Guide to Callable Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

Guide to Callable Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

A callable CD is a certificate of deposit that pays interest like a regular CD, but can be “called” or redeemed by the issuing bank before the maturity date, limiting the return for the investor.

Regular CDs are designed so that investors get back their principal, plus a fixed amount of interest, when the CD matures. But those who own callable CDs may not get the interest they expected if the bank calls the CD early.

Callable CD interest rates tend to be higher because of this potential risk.

What Is a Callable CD?

A callable CD, like a callable bond, means that the bank has the power to terminate the CD before the maturity date. This may happen if there is a drop in interest rates.

For example, if an investor opens a bank account and buys a 2-year callable CD, the bank could close it out as soon as six months after it’s opened, or any time after that, generally at six-month intervals; it depends on the terms of the CD. The investor would then get back their principal and the amount of interest earned up to that point.

It’s important to note that only the issuer has the ability to call the CD early. The investor must leave their money in the CD until it’s called or reaches maturity, or they will likely face an early withdrawal penalty.

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How Does a Callable CD Work?

Callable CDs are similar to regular CDs, which are time-deposit accounts offered by banks, credit unions, and brokerages. These accounts provide a fixed interest rate on the funds the account holder has deposited for a specific term (usually a few months to a few years).

Callable CDs generally offer higher interest rates. But unlike a regular CD, a callable CD has a “call” feature which allows the financial institution to decide whether it wants to stop paying the account holder the higher interest rate. This typically occurs when interest rates begin to drop. At that point, the issuer can close out the CD and return the funds to the investor, plus any interest earned up to that point.

The bank typically offers a premium interest rate to account holders in exchange for the risk that the CD might be called.

Recommended: APY vs. Interest Rate: What’s the Difference?

Callable CD Example

Let’s say an account holder decides to deposit $10,000 into a callable CD that has a three-year maturity with a 5.00% interest rate. The bank, however, decides to call the CD after a year because interest rates dropped, and the bank can now offer CDs at a 4.00% interest rate.

In this case, the account holder would get their $10,000 back along with the interest accrued prior to the bank’s redemption of the CD. That would be about $500 versus more than $1,500 the investor might have earned if they had been able to hold the CD to maturity.

Are Callable CDs FDIC Insured?

Callable CDs, like most types of CDs, are insured up to $250,000 by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or the National Credit Union Association (NCUA) if the CD is issued by a credit union. If there is a bank failure, federal deposit insurance protects the money held in a callable CD up to that amount.

If the CD was issued by a brokerage, which is generally known as a brokered CD, the CD is not technically FDIC-insured. However, the brokerage’s underlying purchase of the CD from a bank typically is FDIC-insured (though it’s a good idea to check to make sure before you open a brokered CD).

Maturity Date vs Callable Date

The maturity date is when the certificate of deposit reaches maturity and the investor can redeem the CD for the principal plus interest accrued during the length of the CD. They can choose to take the earnings or renew the CD.

The callable date is the earliest date at which the CD issuer can close the CD. The first callable date can generally be as soon as six months after the CD was opened, and can typically occur any time after that, at six-month intervals (for example, one year, 18 months, two years, and so on).

Be sure to read the terms of any CD, but especially callable CDs, as the callable date can vary. For example, you could buy a callable CD with a 5-year maturity date and a one-year callable date (the earliest date the issuer can call the CD). That means, at the very least, your money would earn a year’s worth of interest.

Pros of Callable CDs

There are several advantages that may come with opening a callable CD.

•   Callable CDs typically pay higher interest rates compared to regular CDs. Since account holders are taking on the risk of the bank redeeming the callable CD prior to its maturity, the account holder gets a higher interest rate in exchange for taking on this risk.

•   Like most CDs, callable CDs are generally considered lower-risk investments. If the bank decides to terminate the CD before its term, you will typically still receive the original deposit amount as well as the interest that accumulated until that time.

•   In the event of a bank failure, your money is federally insured up to $250,000.

Cons of Callable CDs

While there are positives to callable CDs, these saving vehicles can have some downsides.

•   If the account holder needs access to capital and has to withdraw their money prior to the callable CD’s date of maturity, they are subject to early withdrawal penalties which can eat up some or all of the interest earned.

•   In the event that interest rates decline, there is a possibility that the bank could call the CD early, in which case the account holder would not receive the same return they would have if the callable CD were to finish its full term.

