Guide to a Retirement Money Market Account

Guide to a Money Market Account Held Within a Retirement Account

When you open an individual retirement account (IRA) or 401(k), you can generally choose from a variety of different types of investments, such as stocks, bonds, options, real estate, and more. You may also be able to put some of the money in a money market account, where it will typically earn a higher annual percentage yield (APY) than in a traditional savings account yet still remain liquid.

While you might choose to keep most of your retirement savings in potentially higher-return investments, it may make sense to keep some of your retirement funds in a money market account, since it is a relatively low-risk place to store cash. Even if the return may be lower than other investments, it’s predictable.

Another reason to have some of your retirement money in a money market account is to serve as a holding place as you sell investments or transfer money between investments.

Unlike a regular money market account, a money market account that is offered as a component of a retirement account is subject to the benefits and restrictions of those accounts. Here’s what else you need to know about retirement accounts that offer a money market component.

What Is a Money Market Account That Can Be Used for Retirement?

While there is no such thing as a “retirement money market account,” some retirement accounts allow you to keep some of your money in a money market within the account. The money market account (MMA) could be within a traditional, rollover, or Roth IRA, a 401(k), or other retirement account, which means those funds are governed by the rules of that account.

If the MMA is a component of a traditional IRA, that means you can contribute pre-tax dollars (up to certain limits), your money can grow tax deferred, and you won’t be able to withdraw funds before age 59 ½ without paying taxes and penalties.

Money held in the money market component is liquid. This is usually where money is held when you first transfer money into your retirement account, or when you sell other investments in your account. You can use the funds in the money market to purchase investments within the retirement account.

Recommended: The Different Between an Investment Portfolio and a Savings Account

What Is a Money Market Fund?

Bear in mind an important distinction: A money market fund, which is technically a type of mutual fund, is different from a money market account. A money market fund is an investment that holds short-term securities (and is not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC). For example, these funds may hold government bonds, municipal bonds, corporate bonds, cash and cash equivalents.

A money market account is essentially a type of high-yield savings account and it’s FDIC insured up to $250,000.

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How Does a Money Market Within Your IRA Work?

If you are starting a retirement fund that has a money market component to it, you’ll want to make sure that you understand how these money market accounts work. One major way they differ from regular money market accounts is that they are governed by a retirement plan agreement.

This can place some limits on what you can do with the money. Typically, that will mean that you can’t withdraw the money until you have reached a certain age. But one advantage is that the money in the account will grow tax-free or tax-deferred (depending on what type of retirement account it is in).

For example, a money market account in a Roth IRA would follow different rules than money in a traditional IRA.

•   You can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA, but a Roth IRA is funded with after-tax money.

•   You can’t withdraw money from a traditional IRA until you’re 59 ½, except under special circumstances.

•   Because contributions to a Roth are post tax, you can withdraw your contributions at any time (but not the earnings).

Advantages of a Money Market Account Held Within a Retirement Account

•   Since these accounts are held at a bank, they are insured by the FDIC up to $250,000. By contrast, money held in a brokerage account is not FDIC-insured.

•   The money market component can be used to store proceeds of the sales of stocks, bonds, or other investments.

•   Many money market accounts offer the ability to write checks against the account (just keep in mind that withdrawals are subject to restrictions).

Disadvantages of a Money Market Account Held Within a Retirement Account

•   Money market accounts offer a relatively low rate of return compared to what you might be able to earn in the market over time.

•   Opening this type of money market account requires opening a retirement account.

•   You may not be able to withdraw money until retirement age without paying a penalty.

Money Market Account Within a Retirement Account vs Traditional Money Market Account

The biggest difference between a money market account that is a component of a retirement account vs. a traditional money market account is where they are held. Unlike a regular money market account, the money market component is held inside a retirement account, such as a 401(k) or IRA account.

While you can generally access money in a traditional money market account at any time, early withdrawal from a money market that is part of a retirement account can trigger taxes and penalties.

Recommended: What is an IRA and How Does it Work?

What Should I Know About Money Market Accounts Held Within IRAs?

If you are wondering how to save for retirement, there are a few things to keep in mind before opening a retirement account with a money market component.

The most important is that money put into the money market component is subject to the same conditions as any other money you invest into a retirement account. You generally will not be able to access it without penalty until you retire.

You’ll also want to bear in mind that these are low-risk, generally low-return accounts. The money that you deposit, or money that is automatically transferred, is not going to provide much growth.

In some cases, when you open a retirement account, the funds will be automatically deposited in the money market component. In these instances, be sure to check that the money in that part of your account is then used to purchase the securities you want. Given the relatively low yield of an MMA, you may only want a certain portion of your savings to remain there.

Opening a Money Market Account That Is Part of an IRA

If you want to put some of your retirement savings in a money market account, you likely won’t be able to open the account separately, as you can with a traditional MMA.

Instead, you would open a retirement account with your bank, brokerage firm, or company provider. Depending on your IRA custodian, they may automatically include a retirement money market account as an investment option inside your IRA account.

Does It Make Sense to Put Retirement Funds in a Money Market?

There are many different types of retirement plans, so you’ll want to make sure to choose the options that make the most sense for you. While it might make sense to put some money into the money market component of your 401(k) or IRA, you might not want to put much money in it.

The reason for this is due to the relatively low interest rate that money market accounts pay. In some cases, the interest rate may be lower than the rate of inflation. If so, the money kept in the money market component will lose purchasing power over time.

