How Many Lines of Credit Should I Have?

How Many Lines of Credit Should I Have?

There’s no one answer that fits all situations. The average American has 4 credit cards. But how many lines of credit you should have depends upon your needs, your skill at managing your finances, and your ability to make payments on time.

We’ll explore two types of credit lines, provide definitions of basic credit terms, and offer some broader context so that you can make the choice that’s best for you.

Line of Credit Definition

First, what is a line of credit? A personal line of credit (sometimes called a PLOC) allows consumers to borrow money as they need it, up to a set limit, and pay it off over time. A line of credit can be used to pay bills or make purchases directly or to withdraw cash with no cash-advance fee. As long as borrowers keep paying down the balance, they can keep borrowing. In other words, this is a type of revolving credit.

Lines of credit are usually granted only to people with good credit. Because they’re less risky for the lender, the interest rate can be lower than for credit cards.

Recommended: Does Net Worth Include Home Equity

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How Does a Line of Credit Work?

Many banks, credit unions, and online financial institutions offer lines of credit. A distinguishing feature is the “draw period.” During that time — typically seven to 15 years — funds can be borrowed and repaid in a revolving way. When the draw period ends, users can no longer make purchases or withdrawals, though they can reapply to keep the line open. The repayment period can continue for additional five to 13 years.

To utilize a line of credit, consumers may receive checks, a card, or a direct deposit into their bank account. Funds can be used however they like, but generally go toward large purchases. Personal lines of credit often have a variable interest rate, with interest-only payments during the draw period.

Recommended: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait

Is It Possible To Have Too Many Lines of Credit?

In this case, a “line of credit” refers to both PLOCs and credit cards. All credit cards are a form of credit line, but not all lines of credit are associated with a credit card.

If a consumer has many credit lines, lenders may see them as high-risk — even if their balances are all zero. As noted above, the average American has four credit cards. New Jersey residents have the most credit cards in the country, with 4.5 on average. Older generations tend to carry more cards than Millennials and Gen Z. So while four lines of credit may be considered normal, it can be “too many” if a consumer has trouble juggling their bills and making payments on time.

Is It Possible To Have Too Few Lines of Credit?

To build a strong credit score, it helps to have a variety of credit types. Credit mix accounts for 10% of a FICO® Score, and the ideal mix includes both revolving credit and installment loans like personal loans, car loans, and so forth. Although each person’s situation is unique, just having credit accounts and managing them well is what builds a good credit score. Having one or two cards can be enough.

Recommended: What Credit Score is Needed to Buy a Car

Credit Card Definition

You may be wondering, if a line of credit can come with a card, then what is a credit card? Both credit cards and lines of credit are forms of revolving credit offered by many financial institutions. A credit card holder can also make purchases up to the credit card spending limit. However, credit card users can avoid interest charges by paying off the balance in full each month. Essentially, credit cards provide consumers with unlimited short-term loans for free (assuming there’s no annual fee).

Credit cards don’t have a draw period — they remain open as long as the account is in good standing. The average credit card limit, according to the latest report from credit bureau Experian, is $30,365.

Recommended: What is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax

Line of Credit vs Credit Card

A credit card — as the name implies — has a card connected to it, which allows the borrower to access funds. A line of credit doesn’t necessarily have a card connected to the account. Lines of credit tend to have lower interest rates and annual percentage rates (APRs) than credit cards and may have higher limits. So they may be better suited to large purchases, as noted above, that can be paid for over time.

Credit cards are easy to use for everyday purchases and often come with an interest-free grace period (from the purchase date until the payment date). Credit cards may provide rewards and perks that personal lines of credit do not. And applying for a credit card is usually a simpler process than the line of credit process.

Recommended: Choosing a Credit Card

Credit Score Risk Factors to Consider

How someone manages personal lines of credit and credit cards will have an affect on their credit score and, therefore, their ability to borrow at advantageous rates. Here are some ways your line of credit may negatively influence your credit score:

•   Credit utilization. After a large purchase, your credit utilization percentage will rise. Credit utilization accounts for 30% of your credit score.

•   Payment history. Late or missed payments can negatively impact your history. Payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO score.

•   Credit history length. A new line of credit will lower the average age of your credit history. Length of credit history accounts for 15% of your score.

