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Personal Loan vs Credit Card

Both personal loans and credit cards provide access to extra funds and can be used to consolidate debt. However, these two lending products work in very different ways.

A credit card credit is a type of revolving credit. You have access to a line of credit and your balance fluctuates with your spending. A personal loan, by contrast, provides a lump sum of money you pay back in regular installments over time. Generally, personal loans work better for large purchases, while credit cards are better for day-to-day spending, especially if you are able to pay off the balance in full each month.

Here’s a closer look at how credit cards and personal loans compare, their advantages and disadvantages, and when to choose one over the other.

Personal Loans, Defined

Personal loans are loans available through banks, credit unions, and online lenders that can be used for virtually any purpose. Some of the most common uses include debt consolidation, home improvements, and large purchases.

Lenders generally offer loans from $1,000 to $50,000, with repayment terms of two to seven years. You receive the loan proceeds in one lump sum and then repay the loan, plus interest, in regular monthly payments over the loan’s term.

Personal loans are typically unsecured, meaning you don’t have to provide collateral (an asset of value) to guarantee the loan. Instead, lenders look at factors like credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and cash flow when assessing a borrower’s application.

Unsecured personal loans typically come with fixed interest rates, which means your payments will be the same over the life of the loan. Some lenders offer variable rate personal loans, which means the rate, and your payments, can fluctuate depending on market conditions.

Personal loans generally work best when they are used to reach a specific, longer term financial goal. For example, you might use a personal loan to finance a home improvement project that increases the value of your home. Or, you might consider a debt consolidation loan to help you pay down high-interest credit card debt at a lower interest rate.

Key Differences: Credit Card vs Personal Loan

Both credit cards and personal loans offer a borrower access to funds that they promise to pay back later, and are both typically unsecured. However, there are some key differences that may have major financial ramifications for borrowers down the line.

Unlike a personal loan, a credit card is a form of revolving debt. Instead of getting a lump sum of money that you pay back over time, you get access to a credit line that you tap as needed. You can borrow what you need (up to your credit limit), and only pay interest on what you actually borrow.

Interest rates for personal loans are typically fixed for the life of the loan, whereas credit cards generally have variable interest rates. Credit cards also generally charge higher interest rates than personal loans, making it an expensive form of debt. However, you won’t owe any interest if you pay the balance in full each month.

Credit cards are also unique in that they can offer rewards and, in some cases, may come with a 0% introductory offer on purchases and/or balance transfers (though there is often a fee for a balance transfer).

Line of Credit vs Loan

A line of credit, such as a personal line of credit or home equity line of credit (HELOC), is a type of revolving credit. Similar to a credit card, you can draw from a line of credit and repay the funds during what’s referred to as the draw period. When the draw period ends, you’re no longer allowed to make withdrawals and would need to reapply to keep the line of credit open.

Loans, such as personal loans and home equity loans, have what’s called a non-revolving credit limit. This means the borrower has access to the funds only once, and then they make principal and interest payments until the debt is paid off.

Consolidating Debt? Personal Loan vs Credit Card

Using a new loan or credit credit card to pay off existing debt is known as debt consolidation, and it can potentially save you money in interest.

Two popular ways to consolidate debt are taking out an unsecured personal loan (often referred to as a debt or credit card consolidation loan) or opening a 0% interest balance transfer credit card. These two approaches have some similarities as well as key differences that can impact your financial wellness over time.

Using a Credit Card to Consolidate Debt

Credit card refinancing generally works by opening a new credit card with a high enough limit to cover whatever balance you already have. Some credit cards offer a 0% interest rate on a temporary, promotional basis — sometimes for 18 months or longer.

If you are able to transfer your credit card balance to a 0% balance transfer card and pay it off before the promotional period ends, it can be a great opportunity to save money on interest. However, if you don’t pay off the balance in that time frame, you’ll be charged the card’s regular interest rate, which could be as high (or possibly higher) than what you were paying before.

Another potential hitch is that credit cards with promotional 0% rate typically charge balance transfer fees, which can range from 3% to 5% of the amount being transferred. Before pulling the trigger on a transfer, consider whether the amount you’ll save on interest will be enough to make up for any transfer fee.

Using a Personal Loan to Consolidate Debt

Debt consolidation is a common reason why people take out personal loans. Credit card consolidation loans offer a fixed interest rate and provide a lump sum of money, which you would use to pay off your existing debt.

If you have solid credit, a personal loan for debt consolidation may come with a lower annual percentage rate (APR) than what you have on your current credit cards. For example, the average personal loan interest rate is 11.31% percent, while the average credit card interest rate is now 24.37%. That difference should allow you to pay the balance down faster and pay less interest in total.

Rolling multiple debts into one loan can also simplify your finances. Instead of keeping track of several payment due dates and minimum amounts due, you end up with one loan and one payment each month. This can make it less likely that you’ll miss a payment and have to pay a late fee or penalty.

Both 0% balance transfer cards and debt consolidation loans have benefits and drawbacks, though credit cards can be riskier than personal loans over the long term — even when they have a 0% promotional interest rate.

Is a Credit Card Ever a Good Option?

Credit cards can work well for smaller, day-to-day expenses that you can pay off, ideally, in full when you get your bill. Credit card companies only charge you interest if you carry a balance from month to month. Thus, if you pay your balance in full each month, you’re essentially getting an interest-free, short-term loan. If you have a rewards credit card, you can also rack up cash back or rewards points at the same time, for a win-win.

