Does a Background Check Include a Credit Check from a Potential Employer

Does a Background Check for Employment Include a Credit Check?

Sometimes. Employers approach background checks in different ways. In some cases, credit reports are included. A job background check may include a credit check in certain industries, such as banking and security. The size of the company can be a factor, too: Large corporations are more likely to conduct a credit check than a small family business.

We’ll walk through the specifics of when an employment background check may include a credit check, why potential employers want this information, and what financial data they have access to.

What Are Credit Checks?

A credit check is a request to see your financial data as collected by one of the three major credit reporting bureaus. Credit reports contain information about past and existing credit accounts, payment patterns, and how much debt you’re carrying.

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), only certain individuals and organizations have the right to check credit histories, such as lenders, insurance agents, and landlords. Potential employers can also conduct a credit check for employment purposes, with your permission.

Sometimes credit checks are conducted to confirm a consumer’s identity — and head off identity fraud — rather than to investigate your financial history. For instance, banks may run a limited credit check on customers looking to open a checking account.

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Credit Check vs Background Check

A background check contains identification verification information along with data from criminal records, educational and employment backgrounds, civil records, driving history, and more. In some instances, a background check may also contain a credit check.

The Importance of Good Credit

A good credit history primarily makes it easier to get approved for a loan, and to qualify for better interest rates and loan terms. The higher the score, the less someone will pay in interest over their lifetime, potentially saving them thousands of dollars.

Good credit can also help renters qualify for an apartment. In some cities, renters routinely provide a credit reference with their rental application. While there’s no minimum credit score needed to rent an apartment, a strong credit history shows landlords that you’re someone who pays their bills on time.

Employers may also check your credit if you’ve applied for a job. Having good credit without any red flags can make the hiring process go more smoothly. However, some cities and many states have banned this protocol or put limits on it.

Recommended: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait

Why Employers Look at Your Credit Score

An employer may run a credit check on a job applicant whom they’re seriously considering hiring. Employer credit checks are more common in industries where employees handle money or have access to customers’ financial data.

By conducting credit checks, businesses hope to confirm that an applicant demonstrates financial responsibility and doesn’t pose a security risk to the company, other employees, or customers.

Responsibility

A credit report shows how responsibly an applicant has handled their own money. If there are any red flags, the employer may not want to hire that person to handle company funds or take on other important responsibilities.

Security

A credit report can be used to verify your identity along with other pieces of background information. If there are discrepancies that can’t be easily cleared up, that’s a red flag.

What a Credit Report May Tell an Employer

The information in a credit report can include employment history as well as red flags such as late payments, debts sent to collections, foreclosures, liens, lawsuits, and judgments.

Employment History

Your complete employment history is not included in a credit report. Past and current employers may appear on your credit report, but only if you listed them on a loan or credit card application. Typically, if a lender wants your employment history, they will ask you for it directly.

Late Payments

Credit reports contain information about current and historical credit accounts, including installment loans (mortgages, car loans, personal loans) and revolving credit (credit cards and lines of credit). The reports typically contain information from the past seven to ten years, including a person’s payment history and whether credit accounts are paid up to date or are past due.

Recommended: What Credit Score is Needed to Buy a Car

Debt Collection

Once someone is behind on payments — at least 120 days — the lender may send the account to a collections agency. These agencies attempt to collect on the bill. This can have a significant impact on your credit score, since making payments on time is the biggest factor in the algorithm that determines your credit score.

Debt Charge-Off

If a company you owe money decides they can’t collect the funds, they can “charge off” the amount as uncollectible. This may stay on your credit report for seven years, starting with the delinquency date that ultimately led to the charge-off. A debt charge-off typically lowers the person’s credit score even more than going to collections.

Foreclosures

When a homeowner misses multiple mortgage payments, the lender may take possession of the home, or “foreclose” upon it. This remains on a credit report for seven years, starting with the first missed payment that ultimately led to the foreclosure. This can significantly reduce someone’s credit score — although the impact may diminish over time — and can be a red flag for employers.

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Liens

A tax lien is a claim that you owe money for taxes, usually federal, state, or property tax. Tax liens no longer appear on credit reports by the three major credit bureaus, and they can’t affect your credit. They are, however, available on public records. If an employer conducts a full background check, they can still receive this information.

Lawsuits and Judgments

Just like tax liens, judgments from lawsuits are not included in credit reports or factored into a credit score. An employer that conducts a background check, though, will likely receive this information because it’s part of public records.

Recommended: What is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax

How to Prepare for an Employer Credit Check

Every consumer should be aware of what information is available on their credit report. You can request your credit report and find out your credit score for free at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Review your report for errors. Even small typos — like misspelling your name — could present problems down the line. Report them to the relevant credit bureaus via their online dispute process to have them corrected or removed.

You may also consider signing up for a credit monitoring service. What qualifies as credit monitoring varies from company to company. Look for a service that sends customers alerts whenever their credit score changes, accounts are opened or closed, and red flags appear on their credit history.

If you’ve had financial problems in the past but have turned things around, be prepared to explain to your potential employer how you’ve accomplished that.

Recommended: What Is a Tri-Merge Credit Report?

Credit Check Limitations

Credit reports contain a lot of private financial information. However, you can feel secure knowing that there are strict limits to what can be included. The following information cannot appear on your credit report:

•   Account balances for checking, savings, and investments

•   Records of purchases made

•   Income information

•   Judgments and tax liens

•   Medical information (physical and mental), although money owed to a doctor or hospital can appear

•   Marital status

•   Disabilities

•   Race and ethnicity

•   Religious affiliations

•   Political affiliations

Does an Employer Credit Check Hurt Your Credit Score?

