Whether you want to refinance debt or are seeking to make a big purchase that you haven’t quite saved enough money for yet, a personal loan may be right for you.
Gone are the days where you need to go to a local bank to do so. In our SoFi review, we will take a look at this online bank to see if it is a smart loan choice for you.
SoFi offers a fairly straightforward way for you to get a low-cost loan to pay off credit card debt or take care of other needs. Its interest rates are among the best in the nation, and the lack of prepayment, origination, or late payment fees is an attractive asset. The wide range of loan terms and the size of loans permitted are also big pluses. But it may not be easy for everyone to get a personal loan through SoFi.
- Great customer service
- Competitive rates
- No local banks
- Qualifications oblique
Table of Contents
- What is SoFi?
- How Does SoFi Work?
- How Much Does SoFi Cost?
- Key Features of SoFi
- SoFi FAQ
- SoFi Reviews
- SoFi Pros and Cons
- SoFi Alternatives
- A Word About Personal Debt
What is SoFi?
SoFi is a financial services company operating exclusively online.
It was founded in 2011 by two Stanford graduate students who wanted to explore different options for addressing student loan debt.
The company offers a wide variety of loan, investment, insurance and banking products. They include:
- Mortgages and mortgage refinancing
- Student loan refinancing
- Parent PLUS loan refinancing
- SoFi Checking and Savings Account
- Term life insurance
- SoFi Invest low-cost investing
SoFi offers personal loans primarily to borrowers with credit scores above 650.
It provides a simple, straightforward way to access loans ranging from $5,000 up to $100,000, with terms as long as seven years. (Note: Some states have higher minimum loan requirements.)
Fixed interest rates on SoFi personal loans (with autopay) are very competitive for an online bank compared to traditional brick and mortar banks.
SoFi’s current CEO, Anthony Noto, once served as the chief operating officer of Twitter.
SoFi personal loans can be used for various purposes except to buy real estate, investments and securities, post-secondary education, or for business purposes or short-term bridge financing.
SoFi claims it is able to offer lower rates and larger loans because it lends to people who have a high likelihood of being able to repay.
With SoFi personal loans, you can agree to pay back your loan in as few as two years or as many as seven.
How Does SoFi Work?
The company offers a simple, online interface and a straightforward application process that promises to deliver an answer within a week.
Acquiring a loan with SoFi can be done entirely online. You begin by registering with your name, email address and state of residence, and creating a password.
You’ll then be asked for your address, and SoFi will send a code to your cellphone to verify that it’s you.
You can opt out of two-factor authentication by changing the settings on your profile later.
Next, you’ll answer some additional questions about the loan you need and about your personal information.
This application process takes about 10 minutes. You’ll get your application results within one to two days, sometimes longer if income verification is needed.
And if you are approved, you’ll get your money within a few days.
How Much Does SoFi Cost?
SoFi advertises fixed rates for personal loans with competitive rates starting as low as 6.99%.
These rates are based on the borrower getting a 0.25% rate discount for setting up automatic payments.
Making an apples to apples comparison of interest rates from SoFi competitors is challenging, because every bank may be slightly different in how they evaluate potential borrowers.
A lender may advertise “rates as low as” a certain figure, but there’s no way to tell in advance whether you’d get the lowest rate.
However, rates listed on BankRate.com appear to show that SoFi offers competitive rates that are constantly being updated. Make sure to check and compare.
It’s notable that the interest rates offered by SoFi for personal loans are generally lower than most credit card APRs as well.
This can make SoFi a particularly good option for borrowers looking to consolidate credit card debt.
Of course, those with very high credit card debt may not qualify for a loan through SoFi.
Note too that there are no origination fees, no late fees and no prepayment fees tied to SoFi personal loans.
Next, let’s go over some key features of SoFi.
Key Features of SoFi
SoFi offers several features that could make it a smart place for you to get a personal loan from. Here are some of the company’s most popular features.
SoFi also has banking services available. The company offers an account that functions as a combo checking/savings account.
The account has no minimum balance and no monthly service fee. There is no minimum opening deposit requirement on the account.
The SoFi Checking and Savings account offers basic checking features and free ATM use at Allpoint ATMs.
When you open one or more “Vaults” (your savings pods) you can opt-in to round up checking purchases to go into your savings Vault.
If you have a Direct Deposit going into the account at least once per month, you qualify for SoFi’s high yield interest rate, which is 1.5% as of this writing.
