Secured vs. Unsecured Credit Card: What’s the Difference?

Secured vs. Unsecured Credit Cards: What You Need to Know

If you have a thin credit profile or want to rebuild your credit , you may come across secured credit cards when searching for a card you can qualify for. But what’s the difference between a secured vs. unsecured credit card? And how can you gauge which one is right for you?

Let’s take a look at how both types of credit cards work and the differences between secured cards and unsecured credit cards, so you can decide which to choose.

What Is a Secured Credit Card?

Like a traditional, or unsecured, credit card, an unsecured credit card is a type of revolving loan. This means that it offers a line of credit that you can borrow from as needed and then repay. However, with a secured credit card, you’ll need to put down a deposit, which “secures” the credit card.

The bank holds onto that money as a form of collateral if you default on payments, but it’s refundable if you close your account or upgrade to an unsecured credit card. Your secured credit card’s credit limit, an essential part of what a credit card is, usually is the same amount as your deposit. The deposit is typically at least $200 to $500, though it can range as high as $25,000 depending on the specific card and how much you can afford to put down.

A secured credit card is designed for building credit. So, if you’re working on rebuilding your credit or don’t have much in the way of a credit history because you’re young or new to the country, it could be a good option. The age requirement to get a credit card that’s secured is the same as for an unsecured credit card.

How Secured Credit Cards Work

As mentioned before, you’ll need to put in a deposit to open a secured credit card. Your available line of credit is usually the same amount as your deposit. Just like how credit cards work when it’s an unsecured card, you’ll need to repay the balance, and your credit limit will get replenished as you make payments.

Like with an unsecured credit card, there’s a minimum monthly payment you’re responsible for. If you carry a balance from month to month, you’ll incur interest charges. Your credit card activity, including your payment history, is generally reported to the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

Your deposit on a secured credit card isn’t used to make payments should you fall behind or miss payments altogether. If you’re unable to make payments and your account goes to default, you’ll lose your deposit. Plus, it can hurt your credit. If the balance you owe is larger than the deposit, you might be on the hook for the difference owed.

Secured credit cards may offer a “graduation” option. In other words, if you make on-time payments and show a track record of responsible financial behavior, the credit card issuer might offer you an unsecured credit card.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Pros and Cons of a Secured Credit Card

Let’s look at some of the advantages and downsides of a secured credit card:

Pros of a Secured Credit Card Cons of a Secured Credit Card
May qualify with a low credit score or limited credit history Need to provide a deposit
Could be easier to get approved for than an unsecured credit card Credit limit is usually low
Can be a way to build or rebuild credit as activity is reported to credit bureaus Can have higher interest rates and more fees than secured credit cards
Offers a revolving line of credit you can use as long as you make payments Could lose your deposit if you’re late or miss payments

What Is an Unsecured Credit Card?

Also known as a traditional credit card, an unsecured credit card doesn’t require a deposit or collateral of any sort. Instead, you’re offered a credit limit based on your creditworthiness and other factors, such as your income and existing debt. The lender simply has your word that you’ll pay back what you borrow, which is why you’ll also generally need a higher credit score and a more robust credit history to qualify.

Just like with a secured credit card, the credit remaining on an unsecured credit card dwindles as you rack up a balance. Once you make a payment, your limit replenishes. For example, let’s say your credit limit is $5,000. If your balance is $500, your credit limit goes down to $4,500. Once you pay off your balance, your credit limit goes back up to $5,000.

The annual percentage rate (APR) and terms associated with an unsecured credit card are usually better than they are for a secured credit card. Typically, the better your credit score, the better your rates and terms are for an unsecured credit card. The average credit card APR as of May 2022 was 14.56%; meanwhile, many of the top secured credit cards have APRs well over 20%.

How Unsecured Credit Cards Work

Because an unsecured credit card is a form of revolving credit, you have access to that credit line as long as you remain in good standing and your account stays open. Unsecured credit cards also require you to make minimum monthly payments to avoid incurring late payment fees and harming your credit score. You’ll owe interest on any balance that carries over from month to month.

Sometimes, unsecured credit cards might offer perks, such as cash-back rewards and travel insurance.