Where to Open a Callable CD

You can open a callable CD with a bank or credit union, or with some brokerages. The financial institution should be FDIC-insured or National Credit Union Administration-insured so your money is protected.

With a brokered CD, the CD should be insured through the bank the brokerage purchased the CD from, but be sure to check that this is the case before opening the CD.

The Takeaway

If you are looking for investments that are generally lower risk, provide predictable returns, and are protected by federal insurance, callable certificates of deposits might fit the bill. Callable CDs could build your savings by paying a higher fixed interest rate for a specific period of time. However, the account holder takes the risk that the bank might exercise the call option, and close the account before the CD matures.

If you’re interested in earning a higher rate on your savings, you may want to consider other savings vehicles as well, such as a high-yield savings account with a competitive APY that’s higher than the rate offered by traditional savings accounts. Explore the options to choose what best suits your needs.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


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FAQ

What is a callable vs a non-callable CD?

Callable CDs are certificates of deposits that pay interest for a specified term like a traditional CD does, but the callable CD rate tends to be higher because the bank can redeem the CD before it reaches maturity. A regular CD does not have a call feature.

Why would a bank call a CD?

Usually, a bank would call a CD in the event of falling interest rates. The bank redeems the CD because with a drop in rates, it can then pay lower rates to its CD holders.

Can you lose money on a callable CD?

Generally, you cannot lose money on a callable CD, but you might get less of a return than you’d hoped. In the event that the CD is called, the account holder receives the principal along with interest that was accumulated up to that point in time, instead of receiving the return for the full term of the CD.


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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.

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


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

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

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

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

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

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


*Awards or rankings from NerdWallet are not indicative of future success or results. This award and its ratings are independently determined and awarded by their respective publications.

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Guide to Banker's Acceptance (BA)

Banker’s Acceptance (BA): Definition, How It Works, Uses

A banker’s acceptance (or BA) is a financial instrument used to guarantee large future transactions, often in the import/export markets. As a debt instrument, it can function as an investment, commonly traded between large banks and institutional investors on the secondary market. It can trade at a discount to par like U.S. Treasury bills in money markets.

BAs play a key role in facilitating international trade and in broader fixed-income markets. While you may not own an individual banker’s acceptance in your checking account, these instruments help promote sound and liquid markets.

What Is Banker’s Acceptance?

A banker’s acceptance (which you may see written as bankers acceptance) is a short-term form of payment guaranteed by a bank; it is often used for international trade transactions.

Banks often make money on the spread between the buy and sell price on a fixed-income asset or through fees and commissions. BAs commonly have a maturity of between 30 and 180 days and trade at a discount to par. Functioning like a post-dated check, they are seen as a relatively safe method of payment for large transactions. BAs are considered short-term debt instruments.

Here are some more details about banker’s acceptance and how these instruments work.

•   The BA is issued and priced based on the creditworthiness of the issuing bank. An investment banker earns a commission for making the transaction.

•   Only customers with a strong credit history can access the BA market. These entities are often corporations involved in international trading (import/export) markets.

•   A banker’s acceptance can also be highly marketable and liquid, allowing money to transfer from one bank to another.


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How Banker’s Acceptance Works

A banker’s acceptance is considered a time draft. A business can request one from a bank as a way of gaining enhanced security while conducting a deal. The bank essentially promises to pay the firm that is exporting goods a particular amount of money on a certain date. When it does this, it takes funds out of the importer’s bank account.

Typically, the term of a banker’s acceptance is between 30 and 180 days.

Who Issues Banker’s Acceptance?

Not all banks offer BAs. Businesses with a good relationship with a large bank can obtain a banker’s acceptance. It can be an appealing product for an institution entering a large-value transaction. Like signing a check over to someone, the account holder must have enough cash to execute the transaction.

More than a simple checking account transaction, though, obtaining a BA typically requires an amount of credit to be detailed. There are usually fees involved in obtaining a BA, too.

Who Buys Banker’s Acceptances?

Banker’s acceptances are traded by banks and securities dealers on a secondary market, similar to how debt instruments are traded. They are available for a discount on its face value. The exact value may vary with the rating of the bank that has promised payment on the banker’s acceptance.

How Banker’s Acceptance Is Used

Here’s more detail on how banker’s acceptances can be used.