Consumers who are concerned about their credit score may want to take advantage of a free credit monitoring service to see how their day to day actions impact their score.

Using Multiple Credit Cards

How many credit cards should you have? As long as you can responsibly manage your credit cards and haven’t applied for too many new ones in a short timeframe, then the number isn’t likely to have a negative impact on your credit.

However, the more cards you have, the more payments and due dates you’ll have to juggle. Ask yourself whether any of these issues apply to you:

•   Multiple annual fees are taking a bite out of your budget.

•   Monitoring your cards for fraudulent activity has become challenging.

•   Knowing you have cards with low or no balances makes it easier to overspend.

Recommended: How to Use a Credit Card Wisely

The Takeaway

The right number of credit lines varies by personal need and financial circumstances. Lines of credit include but aren’t limited to credit cards. What’s most important is to use them wisely to protect your credit score, avoid unnecessary debt, and manage your finances responsibly. It may help to know that the average American has about 4 lines of credit.

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FAQ

How many lines of credit is good for your credit rating?

Specifics will depend upon your financial situation. Elements that go into credit score calculations typically include the borrower’s payment history (making payments on time is the biggest factor), outstanding balance amounts in comparison to limits, credit history length, having a good credit mix, and strategically applying (or not applying) for new credit accounts.

How many lines of credit is too much?

What’s most important is to have the right number for your financial needs and overall situation. Being able to responsibly manage the number of accounts you have is important since making payments on time is the biggest factor in your credit scores. While most Americans have about four lines of credit, that may be “too much” for some consumers.

What are some consequences of having multiple lines of credit?

It can be more challenging to keep track of payment dates and amounts, which may make it easier to make a payment late or miss it entirely. This can have a negative impact on your credit score. Plus, if accounts have annual fees, then having several of them can add up. Multiple lines of credit may also make it more difficult to spot fraud. That said, if someone can responsibly manage multiple lines of credit, then that may be the right number of accounts for them.


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SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc.’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.

*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

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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 .

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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Does Applying for Credit Cards Hurt Your Credit Score?

Does Applying for Credit Cards Hurt Your Credit Score?

Applying for credit cards isn’t something you should take lightly because it absolutely can hurt your credit score. One credit card application can ding your score by just a few points, but multiple applications could raise red flags for lenders and drag down your credit score accordingly.

Still, while applying for a credit card can hurt your credit, there are a number of potential pluses to credit cards, from allowing you to build your credit history to earning rewards. Here’s how to navigate the effects of applying for credit on your credit score, as well as some alternatives to consider if you don’t think your score can currently weather it.

Hard vs Soft Credit Inquiries

To understand how applying for a credit card can hurt your score, it’s first important to know the difference between hard and soft credit inquiries.

A hard inquiry, also known as a hard pull or hard credit check, generally occurs when a lender is determining whether to loan you the funds you’ve applied for. This might happen if you’ve applied for a mortgage or a new credit card, for example.

On the other hand, a soft inquiry, or soft credit pull, tends to happen when someone runs a credit check to gather information without the express purpose of lending you money. For instance, a credit card issuer may do a soft pull in order to make a preapproval offer, or a potential employer might perform a soft inquiry as part of the application process. A soft credit inquiry also may happen when you check your credit report.

Perhaps the most important difference between a hard pull vs. a soft pull is how it impacts your credit scores. While hard credit inquiries show up on your credit report and affect your score, soft inquiries do not. Further, while soft pulls can be done without your consent, creditors need your approval to do a hard inquiry.

How Applying for Credit Cards Can Hurt Your Score

While your credit score won’t take a huge hit when you apply for a credit card, it will get dinged. Why? When you apply for a credit card, the card issuer will perform a hard inquiry to determine whether you’re a good candidate to lend money to.

Hard inquiries can lower your credit score because a new application can represent more risk for the card issuer. According to FICO, a hard credit inquiry will generally affect your score by less than five points. Those with few accounts or a thin credit history can experience a greater impact on their score. Additionally, multiple inquiries within a short period of time can exacerbate effects on your credit score.

Hard pulls stay on your credit report for two years, though their impact on your credit scores typically vanishes after a year. It’s important to note that your score will see an impact whether or not you’re approved, as the hard inquiry is conducted either way.

Should You Apply for Multiple Credit Cards at Once?

