SoFi Review: No-Fee Cash Management With Perks

4.6
Our Take: SoFi has expanded admirably from its focus on student loans, but it has more ground to cover if it wants to compete on the basic banking account side of things.
  • Fees
    5.0
  • APYs
    4.5
  • Breadth of Products
    4.0
  • Account Minimums
    5.0
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • Low-cost products across the board
  • High APY on SoFi Money product with qualifying conditions
  • Offers loans, investments, cash management and insurance
  • SoFi Community benefits
  • Free automated investing

Cons

  • Limited investment options
  • No physical branches

About SoFi Bank

Social Finance, Inc. — more commonly known as SoFi — is an online financial technology and services company. SoFi is built around the idea of community, and its objective is to help its members reach their financial goals. SoFi has greatly broadened its product and service line and now offers products for borrowing, investing, spending, saving and protecting assets.

As a SoFi customer, you’ll also have access to career advisors and the collective wisdom of its member community. The company received conditional approval for a national banking charter in October 2020, so the company likely will continue to expand its offerings in the future. GOBankingRates has ranked it as one of the Best Checking Accounts of 2021.

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SoFi Banking Products

SoFi Bank doesn’t offer a wide array of basic banking products, but it does have a considerable number of financial solutions for customers.

Product Key Details
Savings Account, called SoFi Money
  • No-fee account
  • Hybrid savings/checking account features
  • Use of 55,000-plus ATMs
  • Interest-bearing account
IRAs through SoFi Invest
  • No-fee Traditional and Roth IRAs
Investment Options through SoFi Invest 
  • No-commission stock and ETF trading
  • Crypto trading
  • Stock Bits offer fractional share trading
  • Robo-advisor/automated investing
Loans via SoFi Borrow
  • Student loans
  • Auto loans
  • Home loans
  • Personal loans
Asset Protection through SoFi Protect
  • Renters insurance
  • Homeowners insurance
  • Auto insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Estate planning

SoFi organizes its product offerings into five broad categories: Borrow, Invest, Spend, Protect and For Business. These product lines are further divided into categories and subcategories as follows:

Category Subcategory
Borrow
  • Student Loan Refinancing
    • Medical Resident Refinancing
    • Parent PLUS Refinancing
  • Private Student Loans
    • Undergraduate Student Loans
    • Graduate Student Loans
    • Law & MBA Loans
    • Parent Student Loans
  • Personal Loans
    • Home Improvement Loan
    • Credit Card Consolidation
    • Relocation Assistance
    • Medical Loans
  • Home Loans
    • Mortgage
    • Mortgage Refinancing
    • Cash-Out Refinance
    • Home Equity
Invest
  • SoFi Invest
    • Active Investing
    • Automated Investing
    • Retirement Accounts
    • Crypto
    • Stock Bits
    • ETFs
Spend
  • SoFi Money
  • SoFi Credit Card
  • SoFi Relay
Protect
  • SoFi Protect
    • Renters Insurance
    • Homeowners Insurance
    • Auto Insurance
    • Life Insurance
    • Estate Planning
For Business
  • SoFi at Work
  • Small Business Financing
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SoFi Savings and Checking Accounts

SoFi’s only banking account is its cash management account, dubbed SoFi Money. This account is a hybrid account blending features of both traditional checking and savings accounts, although it is technically a brokerage account. Additionally, GOBankingRates has ranked it as one of the Best Checking Accounts of 2021.

Features

  • No-fee account
  • Check writing
  • Bill pay
  • P2P transfers
  • Remote check deposit
  • Interest-bearing

Pros

  • No account fees
  • No ATM fees
  • Unlimited ATM fee reimbursement
  • FDIC-insured account

Cons

  • Digital-only experience; no branches or physical locations

Banking Experience

As an online-only financial institution, the SoFi banking experience is tailored to a mobile and digital experience.

Physical Branch Locations

SoFi doesn’t have any physical branch locations. You must conduct all of your business through the website, app or ATM machines.

Mobile and Digital Experience

As an online-only financial institution, SoFi relies on the quality of its mobile and digital products to connect with its customers. On these fronts, it succeeds admirably. The website is clearly laid out in terms of what the institution offers, what it pays and its features. The mobile experience is also user friendly, with the firm referring to its SoFi Money account as a “mobile-first account.” Some of the functionality of the mobile app includes the following:

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  • Access to account transactions
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Online bill pay
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Update information and passwords
  • Freeze or reorder debit card
  • Get support directly through the app

Users view the SoFi mobile apps favorably, rating them 4.4 out of 5 stars on Google Play and 4.8 stars on the App Store.

Accessibility of Funds

One of the drawbacks of saving with SoFi is that deposits don’t post instantly. In some cases, you may have to wait up to five business days until you can access the money you deposit into your SoFi Money account. However, that restriction only applies to deposits of more than $5,000. In most cases, money deposited from an external source is available in no more than three business days.  For most deposits, you can access a portion of your deposit the following business day.

Once your money arrives, however, SoFi offers an ATM card that you can use at 55,000-plus Allpoint ATMs around the world without triggering an ATM fee. If a third-party terminal hits you with a fee, SoFi rebates that amount. This is a huge benefit for international travelers, as traditional banks often slap fees of $5 or more on overseas withdrawals, in addition to any third-party fees. Note that ATM withdrawals are limited to $1,000 daily, and debit card usage is restricted to $6,000 per day. 