The one exception to this rule would be retirees who are currently living off of the money in their retirement accounts. These investors already in retirement will often want to keep some of their money in money market accounts so they have to worry less about market volatility.

Alternatives to Money Market Accounts Held Within Retirement Accounts

There are any number of low-risk alternatives to money market accounts within retirement accounts, including vehicles outside a retirement account, such as a high-yield savings account. For similar alternatives within a retirement account, you could consider investing in bonds, bond funds, and other lower risk investment options.

The Takeaway

A money market account is often a component of a retirement account, such as an IRA or 401(k). This type of account has the advantages of being FDIC-insured and fairly liquid. However, it may not earn enough interest to outpace inflation. Many investors will want to keep the money in their retirement accounts in investments that can provide higher rates of return. That said, one advantage to keeping some of your retirement funds in a money market is that it can become part of the low-risk, cash/cash equivalents portion of your portfolio.

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FAQ

Can you keep some of your retirement funds in a money market account?

Yes, some retirement accounts offer a money market component. To keep some of your retirement savings in a money market account, you’ll need to open up an individual retirement account (IRA), 401(k), or other type of retirement account. Many retirement account custodians will include a money market account as one “investment“ option for your account.

What is the difference between an IRA and a money market account?

A standard money market account is similar to a regular savings account. An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is an account that allows you to save for retirement with tax-free growth or on a tax-deferred basis. An IRA account can be used to invest in a variety of different ways. Many IRAs will have a money market component to them.

What is the difference between a money market account and a 401(k)?

A money market account is similar to a savings account in that the money is liquid and earns interest. A 401(k) is a special tax-advantaged account designed to help people prepare for retirement.

With a 401(k), contributions are typically tax-deductible and the money grows tax-deferred until retirement. By contrast, a money market account is funded with after-tax dollars, and there are no tax benefits associated with these accounts. The only exception is if the money market account is a component of a retirement account. In that case, it is governed by the rules of the retirement account it’s in.


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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


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.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

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Guide to Irrevocable Letters of Credit (ILOC)

Guide to Irrevocable Letters of Credit (ILOC)

An irrevocable letter of credit (or ILOC) is a written agreement between a buyer (often an importer) and a bank. As part of the agreement, the bank agrees to pay the seller (typically an exporter) as soon as certain conditions of the transaction are met. These letters help reduce a seller’s concern that an unknown buyer won’t pay for the goods they receive. It also helps eliminate a buyer’s concern that an unknown seller won’t send the goods the buyer has paid for.

Irrevocable letters of credit are often found in international trade, though they can be used in other types of financial arrangements to ensure that a seller will be paid, even if the buyer fails to uphold their end of the bargain.

Key Points

•   An irrevocable letter of credit is a written agreement between a bank and a buyer to guarantee payment, ensuring that the seller will be paid even if the buyer fails to fulfill their obligations.

•   Irrevocable letters of credit cannot be canceled or modified in any way without the explicit agreement of all parties involved.

•   Irrevocable letters of credit are commonly used in international transactions but can be used in other situations as well.

•   Alternatives to irrevocable letters of credit include trade credit insurance and standard letters of credit, which offer different levels of flexibility and protection.

What Is an Irrevocable Letter of Credit?

Simply defined, an irrevocable letter of credit represents an agreement between a bank and a buyer involved in a financial transaction. The bank guarantees payment will be made to the seller according to the terms of the agreement. Since the letter is irrevocable, that means it cannot be changed without the consent and agreement of all parties involved.

Irrevocable letters of credit can also be referred to as standby letters of credit. Once an irrevocable letter of credit is issued, all parties are contractually bound by it. This means that even if the buyer in a transaction doesn’t pay, the bank is obligated to make payment to the seller to satisfy the agreement.

Having an irrevocable letter of credit in place is a form of risk management. The seller is guaranteed payment from the bank, which can help to reduce concerns about the buyer failing to pay. And it ensures that the seller will follow through on their obligations by providing whatever is being purchased through the agreement. In simpler terms, a standby letter of credit or irrevocable letter of credit is a sign of good faith on the part of everyone involved in a transaction.


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How Does an Irrevocable Letter of Credit Work?

An irrevocable letter of credit establishes a contractual agreement between a buyer, a seller, and their respective banks. It effectively creates a safeguard for both the buyer and the seller, in that:

•   Buyers are not required to forward payment until the seller provides the goods or services that have been purchased.

•   Sellers can collect payment for goods and services, as long as the conditions outlined in the letter of credit are met.

The bank issuing the letter of credit acts as a go-between for both sides, guaranteeing payment to the seller even if the buyer doesn’t pay. Assuming the buyer does fulfill their obligations, they would then make payment back to the bank. In a sense, this allows the buyer to borrow from the bank without formally establishing credit in the form of a loan or credit line. (Check with your financial institution to learn what fees may be involved.)

Before an irrevocable letter of credit is issued, the bank will first verify the buyer’s creditworthiness. Assuming the bank is reassured that the buyer will, in fact, repay what’s owed to complete the purchase, it will then establish the irrevocable letter of credit to facilitate the transaction between the buyer and seller. Irrevocable letters of credit are communicated and sent through the SWIFT banking system.

Recommended: How Do Banks Make Money?