Simply put, no. This is a bad idea for your credit score. While it might make sense to apply for more than one job at a time, that’s not the way to go with credit cards. Instead, you should approach applying for credit cards strategically.

By applying for several cards over a short period, you might send the signal that you’re desperately seeking funds and headed for — or already in — trouble. You’ll appear risky to lenders and that will likely be reflected by a dip in your credit score.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t have multiple credit cards. You’ll just want to take your time and space out your acquisitions. If you get rejected for a card, pause to figure out why, and then take steps to address the suspected weak spots. Once you’ve had time to build your credit, consider trying again.

How Often Can I Apply for a Credit Card Without Hurting My Credit?

Per Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, it’s wise to wait at least six months in between credit card applications. If you apply for a number of credit cards within a few months, you could see more than the usual ding to your score that new credit inquiries typically cause. While the effects may be brief, Experian states that you could see a “potentially significant drop” in your score.

While six months is the minimum waiting period suggested, how often it’s appropriate to apply for new credit cards also depends on your financial specifics. For instance, if your application was denied due to your credit score and you still haven’t improved it, then it may not make sense to apply again, even if six months have passed. Similarly, you might not choose to apply for a new card if you know you have another big lending application coming up, such as for a mortgage.

On the other hand, if you have a strong credit profile, your score may not take as much of a hit if you decide to apply for another card sooner to try to cash in on generous rewards or a hefty welcome bonus offer. Those who don’t yet have a credit history and are beginning to build a credit profile may also find it’s worthwhile to wait less time between applications.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

Can Applying for Credit Cards Help Your Score?

There are two sides to a coin and so it goes with applying for credit cards — there can be some upside when you apply for a new card.

This is partly because opening a new account effectively increases your credit limit. In turn, this can lower your credit utilization ratio, which is your outstanding balances compared to your overall credit limit. Credit utilization accounts for 30% of your credit score and is second in importance only to your payment history.

Another potential plus to opening a new card is that if you make on-time payments on your new card, your positive payment history can build your score over time. However, if you’re a credit card newbie and still working on establishing credit, you may not see the uptick in your score as quickly. This is because FICO requires you to have at least one account that’s been open for six months and one account that’s been reported to the credit bureau within the last six months to qualify for a credit score.

If you don’t already have a handful of credit card accounts, a new card also can positively impact your score because it’s adding another revolving account to your lineup. While your mix of account types only comprises 10% of your credit score, credit scoring models do look at this.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Does Applying for a Credit Card and Not Getting Approved Hurt Your Credit?

Your credit will be affected whether or not you’re approved for a credit card. That’s because when you submit a credit card application, a hard credit inquiry is conducted to determine if you’re eligible. The effects of that hard pull will apply regardless of the results.

However, your credit won’t face any consequences for the fact you were denied a credit card. That information won’t be reflected in your credit score, nor will it show up on your credit report.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Things to Consider Before Applying for a Credit Card

Before you rush to apply for credit, make sure you’re ready. Here’s what to consider doing prior to applying.

•   Check your credit report: The first step is to get a copy of your credit report. To get your free report each year, go to AnnualCreditReport.com . As you review your credit report, look for any errors. If there are any, take steps to fix them before you approach a credit card issuer. Also check to see if you’ve had any other recent hard inquiries.

•   Consider any other upcoming credit applications: Be mindful about what’s on your horizon before moving forward with applying for a new credit card. For example, if you think that you will be applying for a mortgage or car loan soon, you may not want to apply for a card and rack up multiple inquiries at once. It may make sense to get your mortgage or car loan first and wait for a little while to go after the credit card.

•   Don’t plan to ditch your old cards: Just because you hope to get a new card, don’t start canceling the other cards in your wallet. Remember, length of credit history makes up 15% of your credit score. By canceling old cards, you’d also reduce your total available credit, which could drive up your credit utilization ratio if you have hefty balances on other cards.

