Are There Loans for 18-Year-Olds With No Credit History?

If you’re an 18-year-old with no credit history, you can get a loan, but your choices may be more limited. You may have to tap into alternative options and sources, such as loans with a cosigner.

That’s because lenders like to lend to people with a history of borrowing and on-time payments. Oftentimes, young people just starting out have no credit history. This means they have no credit accounts in their name or haven’t used credit for a long period of time and the information has been removed from their credit history. Without credit, it can be difficult to access loans or credit cards, rent an apartment or buy a house, and obtain certain subscriptions.

Let’s take a closer look at loans for 18-year-olds.

Benefits of Loans for 18-Year-Olds

Two important benefits of getting a loan as an 18-year-old include gaining access to funds and building up credit history.

Access to Funds

The obvious benefit of getting loans as a young person is that you will have access to the money you need. Depending on the type of loan you get, you may be able to use the funds for a variety of purposes, including:

•   Education

•   Purchasing big-ticket items, such as a car

•   Personal expenses, such as medical or wedding expenses

Build Up Your Credit History

Loans allow you to start building up your credit history, which can help you meet goals such as:

•   Getting a cellphone

•   Accessing utilities in your name

•   Qualifying for a credit card

•   Getting good rates on insurance, a mortgage, or auto loan

Plus, establishing a strong record of borrowing and repayment can position you well for future borrowing.



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Cons of Loans for 18-Year-Olds

While there are benefits to getting a loan when you’re 18, there are downsides to consider as well. Let’s take a closer look at a few.

Limited Loan Amounts

You may not be able to borrow a large loan amount when you’re young and just starting out. For example, if you want to purchase a $500,000 home as an 18-year-old and have no credit history, you’ll likely have difficulty qualifying for this type of loan.

Potentially High Rates

It’s possible to get a loan with no credit as a young person, but lenders may charge a higher interest rate than if you had an established credit history.

Why is that the case? Lenders try to assess your risk level when you apply for anything from a personal loan to a credit card. If they can’t see evidence that you have successfully made loan payments, they may not grant you a loan or they may compensate for that risk by charging you a higher interest rate.

Some lenders consider other aspects of your profile beyond credit history, including whether you can comfortably afford your payments.

Risk of Getting Into Debt

According to a consumer debt study conducted by Experian, Generation Z (those aged 18-26) had a non-mortgage debt average of $15,105 in 2023. This includes credit cards, auto debt, personal loans, or student loans.

While carrying any level of debt can be stressful, there are also financial implications to consider. For starters, if you don’t pay off your balance in a timely way, interest can start to build. Credit cards tend to carry higher interest rates than home or auto loans. This means wiping out credit card debt could take a long time if you only pay the minimum amount.

Then there are potential penalties to be mindful of, such as late fees. You may also face collection costs if you don’t pay your bills, which will remain on your credit report and potentially impact your credit score for years.

Recommended: Why Do People Choose a Joint Personal Loan?

Is a Co-Signer Required When Applying for Loans as an 18-Year-Old?

Not all lenders require a cosigner, so be sure to ask if you’ll need one. In most cases, a loan without a cosigner will likely have a lower loan amount and a higher interest rate.

What exactly is a cosigner? Simply put, it’s a person who agrees to take responsibility for a loan alongside the primary borrower. If one person fails to make payments, it will affect the other person’s credit score.

Applying for a loan with a co-borrower or cosigner can be a quick way to get accepted for a loan.

Understanding Your Loan Status

Like many financial processes, applying for a loan involves multiple steps. Here’s a general idea of what’s involved:

•   Pre-approval: Pre-approval means that your lender takes a look at your qualifications (including a soft credit check). A soft credit check is an inquiry of your credit report.

•   Application: In this part of the process, you submit a formal application, and your lender will verify your information.

•   Conditional approval: You may also get conditional approval for your loan, which means the lender may likely approve you to get a loan as long as you meet all the requirements.

•   Approval or denial: Finally, you’ll either get approved or denied for the loan.

Your lender should be clear with you at every step of the application process.

Recommended: How to Get Approved for a Personal Loan

Private Lender Loan Requirements for 18-Year-Olds

There are no hard-and-fast requirements that encompass private lender requirements. However, lenders generally look at an applicant’s credit score, debt, and income.

Credit Score

There’s no universally set minimum credit score requirement for a loan because rules can vary by lender. It’s worth noting that low-to-no-credit borrowers may be able to access a loan.

Debt and Income

Lenders will check to see how much debt you have and calculate your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, which ideally should be less than 36%. To figure out your DTI, lenders add up your debts and divide that amount by your gross income.

