SoFi is the brainchild of a few Stanford Business students who initially wanted to tackle the student loan debt issue in this country by making it easier for borrowers to refinance student loans.
Eventually, they expanded the company’s focus to include several financial products and services, including online banking through SoFi Money. Today, SoFi offers a lot of banking services with some great benefits. This SoFi review is focused on those banking options.
Our in-depth and honest review of SoFi Money will look at the product’s checking and savings features, its overall convenience and how to determine whether it’s right for you.
SoFi Money is an online-only cash management account that works like a checking and savings account in one.
It charges no typical account fees, and it lets you earn cash-back rewards and competitive interest rates on your balance.
Here’s what we like about SoFi Money:
- No minimum opening deposit.
- No maintenance or minimum balance fees.
- No overdraft fees.
- Network of fee-free ATMS, plus out-of-network ATM fee reimbursement.
- Slick app with a lot of features.
- High interest rate at 0.2%.
Here’s what we don’t like about SoFi Money:
- No cash deposits.
- Restricting transaction limitations.
- No business checking or savings options.
- No SoFi ATMs or branches.
SoFi offers what it calls a “cash management account,” an all-in-one solution for checking and savings that you can access and manage online or through the SoFi app.
Checking: SoFi Money Account
SoFi Money isn’t a traditional checking account. It’s an FDIC-insured cash management account that offers the everyday spending capabilities of a checking account and the interest-bearing benefit of a savings account.
Interest rates fluctuate with the market, but SoFi currently offers 0.2% APY, which is five times the national average of 0.04% APY for checking accounts reported by the FDIC.
To earn that rate, you have to deposit at least $500 per month into your SoFi Money account via transfer or direct deposit.
Unlike most checking accounts, SoFi Money comes with these transaction limits that could make it tough to use as your primary spending account:
- Withdrawal limits: $1,000 per day total, $150 over-the-counter cash withdrawal.
- Peer-to-peer transfers: $3,000 per month.
- Point-of-sale (cash register) transactions: 12 per day.
- Point-of-sale spend limit: $6,000 per day.
Still, your account gives you access to a debit card and gives you the option to order checks. Individual and joint accounts are available, which is rare among online banking accounts.
To open a SoFi Money account:
- Become a SoFi member by creating an account online or through the app with your email address.
- Open a Money account through your dashboard. You’ll need to enter your mailing address, phone number, birth date and Social Security number.
- You can open an account with no minimum opening deposit and pay no account maintenance fees.
- Set up direct deposit or a recurring transfer of at least $500 to earn the highest interest rate in your account balance.
Savings: 0.02% APY
You’ll earn 0.02% APY on your balance for any month you add at least $500 through direct deposit or transfer into the account.
The downside to having your checking and savings in one account is that your savings are easily accessible, which can make it easy to dip into that account instead of letting it sit and grow.
With the combined checking and savings features, SoFi Money acts best as a short-term savings account, rather than a primary saving or spending vehicle. Move money into the account for short-term goals, such as:
- Building an emergency fund.
- Vacation savings.
- Buying a car.
- A home down payment.
- Large investments.
- Tax payments.
The checking account features make your money more accessible through SoFi Money than in a traditional savings account (which typically come with withdrawal limits of six per month), so you can build your savings knowing you can get to the money anytime if you need it.
Cash in SoFi Money is FDIC insured up to $1.5 million through a program of partner banks. FDIC insurance depends on the number of partner banks available (but hasn’t strayed from the $1.5 million mark according to any sources we’ve found).
Convenience: Online-Only Banking
SoFi offers online-only banking, so you won’t find a brick-and-mortar SoFi bank branch or even any SoFi ATMs.
Instead, you’ll do all your cash management through the app or website, plus nationwide ATMs.
- Deposits: Set up direct deposit from your paycheck or recurring transfers from another bank account to automate your savings and build the account balance. You can’t make cash deposits.
- Mobile check deposit: Still get a paper paycheck (or a birthday check from your aunt)? Deposit it from anywhere using the SoFi app on your smartphone or tablet with a camera.
- Cash withdrawal: Use any ATM to take out cash when you need it with your SoFi debit card. You’ll pay no fees at Allpoint ATMs nationwide, and SoFi reimburses out-of-network ATM fees.
- Digital payments: Link your SoFi Money account to PayPal or Venmo to receive payments.
Mobile Banking: SoFi App Review
As an online-only institution, SoFi’s suite of digital tools is optimized for user ease and stacked with features like easy account transfers, bill pay and even budgeting tools.
SoFi banking happens primarily through the SoFi app, which is free to download for smartphones and tablets. Customers give the app 4.8 out of five stars in the Apple App Store and 4.2 out of five stars on Google Play.
The app lets you sign up for and access all SoFi products, including your cash management account, and free budgeting and money tracking tools.
Through the app, you can:
- See your Money account balance and transaction history.
- Deposit money with mobile check deposit.
- Transfer money to and from linked bank accounts.
- Freeze and unfreeze your debit card.
- Chat with customer support.
- Monitor your TransUnion VantageScore credit score.
- Connect other financial accounts to track your spending and savings in one place.
- Access SoFi’s other financial products and services.
