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Should I Consolidate My Student Loans?

As of the end of 2022, nearly 45 million Americans collectively have over $1.7 trillion in student loan debt, and these numbers are growing. If you are one of the millions with some form of student debt, you may have considered student loan consolidation, which allows you to combine all of your student loans into one loan with one monthly payment.

Student Loan Consolidation Explained

Student loan consolidation is designed to combine some or all of your student loans and make repayment more manageable. There are both federal and private options when it comes to consolidating your student loans.

Private Student Loan Consolidation

A private student loan consolidation is when a lender pays off all or some of your student loan debt and creates a new loan, which you will then make payments on. If you consolidate or refinance through a private lender, the new loan will ideally have a lower interest rate and better terms than your previous student loans. With a private lender, you can consolidate both federal and private loans, and this is typically referred to as a student loan refinance.

Consolidating through a private lender, though, means you lose access to federal forgiveness programs, such as income-driven repayment plans. If you plan on using one of these programs now or at some point in the future, it’s best to hold off on consolidating through a private lender.

Federal Student Loan Consolidation

If you are hoping to consolidate federal loans only and want to keep access to federal forgiveness programs, you can consolidate with a Direct Consolidation Loan through the U.S. Department of Education.

Recommended: Types of Federal Student Loans

Consolidating through the federal student loan system doesn’t usually save you money; it simply combines multiple loans into one. Your new interest rate is a weighted average of all your loans’ interest rates, rounded up to the nearest eighth of a percentage point. No application fees are charged for Direct Consolidation Loans, and the loans remain federal loans.

This could be particularly useful for borrowers who are pursuing federal loan forgiveness or who are enrolled in one of the more flexible federal student loan repayment plans, such as an income-driven repayment plan.

As you ask yourself, Should I consolidate my federal student loans? And when should I consolidate my student loans? The answers depend on a number of factors.

Benefits of Consolidating Student Loans

There are a few reasons to consider student loan consolidation either with a Direct Consolidation Loan or refinancing through a private lender.

Simplified Repayment

Whether you choose a Direct Consolidation Loan or choose to refinance through a private lender, your loan repayment should be simplified. Managing multiple student loan payments may increase your chances of missing a payment. If you miss even one payment, you risk your credit score being lowered. Late payments also stay on your credit profile for up to seven years.

Thus, consolidating multiple loans into one can help eliminate the margin of error and may make repayment more manageable.

Fixed Interest Rate

When an applicant is interested in refinancing through a private lender, their interest rate and terms will be based on their credit score, payment history, type of loan they’re seeking, and other financial factors. While requirements may vary by lender, applicants who meet or exceed the lender’s criteria may qualify for better interest rates and terms, thus saving money over the life of the loan. Borrowers can also switch from a variable to a fixed interest rate when refinancing through a private lender.

With federal Direct Loan Consolidation, as mentioned earlier, a borrower’s interest rate is a weighted average of current loan rates rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of a percentage point, which means this doesn’t typically result in savings for the borrower. The borrower does, however, keep their access to federal loan forgiveness programs.

Federal and Private Loans May Qualify

Both federal and private student loans can be refinanced. For a borrower who exclusively has federal loans, a Direct Consolidation Loan may work best, especially for those who plan to take advantage of federal forgiveness or repayment programs. Those who have a combination of federal and private loans can partner with a private lender to refinance.

Flexible Loan Terms

Student loan consolidation allows you to change the duration of your loan. You may currently have a 10-year repayment plan, but when you consolidate or refinance, you might choose to shorten or lengthen the term of your loan. Typically, lengthening the term of your loan will reduce your monthly student loan payment (but add up to more total interest).

Considerations for Student Loan Consolidation

Even though there are benefits of student loan consolidation, there are also drawbacks. Here are a few considerations to be aware of before consolidating student loans.

You Can’t Lower Interest Rates on Federal Student Loans When Consolidating

If you choose the Direct Consolidation Loan, generally you won’t see any savings. Because your new interest rate is a weighted average of your current loans rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of a percentage point, you will probably pay around the same amount you would have paid if you didn’t consolidate. You are, however, condensing multiple monthly payments into one more manageable payment.

If you extend your term, you may see your monthly payment decrease, but your total interest payments will increase.

