Guide to the Differences Between FDIC vs SIPC

By Dan Miller · May 30, 2024 · 6 minute read

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Guide to the Differences Between FDIC vs SIPC

If you have a significant amount of money in a bank or brokerage account, you may crave reassurance that your funds would be covered in the rare instance of a financial institution failing. The United States government has a couple of programs in place that help to protect savers and investors in the case of a bank failure. These programs help to ensure overall consumer confidence in the U.S. financial sector.

Two of these programs are run by government corporations known as the FDIC and SIPC. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) protects money that is held in a checking, savings, certificate of deposit (CD), or other deposit account at an insured bank. The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) protects customers of SIPC-member broker-dealers if the firm fails financially.

While these two insurance programs have a lot of similarities, they also have a few key differences that you’ll want to be aware of.

What Is FDIC?

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is an independent agency that was created by an act of Congress passed in 1933. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, many local and regional banks failed. Congress created the FDIC to help ensure that people would not lose their hard-earned money in the case of future bank failures.

The FDIC insures $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, for each account category (such as single, trust, or joint accounts). Since FDIC insurance first went into effect in 1934, no depositor has lost any insured money that was held in an eligible bank.

While the FDIC offers insurance for deposits held at participating banks, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) insures deposits held at credit unions. It’s important to understand that key difference between the FDIC and NCUA.

Also worth noting is that some financial institutions offer programs which can insure excess deposits for more than the $250,000 limit with extended insurance coverage.1 This is typically accomplished by bank partnerships which ensure that no single financial institution holds more than the $250,000 FDIC limit for a client.

If you want to keep more than $250,000 on deposit, it can be worthwhile to look into these expanded FDIC insurance coverage offers.

What Is SIPC?

In addition to the FDIC and the NCUA, the SIPC is a nonprofit organization that is set up to protect U.S. consumers. The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) was started when Congress passed the Securities Investor Protection Act of 1970. The SIPC protects the securities and cash in a brokerage account, up to a total amount of $500,000.

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SIPC vs FDIC

When comparing the SIPC to the. FDIC, you will learn that they are two different organizations. They share the goal of protecting accounts held in U.S. financial institutions and instilling consumer confidence.

Here’s a look at how the SIPC and FDIC are similar and different:

Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC)

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

Protects money invested in brokerage accounts Protects money invested in bank accounts
Protects the securities and cash in your brokerage account up to $500,000 Protects up to $250,000 per depositor, per ownership category, per bank
Founded in 1970 Founded in 1934
Applies if a brokerage firm becomes insolvent and/or goes bankrupt Applies when a bank fails

Similarities

The SIPC and FDIC share the same goal — ensuring that money and investments held in U.S. accounts remain in the hands of consumers. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, since they apply to different kinds of financial holdings. No matter where you are holding your money and/or investments, you’ll want to make sure that your investments are insured by either the FDIC, NCUA, or SIPC.

Differences

The biggest difference between the FDIC and the SIPC is when they apply. The FDIC covers deposits held at certain banks. The SIPC applies to investments at brokerage accounts.

Another difference is the amount of coverage. The FDIC protects up to $250,000 in a bank account, while the SIPC covers up to $500,000 in a brokerage account, including up to $250,000 protection for cash in your brokerage account.

Pros and Cons of FDIC vs SIPC

There aren’t really pros and cons when comparing the insurance offered by the FDIC and SIPC. It’s not a matter of, say, SIPC insurance vs. FDIC: They are not competitors. Each organization works in a slightly different way.

In terms of upsides, the FDIC covers deposits held by FDIC-insured banks. That means if you have money in a checking, savings, CD, or other kind of depositor account, held at an insured bank, you would be covered against loss in the very rare instance of the bank failing. The downside, if you want to look at it that way, is that this insurance doesn’t extend to brokerage accounts.

The SIPC covers the value of investments held in a brokerage account. As for positives, the reassurance of knowing your funds are covered is an excellent feature. However, the downsides could be seen as the limits of this coverage: up to $500,000 and only for funds held per SIPC guidelines.

Because they work in different ways, the FDIC and SIPC complement each other to work towards strengthening consumer confidence.

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Is Your Bank Account Insured?

No matter where you keep your money, you’ll want to make sure that the money in your account is insured by a program such as the FDIC or SIPC. Being insured by the FDIC is a component that can be used to rate banks against each other.

It is usually fairly straightforward to find out if your bank is insured by the FDIC. To find out if your bank is FDIC-insured, go to the BankFind Suite on the FDIC website.

It may be more complicated to find out if your brokerage account is held in an account covered by the SIPC. If you cannot find the answer on the broker’s website, contact them to make sure.

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FAQ

Is SIPC as good as FDIC?

The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) are not direct competitors. They insure investments and deposits at brokerage firms and banks, respectively.

Is it safe to keep more than $500,000 in a brokerage account?

Whether it’s safe to keep that much money in a brokerage account depends on your individual risk tolerance. Just keep in mind that the SIPC will only cover up to $500,000 in a brokerage account, which includes $250,000 in cash in your brokerage account.

What does SIPC not cover?

The SIPC covers what it defines as “securities” — stocks, bonds, Treasury securities, certificates of deposit, mutual funds, money market mutual funds, and certain other investments. SIPC does not protect most commodity futures contracts, foreign exchange trades, investment contracts and fixed annuity contracts that are not registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission under the Securities Act of 1933.


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1SoFi Bank is a member FDIC and does not provide more than $250,000 of FDIC insurance per legal category of account ownership, as described in the FDIC’s regulations. Any additional FDIC insurance is provided by banks in the SoFi Insured Deposit Program. Deposits may be insured up to $2M through participation in the program. See full terms at SoFi.com/banking/fdic/terms. See list of participating banks at SoFi.com/banking/fdic/receivingbanks.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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