•   Think about why you want to apply for a credit card: Lastly, have a little talk with yourself. A credit card rule of thumb is just because you can get a credit card doesn’t mean you need one. If you already have a credit card, what’s driving you to apply? How are you managing your existing credit card? If you’re not 100% sure you’ll be able to pay off the balance in full each month, think twice about getting it. When balances linger from month to month, it becomes costly due to interest racking up.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Alternatives to Credit Cards

If you’re worried about the effects that applying for a credit card may have on your credit score, know that you have other options. Instead of getting a credit card, you may also consider the following alternatives for financing:

•   Debit card: If you’re simply looking for another way to easily make purchases and avoid carrying around a wallet full of cash, consider a debit card. While a debit card does not allow you to build your credit score, applying for one does not require a hard pull and is often as easy as opening a bank account. Do note that debit cards tend to have less robust security protections compared to credit cards though.

•   Loan from a family member or friend: If you’re wary of weathering a hard credit inquiry right now, consider approaching a close family member or friend about borrowing the funds you need. Make sure to clearly agree to the terms of the loan agreement, including when you’ll pay back the money. Also realize the potential implications for your personal relationship if you don’t make good on paying this person back.

•   Salary advance: Another option may be to ask your employer if you can borrow funds from a future paycheck. This can allow you to borrow money in a pinch without needing to go through the formal credit application process. Employers typically won’t charge fees or interest, though you may have to pay an administration fee or interest if your employer relies on a third party for the service.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

The Takeaway

Applying for a credit card may be a simple process in terms of filling out the forms, but that doesn’t mean it’s something to take lightly. It can have very real effects on your credit score due to the fact that a formal application requires a hard credit inquiry. Thus, applying for a credit card is always something you should consider carefully and do responsibly.

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


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 .

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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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How to Spot Good Car Value Estimates vs Bad Car Price Estimates

How to Spot Good Car Value Estimates vs Bad Car Price Estimates

Good car value estimates will factor in as many as a dozen data points, including geographic and economic influences. Less precise tools base estimates only on make, model, year, and mileage. If you’re looking to sell your car, or you’re in the market for a used vehicle, it’s important to familiarize yourself with how automobile valuations work.

Here’s what you need to know to help you increase your chances of getting the best deal.

What to Know About Instant Dealer Trade-In Quotes

A number of dealerships and websites — such as Carvana, Vroom, Truecar and Kelley Blue Book — offer instant cash or instant dealer trade-in quotes for your car. Often, all you have to do is share a few details, such as the vehicle identification number (VIN) or license plate number, and the company will come back to you with a cash offer for your vehicle.

Though a lot of companies make it sound like the process is as simple as that, know that there is likely an in-person review of your vehicle before anyone will cut you a check.

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Recommended: What Credit Score is Needed to Buy a Car

What Do Dealers Base Their Car Estimates On?

Instant quotes and valuations usually look at a few quick measures, such as year, make and model, and mileage. This information is enough to provide a rough estimate of value. However, other factors will also come into play. Here’s a closer look.

(Keep in mind, these terms apply only to cars you own outright; different calculations go into valuing a leased car.)

Make and Model

You can think of the make and model of a car as the brand and the specific product on offer. For example, Toyota is a make of vehicle, while the Corolla is a model. Some makes and models are more popular, which helps them hold their value longer. For example, a certain make and model might be known for fuel efficiency or to be safer or more reliable.

There may be numbers or letters next to a car’s make and model that further delineate different features or trim level. Generally speaking, the higher a vehicle’s trim level — the more features it has — the more valuable the car will be.

Recommended: How to Buy a Used Car

Style

A vehicle’s body style is its shape. It might be a minivan, hatchback, or pickup truck. Information about a vehicle style is contained in its make and model. And certain styles are more valuable than others. For example, trucks tend to retain their value better than other car styles. In other words, they depreciate more slowly.

Condition

Your vehicle’s condition means both cosmetic issues like scratches, dents, and wear to upholstery, and also the wear and tear on the engine and other components. The better condition a car is in and the fewer impending repairs needed, the more valuable it will be.

Mileage

Mileage is an important factor to consider because it serves as shorthand for potential wear and tear. The more a car has been driven, the more likely it needs repair or will soon. As a result, cars with smaller odometer readings are worth more.

Accident History

Accidents big and small will hurt the value of a vehicle. Even if a car was in a minor accident and shows no outward signs of damage, value can decrease. Buyers can look up vehicle history reports on sites such as Carfax and AutoCheck, using a car’s VIN.