On the other hand, if borrowers choose to refinance with a private lender, they could end up reducing their interest, thus saving money over the term of the loan. They could also opt to lower monthly payments by extending their term. But as mentioned above, this increases the total amount of interest paid.

Possible Disqualification from Federal Repayment Programs

Refinancing federal student loans with a private lender disqualifies you from federal repayment programs, including the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) and income-driven repayment plans.

Borrowers will also be disqualified from federal benefits such as forbearance and deferment options, which allow qualifying borrowers to pause payments in the event of financial hardship.

Some private lenders have hardship programs in place, but policies are determined by individual lenders.

Fees May Be Charged With Private Lenders

While there is no application fee for the federal Direct Consolidation Loan, private lenders may charge a fee to refinance loans. Fees associated with refinancing student loans are determined by the lender.

Refinancing vs Consolidating

Consolidating or refinancing student loans are terms that are thrown around interchangeably, but they are actually two different types of loans. A federal student loan consolidation is when you combine federal loans only through a Direct Consolidation Loan. This is done by the U.S. Department of Education only. A student loan refinance, on the other hand, allows you to combine both federal and private loans into one new loan and is done by a private lender. Below are some differences and similarities between refinancing vs. consolidating student loans.

Student Loan Refinancing vs Consolidating



Combines multiple loans into one Combines multiple loans into one
Can refinance federal and private loans Can consolidate federal loans only
Private refinance lenders may charge a fee No fees charged
Credit check required No credit check
Interest rate could be lowered Interest rate is a weighted average of prior loan rates, rounded up to nearest one-eighth of a percent
Term can be lengthened or shortened Term can be lengthened or shortened
Can no longer qualify for federal forgiveness or repayment programs Remain eligible for federal forgiveness and repayment programs
Saves money if interest rate is lowered Typically not a money-saving option

Refinancing Student Loans With SoFi

Understanding student loan consolidation and refinance options can help in making an informed decision about repaying student loans.

Borrowers interested in refinancing student loans might want to consider evaluating a few options, because requirements — as well as interest rates and loan terms — can vary from lender to lender.

Refinancing student loans with SoFi comes with no origination fees or prepayment penalties. SoFi offers competitive rates, flexible terms, and an easy online application that can be completed in just a few minutes.

Prequalify for a refinance loan today.


Can your student loans still be forgiven if you consolidate them?

Possibly. If you consolidate your federal student loans with a Direct Loan Consolidation, you are still eligible for federal loan forgiveness programs. If, however, you choose to consolidate your loans through a private lender, you will no longer be eligible for federal programs.

When is consolidating student loans worth it?

Consolidating student loans is worth it if you’re looking to combine multiple student loan payments into one or you’re looking to lower your interest rate. You can use a Direct Consolidation Loan for your federal loans and keep access to federal benefits, or you can refinance through a private lender. Refinancing through a private lender could give you a lower interest rate and lower monthly payment, but you do lose access to federal forgiveness programs.

What are some advantages of consolidating student loans?

Advantages to consolidating student loans include combining multiple loans into one loan with one monthly payment, possibly accessing a lower interest rate, switching your rate from variable to fixed, and possibly extending your loan term to reduce your monthly payment.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are looking to refinance federal student loans, please be aware that the White House has announced up to $20,000 of student loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for qualifying borrowers whose student loans are federally held. Additionally, the federal student loan payment pause and interest holiday has been extended beyond December 31, 2022. Please carefully consider these changes before refinancing federally held loans with SoFi, since the amount or portion of your federal student debt that you refinance will no longer qualify for the federal loan payment suspension, interest waiver, or any other current or future benefits applicable to federal loans. If you qualify for federal student loan forgiveness and still wish to refinance, leave unrefinanced the amount you expect to be forgiven to receive your federal benefit.

CLICK HERE for more information.

Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

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

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What Happens If You Stop Paying Your Credit Card Bill?

If you don’t pay your credit card bill, you could face more severe consequences than you might think. Though it will depend on your credit card issuer, you can generally expect to be charged a late fee as well as a penalty interest rate which is higher than the regular purchase APR.