Lenders will also look at your income to ensure you can make monthly payments on your loan. This can include income from your job, a spouse’s income, self-employment, public assistance, investments, alimony, financial aid for school, insurance payments, and an allowance from family members.

Tips for Getting Loans as an 18-Year-Old

If you’re ready to get a loan as a young person, you can take steps to help boost your odds of getting approved.

Show Your Savings

Show the lender what you’ve saved in your accounts, which may include:

•   High-yield savings accounts

•   Certificates of deposit (CDs)

•   Money market account

•   Checking or savings accounts

•   Treasuries

•   Bonds, stocks, real estate, and other investments

Demonstrating savings can help you show that you can repay your loan.

Show Proof of Income

Lenders will likely require you to provide proof of income so they can see how you’ll pay for your loan. But remember, this doesn’t mean just the money you earn from a job. Consider other types of income you receive. For instance, you may not initially think of alimony as a source of income, but a lender might.

Apply for a Lower Amount

Lenders may deny your loan if you choose to borrow more money than you can realistically repay. So if you’re young and have no credit history, you may be able to increase your chances of getting a loan if you apply for a lower amount. You may also want to consider this strategy if you’re denied for a loan and want to reapply.



💡 Quick Tip: Just as there are no free lunches, there are no guaranteed loans. So beware lenders who advertise them. If they are legitimate, they need to know your creditworthiness before offering you a loan.

The Takeaway

While most 18-year-olds don’t have a large income or lengthy credit history, that doesn’t mean you can’t qualify for a personal loan. Just remember that funding choices may be more restricted, and you might not qualify for a large amount. If you’re having trouble getting approved, you may want to consider asking someone to cosign the loan, showing proof of income and savings, or applying for less money.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.


SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Personal Loan overall.

FAQ

Are there loans for 18-year-olds without a job?

You can get a loan without a job. However, you’ll need to show a lender that you have some form of consistent income, such as through investments, alimony, financial aid, or another source of cash flow.

Are there loans for 18-year-olds without credit?

Yes, loans do exist for 18-year-olds with no credit history. But note that even if you qualify for a loan without credit, it may be a lower amount than you could qualify for if you had a lengthy credit history. You may also not be able to get a low interest rate.

Can I get a loan as an 18-year-old?

Yes, 18-year-olds can get a loan. Your age matters less than your credit history and credit score — or the availability of a cosigner. Keep in mind that you may have trouble getting a loan if you don’t meet a lender’s qualifications. Contact a lender to learn more about your options.

How can I build credit as an 18-year-old?

If you want to start building credit, it may be worth exploring a secured credit card. Similar to a debit card, this type of credit card requires you to put down a cash deposit to insure any purchases you make. For example, putting down a $1,000 deposit, and that becomes your starting credit line on your card.


Photo credit: iStock/SeventyFour

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


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

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

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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

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Mutual Funds vs Index Funds: Key Differences

Mutual funds and index funds are similar in many ways, but there are some key differences that investors need to understand to effectively implement them into an investment strategy. Those differences might include investing style, associated fees and taxes, and how they work.

The choice between an index fund and an actively managed mutual fund can be a hard one, especially for investors who are unsure of the distinction. The differences between index funds and other mutual funds are actually few — but may be important, depending on the investor.

What’s the Difference between Index Funds and Mutual Funds?

Index funds and mutual funds are similar in many ways, but they do differ in some others, such as how they work, associated costs, and investment style.

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

How They Work

Index funds are a type of mutual fund, interestingly enough. Index funds are distinguished by their investing approach: Index funds invest in an index, and only change the securities they hold when the index changes, or to realign their holdings to better match the index they invest in.

Rather than rely on a portfolio manager’s instincts and experience, an index fund tracks a particular index. There are benchmark indexes across all of the different asset classes, including stocks, bonds, currencies, and commodities. As an example, the S&P 500® Index tracks the stocks of 500 of the leading companies in the United States.

An index fund aims to mirror the performance of a given benchmark index by investing in the same companies with similar weights. With these funds, it’s not about beating the market, it’s about tracking it, and as such, index funds typically follow a passive investment strategy, known as a buy-and-hold strategy.

A mutual fund is an investment that holds a collection — or portfolio — of securities, such as stocks and bonds. The “mutual” part of the name has to do with the structure of the fund, in that all of its investors mutually combine their funds in this one shared portfolio.

Mutual funds are also called ’40 Act funds, as they were created in 1940 by an act of Congress that was designed to correct some of the investment abuses that led to the Stock Market Crash of 1929. It created a regulatory framework for offering and maintaining mutual funds, including requirements for filings, service charges, financial disclosures, and the fiduciary duties of investment companies.

To get people to invest, the portfolio managers of a given mutual fund offer a unique investment perspective or strategy. That could mean investing in tech stocks, or only investing in the fund manager’s five best ideas, or investing in a few thousand stocks at once, or only in gold-mining stocks, and so on.