No. Employers conduct what is known as a “soft credit inquiry” or soft pull. Because the credit check isn’t the result of applying for a new loan or credit card, the request probably won’t appear on your credit report and it won’t affect your score.

What Are Your Legal Rights as a Job Applicant?

According to federal law, job applicants have the right to:

•   know what is in their file

•   ask for a credit score

•   dispute incorrect or incomplete information

•   be told if information in the file is used against them

An employer or potential employer must get written consent before they can request credit report information (the trucking industry is an exception). Some cities and many states have banned or put limits on an employer’s ability to check your credit report.

The Takeaway

Employers may run credit checks on applicants as part of the hiring process. By conducting credit checks, businesses hope to confirm that an applicant demonstrates financial responsibility and doesn’t pose a security risk to the company, other employees, and customers. Credit checks are more common at large corporations and in industries where employees handle money or have access to customers’ financial data. You can prepare for an employer credit check by requesting your report and correcting any errors.

SoFi Relay is a mobile money tracker app that monitors all of your money, all in one place. Plus, you’ll receive free credit monitoring, spending breakdowns, and financial insights. Because SoFi credit monitoring involves only a soft pull, it won’t affect your credit score.

Track your money, and your credit, like a champion.

FAQ

Why do background checks include credit reports?

Information found in a credit report can give the employer a sense of the job applicant’s financial stability. This may be especially important if the job involves handling money, financial data, or pharmaceuticals. Some industries that routinely pull credit checks on applicants include banking, retail, insurance, public safety, and security.

Does a background check include a hard credit check?

No. A background check with credit check involves a soft inquiry, so it won’t affect your credit score.

What causes a red flag on a background check?

Criminal records, suspicious credit histories, inconsistencies in information provided, and gaps in employment history can be considered red flags.


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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
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What Are the Tax Benefits of Marriage?

What Are the Tax Benefits of Marriage?

The tax benefits of marriage may not be a top consideration when someone is deciding whether to get hitched or stay single. Still, married couples can sometimes qualify for extra savings when it comes to their income tax rate and certain credits, exemptions, exclusions, and deductions.

It isn’t all roses and rainbows, however. Couples may also lose some tax breaks when they change their filing status. But with careful planning, spouses may find there are tax benefits to being married vs. staying single.

Here’s a look at some of the tax bonuses (and penalties) couples can expect when they wed.

Tax Benefits of Marriage, Explained

Spouses have two basic options when filing their income tax returns: They can combine all their information on one return with the status of “married filing jointly,” or they can file two returns as “married filing separately.” (Even couples who were married at the very end of the tax year can no longer file as single.)

The decision to file separately can make more sense sometimes, depending on each spouse’s income and other factors. But the IRS says that when it comes to money and marriage, the joint filing status usually has more benefits for couples.

Advantages of filing jointly can include:

Your Tax Bracket as a Couple Could Be Lower

In the past, combining incomes on a joint tax return often bumped one or both spouses into a higher tax bracket with a higher tax rate than when they were single.

Recent tax reform, however, has made this so-called “marriage penalty” less likely. When the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) took effect in 2018, the income levels for joint filers in all but the highest tax brackets were doubled, reducing the chances that married couples would be penalized.

Some high-income couples still may land in a higher bracket after marriage. But with the TCJA’s equalized brackets, more spouses can expect to find themselves in the same or even a lower tax bracket than they had when they were single.

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Recommended: What Credit Score is Needed to Buy a Car

Federal Estate and Gift Tax Limits Are Higher

Although people generally are referring to higher or lower tax brackets when discussing the pros and cons of filing jointly, marriage also can affect couples who plan to gift assets to their heirs.

Couples who wish to transfer wealth to loved ones during their lifetime or upon their death may be able to give twice as much as single filers without being taxed. Here’s what that looks like for 2022:

•   The IRS set the annual gift tax exclusion for individuals at $16,000 per recipient (children, grandchildren, etc.) for 2022. That means this year, married couples can give $32,000 per recipient tax-free without using a portion of their lifetime gift tax exemption.

•   The lifetime estate and gift tax exemption for individuals was set at $12.06 million for 2022. So while a single person can protect $12.06 million for 2022 without having to pay federal estate or gift tax, a married couple can shield a total of $24.12 million.

Other Gift and Estate Tax Advantages

Besides the tax advantages mentioned above, marriage also can allow spouses who are both U.S. citizens to transfer or leave unlimited amounts of money to each other without paying taxes. Any assets exceeding the couple’s estate tax exemption won’t be taxed until the surviving spouse dies.

Taxes on Social Security Benefits

Many people aren’t aware that a portion of their Social Security benefits can be taxed if their income is above a certain threshold. This is true whether you’re single or married, but the IRS thresholds are a bit higher (although not doubled) for married couples.

Here’s how it breaks down based on what the IRS refers to as “combined income.” (Your adjustable gross income + nontaxable interest + ½ of your Social Security benefits = your combined income.):

•   If you file as single and your combined income is between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50% of your Social Security benefits.

•   If you’re married filing jointly and your combined income is between $32,000 and $44,000, up to 50% of your Social Security benefits may be taxable.

•   If you file as single and your combined income is more than $34,000, up to 85% percent of your benefits may be taxable.

•   If you’re married filing jointly and your combined income is more than $44,000, you may have to pay taxes on up to 85% of your Social Security benefits.

•   You don’t have to pay any taxes on your benefits if you fall below these thresholds.