Irrevocable Letter of Credit Specifications

The exact details included in an irrevocable letter of credit can depend on the situation in which it’s being used. The conditions that are set for the completion of the transaction will also matter. But generally, you can expect an irrevocable letter of credit to include:

•   Buyer’s name and banking information (that is, their bank account number and other details)

•   Seller’s name and banking information

•   Name of the intermediary bank issuing the letter of credit

•   Amount of credit that’s being issued

•   Date that the letter of credit is issued and the date it will expire

An irrevocable letter of credit will also detail the conditions that must be met by both the buyer and seller in order for the contract to be valid. For example, the seller may need to provide written verification that the goods or services referenced in the agreement have been provided before payment can be issued. The letter of credit must be signed by an authorized bank representative. It may need to be printed on bank letterhead to be valid.

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Do I Need an Irrevocable Letter of Credit?

You may need an irrevocable letter of credit if you’re doing business with someone in a foreign country. You may also require one if you are conducting a transaction with a new company or individual (one with which you don’t yet have an established relationship).

Irrevocable letters of credit can help to mitigate some of the risk that goes along with international transactions. These letters ensure that if you’re the seller, you get paid for any products or services you’re providing. They also protect you if you’re the buyer, promising that products or services are delivered to you.

An irrevocable letter of credit could also come in handy if you’re still working on building credit for your business and you’re the buyer in a transaction. The bank will pay the money to the seller; you’ll then repay the bank. Payment may be required in a lump sum from your business bank account or another source. Or the bank may also offer the option of repaying it in installments over time. Repaying your obligation could help to raise your business’s creditworthiness in the bank’s eyes. This may make it easier to take out other loans or lines of credit later.


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Alternatives to Irrevocable Letters of Credit

An irrevocable letter of credit is not the only way to do business when engaging in international transactions. You may also consider trade credit insurance or another type of letter of credit instead.

Trade Credit Insurance

Trade credit insurance, also referred to as accounts receivable insurance or AR insurance, is used to insure businesses against financial losses resulting from unpaid debts. You can use trade credit insurance to cover all transactions or limit them to ones where you believe there may be a heightened risk of loss, such as transactions involving foreign businesses.

A trade credit insurance policy protects your business in the event that the other party to a financial agreement defaults. It can insulate your accounts receivable against losses if an unpaid account turns into a bad debt. Purchasing trade credit insurance may be an easier way to manage risk for your business overall, as it’s less involved than an irrevocable letter of credit.

Recommended: Business Loan vs Personal Loan: Which is Right for You?

Letters of Credit

A letter of credit guarantees payment from the buyer’s bank to the seller’s bank in a financial transaction. Like an irrevocable letter of credit, it establishes certain conditions that must be met in order for the transaction to be completed. But unlike an irrevocable letter of credit, a standard letter of credit can be revoked or modified.

You might opt for this kind of letter of credit if you’re doing business with someone you don’t know and you want reassurance that the transaction will be completed smoothly. A regular letter of credit may also be preferable if you’d like the option to modify or cancel the agreement.

The Takeaway

An irrevocable letter of credit is something you may need to use from time to time if you run a business and regularly deal with international transactions. It adds a layer of protection to buying and selling, as a bank is saying it will cover the transaction. An ILOC, as it’s sometimes known, can provide reassurance when working with a new business or establishing your company overseas. The letter cannot be changed, so you’re getting solid peace of mind.

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 an irrevocable letter of credit?

A letter of credit and irrevocable letter of credit are largely the same, in terms of what they’re designed to and in what situations they can be used. The main difference is that unless a letter of credit specifies that it is irrevocable, it can be changed or modified by the parties involved.

What is the cost of an irrevocable letter of credit?

You generally need to pay a transaction fee for an irrevocable letter of credit. The fee is typically a small percentage of the transaction amount. The rate will vary from bank to bank.

Does an irrevocable letter of credit expire?

Yes, an irrevocable letter of credit will typically state the date by which the seller must submit the necessary paperwork in order to receive payment.


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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


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.

Our account fee policy is subject to change at any time.

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50-30-20 budget rule

The 50/30/20 Rule: Budgeting Your Money Wisely

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a super simple way to budget; say, no more than three figures you had to keep in mind to take control of your finances? That’s exactly what the 50/30/20 budget rule (aka the 50 30 20 rule) can do for you. It’s a simple and effective way to manage your money, allocating 50% of your take-home income to “musts,” 30% to “wants,” and 20% to saving for your future.

For anyone who has ever felt that budgeting was too complicated and headache-triggering to take on, this guideline can make things clear and easy.

Key Points

•   The 50/30/20 budget rule simplifies financial planning by allocating income into three categories: needs, wants, and savings.

•   Essential expenses should take up 50% of after-tax income, covering necessities like housing and food.

•   Discretionary spending, or “wants,” should account for 30% of the budget, including entertainment and non-essential purchases.

•   Savings and financial goals should receive 20% of income, emphasizing the importance of future financial security.

•   This budgeting method was popularized by Senator Elizabeth Warren to help individuals manage finances more effectively.

What Is the 50/30/20 Rule?

The 50/30/20 budget or “rule” is a budgeting framework that can be relatively easy to create and implement. It’s one potential way to help keep your finances on track and help you work towards your goals.

The 50/30/20 numbers refer to percentages of your take-home income that you would allocate to three main categories: ”needs” or “musts” (essentials), “wants” (nonessentials), and saving (financial goals), respectively.

The primary goal of the 50/30/20 rule is to learn to prioritize saving money by making it a key part of your spending plan.

Everyone’s financial needs and goals are different, however. And, while these percentages can be a great starting point, you may find that you need to tweak these exact numbers to better suit your needs and current financial situation.

Where Did the 50/30/20 Rule Come From?

The 50/30/20 budget rule gained popularity when Sen. Elizabeth Warren explained it in her book, “All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan,” which was first published in 2005.