Checks

Think of a banker’s acceptance as a certified check. It’s a relatively safe way to do a transaction. The money owed is guaranteed on a specific date listed on the BA bill. Credit analysis is usually done to verify the creditworthiness of the issuer, so it’s a bit different than how a bank will verify a check before you deposit it.

BAs are frequently used to facilitate the international trading of goods. A buyer of imported products can issue a BA with a payment date after a shipment is scheduled to be delivered. The seller exporting can then take payment before finalizing the shipment. The exporter in this case can hold the BA to maturity or sell it on the secondary market. Unlike a check, the BA is backed by the guarantee of the bank, not an individual.

Investments

Aside from the import/export market, bankers’ acceptances are used commonly in the investment world. Buyers might purchase a BA and hold it to maturity to effectively earn a rate of return on short-term money. Since BAs are seen as very low-risk products, they are used as a cash-like security.

Still, retail consumers usually won’t be able to purchase a BA in an online or traditional retail bank. The purchase is, as noted above, only available to certain financial entities.

Recommended: What Are Some Safe Types of Investments?

Pros and Cons of Banker’s Acceptance

There are a number of positive aspects of bankers’ acceptances to consider.

Pros

First, the upsides of BAs:

Provides Seller Assurances Against Default

Backed by the guarantee of a bank, a banker’s acceptance is regarded as a high-quality fixed-income security that is often liquid and highly marketable. For importers and exporters, financial transactions can be made to facilitate international trading of goods without the risk that one party goes bust.

Buyer Does Not Have to Prepay for Goods

A banker’s acceptance works like a promissory note so the buyer does not have to prepay. Liability can immediately transfer from the issuer of the banker’s acceptance to the bank. The payment is likely debited only on the due date.

Enhances Confidence in the Deal

Part of the process of issuing a banker’s acceptance is usually having a good credit standing and a relationship with a major bank. Since high-risk customers might not be considered, there is strong confidence in BAs traded. There would be no need for the exporting company to worry about default risk; that lies with the banker. While individual investors often do not engage in BA trading, there are important traditional banking alternatives that feature financial solutions to help facilitate transactions.

Cons

While there are many positive aspects of bankers’ acceptances, there are still some risks for those involved in the transaction and trading of BAs. Consider the following:

Bank May Require Buyer to Post Collateral to Hedge Risk

Collateral is sometimes required for a deal to happen. Collateral provides a backstop should the importer be unable to pay. It can reduce risks to the bank and expedite the deal. Think of it like seller concessions to get a deal done, though collateral is generally not used when buying and selling a home.

Buyer May Default

With a banker’s acceptance, the bank accepts default risk, which can be a downside. The issuing bank typically must honor the payment terms even if the account holder, perhaps an importing/exporting corporation, does not have the cash on the payment date. Not all banks choose to be in this market due to the risk that the buyer could default.

Potential Liquidity Risk

Liquidity risk means an individual or financial institution cannot meet its debt obligations in the short term. Investors may not encounter liquidity risk with a banker’s acceptance instrument, but the issuing bank could have liquidity risk from the importer who must pay. This may be a key consideration for a bank issuing a BA. The secondary market for banker’s acceptance products remains highly liquid.

Pros of BAs

Cons of BAs

Provides assurance vs. default Bank may require collateral
Buyer doesn’t need to prepay for goods Buyer may default
Enhances confidence that deal will work Potential liquidity risk

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The Takeaway

A banker’s acceptance is a debt instrument that plays a key role in well-functioning capital markets. BAs help facilitate international trade through bank guarantees. Knowing about this important fixed-income product type can help individuals understand financial markets and institutions.

When it’s time to take a look at your personal banking partner, it can pay to shop around for the right fit.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

What is the difference between a letter of credit and a banker’s acceptance?

A letter of credit is a financial instrument that a bank issues for a buyer (the bank client) guaranteeing that a seller will be paid. A banker’s acceptance, on the other hand, guarantees that the bank will pay for a future transaction, rather than the individual account holder.

What is a banker’s acceptance in a real-life example?

An example of a banker’s acceptance would be that, on April 1st, the Acme Bank sends a BA to Back-to-School Supplies, saying it will make funds available on June 1st for a shipment of goods for their client. On June 1st, the school supply company will be able to withdraw those funds.

How safe are banker’s acceptances?

Banker’s acceptances are a relatively safe transaction for all involved, but the exact degree will vary with the creditworthiness of the bank guaranteeing the funds.

Is a banker’s acceptance a short-term investment?

