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A Beginner’s Guide to Using a Credit Card

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Nice couple at laptop learn how to get a debit card

Are you thinking about opening a credit card account? Or have you recently opened an account? You may feel like a novice, but worry not — we’ve compiled a guide to help walk you through the most common credit card terms. You’ll also find advice on how to be a responsible credit card user.

How credit cards work

Credit cards are lines of credit that can be used continuously as you pay off your balance. They’re a handy way to pay for items of all kinds, and can help you build credit when used responsibly. Credit cards usually have detailed terms and conditions that list fees, rewards, benefit restrictions and more. Here are the important ones you should know

Typical credit card terms

  • Annual fee: This is the fee you will be charged each year — if your card has a fee. Plenty of credit cards come with no annual fee, and you might prefer to stick with a no-fee card.
  • Credit limit: The maximum amount of credit you can charge on your card.
  • APR: This is the annual percentage rate or, simply, the interest rate you will be charged on balances carried. The rate is annual, so divide it by 12 to get your monthly  rate. Most often, this rate is variable and fluctuates with the prime rate, so your APR may change at any time.
  • Cash advance APR: If you use your card to take out cash, you’ll be charged at a higher interest rate than for regular purchases.
  • Penalty APR: This is a higher APR than you are typically charged, and is often the result of a late or returned payment. The penalty APR can be in effect for several months or indefinitely, depending on the issuer.
  • Intro 0% period: You may be fortunate enough to have a credit card that offers an introductory period during which you can carry a balance that doesn’t accrue interest. The terms for these intro periods vary.
  • Late payment fee: If you pay late, you will incur a fee that is typically greater than $30.
  • Returned payment fee: Payments you submit that aren’t approved may be subject to a fee, usually $30 or more.
  • Foreign transaction fee: Some cards charge a fee for purchases made outside of the U.S., which is typically around 3%.
  • Cash advance fee: If you take out a cash advance, you will likely will be charged a 3% to 5% fee.
  • Balance transfer fee: Any balances you transfer from an existing credit card to an eligible new card may be subject to a balance transfer fee, on average 3% to 5% of the amount transferred.

Other common credit card features

  • Sign-up bonus: Your card may offer a sign-up bonus, which typically requires you to spend a certain amount within a given time period (usually three months).
  • Rewards: Many credit cards offer rewards programs that allow you to earn cash back, airline miles or points for purchases. This can be a great way to be rewarded for your spending, but don’t overspend and risk falling into debt simply for the sake of earning rewards.
  • Alerts: Issuers often let you set up fraud or balance limit alerts and reminders when it’s time for a payment.
  • Autopay: You can set this up with your credit card issuer so you are sure to avoid late or missed payments.

Choose a card that fits your needs

There are numerous credit cards available for a wide range of needs, from building credit to earning rewards, to getting out of debt and more. You should decide what your goal is with a credit card, then compare cards from various issuers prior to applying. Some issuers allow you to fill out a prequalification form that does a soft pull on your credit. This doesn’t affect your credit score and is a great way to shop around for the best deals. One note: Prequalification is not a guarantee of approval.

Read our list of the best credit cards in a variety of categories to find a card for your needs.

Read the terms and conditions

An important step prior to applying for a credit card is to review the cardmember agreement. Each card has different rates and fees that vary based on any number of reasons, including credit history, actions you take (or don’t take), the prime rate in the market and more. It’s crucial to review the cardmember agreement so you’re aware of any fees you may be charged, as well as how the card works.

Practice responsible credit behavior

Make on-time payments. Perhaps the most important aspect of having a credit card is to make timely payments. By doing so, you avoid late payment fees and penalty APRs that can hurt your credit score.

Pay your balance in full. A great goal is to always pay your bill in full so you never carry a balance. Any unpaid balance will be charged interest (unless associated with a 0% APR promotion) and can cause you to rack up debt. This also negatively affects your credit score.

Avoid overspending. It’s common for people to mismanage their credit cards and be tempted to overspend, but with proper budgeting, you can avoid falling into debt. A good rule of thumb is to only spend what you can afford to pay at the time of purchase — this way you know you can pay off your balance.

Keep a low utilization rate. The percentage of available credit you use is known as utilization, and is a factor in your credit score. It’s important to keep a low utilization rate so issuers see you’re not a risk — ideally no higher than 30%, but the lower the rate, the better. Constantly maxing out your card raises concerns for issuers and can cause you to fall into debt.

Check your monthly statements. By simply reviewing your monthly statements, you can proactively notice any fraud that may occur on your account and isn’t flagged by your credit card company. Most companies send notifications if they think there’s fraud on your account, but they don’t catch every instance of suspicious behavior.