Life happens, and, from time to time, payments are missed, especially if you’re dealing with emergencies such as losing a job or a family crisis. In the event you have skipped a credit card payment, it’s crucial you understand what can happen. That way, you can take steps to reduce the odds of it having a major impact on your financial health.

Here, you’ll learn more about this topic, including:

•   What happens if you don’t pay your credit card bills?

•   What if you miss one credit card payment?

•   What happens if you only can make minimum payments?

•   How can you pay off credit cards?

What Happens If You Don’t Pay Your Credit Card?

Consequences for missed credit card payments could include being changed late fees and possibly losing your grace period. It may also negatively affect your credit score since issuers report your payment activity to the credit bureaus — in most cases after 30 days.

There may be other consequences depending on how late your payment is and whether it’s your first time missing a payment.

Accruing Interest

When you don’t pay your credit card, interest will accrue and will continue to do so as long as you have a balance on your card. In essence, you are paying more for your initial purchase thanks to that interest.

The longer you go without paying your credit card, the more you risk your rate going up. Your credit card issuer may start imposing a penalty annual percentage rate (APR), which tends to be higher than your regular purchase APR. If this happens, you’ll end up paying more in interest charges. The penalty APR may apply to all subsequent transactions until a certain period of time, such as for six billing cycles.


Depending on your credit card issuer, your missed payments may go into collections if it goes unpaid for a period of time. You’ll still continue to receive notices about missed payments until this point.

More specifically, if you don’t pay your credit card after 120 to 180 days, the issuer may charge off your account. This means that your credit card issuer wrote off your account as a loss, and the debt is transferred over to a collection agency or a debt buyer who will try to collect the debt.

Once this happens, you now owe the third-party debt buyer or collections agency. Your credit card issuer will also report your account status to the major credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. This negative information could stay on your credit report for up to seven years.

It’s hard to tell what third-party debt collectors will do to try and collect your debt. Yes, they may send letters, call, and otherwise attempt to obtain the money due.

Some collections agencies may even try to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations expires. In rare cases, a court may award a judgment against you. This means the collections agency may have the right to garnish your wages or even place a lien against your house.

If your credit card bill ends up going to collections, take the time to understand what your rights are and seek help resolving the situation. Low- or no-cost debt counseling is available through organizations like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).


You may find that you have to declare bankruptcy if you still aren’t able to pay your high credit card debt and other financial obligations. This kind of major decision shouldn’t be taken lightly. You will most likely need to see legal counsel to determine whether you’re eligible.

If you do file bankruptcy, an automatic stay can come into effect, which protects you from collection agencies trying to get what you owe them. If successfully declare bankruptcy, then your credit card debt will most likely be discharged, though there may be exceptions. Seek legal counsel to see what your rights and financial obligations are once you’ve filed for bankruptcy.

Making Minimum Payments

A minimum payment is typically found in your credit card statement and outlines the smallest payment you need to make by the due date. Making the minimum payment ensures you are making on-time payments even if you don’t pay off your credit card balance. Any balance you do carry over to the next billing cycle will be charged interest. You can also avoid late fees and any other related charges by making a minimum payment vs. not paying at all.

What Happens if You Miss a Payment

If you can’t pay your credit card for whatever reason, it’s best to contact your issuer right away to minimize the impact. Let them know why you can’t make your payment, such as if you experienced a job loss or simply forgot. For the latter, pay at least the minimum amount owed as soon as you can (ideally before the penalty or higher APR kicks in).

If this is your first time missing a payment but otherwise paid on time, you can try talking to the credit card company to see if they can waive the late fee.

Some credit card issuers may offer financial hardship programs to those who qualify, such as waiving interest rates, extending the due date, or putting a pause on payments (though interest may still accrue) until you’re back on your feet.

15/3 Rule for Paying Off Credit Cards

The 15/3 payment method can help you keep on top of payments and lower your credit utilization — the percentage of the credit limit you’re using on revolving credit accounts — which can impact your score.

Instead of making one payment when you receive our monthly statement, you pay twice — one 15 days before the payment due date, and the other three days beforehand. This plan is useful if you want to help build your credit history and pay on time.

The Takeaway

Missing your credit card payment may not be a massive deal if it just happens once or twice, but it can turn into one if you continue to ignore your bill. While it’s not exactly fun to have to pay a late fee, you may be able to negotiate with the credit card issuer to waive it if you are otherwise a responsible user. Even if not, it’s better than being bumped up to the penalty APR or, worse still, having your account go to collections.

