How to Invest in Wind Energy

How to Invest in Wind Energy

Investing in wind energy involves putting money into companies or funds focused on some aspect of the wind energy industry. Individuals can invest in the wind energy industry directly by investing in companies that operate wind farms or indirectly by putting money into companies that manufacture wind turbines or components.

Wind energy is one of the cornerstones of the renewable energy industry, providing a cost-effective source of electricity generation. As more attention is paid to the effects of climate change and the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, many investors are turning to wind energy investments.

What Are Wind Energy Investments?

Wind energy investments are financial stakes in companies and projects focused on generating electricity through wind power. Wind turbines, sometimes called windmills, harness this power by collecting the energy created by wind and converting it into electricity. Wind energy is often divided into two market segments, distributed wind and utility-scale wind.

💡 Quick Tip: How to manage potential risk factors in a self-directed investment account? Doing your research and employing strategies like dollar-cost averaging and diversification may help mitigate financial risk when trading stocks.

Distributed Wind Market Segment

The distributed wind market is usually made up of smaller-scale projects, where wind turbines are used to generate electricity for homes, businesses, and even entire communities.

Utility-scale Market Segment

Utility-scale wind energy, in contrast, consists of turbines that generate more than 100 kilowatts of energy. The power generated by utility-scale wind projects is added to the electrical grid. Companies involved in utility-scale wind energy draw the most interest from individual investors.

Utility-scale wind energy projects can be land-based, where a group of wind turbines is grouped in a wind farm on land. Offshore wind farms built off the coast are another type of utility-scale wind energy, taking advantage of powerful ocean winds to generate large amounts of energy.

Individuals can invest in the wind energy industry by putting money into companies involved in some portion of the wind energy industry or, more rarely, by investing in specific wind energy projects.

Increased Popularity

Wind energy investments, and other socially responsible investments, have grown in popularity in recent years as the focus on the need for sustainable energy grows. Because they rely on wind power rather than fossil fuels, these investments and projects cut down on emissions and pollution.

Further, wind energy is becoming more common because of declining costs, technological improvements, and government tax incentives. In the United States, wind power supplied more than 20% of all electricity to 12 states as of 2022, and in 2023, U.S. wind generation totaled more than 425,000 gigawatt hours of power.

3 Ways to Invest in Wind Energy

Investors can invest in wind energy by putting money into the stocks and bonds of companies in the wind energy industry. Mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with wind energy or renewable energy-focused strategies are also potential investment vehicles for those interested in adding wind energy to their portfolio.

Regardless of the type of investment, investors need to remember that many companies and funds are diversified, meaning that they may be involved in sectors other than wind energy. For investors that want to invest in purely wind energy companies or funds, it’s essential to do research into potential investments.

💡 Quick Tip: How do you decide if a certain trading platform or app is right for you? Ideally, the investment platform you choose offers the features that you need for your investment goals or strategy, e.g., an easy-to-use interface, data analysis, educational tools.

1. Stocks

Investors can put money into various publicly-traded companies involved in some aspect of the wind energy industry. These companies may include wind farm operators, which own and operate wind turbines to produce energy for customers and end-users, and manufacturers of turbines and other components of wind farms. Some utility companies may also be an option for wind energy investors.

Some companies involved in the wind energy industry include:

•   Orsted : The Denmark-based power company is the largest developer of offshore wind power in the world.

•   Vestas Wind Systems : The Denmark-based company is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of wind turbines

•   GE Vernova : The US-based company that was spun-off from GE’s main business in 2024, specializing in energy equipment manufacturing.

•   NextEra Energy : The American energy company has 119 wind farms in operation

•   Alliant Energy : The American energy company owns and operates wind farms across Wisconsin and Iowa

2. Mutual Funds and ETFs

Investors who don’t want to pick individual stocks to invest in can always look to mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that provide exposure to wind energy companies and investments. A growing number of index funds invest in a basket of companies involved in the wind energy industry.

These funds allow investors to diversify their holdings by investing in one security. However, not all wind energy funds follow the same criteria and may focus on different aspects of wind energy. These funds may also have holdings in traditional energy and utility companies that only are partially involved in the wind energy industry.

3. Bonds

The bonds of corporations involved in wind energy business practices can be a good option for investors interested in fixed-income securities. Green and climate bonds are bonds issued by companies to finance various environmentally-friendly projects and business operations.