If you can qualify for a 0% balance transfer card, credit cards can also be a good way to consolidate high interest credit card debt, provided you don’t have to pay a high balance transfer fee and you can pay the card off before the higher interest rate kicks in.

With credit cards, however, discipline is key. It’s all too easy to charge more than you can pay off. If you do, credit cards can be an expensive way to borrow money. Generally, any rewards you can earn won’t make up for the interest you’ll owe. If all you pay is the minimum balance each month, you could be paying off that same balance for years — and that’s assuming you don’t put any more charges on the card.

Cash in on up to $300–and 3% cash back for 365 days.¹

Apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card. Then open a bank account with qualifying direct deposits. Some things are just better together.

When is a Personal Loan a Good Option?

Personal loans can be a good option for covering a large, one-off expense, such as a car repair, home improvement project, large purchase, or wedding. They can also be useful for consolidating high-interest debt into a single loan with a lower interest rate.

Personal loans usually offer a lower interest rate than credit cards. In addition, they offer steady, predictable payments until you pay the debt off. This predictability makes it easier to budget for your payments. Plus, you know exactly when you’ll be out of debt.

Because personal loans are usually not secured by collateral, however, the lender is taking a greater risk and will most likely charge a higher interest rate compared to a secured loan. Just how high your rate will be can depend on a number of factors, including your credit score and debt-to-income ratio.

The Takeaway

When comparing personal loans vs. credit cards, keep in mind that personal loans usually have lower interest rates (unless you have poor credit) than credit cards, making it a better choice if you need a few years to pay off the debt. Credit cards, on the other hand, can be a better option for day-to-day purchases that you can pay off relatively quickly.

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 2023 winner for Best Online Personal Loan overall.

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


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Japanese garden

Typical Landscaping Costs You Can Expect

Creating a beautifully landscaped home can improve your day-to-day life and also increase the resale value of your home, making it well worth the investment. The question is, how much will it cost?

Landscaping costs range widely depending on the size, design, and scope of the project, and whether you plan to do it yourself or hire a professional. On average, however, a landscaping project can run between $1,268 and $6,003, according to Angi (formerly Angi’s List).

Whether you’re thinking about sprucing up your front yard, back yard, or both, here’s a look at what’s involved, how much it can cost, plus tips for how to budget for and finance a landscaping project.

What Are Some Benefits of Landscaping?

If you’re like many homeowners, you may prioritize interior upgrades over outdoor improvements. But improving your landscaping can actually be the gift that keeps on giving — it can beautify your space, increase your home value, and even decrease your heating and cooling expenses.

According to a recent report from the National Association of REALTORS®, an overall landscape upgrade (and even smaller projects like keeping up with yard maintenance), can pay for itself when you sell your home.

Investing in landscaping can also make your home more efficient. Planting leafy trees strategically around your property, for example, can keep your home cooler during the summer and warmer during the winter, reducing your energy bills.

Landscaping can also have environmental benefits beyond your property. The trees, bushes and flowers that make up your landscaping are natural air purifiers — they remove air pollutants from the atmosphere and store carbon dioxide, improving air quality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Landscaping can also improve local water quality by absorbing and filtering rainwater.

💡 Quick Tip: Home improvement loans typically offer lower interest rates than credit cards. Consider a loan to fund your next renovation.

What Are Some Current Landscaping Trends?

Some of the top landscaping trends for 2023 and 2024 include:

•  Climate-conscious landscaping Many homeowners are seeking out sustainable landscaping revamps, such as replacing lawns with alternative species (like clover) or re-wilding their yards with native species that require far less maintenance, water, and fertilizer.

•  Colorful gardens After years of soft greens, pastels, and neutrals, landscape designers are favoring brighter, more joyful designs. Plants that provide color and as support local pollinators (like birds, butterflies, and bees) are particularly popular. Examples include native sunflowers, coneflowers, garden phylox, and asters.

•  Organic layouts Lanscape design is getting less fussy. Many homeowners are mixing and matching different kinds of plants, including wildflowers, and adding romantic touches like arbors and winding garden paths.

•  Incorporating metals From wrought iron gates to metal planter boxes and sculptures, many homeowners are adding metal accents to their outdoor spaces.

Recommended: The Top Home Improvements to Increase Your Home’s Value

How to Budget for Landscaping

A good first step for coming up with your landscaping budget is to actually ignore numbers and give yourself permission to dream — what does your ideal landscaping look like? What does it feel like?

Next, walk around your property and create a list of both needs and wants. In your “needs” column, list repairs that must be done for safety’s sake, ranging from drainage challenges, broken fences, toxic plants that need to be removed, tree removal, and so forth.

Also imagine what the property could look like with the stunning new landscaping you’re envisioning. Perhaps some of the ideas listed above have inspired you in an unexpected direction. Have fun and add these ideas to your “wants” column.

Now, prioritize your list and be clear about which items are optional (perhaps a special trellis for climbing roses) and which are not (trip hazards where you plan to add outdoor seating).

Next, determine how much you can realistically spend on landscaping, keeping in mind how quality landscaping can add significant value to your home. Then, it might make sense to talk to several professional landscapers to get estimates.

Professionals will also be able to let you know if your plans are realistic for your property. Even if you intend to do some of the work yourself, these professionals will likely share information you have not yet considered. (Hiring them in the off-season might save you money, too.)