Are you looking for your first or a new credit card? Consider the SoFi Credit Card. With perks like cash back rewards on all purchases, no foreign transaction fees, and Mastercard ID Theft Protection, it may be just the right choice for your personal and financial goals.

The SoFi Credit Card: The smarter way to spend.


How long can a credit card go unpaid?

The statute of limitations, or how long a creditor can try to collect the debt owed, varies from state to state, which can be decades or more.

What happens if you never pay your credit card bill?

If you never pay your credit card bill, the unpaid portion will eventually go into collections. You could also be sued for the debt. If the judge sides with the creditor, they can collect the debt by garnishing your wages or putting a lien on your property.

Is it true that after 7 years your credit is clear?

After seven years, most negative remarks on your credit report, such as accounts going to collections, are generally removed.

Photo credit: iStock/MStudioImages
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“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.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
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.
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 .
This article is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting Memphis

Known as the Home of the Blues, Memphis is a music lover’s paradise, but there are plenty of other reasons to visit this incredible city. You’ll be able to explore its deep history, both in terms of music and the heart of the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-20th century. Plus, there are museums, parks, and more waiting.

Here, you’ll learn more about the best things to do in Memphis, Tennessee, as well as discover ideal times of year to visit. In addition, you’ll get a good idea of the average trip costs so you can budget accordingly.

Best Times to Go to Memphis

Memphis is at its most comfortable during the spring and fall months, typically from late April through the beginning of June and again from late August to the middle of October. For instance, in April, you’ll find temperatures in the 70s during the day, and in October, you’ll experience similarly warm temperatures.

For music lovers, also consider visiting for the annual Beale Street Music Festival, which takes place each May. Some of music’s biggest names perform at this three-day event. 2022’s headliners included Megan Thee Stallion and Van Morrisson, so you know there’s something for everyone.

Recommended: Where to Find Book Now, Pay Later Travel

Bad Times to Go to Memphis

Summer and winter will be less crowded in Memphis, but the weather is less than ideal for many. Summer travel in Memphis can be hot and humid. The average high temperature in July is in the 80s to low 90s Fahrenheit, making that one of the worst times to visit Memphis. Late fall and early winter tend to be cloudy in Memphis, but there’s not a high chance of snow. Rainfall tends to peak in early December and mid-April.

Average Cost of a Memphis Vacation

Before you start making a list of the top things to do in Memphis, get an idea of how much a trip there will cost you once you arrive. According to Budget Your Trip, an individual spends an average of $34 on dining every day. Local transportation is actually more expensive at $47 per day, so you might want to look into renting a car to get around.

Hotels, however, can be reasonably priced at around $134 per night in Memphis, and perhaps even less if you try some hacks to save money on hotels.

Here’s how the costs break down if you plan to spend a week in the city; there will be some incidentals as well:

•   One Person Total: $1,172

•   Two Person Total: $2,343

One note: You may want to also budget for travel insurance in case the unexpected were to happen, or look into what kind of credit card travel insurance your issuer provides.

Recommended: Credit Card Miles vs. Cash Back

10 Fun Must-Dos in Memphis

As you plan a trip to this Tennessee city, you’ll likely want to map out an itinerary, even if just loosely, to make sure you hit the highlights. Here, culled from top online reviews and seasoned travelers, is advice on the 10 best things to do in Memphis.

1. Pay Homage to the King

We would be remiss to start off a list of best things to do in Memphis without mentioning Graceland, the home of iconic singer Elvis Presley. Open for tours on a daily basis, your ticket gives you access to 120 acres. Explore Elvis’s mansion (including the Jungle Room), his most iconic outfits, and the exterior grounds.

There are also on-site museums dedicated to the King of Rock ‘n Roll’s career and cars. If you really want to make the most out of your time at Graceland, you can also stay at a hotel on the grounds. If staying in the city, consider a rental car or shuttle for the 20-minute drive. Ticket prices range from $28 to $215 for the Ultimate VIP Tour. (If you’re buying the top of the line tickets, you may want to swipe with plastic when paying to earn credit card rewards.) graceland.com/

2. Visit the National Civil Rights Museum

Memphis is also known for another King — civil rights legend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated at the city’s Lorraine Motel in 1968. Now the location has been transformed into the National Civil Rights Museum with interactive exhibits, films, and oral histories cataloging centuries of the quest for freedom and equality in America.