Fees and Taxes

There may be different associated costs with index funds and mutual funds as well.

Mutual-fund managers generally charge investors a management fee, which comes from the assets of the fund. Those fees vary widely, but an active manager will generally charge more, as they have to pay the salaries of analysts, researchers, and the stock pickers themselves. Passive managers of index funds, on the other hand, simply have to pay to license the use of an index.

An actively-managed mutual fund may charge an expense ratio (which includes the management fee) of 0.5% to 0.75%, and sometimes as high as 1.5%. But for index funds, that expense ratio is typically much lower — often around 0.2%, and as low as 0.02% for some funds.

Investing Style

The two also differ on a basic level in that index funds are a passive investing vehicle and mutual funds are typically actively managed. That means that investors who want to take a hands-off approach may find index funds a more suitable choice, whereas investors who want a guiding hand in their portfolio may be more attracted to mutual funds.

Mutual Funds vs. Index Funds: Key Differences

Mutual Funds

Index Funds

Overseen by a fund manager Track a market index
May have higher associated costs Typically has lower associated costs
Active investing Passive investing

Index vs Mutual Fund: Which is Best for You?

There’s no telling whether an index or mutual fund is better for you — it’ll depend on specific factors relevant to your specific situation and goals.

When deciding how to invest, everyone has their own unique approach. If an investor believes in the expertise and human touch of a fund manager or team of professionals, then an actively managed fund like a mutual fund may be the right fit. While no one beats the market every year, some funds can potentially outperform the broader market for long stretches.

But for those individuals who want to invest in the markets and not think about it, then the broad exposure — and lower fees — offered by index funds may make more sense. Investing in index funds tends to work best when you hold your money in the funds for a longer period of time, or use a dollar-cost-average strategy, where you invest consistently over time to take advantage of both high and low points.

💡 Quick Tip: Did you know that opening a brokerage account typically doesn’t come with any setup costs? Often, the only requirement to open a brokerage account — aside from providing personal details — is making an initial deposit.

The Takeaway

Index funds and mutual funds are similar investment vehicles, but there are some key differences which include how they’re managed, costs associated with them, and how they function at a granular level.

The choice between index funds and other mutual funds is one with decades of debate behind it. For individuals who prefer the expertise of a hands-on professional or team buying and selling assets within the fund, a mutual fund may be preferred. For investors who’d rather their fund passively track an index — without worrying about “beating the market” — an index fund might be the way to go.

Ready to expand your portfolio's growth potential? Alternative investments, traditionally available to high-net-worth individuals, are accessible to everyday investors on SoFi's easy-to-use platform. Investments in commodities, real estate, venture capital, and more are now within reach. Alternative investments can be high risk, so it's important to consider your portfolio goals and risk tolerance to determine if they're right for you.


Invest in alts to take your portfolio beyond stocks and bonds.

FAQ

Do index funds outperform mutual funds?

Actively-managed funds, such as mutual funds, tend to underperform the market as a whole over time. That’s to say that most of the time, a broad index fund may be more likely to outperform a mutual fund.

Do people prefer index funds over mutual funds, or mutual funds over index funds?

The types of funds that investors prefer to invest in depends completely on their own financial situation and investment goals. But some investors may prefer index funds over mutual funds due to their hands-off, passive approach and lower associated costs.

Are mutual funds riskier than index funds?

Mutual funds may be riskier than index funds, but it depends on the specific funds being compared — mutual funds do tend to be more expensive than index funds, and tend to underperform the market at large, too.



An investor should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses of the Fund carefully before investing. This and other important information are contained in the Fund’s prospectus. For a current prospectus, please click the Prospectus link on the Fund’s respective page. The prospectus should be read carefully prior to investing.
Alternative investments, including funds that invest in alternative investments, are risky and may not be suitable for all investors. Alternative investments often employ leveraging and other speculative practices that increase an investor's risk of loss to include complete loss of investment, often charge high fees, and can be highly illiquid and volatile. Alternative investments may lack diversification, involve complex tax structures and have delays in reporting important tax information. Registered and unregistered alternative investments are not subject to the same regulatory requirements as mutual funds.
Please note that Interval Funds are illiquid instruments, hence the ability to trade on your timeline may be restricted. Investors should review the fee schedule for Interval Funds via the prospectus.

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

Mutual Funds (MFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or clicking the prospectus link on the fund's respective page at sofi.com. You may also contact customer service at: 1.855.456.7634. Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing.Mutual Funds must be bought and sold at NAV (Net Asset Value); unless otherwise noted in the prospectus, trades are only done once per day after the markets close. Investment returns are subject to risk, include the risk of loss. Shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of a mutual fund will not protect against loss. A mutual fund may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.

