- Free signup
- No monthly fees
- Overdraft protection
- Products for saving, spending, and investing
- Loans available
- Credit score and budgeting assistance
- Access to thousands of fee-free ATMs
- Mobile deposits
- Cash deposits and withdrawals
- Financial and estate planning
- Career counseling
From savings and investment accounts to educational resources, SoFi offers it all.
SoFi is one of the digital-only banks helping people manage their money. The company values its members and putting member interests first, so you can know they’ll care about you and your money.
Stanford business school students used an alumni-funded program to start SoFi in 2011. The company has helped more than two million members. They’ve funded over $50 billion in loans and helped people pay off over $22 billion worth of debt.
While not a bank, SoFi registered with the SEC through the name SoFi Wealth, LLC. It’s also an equal housing lender. However, it doesn’t have FDIC protection like a traditional bank. Once your money gets to a SoFi partner bank, it will have FDIC insurance.
Pros and cons
- Very few fees
- Access to a mobile app
- Access the Allpoint ATM network
- Cashback offers
- Comes with a debit card for cash withdrawals
- Get up to $100 for meeting specific requirements
- 0.25% APY when you make monthly deposits of at least $500
- No phone support around the clock
- No CDs
- No branches
- $4.95 for a cash deposit at Green Dot locations
- Third-party ATM fees (varies)
- No minimum balances
- No monthly fees
- No overdraft fees
- No activation fee
- No inactivity fee
Who can apply for a SoFi account?
To open a SoFi account, you have to meet certain criteria:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a US citizen or permanent resident
- Have a social security number (SSN)
- Have a physical US address
Physical US addresses include the 50 states, District of Columbia, and military addresses. If you’re a permanent resident, your country of citizenship can’t be on the OFAC list. Should you change your residency or citizenship status, you can apply later.
You’ll also need internet access so that you can go to the SoFi website to apply. Unfortunately, SoFi doesn’t have any physical branches you can visit.
How to open a SoFi account
First, go to the SoFi website and look at the product offerings. You can start with one, and you can add more products later.
SoFi offers plenty of financial products, including:
- Credit card
- Personal loans
- Private student loans
- Student loan refinancing
- Credit score & budgeting
- Home loans
- Auto loan refinancing
Once you do that, you’ll need to enter your first and last name, state, and email. It will also ask you to create a password. You should also have your SSN on hand to prove you are who you say you are.
Follow the steps on the screen, which can vary slightly depending on the product you choose. For example, you may need to provide information on your credit history for a loan.
- No-fee overdrafts
- Earn 0.25% APY
- Get money up to two days early
- Obtain a $100 welcome bonus
- No minimum balance fee
- No monthly fee
- Over 55,000 fee-free ATMs
- Access to a mobile app
- Earn cashback
- Organize and save your money
- Trade ETFs, stocks, crypto
- Automate your investing
- Save for retirement
- Buy fractional shares
- No trading commissions
- Start with as little as $5
- No annual fee
- 2% unlimited cashback
- Lower APR after 12 monthly on-time payments
- Turn points into crypto
- Easy to apply
- Credits for Lyft and DoorDash
- Fixed rates from 5.99% to 18.85%
- No late fees
- No prepayment fees
- No origination fees
- Borrow up to $100k
- Pause payments on unemployment
- Easy to apply
- Policies for auto, life, homeowners, renters
- Work with SoFi insurance partners
- Renters insurance as low as $5/month
- Homeowners coverage from $25/month
- Access multiple auto insurance quotes
- Life insurance coverage from $100,000 to $8,000,000
- Free will draft
Credit Score & Budgeting
- Connect all of your accounts
- Set financial goals
- Set and track your monthly spending targets
- Get weekly updates on your credit score
- Soft pulls on your credit that won’t hurt your score
- Learn what affects your credit
Other Loans & Refinancing
- Auto loan refinancing
- Home loans
- Private student loans
- Student loan refinancing
SoFi offers a variety of accounts to help you manage your money, save, and invest. The company also has loans you can use to buy a home, pay for college, or refinance other loans.
You can open a Money or Invest account for free, and you don’t have to pay commission on investments or monthly fees for cash management. The Money account even lets you earn a small amount of interest for keeping your money there.
If you need a loan from SoFi, you can get one with low interest rates. And you can keep an eye on your credit as you pay off the loans and other debts you have.
For daily borrowing, consider getting a credit card from SoFi. You can get a low rate, and you can even lower your rate with consistent payments.
How to add funds to a SoFi account
SoFi lets you add money to your account using direct deposit, a check, or cash.