There is no minimum dollar requirement for the monthly Direct Deposit. If your Direct Deposits are over $1,000 per month you qualify for overdraft protection as well.
SoFi offers investing too, courtesy of SoFi Invest. Invest gives you the option to buy no-commision stocks, ETF and IPO shares.
You can trade cryptocurrencies on the site as well. And you can buy fractional shares. The minimum to start investing here is just $5.
SoFi offers an online calculator designed to give you a sense of how you might save by switching to a SoFi personal loan.
It asks for your current loan amount and interest rate, plus the monthly payment or months left to pay back the loan.
For example, let’s say you had a loan of $15,000 with 36 months remaining on the term and an interest rate of 10.99%.
SoFi estimates that you could get a new three-year loan with a fixed interest rate much lower, potentially saving about $75-$175 per month.
It is also possible to see how much money you might save by adjusting the term of the loan.
SoFi also offers a no-annual-fee Mastercard that gives you up to 3% cash back on purchases.
You earn the 3% when you have a SoFi Checking and Savings account set up that has Direct Deposit.
Note that your cash back can be converted directly into cryptocurrency with SoFi invest as well.
There are few things scarier than losing your job when you are faced with paying off debt each month.
SoFi understands this, and offers some protection in the event of a layoff.
If you qualify, you can have the loan placed in forbearance and payments suspended for as long as 12 months if you suddenly find yourself out of work.
Unemployment protection is offered for three months at a time, capped at 12 months for the life of the loan. (The 12 months don’t necessarily have to be consecutive.)
There are a number of requirements you must meet in order to receive unemployment protection.
- You must have lost your job through no fault of your own.
- Your loan must be in good standing at the time you request enrollment.
- You must actively work with the SoFi Career team to find a new job.
It’s important to know that the Unemployment Protection Program is not a catch-free way to avoid making a loan payment.
For starters, the loan will continue to accrue interest while in forbearance. Interest payments will be added to the balance of the loan.
You will have the option of continuing to make interest-only payments.
Enrolling in the Unemployment Protection Program could also have an impact on your credit.
The status of the loan in forbearance will be reported to the credit bureaus, and thus could be a factor when other institutions are evaluating your credit.
SoFi Mobile App
It is possible to apply for a SoFi personal loan, make payments and check balances using the SoFi Mobile app.
You can also use the mobile app to check your banking account if you have one with SoFi.
The app is available via the Google Play and Apple App Store. As of this writing, the app had 4.2 stars out of 5 on the Google Play store and 4.8 out of 5 in the Apple App Store.
Next, let’s discuss the answers to some frequently asked questions about SoFi.
What customer service options does SoFi offer?
If you need assistance with your application or have questions about your loan, you can speak to a live human being on the phone.
The customer service number is 855-456-7634, and support is available 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific Time Monday through Thursday, and 4 a.m. – 5 p.m. Pacific, Friday through Sunday.
You can also get assistance through the SoFi Twitter feed, @SoFiSupport.
Who is eligible to apply for a SoFi loan?
SoFi does not guarantee a loan to anyone. Potential borrowers must meet the company’s underwriting criteria, and there are other requirements.
First, you must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or visa holder. You also must be employed, or have an offer of employment and be starting within 90 days, or have other means of income.
Is SoFi secure?
SoFi uses 256-bit encryption on any information transmitted from its website. This is one of the most secure encryption methods available.
Customer information is stored in facilities and servers that only specific SoFi employees and contractors have access to.
SoFi acknowledges that it does share your information with its partners for marketing purposes, and with affiliates so that they can market to you.
It does not share your information with non-affiliates. You can place some limits on this sharing by logging in and clicking on “My Preferences.”
|Website||Rating||Number of Reviews|
|Apple App Store||4.8 out of 5||170K|
|Google Play||4.2 out of 5||23K|
|Better Business Bureau||1.26||537|
|Trustpilot||4.1 out of 5||3.3K|
Here is what some customers had to say about SoFi on Trustpilot reviews.
“Love using SoFi for my banking needs – trusted them for my student loans and now for investing, savings, and checking accounts. I have attended a number of their events and met so many people and learned so much. They are easy to use and helped me gain financial independence!” –Samantha M.
“After being given a hard time by our normal financial company trying to get a loan to put a new roof on our home, the roofing company suggested that we try SoFi. The folks at SoFi went out of their way to help us out getting the correct loan and rates and in a very short time we had our loan and were on our way to getting a new roof. Very friendly and helpful, we couldn’t ask for any more help getting whet we needed.” –David V.