The simplicity of the concept (and the math) contributed to its appeal. The idea of dividing one’s money into three instantly understandable buckets proved to have staying power.

How the 50/30/20 Rule Works

In the 50/30/20 budget, you allocate your take-home (or after-tax) income into three main categories or buckets according to percentages.

Recommended: Check out the 50/30/20 calculator to see a breakdown of your money.

50% to “Needs”

These are things you cannot live without and the bills you cannot avoid paying. Consider them the “musts;” the items that you need to survive or that would leave you in a difficult situation if you didn’t pay them.

Here are some examples of typical needs:

•   Rent or one of the different kinds of mortgage payments that are possible (in a nutshell, your housing costs)

•   Utilities, including electricity, WiFi, and water

•   Car payments and/or other transportation expenses (say, to get to work)

•   Groceries (but not that pricey takeout salad)

•   Basic clothing (what you need to wear in daily life, at work, and/or to stay warm; not the latest style of jeans just because they’re cool)

•   Insurance payments

•   Healthcare costs

•   Debt payment, such as the minimums on student loans and/or your credit card

The “needs” category does not include items that are extras, such as Netflix, dining out, and clothing beyond what you need for work. Those fall under the next category.

30% to “Wants”

Also known as personal, discretionary, or nonessential spending, these are the things you buy that you could technically live without. This includes:

•   Dining out or takeout food

•   Going to the movies, a show, or a concert

•   Vacation/travel costs

•   Streaming channel subscriptions (unless they are somehow vital for your work)

•   New clothes, simply because you feel like buying them

•   Electronics that are cool but not vital to your job

•   Spa treatments

•   Ubers or taxis instead of public transportation.

Wants are all the little extras and upgrades you spend money on that make life more fun.

20% to Savings

This is the money you save for future financial goals. This category often provides a means to financial security. This includes:

•   Money put into an emergency fund

•   Saving for a downpayment on a home

•   IRA or other retirement contributions

•   Extra payments to help pay off your loans sooner (minimum payments are part of the “needs” category).

Even though the budget is written as 50/30/20, the purpose of this system is to prioritize the saving aspect, this 20%. (It may be more appropriately named the 20/50/30 budget.) The goal here is to get people to save for tomorrow rather than just spend today.

The idea is to make space for the 20% without laboring over the rest. The minutiae of where your fun money is going ($5 for a latte here, $10 for an appetizer there) isn’t super important if you’re saving enough to meet your financial goals.

Another point to note: If you aren’t saving 20% of your income right now, that’s okay. The process of setting up the 50/30/20 budget will help you find out where your money is going so that you can make adjustments. After completing your budget breakdown, you can address the areas where you’d like to cut back.

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 the 50/30/20 Budget

The 50/30/20 rule may be a minimalist budget, but it can pack the same powerful benefits you would get with a more labor-intensive budget.

Some of the payoffs of setting up and following a 50/30/20 include:

•   Knowing where you stand. As a popular adage goes, “what gets measured gets improved.” It can be hard to start spending less and saving more if you aren’t clear on how much and where you are currently spending.

•   Identifying easy ways to cut back. As with any budgeting process, the 50/30/20 budget can reveal opportunities to cut back on spending. Simply going through the process – and seeing exactly where your money is going each month – can help to motivate you to make some relatively pain-free adjustments.

•   Reducing financial stress. While building a budget may seem like a stress-inducing exercise, it can ultimately relieve a lot of financial worry. It can add structure and clarity to your spending. Instead of angsting over every purchase, you’ll have built-in boundaries that allow you to spend freely within your budget.

•   Simplifying the budgeting process. By having fewer categories than a traditional monthly budget, the 50/30/20 rule of thumb can be easy to set up and to maintain. It can also be simple to track a 50/30/20 budget digitally.

•   Achieving your savings goals. By making saving a priority and setting some money aside before you start spending, a 50/30/20 budget can help you work effectively towards your financial goals. Whether that’s creating an emergency fund, making a downpayment on a home, or going on a great vacation is your decision.

Tips for Implementing the 50/30/20 Budget

Want to give the 50/30/20 budget a try? If you decide to go this route, or you’re just looking for some budgeting basics, here are some steps you can take to get started.

Gathering Your Financial Records

To get started with any kind of budget, it’s helpful to collect the last three months or so of bank and credit card statements, pay stubs, receipts, and bills.

Calculating Your Monthly Income

You can use your statements to figure out exactly how much money you are bringing in each month after taxes are taken out. You can think of after-tax dollars as the pot of money you have to siphon into the three budget categories each month.

Setting a Savings Target

You may want to begin with the most important category, which is the 20% (savings). Since the goal for this budget is to turn the 20% into a nonnegotiable part of the plan, you’d calculate 20% of your monthly after-tax income and set that figure aside for things like debt repayment, cash savings, retirement investing, and any other financial goals that you have.

Even if you don’t feel it’s realistic for you to put 20% into saving right now, you might run the exercise assuming that you will. You’ll be able to tinker with the numbers later.

Calculating Essential Monthly Expenses

Next, you may want to make a list of all of your monthly essential or fixed expenses, such as rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, and insurance.

Currently, do essential items absorb more than 50% of your take-home income each month? If so, what percentage do they comprise? And, is there any way to reduce any of these monthly expenses?

Building a Hypothetical Budget

After adding up savings and essentials, what is left over is what can be allocated towards discretionary spending, or the “wants” outline above.

