Joint Account Holder vs Authorized User: Key Differences

You may have a few different options if you are looking to open a credit card account with an additional person. Being a joint account holder and an authorized user are two different ways that two people can share the same account. However, there are a few important differences that you’ll want to be aware of.

When you add an authorized user to your account, the authorized user can benefit from the good credit and payment history on your account. This can be one strategy to help a trusted friend or family member improve their credit. With a joint credit card account, however, both people apply at the same time and both account holders are legally responsible for all purchases and debt on the account, regardless of which person actually makes the purchase.

Read on to learn more about this topic, including:

•   What is a credit card authorized user?

•   What is a joint account holder for a credit card?

•   What are things to consider before adding an authorized user?

•   What are things to consider before opening a joint credit card account?

•   How to know whether a joint credit card vs. an authorized user is right for you?

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What Is a Credit Card Authorized User?

An authorized user on a credit card, sometimes called a supplementary credit card, is an additional user who is added to the account of the primary cardholder. The authorized user gets their own physical card and can make purchases. The authorized user may benefit from the good credit or a positive payment history on the account; it could help them establish or maintain their credit. However, they are not responsible for any of the purchases or debt.

How an Authorized User Impacts Your Credit

There are many factors that affect credit scores, but adding an authorized user to your account is not one of them. If you add an authorized user to your account, your credit will not be checked, and there should be no immediate impact on your credit. You will want to keep in mind, however, that you are responsible for any purchases made by authorized users. So if your authorized user spends more than you anticipate and you have trouble making the full monthly payment, it could impact your credit score.

Things to Consider When Adding an Authorized User to Your Account

Here’s a quick look at some things to consider when adding an authorized user to your account:

Risks Rewards
You are legally responsible for all purchases made by an authorized user May help establish or maintain the authorized user’s credit if used responsibly
May impact your credit if not used responsibly Additional spending can generate additional credit card rewards
Primary cardholder can remove the authorized user from the account at any time

Recommended: How Many Credit Cards Should I Have?

What Is a Joint Credit Card Account Holder?

Unlike adding an authorized user to your account, you will typically obtain a joint credit card by applying for one with another person. With a joint credit card, the credit of both prospective cardholders is evaluated and used to determine eligibility. If approved, both cardholders are equally and separately liable for all of the debts and purchases on the account, regardless of who actually made the purchase.

How a Joint Account Impacts Your Credit

When you apply for a joint account, the credit of both people is reviewed, and then the applicants are possibly approved to receive a card. This will generally show up on each potential account holder’s credit report as a new inquiry, which may temporarily lower each person’s credit score by a few points. Additionally, both joint cardholders are responsible for all of the debt, regardless of who actually uses the credit card. So if one person spends more than expected or has trouble paying the bill on time, it may negatively impact both cardholders’ credit scores.

Things to Consider Before Opening a Joint Credit Card Account

Here’s a quick look at some things to keep in mind before opening a joint credit card account:

Risks Rewards
Many major issuers do not allow joint accounts Additional spending by two people can generate higher credit card rewards
Cannot remove one person from the joint account without closing the entire account When used responsibly, it can help establish or maintain the credit of both cardholders
May get complicated if the relationship between the joint cardholders changes (e.g. divorce)

Joint Credit Card Account Holder vs Authorized User

Consider the differences between these two arrangements:

•   A joint credit card account is one where two people jointly open and use the account, with both people equally responsible for all of the debt.

•   An authorized user vs. a joint credit card has a key difference: The authorized user is not liable for any purchases they might make — instead the primary cardholder is responsible for all charges.

•   Being an authorized user may be one way to help establish your credit if the primary cardholder already has good credit and continues to use the account responsibly.

Recommended: What Is the Minimum Age to Be an Authorized User on a Credit Card?

Choosing the Right Option

A joint credit card account typically only makes sense for two people that are in a committed relationship in which they are already sharing their finances. And you will also want to keep in mind that many major credit card issuers do not offer joint credit card accounts.