Exhibit material starts with the struggle against slavery in the early 1600s and moves forward through today’s continuing Civil Rights Movement. Walk through a recreation of the Montgomery Bus Boycotts of the 1950s, the Memphis Sanitation Strikes, and more. The museum is closed on Tuesdays so plan your visit in advance. civilrightsmuseum.org/

3. Stroll Down Beale Street

This nearly two-mile stretch of road in downtown Memphis is a celebration of all things music. Considered the official Home of the Blues, you’ll find clubs and restaurants to satisfy any music lover’s thirst for live entertainment.

There’s always something going on at Beale Street. Just show up to explore on your own, or download the official app to create a plan. Note that a security checkpoint goes up on Friday and Saturday nights. Those under 21 must be accompanied by an adult after 9 p.m., and the street is strictly 21+ after 11 p.m. In other words, weekend nights on Beale Street are on the list for fun things to do in Memphis for adults but not kids. bealestreet.com/

4. March with the Peabody Ducks

One of the best things to do in Memphis with kids is to head to the downtown Peabody Hotel for the daily Duck March. Occurring at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day, this decades-long tradition involves five North American mallards who live at the hotel. Each group of ducks lives at the hotel for three months before returning to farm life outside the city.

They’re brought down from their Royal Duck Palace on the rooftop to swim in the lobby fountain. Participants must be at least five years old, and the hotel recommends arriving 30 minutes early to get a seat. Seeing the Peabody Ducks is definitely an affordable family travel option. peabodymemphis.com/peabody-ducks

5. Tour the Belz Museum

What started out as a private art collection has turned into five permanent exhibits displaying Asian and Judaic art, as well as the Holocaust Memorial Gallery. The Belz Museum also brings in special exhibits twice a year.

One of the most comprehensive collections at the museum is the Chinese art exhibit, which is known as the largest such collection in the southeast United States. You’ll see many pieces from the Qing dynasty, which lasted from the mid-1600s through the early 1900s. The Belz Museum is closed Monday and Tuesday.

6. Take in Some Thrilling Basketball

Love basketball? Check out an NBA game at FedExForum, which is home to the Memphis Grizzlies (nba.com/grizzlies/tickets). The season runs from October to April. The stadium also hosts University of Memphis men’s basketball, which is a NCAA Division I. You can also check out the Division I women’s team on campus at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse.

7. Marvel at the Mighty Lights

Put this on your list of free things to do in Memphis: the nightly Mighty Lights on the downtown waterfront. Every evening, the city’s two iconic bridges (the Hernando de Soto and Harahan) are lit up in a huge display of LED lights. You’ll see the show at the hourly and 30-minute marks starting at sundown, followed by a grand final at 10:30 p.m.

Scout out a spot to watch along the Mississippi riverfront parks, or scope out an aerial view in the city. The Fourth Bluff and Mud Island are both good options to check out. mightylights.com/

8. Snap Selfies at Mud Island River Park

Tap into your inner river rat at Mud Island River Park. It takes just a few minutes to walk to it from downtown Memphis, and you’ll enjoy lounging on this Mississippi River island. It’s also a perfect spot for some social media selfies thanks to the huge Memphis sign, which spans 50 feet.

This 52-acre park also features a scale model of the Mississippi River to give you a sense of the true breadth of the world’s third largest river basin. Traveling with pets? Mud Island is also a great location for a long walk with your dog. memphisparks.com/park/mud-island-park/

9. Drop into the Stax Museum of American Soul Music

Not only is Memphis home to the blues and rock ‘n roll, it has also played a pivotal role in America’s soul music scene. The Stax Museum is the original home of the legendary Stax recording studio, which was the recording label of iconic artists like Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Shirley Brown, and many others.