Once you determine the scope and cost of your project, it’s a good idea to add a cushion of 10% to 20% for the unexpected. When you have a final number to work with, you’ll need to determine if you can fund the project out of savings, or if you’ll need to finance any part of your landscaping plan (more on that below).

Recommended: Four Ways to Upgrade Your Home

How Much Does Landscaping Cost?

The average landscaping project in the U.S. costs $3,494, but ranges between $1,268 and $6,003. Of course, you can spend a lot less than the average if you’re just sprucing up your front garden beds. You can also spend considerably more if your plan is to build a backyard oasis with a pool and outdoor kitchen.

How much your landscaping revamp will ultimately cost will depend on your yard size, the type of landscaping you want to do, and the landscaper’s labor costs.

Generally speaking, backyard landscaping projects cost more than front yard projects. The cost of the average front-yard spruce-up runs between $1,500 to $5,000, whereas a full backyard renovation can range between $15,000 to $50,000.

If you plan to use a designer for your project, it can run $50 to $150 per hour for a professional landscape designer to come up with an artistic direction for your space, choose the plants, and manage the project. The average cost to hire a landscape designer is $4,600. If you’re planning to do a major structural renovation, you may want to hire a landscape architect, which can run $70 to $150 per hour.

Recommended: Home Renovation Cost Calculator

What Is Landscaping Cost Per Square Foot?

Landscaping costs are influenced by a variety of factors, including geography, type of project, and the materials used. Figuring out the dimensions of the project area, however, can help you come up with ballpark cost estimates.

According to Angi, the cost of landscaping runs between $4.50 and $12 per square foot for basic services and intermediate projects, such as aerating, flower planting, and installing garden beds. However, if you’re planning a major tear-out and remodel, you can expect to spend as much as $40 per square foot.

How Much Does New Landscaping Installation Cost?

Starting from scratch can be challenging, but having a blank slate also opens up possibilities for curating your outdoor spaces.

To fully landscape a new home, you’ll want to budget around 10% of your property value. So if you purchased the home for $350,000, you can anticipate spending around $35,000 to both hardscape (add hard surfaces like brick, concrete, and stone) and softscape (add living things) across your front and backyards.

Recommended: 5 Driveway Improvement Ideas

What Will It Cost to Maintain Landscaping?

In addition to the initial outlay, you’ll also need to set aside an annual budget to help with upkeep. The amount of maintenance you’ll need will depend on landscape design, local climate, and how much of a DIY approach you’re comfortable with.

Lawn-mowing can run anywhere from $50 to $250 per service, while getting your trees trimmed averages $1,800 per job. For all-around yard maintenance, like weeding and mulching, you might find a landscaper who charges an hourly rate (often $50 to $100 per hour) or charges a flat rate per job.

Keep in mind that mowing, trimming back shrubs, weeding, and mulching are also jobs you can likely do yourself, which will cut down on your landscape maintenance costs.

What Are Some Options to Finance a Landscaping Project?

If you want to invest in your home through landscaping but the price point is above what you have in savings, you may want to look into financing. Here are two common types of loans for landscaping.

Financing a Landscaping Project With a Home Equity Loan

A home equity loan gives you access to cash by tapping into the equity you have in your home. Your home equity is the difference between your home’s current market value and what you owe on your mortgage. Depending on the lender and your credit profile, you may be able to borrow up to 75% to 85% of your home’s current equity.

You can use a home equity loan for various purposes, including home upgrades like new landscaping. Because your home serves as collateral for the loan, you may qualify for a lower interest rate than on some other financial products, like personal loans and credit cards. If you have trouble repaying the loan, however, your lender could foreclose on your home. You’ll also pay closing costs with a home equity loan.

Financing a Landscaping Project With a Personal Loan

You can also use a personal loan to fund any type of home improvement project, including upgrading the outside of your home.

Personal loans for home improvement generally have fixed interest rates and a fixed repayment timeline. You’ll receive all the funds upfront, generally soon after you’re approved, and your monthly payments will be fixed for the duration of your loan.

Personal loans are typically unsecured, making them less risky than home equity loans, and don’t come with closing costs. They also tend to be faster to fund than home equity loans, which means you can get your landscape project going sooner. However, because personal loans are unsecured (which poses more risk to the lender), rates are typically higher than rates for home equity loans.

💡 Quick Tip: Generally, the larger the personal loan, the bigger the risk for the lender — and the higher the interest rate. So one way to lower your interest rate is to try downsizing your loan amount.

The Takeaway

Landscaping projects can add curb appeal and value to your home, and can be well worth the time, effort, and money you invest.

The average cost of a landscaping project nationwide is $3,494. Of course you could spend a lot less if you are looking at a small project, like swapping out plants in your front garden. Or, you could spend significantly. Installing a swimming pool, for example, can run $40,000-plus.

If you don’t have enough cash in the bank to cover your landscaping project, you may want to consider getting a loan, such as a home equity loan or a personal loan.

Ready to get started on your landscaping project? Consider a SoFi Personal Loan. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2023 winner for Best Online Personal Loan overall.

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

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 You Get a Loan With No Bank Account? Everything You Need to Know

How To Get a Loan Without a Bank Account

If you don’t have a bank account, either because you prefer to pay in cash or due to a poor banking history, you will likely run into a few obstacles when trying to get any type of loan, including a personal loan.