An authorized user, on the other hand, can make sense if you want to help bolster the credit of someone who is starting out. By adding them to your account, you may help them establish their credit.

The Takeaway

An authorized user and a joint credit card account are different ways that two people can share a credit card account. With a joint credit card account, both people open the account together and are equally and separately liable for all charges on the account. With an authorized user on an account, only the primary cardholder is responsible for the charges. Those differences may help you decide which (if either) arrangement is right for you.

There are other considerations when applying for a credit card, such as whether you get rewards with each purchase. If you’re in the market for a new credit card, you might look at a rewards credit card like the SoFi Credit Card. You can earn cash back rewards on every eligible purchase, which you can then use for travel or to invest, save, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. You can even add authorized users to your SoFi credit card to earn additional rewards.

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Is a joint credit card holder the same as an authorized user?

No, having a joint credit card account is not the same as having an authorized user on your account. With a joint credit card, both account holders are equally and separately liable for all charges on the account, regardless of who actually makes the purchase. With an authorized user account, only the primary cardholder is responsible.

Is it better to be an authorized user or have your own credit card?

When you are an authorized user on a credit card, you can make purchases and may be able to establish your credit, but you’re not responsible for any of the charges. Being an authorized user can make sense especially if you are just starting out. However, it may make sense at some point to work towards having your own credit card account where you don’t have to rely on anyone else.

Can you have 2 names on a credit card?

Generally there won’t be two names on a credit card, even if it is a joint account. In both the case of a joint account and being an authorized user, each person will get their own credit card with their name on it. Depending on the card issuer, the credit card account number may be the same or may be different.

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

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Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting Puerto Rico

Nestled within a chain of islands bordering both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Puerto Rico is a popular vacation spot. Plus, U.S. citizens don’t even need a passport when visiting although it can feel as if you’ve been transported to the ultimate far-flung tropical beach vacation.

Yes, sand and sea are a big part of the allure. But if you’re wondering what are some cool things to do in Puerto Rico, you’ll likely be happy to know that parks, museums, shopping, and historical sites are all waiting.

Read on to learn about top spots and attractions across the island, plus the best times of the year to go and other important details. With this advice, you’ll be ready to have an amazing getaway when visiting Puerto Rico.

Best Times to Go to Puerto Rico

If you’re looking for warm weather without the threat of hurricanes, plan your Puerto Rico trip for the winter or spring months. Temperatures average in the 80s all year long, but you’re more likely to avoid crowded beaches and other tourist spots if you focus on these milder months during the school year.

In fact, ending your holiday season with a trip to Puerto Rico lets you take advantage of festivals held throughout the island marking the epiphany in early January. Larger street parades are held in San Juan, but you can also find charming events in smaller towns as well.

Bad Times to Go to Puerto Rico

There are a couple of times of year that are less than ideal for a Puerto Rican vacation. Because a large portion of the local population is Catholic, crowds tend to swell around Easter. That could mean more lines and higher prices.

Another relatively bad time to visit: Hurricane season, which technically lasts from June through November. The most severe weather activity occurs between the middle of August through the middle of October. If you do travel to Puerto Rico during these months, consider purchasing travel insurance through an insurance provider or accessing credit card travel insurance.

Recommended: What Is an Airline Credit Card?

Average Cost of a Puerto Rico Vacation

Before you figure out where to keep your travel fund, calculate how much it will likely cost you. Flight costs vary depending on where you live and what time of year you plan to go.

Once you’re on the island, here are some estimated costs: Food costs can total $39 a day, and local transportation to be about $18. The average nightly hotel cost is $277 for a couple and $139 per person, though there are certainly ways to save money on hotels.

You’ll likely have other incidental costs as well, but here’s how much a week-long Puerto Rico vacation could cost once you’re there.