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.

Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.

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A Comprehensive Guide to Treasury Bills (T-Bills)

U.S. government-backed securities like Treasury bills (T-bills) provide a way to invest with minimal risk. These debt instruments are one of several different types of Treasury securities including Treasury notes (T-notes) and Treasury bonds (T-bonds).

Unlike other treasuries, however, T-bills don’t pay interest. Rather, investors buy T-bills at a discount to par (the face value).

Investors looking for a low-risk investment with a short time horizon and a modest return may find T-bills an attractive investment. T-bills have minimal default risk and maturities of a year or less. But Treasury bill rates are typically lower than those of some other investments.

Treasury Bills Overview

Treasury bills are debt instruments issued by the U.S. government. They are short-term securities and are issued with maturity dates ranging from 4 weeks to one year. It may be possible to buy T-bills on the secondary market with maturities as short as a few days.

Definition of a T-Bill

Essentially, when an individual buys a T-bill, they are lending money to the U.S. government. In general, T-bills are considered very low risk, since they are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, which has never defaulted on its debts.

T-bills are sold at a discount to their par, or face value. They are essentially zero-coupon bonds. They don’t pay interest, unlike other types of Treasuries (and coupon bonds); rather the difference between the discount price and the face value is like an interest payment.

For example, an investor might purchase a T-bill with a par value of $1,000 for $950 — a 5% discount. When the T-bill matures, they would receive $1,000 — a roughly 5% return, based on the 5% discount.

T-Bill Maturities

Understanding the maturity date of a T-bill is important. This is the length of time you’ll hold the bill before you redeem it for the full face value. Maturity dates affect the discount rate, with longer maturities generally offering a higher discount/return, but interest rates will influence the discount.

The government issues T-bills at regular auctions, in four-, eight-, 13-, 17-, 26-, and 52-week terms, in increments ranging from $100 to $10 million. The minimum T-bill purchase from TreasuryDirect.gov is $100.

Some investors may create ladders (similar to bond ladders), which allow them to roll their T-bills at maturity into more T-bills. Although T-bill rates are fixed, and because their maturities are so short, they don’t have much sensitivity to interest rate fluctuations.

Key Takeaways: Why T-Bills Matter to Investors

•   T-bills are short-term investments that offer a guaranteed rate of return.

•   Investors don’t receive coupon, or interest, payments. The return is the discount rate.

•   T-bills have a near-zero risk of default.

•   Investors can buy T-bills directly from TreasuryDirect.gov, or on the secondary market using a brokerage account.



💡 Quick Tip: Look for an online brokerage with low trading commissions as well as no account minimum. Higher fees can cut into investment returns over time.

How to Purchase T-Bills

You can purchase T-bills at regular government auctions on TreasuryDirect, or on the secondary market, from your brokerage account.

Buying From Treasury Direct

Noncompetitive bids: With a noncompetitive bill, the investor accepts the discount prices that were established at the Treasuries auction, which are an average of the bids submitted.

Since the investor will receive the full value of the T-bill when the term expires, some investors often favor this simple technique of investing in T-bills.

Competitive bid: With a competitive bid, all investors propose the discount rate they are prepared to pay for a given T-bill. The lowest discount rate offers are selected first. If investors don’t propose enough low bids to complete the entire order, the auction will move onto the next lowest bid and so on until the entire order is filled.

Buying and Selling on the Secondary Market

Another option is to purchase or sell T-bills on the secondary market, using a standard brokerage account.

Investors can also trade exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or mutual funds that may include T-bills that were released in the past.

Redemption and Interest Earnings on T-Bills

As noted above, although T-bills are debt instruments and an investor’s loan is repaid “with interest,” T-Bills don’t have a coupon payment the way some bonds do. Rather, investors buy T-bills at a discount, and the difference between the lower purchase price and the higher face value is effectively the interest payment when the T-bill matures.

When a T-bill matures, investors can redeem it for cash at Treasury.gov.

T-bill purchases and redemptions are now fully digital. Paper T-bills are no longer available.

Tax Implications for T-Bill Investors

Gains from all Treasuries, including T-bills, are taxed at the federal level; i.e. they are taxed as income on your federal income tax return.

Treasury gains are exempt from state and local income tax.

Comparing Treasury Securities: Bills, Notes, and Bonds

The U.S. government offers a number of debt instruments, including Treasury Bills, Notes, and Bonds. The difference between them is their maturity dates, which can also affect interest rates and discount rates.

Treasury Notes

Investors can purchase Treasury notes (or T-notes) in quantities of $1,000 and with terms ranging from two to 10 years. Treasury notes pay interest, known as coupon payments, bi-annually.

