With the online lending space now jam-packed with loan providers, it’s crucial that you shop around to find the best deal possible.
One such provider that prides itself on competitively priced lending rates is that of SoFi. The U.S. based lender specializes in both personal loans and student loan refinancing.
If you’re currently in the market for one of these, then we would suggest that you first our comprehensive SoFi review to ascertain whether or not the lender is right your individual needs.
We’ll explore how SoFi works, the types of loan structures they offer, fees, customer support, and more.
Let’s begin by finding out what SoFi actually is.
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What is SoFi?
- 1 What is SoFi?
- 2 SoFi Loans: Am I Eligible?
- 3 SoFi Personal Loans: What do I get?
- 4 What Interest Rates does SoFi Charge on Personal Loans?
- 5 Student Refinancing Loans
- 6 Student Refinancing: Loans Rates and Terms
- 7 What Fees Does SoFi Charge?
- 8 How Does the Loan Process Work?
- 9 What Happens if I Miss a Payment?
- 10 Customer Service and Reviews
- 11 Does SoFi Offer a Mobile App?
- 12 SoFi Review: The Verdict?
- 13 SoFi
- 14 Pros
- 15 Cons
Launched in 2012, SoFi is a San Francisco based online personal finance company that offers U.S. consumers a range of loans, refinancing products, and investment channels. The company is run by the ex-COO of Twitter – Anthony Noto.
By focusing exclusively on the online market, SoFi claims to offer some of the lowest interest rates in the lending circle. As such, the entire end-to-end loan application process is facilitated online, and thus, SoFi does not have any physical branches.
While SoFi has since expanded to a number of side-products, the two hallmark services it offers are personal loans and student refinancing loans. The platform has a strong preference for those with a strong credit score and high income, which further allows SoFi to offer industry-leading loan rates.
Although somewhat unusual, if you are eligible for a SoFi loan, the company runs a number of social events and dinners throughout the year, as well as an online forum that allows loanees to discuss financial matters.
On top of this, loanees are offered coaching to assist with career progression, as well as a selection of online calculators for financial planning.
Since the company was officially launched in 2012, SoFi has since served more than 7.5 millions users, and it currently boasts more than 700,000 members.
So now that you have a better idea as to what SoFi is, in the next section we are going to explore who is eligible for its personal loans.
SoFi Loans: Am I Eligible?
As noted above, the vast majority of those that use the SoFi platform are regarded as having a high income, and a strong credit score. This means that the platform’s eligibility requirements are going to be a lot stricter in comparison to other online lenders.
Nevertheless, let’s get the basics out of the way first.
In order to apply for a loan, you must be a U.S. resident with a valid social security number, or a U.S. citizen living overseas.
You will also need to be at least 18 years of age, although, in some states, this might be higher. Alongside the District of Columbia, all 50 U.S. states are serviced, apart from Montana and Mississippi.
You will also need to be employed, and at the very least, have a firm job offer in place. When it comes to your income, SoFi does not explicitly state what the minimum requirement is. However, the general consensus is that in most cases, those applying for a SoFi loan have an annual household income of at least $100,000.
In terms of the required credit profile, you will need to have a score of at least 680. However, most SoFi loanees have well in excess of 700+.
Once again, this illustrates that the platform’s loans are targeted at a very specific niche of the lending space. If your credit score isn’t quite where it needs to be, or you are earning a modest annual salary, then you might not be eligible for a loan.
Nevertheless, the good news for you is that the SoFi platform supports a soft credit check. This means that you can enter your personal information and financing requirements to see whether or not you prequalify for a loan – all of which can be done without the search appearing on your credit report.
So now that you know what requirements you will need to meet to be eligible for a loan with SoFi, let’s explore the loan fundamentals in more detail.
SoFi Personal Loans: What do I get?
In-line with the platform’s target market of high-income, strong credit score-bearing borrowers, SoFi offers loans between $5,000 and $100,000. This is a considerable offering from SoFi, especially in comparison to its main competitors.