If you’re married or expect to marry someday, you may want to keep taxes on Social Security in mind as you and your spouse plan your retirement together.

Earned Income Credit and Other Credits

When you’re married, you must file jointly to qualify for the Earned Income Credit (EIC). You generally can’t file separately and claim the credit. And that can be good news and bad news for couples.

The EIC is meant to help low- to moderate-income workers and families save on their income taxes. To be eligible for the credit, you must have earned income; but there are limits on how much you can earn and still qualify based on family size.

Here are a couple of examples of how marriage can result in a penalty or bonus when it comes to the EIC.

•   Penalty: The income thresholds are higher for joint filers than they are for single filers, but they aren’t doubled. If both spouses are working and both earn a moderate income, together they might exceed the limit for their family size before a single filer earning a moderate income would.

•   Bonus: On the other hand, if one spouse works and the other doesn’t, as a couple they might qualify for the EIC based on the working spouse’s earned income. A single person who doesn’t have any income can’t take the credit.

Other credits and deductions that can be affected by a change in your filing status include the child and dependent care credit, the student loan payment interest deduction, the savers credit, and the American opportunity credit. Generally, married couples who file separately can’t claim these on a return.

Personal Residence Exclusion

The principal residence exclusion allows homeowners who meet certain criteria to shield all or a portion of the profit they make on the sale of their home from capital gains tax. Single filers can exclude up to $250,000, but couples who are married filing jointly can exclude twice that — up to $500,000.

While those numbers may have seemed generous just a few years ago, with the recent rapid rise in what homes are worth, tax consequences from a home sale may be more likely these days. The $500,000 exclusion married homeowners are allowed still may not be enough to protect their entire profit when they sell a home, but it can give them a little more breathing room than singles can count on.

Recommended: Does Net Worth Include Home Equity

IRA for Jobless Spouse

Usually, under IRS rules, you can’t contribute to an individual retirement account (IRA) unless you earn an income in that year. But there’s a work-around that can benefit some married couples who file jointly.

If one spouse earns income and the other does not, and the couple files jointly on their taxes, the spouse who works can contribute to a “spousal IRA” that’s in the name of the spouse who isn’t working.

This allows couples to maximize their retirement savings — even if one spouse takes some time away from work, perhaps to care for their small children or elderly parents. And depending on what works better for your circumstances, you can use a Roth or traditional IRA as a spousal IRA.

The rules regarding annual contributions and tax deductions are the same for spousal IRAs as they are for traditional IRAs. If you have questions, you can ask your financial advisor or tax preparer, or go to the IRS website for information.

You Can Use Your Spouse as a Tax Shelter

If you or your spouse owns a business, you’re both probably hoping it’s a success. But if it isn’t, it could end up being a tax benefit — if you can claim those losses as a write-off on your joint return.

If it looks as though this strategy might be useful — especially in the first year or so of the business — you may want to ensure personal and business transactions stay separate by opening a business bank account. Or you can just keep better track of your income and spending with a free budget app.

Higher Deduction for Charitable Contributions

These days, nearly 9 out of 10 taxpayers take the higher standard deduction put in place by the TCJA — and that means they can’t claim a tax break for charitable contributions on their federal return.

But if you do end up itemizing on your return, being married could help you maximize the tax deduction you get for charitable giving. Although your maximum deduction is limited to a certain percentage of your adjusted gross income (usually no more than 60%), if you file jointly, the deduction is based on your combined AGI. That means you may be able to donate more in a particular year than a single filer.

Couples Can “Shop” for Tax-Friendly Benefits

Unless they’re both with the same company, a working couple may be able to pick and choose from their employers’ different benefits packages to take advantage of certain tax breaks. A couple of those benefit options might include:

Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

If one spouse’s employer offers an FSA, you may be able to use it to pay for qualifying medical, vision, and dental costs for your family, or for qualifying dependent-care programs. The amount you contribute to the account will be deducted from your salary pre-tax, which can help cut your income tax bill.

Health Spending Account (HSA)

If one employer offers a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) and you choose that health insurance option, your family can benefit from opening an HSA to save for future medical expenses.

Contributions to an HSA are tax-deductible, and distributions are tax-free when used for qualified medical expenses. Unlike the use-it-or-lose-it funds in an FSA, you can keep the money in the account as long as you like. And any growth in your HSA from interest and/or investment returns is also tax-free.

Filing One Return Instead of Two

Spouses who file jointly have to worry about completing only one income tax return. And if your financial lives already are intertwined (you do your budgeting as a couple and have a joint a bank account vs. separate accounts), it may be easier to file jointly than to separate everything for two returns.

It also could make it easier to get your return done by the tax deadline — or maybe even early, so you can get your tax refund faster. And if you hire a professional to prepare one return instead of two, it could save you some money.

How the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Could Affect Future Taxes

The clock may be ticking on several of the tax benefits and penalties married couples can experience under the TCJA (some of which are listed above). Many of its provisions are set to expire at the end of 2025, including changes to:

•   Income tax brackets and rates

•   Standard deduction

•   Personal exemptions

•   Limits on deductions for mortgage and home equity loan interest

•   Limits on charitable contributions

•   Estate and gift tax exemption

If Congress doesn’t act to keep them, these provisions may lapse on Dec. 31, 2025, which could affect married couples’ taxes going forward. Keep this in mind as you do any tax planning for the future.

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Tax Downsides to Marriage To Consider

Besides the potential penalties already mentioned throughout this post, there can be other downsides to marriage when it comes to taxes, including:

•   When you sign a joint return, the IRS holds both spouses responsible for the validity of everything that’s on it. Even if one spouse manages the money in your marriage (paying the bills, investing, and doing the taxes), it’s a good idea to go over the return carefully together before you both sign.