Treasury Bonds

Out of all Treasury securities, Treasury bonds have the most extended maturity terms: up to 30 years. Like T-notes, Treasury bonds pay interest every six months. And when the bond matures the entire value of the bond is repaid.

Treasury Bill Rates

While all securities have a face value, also known as the par value, typically investors purchase Treasury bills at a discount to par. Then, when the T-bill matures, investors receive the full face value amount. So, if they purchased a treasury bill for less than it was worth, they would receive a greater amount when it matures.

For example, suppose an investor purchases a 52-week T-bill for $4,500 with a par value of $5,000, a 5% discount. Since the government promises to repay the full value of the T-bill when it expires, the investors will receive $5,000 at maturity, and realize a profit or yield of $500.

In the example above, the discount rate of the T-bill is 5% — and that is also the yield. But examples aside, the actual 52-week Treasury bill rate, as of Feb. 1, 2024, is 4.46%.

Recommended: How to Buy Bonds: A Guide for Beginners

Investment Profile of T Bills

Like any other investments, it’s important to understand how T-bills work, the pros and cons, and how they can fit into your portfolio.

What Influences T-Bill Prices in the Market?

Although any T-bill you buy offers a guaranteed yield at maturity, because T-bills are short-term debt the discount rates (and therefore the yield) can fluctuate depending on a number of factors, including market conditions, interest rates, and inflation.

The Role of Maturity Dates and Market Risk

Generally, the longer the maturity date of the bill, the higher the returns. But if interest rates are predicted to rise over time, that could make existing T-bills less desirable, which could affect their price on the secondary market. It’s possible, then, that an investor could sell a T-bill for lower than what they paid for it.

Federal Reserve Policies and Inflation Concerns

It’s also important to consider the role of the Federal Reserve Bank, which sets the federal funds target rate, for overnight lending between banks. When the fed funds rate is lower, banks have more money to lend, but when it’s higher there’s less money circulating.

Thus the fed funds rate has an impact on the cost of lending across the board, which impacts inflation, purchasing power — and T-bill rates and prices as well. As described, T-bill rates are fixed, so as interest rates rise, the price of T-bills drops because they become less desirable.

By the same token, when the Fed lowers interest rates that tends to favor T-bills. Investors buy up the higher-yield bills, driving up prices on the secondary market.

How Can Investors Decide on Maturity Terms?

Bear in mind that because the maturity terms of T-bills are relatively short — they’re issued with six terms (four, six, 13, 17, 26 and 52 weeks) — it’s possible to redeem the T-bills you buy relatively quickly.

T-bill rates vary according to their maturity, so that will influence which term will work for you.


💡 Quick Tip: It’s smart to invest in a range of assets so that you’re not overly reliant on any one company or market to do well. For example, by investing in different sectors you can add diversification to your portfolio, which may help mitigate some risk factors over time.

Advantages and Disadvantages of T-Bills

•   They are a low-risk investment. Since they are backed in the full faith of the U.S. government, there is a slim to none chance of default.

•   They have a low barrier to entry. In other words, investors who don’t have a lot of money to invest can invest a small amount of money while earning a return, starting at $100.

•   They can help diversify a portfolio. Diversifying a portfolio helps investors minimize risk exposure by spreading funds across various investment opportunities of varying risks and potential returns.

Like any other investment, Treasury bills have a few drawbacks.

•   Low yield. T-bills provide a lower yield compared to other higher-yield bonds or investments such as stocks. So, for investors looking for higher yields, Treasury bills might not be the way to go.

•   Inflation risk exposure. T-bills are exposed to risks such as inflation. If the inflation rate is 4% and a T-bill has a discount rate of 2%, for example, it wouldn’t make sense to invest in T-bills—the inflation exceeds the return an investor would receive, and they would lose money on the investment.

Using Treasury Bills to Diversify

Investing all of one’s money into one asset class leaves an investor exposed to a higher rate of risk of loss. To mitigate risk, investors may turn to diversification as an investing strategy.

With diversification, investors place their money in an assortment of investments — from stocks and bonds to real estate and alternative investments — rather than placing all of their money in one investment. With more sophisticated diversification, investors can diversify within each asset class and sector to truly ensure all investments are spread out.

For example, to reduce the risk of economic uncertainty that tends to impact stocks, investors may choose to invest in the U.S. Treasury securities, such as mutual funds that carry T-bills, to offset these stocks’ potentially negative performance. Since the U.S. Treasuries tend to perform well in such environments, they may help minimize an investor’s loss from stocks not performing.

The Takeaway

Treasury bills are one investment opportunity in which an investor is basically lending money to the government for the short term. While the return on T-bills may be lower than the typical return on other investments, the risk is also much lower, as the US government backs these bills.