It can be helpful to keep in mind that the 50/30/20 numbers are just a guideline. If the cost of living is high where you live, for example, it may not be feasible to keep essentials to 50% of your take-home income. In this case, you may need to reduce spending on wants.

Or, you may decide that at this point you can’t quite afford to put 20% into savings. There are variations on the 50/30/20 theme that accommodate these situations, such as the 70/20/10 rule, which acknowledges that for some people, a hefty 70% will be needed for the “musts” of life.

Recommended: Cost of Living by State Comparison

Once you see your numbers in black and white, you can play with the percentages and come up with a workable plan for roughly how much you can spend on nonessentials, or fun, each month.

Putting Your Plan into Action

Now that you have a basic guideline of how much money you will put into one type of savings account each month and how much cash you can spend each month on wants, it’s time to give your budget a try.

You may want to plan on tracking your spending for two to three months to start. You can do this by saving receipts and logging expenses according to the three categories at the end of the day. Or, you could use a budgeting app that makes it easy to track and categorize expenses.

Another tip: Try automating your finances and having money transferred from your checking account to your savings right after payday. That way, you won’t see the cash sitting in checking and think it’s there for the spending.

Making Some Tweaks

After tracking your spending for several months, you’ll probably have enough data to refine your original 50/30/20 budget. From there you can adjust the categories based on your actual spending, not just your projected spending.

You may also find that you need to adjust your spending. Discretionary spending is typically the easiest place to do some trimming.

You may decide you need to cook at home (rather than get takeout) a few more times a week, save on streaming services by dropping a channel you rarely watch, or ditch the gym membership and work out at home.

it may also be possible to pare back some of your fixed monthly expenses. Reducing utility bills, saving on gas, and, if possible, rent, could free up more money for fun spending.

After making some adjustments, you can execute your new and improved budget. You may want to continue to track spending in a method that works best for you until spending according to your budget becomes second nature.

The Takeaway

The 50/30/20 rule of thumb is a set of easy guidelines for how to plan your budget. Using them, you allocate your monthly after-tax income to the three categories: 50% to “needs,” 30% to “wants,” and 20% to saving for your financial goals.

Your percentages may need to be adjusted based on your personal circumstances and goals. But using this simple formula can be a good way to get a better handle on your finances, and to start working more effectively towards your goals.

You may find that technology can make sticking to a budget simpler. If you open a bank account online with SoFi, you’ll have features and perks that can help make the most of your money. Our Checking and Savings offers a competitive annual percentage yield (APY) and charges you no account fees. Plus you’ll spend and save in one convenient place, be able to track where your money goes, and use Vaults and Roundups to boost your savings.

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

Is the 50/30/20 rule a realistic goal?

For many people, the 50/30/20 rule is a realistic way to budget for essentials, discretionary expenses, and savings contributions. For others, it may not be realistic. If you are just starting your work life, earn a lower salary, live in an area where housing is very expensive, or have considerable debt to manage, you might do better with a different budget guideline.

Is the 50/30/20 rule weekly or monthly?

When budgeting, people typically work with their monthly expenses, since that is how housing costs, utilities, and other payments (say, student loans and credit card debt) are assessed. You could, however, apply the 50/30/20 guideline to your weekly spending and see how your finances are tracking.

What is the 60/30/10 rule budget?

The 60/30/10 budget is a different version of the 50/30/20 rule that can work well for super savers. It allocates 30% more for the “musts” of life and 10% for discretionary spending. The remaining 60% is for saving, investment, and paying off debt.

What is the 70/20/10 rule for money?

The 70/20/10 rule is a budgeting system that allocates 70% of one’s take-home income towards needs (minus debt) and “wants” (discretionary spending), 20% to saving and investing, and 10% towards debt repayment or donations.


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.

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How Many Bank Accounts Should I Have?

If you’re wondering “How many bank accounts should I have?” the answer will likely be, it depends. Your personal and financial situation and goals will impact whether you have just one or two accounts or several of them with different purposes. For example, a recent college grad who is just entering the workforce will likely need fewer accounts than a self-employed person who is saving for a down payment on a house and their toddler’s future education.

There can indeed be advantages to holding multiple checking accounts or savings accounts, but having more than one or two will definitely require more of your time in terms of money management.

Key Points

•   Multiple bank accounts can be beneficial for managing diverse financial needs and goals.

•   Having just one checking and one savings account simplifies finances and reduces fees.

•   Specific savings goals might require separate accounts to track progress effectively.

•   Business owners and freelancers benefit from separate accounts to manage expenses and taxes.

•   Multiple accounts can aid in budgeting by allocating funds to different spending categories.

How Many Bank Accounts Do Most People Have?

When it comes to managing your money, many adults have, at a minimum, one checking account and one savings account at the same bank. Of course, there are plenty of other personal and financial circumstances that might make you consider opening an additional account. However, for most individuals, especially those who are unmarried, opening just one checking and one savings account usually covers their basic banking needs.

With just one checking account and one savings account, you eliminate confusion and can simplify your finances. If all of your paycheck goes into your checking account using direct deposit, you can set up recurring automatic transfers into savings for the date after your payment hits.

If you automate your finances in this way, money moves into your savings account and leaves what you know you’ll need in checking until your next paycheck.

It’s also wise to keep in mind that some banks, especially the larger traditional banks vs. online banks, may charge monthly fees for checking accounts or require a minimum deposit. If you bank at one of these bricks-and-mortar financial institutions, having only two accounts can reduce the fees you’ll need to pay.