While it’s not impossible to get a loan if you don’t have a bank account, it can be difficult to get approved, will likely cost more in interest and fees, and may require collateral to guarantee the loan. However, if you need money fast, there are options available. Here’s a look at how to get loans without a bank account.

Is It Hard To Get a Loan With No Bank Account?

Generally, yes. Not having a bank account — in particular, a checking account — can make it difficult to qualify for a loan.

When you apply for a personal loan (or any other type of loan) the lender will typically ask for your bank account information and the last one to three month’s worth of bank statements. This helps them verify your income and gives them an idea of whether you have the cash to keep up with your loan payments.

However, if a financial emergency arises and you need money quickly, there may be loan options available that do not require a bank account. The hitch is that these loan products typically come with high interest rates, multiple fees, and short repayment terms.

Why Is Getting a Loan With No Bank Account Hard?

When a lender assesses an applicant, they consider how risky the loan might be to their own business. In other words, they want to predict how likely it is that the borrower will be able to pay the loan back. When a loan applicant doesn’t have a bank account, the lender has more difficulty assessing that person’s income or cash flow.

There is also a logistical issue: Where should the lender send the loan proceeds? Typically, the money is sent to the borrower’s bank account. But if the borrower doesn’t have a bank account, there may be some question of where the money will be deposited and how it will be accessed, as well as how loan payments will be made.

Can You Get a Loan With Bad Credit and No Bank Account?

It’s possible but it might not may not be a good idea, since your options will be limited and expensive.

To assess your risk as a borrower, lenders will not only look at your banking history but also your credit history and scores. Your credit reports contain a record of how you’ve handled credit accounts in the past, including whether you pay your bills on time, what types of credit you use, how much debt you carry, and any delinquencies and collections you’ve experienced. This information is used to calculate your credit scores. Borrower’s with excellent credit are not only more likely to qualify for a loan, but also get the best rates and terms.

If you have poor credit and no bank account, you will likely be seen as high risk to lenders. If you’re applying for an unsecured loan (meaning no collateral is required), you may not be approved.

You might, however, be eligible for a secured loan that’s backed by collateral, such as a car or other asset of value that you own. If you are unable to repay the loan as promised, the lender has the right to take that collateral as payment on the loan.

Pros and Cons of Loans With No Bank Account

If you’re looking for a loan with no bank account, you’ll want to carefully consider the pros and cons.

Pros of No Bank Account Loans

•  Fast access to cash No bank account loans, such as payday and title loans, typically provide a lump sum of cash right away.

•  No credit check Some no bank account loans won’t take your credit history or score into account, allowing borrowers with bad credit or who haven’t yet established any credit to access funds.

Cons of No Bank Account Loans

•  High costs Lenders who consider applicants with no bank account generally make up for risk by charging extremely high interest rates and fees.

•  Short repayment terms Unlike other types of personal loans, which usually give you years for repayment, no bank account loans (such as title loans and payday loans) often need to be paid in 30 days or less.

•  Can lead to vicious debt cycle Due to the short repayment terms for no bank accounts loans, borrowers often need to roll the loan over into a new short-term loan, leading to a cycle of debt.

5 No Bank Account Loan Options

Even if you don’t have a bank account, you may be able to access a loan. Here’s a look at some potential options.

1. Borrowing Money From Loved Ones

If you’re having a hard time financially, your loved ones may be able to step in. Whether you ask for money from friends or family members, it’s a good idea to have clear, written loan terms, and maybe even have the loan agreement notarized so there’s no confusion. Make sure expectations are clear for each party.

•   Does the loan have interest attached?

•   Are you expected to pay back the loan or is it a gift?

•   Are there in-kind options for paying back the loan, such as babysitting or tutoring hours?

•   What would happen if you were not able to pay back the loan?

Answering these questions can help create clear expectations and lessen the chance of a misunderstanding that could strain your relationship.

2. Payday Loan

A payday loan is usually for a small amount (often $500 or less) for a short period of time, typically until the borrower’s next paycheck. While it can be a source of quick cash, payday loans are problematic, given their high annual percentage rates (APRs).

Some states may cap the maximum allowable APR, but many payday loans charge fees of $10 to $30 for every $100 borrowed. A fee of $15 per $100 equates to an APR of almost 400%, which is significantly higher than the APR of a typical personal loan. If you can’t pay back your payday loan quickly, the fees can add up fast and make your existing financial problems snowball.

Risks of Payday Loans

The drawbacks of a payday loan may outweigh the benefits, and include:

•  High fees Lenders charge exorbitant fees and APRs for payday loans just in case the loan can’t be paid off.

•  Debt spiral If you can’t repay your payday loan on time, you’ll have to roll it over into a new loan and end up with even more fees and interest charges. This makes the loan even harder to pay back and can lead to a dangerous debt spiral.

•  Small loan amounts If you need a large sum of cash, a payday loan likely won’t offer enough, since they are usually $500 or less.

3. Title Loans

If you own your vehicle, you may be eligible for a title loan. Also called an auto title loan or vehicle title loan, this type of loan uses your vehicle as collateral. The lender holds your vehicle title in exchange for the loan. You then may be able to borrow a portion (often 25% to 50%) of the vehicle’s current value. As with payday loans, interest can be exceptionally high — as much as 300% — and there may be additional fees. If you are unable to pay back the loan, the lender has the right to take ownership of your vehicle. This can be a high-stakes situation for borrowers who depend on their car to go to work and school.