•   One Person Total: $1,524

•   Couple Total: $3,048

Recommended: Credit Card Miles vs. Cash Back

10 Fun Must-Dos in Puerto Rico

No matter where you plan to stay, there are fun things to do in Puerto Rico across the entire island. The list you find here gathered intel from top-rated attractions on online review sites. In addition, travelers who have explored the island shared their knowledge. As a result, you’ll find a diverse range of activities for people of all ages and all types of groups, whether you’re going on a friends trip, a romantic getaway, or a family adventure.

1. Explore Old San Juan

When visiting Puerto Rico, a must-see is Old San Juan, the historic district of Puerto Rico’s capital city. The streets are lined with colorful buildings featuring Spanish colonial facades. You can take a guided walking tour if you’d love to know all the best historical facts and stories, or you can stroll on your own at no cost.

Be sure to include Fortaleza Street on your itinerary of things to see in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It has beautiful buildings as well as frequent modern art installations. There are plenty of shops and restaurants to try out in the neighborhood, as well as attractions like La Casa Blanca — the former home of Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon.

2. Trek Through El Yunque National Forest

The only tropical national forest in the U.S., El Yunque is packed with natural excursions just outside of San Juan. It’s considered one of the top things to do in Puerto Rico. There are plenty of hiking trails, ponds, and a lagoon (complete with a rope swing so you can tap into your inner child).

There are more than 28,000 acres in El Yunque, and trails span 25 miles. You can create a plan for any level of exertion. If you’re staying in the San Juan area, definitely put this on your list of unique things to do in Puerto Rico. Admission is only $2, but make sure you have an advance reservation before you go. Bonus: If you are traveling with a pet, the trails are dog-friendly, though only service animals are allowed inside buildings.

3. Immerse Yourself in Art

Back in the city, get a dose of world-class art at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. Open Thursdays through Sundays, this museum features permanent collections displaying the work of Puerto Rican artists dating from the 17th century to today.

Explore over 1,000 pieces that include paintings, prints, sculptures, photographs, and more. The museum, which is typically closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, is located in the Santurce neighborhood, which is about a 10-minute drive from Old San Juan. Tickets are $6 (not including taxes) per exhibition for adults; $3 for children.

4. Get Glowing

One of the best things to do in Puerto Rico is to explore one of three bioluminescent bays, which have an otherworldly glow, thanks to microscopic organisms that light up. Seeing these bodies of water can be an amazing and memorable experience.

Mosquito Bay in Vieques is considered the world’s brightest bioluminescent bay. However, you’ll need to take a short flight or boat ride from San Juan to get there.

Alternatively, you can explore Laguna Grande in Fajardo (which is the closest option to San Juan) or La Parguera in Lajas, which is closer to Rincón. La Perguera is also the only place where you can swim rather than take a boat tour or kayak. The best time to go for any bioluminescent bay tour is December through April when there isn’t a lot of rainfall to cloud the water.

Tours can range from about $50 to $75 per person. This can be a good time to swipe with plastic when paying to earn credit card rewards.

5. Tour a Grand Historical Home

Museo Castilla Serrallés is a great thing to do in Puerto Rico if you love history and architecture. It’s the former home of the Serrallés family (of DonQ Rum), who built the extravagant tile-roofed Spanish Revival castle in the 1930s. It takes just under an hour and a half to drive from San Juan to Ponce where the property is, so you may want to think about getting a rental car.

Today, you can explore the home’s interior, as well as beautiful gardens outside. Learn about the history of rum through immersive exhibits, then stroll through the butterfly garden and Japanese gardens. The property is typically open from Wednesday through Sunday, and tickets cost $15 for adults.

6. Get Wet

Located on the northwest corner of Puerto Rico, Aguadilla is about a two-hour drive from San Juan. It’s home to the pristine Crash Boat Beach, which is a great place to indulge in almost any kind of water activity you like, including swimming, snorkeling, and surfing (which is ideal during the summer travel season).

Crash Boat Beach is public, so add it to your list of free things to do in Puerto Rico. It definitely has a lively atmosphere, full of music and food to enjoy when you’re not in the water.