•   If one spouse defaults on a federal student loan after you marry or owes back child support, your joint refund could be delayed or garnished to pay the debt.

•   If you’re a high-earning couple, you might have to pay the net investment income tax and/or the Medicare surtax. The threshold on these taxes is $200,000 for single filers, and only goes up to $250,000 for married couples filing jointly.

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The Takeaway

Marriage can impact just about every aspect of your life — including the taxes you pay. There are tax benefits and penalties to consider as you plan your future and your finances together. Some potential benefits include a lower tax bracket, estate tax advantages, the Earned Income Credit, and the Personal Residence Exemption, among others. But watch out for the net investment income tax and the Medicare surtax. According to the IRS, overall most couples benefit from filing jointly.

Keeping track of your combined spending, saving, and investing can make it easier to manage your money throughout the year, and to work on your taxes when it’s time. And the SoFi Relay money tracker app can help you do it all in one place — with credit score monitoring, spending breakdowns, financial insights, and more.

Say “I do” to better financial management today with help from SoFi Relay.

FAQ

Is there a tax advantage to marriage?

While every couple’s situation is different, spouses who file jointly may enjoy some advantages when it comes to certain tax exclusions, exemptions, deductions, and credits.

Do you get a bigger refund if you’re married?

If your filing status is married filing jointly and you make the most of the many credits and deductions available to you as a couple, you may see a bigger refund.

Do you pay less taxes if you are married?

You won’t automatically pay less taxes because you’re married. But with careful planning, you may be able to take advantage of your marital status to save money on your income taxes.


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SoFi’s Insights tool offers users the ability to connect both in-house 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. 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 provided to you is a Vantage Score® based on TransUnion™ (the “Processing Agent”) data.
*Terms and conditions apply. (Must click on the link to be eligible.) 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 into SoFi accounts such as cash in SoFi Checking and Savings or loan balances, Stock Bits, fractional shares and cryptocurrency 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.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.
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 Remove a Closed Account from Your Credit Report

How To Remove a Closed Account from Your Credit Report

Just because you’ve closed an account (and mentally moved on from an old credit card or loan) doesn’t mean the information will automatically disappear from your credit report. That account can continue to impact your credit score for years — in good ways and not-so-good ways.

There are a few different things you can try if you want the account removed from your credit reports, but it may take some time. And since a closed account can sometimes have a beneficial effect on your credit score, you might decide it’s best to simply leave it alone.

Read on to learn more about how an account can continue to impact your credit even after it’s closed, and how to get a closed account off your credit report.

What Happens When You Close an Account?

When you close an account, your credit reports will reflect the account’s new status. But information about the closed account — including how much you borrowed and your payment history — may still be used to calculate your credit score and inform lenders about your overall creditworthiness.

Even if you’ve paid every penny you owe, the account still may be included in your reports. And if you have an outstanding balance, you can expect payments and other activity to show up on your reports every month.

The Fair Credit Report Act — the federal law that regulates how consumer credit agencies handle and report information — allows the credit bureaus to include positive and negative information about closed accounts on a credit report for several years.

Recommended: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait

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How Can Closed Accounts Affect Your Credit?

Closing an account can affect your credit in ways both good and bad. Here’s a look at what can happen in the months and years after you close an account.

An Unexpected Credit Score Dip

Something that surprises a lot of people is that closing an account can actually have a negative impact on credit scores — even if the account was in good standing. That’s because closing an account can affect certain factors that go into calculating your FICO Score. The dip may be temporary (as long as you stay on track with managing your debt), but here’s what’s behind it:

Credit Utilization Ratio

Your credit utilization ratio — which represents the amount of your available credit that you’re currently using — is part of the “amounts owed” category which determines 30% of your FICO Score.

If you close an account and the amount of credit available to you is reduced, that can affect your ratio. And a higher credit utilization ratio can mean a lower credit score.

Length of Credit History

Closing a long-held credit card account can also affect the “length of credit history” category which accounts for 15% of your FICO Score. FICO looks at the age of your oldest account, the age of your newest account, and the average age of all your accounts. So closing an older account after you pay it off can lower your score.

Credit Mix

FICO also looks at your “credit mix” when it’s calculating your overall score, so it can help if you have both revolving debt (with a credit card or line of credit) and some type of installment debt (such as a student loan, personal loan, car loan, or mortgage). Your credit mix is 10% of your FICO Score.

Recommended: What Credit Score is Needed to Buy a Car

But There May Be Good News, Too

Should you still decide to close your account, there is some happy news: If you did a good job of managing that particular credit card or loan, the information can stay on your credit reports for up to a decade, continuing to boost your credit score. However, the bump from a closed account may not be as significant as from an open one.

Recommended: Does Net Worth Include Home Equity

When Should You Remove a Closed Account from Your Credit Report?

Since information about a closed account in good standing can be a positive thing for both your credit reports and credit scores, you may decide it makes sense to bask in those benefits for as long as possible.

But if your closed account is littered with negative information that could make you look like a risk to lenders and potentially lower your credit scores, you may want to attempt having it removed from your credit reports. Any negative information — if you made late payments, defaulted, or the account went to collections — will stick around, and can lower your score for up to seven years.

There are a few different strategies you can try. If, for example, the closed account contains inaccurate or fraudulent information, or if the information is dated, you have a right to pursue having it removed. If you suspect that you’re a victim of identity theft, you may want to learn the differences between a credit lock vs. a credit freeze.