“Very bad experience on getting funded in a timely manner. And unable to fulfill my request for some sort of compensation for the MAJOR inconvenience and loss of opportunity cause by the funding delay”–Dale F.
“By far the worst company I have used for financing. Supposed to be a 6 week closing and turned into 4 months. Poor communication, never respond to emails, and they make so many mistakes that it has added months into my closing date.”–Brenda R.
SoFi Pros and Cons
There are many reasons to like SoFi as a potential lender. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the service’s key attributes:
- Very competitive interest rates. Few companies offer low APR.
- No fees. Other lenders may charge you a fee if you pay off a loan early.
- Flexible loan terms. You can take as little as two years or as long as seven years to pay back a SoFi Personal Loan.
- Loans are unsecured. There’s no need to put up collateral to obtain a SoFi personal loan. This means you don’t have to put your house or any other assets at risk.
- Wider range of borrowing. SoFi allows you to borrow as little as $5,000 or as much as $100,000. Other lenders may have a smaller lending range.
- Unemployment Protection. As we stated above, SoFi will temporarily suspend your payment requirements for as long as 12 months if you lose your job.
While there may be compelling reasons to go with SoFi, there are some negatives to be aware of.
- No in-person customer service. SoFi is not affiliated with a physical bank, so you won’t have the opportunity to meet with a representative or receive customer service in person. That may not matter to everyone, but some people like the personal service that brick-and-mortar banks can provide.
- Not good for those with bad credit. SoFi generally doesn’t lend to people who don’t have credit scores of at least 680. By lending to only borrowers with good credit, they see fewer defaults and are able to keep rates and costs down. People with fair or poor credit scores may be shut out and unable to access rates as low as those offered by SoFi.
- Eligibility is a bit opaque. SoFi has a somewhat unique approach to determining whether a person is eligible for a personal loan. While it generally prefers people with better credit scores, it also looks at overall financial history, monthly income versus expenses, and career experience.
The growth of online banking has led to the launch of multiple low-cost personal loan companies, many of whom offer services similar to SoFi. Competitors include:
- Payoff: Offering loans of between $5,000 and $35,000 to help pay off credit card debt.
- LendingClub: A leading peer-to-peer lending service that allows to you access loans from private individuals and bypass the bank altogether.
- Prosper: Another peer-to-peer lending platform. It offers loans as large as $40,000.
- Upstart: Lending platform started by former Google employees in which loan applicants are evaluated using artificial intelligence.
In addition to evaluating these services, a person considering SoFi personal loans to consolidate credit card debt should also examine whether a balance transfer credit card makes sense.
Many balance transfer credit cards come with an introductory period of up to 21 months where you’ll pay no interest.
If you believe that you can pay off the debt before the promotional period ends and interest charges kick in, you may be able to save more money than you could with a personal loan.
There is always the risk, however, that you won’t pay off the debt in time and be subjected to very high credit card interest rates.
A Word About Personal Debt
SoFi personal loans can be helpful for certain people, particularly those that want to save money by consolidating their credit card debt.
But it’s important to avoid getting too enamored with the products and services of any personal loan company.
Remember, after all, that taking on debt of any kind can make it harder for you to achieve financial freedom.
The fact that a company offers low rates, good customer service, or a sleek website should not change this fact.
Before choosing to go with SoFi or any of its competitors, take time to evaluate whether you truly need a loan.
What do you need the loan for? If you are using SoFi to help consolidate credit card debt and save money, then it could be a sensible choice.
But taking out loans to make discretionary purchases like a new hot tub or a snowmobile may not be helpful to your finances in the long run.
If you are using a SoFi loan to consolidate higher interest debt, take time to examine how you reached that point to begin with.
How did you end up in debt? Have you been focused on saving money? What are your spending patterns?
Consider this: If you have the right mindset and make the right financial choices, your first loan from SoFi should be your last.
SoFi offers a fairly straightforward way for you to get a low-cost loan to pay off credit card debt or take care of other needs.
Its interest rates are among the best in the nation, and the lack of prepayment, origination, or late payment fees is an attractive asset.
The wide range of loan terms and the size of loans permitted are also big pluses.
It may not be easy for everyone to get a personal loan through SoFi. If you have shaky credit, no job, or inconsistent cash flow, you may be turned down.
Thus, SoFi loans are generally best for people with very good credit and a history of being able to pay bills on time.