7. Stroll Through El Parterre Park

When you need a break from the beach, check out El Parterre in downtown Aguadilla. This beautifully landscaped park offers the perfect spot to casually stroll under mature trees, and there are plenty of benches for resting, reading, or picnicking, just like a local would. It’s also a good sunset watching spot.

El Parterre contains a natural water spring that has quite a bit of historical significance throughout the centuries. It was used as a water source by explorer Sir Francis Drake in the late 16th century and also by Spanish soldiers in later years.

8. Wander Into River Caves

Just an hour west of San Juan, Arecibo is a coastal location with diverse natural wonders to explore. One of the best things to do in Puerto Rico’s Arecibo area is to visit the Camuy River Cave Park. It’s one of the largest cave networks in the entire world.

Recently reopened in early 2023, you’ll walk through immense caverns that are estimated to be over 45 million years old. One of the most breathtaking spots is a sinkhole that shines in sunlight from hundreds of feet above. Tickets are $18 for adults, $13 for kids ages 4 to 12, with younger children admitted for free (which can help families afford to travel).

9. Surf at Domes Beach

Is surfing on your list of fun things to do in Puerto Rico? If so, check out Domes Beach in Rincón, located on the West Coast of the island (a little south from Aguadillo). Even if you don’t surf, you might enjoy catching a professional surfing competition throughout the year.

Domes Beach is also a great place to enjoy a sunset over the water. If you need a break from the waves, check out the Punta Higuero Lighthouse, a historic landmark originally built in 1892.

10. Venture to Vieques Beaches

A smaller island just to the east of the main Puerto Rican island, Vieques can only be reached by a short flight or ferry ride. Because of this, however, the beaches in Vieques are extremely tranquil and secluded. If you want a beach experience without large crowds or noise, this is an incredible option.

Plus, you can take one of the world’s best bioluminescent bay tours while you’re there.

The Takeaway

It’s easy to find dozens of things to do in Puerto Rico, whether San Juan or elsewhere. The hardest part is simply narrowing down your list of options to fit your time there. Whether you want a relaxed beach or an outdoor adventure, a historical home or a top-notch museum, you’ll find it all in Puerto Rico.


Is Puerto Rico cheap for tourists?

It depends on your point of comparison. You’ll probably find it cheaper than large coastal cities on the U.S. mainland, but it also tends to be more expensive than other Caribbean island destinations.

What food is Puerto Rico known for?

Exploring traditional Puerto Rican cuisine is one of the best parts of visiting. Definitely check out mofongo, a mashed fried plantain side dish, as well as pasteles — similar to tamales but made with green banana masa and many options for fillings.

What can’t you bring back from Puerto Rico?

You can’t bring back fresh fruits or vegetables from Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland. Cactus and citrus plants are also prohibited.

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The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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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Can a Parent PLUS Loan Be Transferred to a Student?

If you’ve taken out a Parent PLUS loan to help your child through college, you may be wondering if it’s possible to transfer the loan into your child’s name now that they have an income. While there are no federal loan programs that allow for this, there are other options that allow your child to take over the debt.

How to Transfer a Parent PLUS Loan to a Student

In order to transfer a Parent PLUS loan to a child or student, the student must apply for student loan refinancing through a private lender. With a student loan refinance, the child takes out a refinanced student loan and uses it to pay off the Parent PLUS loan. The student is then responsible for making the monthly payments and paying off the loan.

To get a student loan refinance and use the funds to pay off a Parent PLUS loan, simply have the child fill out a student loan refinancing application. Make sure to include the Parent PLUS loan information in the application.
If approved, the student can pay off the Parent PLUS loan with their new loan and begin making payments on the new loan.