Car Add-ons

When you buy a car new, you may be offered a series of add-ons, such as splash guards, alarm systems, and tinted windows. While these are often pricey to add to a new vehicle, that doesn’t always translate into increased value for used cars. In fact, according to some experts, once a car is two or three years old, add-ons have little effect on its value. Condition, mileage, and accident history often matter much more to the average used car buyer.

Number of Previous Owners

Used cars that have been owned by only one person may be seen as preferable because the vehicle will have had a consistent driving history and maintenance schedule. Multiple owners will not necessarily hurt the value of a car, but it may raise a red flag if there have been many owners in a short period of time.

Warranties

If a car is still under warranty and that warranty is transferable to a new buyer, it can add value.

Location

Geography can have an effect on car value. For example, the harsh winters and salted roads of the Northeast can take a toll, causing more wear and tear than a warm, dry climate.

Additionally, some types of vehicles may be in higher demand in certain areas, driving up price. For example, you might have an easier time selling a pickup truck in a suburban or rural area than in a big city.

Timeline

The less time an individual has to sell their vehicle, the more likely it is that they may have to accept an offer that’s less than the fair market value, especially in areas where there is not much demand.

The Economy

The value of used vehicles can fluctuate with changes in the economy. For example, supply chain issues and increased consumer demand over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic drove up the price of new and used vehicles. The median price of used vehicles jumped 44% between December 2019 and December 2021.

Rising interest rates can also make borrowing to buy a vehicle more expensive, putting downward pressure on demand, as can a struggling stock market.

Recommended: What Credit Score Is Needed to Buy a Car?

What Buyers Are Looking For

Ultimately, supply and demand drive the value of used vehicles. If buyers are looking for hybrid vehicles over gasoline-only cars, value for hybrids increases. If a certain color falls out of favor, a car may end up being worth less than an otherwise identical model in a different hue.

Recommended: What is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax

How to Prepare Your Car and Your Expectations

Prepare your car for the highest valuation by tackling as many repairs as you can, from fixing a broken brake light to replacing worn out brake pads. Before an in-person valuation, you’ll also want to have your car washed and detailed to make sure it looks like it’s in the best condition possible.

Manage your expectations for values by doing a bit of research. If you’re looking to sell your car, check out valuation estimates from multiple sources, including Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, and online dealers. You may even want to bring your car to a local dealership to see what price you might get there.

Similarly, if you’re looking to buy, you can look up the value of various makes and models to help you understand whether the price you’re quoted is close to fair market value.

Recommended: Does Net Worth Include Home Equity

Monitor Your Car Value With SoFi

Good car value estimates will factor in as many as a dozen data points, including geographic and economic influences. Tracking your car’s value is especially important as you plan your budget and save up for a new car. The reason: Your current car’s value can have a big impact on what you can afford in a new or used car.

SoFi’s money tracker app now has an Auto Tracker feature that can give you a better understanding of your net worth and help you identify good times to sell.

SoFi’s new Auto Tracker: Discover real-time vehicle values in just a few clicks.

FAQ

What is the best way to determine the value of a car?

Find out the value of a car through trusted online resources such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds. Enter the VIN, license plate number, or the year, make, model, and mileage of your car or truck to get an idea of what it may be worth.

Which car value estimator is most accurate?

Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds are two of the most trusted car value estimators.

How do you know if a car deal is too good to be true?

Red flags that may suggest a car deal is too good to be true include a seller who is rushing you, a seller who won’t give you an accident report, signs of rust or disrepair, and a price that is much too low compared to fair market price.


Photo credit: iStock/Talaj

*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc.’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.

SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc’s service. Vehicle Identification Number is confirmed by LexisNexis and car values are provided by J.D. Power. Auto Tracker is provided on an “as-is, as-available” basis with all faults and defects, with no warranty, express or implied. The values shown on this page are a rough estimate based on your car’s year, make, and model, but don’t take into account things such as your mileage, accident history, or car condition.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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How to Get Paid While On FMLA Maternity Leave

How to Get Paid While on Maternity Leave

While some states have passed legislation ensuring paid family leave for employees at larger companies, many new parents have to make do with a combination of vacation time, sick days, and short-term disability.

Read on to find out what parents may be entitled to based on state regulations and company policy, and how you can maximize your benefits so you can get paid while on maternity leave.

Key Points

•   Some states have legislation ensuring paid family leave for employees at larger companies.

•   Paid maternity leave typically offers 60% to 80% of full-time pay.