💡 Recommended: Learn more ways to help simplify your finances.

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!


7 Reasons to Open Multiple Bank Accounts

Although two bank accounts may suit some people just fine, there are many people who may prefer or even need to open additional accounts. Among them may be those who are married or starting a family, those who are planning extended foreign travel, military personnel, freelancers, and/or business owners. For these individuals, there may be benefits to having multiple savings accounts or checking accounts for different financial needs.

1. Large Transactions

While couples do not necessarily need to share all of their finances, there are certain benefits to having a joint account for your household and family. This can be helpful, even if you still have a personal account for your own discretionary spending.

For one thing, this pooled account can help cover large monthly payments such as a mortgage, rent, or other household expenses equally.

Plus, rather than individual savings, you might want a shared savings account for emergencies, like a surprise medical bill or car trouble. Each partner might put a small amount into that fund every month, with a goal of having at least three to six months’ worth of basic living expenses covered.

2. Specific Savings Goals

Having dedicated savings accounts can also be a smart tactic to encourage you to put away money for future goals, whether that’s travel or saving up for a wedding or baby.

Some couples even prefer a shared account for debt payments (such as student loan debt or credit card debt). However, helping to pay off your partner’s debt is an important financial conversation to have before you start a new bank account for that purpose.

3. Saving for College

Saving for college is another reason parents might open an additional bank account. Can you have more than one bank account for this purpose? Of course, especially if you have more than one child.

Also, even an individual who is currently paying for school might see the benefits in having a separate checking account to manage and keep track of spending on books or other school-related costs. This would be distinct from a checking account for spending on food, clothes, and other everyday expenses.

4. Charity Donations or Family Healthcare

Other reasons people might consider opening additional bank accounts would be for charity donations or offering financial assistance to another family member, such as paying for eldercare. While there’s probably no reason why those monthly expenses can’t also be accounted for in your regular checking or savings account, keeping such things separate can improve some people’s money management.

5. Separating Finances

In some situations, partners may want to open additional accounts to keep some of their finances separate. For instance, in a married couple, you might both agree to put the majority of your paycheck into a joint checking account. However, you could each direct some of your earnings to a separate checking account for discretionary spending. For some couples, this can help keep the peace, since there’s no need to explain how much you chose to spend on new shoes or the latest cell phone model.

Or you might decide to open up different types of savings accounts to put some money into for an upcoming friends’ getaway or a similar goal.

What’s more, if one of you is starting a business (say, selling prints of your travel photos online), it would make sense to open a dedicated account for that, to keep your earnings and work-related expense payments in one place.

6. Creating Accounts for Your Kids

If you have a child you’d like to gain financial literacy, opening an additional account with them can be a wise idea. You can open a shared account and begin teaching your kid how to put money in the bank, withdraw funds saved, and see how interest is earned.

Since those under age 18 typically can’t have their own account, this can be a good way to instill good financial habits at a young age.

7. Budgeting Is Easier

Deciding which budget is right for you can take some trial and error, and some people find that keeping track of their finances is easier with multiple accounts. For instance, if you follow the 50/30/20 budget rule, you are likely putting 50% of your take-home pay towards the “musts” of life, 30% towards the “wants,” and 20% towards savings.

In this situation, you might find it clearer and more convenient to have two checking accounts from which you pay those two types of bills. You might even name one “musts” and one “wants,” if you like.

Recommended: How Much Money Should You Have After Paying Bills?

How Many Checking Accounts Should You Have?

If you’re thinking about whether to have multiple bank accounts, keep this in mind: There’s no single right or wrong answer. While there is no need to open five new savings accounts to plan for your next five vacations, how many bank accounts you should have can depend on your ability to organize your finances.

Some individuals might find they prefer having at least one or two extra savings accounts for savings goals. These savings goals could be anything from an emergency fund, travel fund, or saving up for a car.

That emergency savings account can be critical to have, by the way, to be prepared for whatever may come your way. Whether you want this account to be a separate fund in a different bank account or part of your overall main savings account, however, is really up to you.

Potential Downsides to Having Multiple Bank Accounts

Before you start opening up additional checking and savings accounts, consider these cons:

•   You risk incurring more bank fees. Some banks will charge you account fees for each and every account you open, which can take a bite out of your funds.

•   You will have to keep track of account rules. In some cases, there are minimum balance requirements, limits on the number of withdrawals, and other guidelines that can take up brain space, not to mention involve potential charges.

•   There can be an increased chance of overdrafting. No one is perfect, and the more accounts you have, the more opportunity there is to forget about some autopayments you had set up and wind up with a negative balance. This in turn can trigger overdraft and NSF (non-sufficient funds) fees.

Why Freelancers and Business Owners May Need Separate Bank Accounts

While large businesses inevitably need their own bank accounts, sometimes smaller enterprises or even individuals with side hustles overlook creating a separate business bank account.

Some banks offer small business accounts, which can be used by freelancers, side hustlers, or small business owners. Basically, you want to make it easy on yourself to track personal and business expenses separately, and having different bank accounts helps take care of a lot of the legwork.

An additional account makes it easy to track business expenses and deductions, like shipping costs for your Etsy account or treats purchased for your dog-walking gig. Plus, with all of your business expenses in one place, you are more prepared for an audit and have a better bookkeeping record, rather than sorting through every transaction and trying to remember if that coffee you had six months ago was for a work meeting or not.

A great benefit of having another savings account for your business or freelance work is that you can set aside money specifically for taxes.