Advantages of Refinancing a Parent PLUS Loan

The main advantage of refinancing a Parent PLUS loan is to get the loan out of the parent’s name and into the student’s. However, there are other advantages to refinancing student loans, including:

•   Lowering your interest rate

•   Reducing your monthly payments

•   Paying off your loan quicker

•   Allowing the student to build a credit history

Disadvantages of Refinancing a Parent PLUS Loan

While it may be beneficial to get the loan out of the parent’s name and into the student’s, there are some disadvantages that should be considered, such as:

•   Losing federal student loan benefits, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness

•   Possibly getting a higher interest rate, especially if the student has poor credit

•   The student is now responsible for the monthly payment, which might become a hardship if their income is low

If you do choose to refinance your Parent PLUS loan by means of a student loan refinance, you should note that this process is not reversible. Once your child signs on the dotted line and pays off the Parent PLUS loan, the debt is now theirs.

Parent PLUS Loan Overview

The Department of Education provides Parent PLUS loans that can be taken out by a parent to fund their child’s education. Before applying, the student and parent must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Then the parent can apply directly for a Parent PLUS loan, also known as a Direct PLUS Loan.

The purpose of a Parent PLUS loan is to fund the education of the borrower’s child. The loan is made in the parent’s name, and the parent is ultimately responsible for repaying the loan. Unlike federal student loans taken out by students themselves, parent borrowers must pay an origination fee for each Parent PLUS loan. Further, these loans are not subsidized, which means interest accrues on the principal balance from day one of fund disbursement.

Parents are eligible to take out a maximum of the cost of attendance for their child’s school, minus any financial aid the student is receiving. Payments are due immediately from the time the loan is disbursed, unless you request a deferment to delay payment. You can also opt to make interest-only payments on the loan until your child has graduated.

Pros and Cons of Parent PLUS Loans

Parent PLUS loans allow you to help your child attend college without their accruing debt.

Pros of Parent PLUS loans include:

You can pay for college in its entirety. Parent PLUS loans cover the full cost of attendance, including tuition, books, room and board, and other fees. Any money leftover after expenses are paid to you, unless you request the funds be given directly to your child.

Multiple repayment plans available. As a parent borrower, you can choose from three types of repayment plans: standard, graduated, or extended. With all three, interest will start accruing immediately.

Interest rates are fixed. Interest rates on Parent PLUS loans are fixed for the life of the loan. This allows you to plan your budget and monthly expenses around this additional debt.

They are relatively easy to get. To qualify for a Parent PLUS loan, you must be the biological or adoptive parent of the child, meet the general requirements for receiving financial aid, and not have an adverse credit history. Debt-to-income ratio and credit score are not factored into approval.

Cons of Parent PLUS loans include:

Large borrowing amounts. Because there isn’t a limit on the amount that can be borrowed as long as it doesn’t exceed college attendance costs, it can be easy to take on significant amounts of debt.

Interest accrues immediately. You may be able to defer payments until after your child has graduated, but interest starts accruing from the moment you take out the loan. Subsidized loans, which are taken out by the student, do not accrue interest until the first loan payment is due.

Can a Child Make the Parent PLUS Loan Payments?

Yes, your child can make the monthly payments on your Parent PLUS loan. If you want to avoid having your child get a student loan refinance, you can simply have them make the Parent PLUS loan payment each month. However, it’s important to note that the loan will still be in your name. If your child misses a payment, it will affect your credit score, not theirs. Your child also will not be building their own credit history since the debt is not in their name.

Parent PLUS Loan Refinancing

As a parent, you may also be interested in refinancing your Parent PLUS loan. Refinancing results in the Parent PLUS loan being transferred to another lender. By transferring your loan, you may be able to qualify for a lower interest rate. Securing a lower interest rate allows you to pay less interest over the life of the loan — and if you also shorten your loan term, you will pay off the loan more quickly.

When you refinance Parent PLUS loans, you do lose borrower protections provided by the federal government. These include income-driven repayment plans, forbearance, and deferment. If you are currently taking advantage of one of these opportunities, it may not be in your best interest to refinance.

At SoFi, you can refinance federal Parent PLUS loans and qualified private student loans into one new loan with one convenient payment. You can do this on your own and keep the Parent PLUS loan in your name, or you can have your child apply for student loan refinancing and use that money to pay off your Parent PLUS loan. With SoFi, there are no application fees, no origination fees, and no prepayment fees.