4. Pawn Shop Loan

If you have a valuable piece of jewelry, an antique, or other collectible to use as collateral, you might be able to get a pawn shop loan. The pawnbroker will assess the value of the item and provide a loan based on a certain percentage of its value. The loan terms will include interest. If the loan isn’t paid back according to the terms, the pawnshop then owns your item and can sell it.

5. Cash Advance

A cash advance is a short-term loan typically offered by your credit card issuer. A credit card cash advance allows you to borrow a certain amount of money against your card’s line of credit. You can usually get the cash at an ATM or through a bank teller.

A cash advance is a way to access quick cash but the interest rate will likely be higher than your card’s standard purchase APR, and higher than interest rates on personal loans. In addition, you typically need to pay a hefty cash advance fee.

Loan Options With a Bank Account

Before looking into loan options with no bank account, you may want to consider opening a checking account. If you’ve had past checking account errors or misuse, look into a second chance checking account. These accounts are designed to help people who have negative banking history get back in the door.

Borrowers with bank accounts generally have more — and better — loan options available to them. If you are able to open a checking account, here are types of loans you may be able to access.

Personal Loans

A personal loan is a lump sum of money borrowed from a bank, credit union, or online lender that you pay back in regular installments over time. Loan amounts can be anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000 and repayment terms range from two to seven years. Personal loans have fixed interest rates, so the monthly payment is the same for the life of the loan.

Personal loans are typically unsecured, meaning they’re not backed by collateral. Instead, lenders look at factors like credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and cash flow when assessing a borrower’s application.

You can generally use a personal loan for almost any purpose, including debt consolidation, home improvement projects, medical bills, emergencies, and refinancing an existing loan.

Auto Loan

An auto loan is a loan that is used specifically to purchase a vehicle. They are available through banks, credit unions, and online lenders. Typically, auto loans are secured loans, which means the vehicle to be used as collateral for the loan.

When you take out an auto loan, the proceeds go to the vehicle’s seller to cover the cost of the vehicle. You then make monthly payments to the lender for a set period of time, which might be anywhere from three to eight years. The lender owns the car and holds the title until you pay off the loan. If you fail to keep up with payments, the lender can repossess the vehicle.

Student Loans

A student (or education) loan is a sum of money borrowed to finance college expenses, including tuition, supplies, and living expenses. Payments are often deferred while students are in school and, depending on the lender, for an additional six-month period after earning a degree.

Student loans are available from the government as well as through private lenders. Federal loans may have lower interest rates, and some also offer subsidized interest (meaning the government pays the interest on the loan while a student is in college). Private student loans are generally available in higher amounts.

The Takeaway

Getting a personal loan with no bank account may be possible but can be both costly and risky. Before committing to a lender that charges high interest and fees or requires collateral, you may want to explore opening a bank account.

Once you have a checking account, you may be able to access traditional personal loans with more attractive rates and terms. You might also want to consider a SoFi Personal Loan. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2023 winner for Best Online Personal Loan overall.


Can you get a loan without a bank account?

It’s possible, but you will likely be limited to loans with sky-high rates and short repayment terms, such as payday loans, pawn shop loans, and title loans. The lender may also require collateral (an asset you own, such as a car) that they can seize if you don’t repay the loan.

Can you get a loan with your SSN?

Having a Social Security number (SSN) can make getting a loan easier, since a lender can use it to retrieve information they need to process the loan. In addition to an SSN card, you also typically need to provide:

•  An additional proof of identity (such as a birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, or certificate of citizenship)

•  Proof of income (e.g., pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements)

•  Proof of address (such as a utility bill, rental agreement, bank/credit card statement)

Can you get a cash advance without a bank account?

It’s possible, but it may be hard to find a lender who is willing to work with you. Your best option might be a credit card cash advance, which involves withdrawing cash from an ATM or bank using your credit card account. Just keep in mind that credit card advances generally come with high interest rates and fees.

Another option for fast cash might be a payday or title loan. Some lenders who offer payday and title loans might consider applicants who don’t have bank accounts but, to offset the risk, may require collateral (such as a car) they can take if you fail to repay the loan.

Photo credit: iStock/MicroStockHub

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


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How to Buy Homeowners Insurance in 2022

How to Buy Homeowners Insurance in 2023

Buying homeowners insurance involves a few simple steps that ensure you’re purchasing a policy tailored to your needs. By investing a little time, you’ll be rewarded with coverage that protects your home and your belongings at the right price. This holds true whether you’re buying a house and insurance for the first time or shopping around for a better rate.

Insurance can be tricky, and many policies have a flurry of exceptions when it comes to what’s covered and what isn’t. Having an insurance policy with certain kinds of exceptions can wind up costing you hundreds of dollars for coverage that might fall short when it’s needed.

Fortunately, you can avoid that scenario. Here, we’ll walk you through how to buy homeowners insurance as well as offer some tips on how to find the best rate on your policy this year.

5 Steps to Shopping for Homeowners Insurance

When shopping for homeowners insurance, it’s a good idea to compare similar policies. You want to be sure you’re reviewing what different insurers charge for policies with almost identical coverage.

You’ll also want to shop around to get the best deal you can. Policies from the same company can vary widely by geography, property type, and even between two different zip codes.

It’s also a smart move to compare some intangibles, such as a company’s reputation for customer service and claims satisfaction. They can have a big impact when it comes time to file a claim.