Pros and Cons of an Unsecured Credit Card

Here are some of the pros and cons of traditional, or unsecured, credit cards:

Pros of an Unsecured Credit Card Cons of an Unsecured Credit Card
Higher credit limits compared to secured credit cards Can be harder to get approved for
Need at least a fair credit score to qualify (580+) Can still incur interest and fees
Can help you build your credit May entice you to spend more than you can afford due to higher credit limits
Opportunity to earn rewards and enjoy other benefits Could damage your credit if not used responsibly

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

Similarities Between a Secured Credit Card and an Unsecured Credit Card

When it comes to a secured credit card vs. an unsecured credit, there are a number of similarities:

•   Both are revolving lines of credit, so you’ll have access to those lines of credit as long as you keep the card open and your account in good standing.

•   Your payments are reported to credit bureaus. If you make on-time payments, your credit score will improve. Conversely, it can drop if you don’t use your credit card responsibly.

•   The process of how to apply for a credit card is usually similar with a secured vs. unsecured credit card. You can usually fill out an application online, in person, over the phone, or through the mail.

•   Both secured and unsecured credit cards come with interest rates and fees. Depending on the card, there might be an annual fee.

•   Both types of credit cards usually offer a grace period, which is the period between when your billing cycle ends and your payment due date. During this time, you may not be charged interest as long as you pay off your balance in full by the payment due date.

•   While it’s less common among unsecured credit cards, both types of credit cards might feature perks, such as cash-back rewards, car rental insurance, trip and travelers insurance, extended warranties, and price protection.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

Differences Between a Secured Credit Card and an Unsecured Credit Card

So what’s the difference between a secured and unsecured credit card? There are a handful of items that set these types of credit cards apart:

•   For starters, secured credit cards require a security deposit, whereas unsecured credit cards do not.

•   The credit limit for a secured credit card usually matches the deposit amount. With unsecured credit cards, the credit limit usually depends on a handful of factors, such as your creditworthiness.

•   Secured credit cards generally carry higher interest rates and fees, whereas unsecured credit cards typically have lower interest rates and fees.

•   Unsecured credit cards usually have one variable interest rate, meaning the card’s interest rate fluctuates over time based on an index. Secured credit cards can have a fixed or variable rate.

Secured vs. Unsecured Credit Card: Which Is Right for You?

Now that you know the similarities and differences between a secured and unsecured credit card, you can start to assess which one might be right for you. Here’s a high-level overview to help you better compare what sets secured vs. unsecured credit cards apart:

Secured Credit Card Unsecured Credit Card
Requires a deposit to open Does not require a deposit
Usually available for those with thin credit histories or lower credit scores Usually need at least fair to good credit to qualify
Lower credit limits, which are based on the amount of the deposit Higher credit limits, which are based on creditworthiness
Fewer card options available Variety of card options, such as cash-back cards, travel cards, business cards, and retail cards

Staying on Top of Your Credit After Choosing a Card

No matter if you decide on a secured credit card or an unsecured credit card, it’s important to stay on top of your payments. Ideally, you’ll pay the balance in full each billing cycle. Otherwise, you’ll owe interest.

At the very least, make sure to make the minimum payment each month. That way, your credit will stay intact and you’ll avoid late fees. If you’re struggling to make payments, reach out to the lender and see what they can do. They might be able to change the payment due date so it’s more in line with what’s feasible for you, or let you temporarily skip a payment to catch back up.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

FAQ

Is an unsecured or secured credit card better?

Whether a secured vs. unsecured credit card is better depends on your situation. An unsecured credit card might be better for you if you’re having trouble getting approved for a secured card and can afford to make the deposit. On the other hand, a secured credit card may be better if you have at least an average credit score, are looking for a higher credit limit, and would like more card options.

Should your first credit card be secured or unsecured?

It really depends. If you have a thin credit history, are looking to build credit, and can afford the security deposit, a secured credit card might be the best route to take as they’re generally easier to qualify for. Note that you’ll probably need to stomach a higher interest rate and a lower credit limit though. While an unsecured credit card doesn’t require a deposit, it might be harder to get approved for one if your credit is less-than-stellar or you don’t have much of a credit history yet.


Photo credit: iStock/cesar fernandez dominguez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Negative Balance on Credit Card Statement: What It Is, How It Happens, and What to Do

Negative Balance on Credit Card Statement: What It Is, How It Happens, and What to Do

Picture this: You open your credit card statement, and you’re surprised to see you don’t owe any money this month. In fact, you have a negative balance on your credit card. You may assume there is a glitch in the system, but there are several reasons this can happen.