Get started with your Parent PLUS refinancing process today. You can get your rate in just minutes.


What if I can’t pay my Parent PLUS loans?

If you are struggling to pay your Parent PLUS loan, we recommend getting in touch with your lender and asking for a deferment or forbearance to temporarily suspend your payments. You could also consider switching the repayment plan you are enrolled in to an extended repayment plan, or refinancing your loan in order to get a lower interest rate.

Can you refinance a Parent PLUS loan?

Yes, it is possible to refinance a Parent PLUS loan through a private lender. Doing so will eliminate the loan from any federal borrower protections, but can allow you to secure a more competitive interest rate or have the refinanced loan taken out in your child’s name instead of your own.

Is there loan forgiveness for parents PLUS loans?

It is possible to pursue Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) with a Parent PLUS loan. To do so, the loan will first need to be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation loan and then enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan. Then, you’ll have to meet the requirements for PSLF, including 120 qualifying payments while working for an eligible employer (such as a qualifying nonprofit). Note that eligibility for PSLF depends on your job as the parent borrower, not your child’s job.

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

CLICK HERE for more information.

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

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
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.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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woman with shopping bag

Are You a Shopaholic? Signs to Know

Shopping can serve several purposes: It provides items that are needed or wanted, and it can fill free time with the fun of cruising around stores and seeing all kinds of interesting new things. Purchasing items, whether online or in person, can also bring a little thrill when you look forward to putting your just-bought shoes or phone to good use.

But there’s also no denying that some people shop too much, too often. Perhaps you tend to hit the stores every single weekend or have tallied up some major debt when taking advantage of “buy one, get one free” sales. The joy of shopping can turn nightmarish when people find themselves in a state of shopaholism.

Read on to learn some of the signs of being a shopaholic and ways to curb that habit.

What Are the Signs of a Shopaholic?

There are people who merely like to shop. Then there are people who compulsively buy because of a disorder known as oniomania. As the journal World Psychiatry explained, oniomania, otherwise known as compulsive buying disorder, is characterized by excessive shopping behavior that leads to “distress or impairment.” The journal noted that those living with it often have a preoccupation with shopping and have a sense of emotional relief after buying something.

Typically, compulsive buying disorder (or CBD) comes with what doctors call “psychiatric comorbidity,” meaning the person usually has another disorder, such as anxiety or a mood disorder. Perhaps most interesting is the fact that the journal says compulsive shopping may run in families.

The prevalence of compulsive buying is a bit unknown, though researchers at Stanford University put the figure at about 5% for both men and women. The signs and symptoms are worth looking out for so people can become aware of a potentially dangerous pattern which can ring up credit card debt and cause other issues. Here are some of the more common ones:

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Purchasing Unnecessary Things

Shopaholics often buy items on a whim, and it’s often an item they don’t need. Psychology Today notes that true shopaholics tend to spend money without reflecting on whether they need the item or whether it fits into their monthly budget. That is because it’s not about the item, but rather the euphoria experienced when purchasing the item. This pattern can be used by a shopaholic to fill a need or negate a negative emotion.

The emotional high, though, can be quickly replaced by guilt about spending money without need.

Accumulating Unopened Goods

Another sign of a problem is leaving unopened boxes or bags in the closet or under the bed. Those living with CBD can develop hoarding tendencies as they accumulate more goods than they need and continue buying.

Concealing Shopping Habits

People living with CBD will often try to conceal their shopping habits. This could be because they feel shame, or it could be because they are attempting to hide their purchases from a loved one.

Feeling Regret

People with CBD may feel guilty after spending money, especially when they’ve purchased an item they do not need. They might understand that they didn’t need the item or can’t afford it, or they perceive the purchase as giving in. But remorse can, in turn, force the person back into a negative cycle, as one way a true shopaholic sees a fix is to buy more things.

Recommended: Online vs. Traditional Banking

Treating Compulsive Shopping

There are no standardized treatments for those living with the disorder, but they can learn to cope. As with many disorders, the first step is for a person to recognize that she or he has a problem. Here are a few ways to recognize and improve shopping patterns.