Now, let’s walk through the steps of how to shop for homeowners insurance.

Step 1: Decide How Much Coverage You Need

When deciding how much homeowners insurance coverage you need, you’ll want to make sure that you have enough coverage to replace your most important belongings; rebuild your house in the event it’s destroyed; and cover any liability for injuries that might occur on your property. Your policy will be there in case a fire, storm, or crime causes a loss.

In industry terms, homeowners insurance coverage for the aforementioned events is typically broken into four categories:

•   Personal property coverage: Insures against losses to personal property — including furniture, clothing and electronics — in the event of a covered incident.

•   Dwelling coverage: Covers the repair or replacement of your property and any attached structures, like a garage, fence, or any sheds.

•   Liability coverage: Protects against any medical or legal expenses that you may be liable for as a result of injuries that occurred on your property.

•   Additional living expense coverage (ALE or Loss of use coverage): Pays for temporary housing and related costs in the event you’re displaced from your home due to a covered loss.

Each of the coverages listed above are subject to their own insurance limits. These are calculated based on both the insurers’ proprietary formulas and the amount coverage you choose to purchase. Here’s a closer look at each kind of coverage and how much you might want to buy.

Personal Property Coverage

Just as the name suggests, personal property coverage covers the cost of any personal property that you would need replaced in the event of a covered loss. This can include all the contents of your home, including furniture, electronics, kitchenware, and jewelry.

Generally, you’ll want enough personal property coverage to cover the cost of replacing all of your important belongings. To help you calculate how much this might cost, create a written inventory of all your major belongings and their cost. This allows you to better estimate how much personal property coverage you need and gives your insurer a reference point for how much insurance you might need. You might even consider doing a video inventory to keep track of your property.

Bear in mind that not all items are covered under your home insurance policy. For example, any vehicles damaged while housed in your garage should be covered under your auto insurance. Additionally, rare and high-value items, like art, fine jewelry, and antiques, may be subject to value caps under your policy and may require separate/supplemental insurance policies for full coverage.

Recommended: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait?

Dwelling Coverage

Dwelling coverage covers the cost to repair or rebuild the building on your property, in addition to any attached structures, like garages, balconies, or fences. When you think about the dollar amount here, you probably want to be prepared for the worst-case scenario of totally rebuilding your home. Though rare, this kind of catastrophic incident can happen.

Liability Coverage

Liability coverage helps shield you from lawsuits in the event you’re found liable for any accidents that occur on your property. These can range from slips and falls to any damage caused by falling trees from your property.

Generally, the more assets you have, the more liability insurance you’ll want to purchase. However, liability coverage will only pay out to a set dollar limit as listed on your policy, with you responsible for any balance. If you’re looking for added liability coverage, you may want to look into a personal umbrella policy.

Additional Living Expense Coverage

Additional living expense coverage, or loss of use coverage, pays for reasonable housing and living costs if you’re displaced for an extended period due to a covered event. Imagine that a storm sent a tree branch crashing through your roof and your bedrooms became uninhabitable — that’s the kind of situation that would lead you to move out and tap what’s sometimes called ALE coverage.

Typically, your loss of use coverage will encompass a fixed percentage of your dwelling coverage. Larger families may wish to opt for more coverage if your weekly living expenses are particularly burdensome.

Learn the Difference Between ACV, RCV, and GRC Coverage

Once you have some ballpark numbers in mind for the amount of coverage you need, you also need to decide what kind of coverage you want in terms of potential payout. There are three terms to know — ACV, RCV, and GRC — and these will impact how claim amounts are determined as well as your premiums.

•   Actual Cash Value (ACV): Typically the cheapest option, ACV calculates your home and property’s value based on its current market value minus depreciation. Depreciation occurs naturally over time. Let’s say you had a 10-year-old refrigerator that had cost $1,000 when you bought it. After 10 years, its “cash value” might be, say, $100, so that is what ACV would reimburse you if it were destroyed during a covered event. This would not enable you to go out and buy a similar unit.

•   Replacement Cost Value (RCV): This policy is more expensive. In the event of loss, it insures your home for the cost it takes to rebuild it like new and replace the items in it at their full cost. Unlike actual cash value, RCV does not factor in depreciation.

•   Guaranteed Replacement Cost (GRC): The most expensive policy of the bunch, this policy insures your home and property for its replacement cost value plus a certain percentage over that amount, which can help protect against inflation.

💡 Quick Tip: If you have a mortgage, a homeowners policy may be required by your lender. Surprisingly, unlike auto insurance, there is no legal mandate to carry insurance on your home.

Step 2: Verify Details About Your Home

Before an insurer can give you a quote, you’ll need to provide them with details about you and your home so they can accurately price your home insurance policy.

Keep in mind that insurance agents will take steps to verify the accuracy of this information, so be sure to answer to the best of your ability. Here are some of the most commonly requested details:

•   Property size and foundation

•   Roof type, material, and age

•   Age of structure and building materials

•   Age and type of electrical, plumbing, and heating system

•   Presence of any adjacent structures, pools, fences, etc.

•   Presence and number of pets

•   Intended use of property (rental, secondary, or primary home)

You can ask your real estate agent to forward you this information or obtain it from publicly available sources. Often, many of these details can be found in your home inspection and appraisal reports. Remember to disclose any improvements or renovations that have been made over time.