Additionally, government bonds used to fund wind energy projects can be an option for fixed-income investors. These bonds may come with tax incentives, making them a more attractive investment than traditional bonds.

💡 Recommended: How to Buy Bonds: A Guide for Beginners

Benefits and Risks of Investing in Wind Energy

The trend of investing in renewable energy sources like wind energy is rising as the public becomes more aware of the environmental and economic benefits of doing so. However, before investing in this sector, there are benefits and risks to consider.

Benefits

A benefit of investing in wind energy is that it is a renewable resource, so it will never run out as long as the sun shines and the wind blows. Additionally, wind energy is cost-effective, and tends to be one of the lowest-priced energy sources. And because the power generated from wind farms is sold at a fixed price over a long period of time, it may provide reliable returns for investors — though there are no guarantees.

Wind power is also a clean energy source, meaning it does not produce emissions that can harm the environment like fossil fuels and power plants. This can be attractive for investors focused on building a portfolio of green investments.

Risks

One primary risk of investing in wind energy is that it is a relatively new technology, so there is little data available on its long-term performance. Wind energy and all renewable energy sources must compete with traditional energy sources like oil, coal, and natural gas. Because of this, the long-term outlook for wind energy investments may change. Wind energy investments may be harder to stomach for investors who are not comfortable with the risk of newer technologies.

Additionally, wind energy projects may get pushback from communities where companies want to operate.

How to Build a Wind Energy Portfolio

If you are ready to start investing and want to build a portfolio of wind energy investments, you can follow these steps:

Step 1: Open a brokerage account

You will need to open a brokerage account and deposit money into it. Once your account is funded, you can buy and sell stocks and other securities.

Step 2: Pick your assets

Decide what type of investment you want to make, whether in a company’s stock, a wind energy-focused ETF or mutual fund, or bonds.

Step 3: Do your research

It’s important to research the different companies and funds and find a diversified selection that fits your desires and priorities.

Step 4: Invest

Once you’re ready, make your investment and then monitor your portfolio to ensure that the assets in your portfolio have a positive social and financial impact.

It is important to remember that you should diversify your portfolio by investing in various asset classes. Diversification may help to reduce your risk and maximize your returns.

The Takeaway

Wind energy is a renewable resource that is becoming increasingly popular and is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. This makes it a potential growth investment for those looking to diversify their portfolios and reduce their reliance on traditional energy sources.

While the outlook for wind energy is promising, investments in wind energy may not always produce positive returns. When considering a wind energy investment, it is important to do your research and understand the risks and rewards involved with this nascent industry.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.


Photo credit: iStock/XtockImages

SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

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.

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected]. Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing.
Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.


Fund Fees
If you invest in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) through SoFi Invest (either by buying them yourself or via investing in SoFi Invest’s automated investments, formerly SoFi Wealth), these funds will have their own management fees. These fees are not paid directly by you, but rather by the fund itself. these fees do reduce the fund’s returns. Check out each fund’s prospectus for details. SoFi Invest does not receive sales commissions, 12b-1 fees, or other fees from ETFs for investing such funds on behalf of advisory clients, though if SoFi Invest creates its own funds, it could earn management fees there.
SoFi Invest may waive all, or part of any of these fees, permanently or for a period of time, at its sole discretion for any reason. Fees are subject to change at any time. The current fee schedule will always be available in your Account Documents section of SoFi Invest.


Claw Promotion: Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $25 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. See full terms and conditions.

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How to Invest in Solar Energy

How to Invest in the Solar Energy Sector

Solar energy investing focuses on companies or funds focused on some aspect of the solar energy industry. You can invest in the solar energy industry by putting money into companies involved in some part of the solar power supply chain, including manufacturers of solar panels and operators of solar energy facilities. Investors can also profit from solar energy by installing solar panels on their homes.

Solar energy is one of the most popular and growing renewable energy sources. There are several ways to invest in solar energy for investors interested in supporting an industry that may help reduce dependence on traditional fossil fuels and help combat climate change.

What Is Solar Investing?

Solar investing generally refers to investing in companies that produce or sell solar energy products. This can include solar panel manufacturers, installers, or companies operating solar energy facilities. Investors usually invest in solar through traditional products like stocks, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Another common type of solar investing is the installation of solar panels on a home or business. Solar panels can be used to power all or part of a home or business, and the electricity generated can offset the cost of an energy bill. Investors can also use solar panels to generate income by selling their electricity back to a utility company.