You can also choose to use a service to monitor your credit. MagnifyMoney’s parent company, LendingTree, offers this service for free. There are several other places now where you can check your credit score for free, across all three major bureaus.

Check your credit score and credit report. Checking your credit score on a monthly basis is a good habit to get into and can promote positive credit  behavior. Read our guide on where to access your free credit score and other credit tips. It’s also a good idea to check your credit report every few months to make sure everything checks out and no unknown accounts are opened in your name. Annualcreditreport.com is the only source for authorized credit reports from all three major credit bureaus, and you can run one report annually for each bureau. We recommend spacing them out every four months.

Secure your card. Don’t leave your card unattended or loan it to friends. Your card is your responsibility and should be treated with care. If you happen to lose your card or it’s stolen, contact your issuer immediately and put a hold on your account until your card is found or replaced.

Don’t request a cash advance. Cash advances are notorious for high fees and tricky terms that can draw you into debt, so it’s best to avoid them entirely. If you need cash, look to personal loans, which may have better terms.

Bottom line

Having a credit card can be a great way to build a credit history, as long as you use it responsibly. Understanding all the terms, as well as your cardmember agreement, is crucial to being a responsible cardholder.  Refer to this guide before signing up for your first credit card, or if you have any questions about your current credit card account. Your wallet — and credit score — will thank you.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Alexandria White
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Alexandria White is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Alexandria at [email protected]

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31 Financial Role Models to Honor This Women’s History Month

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From the first female millionaire to the only female Nobel Prize winner in economics, this Women’s History Month we’re honoring 31 women who have shaped today’s business world. Read on to learn about building your net worth, thriving in your career and carving your own financial path from the brightest, boldest and most innovative women who have influenced finance, economics and policy.

1. Henrietta “Hetty” Green

1834-1916

Born in 1834, Henrietta “Hetty” Green was one of the nation’s first value investors. Though Green came from a wealthy family that made most of its money in the whaling industry, her financial savvy turned her into an investing powerhouse. Case in point: When her father gave her beautiful dresses to attract a rich suiter, she instead sold the clothing and used the proceeds to invest in government bonds.

When Green died in 1916, she had amassed a fortune of more than $2 billion in today’s dollars and was considered the wealthiest woman in America. Known for her miserly ways and the black mourning clothes she adopted after the death of her husband, Green was commonly referred to as the “Witch of Wall Street.”

2. Janet Yellen

1946-

Janet Yellen was the first woman to be chair of the Board of Governors for the U.S. Federal Reserve, a position she held from 2014 to 2018. By and large, Yellen has been lauded for her performance as the fed chair, overseeing the economy during a period of low unemployment, record stock prices and low inflation. When she left office, 60% of economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal gave her an “A” rating, while 30% gave her a “B.”

Yellen received her bachelor’s degree in economics from Brown University before going on to receive a Ph.D in economics from Yale University. She is a professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley.

3. Millicent Garrett Fawcett

1847-1929

A major player in the women’s suffrage movement in the 1800s, Millicent Garrett Fawcett was well-known for her political activism, dedication to promoting women’s rights and keen understanding of economics.

Born in 1847, Fawcett penned many books, including “Political Economy for Beginners,” a short book published in 1870 that broke down economics so it was easy to understand. Numerous iterations of the book were published over the course of 41 years. Academics believe Fawcett’s contribution to today’s understanding of economics has been largely overlooked.

4. Abigail Adams

1744-1818

Although Abigail Adams was primarily known as the wife of founding father John Adams, she was noteworthy in her own right for fighting for financial independence during a time when doing so was largely unheard of for married women.

Not only did Adams manage the family’s household finances, but she also traded bonds and proved to have a sharp acumen for investing. Letters to her husband showed she also spoke out about laws that prohibited women’s rights, including the fact that married women couldn’t own property. Over the course of her life, Adams prudently invested her own “pocket” money and accrued quite the fortune, which she left primarily to women in her will.

5. Harriet Martineau

1802-1876

Often referred to as the first female sociologist, Harriet Martineau wrote many books, including “Illustrations of Political Economy.” This book explored political economic theories (such as labor strikes and overpopulation) through easy-to-digest illustrations that made the concepts accessible to the layperson.

Born in 1802, Martineau was known for her sharp intellect when it came to politics and economics. She wrote extensively over the course of her 74-year life, with 50 books and countless articles and essays to her name.