But if the negative information is accurate, you may have to appeal to that creditor to help you clean up your record. Or you can decide to wait it out, and the closed account will eventually come off your report.

Recommended: How To Remove Student Loans from Your Credit Report

Steps for Removing a Closed Account from Your Credit Report

There are four basic strategies for removing a closed account from your credit report.

Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report

If you believe your credit report includes inaccurate, incomplete, or fraudulent information on an open or closed account:

Contact the Credit Bureaus

First, review the data on file with all three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. (Or request a tri-merge credit report that combines the data from all three.)

Then contact the credit bureaus and explain why you’re disputing the information and include supporting documents. All three bureaus have a page just for this purpose on their website. Or you can download a dispute form, fill it out, and mail it in. Either way, following the recommended format will help ensure you include all necessary data.

Recommended: What is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax

Contact the Company That Furnished the Information

Contact the bank, credit card company, or business that provided the disputed information to the credit bureaus. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) offers instructions and a sample letter to assist with this process. If you suspect the inaccurate information could be the result of identity theft, you can find help through the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.identitytheft.gov/#/

Wait for a Fix

The credit bureaus typically have 30 calendar days (45 in some situations) to look into your dispute. Once the investigation is complete, they have five business days to let you know, and you should receive a copy of your updated credit report.

If they don’t agree the information should be removed, you can send a letter and ask that they note the dispute on future reports. You also can send a complaint to the CFPB or contact an attorney.

Write a Goodwill Letter or Pay-for-Delete Letter

Although a creditor isn’t required to remove negative information from your credit reports, you can try writing a goodwill or pay-for-delete letter asking for their help.

Not much of a writer? You can try calling instead. Either way, be prepared to plead your case clearly and respectfully.

Goodwill Letter

A goodwill letter can give you an opportunity to explain to a creditor why you fell behind on your payments and why you’re hoping to get the negative information removed from future credit reports.

If you’ve been a long-standing customer (or can manage to write a heartstring-tugging letter), you may be able to convince the financial institution or business to help you turn over a new leaf.

Pay-for-Delete Letter

If the closed account still has a balance, you may be able to use a pay-for-delete letter as an incentive to get it removed from your credit reports. This strategy involves offering to pay the outstanding balance in exchange for getting the account off your reports.

Wait for the Account To Come Off on Its Own

It may feel like a lifetime, but negative information can be listed for only seven years. So you may decide just to wait it out.

If the information is still on your reports after the seven-year mark, you can use the dispute process to have it removed.

Establishing Healthy Credit Habits for the Future

Watching your credit score take a dip after you close an account can be frustrating. But practicing good financial habits going forward can go a long way toward bolstering your credit scores. Here are a few steps to consider:

Make Timely Payments

Payment history makes up 35% of your FICO Score, so if you want to boost your score, it’s critical to pay your bills on time.

Keep Your Credit Utilization Low

Because credit utilization is another important factor that goes into calculating your credit score, it’s a good idea to keep credit card balances low. Don’t let a high limit on a card or line of credit tempt you into spending more than you can manage.

Let Your Credit Accounts Age Gracefully

It may be tempting to cancel a credit card you’ve finally managed to pay off. But since your credit score is partially based on the age of your accounts, it may make more sense to keep open an account that’s in good standing.

Track Your Spending

If you like the convenience of using credit and debit cards to pay for purchases, but you tend to lose sight of your spending, a money tracker app like SoFi Relay can help you see exactly where your money is going, so you aren’t just winging it month to month.

Monitor Your Credit

If you aren’t monitoring your credit, you may not have any idea what your credit score is. By using an app like SoFi Relay, which has free credit monitoring, you can check your score regularly. You also can request a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three credit bureaus via AnnualCreditReport.com.

Be Vigilant Regarding Credit Report Errors and Fraud

In order to dispute problems on your credit report, you have to know what to look for. Learning how to read your credit report can help save you from more serious financial trouble.

Familiarizing yourself with the various sections might help you spot common credit report errors and potential fraud.

Recommended: What Is a Credit Trade Line?

The Takeaway

Closed accounts aren’t automatically removed from credit reports. The credit bureaus may keep information from a closed account on your reports for years: seven years for negative information, and ten years for positive info. However, you can request to have the account removed if you file a dispute and can show the information is inaccurate. Other strategies include writing a “goodwill” letter, a “pay-to-delete” letter, and contacting the creditor directly. It’ll take time, but persistence often pays off.

SoFi Relay tracks all of your money, all in one place. Get credit score monitoring, spending breakdowns, financial insights, and more — at no cost.

Check out how the SoFi Relay app can help track the activities that can impact your credit.

FAQ

Can you remove a closed account from your credit report?

Unless information about a closed account is inaccurate, it may appear on your credit report for years. But there are strategies that can help you with getting the information removed or updated.

How long does it take for a closed account to be removed from a credit report?

It can take up to seven years for negative information from a closed account to come off a credit report. And it can take up to 10 years before positive information goes away.

Will paying off a closed account help a credit score?

Your credit reports will continue to include negative information about a closed account for up to seven years. But if you follow through and pay off the debt, the change in the account’s status can be noted on your reports. And if you’ve lowered the amount of debt you’re carrying by paying off the account, it can help improve your credit score.