Tracking Emotional Responses

One way to figure out personal triggers is to track them in a diary. Any time a person feels compelled to buy something, they can write down the time and surrounding details.

They may be able to look back and find they were triggered by an emotional event with a friend or family member or feel anxious about events at work or elsewhere. Or perhaps the person discovers that they tend to shop when bored. This lends insight into what drives them to want to buy and hopefully helps them avoid those triggers in the future.

Seeking Expert Help

If a shopping compulsion is suspected, it may be a good idea to seek expert help. This can include therapy and possibly medication. A professional may be able to help track triggers and help the individual change their behavior. It’s never a bad idea to seek help if you feel you may need it.

Delaying Gratification

Another way to deal with impulsive or compulsive shopping can be to wait before making a purchase. If you see an item you like, it may be a good idea to wait out the immediate emotional thrill of buying. You could ask for the item to be placed on hold for a few days, but sometimes, just a few moments is enough.

Shoppers can choose to leave the store — or the computer if shopping online — and go for a walk. They can then see how they feel about the item after a pause. If they think they need it or genuinely want it, or it will improve some aspect of their lives, then go for it. Otherwise, leave the item.

To really up the ante on waiting for a purchase, try the 30-day rule. Using the practice, shoppers looking to buy a nonessential item must put it back on the shelf and step away for a full 30 days. At the end of the 30 days, if they still want the item, they can return and purchase it.

Recommended: Benefits of Automating Your Finances

Tracking Spending

Buyers who think they may have shopaholic tendencies may be able to know for sure by tracking their spending. Tracking spending can show different shopping habits. It may also be an excellent resource for the aforementioned diary.

By monitoring spending, you can track if there are specific days or times you tend to spend more, or if you tend to spend more at specific stores, and potentially cut back on spending from there.

The Takeaway

An easy way to track spending is with a SoFi Checking and Savings Account. This online checking and savings account allows users to spend and save in one convenient place. Using the app, SoFi members can transfer money to different accounts or pay bills; they can also track weekly spending in the app’s integrated dashboard.

You can also set up specific budgets and savings goals using Vaults. What’s more, SoFi Checking and Savings charges no account fees and offers a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), both of which can help your money grow faster.

SoFi: The smarter way to track and manage your money.

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SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 4.20% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 1.20% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 4/25/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at
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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What Is a Pension Plan & How Does It Work?

A pension plan is a retirement plan offered by employers that guarantees income to workers after retirement. Pension plans are also known as defined-benefit plans because the monthly benefits the worker will receive during retirement is defined.

When defining those benefits, a pension may offer an exact dollar amount to be paid in retirement, such as $100 per month. But more often, the benefit involves calculating a number of factors, including how much the worker earned while working, how long they served the company, and how senior they were when they retired.

How to Get a Pension Plan

Unlike other different types of retirement plans, such as IRAs and Roth IRAs, an investor who wants to save for retirement can’t just go out and invest in a pension. Like 401(k)s, pensions need to be offered by an employer.

While pension plans were once a mainstay of how companies took care of their workers, they’ve become increasingly rare in recent decades. Only a small relative percentage of private sector employers offered some form of pension to their employees as of 2023.

The biggest reason why companies no longer offer pensions is that it’s cheaper for them to offer defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) or 403(b) plans. But if an American works for the federal, state or local government, there’s a good chance that they may qualify for a pension. Among state and local government workers who participate in a retirement savings plan, a majority are in a pension plan.

How Pension Plans Differ from Other Retirement Plans

The key difference between pension plans and other retirement plans comes down to the difference between a “defined benefit” plan like a pension, and a “defined contribution” plan.

In a defined benefit plan, such as a pension, it’s clear how much workers will receive. In a defined contribution plan, it’s conversely clear to employees how much they put into it. Unlike a pension, a defined contribution plan doesn’t promise a given amount of benefits once the employee retires.

