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SoFi USA Review & Rating 2021

Is SoFi Brokers Scam Or Legit?

SoFi (Social Finance) is a US based finance start-up that was founded in 2009 that offers a range of financial services including loan management, insurance and investing.

SoFi Invest is the name of their discount brokerage service that offers both active and automated trading with low or sometimes zero fees. In this SoFi Invest review, we’ve extensively tested both of their platforms and reported the results back to you to give you our honest SoFi Invest opinions.

We’ve also taken a look at their ETF and Crypto trading options and tested the SoFi Invest open account process to rate it on quickness, ease and safety. Just so you know, this SoFi Invest review is USA focussed.

If you’re interested in reading more about similar discount brokerages, check out our SogoTrade review, TastyWorks review and Stash review

SoFi Pro and Con
  • Zero fees on stocks and ETF trading
  • Active and Automated trading
  • Good range of low cost investment options
  • SoFi Invest open account process is quick 100% digital
  • Poor range of research and educational tools

Usability, Look & Feel

When it comes to the website, SoFi keeps all of its different financial service brands under the one roof of SoFi.com. Finding SoFi Invest is fairly straightforward and can be found in the dropdown menu from the “Products” tab.

Overall the SoFi Invest USA website is well laid out and extremely easy to navigate, with all of the tabs you could want from SoFi Invest appearing along the top including active investing, automated investing, ETFs and crypto among others.

In terms of design and aesthetics, the website looks modern and is certainly aimed at appealing to the young investor, which it actually does with a lot of success. The copy of the text flows nicely, the use of fonts is well done and combined excellently with images and icons to produce a seamless design that’s easy on the eye. The general look and feel of the site is modern and fun without being too cheesy or childish, which is the sort of refreshing look and feel we look for from modern online trading sites, as the more traditional ones tend to be dominated with boring white, black and grey themes.

Rather than having a SoFi Invest “Open Account” button, you can start the registration process via the “Invest Now” buttons that you’ll find on almost every page in the SoFi Invest section of the website.

One criticism we have in this section of our SoFi review is that there seems to be a lack of solid branding. The logo is a simple sky blue and white, yet the pages seem to jump drastically from following this color scheme one page, to being deep purple on some pages and awash with a sort of sunburst red on the next. The colors don’t make the SoFi Invest USA website appear gaudy or make it difficult to look at, but they don’t follow a simple but effective branded color scheme, such as that in our TradeStation review or TD AmeriTrade review. As a potential client shopping around multiple different brokerages, this makes it quite difficult to build up an image of SoFi Invest to commit to memory.

There is also the lack of a website for investors who are resident in other countries, however we mentioned that this is primarily a SoFi Invest USA review, so we won’t dwell upon that too much. 

SoFi Open Accounts

The SoFi Invest open account process is as easy as you could want it to be, is fully online and digitalized and takes between 1-3 days to complete. The downside for anyone living overseas is that US citizenship or a Green Card is required to register a SoFi Invest open account, and you have to be trading from within US borders. This pretty much rules out any traders who travel a lot.

To keep things simple, you have the choice of two different account types to choose from with the SoFi Invest open account offerings:

SoFi Invest Active Investing

This is like the typical basic account you’d get with any other similar discount brokerage where you can trade stocks, ETFs and crypto on your own. At the time of writing, SoFi Invest USA only allows personal accounts here, lacking things such as joint and business accounts that many of their competitors offer.

SoFi Invest Automated Investing

This is a robo-advisory based account where SoFi invests, creates your portfolio and handles your investments for you. No advisory fees or administrative fees are charged for opening a SoFi Invest automated investing account. This type of SoFi Invest USA account is ideal for a new, hands off investor who doesn’t have much time to track the market themselves.

SoFi Invest Trading Platforms

In this section of our SoFi Invest review, we tested their active trading platforms, over their automated investing.

When it comes to active trading, SoFi Invest have a mobile platform and a web-based platform, however, they lack a downloadable heavy-duty desktop platform that some of the top end brokerages provide. As is sometimes the case with platforms geared towards newer and younger traders, the SoFi Invest mobile app is better than the larger scale web-based platform.

Web platform

As was the case with the SoFi invest website, their web-based platform is user-friendly, simple to navigate and is well designed. Where it’s a little better than their main website is the design is a little more clear and appears to follow their sky blue and white brand a little better.

When it comes to signing into your SoFi Invest open account through the web-based platform, they provide a secure two-step login that you can choose to turn off under your profile name should you so please.