Photo credit: iStock/fizkes

SoFi’s Insights tool offers users the ability to connect both in-house 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. 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 provided to you is a Vantage Score® based on TransUnion™ (the “Processing Agent”) data.
*Terms and conditions apply. (Must click on the link to be eligible.) 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 into SoFi accounts such as cash in SoFi Checking and Savings or loan balances, Stock Bits, fractional shares and cryptocurrency 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.
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.
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.
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 Reduce Taxable Income for High Earners

How to Reduce Taxable Income for High Earners

If you’re looking to reduce the amount of income tax you’ll need to pay, there are numerous strategies to consider. Familiar moves include contributing to tax deferred retirement and health-spending accounts, deducting certain taxes and interest, and making charitable donations. More complex maneuvers include timing investments to offset gains with losses.

Because each person’s situation is unique, be sure to check with your tax accountant to find out how a potential strategy might work for you. Note that some of the strategies included in this guide have income limits.

Keep reading to see how many of these 25 tactics you can implement.

25 Ways to Lower Your Taxable Income

As you look through this list of 25 ideas on how to pay less in taxes, you’ll note that some are broad, advising how to reduce either W2 taxable income or self-employment income. Meanwhile, others are more targeted — for instance, applying only to the self-employed. Keep track of ideas that pertain to your situation, so you can explore them further.

1. Contribute to a Retirement Account

Many IRA contributions are tax deductible. If you’re covered by a plan at work, you can contribute up to $20,500 to a 401(k) plan in 2022, and an additional $6,500 if you’re over 50. You can also contribute $6,000 to an IRA ($7,000 if you’re over 50), though your deduction may be limited depending on income and other factors.

Self-employed individuals can contribute between 25% and 100% of net earnings from self-employment, up to $61,000 for 2022. Plans available to the self-employed include the Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan, solo-401(k), and Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE IRA).

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Recommended: What Credit Score is Needed to Buy a Car

2. Open a Health Savings Account

A health savings account (HSA) allows you to deposit money on a pre-tax basis. Contribution limits depend on your health plan, age, and other factors, but most individuals can contribute $3,650 for 2022.

Funds can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses or rolled over year to year. You must have a high deductible health plan (HDHP) to contribute to an HSA.

3. Check for Flexible Spending Accounts at Work

In lieu of an HSA, you can contribute up to $2,850 in pre-tax dollars to a flexible spending account (FSA). FSAs allow people with a health plan at work to deposit money and then use it to pay for qualifying health care costs. Unlike HSAs, FSAs don’t require an HDHP to qualify. The downside: Only a small portion of funds may be rolled over to the following year.

4. Business Tax Deductions

The IRS guidelines around business deductions change frequently, so it’s wise to watch out for their announcements throughout the year. In 2022, there’s an enhanced meal deduction and updates to the home office deduction (described next). Some business expenses apply only to self-employed people.

5. Home Office Deduction

When a self-employed person regularly uses a specific area of their home for business purposes, they may qualify to deduct costs associated with that part of the house. The home office deduction can be calculated in two ways (regular or simplified) up to the current gross income limitation. For more information, search for “IRS publication 587.”

Recommended: Does Net Worth Include Home Equity

6. Rent Out Your Home for Business Meetings

If you’re self-employed, you can also rent out your home for business events and meetings, collect the income — and not have to pay income taxes on that rental income. To learn specifics, visit https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rp-13-13.pdf.

7. Write Off Business Travel Expenses

Travel expenses, as defined by the IRS, are the “ordinary and necessary expenses of traveling away from home for your business, profession, or job. You can’t deduct expenses that are lavish or extravagant, or that are for personal purposes.” For IRS guidance for both W-2 employees and the self-employed, go to https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc511.

8. Deduct Half of Your Self-Employment Taxes

When calculating your adjusted gross income (AGI) as a self-employed person, using Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR, you can deduct half the amount of your self-employment tax. The 2022 self-employment tax rate is 12.4% for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare, based on your net earnings.

9. Get a Credit for Higher Education

This tax credit can go up to $2,500 based on tuition costs along with what you paid in certain fees and for course materials. As a first step, income tax owed is reduced dollar for dollar up to your limit. Then, if your tax credit is more than what you owe, you may be able to get up to $1,000 in a refund.

10. Itemize State Sales Tax

Currently, you can deduct a total of $10,000 for itemized state and local income taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes when you use Form 1040 or 1040-SR. If married but filing separately, the total is $5,000 per person. The IRS provides a calculator that you can use to figure out your deduction at https://apps.irs.gov/app/stdc/.

11. Make Charitable Donations

A taxpayer can typically deduct up to 60% of their AGI to qualified charities. But starting with contributions made in 2020, the IRS implemented a temporary suspension on limits. This means that a person can make qualified charitable contributions up to 100% of their AGI.

12. Adjust Your Basis for Capital Gains Tax

If you sell an asset, including but not limited to investments, a capital gains tax is levied on the difference between the purchase price and what it sells for. The adjusted basis also takes into account the costs of capital improvements made, minus decreases such as casualty losses. For more on the topic when selling a home, search for “IRS publication 523.”

Recommended: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait

13. Avoid Capital Gains Tax by Donating Stock

You may be able to avoid paying capital gains tax if you transfer the ownership of your appreciated stock (held for more than one year). This is something that needs to be handled in exactly the right way; your tax accountant can help.

14. Invest in Qualified Opportunity Funds

If you invest in property through a Qualified Opportunity Fund, the IRS states that you can temporarily defer paying taxes on the gains. Taxes can be deferred (not reduced or canceled) up until December 31, 2026, or until an inclusion event occurs earlier than that date. This is a complex strategy and, again, you may want to get professional advice.

