SoFi has historically focused on student loan refinancing, but now they have branched out and started a new account type. SoFi Money is an online only checking account that has some notable advantages others don’t. Plus, they have an almost too good to be true sign up bonus (see below) that make this account worth considering. Here is our review of SoFi Money.
Full Disclosure: The link provided to SoFi Money in this article is a referral link that earns me a commission at no cost to you if you sign up. It is one way of supporting Debt Free Happens if that is of interest to you but never sign up for an account or product you don’t fully understand.
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SoFi Money Review
As previously mentioned, SoFi money is a new type of account from a company that previously specialized in loans. They are still providing loans and are still a company to consider for low-interest student loans, but they are now expanding their services.
SoFi Money is an online only account that combines the functions of a checking account with the interest rate of an online high-yield savings account.
What that means, is that you get a 1.60% APY which is unheard of for a checking account. Now, there are no guarantees that the interest rate will always be 1.60%, but it is very competitive with other high-yield savings accounts and even beats a few of them.
Both my wife and I have our own accounts and we have both tested it at multiple ATMs and in stores and will share our experiences doing so.
Personally, my wife and I have multiple checking and savings accounts, and this is offering something new that we had not seen before, nor had we realized there was a need for. We have found it to be a very simple and straightforward account.
The introduction of vaults also has us very excited, but we will explain those later.
The are no low balance fees, monthly fees, overdraft fees (the transaction simply gets canceled if you have insufficient funds) and no ATM fees which I’ll explain in a bit.
No Minimum Requirements
Typically, to avoid fees on a checking account, one has minimum requirements they need to meet in order to avoid a monthly fee. The SoFi money account does not have any minimum requirements for balance or direct deposits.
ATM Fee Reimbursements
This is surprisingly one of the things that has benefited us most when using the account. As SoFi Money is only online, there are no physical ATMs for you to specifically use. Fortunately, they provide a debit card that you can use any ATM and they will immediately reimburse you. I initially thought that I would have to manually submit for a reimbursement but was pleasantly surprised when SoFi immediately recognized the fee and initiated a refund of that fee. It was all taken care of for me.
Where I think this could be used to your advantage, is when you are forced to pay cash at a store/restaurant, and you need to use an ATM to withdraw cash. Most likely, the ATM would charge you a fee with your brick and mortar checking account because bank ATMs are not usually located in stores like this. In this case though, if you use your SoFi Money account, then you would not be charged a fee. Now, this is relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, but ATM fees really annoy me, and this solves a problem that no one had offered a solution to before.
Free Physical Checks
SoFi will provide free physical checks if you request them. I have not yet requested them though so I can’t say if it is an easy process. Using their online interface though they look easy enough to order them.
Once you’ve placed your order, your checks will be delivered in 10—14 business days. Also, you can only order 25 checks at a time. After 7 days, you can place another order.
I know it has already been mentioned, but a 1.60% APY is a healthy rate for a high-yield savings account currently, let alone a checking account. It appears it will always be competitive with those accounts, but it can and will change with the market like other high-yield accounts.
The vaults are super exciting to me and something I have wanted to see in other accounts for years.
A vault is simply a way to take a portion of your money in the account and set it aside for a goal. You can make multiple vaults/goals. This vault would not be touched unless you transfer money in and out of it or agree for it to be a backup to the main portion of your account.
Let’s say you have $1,000 in the account. You can put $500 in a sinking fund for your car and another $200 towards vacation. This would leave you with $300 in your main account. If you pulled money out or made a purchase, it would come out of your main account and the other vaults would remain untouched.
To me, this eliminates the need for separate accounts in most cases. I still think having your emergency fund in a separate account is good, but this is very useful.
They are super simple to set up and can be changed very easily. Within a minute I set up my first sinking fund in the account and nothing is set in stone. Very easy to modify and adjust as needed.
We’ll dig into this later, but it is hard to ignore the sign-up bonus they are offering when you use this referral link. As people who look for sign-up bonuses each time we are seeking a new account, this has been the easiest and most straightforward to earn. Plus, you can earn more if you share your link.
When opening any account you will be storing your money in it is important that it is FDIC insured. SoFi Money is FDIC insured up to $1.5 million.
This has already been mentioned, but there are no physical locations of this bank. That is probably one of the reasons they offer a higher interest rate as their overhead is lower.
I list this as a con since any issue you might have, will have to be dealt with over the phone or through email. That may or may not appeal to you.
You are limited to withdrawing only $610 a day from an ATM. Maybe that isn’t such a big deal anymore as I can’t tell you the last time I ever withdrew that amount, but if you ever needed more cash than that, you would have to withdraw it over multiple days.
You are also limited to transferring only $250 a day peer-to-peer and a total of $3,000 over the month. This actually seems like the bigger complication if that is something you do often. It hasn’t been an issue for us, but it really just depends how much money you plan to keep in it and how you use it.
Here is more information about the limits.
The Perfect Sinking Fund
So, how is this account most useful?
You can use this account in multiple ways. It could be your main checking account although I’m not sure I would recommend it for that use yet considering the withdrawl/transfer limits. I still tend to prefer brick and mortar companies for that.
We use it as a his and her account for saving money in, but I could easily see it turning into a sinking fund for us over time.
It can be used as an emergency fund since it gets 1.80% APY but only do so if this is separate from your day to day checking. The checking feature and debit card means that the cash is easily accessible which might not be the best thing if you are tempted to pull from that emergency fund in non-emergency cases.
With the vault feature I think it makes for a great sinking fund account. You can segment up your money in a way that allows you to keep your savings goals separate and organized. It is easily accessible when needed and it earns good interest in the meantime.
I think account is perfect for sinking funds.
How To Sign Up For SoFi Money
You can sign up for SoFi Money here. You can do it either on desktop or mobile. We did mobile and it took about 5 minutes if that to create an account.
You are not required to transfer anything to the account. Once open though, it is easy to transfer money if you choose to.
You must be 18 years old to open an account and be a citizen or resident of the USA.
How To Get A $50 Bonus and $50 Referral
One of the big reasons we signed up for SoFi was the $50 bonus they offered when using this link. An even bigger reason is that you get another bonus when referring friends, family or anyone else interested in setting up their own account. You can actually earn up to $10,000 in referrals within any year.
To receive the $50 bonus, open an account with this referral link or any similar referral link your family/friends provide you and fund it with $100. That’s it. There are no other requirements than that which to me makes it the easiest bonus I have ever received. When opening a new checking account anyways, you might have funded it with $100, so it isn’t much of a stretch to do so anyways.
To receive a $50 referral bonus you need to provide your friends, family or members of household with your referral link that will be provided by SoFi and have them sign up and fund their account with $100. You get $50 per person so the more you share, the more you get.
Now, just share this with interested parties. We have shared it with some friends who said they were interested rather than forcing it on them. You can’t spam people, but since you can get up to $10,000 in referrals in a year there is lots of room to share with family and friends.
*Note: Sometimes the referral bonus is $100 so it is important to keep checking back in and taking advantage of the extra bonus money.
SoFi Money is a great checking account that has been a welcome addition to our finances. It isn’t perfect, as noted in the cons, but I truly feel this is the absolute best option for a sinking fund account and the vault feature is awesome. It truly combines the best of a checking account and a high-yield savings account and even has a few extra bonuses that have proved helpful to us.