SoFi launched in 2011 and was one of the first online lenders to offer refinancing for both federal and private student loans. Since then, it’s branched out into other lending spaces, and now offers personal loans, as well as parent loans for educational expenses, mortgage loans, and student loan refinancing. More recently, it’s added life insurance and wealth management services to its mix of products.
If you’re looking for an unsecured personal loan — a loan where you don’t have to put down an asset as collateral —SoFi offers some of the lowest interest rates available. Plus, there aren’t any prepayment penalties or origination fees, and SoFi offers unemployment protection which can temporarily pause your payments if you lose your job.
However, qualifying for a SoFi loan can be difficult. While the company doesn’t list minimum credit score, credit history, income, or debt-to-income requirements, it’s known for lending to very creditworthy, high-income borrowers.
SoFi’s personal loan offerings
If you want to take out a personal loan, SoFi may be appealing for a variety of reason. For one, the lack of origination or closing fees is uncommon among personal loan lenders, who may charge up to 6% of the amount you borrow depending on your creditworthiness and the loan terms.
SoFi personal loans also don’t have a prepayment penalty, so you won’t be punished if you can afford to pay off your debt early. If you want a smaller loan than SoFi offers, you could also take out the minimum loan amount and then immediately repay the portion you don’t need.
SoFi Personal Loan Basics
|APR range*||Fixed: 5.49% - 14.24%
Variable: 5.19% - 11.34% (capped at 14.95%)
|Loan amounts||$5,000** to $100,000|
|Loan terms||3, 5, or 7 years|
|Late payment fee||If payment is 15+ days late, fee is the lesser of $5 or 4% of the amount due|
|Loan types||Unsecured only|
*Includes a .25% interest rate discount if you sign up for auto pay
**The minimum loan amount is $10,001 in AZ, MA, and NH. It’s $15,001 in KY
Unlike some lenders, SoFi offers both variable and fixed-rate loans. The advertised APR ranges include a .25% discount, which you can get by setting up autopay for your loan payment. But even without the discount, SoFi’s rates are lower than some competitors’ rates.
A fixed-rate loan may be best if you want the security of knowing what your monthly payment will be for the lifetime of the loan. Variable-rate loans generally have a lower interest rate to start, but they’re riskier because the interest rate, and your total cost of borrowing, can increase as the benchmark index rate — SoFi uses the one-month LIBOR index — rises or falls.
In addition to choosing your interest rate type, you can choose between three repayment terms. Typically, shorter terms will have lower interest rates for fixed- and variable-rate loans, but your monthly payment could be significantly higher.
The SoFi Personal Loan Process
You can check your rates before you officially apply for a personal loan from SoFi.
When you do, SoFi will show you your estimated loan terms based on the information you provide. This includes your income, work experience, rental or mortgage payments, and degrees. SoFi also does a soft credit inquiry, which lets it review the information within your credit reports but doesn’t affect your credit score.
If you like the estimated offer, you can continue with the loan application, choose the specific terms you want, verify your information by uploading documents, and agree to a hard credit inquiry. Hard inquiries can affect your credit score. When they do, there’s generally a small drop in your score, but it may recover within several months.
SoFi Personal Loan Eligibility Requirements
|Minimum credit score||Not disclosed|
|Minimum income||Not disclosed. You must either be employed, have income from another source, or have an offer to start work within 90 days|
|Citizenship status||U.S. citizens and permanent residents|
|Age||Must be the age of majority in your state|
|Residency||Not available in MS or NV.
Variable-rate loans aren’t available in AK, IL, OK, TX, and WY
How to apply for a Sofi personal loan
1. Complete the “check your rate” application
To get pre-qualified for a SoFi personal loan, you’ll need to share:
- Your name, address, phone number, date of birth, and citizenship status
- Whether you rent or own a home, or live with your parents
- You can choose to include information about an undergraduate and graduate degree. Although it’s optional, this information could help you secure a lower interest rate
- Current or future employment status, the employer’s name, and your individual annual income
- Total years of work experience
- How you plan to use the personal loan (if you choose “other” you’ll need to certify that you won’t use the money for post-secondary education costs or to invest in real estate or securities)
2. Choose your loan
If you’re pre-approved for a personal loan, you’ll be able to choose your loan amount, pick between a fixed- or variable-rate loan, and decide between the three loan terms: three, five, or seven years. You’ll see the estimated monthly payment and interest rate, which will automatically update as you change your loan details.
Your loan offer will be good for up to 15 days, and moving to the next step still won’t affect your credit.
3. Verify your information
You’ll need to verify your income and identity to move forward in the loan process. For example, you’ll need to upload recent pay stubs if you’re employed, or recent tax returns and forms if you’re self-employed.
