SoFi Money and SoFi Investing came out swinging last fall, with accounts that offered great new member bonuses that enabled a family to put together a couple hundred dollars in easy money in two-player mode and a number of great bonuses. In the months since, new account bonuses have slowly decreased, though SoFi has periodically added great benefits for a debit card account. Unfortunately, they have been pulling back on some benefits recently. While I imagine that many readers already have these accounts and are grandfathered into better terms, I thought it was worth a post to summarize some of SoFi’s negative changes in case you are recommending these accounts to friends and family.
SoFi’s negative changes affect those whose accounts were opened after 6/8/20
Several negative changes affect accounts opened beginning on 6/9/20:
- New account holders only have fee-free access to Allpoint ATMs. Those whose accounts were opened on or before 6/8/20 still enjoy unlimited ATM fee reimbursements worldwide for now.
- For those whose accounts are opened 6/9/20 or later, there will be two tiers of customers:
- Tier 1 = customers who deposit at least $500 per month
- Tier 1 customers will earn higher interest (currently 0.25% APY)
- Recent cash back deals have only been for Tier 1 customers, so it is possible that future deals will only be available for Tier 1
- Tier 2 = customers who do not deposit at least $500 per month
- Tier 2 customers will earn less interest (currently 0.01% APY)
- Tier 2 customers may not be eligible for future cash back deals
- Note: Those who opened accounts on or before 6/8/20 will be grandfathered as Tier 1 customers and will enjoy Tier 1 benefits regardless of deposit activity
- Tier 1 = customers who deposit at least $500 per month
All of the above are significantly negative changes. While SoFi still offers decent benefits for new customers, the low new account opening bonuses combined with fewer benefits will make it more difficult to recommend except to those willing to deposit $500 per month for the cash back deals.
Is the SoFi Money account worthwhile at all anymore, after these changes?
While I was very enthusiastic about both SoFi Money and SoFi investing when the accounts launched big bonuses for new customers last year, the value proposition has reduced significantly:
- SoFi’s recent changes mean the current new customer bonus is very weak. While direct deposit is not required for the latest bonus, the new member only receives $25 after funding the account with $500 or more. I recently wrote about a number of bank account bonuses earned in my household this year and a couple of those only required a single direct deposit of $500 to trigger bonuses worth $200-$250. Even if you combine your $25 new member bonus with a $50 bonus for referring someone else, the total bonus earned is still very low compared to other new account options.
- The interest rate is no longer competitive. When we first wrote about SoFi Money last fall, the interest rate on the account was 1.8% APY. While the Fed has reduced interest rates significantly and most banks have reduced rates accordingly, the fact is that at 0.25% for Tier 1 customers SoFi isn’t competitive with other good options on the market. As a T-Mobile customer, I recently opened a T-Mobile Money account that earns a minimum of 1% APY and earns 4% APY on the first $3K on deposit with a monthly deposit of $200 or more — a much better deal than what SoFi is offering. There are many other accounts still offering a lot more interest than SoFi.
- Allpoint ATM access isn’t very useful for international travelers. Those who opened accounts on or before 6/8/20 still enjoy ATM fee reimbursement worldwide, which is highly useful for international travelers looking to withdraw local currency. However, for those who have opened accounts on or after 6/9/20, fee-free ATM access only extends to Allpoint ATMs. There are many Allpoint ATMs in the US, but few abroad based on my searches. I see that there are Allpoint ATMs in London, but I struck out when searching many other world cities for Allpoint ATMs. This may still be useful enough for some within the US, but a Charles Schwab account will be a better choice for most travelers now.
SoFi’s recent changes mean they simply don’t offer new customers any of the advantages that initially attracted me as a customer. Since my account was opened last year, I’ll obviously keep my account as long as I maintain the benefits. I would probably even be willing to automate a monthly $500 deposit in order to trigger Tier 1 benefits if it were necessary. But it would be hard to recommend a SoFi Money account for a new customer except for someone intently focused on cash back deals and willing to automate a monthly $500 deposit in order to receive those deals.
It’s worth reiterating that SoFi says that there are no plans to change terms for grandfathered users. In response to this reddit thread, the official SoFi Money reddit account had this to say:
Hey there, thank you for bringing your concerns up regarding the changes with SoFi and ATM reimbursement fees. It is correct that if you had your SoFi Money account on 06/08/20 or earlier that you will be grandfathered in and you will still receive ATM reimbursements at all ATMs. At this time, SoFi has no plans to change the policy on grandfathering those members into the new changes. We hope this helps! Let us know if you have any additional questions.
Is SoFi Investing worthwhile, after these new changes?
On the Investing side, bonuses have slowly decreased as well: the welcome bonus on the investing side is $50 in free stock and requires a deposit of $1,000 or more.
Personally, I’ve enjoyed using SoFi Investing. I got some stocks from referrals and a couple of them have done quite well despite the pandemic. Furthermore, I find the interface to feel very user-friendly. It feels very much aimed at beginners and was very easy to figure out even without much experience. More importantly, it gave me a much-needed push to get more serious about investing and for that I’m thankful to SoFi.
However, there are some funds I’ve wanted to buy that I can’t get on SoFi (for example, VOO – a Vanguard S&P 500 ETF). Furthermore, while stock trades have no commission, the commission on cryptocurrency transactions are a bummer as someone who invested in cryptos on Robinhood previously.
On the flip side, SoFi makes it easy to set up automated deposits and I recently got a pop-up alerting me to the ability to set up automatic recurring investments. While a Google search tells me that the same should be possible through Robinhood, I don’t see the ability to set up recurring investments in my Robinhood account.
But Robinhood offers a better deal for those who will keep cash in their investment account since they offer the ability to set up a cash management account that yields interest (currently 0.30%) on cash in your Robinhood account (note that you have to get on a waiting list for this and it took a couple of months before I made it to the front of the line). That’s a better interest rate than SoFi money and it comes with a debit card, making it convenient enough.
Personally, I just prefer the Robinhood interface. Webull seems to offer a more complete set of data and information, but I find Robinhood to strike a good balance between the user-friendliness of SoFi while maintaining a reasonable depth of information for those who don’t intend to become career day traders. I see SoFi as a great option for getting started with investing, but for those who are already investing via other brokerage apps, I don’t think SoFi offers any advantage.
We were pretty enthusiastic about SoFi last year when they were offering competitive bonuses that made for a chance for many people to pick up some easy new bonus money while simultaneously getting an account with excellent benefits for travelers. The good news is that the account is still a good deal for those who signed up by June 8th, 2020 since they are still enjoying the key benefits of ATM reimbursements worldwide and higher interest (which is still noncompetitive today but we can hope will eventually improve again). Even with SoFi’s changes, I’ll still be happy to take advantage of the cash back deals and ATM reimbursements for as long as they last, but I’ll probably not recommend this account to friends and family any longer unless they run an increased bonus. We’ll still cover new cash back deals and offers as they may be of use to the many readers who have accounts — but with SoFi’s recent changes, those without a SoFi account are probably better off considering other more profitable new bank account bonuses.