Step 3: Consider Whether You Need Added Coverage

A typical homeowners insurance policy goes a long way towards protecting you from damage to or loss of your home and property. But it doesn’t cover everything. Acquaint yourself with these details and decide if you want additional coverage.

According to FEMA, a common myth among many Americans is that homeowners insurance covers flooding. However, it does not.

In fact, here’s a list of common events that are often NOT covered under most home insurance:

•   Floods

•   Earthquakes

•   Sinkholes

•   Water and sewer backup

It’s important to review your insurance policy for any exceptions or issues not mentioned that you may want covered. You may be able to purchase additional insurance coverage for the above-mentioned issues as part of a separate policy, or what’s known as an endorsement, on your existing home insurance policy.

Also remember that personal property coverage often has a reimbursement cap on valuable items, which may limit the recoverable amount on certain rare or valuable goods. If you inherited valuable artwork or saved like crazy to afford a luxury watch, you may want to purchase additional endorsements for these.

Step 4: Take Advantage of Any Discounts Your Insurer Offers

Before finalizing your policy, check with the insurer about any discounts they offer and how many you might qualify for.

These can take them form of bundling discounts, which reward you for purchasing other policies (e.g. auto and life) through the same insurer; retention discounts which reward you for staying with a single insurer for an extended period of time; and even safety discounts, which reduce your premiums based on various improvements that you make to your home (e.g. adding a security system).

Each insurer has its own batch of discounts that you may be eligible for. Make sure to check with each potential policy provider to confirm that you’re getting the best deal possible.

Recommended: How Much Is Homeowners Insurance?

Step 5: Finalize Your Policy and Figure Out Your Payments

Now that you’ve selected the coverage you want, at the price you want, it’s time to put the finishing touches on your homeowners insurance policy.

First, you’ll want to set your insurance policy deductible, which is the amount you agree to be personally responsible for before the insurance company pays out on any claims. This is similar to a copay on a health insurance plan and is charged on a per-claim basis.

Generally, higher deductibles lead to lower insurance premiums, because they transfer some of the financial burden of paying for claims from the insurer to you.

While you will end up paying more out of pocket when you need to file a claim, this can be a smart financial decision for newer homes and low-risk areas. Of course, this option will only make sense for you though if you are confident you can cover that deductible in an emergency.

Second, you’ll need to decide how you wish to pay your insurance premiums. Policies are typically written on an annual basis and can be paid on a monthly or quarterly basis, or even in one lump sum. Some insurers offer added discounts if you decide to pay the entire amount upfront.

Finally, you’ll need to set the date on which your policy takes effect. Generally, this should be the same day you take possession of the property if you’re buying a new home. If you’re switching insurance providers, it should coincide with the end date of the previous policy, without any lapse in coverage.

💡 Quick Tip: Your insurance needs depend on your age, dependents, assets, possessions, and economic situation. As your circumstances change, so should your insurance plans.

The Takeaway

Buying the right homeowners insurance ensures that your home is protected if disaster ever strikes. That said, shopping for a policy can feel overwhelming at first since there are a lot of new terms to be learned, figures to calculate, and decisions to be made.

As you gather the information and quotes you need to make your choice, you’ll be rewarded with a policy that suits your needs, is priced just right, and can give you peace of mind.

If you’re a new homebuyer, SoFi Protect can help you look into your insurance options. SoFi and Lemonade offer homeowners insurance that requires no brokers and no paperwork. Secure the coverage that works best for you and your home.

Find affordable homeowners insurance options with SoFi Protect.

Photo credit: iStock/JLco – Julia Amaral

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Social Finance, Inc. ("SoFi") is compensated by Experian for each customer who purchases a policy through Experian from the site.

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

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


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Understanding the different personal finance ratios

Guide to Understanding Different Personal Finance Ratios

Understanding your personal finances is the first step in taking control of your money and making it work harder for you.

One valuable tool for determining your financial status involves using personal finance ratios. These are akin to formulas that show the relationship between numbers and how your cash is tracking.

For instance, you might look at how your debt is versus your income or how your budget categories are stacking against versus your take-home pay. Calculating and considering these figures can help you manage your money better as well as achieve your short- and long-term goals.

To help you put these important ratios to use, this guide shares eight formulas to help you optimize your money.

Emergency Fund Ratio

An emergency fund is the cash you keep on hand to pay for unexpected expenses, such as a job loss, a large medical bill, or a roof repair.

This fund acts as a safety net so you don’t have to go into debt or raid your long-term savings accounts to take care of the situation.

Formula: Monthly Expenses X 6 = Emergency Fund Ratio

To calculate your target emergency fund, you’ll want to add up your essential monthly expenses, or the minimum amount of money you need to live for one month. That includes your mortgage or rent, insurance, utilities, and groceries.

One common rule of thumb is to then multiply this by three months (as a bare minimum); while others may aim for six months. This gives you a good number to shoot for keeping in your emergency fund.

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Liquid Net Worth Ratio

This formula is essentially an extension of your emergency fund. If you were to need funds as a result of an unplanned event or emergency, this metric looks at how many months of expenses would be covered by your liquid assets — funds that can be easily and quickly converted into cash.

Formula: Liquid Assets/Monthly Expenses = Liquidity Ratio

Liquid assets include your checking and savings accounts, as well as cash-like equivalents. For this number, you do not want to include other assets that are not liquid, such as your home, car, or tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts.

Monthly expenses include essential expenses that you accounted for above to determine your emergency fund ratio.