- Connecting your bank account
If you want to use direct deposit, you’ll need to connect your bank account to your SoFi account. After that, go to the app and look at the bottom of the screen. Tap on “Add Money” and then enter the amount of money you want to transfer.
The default frequency is a one-time transfer, but you can set them to occur regularly. If you want to change that setting, tap on “Select Frequency” then set the schedule you want. You can also use this setting to schedule a one-time transfer for a future date.
SoFi will automatically select the bank account you connected when you opened your account. If you don’t have enough money in that account, you can move money to it. Or you can select a different account that you have hooked up to your SoFi account.
You can add more accounts on this screen with the “Add Account” feature. The money will then take one or two business days before it appears in your SoFi account. Each time you add money, you’ll have to add at least $5, but you can’t add more than $50,000 in a day.
- Depositing checks
You can deposit money from a check into your SoFi Money account after it has $500 in it. Open the SoFi app on your mobile device and select “Deposit” on your home screen.
When you endorse the check, you’ll need to write “For electronic deposit at SoFi Money Only” on the back just under your signature. Lay the check flat against a surface and unfold any creases to take a picture of it.
Make sure you’re in a spot with good lighting and don’t use your flash to take photos of the check. You’ll need to capture an image of the front and back. If possible, use a dark background to help the app detect the check.
After you deposit the check, keep the physical item on hand until the money clears. Then, you can make sure you get your money and keep from having to get another check from the maker.
- Depositing cash
SoFi lets you deposit cash into your account, but you need to meet certain requirements. First, you need to have a SoFi Money Mastercard and be close to a participating retailer.
You can go to your SoFi app and select “More” on the homepage for your Money account. Go to the “Manage Account” screen and tap on “Deposit Cash” to find a retailer.
Once you get to the retailer, you’ll want to find a Green Dot. Then, you can add cash to your SoFi Money account.
Fortunately, many pharmacies, grocery stores, and gas stations offer these services. But you want to make sure the location offers what you need because some don’t offer everything.
The SoFi app
As an online financial management company, the SoFi app is an essential part of their offers. You can download the app to your iOS or Android device, so you can view and manage your finances on the go.
Whether you want to check your credit score or add funds to your account, the app can do it. And you can even use the app to pay bills using your SoFi account.
The app allows you to set up your accounts within a few minutes. You don’t have to go to a bank and wait in line to apply for a loan or start an investment account. SoFi’s app is free to download, which is great.
Saving with SoFi
The SoFi Money account is the closest thing to a savings account. It’s technically a cash management account, but it doesn’t incur any fees, and you can earn interest for keeping money in there.
You can open the account and add money using cash, checks, or direct deposit. SoFi also occasionally runs promotions for new members. If you deposit a certain amount of money in your SoFi Money account, you can earn up to $100 as a bonus.
If you want to use the account for saving and spending, you can take advantage of Vaults. The feature lets you separate money for your daily spending and for savings goals. Then, you can stay on track with all of your finances.
SoFi also offers Roundups, which is perfect if you frequently use a debit card. Whenever you use your SoFi card, you can have the app round up your purchases to the next dollar. The money will then go into one of your Vaults, which is great if you can never remember to save.
Traveling with SoFi
SoFi is one of the best mobile banks for travelers. You can use your SoFi debit card wherever you can use any other Mastercard, and you can take cash directly out. SoFi is part of the Allpoint ATM network, which has locations all over the world.
While you can also use ATMs outside of the network, you will need to pay ATM fees. Still, access to an ATM makes it easy to pay for expenses while traveling.
Before going to an ATM, check to see if it’s part of the SoFi network. If it’s not, you will want to account for the ATM fee. Fees can depend on the ATM and bank in question.
Like a regular bank, you should alert SoFi before a major trip. Then, they will know not to flag your card for suspicious activity when you start using it in a different state.
If you need extra money for your trip, SoFi offers vacation loans. You can apply for them using your account, and you don’t have to worry about late fees and other costs for the loan.
SoFi makes working on your finances exciting with different Member Rewards. You can earn points whenever you:
- Check your credit
- Get a paycheck
You’ll also get points simply for checking your SoFi app. If you check your app daily, you can get even more points as you build up that streak. The program allows you to gamify your finances, which can make them less stressful.
Once you build up points, you can use them for different things. You can turn your points into cash or redeem them toward qualifying SoFi loans. If you want to get into cryptocurrency, you can convert your points that way.
SoFi also lets you convert points into fractional shares with SoFi Invest. Finally, you can get statement credits if you use a SoFi credit card. The more you use your SoFi app and accounts, the more points you’ll earn.