There are some plans, such as a 401(k) plan or 403(b) plans, in which an employer has the option to contribute. They are not, however, required to. In these plans, the employee and possibly the employer will invest in the employee’s tax-advantaged retirement account. At the time of the employee’s eventual retirement, the amount in the fund can depend heavily on how well the investments in the account performed.

There are still other retirement plans, like IRAs and Roth IRAs, which a worker can also fund. Like 401(k) plans, the ultimate payout often depends largely on the performance of the investments in the plan. But unlike 401(k)s, an employer isn’t involved or required to sponsor an IRA.

One big advantage that pensions have over defined contribution plans is that pensions are guaranteed by the federal government through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. It effectively guarantees the benefits of pension-plan participants. But the PBGC does not cover people with defined contribution plans.

Recommended: What Is a Money Purchase Pension Plan (MPPP)?

What to Do If You Have a Pension Plan

Workers with pension plans should talk to a representative in their human resources department and find out what the plan entitles them to. Every pension plan is unique. An employee may benefit from looking into the specifics, especially in terms of how much the plan might pay, whether it includes health and medical benefits, and what kind of benefits it will offer a spouse or family members if the worker dies first.

For someone just starting in their career, they may also want to ask when their pension benefits vest. In many plans, the benefits vest immediately, while others vest in stages, over the course of as many as seven years, which could affect their plans to move on to a new job or company.

One way to get a better handle on what a pension may pay over time is to inquire about the unit benefit formula. Utilizing that formula is how an employer tallies up its eventual contribution to a pension plan based on years of service.

Most often, the formula will use a percentage of the worker’s average annual earnings, and multiply it by their years of service to determine how much the employee will receive. But an employee can use it themselves to see how much they might expect to receive after 20 or 30 years of service.

Pros of a Pension Plan

Perhaps the biggest pro of a defined-benefit plan is the guarantee of predictable income from the day a worker retires until the day they die. That’s the core promise that the PBGC protects.

Many pension plans also include related medical and other benefits for the employee, as well as related benefits for surviving spouses. Those benefits vary widely from plan to plan and are worth investigating for workers with a pension. Employees who are considering a new role in an organization that offers a pension should also research such features.

A defined contribution plan can also motivate the worker to regularly calculate the amount they’ll have to live on after they retire, and when they can retire. That can open up questions about what they’ll do if they get sick or need at-home care. And by asking those questions, they can look into things like supplemental medical insurance or long-term care insurance, in order to better protect themselves down the road.

Cons of a Pension Plan

But the greatest strength of a pension plan — its reliability and its guarantee — can also be its biggest weakness from a planning standpoint. That’s because a pension can give would-be retirees a false sense of security.

A pension, with its well-insured promise of income, can lead people to ignore important questions and avoid strict budgeting for basic living expenses. That flat monthly income can also lead people to believe that their expenses will be the same each month.

And that can lead retirees to avoid planning for increased overall living expenses due to the effects of inflation or sudden, unexpected expenses that inevitably crop up. There’s also the likelihood that their expenses later in life could be significantly higher, as they’re able to accomplish fewer daily necessities themselves.

That’s why, regardless of how thorough a pension plan is, it can pay to save for retirement in other ways, including through a 401(k), IRA or Roth IRA. Just because a worker has a pension, that doesn’t mean that it’s the only retirement plan that’s right for them. And employees will benefit from preparing for retirement early.

The Takeaway

Pension plans are a type of savings plan that are offered by employers, potentially guaranteeing income to workers after they retire. Pension plans are defined-benefit plans, and differ in some key ways from IRAs or 401(k)s. Pensions have become less common in recent decades, and they have their pros and cons, like any other financial product or service.

Workers could get started investing today by opening an account with SoFi Invest®. SoFi Invest offers an active investing platform that allows users to choose their stocks and ETFs without paying commissions, but other fees apply.

SoFi Invest also offers an automated investing solution that invests users’ money based on their goals and risk tolerance without charging a advisory fee.

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

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