Of course, as a business owner or freelancer, it’s also important to save for tax season, which is why opening a separate business savings account can also come into play. A great benefit of having another savings account for your business or freelance work is that you can set aside money specifically for taxes.

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

Alternate Money Management Options to Consider

Whether you are looking to open a new checking and savings account with a new bank or just considering what works best for your financial needs, there are a number of reasons to consider an alternative bank account to a traditional bricks-and-mortar bank.

A new account could offer you better rates or features, lower fees, or greater interest earnings.

Here, some options:

•   Credit unions are banks that are run as financial co-ops, meaning each member has a small stake in the business. Banking with a credit union usually allows more flexibility and lower fees. As nonprofits, they are designed to serve their members, often paying higher interest rates on deposits as well.

•   Online banks typically offer lower (or no) fees than traditional banks because they don’t have to support physical locations. They often have higher annual percentage yields (APYs) on deposits, too.

SoFi is among these online banks. When you open a SoFi Checking and Savings account, you’ll earn a competitive APY and pay no account fees, which can help your money grow faster. You’ll also be able to spend and save in one convenient place, and access Vaults and Roundups to help build your savings.

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

Is it a good idea to have multiple bank accounts?

Whether it’s a good idea to have multiple bank accounts depends upon an individual’s personal and financial situation. A single person with a full-time job may do fine with one checking and one savings account. A married person with a day job and a side hustle, who is saving for a house and putting money aside for a child’s education, may prefer having multiple accounts to stay organized.

Is 3 bank accounts too many?

Three bank accounts is not necessarily too many, though it depends on a person’s situation. Having a checking account, a savings account for a down payment on a home, and a savings account for an emergency fund can be a good thing. However, if that number of accounts winds up charging too many fees or risking overdraft for the account holder, then it is possibly too many.

Do too many bank accounts hurt your credit?

Multiple bank accounts should not impact your credit. When you open a bank account, you are not requesting a line of credit, so it should not be reflected on your credit report nor should it lower your credit score.


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.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

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What Is Mobile Deposit and How Does It Work?

Mobile deposit is a fast, easy, and convenient way to deposit a check without going to the bank. You just snap a photo of your check with your smartphone and upload it to your bank’s app.

But you may have questions about this feature, even if you are already using it. For instance, how do you endorse a check for mobile deposit? How long will the check take to clear? Keep reading to find out the answer to these questions and more.

Key Points

•   Mobile deposit allows check deposits via a smartphone app, eliminating the need to visit a bank.

•   Deposits can be made anytime, which is convenient for those with busy schedules.

•   The process involves endorsing the check, entering the amount, and uploading photos of the front and back.

•   Funds from deposits may be available quickly, depending on the bank’s policies.

•   Enhanced security measures are in place to protect users during the mobile deposit process.

What Is A Mobile Check Deposit?

A mobile deposit is a process that allows you to deposit a check into your account using your phone’s or your tablet’s camera. Typically, you open your bank’s mobile app and type in the amount of the check and take a photo of both the front and the back of the check. Before you do this, be sure to endorse the check.

Some details about mobile deposit you may want to note:

•   The app generally lets you use this feature 24 hours a day, although some banks may only make a same-day deposit up until a certain hour, like 10:00 pm. Every bank will be different, but most banks will deposit a check quite late in the evening, even if they won’t allow 24 hours.

•   How long do mobile deposits take to clear? Deposits may show up immediately, later on the same day, or the next day. Sometimes, they’ll be fully available and sometimes partially, depending on the rules of your bank.

For example, say you make a mobile deposit worth $3,000. Your bank may make $500 available immediately and the remaining $2,500 available in two business days. Each bank is going to have its own funds availability policy, though there are some federal regulations on how long a bank can place a hold on a deposited check. Ask your financial institution about their policies.

•   Some banks may have one-day or monthly dollar limits on mobile deposits (like $10,000 per month). Others may have limits on the size of checks that they are willing to cash over mobile deposit. For example, some banks will not allow customers to mobile deposit checks worth more than $5,000.

💡 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 Secure Is Mobile Check Deposit?

Just like mobile banking in general, mobile deposit is typically very safe. However, there are a few steps you can take to boost security.

•   Double-check that you have entered the check amount properly. Otherwise, there might be issues processing the deposit.

•   Be sure you’ve endorsed the check for mobile deposit properly (more on that below).

•   Follow best practices for the security of your banking app. Never share passwords or other login information.

•   Keep checks secure and private, and make sure to shred them when they’ve been deposited and the funds have cleared.

How Does Mobile Deposit Work?

How does mobile deposit work? For the customer, it’s quite simple actually Here’s a closer look.

1. Verify If Your Bank Offers Mobile Depositing

Many banks offer mobile depositing. But if you’re new to this feature or have a new bank account, make sure mobile deposit is available.

2. Review Mobile Deposit Limits

Some banks will have limits about mobile deposit. Perhaps your bank only allows up to $500 or $2,500 a day or $10,000 a month via mobile deposit. You want to know that before you attempt to deposit a check that’s over the limit.

3. Endorse Your Check for Deposit

How do you endorse a check for mobile deposit? That depends on your bank. Some may be fine with you signing your name on the bank. Others may request that you add language such as “For Electronic Deposit at [bank name].” Familiarize yourself with your financial institution’s guidelines so you avoid any delays with your mobile deposit.

4. Follow Your Bank’s Mobile Banking Instructions to Deposit Your Check

Next, you’ll follow the instructions to deposit the check. They typically go something like this:

•   Log into your bank’s mobile banking app and navigate to the mobile deposit feature.