💡 Quick Tip: How to manage potential risk factors in a self-directed investment account? Doing your research and employing strategies like dollar-cost averaging and diversification may help mitigate financial risk when trading stocks.

💡 Recommended: Beginner’s Guide to Sustainable Investing

What Is Solar Energy?

Solar energy is a form of renewable energy that comes from the sun; it is an abundant source of energy that can be used to generate electricity, heat water, and provide other forms of energy for homes, businesses, and communities.

Solar energy is generally generated by solar panels, which are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert sunlight into electricity. Solar panels can be installed on an individual’s home or business or arrayed across open spaces that experience strong sunlight.

Though solar panels are common for most consumer and business applications, thermal solar is another type of solar energy. Thermal solar energy utilizes mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect the energy and convert it to heat, which can then be used to produce electricity or stored for later use. It is used primarily in large power plants.

Solar energy is considered a clean and sustainable energy source that can help reduce the dependence on fossil fuels to combat climate change. Analysts expect renewable energy sources like solar will make up a more significant portion of all energy generation in the coming decades.

Benefits and Risks of Investing in Solar

The trend of investing in renewable energy sources like solar energy is rising as the public becomes more aware of the environmental and economic benefits. However, before investing in this sector, there are benefits and risks to consider.

Benefits

A benefit of investing in solar is that it provides a renewable energy source that can help reduce your carbon footprint. This can be appealing to investors interested in environmentally friendly and socially responsible investing.

Solar energy is also sustainable, especially compared to fossil fuels and traditional energy sources. The amount of oil and coal in the ground is limited, but the sun, hopefully, isn’t going anywhere. Investors interested in investments with long-term growth potential may prefer solar energy to other energy stocks.

Additionally, if you install solar panels on your home, it can increase the value of your property.

💡 Quick Tip: Investment fees are assessed in different ways, including trading costs, account management fees, and possibly broker commissions. When you set up an investment account, be sure to get the exact breakdown of your “all-in costs” so you know what you’re paying.

Risks

A primary risk of solar energy is that it is intermittent, meaning that solar energy is only generated when the sun is shining. Solar energy is only available during daylight, and a cloudy day may interfere with energy production. While this is a problem, technology is advancing so solar energy can be more adequately captured and stored during periods of extreme sunshine.

Another downside to solar energy is that many technologies in the sector require rare earth materials in the production process. The solar industry must compete with other industries for these scarce resources. Because there can be supply and demand issues for these commodities, it can increase costs for solar energy producers.

And though solar energy is a renewable resource, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t create any harm to the environment. The materials used in solar technologies are difficult to dispose of and recycle, which cuts into the sustainability claims of solar energy investments.

💡 Recommended: What Every New Investor Should Know About Risk

4 Ways to Invest in Solar Energy

Investors can invest in solar energy by putting money into the stocks and bonds of companies in the solar energy industry. Mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with solar energy or renewable energy-focused strategies are also potential investment vehicles for those interested in adding solar energy to their portfolio.

Regardless of the type of investment vehicle, investors need to remember that many companies and funds are diversified, meaning they may be involved in sectors other than solar energy. For investors that want to invest in purely solar energy companies or funds, it’s essential to do research into potential investments.

Stocks

Investors can put money into various publicly-traded companies involved in some aspect of the solar energy industry. Solar energy companies may include manufacturers of components for solar technologies, installers of solar panels, and firms that operate solar energy facilities.

Some companies involved in the solar energy industry include:

•   Enphase Energy (ENPH): This company designs and manufactures technologies that turn sunlight into energy

•   SolarEdge Technologies (SEDG): This firm creates products that help photovoltaic systems convert solar energy into power

•   First Solar (FSLR): This company is a manufacturer of solar panels and a provider of utility-scale photovoltaic power plants

•   Sunrun (RUN): This firm is a leading provider of residential solar panels

•   Daqo New Energy (DQ): This company manufactures monocrystalline silicon and polysilicon, primarily for use in solar photovoltaic systems

Mutual Funds and ETFs

Investors who don’t want to pick individual stocks to invest in can always look to mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that provide exposure to solar energy companies and investments.

