Review of SoFi Money

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Written by John Csiszar | Published on 8/19/2019

SoFi Money is a complete, all-in-one cash management solution for banking customers looking for a high-yield savings account combined with checking-account style access to their money. A slick mobile interface and numerous banking features, from bill pay and peer-to-peer transfer to mobile check deposits, provide a complete package for customers looking for a single solution to their checking and savings needs. Toss in a debit card, a high APY, and a fee-free ecosystem, and SoFi Money could be the right deposit account for you.

The drawbacks to using SoFi Money aren’t tied to the account itself but rather to its online-only nature. Customers that prefer to walk into a branch to fulfill their banking needs won’t be satisfied with SoFi Money, which is an online-only operation. Similarly, customers looking to deposit cold, hard cash won’t like SoFi Money. For those who rely on mobile deposits or direct deposits, SoFi Money offers a convenient way to manage funds without paying any fees.

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SoFi Money features

SoFi blends the features of both checking and savings in its SoFi Money account. Thanks to this, you don’t have to worry about transferring money back and forth between a checking account that allows frequent withdrawals and a savings account that pays a higher yield.

Although the current APY SoFi Money offers is not as high as some other high-yield savings accounts, it’s well above the national average and also much more than you can get from a traditional checking account. When combined with the convenience of access, it’s a good match for many customers. Unlike many other accounts, particularly from online institutions, SoFi Money offers paper checks free of charge.

SoFi is not a bank, so it farms out customer deposits to six banking partners to generate its current APY. As of August 2019, the banks that SoFi uses are:

  • MetaBank - Sioux Falls, S.D.
  • Hills Bank and Trust Company - Hills, Iowa
  • EagleBank - Bethesda, Md.
  • East West Bank - Pasadena, Calif.
  • TriState Capital Bank - Pittsburgh
  • Associated Bank - Green Bay, Wis

Since SoFi farms out deposits to traditional banks, all of your money deposited with SoFi is covered by FDIC insurance. In fact, you’re covered up to $1.5 million at SoFi, which is much more than the standard $250,000 limit per depositor you’ll find if all of your money is in a single bank account.

You can access the features of SoFi Money via the web or a mobile app.

SoFi Money fees and fine print

In addition to all the features of the SoFi money account, the big draw for many customers is the fact that SoFi Money charges no fees. There are no minimum balance or deposit requirements, no overdraft fees, no ATM fees (including international ATMs) and no foreign transaction fees. The company goes so far as to state on its website that it charges “$0 in account fees. Zero. Zilch. Zip. Zippo.” And while that is true for the most common bank fees that customers typically encounter, technically speaking, there are a few service fees that you may encounter if you need special services.

SoFi Money Fees
Monthly fee $0
Maintenance fee $0
Overdraft fee $0
ATM fees $0
ATM fee reimbursements Unlimited, even overseas
Foreign transaction fees $0
First replacement card $0
Additional replacement card $20
Replacement card rush delivery $25
Stop payment $20
Statement & research - legal processing $100

There is one fee of note that isn’t listed in any table on the SoFi website. If you’re using an ATM overseas, it’s true that SoFi will reimburse any ATM fees. However, there is a 1% foreign transaction fee that Visa charges on overseas purchases and ATM withdrawals that SoFi does not reimburse.

Using the SoFi mobile app

The SoFi mobile app provides access to every type of SoFi account, from Money to its investing, loans and money transfer options. Since there is no app specifically for SoFi Money, so you’ll have to download the complete SoFi mobile app to access your account through your smartphone.

You can log in to the app either via the traditional email address and password method or using fingerprint identification, if your smartphone is enabled to do so. Once logged in, you can click on the “Money” section at the bottom of the app and access your SoFi Money account.

The SoFi Money portion of the app is straightforward and streamlined. When you first access your account, you’ll see your balance in large, bold numbers at the top of the screen, with the interest rate you’re earning on your money in smaller type immediately underneath. Since those are the two more important bits of information for most account holders, it’s helpful that it’s placed so prominently in the app. Your transactions, another important feature, occupy the bottom half of the screen.

SoFi Money can be an attractive option for International travelers, as it doesn’t charge any international transaction fees and it reimburses all ATM fees, even the pricey ones often found overseas. Overall, the tremendous amount of features and benefits packed into a single account make it hard to argue that SoFi Money is lacking in any particular area.



Immediately underneath your interest rate are four action buttons. With a simple tap on your phone, you can either deposit a check, transfer money between accounts, send money to a third party or pay a bill. All four of these features are easy to use and intuitive on the app.

The mobile check deposit feature simply requires the amount of your deposit and photos of your check.



Transferring money is similarly simple, as you can enter the amount you want to transfer and then select your accounts from the provided drop-down options, which are pre-filled with the banking information you provided when you signed up for an account.

To send money to a third party, you can either allow the app to access your contacts or simply enter a valid email address or phone number.



For bill pay, you can either select from the provided list of common bills or type in the name of the company you want to pay, and options will pop up on the screen.



If you’re looking for more information about the nuts-and-bolts of your account, you can click the three black buttons at the top right of the screen. This will open up a new window showing your account details, such as your routing number and account number, your SoFi benefits, and the account management section. This is where you can perform functions such as adding a joint account holder, freeze or replace your debit card, set up or modify a direct deposit, order checks or view your past statements. You can also give feedback to SoFi through this portion of the app.