This article explains what a negative balance means on a credit card and how it can occur.

What Is a Negative Balance on a Credit Card?

A negative credit card balance is when the credit card issuer owes the cardholder money instead of the cardholder owing money to the credit company. If you have a negative balance on a credit card, your outstanding balance is below zero.

How Does a Negative Balance Happen?

A negative balance on a credit card usually occurs for one of several reasons, which include:

You Overpaid Your Credit Card Bill

The first reason you may have a negative credit card balance is that you may have overpaid. For example, let’s say you entered a specific payment amount that exceeded the amount due. Or, perhaps if you used autopay to cover your credit card minimum payment but made a manual payment simultaneously, you could end up having a negative balance on a credit card.

You Returned Something You Bought With the Credit Card

If you return an item and the amount of the refund exceeds your current credit card balance, it could result in a credit card negative balance. For example, let’s say you bought a $50 frying pan from your local home supply store. If you paid off your credit card and then decided to return the frying pan, your credit issuer will refund the $50. This refund will now make your new balance -$50, meaning you have a credit card with a negative balance.

You Cashed Out Too Many Rewards

Some credit cards let you redeem your rewards in the form of a statement credit. If you redeem your rewards and also pay off your revolving balance in full, for instance, you could end up with a negative credit card balance.

You Had a Charge Removed from Your Statement

Here’s another example of a scenario that could leave you with a negative balance on a credit card: Let’s say you reported a fraudulent charge on your credit card. If you decide to repay the entire amount without accounting for the fraudulent charge, you could have a negative balance once the charge is reimbursed to your account.

Also, if you had a fee canceled or removed from your account, this could happen as well. This could also happen in the case of a credit card chargeback.

How to Get Your Money Back From a Negative Balance

If you see a negative credit card balance, it’s not something you necessarily need to worry about. However, if it’s bothering you, there are actions you can take to bring your balance out of the negative.

Here are your options if your credit card balance is negative:

Leave the Balance Alone and Decide Later

If you discover a negative balance on your credit card, you don’t need to take immediate action. Instead, you can just let it be and decide how to move forward at a later time. Because you’re owed money from the credit card issuer, you won’t need to worry about credit card interest accruing.

Use Your Credit Card for Additional Purchases

One of the easiest ways to resolve a negative balance is to make other purchases. Given how credit cards work, spending money on your card can help your balance get back to zero.

For example, if you have a -$100 balance and then make a $100 purchase, your credit card balance will even back out. Then, you don’t have to do anything until you receive another bill, nor will you have to worry about the APR on your credit card.

Get Your Money Back as a Credit Balance Refund

If your negative balance is an amount that’s more than you’re comfortable with or you need the money for other expenses, you can request a refund from the company. To comply with the Truth and Lending Act , credit issuers must refund negative credit card balances that exceed $1 within seven business days of receiving a written request from the cardholder.

You can expect the refund to come in the form of a check, money order, or direct deposit to your bank account. In some cases, you might be able to get a cash refund if the card issuer has a fixed physical location.

Is a Negative Balance a Bad Thing?

A negative credit card balance isn’t a bad thing. However, if you need the funds for other bills, it’s wise to request a refund immediately.

And if you’re concerned, a credit card negative balance could impact your credit score, don’t fret — it won’t. Credit scoring models generally treat negative credit card balances as the equivalent of a $0 balance. In fact, if you have a negative balance, it likely means you’ve been staying on top of paying your balance off each month and are in good standing.

Also, keep in mind that although a negative balance may temporarily allow you to spend beyond your credit card limit due to the addition of the negative funds, it won’t actually increase your limit.

The Takeaway

While a credit card negative balance isn’t a bad thing, it’s always wise to keep tabs on your credit card activity. Not only should you monitor what you owe, but you should identify credits or refunds you’re entitled to and factor those in when paying your balance each month. If your balance does end up in the negative, there are steps you can take to bring it back to zero, but you’re also fine to just leave it alone — unless, of course, you need the funds for other things.

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



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

FAQ

Will a negative credit card balance affect my credit?

No, a negative credit card balance will not affect your credit score. This is because credit bureaus consider negative balances as equivalent to a $0 balance.

Can I close my account with a negative balance?

Yes, you can close an account with a negative balance. In most cases, your card issuer will process a refund automatically. If they don’t, you can request one when closing the account.

What do you do with a negative balance on a closed credit card account?