Several index funds invest in a basket of companies in the solar energy industry. These funds allow investors to diversify their holdings by investing in one security. However, not all solar energy funds follow the same criteria and may focus on different aspects of solar energy. These funds may also have holdings in traditional energy and utility companies that only are partially involved in the solar energy industry.

Bonds

The bonds of corporations involved in solar energy business practices can be a good option for investors interested in fixed-income securities. Green and climate bonds are bonds issued by companies to finance various environmentally-friendly projects and business operations.

Additionally, government bonds used to fund solar energy projects can be an option for fixed-income investors. These bonds may come with tax incentives, making them a more attractive investment than traditional bonds.

Install Solar Panels

As mentioned above, investors who want to profit from solar energy can purchase solar panels and install them on a home or business. This may be an appealing way to save money on your energy bills, generate income by selling electricity to a utility company and helping reduce your carbon footprint.

How to Start a Solar Investment Portfolio

If you are ready to start investing and want to build a portfolio of solar energy investments, you can follow these steps:

Step 1: Open a brokerage account

You will need to open a brokerage account and deposit money into it. Once your account is funded, you can buy and sell stocks and other securities. SoFi Invest® offers an active investing platform where you can start building your solar energy portfolio.

Step 2: Pick your assets

Decide what type of investment you want, whether in a company’s stock, a solar energy-focused ETF or mutual fund, or bonds.

Step 3: Do your research

It’s important to research the different companies and funds and find a diversified selection that fits your desires and priorities.

Step 4: Invest

Once you’re ready, make your investment and then monitor your portfolio to ensure that the assets in your portfolio have a positive environmental and financial impact.

It is important to remember that you should diversify your portfolio by investing in various asset classes. Diversification may help to reduce your risk and maximize your returns.

The Takeaway

Solar investing has become increasingly popular in recent years as the cost of solar panels has fallen and the technology has become more efficient. Solar panels are now available for a fraction of the cost of traditional electric power, and they are becoming more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity.

Investing in the solar energy industry may be a way to profit from the growth outlook for solar energy. However, it’s necessary to do your homework before investing in any solar company or fund or installing solar panels on your home.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.


Photo credit: iStock/deepblue4you

SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

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.

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected]. Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing.
Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.


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Refinancing Student Loans During Medical School: What to Know

Refinancing Student Loans During Medical School: What to Know

Editor's Note: For the latest developments regarding federal student loan debt repayment, check out our student debt guide.

A career in medicine can be rewarding, but the high cost of medical school means many students take on additional student debt on top of their existing undergraduate student loans.

Some students defer student loan payments while they’re in medical school and others choose to refinance their student debt. The right choice for you depends on a number of factors, such as whether you have federal or private student loans. Here’s what to know about refinancing student loans during medical school.

What You Can Expect to Pay

Going to medical school is expensive: The average cost of medical school is $264,704 for four years at a private institution and $161,972 at a public medical school, according to the Education Data Initiative.

Many students need loans to cover the high cost of medical school tuition and other educational expenses. In fact, 70% of medical school students use loans specifically to help pay for medical school (as opposed to undergraduate debt). The average medical school graduate owes $250,995 in total student loan debt, which includes undergraduate debt.

If you don’t have the option for in-school deferment for your undergraduate loans while you’re enrolled in med school, refinancing your undergraduate student loans might be worthwhile and may help lower your loan payments while you’re in medical school. Here’s what you need to know to decide if refinancing loans as a medical student is right for you.

Can You Refinance Student Loans During Medical School?

Whether you have federal or private student debt, you can technically refinance your student loans at any time along your journey toward becoming a physician.

During a student loan refinance, you can combine multiple student loans of any type — federal and private — into one new refinance loan. This new loan is from a private lender, and comes with a new interest rate and different loan term.

The lender will repay your original loans that were included in the refinance process. You’ll then repay the lender, based on the details of your refinance loan agreement, in incremental monthly payments.

Another Option for Federal Student Loans During Medical School

It’s important to know that if you have federal student loans, refinancing them will remove you from the federal student loan program.

Keeping your federal student loans within the Department of Education’s loan system gives you access to benefits and protections that can be useful while in medical school, like extended deferment or forbearance.

Generally, automatic student loan deferment is applied to federal Direct Loans of borrowers who are enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school. If your federal student loans from your undergrad program weren’t placed on in-school deferment status, reach out to your school and ask them to report your enrollment status.