The search function is simple and does its job on a very basic level, but has its limitations which restrict search options. If you’re looking for something you know the name of, that’s fine if you can type it into the search bar, but it’s filtered search system leaves a lot to be desired.

When it comes to placing orders SoFi only has the market order type available, meaning that other basic order types, such as limit and stop-loss, are completely missing altogether – not ideal even for the intermediate trader. There’re also little to no customization options to your SoFi open account through the web platform, all you can really do is set a few pre alerts.

Mobile platform

As we mentioned above, the SoFi Invest mobile trading app is the superior of their two trading platform options, so let’s take a look at it in a little more detail. The SoFi mobile app is available through iOS and Android and offers the same two-step login process to your SoFi open account as the web-based platform.

In terms of design, the SoFi Invest mobile app mirrors the clear and simple design of the web platform. The functionalities have all been transferred over to the small screen excellently, and everything works seamlessly and simply.

The SoFi Invest USA app is overall modern and is superior to the mobile apps offered by some larger and more established online brokerages. Naturally, the mobile app has the same restrictions and pitfalls as the web-based platform (limited order types, lack of customization options etc.), however, the fact they’ve been able to replicate the web version almost exactly and make it work just as well, if not better, is why we’ve rated the mobile trading app so highly in this section of our SoFi Invest review.

SoFi Invest Payments

True to their word as being a zero fee discount broker, SoFi Invest USA charges no deposit or withdrawal fees and has no required account minimum. There’re also no fees if your SoFi Invest open account sits unused or inactive, which is why it’s such a good option for new or casual investors who are not sure if they’ll continue using their account in the long term.

Deposits

You can make deposits into your SoFi Invest account via wire transfer, check and Automated Clearing House (ACH). Unfortunately credit/debit cards and eWallets are not an available payment option with SoFi invest. This isn’t too much of a surprise as it’s common with most similar zero fee brokerages, such as Robinhood.

As per the SoFi Invest website, all deposit types should take 1-2 business days to clear, except bank transfers which can take a little longer. When testing the payment options for our SoFi Invest review, we found this to stand fairly true. If you don’t want to have to wait for each one off deposit, you can set up a recurring deposit.

Withdrawals

When it comes to withdrawals you can use exactly the same methods as you can with deposits and, as is the case with most other brokerages, it’s easier and highly recommended that you use the same withdrawal method as you used to make your deposit. The fastest withdrawal method we found was ACH, which takes 1-2 business days.

SoFi Invest Customer Service

Overall we were pleased with the results when testing the customer service for this SoFi Invest review. SoFi Invest’s FAQs are a bit limited compared with some other brokerages, however, their customer service more than makes up for it. You can contact SoFi Invests team via live chat, phone, email or Twitter.

Live chat

For any form of modern online customer-oriented company, an efficient live chat where you can speak with a real human customer care advisor is a huge plus for us, as it’s usually the fastest and most efficient way to get answers to your questions, no matter how big or small. The SoFi Invest live chat works well and they respond quickly with clear and relevant answers. The only downside is that it isn’t available 24/7.

Phone

The phone lines were quick to connect and the advisors are extremely helpful and personable. The downside is that they aren’t available on weekends however they have Monday-Friday phone line hours available in both PT and EST time zones.

Email

With email support you have 2 options as you can email the customer support team or the dedicated SoFi Invest team. As email service goes, SoFi’s customer care team tends to respond the same day or next morning depending on what time you send your email. This is as quick and efficient as you can realistically hope for with email support, but is still a bit slow.

Twitter

SoFi USAhave a dedicated customer support Twitter account you can tweet @SoFiSupport. They are quick to respond and have extremely helpful answers. The Twitter account is also a great place to go for questions related to a specific event or time period as chances are someone’s already asked a similar question you were going to.

Regulation & Deposit Protection

In this part of our SoFi Invest review, we’ll be taking a look at the safety and legitimacy of the brokerage and check to see whether or not your money is protected – and to what extent.

SoFi Invest ticks two big boxes here as it’s regulated by both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). What this means is that all SoFi customers are protected by Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which protects investors’ funds upto the value of $500,000 (or $250,000 cash) should the brokerage go bust or enter severe financial difficulties. However not all investments are covered by SIPC, crypto for example, is regulated separately and is therefore not covered.

Additionally, SoFi is regulated by top tier regulatory bodies in several US states. For example in California, SoFi is licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law.