6. Elinor Ostrom

1933-2012

Elinor Ostrom is well-known for being the only woman to ever receive a Nobel Prize in economics. A political economist, Ostrom received a Ph.D in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles before becoming faculty at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.

Ostrom received a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2009 for debunking the long-held idea that natural resources, when used collectively, would be destroyed over time due to the self-interest of each individual. Through research, Ostrom proved that when communities shared natural resources, they often developed rules for caring for these resources, which in turn promoted economic sustainability.

7. Madam C. J. Walker

1867-1919

Madam C. J. Walker — born as Sarah Breedlove — is one of the first self-made African-American female millionaires in the U.S. An entrepreneur, activist and philanthropist, Walker created her own hair care product line in 1904 for black women called Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower. Walker’s business exploded, and at the time of her death in 1919, her net worth was over $1 million.

Over the course of her career, Walker regularly advocated for black women by running sales training programs designed to help them achieve financial independence.

8. Carla Harris

1962-

Carla Harris is the vice chairman of global wealth management and senior client advisor at Morgan Stanley. In 2013, former president Barack Obama appointed Harris to chair the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC). Harris has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University, as well as an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

In addition, Harris penned two business books, “Expect to Win: 10 Proven Strategies for Thriving in the Workplace” and, “Strategize to Win: The New Way to Start Out, Step Up, or Start Over in Your Career.”

9. Abigail Johnson

1961-

With a net worth of over $16 billion, Abigail Johnson is one of the richest women in the U.S. Johnson is the president and CEO of Fidelity Investments (a company her grandfather founded). She became CEO and president of the company in 2014, and was later named chairwoman in 2016.

Since taking the helm of Fidelity, Johnson has publicly stated that one of her primary goals is to hire more women.

10. Ho Ching

1953-

Regularly included on lists of the most powerful women in the world, Ho Ching is the CEO of Temasek Holdings, an investment company in Singapore. During her 16-year reign there, she has given the company a global reach by shifting its focus beyond Singapore, growing the company’s portfolio to more than $235 billion.

Ching is also active in public service and philanthropy. She was the chairman of the Singapore Institute of Standards & Industrial Research, the deputy chairman of the Productivity Standards Board and the deputy chairman of the Economic Development Board. She is also the founding Chairman of Trailblazer Foundation Limited, a charity dedicated to education, sports, health and community welfare. Her husband is Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister of Singapore.

11. Stacey Cunningham

Stacey Cunningham is the first female president of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). She rose in the ranks to her current position, beginning as an intern at the NYSE in 1994 and later going on to be a clerk on the trading floor. At this time, she was one of only around 30 women at the NYSE, and was regularly referred to as “the girl” by her mostly male colleagues.

In 2015, Cunningham became the NYSE’s chief operating officer and in 2018, she became the exchange’s 67th president.

12. Adena Friedman

1969-

Adena Friedman is the president and CEO of the Nasdaq, a position she has held since 2017. This position makes her the first woman to ever lead a global exchange company.

Friedman has a long history with the Nasdaq, having been with the company on and off since 1993. Prior to serving as the president and CEO, she served as the president and COO from 2014 to 2016. Friedman also had a stint as the managing director and CFO of The Carlyle Group, a private equity company, and she is credited with helping the company go public.

13. Anne Finucane

1953-

Anne Finucane is the vice chairman at Bank of America and chairman of the board for Bank of America Merrill Lynch Europe. As part of her responsibilities, she oversees £30 billion in assets. Finucane established the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell University, which offers free courses for female entrepreneurs taught by Cornell faculty.

14. Christina Romer

1958-

The former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), Christina Romer worked closely with former president Barack Obama from 2009 to 2010 to help guide the administration in the wake of the Great Recession. She is the second woman in history to hold this role.

Romer is currently a professor in the Department of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, she is the former vice president of the American Economic Association (AEA).

15. Rania Nashar

Rania Nashar is the CEO of Samba Financial Group, the third largest bank in Saudi Arabia. Not only has she been the CEO since 2017, her role also made her the first woman to hold the position at a listed bank in the country. Prior to this position, Nashar had an extensive history at the company and was a board member for Samba Financial Group’s global markets subsidiary.

16. Helena Morrissey

1966-

Helena Morrissey is the head of personal investing for Legal & General Investment Management, an investment management firm in England. Prior to that, she served as the chief executive of Newton Investment Management.

Morrissey is well-regarded for creating the 30% Club a campaign that advocates for more gender balance on company boards and in senior management. She is also the author of, “A Good Time to Be a Girl: Don’t Lean In, Change the System.”