This student loan refinancing alternative can postpone your monthly payment requirement until after you leave school. However, if you borrowed Direct Unsubsidized Loans or Direct PLUS Loans, you’re responsible for repaying interest that accrues during this time.

Pros of Refinancing During Medical School

A student loan refinance during medical school can offer benefits.

Extend Your Loan Term

Generally, once you’ve signed your student loan agreement you’ve committed to a specific repayment term. For example, if your private student loan has a 5-year term, you’ll need to repay the loan’s balance, plus interest, in that time period.

However, repaying your loan balance while attending medical school might be difficult. With a student loan refinance, you can choose to prolong your repayment timeline over a longer term, like 10 or 15 years.

Lower Monthly Payments

By extending your student loan refinance term, your monthly installment payments become smaller since they’re stretched over a longer period. Prolonging your loan term can result in paying more interest over the life of the loan. However, it affords you a lower monthly payment so you have more funds in your budget toward the day-to-day cost of medical school.

Some Refinancing Lenders Offer Deferment

Some refinancing lenders offer borrowers the option to defer their student loan refinance payments while in medical school. Generally, you’ll need to meet the lender’s minimum enrollment status and possibly meet other requirements.

This benefit, however, isn’t offered by all lenders so always confirm with the lender before finalizing any student loan refinance offer.

Recommended: A Guide to Refinancing Student Loans

Cons of Refinancing During Medical School

Although there are benefits to refinancing your student loans, there are downsides to this repayment strategy as well.

You Could Pay More Interest Over Time

Extending your loan term causes you to pay more interest throughout the life of the loan, assuming you don’t make extra monthly payments. This means that you’ll ultimately pay more overall for your undergraduate degree.

You’ll Lose Access to Loan Forgiveness

If you refinance federal student loans, you’ll lose access to federal benefits and protections. Physicians who expect to work in the government or nonprofit sector might be eligible for loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

To be eligible for forgiveness, you must have eligible Direct Loans, and have made 120 qualifying payments toward your federal loan debt while working for a qualifying employer. After PSLF requirements are met, the program forgives the remainder of your eligible federal loan balance.

You’ll lose access to this significant benefit if you refinance federal loans into a private refinance student loan.

Should You Refinance Your Student Loans?

Student loan refinancing is a strategy that can be advantageous for certain borrowers in specific circumstances. For instance, it might be a good option for borrowers who already have a private undergraduate loan and simply want to lower their interest rate to save money.

It can also be a strategy to extend your term if your main goal is to lower your monthly undergraduate loan payments. Borrowers who have adequate savings, reliable income while in medical school, and who are confident that they won’t participate in programs, like PSLF, might benefit most.

Assess your current financial situation, and talk to your loan servicer or undergraduate loan lender to get a full understanding of your repayment options during medical school.

Refinancing Student Loans With SoFi

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.


With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.

FAQ

Can you refinance student loans in residency?

Yes, you can refinance student loans while in residency. However, if you refinance federal loans, it will make that portion of your student debt ineligible for federal loan forgiveness in the future.

Do doctors ever pay off their student loans?

Yes, doctors pay off their student loans, though how they do so can vary. Some start making small payments during residency or apply for an income-driven repayment plan, while others refinance or pursue loan forgiveness programs.

When should I refinance my medical student loans?

Exploring a private student loan refinance can be done at any time, especially if your income is stable and your credit has improved since you first took out the loan. If you have federal student loan debt, consider whether you’ll pursue loan forgiveness at any point along your career journey. If you might, your student loans must be kept within the federal loan program to be eligible for forgiveness.


Photo credit: iStock/Edwin Tan

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


SoFi Loan Products
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.


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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International Credit Cards: Features, Benefits, and How They Work

If you want to avoid dealing with native currency or carrying traveler’s checks or cash when traveling abroad, an international credit card can be an asset. Having this kind of card in your wallet, which you can use both at home and abroad, can make for smoother trips overseas.

Here’s a closer look at what an international credit card is, its main features, and how to get an international credit card that’s right for you.

What Is an International Credit Card?

An international credit card is a credit card that you can use outside of the United States to make purchases and at an ATM. The major networks that issue international credit cards include Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and American Express.