Small Business Banking Options
- Wells Fargo Simple Business Checking Account and Business Market Rate Savings Account, loans up to $100,000 and a 1.5% cash-back credit card.
- Chase Total Business Checking and Business Total Savings, SBA Express line of credit up to $350,000 and Ink Business credit cards.
- Capital One Spark Business Checking and Savings, and 1.5% or 2% cash-back credit cards.
- Axos Basic Business Checking or Business Interest Checking, Business Savings, and lines of credit or commercial loans starting at $250,000.
- Navy Federal Credit Union for business owners who are veterans, active-duty military, employees of qualified government agencies and their immediate family.
- Azlo for online-only, fee-free business checking.
You can search and compare small business financing offers through Lantern, SoFi’s marketplace for financial products.
SoFi boasts no fees, and it’s pretty serious about that.
- No ATM fees.
- No account maintenance fees or minimum balance fees.
- No overdraft fees.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- No fee for a replacement card.
- No bill pay fees.
- SoFi covers any foreign conversion charged.
Fee structures are subject to change and have over the years, but you can take some comfort knowing the lack of fees is one of the most attractive features of online-only banking.
The biggest benefit to signing up for SoFi banking is becoming a member and gaining access to SoFi’s suite of products and services.
SoFi members (anyone who uses a SoFi product, like Money), get exclusive benefits like member-only events and member rate discounts on SoFi loans.
SoFi’s flagship product is student loan refinancing. Refinance your federal or private student loans to get a lower interest rate, lower monthly payment or both.
SoFi also offers private student loans for undergrads, graduate students and parents.
You can get pre-qualified for a loan rate by creating a SoFi account online or through the app, then choose a rate and loan term and fill out the full application online. If approved, you’ll complete the whole process, including signing paperwork, online.
Apply for a personal loan for things like credit card consolidation or home improvement. Interest rates range from 5.99% to 17.53% APR when you sign up for auto-pay.
You can check rates you’d qualify for by creating a SoFi account and entering the amount you want to borrow. Checking your rate with SoFi won’t hurt your credit score.
Take out a home loan or refinance an existing mortgage through SoFi with as little as 10% down. You’ll save $500 on mortgage processing fees for being a SoFi member.
SoFi also facilitates home equity loans through home equity lender Spring EQ.
SoFi Invest lets you invest in stocks, ETFs and cryptocurrency right through the app. You can set up automated investing and let SoFi experts choose your portfolio for you, or choose yourself what to invest in.
SoFi also offers Roth and Traditional IRAs to help you save for retirement.
You can fund your SoFi Invest account using a SoFi Money account or external checking or savings account.
Through SoFi Protect, the company has teamed up with insurance providers to match you with affordable life, auto, homeowners and renters insurance. In most cases, you can apply and sign up online without speaking to an agent or facing a medical exam.
SoFi members get to work one-on-one with a career coach to pave a path toward career and financial success.
Career coaches provide guidance on things like career transitions, networking, building your resume and LinkedIn profile, negotiating, personal branding and your personal questions.
Financial Planning Resources
Members can make an appointment with SoFi financial planners for free to get financial advice on anything from basic money management to retirement planning.
SoFi also provides resources to educate you on debt, lending, money management, investing and more, plus calculators to help you plan for borrowing and repaying debt.
SoFi customer support is available through email, Twitter or by phone with limited hours.
- Phone number: (855) 456-7634, available Monday through Thursday 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday through Sunday 4 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific.
- Email address: [email protected]
- Twitter: @SoFiSupport
SoFi Money might not be a perfect replacement for your primary checking or money market accounts, but it could be a good fit for short-term savings and managing money you want to invest through SoFi.
SoFi could be a fit for you if:
- You’d benefit from access to other products, including loans, investing, career advice and free financial planning.
- You have short-term savings goals, such as vacation savings, home down payment, buying a car or holiday shopping.
- You receive a regular paycheck via direct deposit.
- You prefer to do your banking online or through a mobile app.
SoFi might not be a fit for you if:
- You prefer in-person service from local bank tellers or loan agents.
- You have no need for additional products and services like mortgages, debt consolidation, student loan refinancing or financial planning.
- You’re frequently or primarily paid in cash.
- You have a high volume of daily transactions, like if you travel or shop a lot.
- You need small business banking.
- Your savings goals are mostly long term, like retirement or college savings.
The Penny Hoarder’s editorial team considers more than 25 factors in its bank account reviews, including fees, minimum daily balance requirements, APYs, overdraft charges, ATM access, number of physical locations, customer service support access and mobile features.
To determine how we weigh each factor, The Penny Hoarder surveyed 1,500 people to find out what banking features matter most to you.
For example, we give top grades to banks that have low fees because our survey showed that this is the No. 1 thing you look for in a bank. Because more than 70% of you said you visited a physical bank branch last year, we consider the number of brick-and-mortar locations. But more than one-third of you use mobile apps for more than 75% of your banking, so digital features are also considered carefully.
Ratings are assigned on a scale of one (worst) to five (best) stars across the following categories:
- Personal checking accounts
- Personal savings accounts
- Mobile banking
- Small-business banking
Credit card and loan products are not currently considered.
Dana Sitar is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Tyler Omoth contributed to this report.