2022 SoFi Checking and Savings (SoFi Money) Review
Ever since I started taking an interest in the FinTech sector, one company whose name I’ve seen pop up over and over again is SoFi. Despite that, lately it seems as though that theme has been sent into overdrive as the company has not only become a household name thanks to its stadium naming rights deal but also because of the company’s continued expansions. However, the most interesting development in my mind is SoFi’s acquisition of Golden Pacific Bancorp, resulting in SoFi Bank and SoFi Checking and Savings.
I actually first learned about the then-named SoFi Money while writing about different FinTech debit card options on the market. What got my attention was the account’s high-yield savings element coupled with things like free ATM access and very few fees. Before I even hit “publish” on that post, I had already signed up for an account.
Now, with the move from SoFi Money to SoFi Checking and Savings, I figured it was time to take an updated look at what the account has to offer, what I like about SoFi Banking overall, and where I think they can improve.
Editor’s note: this article was last updated in February 2022 with the latest APY information and changes.
Features of SoFi Checking and Savings/SoFi Money
The move from SoFi Money to SoFi Checking and Savings
Before we get into the current features of SoFi Checking and Savings, I wanted to quickly recap its predecessor, SoFi Money, and how the new account differs. First, while SoFi Money was a hybrid account, as you might expect given its name, SoFi Checking and Savings now offers separate checking and savings accounts.
Another change involves FDIC insurance as SoFi Bank now offers the standard FDIC insurance on up to $250,000 per depositor. Previously, since SoFi’s partner bank swept deposits into multiple accounts, the FDIC insurance limit was far higher — although I don’t suspect this change will affect too many users.
As for other differences, long-time SoFi Money users may be hesitant to “upgrade” to SoFi Checking and Savings as they’ll no longer be able to enjoy global ATM reimbursement. This was actually a feature of SoFi Money when it first launched and, while discontinued later, older customers were grandfathered in. Other than that, the user experience is fairly similar between the past and present offerings.
At the time that I’m writing this, SoFi is still in the process of rolling out Checking & Savings. In the meantime, individuals can still sign-up for SoFi Money and will then have the opportunity to switch over on a rolling invite basis. Once an invitation is offered and accepted, users will see their account updated within 36 hours or so (in my experience). When this change occurs, any money left in SoFi Money’s Vaults will be placed in the new Savings account.
If you’re currently a SoFi Money user and aren’t ready to upgrade just yet, the good news is that you don’t have to — for now. However, in a tweet response to another customer, SoFi did indicate that a mandatory switch over would happen in the future. Until then, you’re free to keep the hybrid version.
No monthly or maintenance fees
Like many online bank accounts, SoFi Checking and Savings’ biggest pitch to consumers is that they won’t charge the kinds of fees that have given brick-and-mortar banks a bad reputation. Among the fees that SoFi doesn’t charge are monthly fees, minimum balance fees, overdraft fees, and returned items fees. There are others as well; you can view them all here.
Incidentally, when I originally wrote my review of SoFi money, they did charge $20 for more than one replacement card — although your first replacement was always free — as well as a $25 fee if you wanted that replacement rush-shipped.
Elsewhere there was also a $20 stop payment fee and a $100 Legal Processing fee (for garnishments, tax levies, or other court orders). However it seems that SoFi has even dropped those reasonable fees down to $0 as well. So, when they say “no fees,” they really mean it.
Free ATM access
With SoFi Checking and Savings (as well as SoFi Money), customers have access to more than 550,000 fee-free ATMs. This is thanks to the Allpoint ATM network. To locate one of these fee-free ATMs, users can use the SoFi app, tap “More” when in the banking tab, and select “Find an ATM.” By the way, if you encounter an out of network ATM, SoFi won’t charge you a fee to use it, but the operator of the machine might.
No foreign transaction fees
Another nice perk of SoFi is that they also permit you to use your debit card for foreign transactions. What’s more, unlike some banks that may tack on as much as 3% as a conversion fee, SoFi does it for free. Essentially whatever the current exchange rate is will be what you pay — although they note that a .2% MasterCard foreign conversion fee may apply, but is baked into your total.
One of the selling points SoFi is pushing to move customers from the older SoFi Money product to the new SoFi Checking and Savings is a higher APY. Currently (as of February 2022), customers can earn up to 1% APY with the Checking and Savings account.
However, in order to unlock this rate, customers must set up direct deposit. Also, this 1% APY only applies to the first $50,000. Meanwhile, those without direct deposit currently earn 0.25% APY — which is still better than the national average.