However, having an international credit card doesn’t mean you can use it anywhere in the world. The countries where you can use a certain card depends on the network. For instance, Mastercard’s international cards can be used in over 210 countries, whereas Visa’s global network spans over 200 countries to date.

Features of International Credit Cards

Besides the fact that you can use the card overseas, here are some of the other features an international credit card may have:

International Chip and Pin

International credit cards feature an international chip and pin. Chip cards, or EMV cards (which stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa), add an extra layer of security to transactions.

With the chip and pin feature of international credit cards, you dip your card into the reader, then insert your PIN. This differs from in the U.S., where EMV cards come with chip-and-signature technology, which means you insert your chip and then may input your signature. Chip-and-pin is the standard everywhere else and, as such, this is what international credit cards offer.

Welcome Offer

An international credit card might have a welcome offer, which features an attractive introductory bonus. Typically, with how credit cards work, you’ll need to spend a certain amount on the card within the first few months of opening your account in order to earn the bonus. The amount you’ll need to spend, the time frame in which you’ll need to do it, and the number of bonus rewards points you can earn will vary by card.

Travel Perks

Some international credit cards come with attractive travel perks, such as trip cancellation insurance, rental car insurance, and lost luggage insurance. They might also feature access to exclusive airport lounges around the world.

To qualify for an international credit card with some of these luxury perks, however, you’ll usually need to have a good or even excellent credit score (meaning 670 or above).

Rewards Points

While many credit cards come with the ability to scoop up rewards points, international credit cards might offer a higher credit card rewards rate for travel-related purchases. This might include hotel stays, car rentals, dining out, and booked flights. For example, you might get 5x points on these travel-related purchases, whereas other purchases earn 1x points.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Credit Card Foreign Transaction Fees

An international credit card might come with a foreign transaction fee, which is a fee that applies when you make a payment with your card in another country. This fee is typically 3% of the total cost of the purchase, and it is charged in U.S. dollars. For example, if your total purchase came to $50, then the foreign transaction fee would be $1.50, for a total of $51.50.

If you’re not careful, foreign transaction fees can easily take a bite into your travel budget. Some international cards might not charge foreign transaction fees, which can put money back into your pocket and help you avoid credit card debt that’s hard to get rid of.

How to Get an International Credit Card

To get an international credit card, follow these steps:

1.    Do your homework to see which cards are most attractive to you. Which have the best perks, lowest fees, and most enticing rewards?

2.    You’ll also want to see which cards you can qualify for. By checking your credit score, you can better determine which cards you might get approved for.

3.    Apply for a credit card. The process of how to apply for a credit card is similar whether or not it’s an international credit card. You’ll usually need to provide basic personal and financial information, such as your Social Security number and details on your income.

4.    Once your application is submitted, the credit card issuer will do a hard pull of your card to determine your creditworthiness, which helps inform whether your limit will be above or below the average credit card limit. Be aware that a hard pull will likely result in a temporary ding to your credit.

5.    Find out if you’re approved. If you are, you can expect to receive your new card in the mail in seven to 10 business days. Your card will have a unique account number as well as the CVV number on a credit card.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

How to Choose the Best International Credit Card

What’s the best international credit card for you will depend on a handful of factors. Specifically, you’ll want to consider:

•   Where you’ll be traveling. Are you planning on using your card on business trips, and do you frequent certain countries for work? If so, there are certain countries or parts of the world where an international credit card may be more widely accepted. Different cards may be accepted in different locations.

•   Rates and fees. Look to see what the APR on a credit card will be. If you are likely to keep a balance, it’s particularly important that you have a good APR for a credit card. The lower the APR, the less you’ll pay in interest when you carry a balance. Also take a look at any other fees that may apply with the card, such as annual fees, late fees, cash advance fees, and, of course, foreign transaction fees.

•   Perks and rewards. Not all credit cards are equal when it comes to the perks and rewards they offer. It’s easy to be dazzled by attractive travel-related perks, but make sure they’re ones you’ll actually use. Also look at the earn rate for different categories, and see if the categories with the higher earn rates are in line with your spending habits. You want to use your credit card responsibly vs. overspending to earn rewards.

Pros and Cons of Using an International Credit Card

International credit cards have pros and cons, both of which are important to weigh.