Do you know other people who could benefit from one of the best challenger banks? You can invite them to join to save or invest, and both of you will get $10 worth of reward points that you can convert into SoFi Money.
For you to get the bonus, your friends will need to use your specific link. SoFi will give you that link to help track your referrals. Then, you can share the link through email, text messages, or on social media.
The referral program works with the following SoFi products:
- Credit Cards
SoFi won’t pay an individual member more than $10,000 in bonuses and referrals per year. The company may also send you a Form 1099-MISC for the referral income. If you get that form, be sure to report it on your taxes.
Financial planning may seem like something only rich people do. But SoFi makes it accessible to all members for free. You can schedule an appointment with a financial planner on the SoFi website.
At the appointment, you’ll discuss your financial situation and goals. The financial planners can help you create a budget, save for retirement, and invest your money. You can also get help with insurance, borrowing money, and reaching any other financial goals.
SoFi works with financial planners who have experience with thousands of people. They can answer almost any financial question you have. Financial planners can also be objective, so they won’t advise you to do things that will hurt your finances.
You can schedule a follow-up meeting with your financial planner. Then, you can have the accountability you need to stay on top of your goals. If you need help before then, you can contact your financial planner with questions.
Your career can have a huge effect on your current and future finances. SoFi offers career coaching so that you can make the most of your skills. They can help you with the job search by looking at your LinkedIn and resume.
If you need help standing out from others, you can get help developing your personal brand. That way, you can make employers notice you, which may help you get a job sooner.
And if you’re tired of your current career, SoFi career coaching can help you transition. They can help you get a promotion or switch industries. Then, you can find a career that fulfills you and helps you reach your financial goals.
SoFi also offers custom coaching, so you can get the specific help you need. All of these services are free to SoFi members, making it one of the best digital banks out there.
You may not want to think about it, but estate planning is as important as short-term goals. Fortunately, SoFi makes it easy to plan your estate. By partnering with Ladder, SoFi lets you draft your will for free.
And you can get life insurance to help protect your family after you pass. As you get older, estate planning can save you and your family a lot of time and stress.
Is my money safe with SoFi?
Like other digital banks, SoFi doesn’t have a physical location. That can make it easy to worry if your money will be safe there.
Unfortunately, SoFi doesn’t have FDIC insurance on SoFi Invest or many of its other products. But SoFi does have SEC protection for your investments, so your money is relatively safe.
If you use SoFi Money, your money will have FDIC protection when it gets to a partner bank. You don’t have to worry about losing the money if something bad happens.
Who owns SoFi?
The CEO of SoFi is Anthony Noto, who joined the company in 2016. He also serves on the Board of Directors, which controls the company.
Based out of San Francisco, SoFi has raised over $4 billion. Investors include Ron Suber, DCM Ventures, and Silver Lake Partners.
SoFi has an average rating of 3.2 stars out of 5 on Trustpilot. Excellent ratings account for 79% of all reviews, while bad reviews make up 9%. The remaining 12% fall somewhere in the middle. Recent reviews cover both ends of the spectrum, making it hard to determine the current status of the company.
Ally is one of SoFi’s most popular competitors. The online savings account also offers investing for free, like SoFi. But Ally also offers managed portfolios, and there are solutions for businesses as well as individuals. However, Ally doesn’t have FDIC insurance on any of its accounts.
One of the biggest digital banks competing with SoFi is Chime. The bank has about six times as many members as SoFi. While it’s not technically a bank, it has FDIC insurance through partner banks Stride Bank and The Bancorp Bank. Chime also offers 0.5% APY, double that of SoFi.
Betterment is another online option, and it focuses on investing. You can use the mobile app or website, like SoFi. Betterment has FDIC insurance through its partner banks, and you can earn up to 0.3% APY on your savings. If you want more features, you can upgrade to one of its two plans with annual fees.
The bottom line
SoFi is a fantastic tool for people who want to save and invest. If you haven’t received much financial education, the company can help with that. They offer financial planning, career coaching, and much more.
Plus, you can earn a bonus when you join and when you get friends to join. The mobile app makes it easy to transfer money with direct deposit or to deposit a check. And you can deposit cash at certain retailers and withdraw from ATMs.
While it’s not technically a bank, doing your own SoFi bank review is essential before you sign up. Then, you can make sure it has the features and programs you need to forge a better financial future.
Tommy Gallagher is an ex-investment banker and founder of TopMobileBanks.
He is an early participant in banking digital transformation and fintech development. His consulting clients include prominent startups in the US and Europe.
Here on topmobilebanks.com, he is covering macro trends in the digital banking industry.