Explore the rich history of the studio through exhibits and artifacts. You’ll even get the chance to see Isaac Hayes’ custom Cadillac Eldorado, decked out in 24-karat gold trim with a mini-fridge and television on the inside. The Stax Museum is closed on Mondays; tickets are $13 for adults and $10 for kids 9-12; children 8 and under are free. staxmuseum.com/

10. Wander Through Meeman-Shelby Forest

Needa dose of nature? Memphis has that, too! Head 20 minutes outside of downtown Memphis for the enchanting Meeman-Shelby Forest. You can explore 13,000 acres of wilderness that is home to a diverse range of ecosystems. Discover sandy beaches and swamplands (home to the Bald Cypress tree).

There are plenty of recreational activities to enjoy, including trails, a nature center, and a disc golf course. tnstateparks.com/parks/meeman-shelby

The Takeaway

From a huge music scene to pivotal moments in history, from parks to nightly light shows, Memphis has attractions worth exploring for all ages. It doesn’t matter if you have a few days or a full week — it’s easy to fill your schedule with tons of fun things to do in Memphis on any budget.


Is Beale Street worth a visit?

Beale Street is considered a must-visit if you’re visiting Memphis, whether it’s your first time or you’ve vacationed there before. Home of blues music, you’ll get a truly unique flavor of entertainment any time of day or night.

What is the best month to visit Memphis?

If you have a completely open calendar and are ready to head to Memphis at the perfect time of year, consider going either in mid-spring or mid-fall. You’ll miss the heat of summer and clouds of winter, so you can explore the top things to do in Memphis, Tennessee, in the best possible weather.

What is Memphis most popular for?

Memphis is best known for its music scene, both historically and today. It’s considered the home of the blues as well as the hometown of rock ‘n roll (Elvis Presley’s Graceland is there), so you’re sure to find something to enjoy.

Photo credit: iStock/benedek
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“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.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
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.

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Why Do Landlords Require Renters Insurance?

Why Do Landlords Require Renters Insurance?

Whether it’s protecting personal belongings from fire or theft or serving as a source of liability insurance if a guest gets hurt inside the home, renters insurance can provide plenty of benefits for the tenant.

But can a landlord require renters insurance? The short answer is yes. Let’s take a closer look at the nuances of this coverage and why a landlord might want to make it mandatory.

Can a Landlord Require Renters Insurance in All States?

In most states, the answer is yes, they can. (Oklahoma may currently be an exception.) What’s more, landlords can usually determine a minimum policy amount that their renters must carry. When that happens, the landlord will likely be more concerned about the amount of the liability coverage a tenant has, because that can have a financial impact on the landlord if, say, damage from a fire or an overflowing bathtub occurs. They may be less concerned about the amount of personal property coverage that a tenant has in their renters insurance policy.

It’s important to note that while landlords are allowed to require tenants to have renters insurance, there are no states that require renters insurance. However, this could change, so check your state’s laws.

To get a good understanding of what a landlord requires for the apartment you want to lease, be sure to read the lease language carefully. It may contain a clause, for example, that requires a new tenant to provide proof of renters insurance within a certain period of time. If more clarity is needed, ask the landlord for an explanation before signing the lease.

Reasons Why Landlords Require Renters Insurance

Mandating renters insurance can be part of a landlord’s tenant screening process, just like checking a renter’s credit scores may be. Buying and maintaining a policy could be a sign that they’ll be able to consistently pay the rent and are willing to take responsibility for the rented space and their belongings.

Requiring this type of coverage could also lower a landlord’s overall liability. Let’s say a tenant doesn’t have an insurance policy, and some of their belongings are stolen. That tenant may decide to sue the landlord to get the money to replace those items. Similarly, if a tenant or their guest is injured on the property, they may choose to bring the landlord to court to help cover medical bills. It’s also possible that, if someone gets injured in a rented space and doesn’t have renters insurance, the hospital caring for the injured party might sue the landlord. Even if the landlord’s policy covers the hospital bill, this could result in higher insurance premiums for the landlord.

Here’s a related possibility: Suppose there’s a fire in an apartment complex and, because of smoke damage, tenants need to temporarily find other places to live. Tenants without renters insurance may not be able to pay for temporary lodgings and may attempt to get those funds from the landlord. In some states, the landlord may in fact need to provide relocation benefits for tenants who don’t have their own coverage. So, requiring a policy can shift part of the financial burden from the landlord to the affected tenants.