Recommended: A Guide to Tax-Efficient Investing

15. Claim Deductions for Military Members

You may be able to deduct moving expenses if you’re a member of the military on active duty who relocated because of a military order and permanent change of location. In this case, you can potentially deduct your unreimbursed moving expenses as well as those for your spouse and dependents. You can calculate relevant expenses on “IRS form 3903, Moving Expenses.”

16. Enroll in an Employee Stock Purchasing Program

In an employee stock purchase plan (ESPP), an employee who works at a company that offers this program can buy company stock at a discount. The company takes out money through payroll deductions and, on the designated purchase date, buys stock for participating employees. Note that only qualified plans have potential tax benefits.

17. Deduct the Student Loan Interest You’ve Paid

You may qualify to deduct student loan interest. Annual deduction amounts are the lesser between the amount of interest paid and $2,500. This deduction is lowered and eliminated when your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) reaches a certain limit based on your filing status.

18. Sell Your Losing Stocks to Claim Capital Loss Carryover

If you sell stock at less than the purchase price, you’ve experienced a capital loss. You can use that loss to offset any capital gains that year. If you’ve lost more than you’ve gained, this can reduce your taxable income, which could reduce what you owe up to $3,000 for individuals and married couples, and $1,500 for someone married who filed separately.

Recommended: Tax Loss Carryforward

19. Deduct Mortgage Interest

You can deduct the money you paid on mortgage interest on the first $750,000 (or $375,000 if married, filing separately) of mortgage debt you owe. Higher limits exist ($1,000,000/$500,000) if the debt was taken on before December 16, 2017.

20. Deduct Medical Expenses

Under certain circumstances, you can deduct medical and dental expenses for yourself, your spouse, and dependents. You’ll need to itemize on your tax return and can only deduct qualifying expenses that exceed 7.5% of your AGI.

21. Delay IRA Withdrawal Upon Retirement

You can delay IRA withdrawals so that you don’t have more taxable income when you’re a high earner. For example, if you reach the age of 70 ½ in 2020 or later, you can wait until April 1 after you reach the age of 72.

22. Ask Your Employer to Defer Income

You pay income tax in the year the income is received. Although there are reasons why employers typically can’t postpone providing paychecks, they may be able to delay a bonus to the following year as long as this is standard practice for them. If self-employed, you can delay sending your end-of-year invoices to bump December payments to the following calendar year.

23. Open a 529 Plan for Education

A 529 plan allows you to save for future educational expenses. Although the contributions themselves aren’t deductible, interest that accrues in the account is tax-free, federally, as well as being tax-free in many states. In other words, when the money is withdrawn to pay college expenses, it is not taxed.

24. Buy Tax-Exempt Bonds

Interest you receive on muni bonds, for example, is not federally taxed (although there may be state and/or local taxes). These are typically very safe investments, although the interest rates may not be what you want.

25. Time Your Investment Gains or Losses

Known as tax loss harvesting, this strategy takes planning because you’ll want to ensure that any investment gains can be offset, as much as possible, by tax losses. So you may decide, as just one example, to hold on to a stock that’s lost significant value — selling it at a time when it can offset a stock sale with a sizable gain.

Recommended: What is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax

The Takeaway

High earners looking to reduce taxable income have many avenues to explore — some you’ve likely heard of, with others perhaps new to you. For instance, investors may be able to take advantage of tax loss harvesting, tax loss carryover, or tax efficient investing. Explore strategies of interest with SoFi Relay’s free budgeting app, and consult your tax accountant about your specific situation.

To take advantage of tax reduction opportunities, it’s important to keep careful track of your financial transactions. SoFi Relay’s money tracker app can help track all of your money, all in one place. You’ll benefit from spending breakdowns, financial insights, and more.

Track your money like a champion at no cost

FAQ

How can I lower my taxable income?

If you’re wondering how to reduce your taxable income, there are numerous strategies that might work for your situation. A good place to start: Contribute to a retirement account, open a health savings account, and learn which taxes and interest you can deduct. Talk to your tax accountant about specific questions you may have.

What are the tax loopholes for the rich?

If you’re looking to reduce your taxable income, consider making charitable donations and investigating investment strategies that offset gains with losses.

Do 401(k) contributions reduce taxable income?

Said another way, are IRA contributions tax deductible? Retirements typically offer some tax benefits with specifics varying based on the type of retirement account. Traditional IRAs have different rules, for example, than Roth IRAs.


Photo credit: iStock/Petar Chernaev

SoFi’s Insights tool offers users the ability to connect both in-house 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. 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 provided to you is a Vantage Score® based on TransUnion™ (the “Processing Agent”) data.
*Terms and conditions apply. (Must click on the link to be eligible.) 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 into SoFi accounts such as cash in SoFi Checking and Savings or loan balances, Stock Bits, fractional shares and cryptocurrency 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.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.
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 Much is My Truck Worth on Trade In Within the Next 5 Years?

How Much Is My Truck Worth on Trade-In Within the Next 5 Years?

The trade-in value of a truck is the amount a dealer is willing to give you to put toward the purchase of a new vehicle. Cars depreciate in value the moment you drive them off the lot, so over time, trade-in values tend to decrease as well. They are also impacted by a variety of factors, such as make and model, age, condition, and mileage.

Here’s a look at what your truck might be worth over the first five years of ownership, and the factors that impact that value.

Average Trade-In Value of a Truck After 5 Years of Ownership

The trade-in value of a truck is based on its market value, which is the amount a person is willing to pay based on the truck’s make, model, age, condition, etc. However, when saving up for a new car, it’s important to realize that what a dealer might offer for a trade-in is likely less than the market value. That’s because when the dealer eventually sells your vehicle, they will need to turn a profit. And their profit will be the difference between market value and trade-in value.