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


Invest with as little as $5 with a SoFi Active Investing account.


Photo credit: iStock/Marco VDM


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

Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.

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.

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


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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How Often Should You Monitor Your Checking Account?

Many people find that monitoring their checking account once or twice a week is a good cadence, but there’s no frequency that’s right or wrong. It’s a personal decision: Your checking account is likely to be the hub of your financial life, and so you may want to peek at your balance often or see what transactions have been conducted. At a minimum, it is recommended that individuals check their account monthly.

Here, learn more about this important financial topic, including:

•   How often should you typically monitor your checking account?

•   How often should you balance your checking account?

•   What are the benefits of monitoring your bank accounts?

•   How do you monitor your accounts?

How Often Should You Check Your Bank Statement and Bank Account?

There is no exact science when it comes to how often you should monitor your checking account. How often you should check your bank account is a very personal decision.

At the very bare minimum, it can be important to check it at least once per month to look for signs of fraud and fees that were charged to the account, as well as to see how your money is being spent. Doing so can be an important part of better money management.

However, for most people, once per month is not enough. One benchmark study found that 36% of Americans check their bank account every day, while 30% check it once a week.

Should You Check Your Bank Account Every Day?

There are many reasons why you might want to monitor your bank activity as often as once per day. Doing so can help you take control of your finances in such situations as:

•   You have a tight budget and worry about your balance slipping too low when you pay bills.

•   You are a freelancer and want to see if a paycheck you deposited has cleared.

•   Your debit card is lost, and you’re worried it fell into the wrong hands and someone is swiping away with it.

•   If there was a data breach of some kind? While usually the answer to “Are checking accounts safe?” can be yes, there can be issues. It may be a wise move to check your balance every day if you think you’ve been phished, scammed, or hacked. In this case, watching your account like a hawk in this situation can help you detect bank account fraud and report it.

However, for others, the answer to “How often should you check your bank account?” will be less frequent, perhaps weekly.

What Should You Monitor When You Have a Bank Account?

When you have a bank account, it’s wise to regularly check the following:

•   Your balance. Is it getting lower than you’d like?

•   Account alerts. Is anything flagged as needing your attention?

•   Transaction history. Are there any unauthorized or erroneous charges?

•   Fees and charges. Are you aware of what charges you may be incurring?

•   Spending trends. Has your occasional sushi lunch has become an almost daily debit card expense?

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The Benefits: Why You Should Monitor Your Checking Account

Whether you decide that the right cadence for checking your bank account is daily, weekly, or another frequency, here are some of the rewards of keeping tabs on your checking.

Spot Hidden Fees

By regularly checking your bank account, you can keep an eye on fees you may be paying. Some financial institutions are notorious for charging hidden and/or excessive fees.

You might be surprised to see such charges as monthly account fees, ATM charges, overdraft and NSF fees, and more. You might want to dispute charges that you feel should not have been assessed.

Or, if you see that these fees are eating away at your cash, you might want to switch to a new bank.

Monitor for Fraud or Scams

Unfortunately, hackers and scams are part of life. Even with protective measures in place, it is possible for your account to be compromised. By checking your account regularly, you can keep an eye on any suspicious activity, such as an automatic withdrawal you don’t recognize or a debit card charge that isn’t yours.

The sooner you spot such issues, the faster you can deal with them. This can help you be liable for no or lower losses.

•   You are only responsible for up to $50 if you notify your bank within two business days of unauthorized charges with your debit card.

•   That figure rises to $500 if you notify your bank after two days but before 60 days after the bank statement showing the unauthorized transactions was issued.

•   If you take longer than 60 days to notify your bank, you could be liable for the full amount drawn on your account.

Stay on Track with Your Budget

Here’s why tracking your expenses and balancing your checking account can be important: These actions can help you follow your budget. For instance, if you’ve created a line-item budget and have been successfully sticking to it, you may still encounter an unexpected expense, such as a big dental bill or pricey car repair.

By knowing where your bank balance stands, you can determine if you can afford to pay that bill from checking or whether this counts as a good reason for when to use your emergency fund.

How to Monitor Your Accounts

Thankfully, banks generally offer a variety of ways to keep tabs when managing your checking account.

•   You can use your bank’s website or app to click your way to your account details.

•   Another digital option is to use a third-party app or website, where account holders can connect all of their accounts and see a comprehensive display of their money.

•   Some financial institutions will offer banking alerts for checking accounts. For instance, if your bank account is low or goes into overdraft or there’s suspected fraud, you might receive a text message, email, and/or push notification as an alert. This can help you keep in touch with where your account stands.

•   You can often check your balance at an ATM.