Continuing with the fire scenario, let’s say it’s one that was accidentally set by a tenant, and it damaged several parts of the building. Let’s also say that the landlord’s insurance policy will cover the costs, minus the deductible on the landlord’s policy. That can help to cover cleanup and remodeling expenses but the deductible can be significant—and the tenant’s renters insurance may cover the dollar amount of that deductible. This reduces the landlord’s out-of-pocket expenses, which can be a real plus for that landlord.

Recommended: What Does Renters Insurance Cover?

Proof of Insurance

If a landlord requires renters insurance, they may ask for proof of existence. Perhaps they’ll want to see a statement from an insurance company or a copy of the policy itself, though they may also simply take a tenant’s word for it.

Sometimes, a landlord will want to be listed on the policy as an “additional interest.” When that happens, the landlord will be notified if the policy coverage lapses because of non-payment or because the tenant cancels the policy.

Note that naming someone as an “additional interest” is different from naming them as an “additional insured.” The second term refers to people who are also covered by a tenant’s policy, perhaps a roommate or partner.

Securing a Policy

When deciding what policy to buy, it’s important to factor in the value of personal belongings that need to be covered and what is affordable. Different insurance companies offer different coverages at differing price ranges. After determining the value of personal belongings and budgetary constraints, it may be time to compare policies and see which ones fit in your budget.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) says the average renters insurance policy costs between $15 to $30 per month. Compare that to the cost of replacing personal belongings, which would typically be much higher. And that’s not even factoring in the benefits of having liability coverage and additional living cost coverage, such as temporary lodging if you need to leave the rented space.

Recommended: Most Affordable Renters Insurance for Apartments

Actual Cash Value Versus Replacement Costs

Some policies pay out the actual cash value of lost or damaged belongings, while others cover the full costs of replacing what was lost or damaged.

Let’s say that a three-year-old laptop was stolen from a tenant’s apartment. If that person’s policy uses cash value when reimbursing the tenant, the amount would be what the laptop originally cost minus any depreciation that took place over that three-year period. If the policy is a replacement cost one, then the tenant would be reimbursed what it would cost to get a similar laptop today.

Review the policy’s deductible. This is the amount that the policyholder is responsible for before insurance coverage applies. Typical deductibles fall around $500 or $1,000, although they may be higher. Some policies may offer deductibles that are a percentage of the policy’s coverage amount.

The Takeaway

Renters insurance can provide peace of mind to tenants in the event their property is stolen or damaged. It can also help lower a landlord’s overall liability and financial burden. Though there’s no federal law mandating renters insurance, landlords in most states are able to require tenants to have it. Before signing on the dotted line, double-check the lease agreement to confirm whether you need to purchase a policy. A typical renters insurance policy costs around $15 to $30 per month, but coverage and cost may vary.

Ready to start shopping? SoFi has partnered with Lemonade to offer renters insurance that’s affordable and easy to apply for and understand, with instant quotes available. Tenants can protect their belongings at a low premium, with prices starting just $5 per month.

Lemonade is a name you can trust. It has exceptional ratings, is fully licensed, and reinsured by some of the most trusted names on the planet. Plus, it donates any leftover money to nonprofit partners chosen by customers.

Explore renters insurance options offered through SoFi and Lemonade.

Photo credit: iStock/staticnak1983

SoFi offers customers the opportunity to reach the following Insurance Agents:
Home & Renters: Lemonade Insurance Agency (LIA) is acting as the agent of Lemonade Insurance Company in selling this insurance policy, in which it receives compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies it sells.

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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Common Health Insurance Terms & Definitions

Common Health Insurance Terms & Definitions

When shopping for a new health insurance policy — or when your employer introduces a new health plan — you might wonder what certain health insurance terms mean.

In this guide, you’ll discover health insurance terminology for beginners and anyone who’s ever been confused about a policy, so you can make informed decisions.

Top Health Insurance Terms to Know

Discover the health insurance definitions that can help you better utilize health insurance for you and your family.

Accident-Only Policies

These policies pay only in cases that were due to an accident or injury.


These are the health care services covered by the insurance plan for an individual. Your health benefits might also be called a “benefits package.”


An itemized bill that shows all of the services and procedures that were provided to the member.