For example, the LendingClub and Discover Personal Loan have maximum loan amounts of $40,000 and $35,000. In terms of what you are allowed to borrow the money for, SoFi is somewhat flexible. You can use the money for home improvements, relocation assistance, credit card consolidation, and medical procedures, to name a few.
As the loans offered by SoFi are unsecured, you will not need to provide the company with any collateral. When you obtain a personal loan from SoFi you can select a payback period of between 2 and 7 years, which should offer you the required flexibility that you need.
What Interest Rates does SoFi Charge on Personal Loans?
One of the main marketing angles employed by the team at SoFi is that of its industry-leading interest rates. At the time of writing, the best rates that you can get with SoFi is an APR of 5.99%. At the other end of the spectrum, the highest rate on offer is 16.79%.
The actual rate that you are offered will, of course, depend on your personal circumstances. This will be based on a number of factors, such as how much you earn in your current job, what your debt-to-income ratio is like, how much you are looking to borrow and for how long, and your current FICO credit score.
In order to get the lowest rate possible, you will also need to agree to the SoFi Autopay system. In a nutshell, this means that you will need to allow SoFi to take your monthly repayments from your checking or savings accounts on a set date each month.
In doing so, you are afforded a 0.25% reduction in your APR. Take note, if you fail to make a monthly repayment via the Autopay agreement, you will lose your 0.25% benefit.
Outside of its main fixed-rate offering, SoFi also gives you the option of obtaining a personal loan on a variable-rate basis. While the variable-rate on offer is typically lower than the standard fixed-rate, you do run the risk of seeing the rate increase over the course of the loan. As such, if you have a lower tolerance to risk, you might be best to stick with the fixed-rate. If you do choose the variable-rate and it does increase, this is capped at 14.70%.
So now that we’ve covered the ins and outs of personal loans at SoFi, in the next section of our review we are going to look at the platform’s student refinancing loans.
Student Refinancing Loans
Student refinancing loans at SoFi are of great interest for recent graduates that have already landed a well-paid job. For those unaware, student refinancing allows you to pay off your current student loan obligations in full.
You then replace your previous loan(s) with a SoFi loan, albeit, at a (hopefully) lower interest rate. You might also consider this option if you are looking for greater flexibility in the terms of the student loan(s) you hold. You have the option of refinancing both private and federal student loans
According to the platform themselves, SoFi has already refinanced $18 billion worth of student loans, across more than 250,000 SoFi customers.
In terms of eligibility, this is much the same as the requirements we outlined in the personal loan section. However, you will also need to ensure that you graduated from a Title IV academic institution.
While you don’t need to be employed at the time of the loan, you do need to prove that you hold a firm job offer that is set to start within 90 days. Of course, you will also be required to have a strong credit score.
As per the strict requirements set out by SoFi, it might be possible that you don’t have a long enough relationship with credit to meet the eligibility requirements of student refinancing.
However, the platform recently launched its cosigner option. There are no restrictions on who can act as a cosigner, as long as they themselves meet the eligibility requirements at set out by SoFi.
Student Refinancing: Loans Rates and Terms
If you’re interested in facilitating your student refinancing requirements through SoFi, you get to choose from a repayment term of 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years. Much like in the case of personal loans, you have the option of selecting a fixed APR, or variable-rate.
The fixed-rate on offer will vary between 3.49% and 8.14%. The lowest rates on offer are for those that take out the shortest term.
If you’re keen to explore the variable-rate option, this will vary between 2.41% and 7.89%. However, once again, you should tread with extreme caution if opting for the variable rate, especially if you are refinancing for a long period of time.
On the other hand, if you are only refinancing for 5 years, then the risks associated with taking a variable-rate are somewhat lower.
What Fees Does SoFi Charge?
One of the main advantages of using SoFi for your personal loan or student loan refinancing needs is that the platform does not charge any conventional application fees.
