Point of Interest
With historically low interest rates, now may be the time to revisit the terms of your student loan.
Benchmark interest rates remain at historically low levels. Falling interest rates could mean it’s time to revisit the terms of your existing debt. With over $1.6 trillion in outstanding student loan debt, student loans are one of the main ways Americans are in debt.
If you’re looking to cut down on your monthly student loan repayment costs, it’s important to know which lenders offer the best student loan refinance rates and which lenders can help you reach your payoff goals faster.
Compare the four best student loan refinance rates
|Lender||APR||Minimum Loan||Maximum Loan||Best for…|
|SoFi||3.46% – 7.36%||$5,00||No limit||Extra perks and support|
|Citizens Bank||2.15% – 9.02%||$10,000||$500,000||Large loan amounts|
|Lend Key||1.90% – 8.65%||$5,000||$300,000||Recent graduates|
|Earnest||1.81% – 9.95%||$5,000||$500,000||Flexible payment pans|
The four best student loan refinance rates of 2020
SoFi – The best extra perks and support
With an emphasis on offering more than just refinancing, SoFi is considered one of the best for overall support and education. It provides access to live support seven days a week and free financial coaches to help with many aspects of money management, not just student loan payments. You can even get career coaching free of charge as part of your loan agreement service benefits.
SoFi charges no application or origination fees, and you’re free to prepay your loan with no penalty. The entire process happens from one online portal, so you don’t need to meet with a banker in person. Fixed or variable rates depend on the current economic climate. Currently, rates range from 3.20% APR to 6.64%. Get access to lower APR tiers with enrollment in SoFi’s automatic payment programs.
- Live support 24/7
- Access to financial coaches on student loans, money management and career coaching
- No application or origination fees
- No prepayment penalties
- The application process can take time; some borrowers have noted weeks for approval
- Some borrowers who own their own businesses were frustrated by SoFi’s difficulties with properly underwriting self-employment or irregular income
- Some borrowers have reported an uneven customer service experience related to providing documentation
Citizens Bank – Best for those with large loans
Offering a variety of loan terms, ranging from five to 20 years, Citizens Bank is one of the few on the market with loan amounts of up to $500,000 for graduates. While it does offer smaller amounts (as little as $10,000), those with massive amounts of debt may find them easy to work with. Citizens’ rates range from 2.72% to 7.50%, with discounts given for certain behaviors, such as automatic repayments.
If you co-signed with a relative or spouse, which is common for those who may not have the best credit, Citizens Bank lets you apply to release the cosigner after 26 consecutive on-time payments. You’re eligible to apply if you have a social security number, even if you are not a citizen. People with associates degrees or those without a degree can apply to release the cosigner after making 12 qualifying payments on their loans.
- Great for borrowers with large balances
- Discounts offered for enrolling in services like automatic repayments
- Cosigner release with 26 consecutive on-time payments
- Open to non-US citizens who have a Social Security number
- Comes with a narrow set of loan terms
- Minimum income and credit requirements are vague
Lend Key – Best for graduates
If you finished college and love working with credit unions, Lend Key is a solid choice. Comprised of lenders who pool their money to invest in student loans, this lender is completely online and offers features that many appreciate from their community bank.
It also gives you a variety of repayment terms, from five to 20 years, and offers interest rates from 2.63% to 7.75%, assuming you enroll in the AutoPay service. Loan Key also handles federal and private loan refinancing, so you can choose to bundle your loans into one lower payment, usually at a better APR.
Lend Key only offers its loan services to those with a degree, though, so you won’t have any luck if you didn’t finish school. The good news is that it considers any associates, undergraduate or doctorate degree from a Title IV-eligible school as a qualification. Loans range from $5,000 to $175,000, depending on your degree.
- Competitive rates
- Handles federal and private loan refinancing
- Options to bundle loans into one lower payment, usually at a better APR
- Students who earned an associates degree of better from a Title IV-eligible school may apply
- Some borrowers who own their own businesses were frustrated by Lend Key’s struggle to underwrite self-employment or irregular income
- Some borrowers have found Lend Key’s collection response to be aggressive, noting their forbearance parameters were inflexible
- Some borrowers have noted that payments can take time to post
Earnest – the best for flexible payment plans
Of all the lenders fighting for your student loan refinancing business, Earnest sets itself apart in a few ways. First, its website is intuitive, offering to compare what you’ll save with Earnest versus what the other lenders offer. It also allows you pick your term length and monthly payment amount. If you decide you want to change or refinance down the road, that’s allowed, too. Earnest offers a limited employment protection service to help with payments if you lose your job as well. All of this comes with no fees.
Another perk to Earnest is that it spells out exactly what it is looking for in a borrower. It doesn’t have straight income requirements, but it does share that you need a 650 credit score, adequate income, low credit card debt and certain extra qualifications, such as having a higher bank account balance, to qualify. Its rates are competitive, starting at just 1.99%.
- Flexible terms
- Offers limited employment protection if you lose your job
- Transparent lending requirements
- Some borrowers have reported a slow account set up process
- Some borrowers have reported issues with the website’s user interface
- Some borrowers have reported issues with customer service
The final word
Competition is fierce among lenders offering to refinance your student loans. The growth in student loans has companies fighting to offer the best student loan refinance rates. Each lender will offer different features and benefits: some want just graduates, others want large loans and some will provide perks for borrowing with them. Find the right one and you can save a significant amount of money on your student loan payments.