Update 2020: SoFi is offering a new cash management account with debit card that currently pays 0.2% interest, charges no monthly or other account fees, no Foreign Exchange (FX) fees for use abroad and reimburses ATM fees worldwide, instantly. You can control the card and account from your mobile app, giving you additional peace of mind when using the card in high-fraud countries or with unknown merchants. Right now, you can also get a $75 sign-up bonus and 20% cash back on your Netflix charges! This is my new, favorite travel debit card and I recommend it as a “back-up” account and card for international travel – read my review for more!
Social Finance (SoFi) has been in the market for a long time, offering college loans and last year launched a free cash management account with debit card. It has some attention-grabbing features you won’t find with other pre-paid cards or app-based checking accounts:
- Sign-up bonus of $75
You’ll rarely get a sign-up bonus in this category. You will receive $75 after signing up and two direct deposits of $500 or more into your account – that’s a good start!
- 0.3% Interest
SoFi Money started as a high interest account, but with the FUS Federal Reserve dropping the guiding interest rates, it’s down to currently only 0.2% – better than most checking accounts, but not the leader it started out as.
- No fees
SoFi Money doesn’t have any account management fees, ATM or deposit fees and even a replacement card and incoming and outgoing wire transfers are free, worldwide. There are no Foreign Exchange fees either, making this card free to use worldwide, something few no-fee cards offer!
- ATM Fee Reimbursement worldwide
SoFi even reimburses ATM fees the operator charges worldwide. This is a great feature for travelers, as more and more ATM operators charge fees as high as $10 for using it.
While other banks will refund you at the end of the month, making it harder to keep track, SoFi refunds them immediately, so it’s very transparent!
- Security Features
The SoFi Money account offers vaults, an “account within the account”, allowing you to set aside money for emergencies or to safe towards specific goals, maybe your next vacation. While money in your “vault” earns the same interest, you can not spend it via your debit card or transfers. This is a great way to protect yourself not only from overspending, but from fraud. Should your debit card be compromised, they can never get the money in your vault. For example, you can transfer most of your money to your vault until you go on a trip or need the money and any transaction for more will be blocked.
You can also “freeze your card” in case you misplace it or are not using it for a while…
- Checking Account Features
While SoFi Money is technically a cash management or brokerage account, it offers checking features through a partnership with Wilmington Savings Bank. You can request checks, set up direct deposit, ACH transfers or wire transfers. You also have FDIC insurance, but it starts after the money arrives at the partner bank!
SoFi also offers additional sign-up bonuses for starting a direct deposit – those are made available after signing up to targeted customers, not generally available.
- Cash Back Offers
Currently, you can get 20% cash-back on your Netflix subscription through the end of June. SoFi is planning to introduce more offers with different merchants going forward, similar to what AmEx Offers brings you.
Bottomline: The combination of no fees, ATM reimbursements, checking interest rates and modern app features make this a very attractive offering. The target audience might be millenials, fresh out of college, but it is a great account for all ages and the combination of features makes it a great, secondary account for international travelers: The lack of FX fees and ATM fee reimbursement and can safe you a lot of money on your vacation.
If you sign up through this link and make two direct deposits of more than $500, you’ll earn a sign-up bonus of $75!
Other Products: SoFi also offers automatic (robo advisor) and individual investment accounts – called SoFi Invest. They also charge no fees, no minimum investment and offer an easy-to-use app. You can pick a portfolio model based on your investment goals and the risks you are willing to take. A feature that few traditional online brokers are offering are “stock bits” – the ability to less than a single share of a stock. That’s especially interesting if you are only investing small amounts or want to diversify across a large number of stocks.
SoFi Invest also offers crypto currency investing. Be aware that this is very high risk, so educate before opening an account!
SoFi Invest does not offer much in terms of market news, stock, fund or ETF research or reports or really any type of investment advice. If you are new to investing, signing up for a robo advisor and investing monthly amounts are a good idea. But while I consider SoFi Money a very competitive offer, SoFi Invest lacks the depth of features compared to other online brokers, like Betterment, Charles Schwab or E-Trade.
If you still want to try it out, you can earn a sign-up bonus of $75 with a deposit of $1,000 into an Active Investing account. Sign up with my referral link here!
If you are signing up through one of my referral links, you can earn the sign-up bonus at the no cost to you. I may receive a referral bonus, too – thank you for supporting the blog!