Usually a credit issuer will refund your negative balance before completely closing the account. However, if the credit card is canceled and you lose access to your credit card login, you’ll need to contact your credit issuer to process a refund. You’ll want to take action at least 30 to 60 days after the account is closed.


Photo credit: iStock/filadendron

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

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.

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

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

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

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What Is the Average Credit Card Limit and How Can You Increase It?

What Is the Average Credit Card Limit and How Can You Increase It?

When you get a credit card, it comes with a credit limit. This is the maximum amount that a cardholder can spend on the card before needing to pay the credit card’s balance. A credit limit is sort of like a loan maximum — the higher the credit limit, the more money the cardholder can charge on the credit card.

If you know your credit limit, you may be wondering how it compares to the average credit card limit. Read on to find out, and to learn how you may be able to increase your credit limit.

What Is the Average Credit Card Limit?

The average credit card limit for Americans was $30,365 in 2020, according to a recent report by Experian . However, individual credit card limits can vary depending on a variety of factors, and can be as low as $300. For instance, there’s variance in the average credit card limit by age, as well as by creditworthiness.

Whatever your credit limit may be, it’s a critical part of understanding what a credit card is. Knowing your credit limit will help you to be aware of how much you can spend at places that accept credit card payments.

How Credit Card Issuers Determine Your Credit Limit

When you apply for a credit card, your initial credit limit depends on a variety of factors, including your credit scores, your income and debt-to-income ratio (DTI), your history with the card issuer, the card issuer’s policies and goals, and the current economic conditions. Every card issuer has its own process for determining an applicant’s credit limit.

Your Credit Scores

Your credit score is a large factor in determining your credit limit. Just like your score can affect your APR on a credit card, the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to receive a higher credit limit.

In addition, the average credit limit increases with the age of the credit history. Generally, the longer someone has had credit, the more likely they are to use it responsibly. That’s why credit companies may be more likely to offer a higher credit limit to applicants with an older line of credit and a higher credit score. Obviously, the age of your oldest line of credit is limited to your own age, so be sure to be aware of how old you have to be to get a credit card.

Your Income and Debt-To-Income Ratio (DTI)

Due to how credit cards work, card issuers are taking a risk when they extend credit to cardholders. If they think the applicant is a riskier customer, they may offer them a lower credit limit. A high income can indicate that you are able to repay what you borrow. Therefore, a high income can help you get a higher credit limit.

However, credit issuers will also consider your existing debt obligations when deciding your credit limit. Specifically, they will look at your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), which compares the amount of money you owe each month to the amount of money you earn each month. Your debt-to-income ratio can also affect factors like whether your interest rate is above or below the average credit card interest rate.

Your History With the Card Issuer

Your history with a card issuer can also influence your credit limit. If you have an existing positive relationship with the card issuer, it may help you to get approved for a higher credit limit. However, if you have too many existing cards with an issuer, the card issuer may not want to extend you additional credit, even if you meet other criteria like having an excellent credit score.

The Card Issuer’s Policies and Goals

The card issuer has the authority to determine your credit limit, based on how risky they think you are as a customer. Each card issuer has its own policies and goals that it uses to determine what credit limit is afforded to each customer. In other words, your credit limit will also depend on your credit issuer.

Current Economic Conditions

One factor that’s completely out of your control when it comes to your credit limit are the current economic conditions. Since it relates to risk, the current economic environment does play a role in how credit card issuers determine your credit limit. For example, some credit card issuers lowered card limits at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic due to global economic uncertainty.

How to Increase Your Credit Limit

There are several ways to increase your credit limit. Sometimes, your card issuer will offer you a revised credit limit after you update your income information or build your credit. Other times, you may need to be more proactive by directly requesting an increase or transferring your available credit.

Update Your Income Information

One way to increase your credit limit is to keep your income information up to date with your card issuers. Sometimes your card issuer may periodically ask you if your income has changed. If not, you may need to let them know when your income rises, as a higher income can lead to a higher credit limit.

Build Your Credit

One of the best ways to increase your credit limit is to increase your credit score. You can do this by paying your bills on time, keeping your balances low by making more than your credit card minimum payment, and maintaining a low credit utilization rate.

Although this method may take the longest, it may have the most benefit because it could help you in many other financial aspects as well. For instance, it may make it possible for you to secure a good APR for a credit card.

