That rate of return ranks among the best credit cards on the market for cash back returns. But there’s a catch!
In order to receive the full benefit of your card rewards, you must apply the rewards toward a SoFi product.
If you’re a SoFi customer, that’s probably no issue. But if you’re not, is worth signing up with the fintech to get this credit card?
In this review, Team Clark will help you answer that question as well as compare this card to other 2% back cards on the market.
Table of Contents
What Is the SoFi Credit Card?
The SoFi Credit Card is a no-annual-fee Mastercard that offers unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases.
The catch is that you must use your rewards to save money, invest money or pay down debt on an existing SoFi loan in order to get the full 2% in rewards.
SoFi is a fintech company that offers a wide array of personal financial services. You can get a student loan, home loan, invest in stocks and more. Think of it as a one-stop shopping alternative to a brick-and-mortar bank — and then some.
Team Clark has a full review of SoFi’s services here.
Card Specs and Perks
In order to apply for this card, you’ll have to become a SoFi member by signing up for a free account.
The rewards program for this card skews heavily toward using the card on SoFi products, so you’re going to want to have that account anyway.
OK, so here’s how things work once you’re signed up as a SoFi member and have been approved for the credit card.
When you use your SoFi credit card as a payment method, you will earn 2 SoFi Rewards Points for each dollar you spend. This is not limited to spending in specific categories.
These SoFi Rewards Points are worth $0.01 if applied to SoFi-related products.
Here are some examples of how to use your points in order to get the most value:
- Cash deposited into a SoFi Money Account
- Shares credited to a SoFi Invest Account
- Cash to be applied to the outstanding balance of a SoFi Student Loan or SoFi Personal Loan
- Any promotional rewards offered under the SoFi Rewards Program
If you don’t apply your points to SoFi products, you can expect the value of your credit card rewards to decrease significantly.
For example, the SoFi Rewards Points are worth only $0.005 each if you get them applied back to your credit card statement.
And they don’t have any cash value, so you can’t request a check or apply them to third-party products.
Top Cardholder Benefits
The SoFi Credit Card is on the World Elite Mastercard benefits platform, so it has a few of the more coveted card benefits on the market.
- Interest Rate Reduction Program: No matter what APR you get issued with this card, SoFi is putting it in your hands to improve it. If you make 12 on-time payments of at least the minimum payment due, SoFi will reduce your APR by 1%. (Your initial APR for the card will be determined after an analysis of your creditworthiness.)
- Cell Phone Protection: This card offers a cell phone protection plan that can help you replace a stolen or damaged cell phone. You must use the card to pay for your wireless bill to be eligible. The maximum liability is $800 per claim and $1,000 per 12-month period. Each claim is subject to a $50 deductible. You can compare it to some other cards that offer phone protection here.
- Mastercard ID Theft Protection Program: This card lets you enroll in this Mastercard program at no additional charge. You’ll get identity monitoring and alerts, lost wallet assistance and access to experts if something goes awry.
- Lyft Credit Bonus: If you use the card to pay for five Lyft rides per month, you’ll receive a free $10 credit to be used on a future Lyft ride.
- 5% Back on Boxed Purchases: If you like to shop in bulk with items from Boxed, you will be happy to know that this card gives you 5% back on purchases with the online retailer (up to $500 in rewards per year).
- Annual Fee: None
- Balance Transfer Fee: 5% of the amount of the transfer with a $10 minimum
- Cash Advance Fee: 5% of the amount of each advance with a $10 minimum
- Foreign Transaction Fee: None
- Late Payment Fee: Up to $39
SoFi Credit Card vs. Other 2% Cash Back Cards
Money expert Clark Howard’s standard credit card recommendation is to get a rewards card that pays unlimited 2% back on all purchases without an annual fee.
This card fits that bill, but it has some stiff competition.
Clark carries the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer in his wallet, and also recommends the Fidelity Rewards Visa for 2% rewards that can be applied to savings and investing. There also are strong unlimited 2% cards from Paypal and Fifth Third Bank on the market.
So which one is best for your wallet? We’ve done a little side-by-side comparison to help you decide:
Here’s a quick look at some of the high-level details for the SoFi card vs. four of the top 2% cash back cards:
|Card Characteristic||SoFi Credit Card||Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer||Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature||PayPal Cashback Mastercard||Fifth Third Preferred|
|Cash Back Rate||Unlimited 2%||Unlimited 2% (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay for those purchases )||Unlimited 2%||Unlimited 2%||Unlimited 2%|
|Cash Back Redemption Options||Must use toward qualified SoFi product for full value, drops to 1% as statement credit||Check, statement credit or credit for linked Citi bank account||Investment account credit, travel, merchandise, gift cards, statement credit||PayPal balance credit||Check, statement credit, credit for a connected Fifth Third account or loan|
|Intro APR Offer for New Purchases||None||None||None||None||None|
|Intro APR Offer for Balance Transfers||None||Yes||None||None||None|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||None||3% in U.S. dollars per transaction||1%||None||None|
|Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver||No||No||Expires as benefit on 3/31/21||No||No|
|Cell Phone Protection||Yes||No||No||No||Yes|
The Big Takeaways
Here are some things to consider coming out of that comparison:
- In terms of rewards redemption, this SoFi card most closely resembles the Fidelity card in that it requires cardholders to use rewards on their products in order to get the full value. If the liquidity of rewards is important, you’re going to have easier access with the other three.
- If cell phone protection is important to you, this SoFi card and the Fifth Third card are the only ones of the 2% cash back cards that offer it. Clark says this is a better way to protect your cell phone than paying for insurance through your wireless provider, so this factor may make this card worth considering.
- As you can see on the chart, flashy welcome bonuses and APR offers are hard to find in this card category. If you’re looking for that type of reward, you should read our roundups of the best credit card welcome bonuses or best 0% credit cards.
- If you’re planning to use your cash back card abroad, the SoFi card joins the Fifth Third and PayPal cards in allowing you to make purchases without dinging you for foreign transaction fees.
- Are you bringing a balance over from a previous credit card? The Citi Double Cash is far and away your best choice out of the 2% cards for that. It offers an introductory APR offer on balance transfers, which is among the best in that card category.
Are you considering adding the SoFi Credit Card to your wallet?
Let’s review some of the major pros and cons of the card before you make your final decision:
Pros and Cons
|2% cash back reward on most qualifying purchases||Must open an account with SoFi in order to apply for the card|
|No annual or foreign transaction fees||Rewards points not used on SoFi products are reduced in value|
|Cell phone insurance coverage is included if you pay wireless bill with the card||No introductory APR periods on new purchases or balance transfers|
Money expert Clark Howard is a fan of 2% cash back credit cards because their straightforward rewards system makes it easy for you to project exactly how much you’ll earn with each purchase.
And while this card doesn’t pay you cash like the Citi Double Cash in his wallet does, he says this card still makes sense if you’re looking for a way to save or invest credit card rewards.
If you’re a current SoFi member or have a reason to open an account with the company in the near future, this card could be a great fit for your wallet.
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