•   If you bank with a traditional vs. online bank, you can go into a branch in person. You could ask a teller for help viewing your balance.

•   Banks may also offer services via phone, where customers can call in and request their balance.

When to Get in Touch With the Bank

When your monitor your bank account, you may encounter a few key times when it’s important to get in touch with your bank:

•   If you see a fraudulent charge on your account, contact the bank as soon as possible. Many banks offer 24/7 customer assistance so customers can get in touch any time of day.

•   If you are charged fees for an overdraft or a bounced check, contact your bank. You might be able to get those fees reversed. A bank may only do this in the first or second instance or take a part of the fee off, but it’s better than nothing.

•   Another reason to call a bank is to see if there are any promotions available. Customers might be able to open a new high-yield checking account, receive a bonus, or lower their monthly fees. Banks may be willing to give customers perks so that they can retain their business.

Recommended: What Does a Pending Transaction Mean?

The Takeaway

Regularly checking your bank accounts is a vital part of keeping your finances on track. The exact frequency with which you look at your accounts is a personal decision, but what’s important is that you stay on top of your checking account.

Consider setting a calendar alert or reminder if you are having trouble remembering to review your accounts. Many people find that checking their account daily or once or twice a week is the right cadence.

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

Does it hurt to have too many checking accounts?

There may be times when you’d want to open up more than one checking account to keep, say, your income from your full-time job and your side hustle separate or to cover different kinds of expenses. However, you will likely need to keep an eye on all of your accounts and could potentially have to pay account fees and meet balance requirements for each.

What should you monitor when you have a checking account?

It can be important to monitor your checking account for a low balance or overdraft, for errors, for hidden fees, and for unauthorized transactions and other signs of fraudulent activity.

Do banks look at your checking account?

Banks may look at your accounts for a variety of reasons such as monitoring for fraud, gathering information on what services customers might need, and determining credit eligibility (say, if you have applied for a home loan).


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 deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government 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, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

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.

SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc.’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.

*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

This article is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice.

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How Soon Can You Refinance Student Loans?

Typically, student loan borrowers cannot refinance their debt until they graduate or withdraw from school. At that point, federal student loans and the majority of private student loans have a grace period, so it can make sense to refinance right before the grace period ends.

Depending on your financial situation, the goal of refinancing may be to snag a lower interest rate and/or have lower monthly payments. Doing so can alleviate some of the stress you may feel when repaying your debt. In this guide, you’ll learn when you can refinance and what options are available, plus the potential benefits and downsides of each.

What Do Your Current Loans Look Like?

Before deciding whether or not to refinance your student loans, you need to know where your loans currently stand. Look at the loan servicers, loan amounts, interest rates, and terms for all loans before making a decision.

Contact Info for Most Federal Student Loans

The government assigns your loan to a loan servicer after it is paid out. To find your loan servicer, visit your account dashboard on studentaid.gov, find the “My Aid” section, and choose “View loan servicer details.” You can also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800-433-3243.

Loans Not Owned by the Department of Education

Here’s how to get in touch:

•   If you have Federal Family Education Loan Program loans that are not held by the government, contact your servicer for details. Look for the most recent communication from the entity sending you bills.

•   If you have a Federal Perkins Loan that is not owned by the Education Department, contact the school where you received the loan for details. Your school may be the servicer for your loan.

•   If you have Health Education Assistance Loan Program loans and need to find your loan servicer, look for the most recent communication from the entity sending you bills.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are not given by the government, but rather banks, credit unions, and online lenders. You’ll need to find your specific lender or servicer in order to find out your loan information.

Can You Refinance Student Loans While Still in School?

You may be able to refinance your student loans while still in school with certain lenders, but doing so may not make the most sense for your situation.

If you’re worried about interest accruing on your unsubsidized federal loans and/or private student loans while in school, you can most certainly make interest-only payments on them in order to keep the interest from capitalizing.

One important note: With federal student loans, any payments you make while still in school or during the grace period will not count as a qualifying payment toward loan forgiveness, if you plan on using that.


💡 Quick Tip: Ready to refinance your student loan? With SoFi’s no-fee loans, you could save thousands.

Which Loans Can Be Refinanced While Enrolled?

You can refinance any type of student loan while enrolled in school, assuming that the lender allows it. If you’re still in school and want to refinance, a lender will want to make sure you have a job or job offer on the table, are possibly in your last year of school, and have a solid credit profile. You could also consider refinancing your student loans with a cosigner if you do not meet the lender’s requirements on your own.

A couple of important points if you are considering refinancing federal student loans with a private lender:

•   Doing so means you will forfeit federal benefits and protections, such as forbearance and forgiveness, among others.

