Refinancing Student Loans: 12 Loan Refinancing Companies Compared

Refinancing Student Loans: 12 Loan Refinancing Companies Compared.

Refinancing Student Loans: You move the current federal and/or private student loans to a private lender mainly for lower interest rates when you refinance student loans (some borrowers often try lower payments or fewer lenders to deal with).

Refinancing Student Loans

The article has all you need to have a 99 percent chance to find the perfect refinancing plan for student loans.

Should I Refinance Student Loans? Here are 2 Rules of Thumb

  1. For your federal student loans, refinance if you work in the private sector, have a solid emergency fund, and owe federal debt less than 1.5 times your income
  2. For your private student loans, shop for new interest rates and refinance at least once a year if you can find a lower rate. Most borrowers do not know that you can refinance two, three, or even four or more times and get multiple cash bonuses by changing lenders if a company on this page will offer you a better deal than what you currently have.

Refinancing federal student loans removes income-driven interest, redemption, and the most generous forbearance choices, please be aware. You need to be sure that before refinancing, these provisions are not as important as getting a lower interest rate. You can’t undo it after you’ve refinanced.

How to Compare the Best Student Loan Refinance Companies

Our research shows that only 10% of borrowers are going to check more than three lenders. That’s why we built the table at the top of the page so that you can focus your quest on companies that are less likely to waste your time. Nevertheless, if you want to be sure that you get the best deal, check out all 12 companies listed below.

Some companies offer rates directly, such as Earnest, Commonbond, and Laurel Road. Some, such as Credible and LendKey, link you to a huge number of lenders listed on their websites that you would probably never search on your own.

What Are the Current Student Loan Refinancing Interest Rates?

These are examples of interest rates I’m seeing based on different credit scores in the national student loan refinancing market in 2019 (excluding regional lenders).

If you have an interest rate higher than those in the table, you need to get quotes from the lenders below.

Refinancing
Fixed Rates
Available
(in years)
Excellent
Credit
(750+)
Good
Credit
(700-750)
Average
Credit
(650+)
5 3.20% 3.60% 4.00%
7 3.50% 4.00% 4.25%
10 3.75% 4.25% 4.75%
15 4.35% 4.60% 5.00%
20 4.60% 5.00% 5.50%

All 12 Student Loan Refinancing Companies Compared

Comparing the following 12 lenders will make it easier to get a lower rate. We highlight the top reasons you’d consider using each lender, the available cash reward terms (some are unique to the refinanced amount), lender-specific reviews if you’d like to know more, as well as a star rating which represents input from our readers.

Earnest: Best student loan refinancing company for flexible repayment

  • PositivesFlexible repayment terms, custom loan payments
  • Allows cosignersNo
  • Deferment or forbearance availableYes. Up to 36 months
  • Interest ratesFixed APR starting at 3.45%. Variable APR starting at 1.99%.
  • Bonus$300 for refinancing 50k to 100k. $500 for refinancing over 100k.

Payment flexibility and consistently low rates make Earnest the top lender Student Loan Planner readers use when refinancing student loans. On top of that, Earnest services its own loans. Earnest isn’t as flexible when it comes to cosigners and transferring Parent PLUS loans from parents to children.

Laurel Road: Best for medical professionals

  • PositivesFlexible repayment terms, profession based discounts
  • Allows cosignersYes. Cosigner release available after 36 months.
  • Deferment or forbearance availableYes. Up to 12 months
  • Interest ratesFixed APR starting at 3.50%. Variable APR starting at 1.99%.
  • Bonus$300 to $750, starting when you refinance at least $20,000

While Laurel Road serves all borrowers today, it is a must check for anyone in a medical profession as well as borrowers with Parent PLUS loans. They also offer residency and fellowship refinancing. For some professions, Laurel Road may offer an additional 0.25% rate discount. They will automatically apply the better of our bonus up to $750 or any discount you qualify for when you use our Laurel Road link to apply.

Credible: Best for comparing many lenders with one application

  • PositivesStrong application experience
  • Allows cosignersYes
  • Deferment or forbearance availableYes with some lenders
  • Interest ratesFixed APR starting at 3.14%. Variable APR starting at 2.21%.
  • Bonus$100 to $750, depending on amount refinanced

Credible presents offers from multiple lenders, which offer varying rates, terms and perks like unemployment protection. The application experience with Credible is one of the fastest of any refinancing company.

First Republic Bank: Best fixed rates in the country

  • PositivesLow rates and incentives to pay off loan early
  • Allows cosignersCase by case basis
  • Deferment or forbearance availableNo
  • Interest ratesFixed APR starting at 1.95%.
  • Bonus$300 for refinancing over $40,000

To get an ultra low fixed rate from First Republic, you must live near one of their branches, located mostly on the West Coast and Northeast. You must also have 10% of the loan amount saved and be willing to open a First Republic bank account.

SoFi: Best if you want to invest and save at the same company where you refinance

  • PositivesCompetitive rates, member benefits, and unemployment protection
  • Allows cosignersYes. No cosigner release offered.
  • Deferment or forbearance availableYes in limited situations.
  • Interest ratesFixed APR starting at 3.46%. