When I last reviewed SoFi Bank, N.A. and its SoFi Checking and Savings account, it was late April and the 1.25% APY that it was offering with direct deposit was way above the APYs others were offering. In the last two months, the interest rate environment has changed dramatically, and SoFi Bank has more competition on rates. SoFi Bank has been a little slow, but it finally responded to the competition by increasing its rates.
This week SoFi Bank increased its Checking and Savings account APY from 1.25% to 1.50% for direct deposit. Without direct deposit, the APY increased from 0.70% to 0.90%. These APYs apply to all balances. The higher rate did improve its competitiveness, but there are already eight savings and money market accounts with higher rates that don’t require direct deposit. The SoFi Checking and Savings account isn’t the deal that it used to be. Nevertheless, I thought it would be worthwhile to update the review. Also, there is still a direct deposit bonus of up to $300 (It has been extended to 7/31/2022). I have details on this bonus offer below.
Earlier this year the financial technology (fintech) company SoFi Technologies (SoFi) acquired a bank charter, SoFi Bank, N.A. Before the bank charter, SoFi had been offering a checking-like account called SoFi Money via its partner bank, The Bancorp Bank. SoFi Money has been discontinued, and now SoFi Bank, N.A. is offering a product called “SoFi Checking and Savings.” It is actually two accounts: a checking account and a savings account, but they must be opened together, and the same rates apply equally to both.
The Checking and Savings account has two appealing features for savers:
- 1.50% APY on all balances (with direct deposit) 0.90% APY on all balances (without direct deposit)
- Direct deposit bonus of up to $300 (scheduled to expire 7/31/2022).
SoFi Checking and Savings Overview
This SoFi FAQ provides a good overview of the account features:
- 1.50% APY with direct deposit (no minimum direct deposit amount required)
- No account fees
- Enjoy unlimited free ATM withdrawals at over 55,000 AllPoint In-Network ATMs
- The SoFi Debit Card can be used worldwide
- Automated bill pay
- Easy P2P payments at no cost
- Freeze debit card on-the-go in app
- Versatile money management with SoFi Savings and Vaults
- Mobile check deposits
- Overdraft Coverage
- Cash Deposits through Greendot
NOTE: Members without direct deposit will earn 0.90% APY on Checking and Savings deposits.
The first issue I experienced with SoFi Bank was its lack of customer service. Its contact page provides two options to reach customer service for Checking and Savings. The first option is an online chat service, but when you click the link, you’re taken to a page that requires you to log in. The second option is to call. Reaching a human CSR is a little difficult. If you’re not an existing customer, you are only provided an option to have them text you this link for help. I was able to reach a CSR this week by selecting the option for an existing customer. When asked for the phone number tied to the account, I selected “don’t know”. It then finally connected me with a CSR.
In my conversation with the CSR this week, I received confirmation on the lack of beneficiaries and on variable ACH limits that have been mentioned in DA comments.
Most banks and credit unions allow you to designate one or more persons as beneficiaries on your account. The beneficiaries are typically listed as payable-on-death or in-trust-for.
I confirmed with the CSR what several readers have reported. You cannot add a beneficiary to your SoFi Checking and Savings account. The CSR claimed that they’re working on it, but based on their 2-year-old FAQ on beneficiaries, it appears to be a low priority.
Bank-to-Bank ACH Transfers
Online banks often don’t provide details about their ACH transfer capabilities and limits, and that is the case for SoFi Bank. These are important details for savers who want to transfer large amounts into the account to take advantage of the high rate. Often, online banks have small limits on transfers that are initiated from their platform.
According to the CSR, the ACH dollar limits on transfers initiated from SoFi Bank may vary based on the customer. DA reader unmesh reported on April 13th that after opening his account, his ACH limits were $5k per day and $10k per month. On May 2nd, DA reader yfh reported ACH limits of $50k per day and $100k per month. The $50k limit was apparently increased to $100k after a few weeks. DA reader tbc3 reported to have ACH limits of $100k per day and $200k per month. This reader was a long-time SoFi customer who had SoFi Money for years.
If customers find that the ACH limits are too small, customers can use the ACH transfer system of another bank to transfer larger amounts in and out of their SoFi Bank account. This requires that you provide the other bank your SoFi Bank’s routing and account numbers. SoFi provides this FAQ on finding your routing and account number. According to this FAQ, the “routing number for SoFi Bank, N.A. is 031101334 - this is the same routing number you have today in SoFi Money.” Oddly, this routing number is one of three routing numbers that are listed for The Bancorp Bank.
Qualifying Direct Deposit
Savers who don’t have an employer direct deposit or don’t want to change their direct deposit, may ask about SoFi’s definition of a qualifying direct deposit. The following SoFi FAQ answers this:
Qualifying direct deposits must be an ACH deposit from an active SoFi Checking and Savings member's:
- Employer (including pension plans)
- Benefits provider
- Other government entities (like Social Security)
Non-qualifying direct deposits include ACH transfers from other institutions such as:
- Check deposits
- P2P transfers such as from PayPal or Venmo, etc...
- Merchant transactions such as from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc...
- Bank ACH transfers not from employers
NOTE: There is no minimum direct deposit amount required.
DA reader fred_b reported on June 28th that SoFi wasn’t recognizing direct deposits of his pension that had been paid by Fidelity as direct deposits. He had contacted SoFi twice about this issue but there has been no resolution.
For some reason, many fintech banks choose not to offer joint accounts. I’m happy to see from this FAQ that SoFi Bank is not one of them:
Do you offer joint accounts with SoFi Checking and Savings?
Yes! You can invite your partner by navigating to the 'More' tab and clicking 'Joint account holder.'
DA reader kaimen warned that SoFi’s “online instructions skipped the very important first step.” That first step is to create a profile for the person to be added onto the account. The person to be added should click on the “Get Started” button which will take them to a page that requests their name, state, email and password. This creates a profile, not an account, and it allows the SoFi Bank account holder to send an email invitation to the person to be added as a joint owner. Without the profile, the link in the email invitation leads to nowhere.
Bonus Offer Review
In addition to the high rate, another benefit of the SoFi Checking and Savings account is a direct deposit bonus of up to $300. When I first reviewed this bonus, it was scheduled to last through May. It has been extended, and it’s now scheduled to last through July 31, 2022.This bonus offer should be considered a direct deposit bonus rather than a new-account bonus since existing SoFi Checking and Savings customers qualify as long as they “have not previously set up Direct Deposit transactions (“Direct Deposit”) into their SoFi Checking and Savings account as of the beginning of the Promotion Period.”
The amount of the bonus depends on the total amount of the Qualifying Direct Deposits:
- $50 for $1,000 to $1,999
- $100 for $2,000 to $4,999
- $300 for $5,000 or more
The definition of the Qualifying Direct Deposit is similar to the definition used to qualify for the APY. However, qualifying for the APY doesn’t have a minimum amount required for the direct deposits. Here’s the excerpt from the bonus offer small print on Qualifying Direct Deposits:
Qualifying Direct Deposits are defined as deposits from enrolled member’s employer, payroll, or benefits provider via ACH deposit. Deposits that are not from an employer (such as check deposits; P2P transfers such as from PayPal or Venmo, etc.; merchant transactions such as from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.; and bank ACH transfers not from employers) do not qualify for this promotion.
The other important detail is the timing of the direct deposits. Your first direct deposit must be received by SoFi before the bonus offer expires. This is defined as the Promotion Period, and it’s defined as follows:
In order to qualify for eligibility for a bonus, SoFi must receive at least one Qualifying Direct Deposit from an Eligible Participant during the Promotion Period.
Promotion Period: The Program will be available from 4/5/22 12:01AM ET to 7/31/22 11:59PM ET.
If your first qualifying direct deposit is unable to reach $5k, you still have time to reach the $5k threshold with additional direct deposits. This period is called the “Evaluation Period,” and it’s defined as follows:
The bonus amount will vary based on the total amount of Qualifying Direct Deposits received during the Evaluation Period. The Evaluation Period is defined as 30 days from the date your first Qualifying Direct Deposit is received.
If your Qualifying Direct Deposit(s) reaches the thresholds within the Evaluation Period, the bonus payment is scheduled to be pretty fast. According to the bonus offer small print, “SoFi will credit members who meet qualification criteria within 14 days of the end of the Evaluation Period.”
The SoFi Checking and Savings account is available to any U.S. Citizen, a lawful permanent resident, or non-resident, 18 years or older with a physical US address (in the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia), and a valid Social Security Number. The “Sign Up” button at the upper right of the SoFi banking page will begin the application process.
Only individual and joint SoFi Checking and Savings accounts are available. Currently, trust and business accounts are not available.
According to this FAQ, only a soft pull is done when you apply for SoFi Checking and Savings. They do not require a hard credit pull. So there should be no ding to your credit score. As DA reader unmesh warned in his DA Forum post, “you have to thaw any credit freeze you may have put in with Experian.”
In January, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Reserve approved SoFi to become a Bank Holding Company and operate its bank subsidiary as SoFi Bank, National Association. This required the acquisition of the Bank Holding Company, Golden Pacific Bancorp, and its bank subsidiary, Golden Pacific Bank. The acquisition was completed in February.
SoFi has become a large and well-known fintech company. This Financial Brand article on the bank charter has a good overview of its history:
SoFi Technologies was initially created as a student loan refinancing business in 2011. Over the past ten years, it has become one of the top fintech players, offering a comprehensive array of digital financial services, including the ability to spend, save, invest and borrow money on its mobile banking platform. Unlike the majority of fintech players, the company has reported positive adjusted earnings (EBITDA) for the past five consecutive quarters.
In my previous review of SoFi Bank, the financial numbers were based on Golden Pacific Bank, which was a small bank with only $174.7 million in assets and $155.6 million in deposits before it was acquired by SoFi. The new financial numbers are based on SoFi Bank as of March 31, 2022 data, and the asset and deposit sizes have grown considerably. Assets are now $2.04 billion, and deposits are $1.23 billion.
SoFi Bank, N.A. has an overall health rating of "A+" at DepositAccounts.com, with a Texas Ratio of 0.06% (excellent), based on March 31, 2022 data. SoFi Bank has an excellent capitalization level (38.01%), the result of holding $2.04 billion in assets with $775.01 million in equity. Please refer to our financial overview of SoFi Bank, N.A. (FDIC Certificate # 26881) for more details.
How the SoFi Checking and Savings Compares
When compared to nationally available Money Market Accounts and Savings Accounts tracked by DepositAccounts.com, that do not require large balances and do not have small balance caps, eight savings and money market accounts have a higher APY than the SoFi Checking and Savings APY. It should be noted that the SoFi APY applies to both the savings and checking account. No other nationally available standard checking account has a rate this high.
The above information and rates are accurate as of 7/01/2022.