•   If you refinance for an extended term, you may have a lower monthly payment but pay more interest over the life of the loan. This may or may not suit your financial needs and goals, so consider your options carefully.

Which Loans Can’t Be Refinanced While Enrolled?

If you find a lender willing to refinance your student loans while still in school, they most likely won’t exclude a certain type of loan. However, it is best not to refinance federal student loans while enrolled. Federal Subsidized Loans, for example, do not start earning interest until after the grace period is over. Since you aren’t paying anything in interest, it doesn’t make sense to refinance and have to start paying interest on your loans immediately.

If you plan on using federal benefits, such as income-driven repayment plans or student loan forgiveness, refinancing student loans could be a bad idea. Refinancing gives you a new loan with a new private lender, thereby forfeiting your eligibility to federal benefits and protections, as noted above.

Is It Worth Refinancing Only Some of Your Loans?

Yes, it can be worth refinancing only some of your loans. The student loans you may want to focus on refinancing may include ones that have a variable rate (and you prefer a fixed rate), ones with a relatively high interest rate, or ones where you’ve had a less-than-ideal relationship with the servicer and are looking for a new experience.

When you might want to think twice about refinancing:

•   If you have federal loans and plan on using an income-based repayment plan, for example, it makes sense not to include those loans in the refinance.

•   If you have a low, fixed interest rate currently, you should probably keep those loans as is. The main reason to refinance is to secure a lower interest rate or a lower payment. Keep in mind, though, that by lowering your payment, you typically are extending your term. This can mean that you end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan.

Pros and Cons of Refinancing Student Loans

Pros Cons

•   Possibly lower your monthly payment

•   Possibly lower your interest rate

•   Shorten or lengthen the loan term

•   Switch from variable to fixed interest rate, or vice versa

•   Combine multiple loans into one

•   Lose access to federal benefits and protections

•   Lose access to remaining grace periods

•   May be difficult to qualify

•   May end up paying more in interest if you lengthen the term

Examples of Refinancing Before Earning a Degree

As stated above, there are some lenders that may allow you to refinance before you graduate or withdraw from school. These lenders may currently include Citizens Bank, Discover, RISLA, and Earnest.

Graduate students are also eligible to refinance their undergraduate student loans, assuming they meet the lender’s requirements or use a cosigner. Parents with Parent PLUS Loans are also typically allowed to refinance their loans prior to their child graduating. Rules will vary by lender, so make sure to do your research and choose a lender that will work with your unique situation.


💡 Quick Tip: Federal parent PLUS loans might be a good candidate for refinancing to a lower rate.

Alternatives to Refinancing

If refinancing your student loans isn’t the right option for you, there are alternatives to refinancing you can explore.

•   The main alternative is student loan consolidation, which combines your federal student loans into one loan with one monthly payment. The main difference between consolidation and refinancing is the interest rate on a federal loan consolidation is the weighted average of the rates of the loans you are consolidating, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of a percentage.

•   You typically won’t save on interest, but you can lower your monthly payment by extending the loan term. Doing this, however, means you’ll probably pay more in interest over the life of the loan.

•   Student loan refinancing refers to paying off current loans with a new loan from a private lender, preferably with a lower rate. This rate is not the weighted average of the loans, but rather is based on current market rates, your credit profile, and your debt-to-income ratio.

•   Other alternatives to refinancing include making interest-only payments while still enrolled in school or requesting a student loan forbearance if you’re struggling to make your payments. Forbearance means you can reduce or pause payments for a designated period of time.

You’ll want to know all your student loan repayment options — and the pros and cons of consolidating or refinancing your loans, prior to making a decision.

A calculator tool for student loan refinancing can come in handy when estimating savings, both monthly and over the life of your loan.

Weighing Perks and Interest Rates

Before deciding whether refinancing is right for you, it’s important to again highlight this important point: If you refinance your federal student loans with a private lender, those loans will no longer be eligible for programs like income-driven repayment plans, federal forbearance, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

But if you can get a lower interest rate, refinancing may be a good fit. Most refinancing lenders offer loan terms of five to 20 years. Shortening or elongating your loan term can affect your monthly payment and the total cost over the life of your loan.

For some borrowers, lengthening the term and lowering the monthly payment will be a valuable option, even though it can mean paying more interest over the life of the loan. Only you can decide if this kind of refinancing makes sense for your personal finances.

The Takeaway

When can you refinance student loans? As soon as you establish a financial foundation or bring a solid cosigner aboard. Can you refinance your student loans while in school? Yes, however, not all lenders offer this and it may not make sense for your situation. It’s also important to understand the implications of refinancing federal student loans with a private lender. If you do not plan on using federal benefits and protections and are comfortable with the possibility of paying more interest over the loan’s term, it might be a move worth considering.

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


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


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


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


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

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

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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