SoFi USA isn’t listed on any stock exchange and has a relatively short track record, having only been founded in 2009. That said, in their short history they have built up a relatively solid and trustworthy reputation as a low volume beginner broker.

Additional Offers

We mentioned earlier in our SoFi Invest review that they offer automated investing through a robo-advisory service, so let’s take a look at it in a little bit more detail.

What is automated investing?

Automated investing is a hands off investment type where the brokerage builds and manages the portfolio for you, either with a human advisor or through a robo service system. Automated investing is a good option for beginners, hands-off investors and low volume or low budget investors.

Automated investing with SoFi Invest

The big selling point of automated investing with SoFi Invest is that they charge no management fees, which is in keeping with their image as a no fees brokerage. Rather than providing a hands-on human manager, SoFi Invests automated service is done through a robo-advisory program. Despite being fairly new to the robo-advisory game, SoFi’s platform is equal to, and perhaps even surparses, some of its more established competitors.

How it works with SoFI Invest USA is that you fill out a quick online form outlining your goals and investment needs. From there, SoFi will build a diverse investment portfolio with your goals in mind. SoFi also readjust your stock and investments on a quarterly basis to help ensure your capital is invested the way you’d like it to be.

SoFi Stocks

SoFi Invest Stocks

SoFi Invest continues to buck the trend of online trading. With the introduction of ‘stock bits’, SoFi Invest does not only cater to professional traders – but newcomers too. As many blue-chip stocks continue to rise in value, buying an entire stock has become unattainable for some. However, SoFi Invest is one of the latest online brokers to offer fractional shares to traders. Fractional shares allow traders to invest as little as $1. The move towards trading in fractional stocks has created a far more robust trading environment for those involved. Of course, it is also possible to buy as many shares as one deems necessary.

Stocks Trading Costs

As the online brokerage industry is highly competitive, many brokers have taken to a common theme. It is fairly standard for these types of companies to levy 0% management and/or trading fees on the buying and selling of stocks. SoFi Invest is no different. The fact that there are no management and trading fees does not mean that there aren’t implicit fees charged on certain account activities. It is important to keep these in mind as this will affect total funds over time. Wire transfers incur a cost of $25 while ACAT transfers to another firm will cost $75. Before confirming an action, it is important to find out what the cost involved is.

Although there are implicit costs involved, the transparent nature of SoFi Invest’s management and trading cost structure is a very promising sign of an online brokerage committed to providing fair and equitable services.

Stock Markets & Trading Places

Up until recently, the SoFi Invest trading platform’s focus was allowing traders access to financial instruments at a domestic level. However, now traders can also trade stocks on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. US markets include the NYSE, NASDAQ, and AMEX exchanges.

Using the active trading platform will allow traders to engage in market and limit orders. This can be done via the desktop trading platform. For those who prefer to track and trade stocks on the go, the mobile trading platform continues to impress.

Product Summary & Conclusion

Although the SoFi Invest platform allows for limited international exposure, there’s much to be said about the user-friendly and cost-friendly services on offer. It’s possible to trade stocks on a fractional scale, affording different types of traders the same access to local markets.

SoFi ETF

SoFi Invest ETF

Exchange-traded Funds (ETFs) funds are a good place to start for new traders as they are relatively low risk. If you really want to be hands off here, this is where you might want  to make use of SoFi’s automated investor account. ETFs group together several companies so that you can buy shares in all of them at once for a fraction of the cost. As well as being a good option for new investors, ETFs are also popular with intermediate and active traders alike.

Trading ETFs with SoFi Invest

SoFi Invest offer a selection of over 2,300 ETFs, which far surpass that of Robinhood, one of their biggest competitors. The downside, whoever, is that SoFi Invest only gives access to the US Market and has just 3 stock markets. If you already have some experience in ETF trading and are looking for a platform with access to international markets then we’d recommend looking elsewhere, such as Fidelity.

As well as offering popular ETFs such as Vanguard S&P 500, SoFi Invest offer four of their own ETFs:

SoFi Select 500

This is SoFi’s answer to the Vanguard S&P 500 and gives you a slice of the 500 largest publicly traded US companies. This ETF is fee-free for at least the first year.

SoFi Next 500

With this ETF, you invest in 500 mid-cap US companies. This ETF is also fee-free for at least the first year.

SoFi 50

When you buy shares in SoFi 50, you’re investing in the top 50 most widely held stocks by other clients on the SoFi Invest trading platform. The fee for this ETF is fairly low at 0.29%.