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How To Open an Account

You can open a SoFi account either on the web page or via the mobile app. You’ll need to provide standard personal information to get started, including your name and address, date of birth and Social Security number. You’ll also need to link a bank account to fund your SoFi account. Once your account is established, you can manage it via either the website or the mobile app.

Customer Service

You can get help with most SoFi accounts via live chat or telephone at 855-456-7634. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST and Friday through Sunday from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST. SoFi Money and SoFi Invest account holders also can speak with a representative via an online chat.

Key Information

Customer Service: 855-456-7634

Routing Number: 031101334

SoFi Fees

SoFi is one of the industry leaders when it comes to fees on its products. For its major investment products, including its savings account and its stock trading platform, there are no fees or commissions at all. This extends to SoFi’s crypto account as well. Even its Stock Bits account is free. Here’s a look at services and transactions that often incur fees at other institutions but that are free at SoFi:

Sponsors of
  • Account minimum fees: $0
  • Overdraft fees: $0
  • Stop payment fees: $0
  • Replacement cards: $0
  • Statement & research – legal processing: $0
  • Account opening: $0
  • Account monthly fees: $0
  • Inactive/dormant account: $0
  • P2P transfers: $0
  • Bill pay: $0
  • Return item: $0
  • Mobile deposit fee: $0
  • Point-of-sale (POS) transactions, domestic or international: $0
  • Allpoint ATM transactions, domestic or international $0

There are a few potential fees with SoFi, however, including the following:

  • Paper statement fee: $5
  • Wire transfer out fee: $25
  • ACAT transfers to another firm: $75

There are also standard investment fees, such as annual expenses within ETFs and SEC regulatory trading fees.

SoFi vs. Competitors

SoFi doesn’t compete directly with traditional brick-and-mortar banks as much as it does with online institutions, especially those referred to as “fintechs.” Three of the major players in the online financial services industry are Simple, Ally Bank and Chime.

Bank Best For
SoFi  Combined cash management account
Simple Separate checking and high-yield savings accounts
Ally Bank More traditional banking offerings
Chime  Higher APY

SoFi vs. Simple

Simple pays a high 0.50% APY on its high-yield Protected Goals account. The maximum available on a SoFi money account is 0.25% APY.

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SoFi reimburses global ATM fees, whereas Simple does not.

SoFi vs. Ally Bank

Ally Bank has a more traditional banking account.

Ally has a lineup that includes separate checking, savings, money market accounts and CDs, whereas SoFi is essentially limited to a cash management account on the banking side.

SoFi offers unlimited ATM fee reimbursement vs. Ally’s $10 per statement cycle.

SoFi vs. Chime

Chime offers a much higher 0.50% APY on its cash management account — double that of a SoFi Money account.

SoFi offers fee-free access to 55,000-plus Allpoint ATMs, while Chime’s fee-free network is the 38,000-strong MoneyPass network.

Final Take

SoFi is a good option for customers who are looking for low-fee financial products and are comfortable with a completely online banking experience. As SoFi doesn’t have any physical branches, customers must interact with the company exclusively through SoFi’s website and/or app. SoFi has broadened its portfolio to the point where many investors and savers can find products and services of interest. The sleek user interface, easy-to-understand products and customer-friendly approach of SoFi may be particularly appealing to those new to the world of saving and investing.

SoFi is great at what it does, but it might not be the best choice for users looking for a one-stop shop approach to finance. SoFi has yet to offer either a complete banking experience or a full line of investment options, making it more of a supplemental choice than a primary one, at least at present.

One important thing to note with SoFi is that despite all outward appearances, the firm is not an actual bank. This may soon change, as the company has been granted a conditional bank charter, but as of now, you’re really relying on the six partner banks SoFi has chosen to house your funds. It’s important to note that until your deposited funds make their way to one of the member banks, they are not technically insured.

Editor’s Favorite

SoFi’s no-fee, no-hassle Money account offers global ATM fee reimbursement. For an online-only institution, it offers a broad array of loan and insurance products.

SoFi FAQ

Here are answers to some of SoFi's more commonly asked questions.
  • Is SoFi Money legit?
    • Yes, SoFi Money is legit. The company has an A rating from the Better Business Bureau and was valued at $4.8 billion in 2019. In October 2020, SoFi was granted conditional approval for a national bank charter. The company is considering plans to go public.
  • Is SoFi a real bank?
    • SoFi offers bank-like services but it isn't technically a bank. However, the company was granted a conditional bank charter in October 2020, so that could change in the near future. The SoFi Money account is currently offered by a broker-dealer, and it is technically referred to as a brokerage account.
  • Is SoFi FDIC insured?
    • SoFi itself does not offer Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. coverage as it is not a bank. SoFi works with six FDIC-insured partner banks that actually hold money deposited into the SoFi Money account, and combined they offer $1.5 million in FDIC insurance to SoFi depositors.
  • Can I deposit cash into SoFi Money?
    • No; cash deposits currently are not accepted by SoFi.
  • Does SoFi Money offer free money for signing up for an account?
    • SoFi is a highly promotional institution and offers frequent promotions.  Currently, if you sign up for a new SoFi Money account, deposit $250 and set up a direct deposit of at least $500, you can earn $100.

Rates are subject to change. Information on accounts is accurate as of Dec. 27, 2020.

This content is not provided by SoFi. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by SoFi.

About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.

SoFi Review: No-Fee Cash Management With Perks
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