17. Thasunda Brown Duckett

Thasunda Brown Duckett is the CEO of consumer banking at JPMorgan Chase. She is the first African-American to hold this position. Duckett helms the bank’s consumer banking division, which includes wealth management. She oversees 47,000 employees across 5,300 branches. Prior to her current position, Duckett served as the CEO of Chase Auto Finance.

Duckett founded a charity, the Otis & Rosie Brown Foundation, which is named after her parents. The charity recognizes unsung heroes who are making a difference in their communities.

18. Mary Paley Marshall

1850-1944

Economist Mary Paley Marshall was the first female economics lecturer at the University of Cambridge, a role she was given in 1875 at just 25 years old. In addition, she was one of the first women ever admitted to attend college at the University of Cambridge.

Marshall co-authored “The Economics of Industry” in 1879, a text that is widely considered one of the most influential in economics. Marshall spent the last two decades of her life helping create the Marshall Library of Economics in Cambridge.

19. Francine Blau

1946-

Francine Blau is an economist and professor at Cornell University whose formative research on gender wage gaps in the U.S. has informed our country for decades. Blau has published over 100 articles, chapters and conference proceedings, as well as 10 books, including, “The Economics of Men, Women, and Work,” a seminal work that explores gender issues in today’s labor market.

In 2010, Blau was awarded the prestigious IZA Prize for her contributions to the field of labor economics.

20. Edith Abbott

1876-1957

Although primarily known for her pivotal role in establishing the field of social work, Edith Abbott also garnered recognition for her work in economics. In 1905, she received a Ph.D in economics from the University of Chicago and shortly thereafter, she completed a fellowship at the London School of Economics. In 1907, Abbott became a professor of economics at Wellesley College.

In 1935, Abbott helped draft the U.S. Social Security Act with Frances Perkins, the U.S. Secretary of Labor at the time.

21. Anna Schwartz

1915-2012

An American economist, Anna Schwartz was best known for her work co-authoring the 1963 book, “A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960” with Milton Friedman. This influential text on economics dissected the cause of the Great Depression, attributing it to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policies.

In 1981, Schwartz became executive director for the U.S. Gold Commission. In 1993, the American Economic Association (AEA) named her a distinguished fellow.

22. Deirdre McCloskey

1942-

Deirdre McCloskey is regarded by many as one of today’s most influential economic minds. A distinguished professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, McCloskey has written more than 15 books and over 300 articles on economic theory and economic history, among other topics. Some of her most notable books include, “The Rhetoric of Economics” and “The Secret Sins of Economics.”

McCloskey holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics from Harvard University.

23. Dambisa Moyo

1969-

Originally from Zambia, Dambisa Moyo is a macroeconomist and author who previously worked as a banker at World Bank and Goldman Sachs. She has authored four New York Times best-selling books, including “Edge of Chaos: Why Democracy is Failing to Deliver Economic Growth — And How to Fix It,” which came out last year.

Moyo originally studied chemistry as an undergraduate student at American University before going on to receive an MPA from Harvard University and a Ph.D in economics from Oxford University.

24. Joan Robinson

1903-1983

Joan Robinson was a British economist recognized for her important contributions to economic theory, in particular Keynesian economic theory. She came up with the theory of monopsony, which describes a market with only one buyer and many sellers, in her 1933 book, “The Economics of Imperfect Competition.”

Robinson earned her degree in economics from the University of Cambridge, where she went on to work as a professor. She was the first female honorary fellow at King’s College in Cambridge.

25. Janice Bryant Howroyd

1952-

Janice Bryant Howroyd is the founder and CEO of ActOne Group employment agency, one of the largest minority- and woman-owned business enterprises (MWBE) in the country. Howroyd is known for being the first black woman to run a business valued close to $1 billion. The staffing agency has over 17,000 clients in 19 countries.

Howroyd started her business in 1978 in a small office in Beverly Hills, Calif. In 2018, she was listed as one of the wealthiest self-made women in the U.S. by Forbes, with a family net worth of over $350 million.

26. Angela Merkel

1954-

Angela Merkel is a powerhouse in the financial world, and no list of women who impacted finance would be complete without her. Merkel is often referred to as the “de facto leader of Europe.”

The first woman to become chancellor of Germany, Merkel is No. 1 on the Forbes 2018 list of “Most Powerful Women in the World.” She is regarded as the primary force that got Germany through a major financial crisis and back on its feet.

In the fall of 2018, Merkel announced that she would be stepping down as the chancellor of Germany in 2021.