Pros of Using an International Credit Card Cons of Using an International Credit Card
Less hassle when traveling Fees
Opportunity to earn rewards Might not be accepted everywhere
Travel perks Need to plan ahead to maximize perks

Pros of International Credit Cards

First, the upsides of international credit cards:

•   Less hassle when traveling: Perhaps the top advantage of using an international credit card is that you won’t need to fuss with native currency or carrying around cash or traveler’s checks. Plus, if something were to go amiss, you have the usual credit card protections in place, which could allow you to dispute a credit card charge or request a credit card chargeback.

•   Opportunity to earn rewards: Many international credit cards allow you to earn rewards for your everyday spending. Plus, some may offer higher rates of rewards for travel-related spending, which could be a big benefit for frequent travelers.

•   Travel perks: As mentioned before, international credit cards can come with a host of travel-related parks. For instance, international credit cards may offer trip cancellation insurance, car rental insurance, and free upgrades on hotels and flight bookings, to name a few.

Cons of International Credit Cards

Next, consider the potential downsides of international credit cards:

•   Fees: Some international cards have high annual fees, though these may translate to more attractive perks. You’ll also want to look out for foreign transaction fees, as these can quickly add to your costs when traveling.

•   Might not be accepted everywhere: Not all retailers within a country may accept payments with an international credit card. Some retailers might still only accept the local currency or certain payment methods. Additionally, international credit cards’ networks may not include particular countries.

•   Need to plan ahead to maximize perks: While international credit cards might come with some nice travel benefits and perks, it can take a bit of work and planning to make the most of them. For instance, if you want to rake in the bonus offer, you’ll need to plan for some big-ticket purchases to put on your card within the first few months of opening it.

Or, if a card features a travel credit that expires each year, the clock is ticking to use that benefit. This all could incentivize you to overspend, leaving you in a scenario where it’s hard to pay off more than the credit card minimum payment.

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

The Takeaway

Having an international credit card in tow while traveling overseas can eliminate the hassle of dealing with foreign currency or carrying cash. When looking for a good that suits your needs, it’s important to weigh the perks against the downsides, particularly the fees involved.

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

FAQs

Can I use my credit card internationally?

Yes, if you have an international credit card, you’ll be able to use your card outside of the U.S. Exactly which countries you can use your card in will depend on the network. For instance, MasterCard’s global network includes more than 210 countries, while Visa’s network includes over 200.

Should I withdraw cash with my international credit card?

While withdrawing cash from an international credit card is an option, note that doing so often comes at a cost. On top of the foreign transaction fee, which hovers at around 3%, there’s also a fee that applies to cash advances, and cash advances tend to have a higher APR. Interest on cash advances typically starts accruing immediately, as there’s no grace period on cash advances.

How can I find out which countries accept a given card?

Check the credit card network’s international use network to determine which countries you can use your card in. You may find this on the credit card network’s website or in the app or by contacting customer service.

Do I have to pay fees annually for an international credit card?

Some international credit cards do have an annual fee. Do your homework ahead of time to see what the annual fee is, and if the perks will offset the costs. Other costs you want to check include foreign transaction fees, cash withdrawal fees, and late fees.


Photo credit: iStock/Drazen_

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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Deed of Trust vs Mortgage: What Are the Differences You Should Know?

If you finance a home, the lender will have you sign either a deed of trust or a mortgage. A mortgage is an agreement between you and the lender, but a deed of trust adds a neutral third party that holds title to the real estate.

Many states allow either choice. Thanks to an easier foreclosure process, many lenders prefer a deed of trust to a mortgage, so it is important for borrowers to grasp the nuances of these documents.

Mortgage Loans 101

To understand the difference between a deed of trust and a mortgage, it helps to first know some mortgage basics. A mortgage is a loan that’s used to purchase a piece of real estate. First, the borrower applies for a loan from among the different mortgage types. Once approved, they sign a mortgage note, promising to pay the lender back over a specified time with agreed-upon terms. The real estate serves as collateral for the loan.

You may hear a mortgage note referred to as a promissory note. In any case, it’s a legally binding document.

Mortgage Transfer

A mortgage transfer takes place when a borrower assigns what is typically an assumable mortgage to another person. Most mortgage loans are non-transferable. That said, in the case of marital separation, divorce, death, or other unusual circumstance, a mortgage transfer is sometimes permitted.

FHA, VA, and USDA loans, insured by the government and issued by private lenders, are assumable if the buyer qualifies.