This refers to the percentage of the medical charge you must pay out of your own pocket after meeting your deductible. The rest will be paid by your health insurance company. If you have a 15% coinsurance plan, you would pay 15% of each medical bill (after paying the full deductible), and the insurer would cover the rest.


In most cases, this means the insurance policy, which is a contract between the insurance company and the policyholder.


The amount you pay out of pocket when you receive medical care or a prescription drug. A copayment is typically paid in person at the doctor’s office.


This refers to the amount you must pay out of pocket before your insurance starts paying some of your health care expenses. The deductible resets at the beginning of the year or when you enroll in a new health insurance plan.

If your deductible is $2,000, your health insurance plan won’t cover any services until you have paid $2,000 out of pocket for the year. Someone with a high deductible and lots of medical costs could consider getting help in the form of medical loans, which are personal loans for medical and dental procedures.

Disability Benefits

If you are unable to work because of an illness or injury, the insurance company pays for lost wages. You’ll receive a portion of your income until you are able to return to work. Each policy defines what constitutes a “disability,” so you’ll need to meet those requirements and submit medical paperwork before receiving payment.

Health Insurance

Health insurance terminology 101: This is a contract that requires your health insurer to pay some or all of your health care costs in exchange for a premium.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)

An HMO is a health plan that provides health care services to members through a network of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers.

HMOs are popular alternatives to traditional health care plans because they usually have lower-cost premiums while still offering a variety of services.

Health Savings Account (HSA)

This is pretax money you set aside to pay for qualified medical expenses. You and your employer may contribute.

HSA funds roll over if you don’t spend them by the end of the year.

Indemnity Plan

Sometimes referred to as a fee-for-service plan, an indemnity plan allows you to go to any physician or provider you want, but requires that you pay for the services yourself and file claims in order to get reimbursed.

Mandated Benefits

This refers to the health care benefits that state or federal law say must be included in health care plans. Mandated health insurance benefit laws may require plans to cover substance abuse treatment or maternity services; cover treatment by providers like chiropractors, acupuncturists, and midwives; or include dependents and domestic partners.

Out-of-Pocket Maximum

This is the most you’ll pay for expenses covered by the plan in a calendar year. If you reach your deductible, insurance will begin paying some expenses covered by the plan. If you hit your out-of-pocket maximum, insurance will pay all expenses covered by the plan. (Monthly premiums don’t count toward your out-of-pocket maximum or deductible.)

Out-of-Network Services

This is when you seek out services from providers who aren’t in your HMO’s or PPO’s network. Usually, HMOs will only pay for care received within its network. If you’re in a PPO plan, you will have to pay more to receive services outside the PPO’s network.

Preexisting Condition

This health insurance term refers to a medical problem or illness you had before applying for health care coverage. If you have a preexisting condition, it’s a good idea to shop around and educate yourself when choosing an individual health plan.

Preferred Provider

This refers to a provider who has a contract with your health plan to provide services to you at a discount. If you have a favorite doctor, you might want to see if they are a preferred provider or “in network” for any new insurance plan.

When you’re looking to find a new physician, choosing a “preferred provider” found via the plan’s website will help keep medical costs down.

Your health insurance or plan may have preferred providers who are also “participating” providers. Participating providers can also have a contract in place with your health insurer, but you may have to pay more.

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)

PPO plans provide more flexibility than HMOs when choosing a doctor or hospital. They also feature a provider network, but have fewer restrictions on seeing out-of-network providers.

PPO insurance will pay if you see a provider out of the network, though it may be at a lower rate.

PPO plans usually cost more than HMO plans.


This is the amount paid to the insurance company to obtain or maintain an insurance policy. Usually it’s a monthly fee.

Provider Network

This is a list of all the doctors, specialists, hospitals, and other providers who agree to provide medical care to the members of an HMO or PPO.

Waiting Period

This is the time an employer may make employees wait before they are eligible for coverage under the company’s insurance plan.

The Takeaway

Do you know your HMO from your PPO and HSA? Have you looked closely at copays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximums? Knowing health insurance terms can help you make an informed decision when looking at health insurance policies.

Speaking of insurance, check out a variety of insurance offerings at SoFi Protect, bringing you fast, easy, and reliable insurance.

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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