Request an Increase

Most card issuers allow you to request a credit limit increase online. If this option is not available, you also can call your credit issuer to request an increase. However, be aware that a request for an increase sometimes results in a hard credit inquiry, which may hurt your credit score.

Transfer Your Available Credit

If you need a higher credit limit for a specific card (like for a large upcoming purchase), you may be able to transfer available credit from another card from the same card issuer. To check if this is an option for your cards, call your card issuer’s customer service line to request the transfer.

Looking for a new credit card?

Your credit limit represents how much you can spend on your card before you’ll need to pay off your balance. While the average credit card limit was $30,365 in 2020, per Experian, credit limits can vary widely depending on age, creditworthiness, your credit card issuers, current economic conditions, and more. Plus, there are ways you can increase your credit limit.

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



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

FAQ

What is a reasonable credit limit?

A reasonable credit limit may depend on a variety of factors, including your credit score, your income, and the current economic conditions, among others.

Can lenders change credit limits?

Lenders can change credit limits after you have been given an initial credit limit. Sometimes the card issuer will offer you a new credit limit after you update your income information or build your credit. Other times, you may need to directly request an increase. You can also consider transferring your available credit to increase your limit on a specific card.

What is available credit?

Available credit is the amount of money that is available to you to borrow, considering the current balance on your account. Credit limit, on the other hand, is the total amount that you can borrow.


Photo credit: iStock/RgStudio

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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How to Save Money on Gas

How to Save Money on Gas

With gasoline and home heating oil prices surging since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, consumers are looking for ways to cut their gas bills.

Crude oil prices have risen to their highest level since 2014 amid the war in Ukraine, which began in February 2022 — and has no clear path for a ceasefire in sight. Gasoline and heating oil are some of the petroleum products derived from crude oil, so higher gasoline and heating oil prices may be around for some time.

Fortunately, motorists and homeowners can save money on gas by embracing energy-efficient practices. Here are some of the easiest ways to reduce the pain both at the pump and when paying for heating costs.

15 Ways to Pay Less for Gas for Your Car and Home

Here are 15 ways you can pay less on fuel for your car and home heating system:

1. Follow the Speed Limit

Following the speed limit can help you save money on gas. In general, gas mileage decreases rapidly as you accelerate above 50 mph. Driving 55 mph rather than 65 mph can improve your gas mileage by 15%, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

2. Avoid Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving, including speeding and rapid acceleration, can lower your gas mileage by 33% on the highway and by 5% on city roadways. Motorists who avoid aggressive driving can realize cost-savings by burning less fuel on roads and highways.

3. Remove Unnecessary Weight

Removing unnecessary weight from your vehicle can save money on gas. Storing an extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your miles per gallon by up to 2%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

4. Use Cruise Control on Highways

Using cruise control on highways can help you save up to 14% on gas by maintaining a continuous speed. Constantly accelerating and decelerating burns more fuel, which gives you less bang for your buck on the road.

5. Keep Tires Properly Inflated

Keeping your tires properly inflated can improve your gas mileage by 3%. Conversely, driving with underinflated tires can decrease your gas mileage by 0.3% for each unit drop in pounds per square inch (psi) of air pressure.

6. Stick With Regular Gasoline

Gasoline prices vary by their octane level, with regular being the cheapest and premium being the most expensive. Unless your car requires premium fuel, you can save money by sticking with unleaded regular gasoline as opposed to choosing midgrade or premium alternatives.

President Joe Biden has predicted gas prices will go up further as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The potential for crude oil prices to continue rising may motivate some observers to invest in energy stocks. Others may see this as an ideal time to invest in utilities.

7. Don’t Idle When Parked

Allowing your car engine to run idle while parked is wasteful. Idling can consume up to half a gallon of fuel per hour, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. You can save gas money by turning off your car when it’s parked.

8. Search Online for Cheapest Fuel Stations

Some gas stations may offer cheaper fuel than other gas stations in your geographic area. You can search online for the cheapest gas stations in your area. Websites or apps like GasBuddy can help you find the lowest gas prices in your city or town.

9. Reduce Aerodynamic Drag

Your vehicle has to overcome wind resistance or aerodynamic drag whenever you drive it in the open. Reducing aerodynamic drag can save money on gas, and motorists can reduce aerodynamic drag by driving with the windows closed.