Also of note, when you upgrade from SoFi Money to SoFi Checking and Savings, the company is currently offering that 1% APY by default for 30 days. But, after that, the direct deposit requirement will kick in.
Peer to peer payments
This one’s a bit interesting but SoFi Money apparently allows users to send funds via peer to peer (P2P) payments for free. To do this, you can enter a phone number or e-mail address for the recipient along with how much you want to send. Then those on the receiving end can claim the funds by entering some basic info as well as their bank routing and account numbers. Should your intended recipient fail to respond within a set period of time, your money will be returned to you.I did try out this feature and it seemed to work okay… but I’d just as soon stick with dedicated P2P apps like Cash App, Venmo, or PayPal instead.
While I was exploring my SoFi Money account in preparation for my initial review, I realized that they also offered a bill pay option. Here you can either arrange direct payments for credit cards or other bills or set up to have a paper check sent out on your behalf. Personally I have no use for this feature but it’s there if you need it.
Another aspect of SoFi Money I discovered after opening an account is that they offer a complimentary checkbook. With just a couple of clicks, you can order free personal checks linked to your account. By default, an order includes 25 checks, although you can reorder as long as it’s been at least seven days. Considering I did need to write checks to pay rent each month, I appreciated SoFi making this an option and making the process so simple.
I’m also happy to report that this feature has continued on with SoFi Checking and Savings. What’s more, the checks now say “SoFi Bank, N.A.” — so that’s kinda cool! By the way, since SoFi users are able to retain the same routing and account numbers even after moving their accounts to the new program, older checks should still be valid.
One of SoFi’s newer features is called Overdraft Coverage. Considering that SoFi Money already boasted no overdraft fees, this announcement might be a bit confusing.
However, without Overdraft Coverage, customers who attempt to spend more than is available in their account will simply have their transaction declined. Meanwhile, those who have at least $1,000 a month directly deposited into their SoFi Checking and Savings or SoFi Money account can qualify to overdraft their account by as much as $50 without incurring any fees. Then, when your next deposit arrives, the debt will be automatically repaid.
Obviously this is the kind of feature you hope to not have to use, but it’s nice to know it’s there — assuming that you qualify for it.
SoFi Credit Card
Something else I want to mention is that, in the past year, SoFi has introduced its own cashback credit card. The reason I bring this up in this particular article is that the new card includes perks for SoFi Money (and now SoFi Checking and Savings) customers.
Here’s how it works: when you make purchases with your SoFi Credit Card, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent. Typically, these points would be worth 0.5¢ each. However, when you redeem your points for cashback deposits to your SoFi Banking account, they’ll be worth 1¢ each. Therefore, by using the card and cashing in your points for SoFi Money deposits, you can effectively earn 2% back on everything you buy.
The SoFi Credit Card has no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and other perks. So, if you’re looking for an easy cashback credit card setup, this could be a card worth considering.
Pros and Cons of SoFi Checking and Savings/SoFi Money
One app to rule them all
First up is both a pro and a con of sorts — but mostly the latter. In my review of Discover Bank, I noted that the merger of their banking and credit card account apps was a good thing. However, I’m not sure that the same can be said when it comes to SoFi.
Within the SoFi app, you’ll not only have access to your Checking and Savings accounts but will also find tabs for investing, loans, their Relay account aggregator, and more. This is to say that only a small portion of the app is dedicated to banking functions and yet is bogged down in features that likely don’t apply to you. To be sure, this is far from an accident as SoFi wants you to take advantage of their other products but, for me, I’d definitely prefer a dedicated SoFi Banking application.
Clear transfer dates
Considering that I now have upwards of a dozen savings accounts alone, I end up transferring money with some frequency. Therefore I find it quite annoying — if not worrisome — when these transfers take an unexpectedly long time or are seemingly stuck in limbo without updates. That’s why I was impressed that, when I initiated a transfer from an external account to SoFi Money (via SoFi), it clearly states when the first portion of the funds would be available as well as when the full transfer would be complete. Of course it’s one thing to say what will happen, but thankfully SoFi stuck to their word. For that reason, I found the transfer process to be enjoyable and stress-free.
No flat cashback amount on checking
As much as I enjoy SoFi’s strategy (so far) of offering lucrative cashback amounts on select purchases, there may be better options out there for those looking to earn cashback from their debit card.
For example, Discover’s debit gives you 1% back on everything you buy. Granted, this isn’t really a big deal for me either way as I use credit cards far more than debit cards. But for those who do prefer the latter, they might also appreciate earning a flat amount back instead of dealing with random promotions.
