SoFi Review: The Cadillac of personal loans and student loan refinancing

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Landing a personal or student loan with SoFi is a little like getting into the Ivy League of personal loans: typically you have a six-figure income and credit score of at least 660, and then get invited to happy hours and other events in major cities.

The real benefit to Sofi is very competitive loans, great customer service, and one of the best online experiences.

Sofi also has some cool perks, like unemployment insurance.

As a company, SoFi has received a lot of press for being a very well funded startup, which is growing into other financial products including mortgages, checking/savings accounts and wealth management.

SoFi has an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, which is important to me.

Read: How this millennial mom saved $40,000 on her student loans

SoFi personal loan benefits

SoFi stands out in the personal loan space with its competitive rates, and great user experience.

The application process is strict, but in return, you benefit from lower interest rates and some special perks not offered with all loan companies. Plus, the parties!

One of the coolest SoFi perks is their job-loss insurance. It works like this: If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you can apply for the company's unemployment protection.

Then, SoFi suspends your monthly payments and provides job placement assistance during the forbearance period of up to three months, and capped at 12 months, in aggregate, over the life of the loan.

SoFi loans are unsecured, which means you do have to put up collateral (such as a car or home).

Perk: SoFi does not charge late payments!

SoFi >>

Current SoFi personal loan rates, as of August 2018:

Fixed APR 6.990% to 14.865% (with AutoPay).

Variable rates from 6.245% APR to 12.545% APR (with AutoPay)

Important, from SoFi's website: “No origination fees or pre-payment penalties. What you see is what you get.” THIS.

Other personal loan companies charge 1% to 5% or more in origination fees.

Also, if you decide to seek out other loans from SoFi, like student loan consolidation, or a mortgage, there are member benefits: Get a 0.125% rate discount on the second loan.

How much can you borrow from SoFi?

SoFi personal loans range from $5,000 to $100,000 depending on your qualifications and needs.

What can I use a SoFi personal loan for?

Use a SoFi personal loan to consolidate high-interest rate credit card debt, tackle a home improvement project, or help with a major expense, like an unexpected home repair or medical emergency.

SoFi personal loans are not for student debt, however, the company has a large student debt refinancing program.

How do I qualify for this Cadillac of personal loans?

  1. Go to Sofi.com
  2. Fill out some personal information, including whether you rent, own or live with your parents, birthday, whether you are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or have a Visa (all of which are accepted), education and income and planned use for the loan. (‘Engagement ring' is one of the options, which seems insane to me, but whatever … I'm not in the personal loan business.)
  3. SoFi offers you loan options of $5,000 to $100,000, as well as repayment schedules of up to 7 years. The longer the time you take to repay the loan, lower the monthly payment, but the higher the interest rate — and higher the total sum you will pay for the loan. Note that filling out this part of the application does not guarantee a loan — this is just the application. Also, this application does not affect your credit score. Check your credit score for FREE in seconds with CreditSesame.
  4. Upload copies of your driver's license or passport, income verification like recent pay stub or tax return, social security number and co-borrowers info. There is a live chat and a customer service number to answer any questions you may have along the way. I just tried the chat, and it was immediate, friendly, and I got my questions answered in 90 seconds. BAM.
  5. Complete the application process. This is where the “hard” credit check happens, which may affect your credit score. Almost any time your credit is pulled for financial purposes like checking credit worthiness, you can expect a “hard” credit check.
  6. Wait. It takes between 5 and 15 days to hear about whether you are approved for a SoFi personal loan.
  7. If you are approved, congratulations! SoFi will send you an agreement to sign electronically (thank GOD, because there are still companies that make you print out, sign with an ink pen, scan, and upload. SoFi is living in the future, for which I say thanks).
  8. Money will be transferred to your bank within a few days.
  9. Party!

Negatives of SoFi personal loans?

SoFi is very proud of the fact that their loans are some of the toughest to qualify for.

So, if your income is lower than their average, or your credit score needs improvement, you might need to seek out other options.

Also, SoFi really targets a younger population in its marketing — including the meetups.

So, if you are older than, say, 40, you might feel like their products are not really aimed at you.

