SoFi is a financial app to help you monitor your credit score, track your spending and manage your debt repayment. It’s totally free to us, and you don’t need to use other SoFi products to enroll.
Money Under 30 has reviewed over 500 financial services since 2006. We confirm that SoFi is a valuable, totally free app that you can trust. In this review of SoFi’s financial insights tools, we’ll explain what this tool does and doesn’t do, and how to get the most from it.
SoFi is loaded with free features that track your credit score and help you budget. See all your accounts in one place, get weekly credit score updates, and manage student loan and other debt repayment.
- Free credit monitoring and budgeting in one
- One-of-a-kind student loan management tools
- No affect on your score score
- Uses VantageScore, not FICO
SoFi, short for Social Finance, is a diversified financial services company and online bank founded in 2011.
Since its inception as an affordable student loan lender, SoFi has expanded to be a holistic alternative to traditional banks, offering checking and savings, loans and credit cards, and investing products through SoFi Wealth.
SoFi focuses on delivering low-fee financial products and friendly customer service to creditworthy young professionals.
What kind of credit score and budgeting tools does SoFi offer?
SoFi offers free tools that give members a complete picture of their finances and credit score. It’s accessible via web browser or the SoFi mobile app.
The idea behind this tool from SoFi will be familiar to anyone who has used a service like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, or a credit score tracking tool provided by a number of major banks and credit card issuers.
After you create an account with Sofi, you will see your credit score, how your score ranks on the credit spectrum, and the factors determining your score.
SoFi goes further than most competitors, however, by giving you the ability to link financial accounts and see a holistic picture of your finances including cash flow (income and spending), debt repayment, and investment performance.
Key features of SoFi’s Financial Insights Tools
Credit score monitoring
With a free credit score monitoring account, you get immediate free access to your TransUnion VantageScore 3.0.
Unlike when you apply for a credit card or loan, SoFi uses what’s called a “soft pull” of your credit score. This means that inquiries won’t appear on your credit report or negatively affect your credit score in any way.
SoFi will automatically update your credit score each week so you can see how its changing over time.
Your credit score fluctuates frequently as the balances of your credit cards and other accounts change. In general, your score will go up as you pay balances down. Your score may decrease if your credit card balances go up. Making timely payments on your credit accounts is the single most important factor that determines your credit score. The more consecutive years of timely payments you have, the better your score will be. Miss a single payment, though, and your score is sure to drop.
The other key feature of SoFi is the financial dashboard that lets you access everything about your money in one place: Your spending, your investments, and your debts.
If you already have a SoFi bank account, personal or student loan, or investment product, your SoFi accounts will appear on your dashboard automatically. For SoFi home loans and accounts outside of SoFi, you’ll need to link them yourself.
The account linking process isn’t necessarily difficult, but it can take between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on how many different financial institutions you use. Account linking is done via Plaid, an encryption technology that securely passes your login details to SoFi. Once linked, SoFi can automatically update your accounts over time.
For a limited time, you may be able to earn $10 in rewards points for creating a new credit score monitoring account.† Only customers who do not already have any SoFi accounts are eligible.
You can then redeem rewards points for cash in a SoFi checking or savings account, apply the points to a SoFi loan account, or use them to purchase fractional shares of stock.
Free consult with a financial planner
Once you sign up for free credit score monitoring with SoFi, you’ll be able to schedule a complimentary half-hour meeting with a SoFi financial planner.
To be clear, you should expect this call to be somewhat of a sales pitch for one or more of SoFi’s many financial products. That said, it’s a great opportunity to get one or two financial questions answered and learn about which, if any, of SoFi’s offers might be able to help you reach your financial goals.
Unlike some free financial advisor meetings that can lead to high-pressure sales of high-priced investment or insurance products, all of SoFi’s products are designed to be affordable and consumer-friendly. If you’re ready for serious long-term financial planning or have more than one or two simple questions, it’s worth considering if it’s time to hire a fee-only financial advisor. But for many who aren’t ready for that level of comprehensive planning or don’t want to shell out a couple thousand dollars in planning fees, SoFi’s consult offer is an attractive option.