•   Select the account you want to deposit the check into.

•   Enter the amount of the check.

•   Take a photo of the endorsed check, front and back.

•   Review the details (your bank’s app may show the details, such as the check amount and account it’s heading towards and ask if everything looks correct).

•   Submit your check.

Recommended: Guide to Signing Over a Check

5. Keep Your Check and Wait for the Money to Be Deposited

Just as with a check deposited at a bank’s ATM or branch, the money may not be immediately available for use. Checks typically take a bit of time to clear. Here’s how mobile deposit works:

•   When you snap that photo, a financial institution will generally produce a copy of the check as a stand-in for the physical copy. Using this facsimile, a bank will work to collect the money from the check writer’s account.

•   Even before the bank is able to retrieve the money from the check’s source, the money may show as deposited into your account. Though the technology is incredibly swift, the money itself isn’t actually moving that fast.

•   Money often becomes available in one day, but it could typically take up to several business days, depending on the bank’s policies, the bank the funds are drawn from, and other variables.

This lag time can create problems — you might spend or transfer the funds before the money has fully cleared.

It’s wise to hold onto the physical copy of your check for two weeks in case there is a problem getting the check deposited. If you need to, mark it so you know that you’ve already deposited the check. Once you know it’s cleared, shred or destroy the check so that no one can obtain the information.

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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 Mobile Deposit

Now that you know how the mobile deposit process works, here’s a guide to the benefits of mobile deposits.

Save Yourself a Trip to the ATM

This is a major benefit of mobile banking. Having to take a trip to a bank branch or ATM to deposit a check can be a real hassle. With this kind of deposit (and online banking in general), you don’t need to budge from wherever you are to get that check into your bank account.

Deposits Can Be Done Later than at Bank Branches

For lots of working people, getting to the bank before it closes at 5:00 pm on a weekday is difficult to do. With mobile banking, checks can be deposited at any time of day, any day of the week. You can be in your pjs, watching a streaming series, and quickly get that money deposited. That’s a major benefit of mobile banking.

Exactly when the cash becomes available to use (and in what amount) will depend on that particular bank’s rules, but many banks have extended hours for mobile deposit. Customers can generally access at least some money, even with deposits made later in the evening or on the weekends.

Deposit Money Later in the Day

For lots of working people, getting to the bank before it closes at 5:00 pm on a weekday is difficult to do. With mobile banking, checks can be deposited at any time of day, any day of the week. You can be in your pjs, watching a streaming series, and quickly get that money deposited.

Deposits Are Credited Quickly

Because of the extended hours offered by mobile deposits, it may be possible to deposit a check and see the money available in your account faster than if you had to wait until you make it to a branch location. If you deposit the check during mobile deposit hours and the amount is, say, $200 or under, it is possible to see your funds immediately. But, as mentioned above, it’s always wise to make sure the check has fully cleared before transferring or spending it. Remember, it’s not the same as depositing cash into your account.

Deposit a Check From Anywhere

Sometimes, you’re simply not anywhere near a branch or appropriate ATM but need to deposit a check. One of mobile banking’s biggest benefits is being able to deposit a check from anywhere in the world, whether you’re on vacation, attending a business meeting out of town, or otherwise not at your home base.

Deposits Are Secure

In terms of security, mobile banking is very safe. Depositing your checks through your mobile app can be as secure as any other digital banking process. Most banks and credit unions use enhanced security processes and encryption to protect their customers.

Also, if you are worried that your phone might be stolen and the image of your check could potentially fall into the wrong hands, don’t be. The image of a check that is deposited via mobile banking isn’t stored on your phone.

A Few Downsides to Mobile Deposit

Now that you’ve heard about the benefits of mobile banking when it comes to depositing checks, let’s acknowledge that there are also a few downsides. A couple to consider:

•   If you want to cash your check and get those bills in hand, you will not be able to do so via mobile deposit. The funds must go into your account.

•   Your mobile deposit might wind up bouncing, just as a check can bounce when deposited via other means. Don’t assume that just because it’s deposited, you can go and spend it.

•   There are mobile deposit frauds that occur, often in which a person or organization you don’t know well sends you a check and asks for you to deposit it and then send a portion back to them. Keep your guard up!

Recommended: Guide to Check Verification

The Takeaway

What is mobile deposit? It’s a feature that allows you to deposit a check from virtually anywhere and at any time, using an app on your smartphone. There are many advantages to mobile banking, such as saving you time and energy vs. taking the check to a bricks-and-mortar branch or an ATM. It’s one of the ways that mobile banking can help make managing your personal finances more convenient.

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 someone mobile deposit money into my account?

In order to make a mobile deposit to your account, you need to be logged into your account on your device. For this reason, it is unlikely someone could make a mobile deposit to your account.

Can I mobile deposit a check that’s not in my name?

There are some financial institutions that will permit a mobile deposit of someone else’s check (which you may hear referred to as a third-party check or a check that’s been signed over to you), but others (such as Bank of America) prohibit this.

How secure is mobile check deposit?

Mobile check deposits are very secure and can be more convenient than carrying a check to a bank or ATM to deposit it.

Are mobile deposits instant?

Mobile deposits are not instantaneous. The check may take from one day to several days to clear, although the fact that you deposited the check may pop up on your banking app very quickly.

How do you endorse a check for mobile deposit?

How to endorse a check for mobile deposit may vary among banks. Check yours to see exactly how this should be done. It’s often a matter of signing your name and writing “For electronic deposit” on the back of the check.


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.

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