To verify your identity, you’ll have to upload a picture of a government-issued ID, U.S. passport, or Green Card.
At this point, you’ll also share your Social Security number and agree to let SoFi request your full credit report. This will result in a hard inquiry, which could affect your credit.
4. Set up disbursement and sign the loan package
The final steps involve setting up where you want the money sent to and signing the acceptance packet. Generally, you’ll have the money in your account within a few days of signing the loan documents.
Overall, the application process is straightforward and could take just a few minutes to complete if you have your documents handy.
However, if you don’t qualify for a loan due to your credit, SoFi doesn’t let you add a co-signer for personal loans. Instead, you may want to take time to improve your credit and apply again later. Or, if you have a pressing need, you could apply for a personal loan from a different lender that allows you to add a co-signer to improve your chances of approval or lower your available rate options.
SoFi membership benefits
Whether it’s a personal loan or life insurance, once you have a SoFi product you become a “member.” Rates, fees, and terms aside, the membership benefits are one of the things that distinguish SoFi from other lenders.
- Member discount: You can get a 0.125% rate discount on other SoFi loans. If you already had another SoFi loan, this discount will apply to your personal loan
- Career advisory: Free access to a career advisory service that can help you move up in your job or transition to a new field. They will also help you with your resume, networking, LinkedIn profile, and negotiations during a job search
- Community events: SoFi regularly hosts dinner parties, educational workshops, and cocktail parties in major cities across the country
- Unemployment protection: If you lose your job and it’s not your fault, you can apply to suspend your loan payments. If approved, you can stop making payments for three-month increments (12 months in total). Interest will still accrue during this period
- Financial advisors: Borrowers who choose to invest through SoFi Wealth will have their fees waived (0.25% of investments over $10,000 otherwise)
- Entrepreneur program: Founders and co-founders of startups can apply to join the SoFi Entrepreneur Program. If admitted, you’ll be eligible for seed financing from SoFi, be able to pitch your idea at a SoFi demo day, can test your product with other SoFi members, and get access workshops and mentors
You can use a personal loan for almost anything
SoFi offers unsecured personal loans, meaning you’re borrowing the money based on your creditworthiness and financial situation without having to provide collateral. While you can use money from a personal loan for almost anything you want, some use cases may be more financially sound than others.
You’ll need to repay the personal loan, plus interest, and you may not want to take out a loan when there isn’t a pressing need for the money. That may mean you need to delay a dream vacation as you save up, or have to scale back a wedding or other celebration to fit your budget.
However, there are times when taking out a personal loan could make you money, or may simply be the best option during an emergency.
Using a personal loan to save money or cover emergencies
One of the best ways to use a personal loan is to consolidate high-interest debts, such as credit card debt. To do this, you’ll apply for a personal loan equal to the sum of your credit card debts. When you get the money, you pay off the credit cards, and now you’ll have one monthly payment on the personal loan.
Not only could it be easier to manage your bills, you can save money if the personal loan has a lower interest rate.
For example, if you have $10,000 in credit card debt with 16% interest rate and are making $250 payments each month it will take you almost five years to pay off the cards. However, if you take out a $10,000 personal loan with a five-year term and 8% interest rate, you’ll pay $203 per month and save more than $2,000 over the lifetime of the loan. It’s a double-win since you can lower your monthly payments and total loan cost.
A personal loan could also be a good option if you have a pressing need for money, perhaps due to a medical emergency, broken down car, or death in the family.
There may also be times when it makes sense to take out a personal loan to invest in yourself or your home. Perhaps you want money to pay for a certification course that will help you get a promotion for example. Or, you want to make a few improvements before selling your house.
While you might be able to get a home equity loan or line of credit at a lower interest rate. This means putting your house as collateral for the loan which can put your house at risk if an emergency strikes. An unsecured personal loan may be worth the extra expense if you think you’ll sell the home and pay off the loan quickly.
When is a personal loan not a good idea?
There are a few circumstances when using a personal loan doesn’t make sense. For example, some personal loans may have an interest rate that’s over 30% annual percentage rate (APR). You wouldn’t want to take out a high-interest personal loan to pay off a lower-rate credit card or make a purchase that could be put on a lower-rate credit card.
Also, it may not be wise to use a personal loan for discretionary expenses, such as a vacation or consumer goods, unless you’ve calculated the total cost, think it’s worth it, and have a plan for paying off the debt.
Consolidating debts with a personal loan isn’t always a good idea, even when it makes sense on paper if you have a tendency to use up your available credit limit and carry a balance, shifting your credit card debt to a personal loan could be dangerous. You may quickly wind up with all that credit card debt again, plus a personal loan.