Banker’s acceptances are considered a short-term investment or debt instrument. They are usually traded at a discount, and they are seen as similar to Treasury bills.

Is a banker’s acceptance a loan?

A banker’s acceptance isn’t a loan. It’s a short-term debt instrument, typically with a maturity date of 30 to 180 days.


Photo credit: iStock/Deagreez

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


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

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

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

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

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

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


*Awards or rankings from NerdWallet are not indicative of future success or results. This award and its ratings are independently determined and awarded by their respective publications.

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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Bank Guarantees: What You Need to Know

Bank Guarantees: What You Need to Know

A bank guarantee is a promise by a financial institution that it will assume liability for a business contract if one party fails to uphold its obligation to another. In this way, the bank acts like a cosigner for a buyer or borrower on a business agreement, reducing the risk for the seller or lender.

This can be a valuable assurance for organizations that are conducting financial transactions. For a small fee, bank guarantees often enable small businesses to enter into contracts with larger companies with which they otherwise would not be able to do business. Read on to learn more about how bank guarantees work and their pros and cons.

What Is a Bank Guarantee?

A bank guarantee promises that, if one party in a business agreement fails to meet its obligations, the bank will cover its debts. By backing up a transaction, it adds confidence to riskier deals.

Bank guarantees involve a thorough review of the business applicant’s finances and credentials. If, after this due diligence, a commercial bank feels confident that an applicant (the debtor) will be able to uphold their contractual obligations, the bank may offer the guarantee to the other party (the beneficiary). This can lead to greater assurance that the transaction will go smoothly.

Bank guarantees are usually a part of more complex financial transactions between businesses. The average borrower won’t need to worry about bank guarantees for auto loans, mortgages, or personal loans.

A little more detail on bank guarantees for business clients of a financial institution:

•   Companies often use bank guarantees for complicated contracts involving goods and services. If a vendor fails to provide goods or services that have already been paid for, a bank guarantee ensures reimbursement for the business using that vendor.

   If, on the other hand, a buyer fails to pay for goods or services that have already been delivered or rendered, the bank guarantee covers the unpaid balance for the seller.

•   Because a bank guarantee might protect a buyer or a seller, it may be easier to think of them in terms of the beneficiary (the company that requires a bank guarantee to feel protected and move forward with a contract) and an applicant (the company that must apply for the bank guarantee to close the deal).


💡 Quick Tip: An online bank account with SoFi can help your money earn more — up to 4.60% APY, with no minimum balance required.

How Do Bank Guarantees Work?

If a contract includes a bank guarantee, that guarantee will specify an amount to be repaid (or the goods or services to be delivered) and a set timeframe in which the transaction will happen. The contract will also spell out the bank’s responsibility should the applicant fail to meet their contractual obligations.

To assume this risk, banks charge applicants a fee for the guarantee, expressed as a percentage of the cost or value of the transaction, typically around 0.5% to 1.5%.

If the bank deems a contract particularly risky, it might require the applicant to offer collateral. Unlike with secured personal loans, where a house or car might serve as collateral, bank guarantee collateral is typically liquid assets, like stocks or bonds.

Recommended: Business vs. Personal Checking Accounts: What’s the Difference?

Types of Bank Guarantees

There are two main types of bank guarantees: financial bank guarantees and performance guarantees.

Financial Bank Guarantee

With a financial bank guarantee, a bank promises to repay a debt if the borrower (or buyer) defaults on the agreement. For example, an applicant may purchase goods and services from a large company, receive said goods and services, and never pay the bill. In this instance, the bank would settle the debt with the large company since the funds can’t come out of the borrower’s bank account.

What Is a Performance Guarantee?

In this situation, if an applicant fails to perform the obligations laid out in contract (e.g., supplying parts to a company), the beneficiary can make a claim with the bank for the losses incurred from the non-performance of contractual obligations.

Performance failure might also mean that, though the goods or services were delivered, they did not meet quality standards specified in the contract. In these situations, the bank would step in to offset those losses.

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Examples of Bank Guarantees

Bank guarantees can serve many purposes, usually between two businesses. Here are a few of the guarantees that banks often issue:

Rental Guarantee

A rental guarantee protects a landlord when entering into a contract with a company (like a restaurant or retailer) that wants to lease a space. This guarantee serves as collateral for a rental lease.