All-in-all, the SoFi Money app packs a lot of utility into relatively limited screen space, and it’s presented in a user-friendly manner.

Opening a SoFi Money account

As an online-only financial institution, SoFi Money makes opening an account easy. You can either download the app or use the SoFi Money webpage to open an account, which takes all of a few minutes. Here are the simple requirements:

  • U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • Age 18 or older
  • A physical U.S. address (Within the 50 states or Washington D.C.)
  • Valid Social Security number

As is typical for any type of financial account, you’ll also need to provide the following personal information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Citizenship status
  • Social Security number
  • Phone number
  • Email address

Some applicants may also be asked for a copy of their driver’s license or a current photo ID.

With all of this information in hand, opening an account is a simple process. Simply enter the information on the website or mobile app and follow the prompts and you’ll have a SoFi Money account in as little as 60 seconds.

What else you should know about SoFi Money

SoFi Money is part of the SoFi ecosystem, in which account holders are SoFi members and benefit from various additional perks. Complimentary benefits include:

  • 0.125% discount on SoFi loans
  • Career services, including one-on-one career coaching and a personalized strengths
  • Unemployment protection
  • Member experiences
  • Complimentary guidance from licensed financial advisors
  • Referral bonus

SoFi Money has certain transaction limits. For example, you can only make 12 point-of-sale purchases per day, and ATM withdrawals have a daily limit of $610. Here are other transaction limits imposed by SoFi Money:

  • Peer-to-peer withdrawal limit (daily): $250
  • Peer-to-peer withdrawal limit (monthly): $3,000
  • Bill pay limit per transaction: $10,000
  • Over-the-counter cash withdrawal limit: $150
  • Point-of-sale (POS) limit: $3,000

SoFi Money doesn’t charge its customers any fees, so how does it make money? The answer is twofold. First, SoFi earns money every time you swipe your debit card from a transaction processing fee that is paid by the merchant. SoFi also earns money by pocketing some of the interest that you earn on your deposits. Since SoFi has low overhead costs, it can still pass on enough of that interest to pay a highly competitive rate. However, you should know that a portion of SoFi’s profits come from skimming off the interest you’re earning from its partner banks.

Overall review of SoFi Money

SoFi Money packs a lot of features into a simple, easy-to-understand and streamlined account. Overall, it’s hard to top if you’re looking for extensive banking features combined into a single account. For example, its current APY isn’t the absolute highest available for a savings account, but you can pay bills or transfer money directly out of that account, rather than having to transfer the money first to a checking account.

The SoFi Money account also comes with a debit card, which isn’t the case with all high-yield savings accounts, and it even offers free paper checks, which not all checking accounts do. Having all of those features and benefits tied together in a single account makes SoFi Money a particularly convenient choice.

Online competitor Ally Bank, for example, offers both a high-yield savings account and an interest checking account, but it doesn’t combine features of both into a single account. As of press time (August 6, 2019), rates on the Ally checking and savings accounts are also below the 2.00% APY offered by SoFi Money.

The closest competitor for SoFi Money could be the Aspiration Spend & Save account, which is a cash management account currently paying the same APY and offering fee-free ATM withdrawals worldwide. This account also offers many of the same features as SoFi Money, including mobile check deposit, access to a debit card, and FDIC insurance – up to $2 million in the case of Aspiration. However, even though classified as a single “Spend & Save” account, you do have to transfer funds from the “Save” side to the “Spend” side if you want to use your debit card or otherwise “spend” your cash.

SoFi Money can be an attractive option for International travelers, as it doesn’t charge any international transaction fees and it reimburses all ATM fees, even the pricey ones often found overseas. Overall, the tremendous amount of features and benefits packed into a single account make it hard to argue that SoFi Money is lacking in any particular area.


Comments
bankingar
bankingar   |     |   Comment #1
Can you initiate ACH transfers from another bank with SoFi? Many other banking-esk services like Betterment do not offer this due to storing the money at other FDIC institutions.
pgroove_fan
pgroove_fan   |     |   Comment #2
Yes, ACH transfers can be initiated from external institutions. The SoFi money account comes with a full routing/account number pair that can be linked to from outside. The routing number sometimes maps to either "Christiana Bank" or "Wilmington Savings Fund" but the links still form and work just fine.

This is an important point, because SoFi's mechanics only allow for linking 3 external accounts at a time. I have my 3 tied up with my 2 local brick and mortar banks that don't offer any linking of their own and one online bank that similarly allows only 3 links. I have several other FIs set up to point at SoFi and have no trouble sending money into SoFi from them.

Another point, however, is that transfers and deposits settle fairly slowly for me at SoFi. The funds usually aren't fully available for 2 or 3 business days. I haven't used SoFi enough to see a definitive pattern of what goes fast vs slow, but felt it useful to warn folks that "instant gratification" is not found with this account.
bankingar
bankingar   |     |   Comment #3
Thanks @pgroove_fan! Do you know how quickly after transfer the funds start earning interest even if they are unavailable for transactions?
pgroove_fan
pgroove_fan   |     |   Comment #4
Today is payday at my work and my first direct deposit to SoFi is shown as fully available.

On my next statement I'll see if I can discern the compounding start dates on ACHs from my total interest and running daily balance. May not work, though, as I carry under $2K here and total interest is so low that rounding matters may abound.

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