A common goal: maintaining a liquidity ratio of between three and six months.

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

Personal Cash Flow Ratio

Cash flow is a term often associated with companies. But this can also be a simple yet powerful personal finance ratio because it tells you how much is flowing in vs. flowing out of your accounts each month.

Knowing how much cash flow you have is useful because it tells you exactly how much money you have available to pay down debt or save or invest for your future.

Formula: Monthly (After Tax) Income – Monthly Expenses = Personal Cash Flow Ratio

To calculate this, you’ll want to add up all of your average monthly take-home income, including your paycheck, any side hustles, and income from any investments or savings accounts that are available to you for spending.

Next, you can look at credit card and bank statements, as well as receipts, for the past several months to come up with the average amount you are spending each month. This includes necessities like mortgage or rent and utilities, and also discretionary spending such as eating out and entertainment.

You can then subtract your spending number from your income number and you’ll have your net cash flow. If that number isn’t where you want it to be, you can use these calculations as a starting point to make adjustments.

Generally, the higher your cash flow, the better off you are.

Housing-to-Income Ratio

This ratio is vital to helping you understand how much you can afford to spend on your home, whether you buy or rent. It is also an important metric that mortgage lenders use when they decide whether or not to approve your loan.

Formula: Monthly Housing Costs/Gross Monthly Income = Housing Ratio

It’s important to use total housing costs when you calculate this ratio. This includes: your monthly mortgage payments (or rent payments), property taxes, insurance, and utilities.

You can then compare that total cost to your gross monthly income (income before taxes are deducted). Financial experts often recommend keeping this number to 28% or less. In some high cost-of-living areas, closer to 40% can be common.

The lower this number, the more affordable your housing costs are and the more income you have for other financial goals.

Debt-to-Income Ratio

The debt-to-income ratio is often used to determine a company’s ability to pay its debts. It works for individuals as well. It tells you what percentage of your income is being used to repay debts.

Formula: Monthly Debt Payments/Monthly Gross Income = Debt-to-Income Ratio

To calculate your debt payments, you’ll want to include credit card, student loan, and other consumer debt, as well as your mortgage payments. Your gross income is how much you earn each month before any deductions or taxes are taken out.

The common wisdom is to keep your debt at or below 36% of your gross income, but the lower your debt-to-income ratio, the financially healthier you likely will be.

Many people are surprised when they calculate this number to find just how much of their income is going to repay debt, often at high interest rates. This ratio can help you rethink that situation.

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Net Worth Ratio

Personal net worth is a measurement of an individuals’ total wealth. Your net worth ratio gives a little bit broader perspective than your debt-to-income ratio because it takes your total assets into account.

It is calculated as the total value of all your assets minus the total value of all your liabilities.

Formula: Total assets – Total Liabilities = Net Worth Ratio

To find this ratio, you’ll want to add up the current market values of all of your assets including your home, stock and bond holdings, checking and savings accounts, and any other financial accounts.

Next you’ll want to calculate your total liabilities. This includes any debt such as mortgages, credit card balances, car loans, personal loans and 401(k) loans.

You can then subtract your liabilities from your assets. The resulting number is, hopefully, positive, and the higher that positive number, the better for your financial health.

This is a snapshot of your net worth at this moment. You may want to calculate this metric periodically, perhaps quarterly or annually, to track your wealth. Ideally, you should see increases over time.

Savings Ratio

Since saving for the future is such a key part of personal finances, it makes sense there would be a personal finance ratio to help you gauge how you’re doing.

Your savings rate is expressed as what percent of your gross income you are putting away for the future, including retirement and other shorter-term financial goals.

Formula: Savings/Gross Income = Savings Ratio

To calculate this, you’ll want to add up your annual savings in any retirement accounts, including employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k)s, traditional and Roth IRAs and taxable accounts earmarked for retirement. Do not include your emergency fund or college savings accounts.

Compare that savings to your annual gross income (your earnings before taxes and deductions are taken out).

Generally speaking, you want to aim for a saving rate of 10% to 20%. Younger people may want to aim for a 10 percent savings ratio, and then gradually increase their savings rate as their income increases.

50/30/20 Budget Ratio

The 50/30/20 formula can help you manage your budget no matter what your income. It proves a simple guideline as to how to apportion your income so you can afford to pay your bills, have some fun, and also put money into savings.

Formula: 50% Essential Spending + 30% Discretionary Spending + 20% Savings = Budget Ratio

Essential needs are the largest allocation at 50% of monthly take-home income. These are bills you must pay including mortgage or rent, utilities, health insurance, and groceries. Housing will likely take up a big chunk of this category.

With this formula, you’ll want to keep discretionary spending at no more than 30% of your monthly take-home income. These are most likely the things you do for fun, like dining out, travel, clothing beyond what you need for work, and entertainment.

Saving for future financial goals accounts for the remaining 20% of monthly take-home income. This includes retirement savings, saving for a house, tuition savings, saving to repay debt, etc.

The Takeaway

Personal finance ratios can give you a clear snapshot of your financial health in a variety of areas and help you make better decisions about money management and future planning.

Rather than making a best guess, personal financial ratios give you an edge in your analysis by using simple math. Once you’ve done some of these calculations, you may discover that you want to make some changes, such as watching your spending more closely and/or putting more money into savings each month.

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SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.50% 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 4.50% 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 8/9/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at http://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.


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