Advanced Payment Guarantee

An advanced guarantee protects a company that has paid in advance for goods or services that weren’t delivered. You may also hear this referred to as a cash guarantee. If the deal isn’t satisfied, the company that has paid out in advance will be refunded.

Performance Bond Guarantee

A performance bond is a kind of financial guarantee for a business deal, to protect against one party failing to meet its obligations. You may also hear this called a contract bond. If, say, a contractor doesn’t complete the work they agreed to do, a performance bond guarantee can protect the party paying for the project. That entity would be compensated for their loss.

Warranty Bond Guarantee

When a bank provides a warranty bond guarantee, that protects the buyer in a transaction, ensuring that goods are delivered as specified. This could refer to the quality and condition of the items as well as the timing of their arrival.

You may also hear this term used in another situation. Sometimes referred to as a maintenance bond, a warranty bond guarantee can be a financial guarantee in which a builder promises to protect the owner of a construction project from problems with workmanship or faults with materials that could occur after the project’s completion. A financial institution or insurer will back up this promise.

Payment Guarantee

A payment guarantee is quite simply what it sounds like: It guarantees that, if, say, a buyer fails to send adequate funds for a purchase, the bank will step in and cover the shortfall. It allows a seller to feel confident that they will be paid in full on a predetermined date.

Recommended: Bank Guarantees vs Letters of Credit: What’s the Difference?

Pros and Cons of Bank Guarantees

Here’s what you need to know about the upsides and downsides of bank guarantees.

Pros

Among the most important advantages or a bank guarantee are the following:

•   Reduced costs: While not free, a bank guarantee can be a cost-effective way to encourage confidence and help a deal go through. It may be less expensive to obtain, say, than taking out a small business loan to cover a potential debt.

•   Reduced risk: A bank guarantee reduces risk since the bank promises to pay if one party doesn’t hold up their end of the deal. In this way, a bank guarantee can open up new opportunities for businesses, especially those without a long or solid credit history.

•   Quick activation: It typically takes only a few days to obtain a bank guarantee.

•   Enhanced credibility: Before offering a guarantee, a bank does a comprehensive assessment of an applicant’s financial standing. Earning a bank’s backing through a guarantee demonstrates that the bank finds the applicant company to be credible.

Cons

Next, the potential drawbacks of bank guarantees to be aware of:

•   Stringent approval guidelines: Bank guarantees aren’t given to just any entity. A business must show that it merits this backing. Not every applicant will qualify.

•   Collateral requirement: If a venture seems particularly risky, banks may require collateral from applicants; this can be risky for startups with limited funding.

•   Complex regulations: There have been scams involving bank guarantees in some international transactions. Using a bank guarantee for an international deal may therefore require many complex steps and assurances before it moves forward.

The Takeaway

In business transactions, a bank guarantee promises that the financial institution will cover any debts to one party if the other party does not meet its obligations. Larger companies often require small businesses and startups to obtain a bank guarantee before doing business with them. These guarantees can help a small or new business secure large deals since the bank has shown confidence in them.

That said, if you’re focused on your personal finances and are considering your options, see what SoFi offers.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

What is the difference between bank guarantees and letters of credit?

Both bank guarantees and letters of credit add confidence to business deals, with slight differences. With a bank guarantee, the financial institution promises to step in and pay debts, if needed, for the party they guaranteed. A letter of credit, useful in international trade, substitutes the bank’s credit for a business’. The bank will guarantee payment if the business defaults on their obligation, but only once certain criteria are met.

What is the purpose of a bank guarantee?

The purpose of a bank guarantee is to add confidence to a contract between two parties. If one party fails to uphold its contractual obligations or defaults on a loan, the bank promises to step in and uphold the contract and pay the debt that may result.

How can I get a bank guarantee?

If a business is requiring a bank guarantee to enter into a contract, contact your bank (or your business’ bank) and request an application. The bank will then review the completed application to determine your creditworthiness, typically within a few business days.


Photo credit: iStock/eclipse_images

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

*Awards or rankings from NerdWallet are not indicative of future success or results. This award and its ratings are independently determined and awarded by their respective publications.

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All You Need to Know About Variable-Rate Certificates of Deposit (CD)?

All You Need to Know About Variable-Rate Certificates of Deposit (CD)

A variable-rate certificate of deposit (CD) is a financial product that locks up your money for a set period of time (or term) and has a fluctuating interest rate. This varying rate of return is what sets it apart from traditional CDs, which pay a fixed rate, meaning you know exactly how much money your money will earn.