•   Only 23% of civilian workers had access to paid family leave in 2021.

•   Federal workers receive 12 weeks of paid family leave.

•   The average company-provided paid maternity leave is 8 weeks.

What Is Paid Maternity Leave?

Paid maternity leave (or paternity leave) refers to the time off with pay that some companies grant employees welcoming a new baby or adopted child. Workers often receive only a percentage of their full-time pay, typically 60% to 80%, with limits based on the statewide average pay.

In the United States, businesses are not legally required to give employees paid maternity leave. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 23% of civilian workers had access to paid family leave in 2021. The U.S. is the only wealthy nation in the world that doesn’t mandate paid parental leave.

Fortunately, 11 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation guaranteeing paid parental leave — though some laws don’t go into effect until 2023 or later. Federal workers nationwide are granted 12 weeks of paid family leave.

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Recommended: What is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax

How Long Is Maternity Leave?

Companies that voluntarily provide employees paid parental leave offer an average of 8 weeks. Because many parents find this inadequate — experts recommend 3 to 6 months — even employees with paid leave often extend their leave with vacation time and sick days.

Globally, the average paid maternity leave is 29 weeks.

Recommended: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait

Benefits of Paid Family Leave

Research shows that paid family leave offers many benefits to parents and children. In one sense, the extra income helps families over the longer term, especially in lower-income households.

In another way, the time families spend together boosts the health of parents and children. Mothers are able to fully recover from childbirth, which can take six to eight weeks. And a child’s health is strengthened by the extra bonding time, regular breastfeeding, and reduced exposure to infectious disease.

Paid family leave may also cover other health emergencies, including:

•   Adoption or foster child care

•   Care of a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition

•   A personal serious health condition

Recommended: How Much Does It Cost To Adopt a Child?

What Is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law passed in 1993 that grants unpaid but job-protected family leave for eligible employees of larger companies. Individuals can also take time off to care for any family member with a serious health condition.

The law is designed to help families cope with emergencies that may occur without having to worry about losing their job. It also ensures that leave is available on a gender-neutral basis and supports equal employment opportunity for women and men.

FMLA Maternity Leave Eligibility Requirements

For an employee to qualify for FMLA benefits, both the employer and employee must meet certain requirements.

Employer Requirements

FMLA applies only to employers with 50 or more employees within 75 miles.

Worker Requirements

An employee must have worked for their company for at least 12 months and worked 1,250 hours within the past 12 months. Some part-time workers may not qualify.

State Laws for Maternity Leave

As noted above, 11 states and the District of Columbia have passed paid parental leave legislation, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington, plus the District of Columbia. Benefits and eligibility vary from state to state.

Ways to Extend Maternity Leave

Traditionally, women without adequate maternity benefits have made do by cobbling together vacation and sick days, short-term disability, and unpaid leave. More recently, working from home — sometimes on a reduced schedule — has allowed parents to extend their time at home with pay.

You may want to search for a parental leave consultant in your state, such as MilkYourBenefits.com in California. For a fee, these advisors can provide up-to-date information on family leave law and the benefits you may qualify for.

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How to Prepare for Maternity Leave

It’s a good idea to prepare financially for maternity leave well in advance. Put away money and save for your baby. Here’s a rough timeline to help you plan for the big event.

1. Research State Laws and Company Policies

Before you announce that you are pregnant, find out what your company and state rules are for maternity leave. You can also look into how your medical insurance will work while you are out and how to add your baby to your plan. Check whether your premiums will go up.

You don’t have to inform your employer at this early stage. Your company should have an employee handbook that outlines family leave benefits, or it might be written into your contract.

If you experience pre- or post-natal health problems (such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, preterm labor, or C-section), you might qualify for short-term disability. However, know that disability benefits for pregnancy-related reasons are available only in some states. c

2. Develop a Maternity Leave Plan

Notify your employer of your pregnancy as you begin to show. Prepare for negotiating your leave by creating a plan for coverage while you are gone. For example, suggest a colleague you can train before you take leave. Explain how you plan to keep in touch with work while you are out.

Company maternity leave policy is not set in stone. You can negotiate with your employer to extend your paid time off, or perhaps propose a work-from-home or part-time arrangement.