Mortgage Foreclosure

When a borrower defaults on making mortgage loan payments as agreed upon, the lender may start legal proceedings to take ownership of the property and resell it to recover funds owed to the financial institution.

A mortgage foreclosure can take place when a borrower doesn’t meet other terms of the agreement, but failing to make payments is the most common reason. A variety of mortgage relief programs help borrowers stave off foreclosure.

What Is a Deed of Trust?

Some states incorporate a deed of trust into their home loan process, while financial institutions in other states can choose to do so or not. A deed of trust is an agreement that’s signed at a home’s closing that states how a neutral third party — typically the title company — will hold legal title to the home until the borrower pays the loan off. (It is not the same thing as the deed to the house.)

Terms to know include the following:

•   Trustor: the borrower

•   Beneficiary: the financial institution loaning the money

•   Trustee: a third party that will legally hold the title until the loan is paid off

Deed of Trust Transfer

If the borrower pays off the mortgage loan, the third-party trustee dissolves the trust involved and transfers the title of the real estate to the borrower.

If the borrower sells the home before the balance owed is paid in full, the trustee takes the sales proceeds and pays the lender what is still owed and gives the borrower/trustor the rest of the money.

Deed of Trust Foreclosure

As with a mortgage, there are clauses in the deed of trust agreement that will trigger foreclosure proceedings. In this case, the trustee will sell the property and distribute the funds appropriately.

Similarities Between a Mortgage and a Deed of Trust

Both a mortgage and a deed of trust are used when someone buys a home and takes out a loan to complete the purchase. Under each structure, the lender has the option to foreclose on the home if terms and conditions agreed upon by the buyer are not met.

In states where either option is allowed, the lender will decide which one to use.

Key Differences Between a Mortgage and a Deed of Trust

Here’s the big one: ease of foreclosure by a private trust company when a deed of trust is in place. But let’s look at how all the differences line up, below.

Mortgage Deed of Trust
Number of parties Two: borrower and lender Three: trustor (borrower), beneficiary (lender), trustee
Transfers Uncommon Part of the transaction when loan is paid off
Foreclosure Typically involves court Typically handled outside court system, which is usually faster and less costly

How to Determine If You Have a Mortgage or a Deed of Trust

Although deed of trust versus mortgage differences may seem reasonably small, it can make sense to be clear about which one you have. Look at a mortgage statement to find your loan servicer and ask.

A longer route: Mortgages and deeds of trust are publicly filed documents, so you could seek out the local government agency that manages these kinds of records and get a copy.

The Takeaway

A deed of trust and a mortgage are the two main systems for securing home loans. One key difference is the presence of a neutral third party in deeds of trust. The trustee holds legal rights over the real estate securing the loan. It’s easy to get lost in the forest of mortgage matters. A mortgage help center can lend a hand.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

Who can be listed on a deed of trust or mortgage?

On a deed of trust, all three parties are listed: the trustor (borrower), beneficiary (lender), and trustee (third party that holds the title until the loan is paid in full). With a mortgage, there is no third party involved.

How are mortgages and deeds of trust recorded in public records?

A deed of trust will be filed and recorded in public records in the county where the house exists. A similar process takes place for mortgage deed recordings. The recorded documents could be located at a county clerk’s office, a public recorder’s office, or an office of public records.

Is your title separate from deed of trust and mortgage?

Yes. A title is a concept rather than a physical document like a deed of trust or a mortgage note, and it refers to a person’s legal ownership of a home or other property. When a property is sold, the title is transferred from the current owner to the buyer.

Does a mortgage involve a trustee like a deed of trust?

No. Deeds of trust require a trustee, but a mortgage does not.


Photo credit: iStock/zimmytws

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*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

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.

¹FHA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by FHA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. FHA loans require an Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP), which may be financed or paid at closing, in addition to monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP). Maximum loan amounts vary by county. The minimum FHA mortgage down payment is 3.5% for those who qualify financially for a primary purchase. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
Veterans, Service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserve may be eligible for a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by VA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. VA loans typically require a one-time funding fee except as may be exempted by VA guidelines. The fee may be financed or paid at closing. The amount of the fee depends on the type of loan, the total amount of the loan, and, depending on loan type, prior use of VA eligibility and down payment amount. The VA funding fee is typically non-refundable. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.

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