To be blunt, the credit monitoring features offered by SoFi are not unique.
Free services like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, and tools offered by most major banks will give you a similar picture of your credit score. (I currently get weekly emails from Chase, Capital One, American Express and Experian, all telling me if my credit score went up, down or sideways.)
But the nice thing about SoFi is that it combines credit monitoring with financial tracking. And that’s compelling.
Numerous (very good) products out there can help you track your spending and investment performance. Empower (formerly Personal Capital) is one such free service we highly-recommend that excels at giving you a comprehensive picture of your investment portfolio across multiple accounts. Meanwhile paid apps like Simplifi by Quicken and YNAB offer robust budgeting tools.
With Sofi’s financial insights tools, you can track money right alongside your credit score. It’s a one-stop-shop for the financial tools most consumers want, and simplicity is always a good thing.
What’s the catch with SoFi’s financial insight tools?
With SoFi, you get free access to your credit score, tracking of your spending and investing across all financial accounts, and a free half-hour call with a financial planner. You can even earn rewards points for using the free service. What’s the catch?
Like all free financial services, the trade-off to using this tool from SoFi is that you’re sharing your financial data. In turn, SoFi will use that to market its other financial products to you. For example, if you link student loan accounts to SoFi they may advertise a student loan refinancing product to you.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. You’re never under any obligation to use any of the products SoFi recommends. But, who knows? You may discover that a SoFi product could save you money and make your financial life easier.
Privacy-minded consumers may bristle at the idea of turning over so much financial information to one company. And that’s fair. But it’s also getting increasingly difficult to avoid. Anytime you use more than one financial product with one company, that company has a lot of your data. And using easily-accessible databases like your credit report, they can piece together the rest.
Do I need to be a SoFi member to activate credit score monitoring with SoFi?
No, you do not need to already be a SoFi member to sign up for credit score monitoring with SoFi.
SoFi offers a wide array of financial products from loans to banking and investing. Although existing SoFi customers will enjoy the benefit of a single experience to manage their SoFi accounts and explore SoFi’s financial insights tools, the product works for everybody including those with no other SoFi accounts.
Will setting up credit score monitoring with SoFi affect my credit score?
No, just signing up for or using free credit score monitoring with SoFi will not affect your credit score or cause it to go down. When you apply for a credit card or a loan, lenders make what is known as a “hard” inquiry or pull of your credit report. This inquiry becomes part of your credit report and, in some cases, may cause a temporary decrease in your credit score, especially if you make several credit applications in the span of one or two years.
If anything, using SoFi should, over time, help you manage your money in such a way that your decisions will begin to positively impact your credit and your score may go up.
What credit score does SoFi’s credit score monitoring tool use?
SoFi uses the VantageScore 3.0 credit score from TransUnion, one of the three major credit bureaus (the others being Equifax and Experian).
Many consumers don’t realize that there are dozens of different credit score products. All of these different credit scores use the same information contained on your credit reports, but they use different formulas to determine a score.
As a result, if you look at your VantageScore via SoFi or another app and then apply for a loan, you may see a score difference of tens or even 100 or more points. This isn’t because one score or the other is “wrong”; it’s just using a different formula. More than likely, where you fall on that score’s scale — from excellent to poor — is the same.
What accounts can be connected to SoFi’s financial insights tools??
You can link most major financial accounts to SoFi including:
- Checking and savings accounts
- Investment accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Credit cards
- Student loans
You can also manually add the value of accounts or assets (such as your car or home) so that you can see your entire net worth in one place.
The bottom line
SoFi is a totally free app with features to monitor your credit score, spending and investment performance across multiple accounts, even if they’re not at SoFi. Although it’s possible to get similar credit monitoring or budgeting tools from competitors, few, if any, offer a singular dashboard with both. For that reason, we recommend giving SoFi a try, as there is no downside.