Unlike other lenders operating in the same space, this means that you won’t need to pay an origination fee. In the U.S., this will usually average 0.5%-1% of the loan amount, which is subsequently subtracted from the amount that you receive.
How Does the Loan Process Work?
The loan process at SoFi is super easy. First and foremost, you will be required to head over to the main platform, and choose whether you want to receive a quote on a personal loan, or a student refinancing plan.
You will then need to enter some personal information, as is standard in the online lending circle. This will, of course, include your full name, address, date of birth, and social security number.
You will also need to provide the platform with some information about your financial circumstances, such as your current employment status, income, and debt obligations.
Moreover, you will also need to state how much you want to borrow, and for how long.
Don’t forget, this part of the application process is initiated on a soft credit check basis. In other words, there is no harm in simply finding out if you are [A] eligible and [B] what rates you will be offered. Once you submit the application, you should get a pre-qualification decision within 2 minutes.
If you then decide that you want to proceed with the rate you are offered, you will then need to provide further information about your personal and financial circumstances. This will include a requirement to upload certain documents, such as your ID, and proof pertaining to your employment status/income.
Finally, once you sign the loan agreement documents online, SoFi will proceed to release the funds directly into your account. If you are opting for the student refinancing package, then the funds will instead be paid directly to the loan provider you hold the debt with.
What Happens if I Miss a Payment?
As with any loan provider, it is important that you understand what happens in the unfortunate event that you miss a payment, or worse, you are unable to make a payment.
First and foremost, SoFi will not charge you any late payment fees in the event that you miss your monthly payment. The platform claims that they will try to work with you if you are having difficulties in meeting your loan obligations.
One such scheme that SoFi offers is its Unemployment Protection service. If you lost your job due to unforeseen circumstances (such as company-wide redundancies), then you have the option of applying for the platforms forbearance program.
This will allow you to freeze your loan obligations on a quarter-by-quarter basis, up to a maximum of 1 year. In doing so, you will only be required to pay the interest at the end of each month.
Ultimately, if you feel that you will be unable to honour a monthly payment, then it is always best to speak with the team at SoFi as soon as possible to avoid further issues.
Customer Service and Reviews
If you need to speak with a member of staff at SoFi, the platform offers a vast range of options.
The main customer service team operates 7 days a week, between 4am-9pm (PT) Monday to Thursday, and 4am-5pm (PT) Friday to Sunday.
The telephone hotline number is (855) 456-7634.
Alternatively, you can also send the team an email at email@example.com.
SoFi also has a public presence on social media, including the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
There is no live chat facility.
In terms of the platform’s reputation in the public domain, SoFi has a TrustPilot score of 8.7/10, which represents a rating of ‘Great’. This is across more than 2,100 individual reviews, which is fairly comprehensive.
Does SoFi Offer a Mobile App?
If you’re looking to access the SoFi platform via your mobile phone, the company recently launched its native app across both Android and iOS devices. You can download the app free of charge from either the Google Play or Apple Stores.
The mobile app essentially allows you to perform all of the same account functions as you would find on the main desktop website. This includes the ability to apply for loans, as well as check your account portal.
The SoFi app has a good rating of 4.2/5 on the Google Play Store, and an even better score of 4.8/5 on the Apple Store.
SoFi Review: The Verdict?
In summary, it is clear to see why SoFi is so well-received in the online lending arena. If you are currently in possession of a strong credit score, alongside a good income, then you stand to benefit from industry-leading rates.
Whether you are looking to obtain a traditional personal loan, or assistance with refinancing a student loan, SoFi makes the process seamless.
We really like the fact that you are able to check your eligibility and pre-qualification rates without the search appearing on your credit report. This means that you can assess whether or not you are getting a good deal without it having an impact on your FICO report.
Ultimately, as competitively priced as SoFi is, it is important to remember that the platform has a very specific target market. In other words, you might not be suitable if you have had issues with credit in the past, or your income is not perceived as high enough.