Your boss may not agree with your plan, so consider it a jumping off point. One tactic is to present to your employer two or three options that you can live with. Your supervisor may well pick one of them. Finally, put it in writing and have it signed so that your employer cannot renege.

3. Start Planning Your Budget

Once you have a general idea of your income during maternity leave, prepare a new budget that includes all of your anticipated expenses. Check out tips on how to budget on a fluctuating income.

A budget planner app like SoFi can make the budgeting easier because it tracks your expenses for you and gives a breakdown of your spending by category.

4. Write a Plan for Your Replacement

Before you write out instructions for those who will cover for you while you are gone, have a discussion with your teammates to make sure they are on board. Include in your instructions the dates that you will be gone, who will be responsible for what, and how you will communicate with your team (whether you will take part in meetings remotely, etc.).

Recommended: Can You Get a Home Loan While on Maternity Leave?

The Takeaway

FMLA requires employers with 50 or more employees to offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave. Research the benefits that you’re entitled to based on state regulations and company policy. Your maternity leave may end up being cobbled together from a combination of vacation time, sick days, short-term disability, work-from-home, and unpaid leave.

SoFi has an app that helps you plan for life-changing events like starting a family. From your smartphone, you can track your expenses, explore the debt payoff planner, monitor your credit score, and talk to a financial planner for no cost.

SoFi makes it easy to know where you stand.

FAQ

What questions should I ask HR before going on maternity leave?

You can ask HR what benefits you are entitled to and how your health insurance will change after the birth or adoption. It’s also important to ensure the required forms are completed and any negotiated agreements for maternity leave are laid out in writing and signed by your employer.

How should you prepare financially for maternity leave?

In an ideal world, you would start saving for the baby before you are pregnant. Once you have negotiated your maternity leave and have an idea of your income, create a new budget that includes baby expenses.

Also check whether you qualify for any tax credits such as the Child Tax Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Credit, or the Adoption Credit and Adoption Assistance Programs. Taking out a College 529 savings plan for your child will reduce your taxable income.

What is short-term disability insurance and how does it impact maternity leave?

Short-term disability is an insurance program offered by some employers. Policies vary, but you might be entitled to 50% of your income or more for up to six weeks after giving birth if you have a C-section or experience complications. Check with your staff handbook and your HR department to find out if you might be eligible for short-term disability.


Photo credit: iStock/Maria Korneeva

SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc.’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.

*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

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Car Value vs Truck Value: Comparing How They Depreciate

Car Value vs Truck Value: Comparing How They Depreciate

Cars and trucks tend to lose value as they age and experience wear and tear through everyday use. This loss of value is known as depreciation. How much these vehicles tend to depreciate will vary. For example, trucks tend to hold their value better than cars.

That said, depreciation depends on a number of factors, such as make and model, age, mileage, and accident history. Here’s a closer look at what impacts car and truck value, and how depreciation can differ between the body types.

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What Is Vehicle Depreciation?

Cars and trucks lose value each year due to normal wear and tear. The rate of depreciation will vary depending on the make and model of a car. However, the first year tends to see the greatest depreciation, when cars lose as much as 20% of their starting value. (For that reason, savvy consumers believe it’s wiser to buy a used car than a new car.) Within the first five years of ownership, a vehicle can depreciate by as much as 60%.

Depreciation is not necessarily an accurate representation of wear and tear on a vehicle. You may find that after a number of years, your car has lost significant value even if it’s in pristine, like-new condition. Deprecation will continue to affect the value of your car until it reaches $0 on paper. At that point, your car no longer has any equity, and is not considered an asset. The only value left is the value of the metal for scrap.

Depreciation is an important factor to understand whether you are buying a used car, a new car, or if you plan to lease a vehicle. When leasing a car, your monthly payment will cover the cost of depreciation.

Recommended: What Credit Score Do You Need to Lease a Car?

Check your score with SoFi Insights

Track your credit score for free. Sign up and get $10.*


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How Is My Car Value and Truck Value Depreciation Calculated?

There are various sources that supply car depreciation figures, including Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds. Each company has their own algorithm that accounts for the factors that affect depreciation, such as:

Mileage

How much a car or truck has been driven is often seen as a proxy for wear and tear. The more something is used, the more likely it is to wear out. As a result, vehicles that have been driven less tend to fetch higher values.