When interest rates are high, a variable-rate CD can help pump up your returns, but the opposite holds true, too. Depending on your financial goals, style, and comfort level, a variable-rate CD may or may not be a good option for you.

What Is a Variable-Rate Certificate of Deposit?

A variable-rate certificate of deposit, or CD, is a financial product that you can purchase from a banking institution, broker, or credit union. All types of CDs are a savings account that have fixed investing terms. That means they hold your money for a certain amount of time, be it six months or several years.

You pick a term that suits you best. During that time, your money earns interest, but you are not supposed to withdraw any funds early or you are likely to be assessed a penalty fee. (No-penalty CDs are sometimes available but usually with lower interest rates.) When the term ends, your CD is said to have matured, and you may withdraw the funds plus interest or roll them over into a new CD. Usually the total amount of interest is also received at the end of the investment term.

More specifically:

•   Traditional CDs pay a consistent rate of interest that you are informed of at the start of the term.

•   With variable-rate CDs, however, the interest rate fluctuates throughout the term.

This means, you, the investor can potentially earn more on your deposit when interest rates go up. Or you could earn less if interest rates go down. Several market factors influence interest rates. These include the prime rate, treasury bills, a market index, and the consumer price index (CPI).

One last note: CDs are insured. Certificates of deposit are time deposits protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). If the bank holding the CD were to fail, you’d be insured up to $250,000 per depositor, per account ownership category (such as single, joint, or a trust account), per insured institution.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


Special Considerations of a Variable-Rate CD

Here are a few key things to consider when looking into investing in variable-rate CDs. This type of CD is generally most profitable if purchased when interest rates are low, because it’s more likely that the interest rate will increase during the investment term. For this reason, there is a higher demand for these CDs when interest rates are low.

There are four main factors that influence interest rates. These are:

•   Consumer Price Index (CPI): The federal government uses the Consumer Price Index to calculate changes in the amount that consumers pay for certain products and services. Whatever the current CPI is can affect how interest rates fluctuate.

•   Market Index Levels: Another factor that affects interest rates is the performance of investment portfolios, such as major market indices. Some indices that are often analyzed include the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the Nasdaq Composite Index.

•   Prime Rate: The prime rate is the interest rate that banks charge customers who have the highest credit ratings. These customers are the least likely to default on loans, so they get the best interest rates.

•   Treasury Bill Yields: The U.S. Treasury sells Treasury bonds in order to raise money, and they also pay interest on those bonds. The interest rate associated with Treasury bonds depends on the amount and time period of the bond.

It’s worth noting that, during times of high inflation, CDs may not be your best option. If inflation surges, even a variable-rate CD may not be able to keep pace. At the end of your term, you may find that your investment has lost ground versus inflation.

Another factor to consider before you lock in on a variable-rate CD is the fee for early withdrawals. Some variable-rate CDs have higher fees than others. If there’s a good chance you may end up withdrawing funds early, before a CD’s maturity date, you should check those penalties and make sure they aren’t too steep.

💡 Quick Tip: Want to save more, spend smarter? Let your bank manage the basics. It’s surprisingly easy, and secure, when you open an online bank account.

Pros of a Variable-Rate CD

All CDs are known to be very safe investments since they are federally insured up to $250,000, as noted above. In addition to that security, there are several benefits to investing in variable-rate CDs.

High Yield on Investments

Variable-rate CDs are secure, insured accounts that can provide a higher rate of return than other types of savings accounts. For instance, when you buy a fixed-rate CD, you might miss out on the opportunity to earn a higher interest rate if the market ticks upward. Variable-rate CDs, however, can respond to market conditions. If you buy a variable-rate CD when interest rates are low, you can potentially earn more as rates increase.

Profitable When Interest Rates Are Low

When interest rates are low, demand for variable-rate CDs increases, as does the profit potential. That’s because it is more likely that interest rates will increase after you purchase one. The interest rate can tick upwards and earn you more money on your money.

Lower Withdrawal Fee

Generally, variable-rate CDs come with lower penalties on early withdrawals than other types of CDs.

Recommended: How Can I Buy a Bond?

Cons of a Variable-Rate CD

While there are several reasons variable-rate CDs make good investments, they do come with a few downsides to consider before you invest.