This is not necessarily true.

Also: If you get a good deal with SoFi, who cares?

Bottom line on SoFi personal loans:

This is an excellent company, with some of the best rates in the industry, and quality customer experience.

Best bet for those with solid incomes and credit scores.

Related: Should you pay for credit repair?

 


SoFi student loan benefits

SoFi started as a way to better manage student loans — and has grown into one of the largest student loan refinance companies in the world.

To-date SoFi reports refinancing more than $18 billion in student loans, and serving almost 200,000 people.

SoFi is selective in who it approves for its student loan refinance program.

Typically, those accepted have incomes in the six-figures and credit scores north of 660.

Check your credit score free in seconds with CreditSesame.

Sofi is unique in that it allows borrowers to consolidate both private and federal loans. SoFi also allows you to refinance student loans previously consolidated through the government’s Direct or FFEL or a private program. Not all lenders allow that.

 

SoFi's student loan refinance rates

As of May, 2018:

Fixed rates from 3.999% to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay).

Fixed rates from 4.249% to 8.054% APR (without AutoPay)

Variable rates from 2.560% APR to 7.400% APR (with AutoPay).

Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan.

Who qualifies for SoFi student loan refinance?

SoFi requires applicants be U.S. citizens or permanent residents with degrees from a Title IV accredited university, have a job or an offer letter to start in 90 days, a responsible financial history, and a strong monthly cash flow. In addition to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, SoFi will also accept foreign applicants who have a Visa.

Refinancing is available for unsubsidized Direct Loans, Graduate PLUS loans, and/or private loans.

When is it a good idea to refinance student loans?

Student loan refinancing makes sense if your goal is one or more of these:

  • Reduce your interest rate
  • Pay off debt quicker
  • Lower your monthly payments

Lowering your monthly payments might also include extended the length of the loan, which might increase the total sum you pay for the loan. Use this handy calculator to decide.

Whether or not you qualify for a lower rate should be a major consideration in whether or not you chose to refinance your student loan. Your credit score and history, income, and length of employment are all factors.

How do I apply for a SoFi student loan refinance?

  1.  Go to this page.
  2. Fill out a couple pages of personal information, including birth date, university, degree, income, sum of your current student loans. Takes 2 minutes or less. These steps do not affect your credit score.
  3. Chose loan terms: 5, 7 or 10 years, and see what terms are offered. The longer the term, the higher the interest rate.
  4. Upload information like a state ID, pay stubs, and loan information.
  5. Wait up to two weeks, during which SoFi may reach out and ask for additional information.
  6. If approved, you will be sent documents electronically to sign.
  7. Receive notice of your loans being consolidated within a few weeks, and start getting just one (hopefully lower?) bill from SoFi.

Does SoFi have a deferment program?

Yes. SoFi's loan deferment applies to borrowers who return to graduate school on a half- or full-time basis, undergo disability rehabilitation, or serve on active military duty. At the end of a deferment, the total loan balance will be reamortized over the remaining term of the loan.

Cons of SoFi Student Loan Refinancing

SoFi prides itself in being very selective in who it chooses to work with. If you pass, you get to enjoy low rates. While the company boasts an A+ BBB rating, the company does have a number of online critics who complain the process is slow and cumbersome.

Bottom line: Should you refinance student loans with SoFi?

This is an excellent company with very competitive products. Lowering your student loan payments and terms can save you tens of thousands of dollars and help you reach your financial — and life — goals faster. Checking out SoFi student loan refinancing is a great step if you have student debt.

Get started with SoFi >>


Give me some info on SoFi

SoFi was launched in 2011 by four Stanford Business School graduates looking for a better way to manage their student loans.

The next year it raised $77 million, and has raised more than $3 billion to-date — making SoFi one of the top-funded tech companies in history.

In May 2016, SoFi became the first startup online lender to receive a triple-A rating from Moody's, a ratings agency for financial products. In other words, SoFi is a big deal.

Did you apply for a personal loan with SoFi or another company? What was your experience? What about student loan refinance? Share in the comments …

 

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Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.

Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list. Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer. A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

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