SoFi Bank Review: A Slick Online Presence With Some Limitations

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SoFi is the brainchild of a few Stanford Business students who wanted to tackle the student debt issue. 

Eventually, they shifted the company focus to an online banking and banking app, SoFi Money. Today, SoFi offers a lot of banking services with some great benefits. 

Here’s an in-depth and honest look at SoFi’s checking and savings features for individuals and small businesses, as well as its overall convenience and mobile banking features.

What we like:

  • No minimum balance requirements or minimum opening deposit
  • No overdraft fees or ATM fees
  • Reimbursement for ATM fees
  • Slick app with a lot of features
  • Great interest rate at 1.6%

What we don’t like:

  • No cash deposits
  • Some restricting transaction limitations.
  • No business checking or savings options
  • No ATMs or branches

Checking 

Grade: B+

SoFi doesn’t have what you’d call a traditional checking account. What they offer is called SoFi Money, a cash management account that’s a blend of a checking and a savings account. 

You can open your SoFi Smart Money Account with no minimum opening deposit requirement. You’ll also get the benefit of no account service fees. 

Your SoFi Smart Money Account will not only earn interest; it’ll earn 1.60%, which is nearly 18 times the national average of 0.09%. You don’t have to carry balance minimums or connect to other accounts to qualify for this interest rate. It’s just a straight-up APY on whatever money you keep in the account.

SoFi boasts no fees, and for the most part, that’s true. The bank charges no overdraft fees and no ATM fees in the U.S. or internationally. What’s more, if you use an ATM with a Visa®, Plus®, or NYCE® logo, SoFi will reimburse you for any third-party ATM fees you may be charged. 

The only fees it charges are for things like a $20 fee for a replacement debit card after your first card, so odds are good that you’ll never have to pay that.

If you use your checking account a lot every day, SoFi does have some account limitations that could be concerning to you. You can only withdraw $610 per day and send $250 per day peer-to-peer. 

The bank also has a limit of 12 point-of-sale transactions per day, which can be a bit of a hassle for busy shopping or vacation days.

Even though SoFi Money isn’t a true checking account, you can still get checks and use them.

Savings

Grade: C

SoFi doesn’t offer standalone savings accounts, since the SoFi Money account is both checking and savings rolled into one. As mentioned above, SoFi Money has no minimum opening deposit, no minimum balance requirements and no service fees. 

The 1.6% interest you earn in your SoFi Money account is also nearly 18 times the national average for savings accounts, which is 0.09%.

The downside to having your checking and savings in one account is that your savings are easily accessible, which can make it easy to dip into that account when you shouldn’t. It also means you can’t set up automatic deposits or round up deposits to put your savings on autopilot. 

SoFi does not currently offer CDs. 

Small Business Banking

SoFi does not offer small business checking or savings accounts.

Convenience

Grade: D

Since SoFi is an online-only banking option, you won’t find any brick-and-mortar branches or even any SoFi ATMs. But, since it’ll reimburse you for ATM fees, you don’t need to worry about the lack of ATMs. 

The upside is that, as an online- and app-only bank, that suite of digital tools is optimized for user ease and stacked with features like easy account transfers, bill pay and even budgeting tools. It’s great for the person who wants to do all of their banking on their phone or laptop, but not so great for someone who wants person-to-person interaction. 

SoFi also offers mortgages, debt consolidation loans and even some insurance options. You can also refinance your student loans through SoFi.

Customer support is offered through email or by phone with limited hours.

Mobile Banking

Grade: A

Customers give the SoFi Finance app at 4.6 out of 5 possible stars on Google Play and 4.8 out of 5 stars in the Apple App Store.

The app does all of the standard banking options you’d expect, but it also offers budgeting and money tracking tools, as well as features that allow you to invest. You can access your Money account through the app, as well as any of SoFi’s other products.

The app allows you to freeze and unfreeze your cards. You can also get online support directly through the app. 

Our Bank Review Methodology

The Penny Hoarder’s editorial team considers more than 25 factors in its bank account reviews, including fees, minimum daily balance requirements, APYs, overdraft charges, ATM access, number of physical locations, customer service support access and mobile features. 

To determine how we weigh each factor, The Penny Hoarder surveyed 1,500 people to find out what banking features matter most to you. 

For example, we give top grades to banks that have low fees because our survey showed that this is the No. 1 thing you look for in a bank. Because more than 70% of you said you visited a physical bank branch last year, we consider the number of brick-and-mortar locations. But more than one-third of you use mobile apps for more than 75% of your banking, so digital features are also considered carefully.

Ratings are assigned on a scale of one (worst) to five (best) stars across the following categories:

  • Personal checking accounts
  • Personal savings accounts
  • Small-business banking
  • Convenience
  • Mobile banking

Credit card and loan products are not currently considered.

Tyler Omoth is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.