Low Interest Rates

Although a variable-rate CD provides the opportunity to snag higher interest rates, it also creates a significant risk of earning a lower rate if market rates go down. If you buy a variable-rate CD when interest rates are low with the hopes that they will increase, there is no guarantee that this will happen. This means they will continue to earn a low interest rate for some or all of the duration of the CD term. In this case, you may have lost out on the possibility of earning a higher return elsewhere.

Paying Extra for “Bump-Up” Feature

Although interest rates can increase or decrease with most variable-rate CDs, there are some that have a “bump-up” feature. This allows for a one-time rate boost (or possibly a few rate hikes) during the CD’s term, but you may well have to pay extra for this “bump-up.” This is because the initial interest rate is typically lower than it would be on a fixed-rate CD.

Inflation Can Outpace Your Rate and Wipe Away Profit

There is a chance that inflation will increase during the term of a variable-rate CD, as noted above. If this happens, inflation could end up being higher than the interest rate you’re earning. That could effectively cancel out your earnings.

Variable-Rate CD: Real World Example

All this talk of varying interest rates can be hard to get a handle on without a concrete example. So consider the following:

•   A CD that has a three-year term and a guaranteed repayment of the principal deposit.

•   The starting rate is 4.00%.

•   During the term of the investment, the rate drops from 4.00% down to 2.00%.

•   To determine the amount of interest you’d receive, you’d take the difference between the initial rate and the final rate, which is 2.00%.

•   So at the end of the term, the investor would receive their initial deposit plus 2.00% interest. That’s half what it was when you started.

Obviously, you, the CD account owner, would be happier if the reverse were true, which it could be!

What Happens if I Redeem a CD Before It Matures?

Most CDs have fees for early withdrawal; these typically involve losing interest that’s been earned and occasionally a bit of the principal. (Generally speaking, you don’t receive earned interest until a CD matures.)

However, some variable-rate CDs do offer early withdrawals with no penalties for fees. These CDs usually have a lower interest rate, so you are paying for this flexibility.

Recommended: How Can I Invest in CDs?

The Takeaway

CDs provide a safe place for your money to grow for a specific period of time. Most of them have fixed interest rates, but variable-rate ones are also often available. These can come with some risks. Time things right, and you could earn a healthy return on your investment. But if rates don’t head in a positive direction, you may not even be able to keep up with inflation.

CDs aren’t the only game in town for earning interest. Also consider the kind of interest you can earn from checking and savings accounts.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

Are variable-rate CDs issued by the government?

Variable-rate CDs are not issued by the government, but the FDIC, an independent agency of the federal government, insures them up to $250,000 per depositor, per account ownership category, per insured institution.

What determines the rate on a variable-rate CD?

Several factors can affect the interest rate of variable-rate CDs. These include the prime rate, market indices, treasury bills, and the consumer price index.

Do CDs have fixed interest rates?

Many CDs have fixed interest rates, but variable-rate CDs have interest rates that fluctuate throughout their term. It’s up to you which type you invest in.


Photo credit: iStock/Vladimir Sukhachev

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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.

*Awards or rankings from NerdWallet are not indicative of future success or results. This award and its ratings are independently determined and awarded by their respective publications.

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What Is ACH Debit Block? And Why Is It Important?

What Is ACH Debit Block? And Why Is It Important?

An ACH debit block is a fraud protection tool: Companies can opt into it to prevent any ACH debits and credits from their bank account. If you suspect that your business is a victim of fraud, an ACH debit block is an easy way to protect your money until you’ve resolved the issue. It can also be a good general practice to discourage unauthorized debits.

Learn more about ACH debit blocks, how they work, and their alternatives.

How ACH Debit Block Works

First, understand some of the basic concepts related to this process, such as the ACH system in general and debit blocks.

What Is ACH?

ACH (Automated Clearing House) is a common payment method that works like a digital check, transferring money from one bank account into another. A common example of an ACH transfer is a direct deposit from an employer into an employee’s checking account.

As an individual consumer, you may also make ACH payments. For example, you might be using ACH when you utilize peer-to-peer payment apps like Venmo, pay your bills online, digitally file and pay your income taxes, or transfer money over to an investment account.

What Is a Debit Block?

Businesses use ACH payments as well, to collect funds and pay expenses. But these can be a target for criminal activity. Scammers can try to pull funds out of your bank account without your approval. If you want to prevent money from leaving a business account via ACH because of this potential risk, an ACH debit block might be a good move.