Fairly favorable exchange rates
When I first joined SoFi Money, one of my favorite features involved travel. While in Paris I had the chance to try my card at an ATM, taking out the same amount using another bank card seconds later. Surprisingly I learned that SoFi’s exchange rate for the transaction came in 4¢ cheaper than the other bank on a 20€ transaction. Sure this isn’t much but it was interesting nonetheless.
Later in the trip, one of my credit cards suddenly stopped working for a time (likely the result of several repetitive train ticket transactions I was making), leaving me without a foreign transaction fee-free credit card to use. Luckily I was able to use my SoFi debit card without issue. In each case, these purchases were assessed at a fair exchange rate and I appreciate that SoFi “shows their work,” displaying the original currency rate and conversion for each line. As you can imagine, this was a huge relief and I’ll certainly be taking my SoFi card with me for future travels.
My joint account attempt
The last time I wrote about SoFi Money, the joint account option was still in beta. At that time, it seemed like the company was still working out some of the kinks. On my end, I was able to invite my wife to join my account and she submitted her application. Alas, nothing ever came of that.
Honestly I haven’t bothered trying to re-add her but, since it’s been a while since that original attempt, I can only hope that these requests are now being processed in a more timely manner.
As you just read we’re big fans of SoFi Money but it gets even better. For a limited time you can get a $25 bonus if you open a new account with this Dyer News link.
Subject to change
One of the reasons that I frequently update my reviews is that a lot of products and services in the FinTech space tend to evolve. Sometimes these changes are good and other times… not so much. This is something I actually noted in a previous version of this review that now seems a bit prophetic. Sure enough, as we’ve recently seen, these accounts might not stay gold forever. So while I was personally spared from this last round of adjustments, I do worry about what the future will hold.
Short track record
Finally, I feel the need to mention that SoFi Money (and especially SoFi Checking and Savings now) is still a relatively new offering, officially debuting to the general public in late February 2019. On top of that SoFi has been introducing so many new endeavors of late that one might worry that they’re spreading themselves a bit thin.
With that said, while it may take the company some time to prove themselves and their Money accounts worthy, the good news is that funds are FDIC insured — and SoFi is now a bank, making that whole system a bit easier. This should hopefully give you at least some peace of mind if you’re on the fence about taking a chance with a startup.
Final Thoughts on SoFi Checking and Savings/SoFi Money
With what was a sky-high APY, great perks for travelers, and an admittedly attractive debit card, SoFi Money was off to a pretty strong start in my book and was one of my favorite accounts. Although I mostly intended to use it as an auxiliary account, I also appreciated that it included many traditional banking features such as check deposit, bill pay, and paper checks as well.
Meanwhile my biggest complaint was that the app — cluttered by other products — was a bit lacking. All of those opinions mostly remain, although I can’t help but say I’m no longer as in love with this account as I once was.
With that said, I still think SoFi Checking and Savings is a solid option and the fact that SoFi is now a full-fledged bank is pretty exciting. Also, unlike some other services I’ve reviewed, I find SoFi’s banking product to be very usable, offering much of what I think an online bank account should.
If there’s anything I’d change about the current SoFi Checking and Savings account, I really wish they’d bring back the international ATM reimbursement policy… although I’m sure that ship has sailed. Also, in a perfect world, the 1% APY wouldn’t require any additional steps such as direct deposit. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for digital banking that offers several perks with few fees, I believe that SoFi Money/ SoFi Checking and Savings might be worth exploring.
SoFi Money is a cash management product that functions as a hybrid savings and checking account. As a result users can enjoy perks such as free ATM withdrawals from Allpoint Network ATMs and better-than-average APYs.
Yes. SoFi is a respected FinTech company founded in 2011. Additionally, funds deposited to SoFi Money are FDIC insured.
As of February 2022, customers can earn 1% APY with their SoFi Savings account (up to $50,000 in funds) if they sign-up for direct deposit. Those who don’t utilize direct deposit currently earn 0.25% APY.
Technically SoFi Money is a cash management account, although it does offer a debit card like a checking account. In fact, users can also request free paper checks to use as well.
Yes. Funds are insured up to $250,000 during the transfer process and, once swept to partner banks, are insured up to $1.5 million.
Currently SoFi Money does not integrate with Zelle. Instead the account offers its own peer to peer (P2P) payment options for sending funds.
SoFi Money occasionally offers referral bonuses when new users sign up using a link from an existing customer. A current SoFi Money promotion is offering referred users $25 when they make a deposit at least $500 into their account. However this requires that users sign up using one of the personalized links provided to current customers.
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Also published on Medium.