Make and Model

You can think of the make and model of a vehicle as the brand and specific product on offer. For example, Toyota is the make, while Tacoma is a specific type of truck the company builds. There may be a series of letters and numbers after the model name that further delineates the trim level of the vehicle. Trim level can refer to different features, engine size, or materials used in the making of the car or truck.

Some makes and models are more popular than others, and some models have higher trim levels — both can help a vehicle hold its value longer.

Reputation

A vehicle’s reputation for safety and reliability can play a big role in its popularity. The higher the demand for a particular make and model, the more slowly it may depreciate.

Larger vehicles are typically safer than smaller cars, which helps explain why trucks tend to hold their value longer. When measuring vehicle fatalities per 10 billion miles, cars average 36 deaths, while trucks average 18 deaths, or half the number of car fatalities.

Fuel Economy

More fuel efficient vehicles may also hold their value better than gas-guzzling counterparts, especially when fuel prices are high. Diesel trucks may depreciate more slowly than gasoline-powered cars and trucks because they tend to have more powerful engines, better fuel economy, and emit less carbon dioxide. A gallon of diesel contains roughly 10% to 15% more energy than a gallon of gasoline, and as a result, a diesel engine can go 20% to 35% farther on a gallon of fuel.

Local Market

Your local automobile market can also have a big impact on how much your car depreciates. For example, trucks may be in higher demand in rural areas, while cars may be more popular in urban settings. Vehicles with four-wheel drive may be more sought after in places with snow, while convertibles may be in higher demand in warm, sunny climates.

You may be asked for your zip code when you look up the value of your car. This can help valuation companies zero in on how much your car is worth in your locale.

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Average Truck Value vs Car Value Depreciation Comparison

Cars and trucks begin to depreciate as soon as they leave the lot. As mentioned above, they can lose as much as 20% in the first year alone, and up to 10% each year after that. By year five, a vehicle may have depreciated by as much as 60%.

That said, various types of cars and trucks tend to depreciate at different rates. And depreciation can vary a lot depending on current economic conditions. For example, Recent supply chain issues and increased demand have caused a drop in depreciation. Used cars have become more valuable as there are fewer cars entering the market. In 2021, the average five-year-old vehicle depreciated by 40.1%, compared to 49.1% just a year earlier in 2020, according to research by iSeeCars.

The same research states that trucks held their value best of all vehicles. Midsize pickup trucks depreciated just 21.4% over five years in 2021, while full-sized pickups’ five-year depreciation was 31.8% on average.

Small cars, including compact and subcompact cars, depreciated an average of 36.3% over five years, while midsize cars depreciated an average of 43.6% over five years.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of car and truck depreciation:

Cars

5-year Depreciation

Trucks

5-year Depreciation

Small Cars 36.3% Midsize Pickups 21.4%
Midsize Cars 43.6% Full-size Pickups 31.8%

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Monitor Your Car Value With SoFi

Recent research confirms that trucks hold their value the best of all vehicles. And while size matters, bigger isn’t better when it comes to depreciation. Midsize pickup trucks depreciated less than full-sized pickups, and small cars depreciated less than midsize cars. If you plan to trade in your car or truck after a few years, consider buying a vehicle that is likely to hold its value longer to get a better trade-in value.

SoFi’s money tracker app now features Auto Tracker. Discover real-time vehicle values in just a few clicks.

Keep tabs on your car or truck’s value with Auto Tracker from SoFi.

FAQ

At what mileage do cars lose value?

Cars and trucks unfortunately start to lose value as soon as you drive them off the lot. After that, depreciation is calculated each year.

Does mileage affect car value?

Mileage is one of the most important factors that go into car valuation. The higher the mileage, the more wear and tear the vehicle is presumed to have, and the less the vehicle will be worth.

At what age does a vehicle depreciate most?

Cars and trucks depreciate most in their first year, when they can lose 20% or more of their value.


Photo credit: iStock/timnewman

*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc.’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.

SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc’s service. Vehicle Identification Number is confirmed by LexisNexis and car values are provided by J.D. Power. Auto Tracker is provided on an “as-is, as-available” basis with all faults and defects, with no warranty, express or implied. The values shown on this page are a rough estimate based on your car’s year, make, and model, but don’t take into account things such as your mileage, accident history, or car condition.

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.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

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