When enabled, a debit block would impede your company from being able to use the funds in the account in all ACH use cases. It’s important to understand the ramifications of a debit block — and only request one from your bank if your company has alternative methods (or accounts) for making payments.

How Does an ACH Debit Block Work?

An ACH debit block is very straightforward. When this bank fraud management tool is implemented on a bank account, no one will be able to withdraw funds from a business account via ACH.

If you have a debit block on a business account and need to make an ACH payment from that account, you’ll need to take action to make sure it goes through. It’s important to contact your bank to authorize that specific payment before the payment recipient begins the ACH debit process. Otherwise, you will need to make all future payments with paper or electronic checks, debit cards, credit cards, cash, or wire transfers.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


Benefits of ACH Debit Block

Here’s a closer look at the advantages of using an ACH debit block.

Reduces Electronic Payment Fraud

One reason to enact an ACH block on a business account is if you suspect your account has been compromised. An ACH debit block can prevent fraudsters from being able to debit money electronically from an account.

Individual consumers who are victims of identity theft can contact their bank, file a police report, report the fraud to the FTC, notify the consumer credit bureaus, and contact their creditors.

Offers an Additional Security Layer

Debit blocks are sometimes a reactive solution. That is, once a business suspects fraud, they can contact their bank to implement an ACH debit block on the account.

However, some companies — those that don’t need to make electronic payments from a specific business account — may prefer to proactively set up a debit block as an additional security layer.

If you do so, just understand that you’ll need to contact your bank every time you want to authorize an electronic payment from your account.

Recommended: How Long Does Direct Deposit Take?

Setting Up an ACH Debit Block

Setting up an ACH debit block is easier than setting up direct deposit. Just call your bank, provide your credentials, and request that they set up a debit block immediately. If you are doing this in response to fraudulent account activity, mention that on the call to determine what additional steps you should take.

Removing the debit block or authorizing a one-time payment will follow the same process. Contact your bank over the phone and explain exactly what you need.

Positive Pay vs ACH Debit Block

While an ACH debit block can be a good way to protect your business checking account, it does have its drawbacks. As an alternative, you may be able to implement positive pay.

Positive pay is an automated service but focused on businesses, not consumers. It’s an ACH filter that allows you to create a list of payees or vendors that will be automatically approved when they initiate an ACH debit from your company’s account. Certain criteria for these funds transfers can also be established. For example, you might put a cap on how much they can debit in a single transaction.

If any other individuals or businesses attempt an ACH withdrawal from your account, you will receive an alert. You can then review the request and approve or deny the ACH transfer.

Worth noting: Because each bank’s offering is different, there might sometimes be an overlap between a debit block and positive pay. Some banks, for example, allow you to review and approve vendor payments when you have an ACH debit block enabled.

Recommended: Understanding ACH Fees

The Takeaway

ACH debit blocks are a secure way to prevent fraudulent electronic transfers from your company’s bank account. If you suspect that your bank account information has been compromised, contact your bank to initiate an ACH debit block and ask what other fraud prevention resources they can provide.

When thinking about your bank’s security, don’t forget about your personal accounts. SoFi is one great option to keep your money safe.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

Can ACH payments be blocked?

A business can block ACH payments with a feature called ACH debit block. This prevents anyone from electronically withdrawing money from its bank account. You may also be able to set up positive pay, which allows you to approve a list of electronic payments and review all other ACH requests.

How do I stop unauthorized ACH payments?

You can set up an ACH debit block (typically, this is for business accounts) to prevent any electronic withdrawals from an account. If you want to allow expected ACH payments to process uninterrupted, set up positive pay, allowing only approved payments to go through. For your personal accounts, you may be able to set up alerts every time an ACH debit occurs in your account. If you notice any unauthorized activity, report it to your bank immediately.

What happens if an ACH transfer fails?

If the initial ACH transfer is not processed, some companies may attempt it a second time. Ultimately, if the ACH debit from your personal account fails, the business expecting the funds can hold you responsible for additional fees, such as late fees. If a bill continues to go unpaid, the company may send it to a collection agency, which will likely have a negative impact on your credit score.

How long does an ACH payment take to clear?

ACH payments are not immediate. While they can take up to three or four business days to clear, many banks have moved to next-day ACH transactions, which could mean funds are transferred in just one or two business days.


Photo credit: iStock/Olemedia

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


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

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

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

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

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

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


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