees involved? How long will it take for transactions to post? Electronic payments are increasingly becoming the lifeblood of many businesses.

•   Software compatibility: Is the bank account you’re considering compatible with the bookkeeping software you use? That can make life easier when you need to track or get access to cash flow, outstanding receivables, and other items each month.

Other support: Does the bank offer small business loans, lines of credit, business credit cards, and other financial support for entrepreneurs that you may need in the future?


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


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

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

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

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

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

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


The following describes the terms that apply to participation in the SoFi Checking and Savings direct deposit promotion (the “Direct Deposit Promotion”) offered by SoFi Bank, N.A, Member FDIC (“SoFi”).

Eligible Participants: All new and existing members without any history of direct deposit transactions into their SoFi Checking and Savings account are eligible for the Direct Deposit Promotion. Members who previously enrolled in direct deposit into either SoFi Money or SoFi Checking and Savings, whether currently still enrolled or not, do not qualify for this Direct Deposit Promotion. Bonuses are limited to one per SoFi Checking and Savings account. In the case of a joint account, only the primary account holder (the member who signed up first) is eligible for a bonus.

Promotion Period: The Direct Deposit Promotion will begin on 01/01/2023 at 00:01AM ET and end on 12/31/23 at 11:59PM ET.

Bonus Terms: In order to qualify for eligibility for a bonus, SoFi must receive at least one Direct Deposit (as defined below) from an Eligible Participant before the end of the Promotion Period. Direct Deposits are defined as deposits of $1,000.00 or greater from an enrolled member’s employer, payroll, benefits provider, or government agency via ACH deposit. Deposits that are not from an employer, payroll, benefits provider, or government agency (such as check deposits; P2P transfers such as from PayPal or Venmo, etc.; merchant transactions such as from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.; and external bank ACH transfers not from employers) do not qualify for this Direct Deposit Promotion. The amount of the bonus, if any, will be calculated during the Direct Deposit Bonus Period as described and defined below.

Direct Deposit Bonus Period: The Direct Deposit Bonus Period begins when SoFi receives a Direct Deposit within the Promotion Period and ends 25 calendar days later (the “Direct Deposit Bonus Period”). For the avoidance of doubt, the Direct Deposit Bonus Period shall not extend beyond the Promotion Period. The bonus amount will vary based on the total amount of Direct Deposits received during the Direct Deposit Bonus Period. Once the Direct Deposit Bonus Period has elapsed, SoFi will determine if you have met the offer requirements and will deposit any earned bonus into your checking account within seven (7) business days. For example, if SoFi receives between $1,000.00 and $4,999.99 in Direct Deposits during the Direct Deposit Bonus Period, you will receive a one-time cash bonus of $50. A member may only qualify for one bonus tier and will not be eligible for future bonus payments if Direct Deposits subsequently increase after the Direct Deposit Bonus Period.

Total Direct Deposit Amount in Direct Deposit Bonus Period Cash Bonus Tier
$1,000.00 - $4,999.99 $50
$5,000.00 or more $250


Bonus Payment Timeline: SoFi will credit members who meet qualification criteria within seven (7) business days of the end of the Direct Deposit Bonus Period.

Bonuses are considered miscellaneous income and may be reportable to the IRS on Form 1099-MISC (or Form 1042-S, if applicable). SoFi reserves the right to exclude any Members from participating in the Direct Deposit Promotion for any reason, including suspected fraud, misuse, or if suspicious activities are observed. SoFi also reserves the right to stop or change the Direct Deposit Promotion at any time.

SoFi members with Direct Deposit can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the 4.60% APY for savings (including Vaults). Members without Direct Deposit will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.

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

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