27. Marianne Lake

1969-

Marianne Lake is the CFO of JPMorgan Chase, a position she has held since 2012. As CFO of the largest bank in the country, she oversees over $2.5 trillion in assets. Lake is well-known for improving automation technology at the bank. There has been significant speculation that Lake could one day replace Jamie Dimon as the bank’s chairman and CEO.

Lake has shown a commitment to empowering women in finance through her role as a co-founder of the Women on the Move initiative, which aims to help women advance in their careers.

28. Mary L. Schapiro

1955-

Mary L. Schapiro is the first woman to be permanent chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Schapiro served as a financial services regulator for four U.S. presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Schapiro also served as the chairman and CEO of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) from 2006 to 2009, as well as the chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Schapiro is the only person to have been chair of both the SEC and the CFTC. Currently, Schapiro is the vice chair for public policy and special advisor to the founder and chairman at Bloomberg LP.

29. Maggie Lena Walker

1864-1934

Maggie Lena Walker was the first woman in the U.S. to charter a bank. Walker founded St. Luke’s Penny Savings Bank, which later merged with two other banks in the U.S. to become The Consolidated Bank and Trust Company. (The Consolidated Bank and Trust Company was the oldest bank in the U.S. to have black-ownership status until it was acquired in 2005.)

Walker founded the bank in 1903 and served as the bank’s president until her death. Throughout her life, she was well-regarded as an outspoken advocate for both women and members of the black community.

30. Muriel Siebert

1928-2013

In 1967, Muriel Siebert became the first woman to have a seat on the NYSE. She was the only woman among 1,365 men. Often referred to as “The First Woman of Finance,” Siebert founded and served as the president of Siebert Financial Corp., which made her the first woman to run one of the NYSE’s firms. Siebert was also the first woman to hold the role of superintendent of banks for New York state, a position she held for five years.

Siebert was known for helping other women have a place on Wall Street. In fact, she donated millions of dollars to help other women start their own businesses.

31. Claudia Goldin

1946-

In 1990, Claudia Goldin became the first woman to receive tenure at the Department of Economics at Harvard University. Goldin served as the director of development for the American Economy Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) from 1989 to 2017. Her economic research spans many topics, including the female labor force, income inequality and the gender gap.

Goldin has written many books, including, “Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women” and, “Women Working Longer: Increased Employment at Older Ages,” which was published in 2018.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Jamie Friedlander
Jamie Friedlander |

Jamie Friedlander is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Jamie here

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SoFi Disclaimer

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Updated July 2019

Disclaimer

Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).

“SoFi” is a registered trademark of Social Finance, Inc. SoFi is not affiliated with colleges and universities listed on SoFi.com. Colleges and universities listed on SoFi.com do not endorse, promote or recommend SoFi loan products.

Student Loan Refinancing

Fixed rates from 3.890% APR to 8.074% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.540% APR to 7.105% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.540% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.49% plus 0.04% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score.

If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you may apply for Unemployment Protection. SoFi will suspend your monthly SoFi loan payments and provide job placement assistance during your forbearance period. Interest will continue to accrue and will be added to your principal balance at the end of each forbearance period, to the extent permitted by applicable law. Benefits are offered in three month increments, and capped at 12 months, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. To be eligible for this assistance you must provide proof that you have applied for and are eligible for unemployment compensation, and you must actively work with our Career Advisory Group to look for new employment. If the loan is co-signed the unemployment protection applies where both the borrower and cosigner lose their job and meet conditions.

** SoFi is the leading student loan refinancing provider as of March 2018. The leading student loan refinancing provider is defined as the private lender that has refinanced the most student loan debt of citizens and permanent residents of the U.S., measured by dollar origination volume. Claim based on data reported in presale reports from rating agencies and annual reports of public companies.

Minimum Credit Score: Not all applicants who meet SoFi’s minimum credit score requirements are approved for student loan refinancing. In addition to meeting SoFi’s minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must also meet other credit and underwriting requirements to qualify.

Personal Loans

Fixed rates from 5.990% APR to 16.240% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.74% APR to 14.60% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of March 18, 2019 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.74% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.49% plus 4.28% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull. See Consumer Licenses.

Minimum Credit Score: Not all applicants who meet SoFi’s minimum credit score requirements are approved for a personal loan. In addition to meeting SoFi’s minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must also meet other credit and underwriting requirements to qualify.

Parent Loans

Fixed rates from 3.890% APR to 7.624% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.540% APR to 7.105% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.540% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.49% plus 0.04% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Unlike Federal Parent PLUS loans, the SoFi Parent Loan is not discharged in the event of death or permanent disability of the borrower or the student on whose behalf the loan is taken out.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Nick Clements
Nick Clements |

Nick Clements is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Nick at [email protected]