10. Minimize A/C Usage

Minimizing your vehicle’s air conditioner usage can save gas money. Using the air conditioner in some cases can reduce your vehicle’s fuel economy by more than 25%, which is akin to paying more at the pump over time, according to the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy.

11. Clean or Replace Air Filter as Necessary

Cleaning or replacing your vehicle’s air filter as necessary can save gas money, particularly if you’re driving an older vehicle manufactured before 1980. Older vehicles may feature a carbureted engine that becomes less fuel efficient when operating with a clogged air filter, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

12. Get Engine Tune-Ups as Needed

Getting engine tune-ups as needed can improve gas mileage by an average of 4%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. An engine tune-up is a comprehensive inspection that determines whether any components of the engine need to be replaced.

13. Consider New Vehicle Options

You can consider buying a new or used vehicle with better gas mileage to save money on gas. Consumers can also consider buying all-electric vehicles to move away from gasoline and diesel fuel entirely.

14. Insulate Your Home

Homeowners can save up to 15% on heating and cooling costs by air sealing their homes and adding insulation in attics and other areas of the home, according to the EPA. This could be a worthwhile investment considering how the Ukraine invasion may affect oil, gas, and clean energy investments.

15. Lower Your Thermostat

Homeowners can save money on their home heating bills by setting their thermostats to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The Delaware Public Service Commission says you can save 5% on your home heating costs for every degree you lower your thermostat below 70.

Considering the global economy and looking at oil and natural gas to understand Russia-Ukraine, homeowners in the New England and Mid-Atlantic states may consider thermostat adjustments as a cost-saving measure.

The Takeaway

The price of gasoline and heating oil may stay at its high level – or even rise as the conflict in Eastern Europe continues. Feeling the pinch in their wallets, consumers may want to try changing their habits and practices to be more energy efficient.

Another simple way to save money on gas is to pay for it using a credit card that offers cash back. For a limited time, new credit card holders† who also sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings with direct deposit can start earning 3% cash back rewards on all eligible credit card purchases for 365 days*. Offer ends 12/31/23.

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


Photo credit: iStock/ADragan

†SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS PROSPECTIVELY BASED ON MARKET CONDITIONS AND BORROWER ELIGIBILITY. Your eligibility for a SoFi Credit Card Account or a subsequently offered product or service is subject to the final determination by SoFi Bank, N.A, as issuer, pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. Please allow up to 30 days from the date of submission to process your application. The card offer referenced in this communication is only available to individuals who are at least 18 years of age (or of legal age in your state of residence), and who reside in the United States.

*You will need to maintain a qualifying Direct Deposit every month with SoFi Checking and Savings in order to continue to receive this promotional cash back rate. Qualifying Direct Deposits are defined as deposits from enrolled member’s employer, payroll, or benefits provider via ACH deposit. Deposits that are not from an employer (such as check deposits; P2P transfers such as from PayPal or Venmo, etc.; merchant transactions such as from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.; and bank ACH transfers not from employers) do not qualify for this promotion. A maximum of 36,000 rewards points can be earned from this limited-time offer. After the promotional period ends or once you have earned the maximum rewards points offered by this promotion, your cash back earning rate will revert back to 2%. 36,000 rewards points are worth $360 when redeemed into SoFi Checking and Savings, SoFi Invest, SoFi Personal Loan, SoFi Private Student Loan, SoFi Student Loan Refinance, or as a SoFi Credit Card statement credit.

Promotion Period: The Program will be available from 4/5/22 12:01AM ET to 3/31/24 11:59PM ET. SoFi reserves the right to exclude any Member from participating in the Program for any reason, including suspected fraud, misuse, or if suspicious activities are observed. SoFi also reserves the right to stop or make changes to the Program at any time.

Eligible Participants: All new members who apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card, open a SoFi Checking and Savings account, and set up Direct Deposit transactions (“Direct Deposit”) into their SoFi Checking and Savings account during the promotion period are eligible. All existing SoFi Credit Card members who set up Direct Deposit into a SoFi Checking and Savings account during the promotion period are eligible. All existing SoFi members who have already enrolled in Direct Deposit into a SoFi Checking and Savings account prior to the promotion period, and who apply and get approved for a SoFi Credit Card during the promotion period are eligible. Existing SoFi members who already have the SoFi Credit Card and previously set up Direct Deposit through SoFi Money or SoFi Checking and Savings are not eligible for this promotion.


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

SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, a statement credit, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.

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.

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

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

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