SoFi Gig Economy

This is a good way to invest in the high growth tech companies whose products and services you most likely use in everyday life. The fee for this ETF is 0.69%.

SoFi Invest ETF Fees

As you may have noticed above, SoFi Invest have a good selection of no commission fee or low commission fee ETFs. They were also among the first platforms to offer free stock and ETF trading structures. There are also no non-trading fees with SoFi; no withdrawal or account inactivity charges.

Product Summary & Conclusion

If you’re new to investing or are a young, mobile investor with a relatively low budget, then you can’t go far wrong with SoFi Invest when it comes to trading ETFs. Hands off investors who are looking to invest a little bit of money, but in the long term would be wise to take advantage of the automated-investor platform. Active traders will find SoFi Invest’s ETF offerings and trading platform quite restrictive and disappointing.

SoFi Crypto

SoFi Invest Crypto

Since bitcoin first came onto the scene back in 2009, it’s value has risen exponentially, and there are  now quite literally thousands of cryptocurrencies to choose from. While investing in cryptocurrencies can be potentially lucrative, they are volatile in nature and trading in them is therefore extremely risky. We thus wouldn’t recommend crypto trading to completely new investors – or at least we wouldn’t recommend putting a significant proportion of your capital into the digital currency. If you are interested in crypto currencies and crypto trading and fancy trying it out, our recommendation is that you start out investing just a small amount of your overall capital in crypto, around 5%-10%.

Crypto trading with SoFi Invest is fairly new, as they only added to their offerings in September 2019. The digital currencies were added to their fast growing platform thanks to a strong demand from over 800,000 of their account holders. This backs up our high customer service ratings earlier in this SoFi Invest review as it shows they do listen to their clients.

As crypto trading with SoFi Invest is still in its infancy, they only offer a very small range of 3 different cryptocurrencies at the time of writing; Bitcoin, Ethereum & Litecoin. This undoubtedly an extremely small offering, however we do have every confidence that SoFi invest will begin to offer more cryptos to trade as their platform grows.

SoFi Invest Crypto Trading

With SoFi Invest, you can trade cryptocurrencies on the same trading platform they use for stocks and ETF trading, so there’s no need to create a new account or download a separate platform. From a legal point of view, crypto trading has to be separated as it’s regulated differently to stocks and ETF trading. SoFi Invest have this covered as crypto trading is done through SoFi Digital Assets, LLC.

As is the case with their stocks and ETF trades, SoFi clients can trade cryptos with no account minimum. Unlike stocks and ETF trading with SoFi, clients do have to pay commission on crypto trades, however the rates are competitive. SoFi has a secure crypto trading platform that’s safe from hackers and protects your funds from fraud and theft. The crypto market is open 24/7, so you can trade cryptocurrencies at any time of the day with SoFi Invest. As well as being able to trade the 3 cryptocurrencies mentioned above, you can also check the market price on several other cryptocurrencies with SoFi Invest.

SoFi Invest Crypto Bonus

Due to the fact the crypto trading is new with SoFi Invest USA, they currently have a bonus offer to attract both new customers to the platform and to entice their existing account holders into also trading crypto with them. When you make your first crypto trade with SoFi Invest up to the value of $10 or more, they’ll give you a bonus of $25 worth of bitcoin.

Product Summary & Conclusion

Crypto trading with SoFi Invest is still very much in its early stages, however from what we’ve seen so far it does show a lot of promise. While it’s highly unlikely that SoFi Invest will ever have a crypto offering to entice proper crypto enthusiasts or serious investors, we can definitely see it becoming a popular option for beginners, young traders and cost conscious investors.

We mentioned earlier that first time crypto investments should be approached with caution, so SoFi Invest might not be a bad option for first time investors in the future. For now though, if it’s crypto trading you’re after, SoFi’s crypto trading platform in its current early state simply doesn’t offer enough. If you’re already a SoFi Invest customer, we wouldn’t discourage you from investing a small amount in crypto and claiming the bonus offer.

Overall Conclusion

To round up this SoFi Invest review, we found this to be a very suitable option if you are a young, beginner investor with a fairly small amount of capital. Active traders, or anyone with a serious amount of cash to throw in, will probably want to look at more established and serious brokers.

Where SoFi Invest need to improve, especially for the beginners traders their platform is targeted at, is in their educational and research tools, which at best can be described as basic and limited.

Their mobile app and even the platform do work well over all and they seem to be very actively improving their service fairly consistently. Their crypto trading is extremely limited and basic at the moment but does show great promise so we’ll be keeping a close eye on that.

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