Cars, trucks, and other vehicles depreciate, meaning their market value decreases each year. Luckily for truck owners, trucks tend to depreciate more slowly than cars and SUVs.

Average five-year depreciation for compact pick-up trucks is 21.4%, according to a 2021 study by iSeeCars. Average five-year depreciation for full-size pick-ups is 31.8%. Compare that to an average five-year depreciation rate of 36.3% for small cars, and 39.9% for midsize SUVs.

Depreciation is also an important factor to understand when leasing a vehicle, as your lease payment will cover the cost of depreciation to the lessor.

Supply chain issues, component shortgages, and increased demand for vehicles has driven up the price of new and used cars and trucks in recent years. This has had an impact on how fast vehicles depreciate. In 2021, the average five-year depreciation was 40.1%, compared to 49.1% in 2020.

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

Factors That Impact Truck Value Over Time

As we mentioned above, the moment your car leaves the lot, it starts to lose value. (For that reason, savvy consumers often believe it’s better to buy a used car over a new one.) What happens to the car will have a big impact on value as well, from wear and tear to how much it’s driven and its accident history. As a result, depreciation and trade-in values will vary from vehicle to vehicle.

Age and Condition

Age and condition are two of the biggest factors that will affect your truck’s trade-in value. The older a vehicle is, the less value it tends to maintain (unless it’s a desirable vintage vehicle). The reason: It’s assumed that the older a car is, the more it will have been driven and the more wear and tear it will have experienced.

All sorts of factors big and small can go into determining condition, from dents and scratches to major repairs made after an accident. Only cars in pristine condition will fetch top market values and trade-in prices.

Recommended: What is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax

Mileage

How much a truck has been driven will also have an impact on trade-in value. The more you drive your truck, the more wear and tear you may be putting on the engine and other parts. As a result, trucks with lower numbers on their odometers tend to fetch higher trade-in values.

Make and Model

A truck’s make and model refer to the company that makes the vehicle and the specific product, respectively. For example, Ford is a make while the F-150 is a model of truck. Some makes and models are more popular than others, which can increase trade-in value. This may be for a variety of reasons. For example, some may get better gas mileage or have roomier interiors that make them more appealing to used truck buyers.

Recommended: What Should Your Average Car Payment Be?

Trim Level

The trim level of a vehicle refers to the optional features it has. For example, higher trim levels may offer more equipment or luxury materials, such as leather seats. Automotive technology, such as back-up cameras and navigation systems are in high demand. Higher trim levels can translate into higher trade-in values.

Accident History

Even if a car shows no outward signs of damage after an accident, vehicles that have been involved in a major accident or a natural disaster, such as a flood, will usually fetch lower trade-in values.

According to experts, any accident will remove $500 from the value of a car, on average, while a major accident can cost as much as $2,100 in lost value.

Local Market Demand

Where you resell your truck can have an affect on its market value. For example, if you live in an urban area, there may be less local demand for trucks than if you live in a suburban or rural location.

Geography can have other impacts on the value of your truck. For example, a truck that’s been through a number of harsh northeast winters might be in worse condition than one from a warmer, dryer climate.

Recommended: What Credit Score is Needed to Buy a Car

Increase Your Truck’s Trade-In Value

Bring your truck up to the best condition to increase its trade-in value. Repair whatever damage you can, such as scratches, chips in the windshield, or minor engine repairs. Have your truck cleaned and detailed before an appraisal by a dealer.

It’s worth noting that your credit score will also impact the deal you get on your new car. That’s because a higher credit score gets buyers a lower interest rate on car loans.

Recommended: Does Net Worth Include Home Equity

Monitor Your Vehicle’s Value With Relay

How much a truck is worth is calculated based on many factors, including make, model, age, mileage, and condition. The trade-in value will be less than the market value. Understanding your vehicle’s potential trade-in value is an important consideration when budgeting and saving for the purchase of a new or used truck. If you think you may trade it in for a newer model in the future, research vehicles that are likely to hold their value better.

Monitor your vehicle’s resale value with Auto Tracker in SoFi Relay. The money tracker app can help you better understand your net worth and determine when it’s a good time to sell. SoFi Relay has all sorts of great tools like that, from the budget planner app to investment portfolio summaries.

New from SoFi Relay: Track the value of your car using Auto Tracker.

FAQ

What is the trade-in value of a truck?

The trade-in value of a truck is how much money a dealer is willing to give you toward the purchase of a new vehicle in exchange for your old one.

Because dealers want to turn a profit when they resell your vehicle, trade-in values tend to be lower than fair market values.

How is trade-in value calculated?

Your truck’s trade-in value is based on a variety of factors, including make, model, age, mileage, and condition of the vehicle. Your truck’s value will depreciate every year, until it no longer has a resale value.

How do I find the fair trade value of my car?

A number of online tools can help you find the fair trade-in value of your car. For example, Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds offer very good online tools. Enter your vehicle identification number, license plate number, or the year, make, model, and mileage of your truck to get an idea of what it may be worth.


Photo credit: iStock/freemixer

SoFi’s Insights tool offers users the ability to connect both in-house 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. 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 provided to you is a Vantage Score® based on TransUnion™ (the “Processing Agent”) data.
*Terms and conditions apply. (Must click on the link to be eligible.) 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 into SoFi accounts such as cash in SoFi Checking and Savings or loan balances, Stock Bits, fractional shares and cryptocurrency 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’s Insights tool 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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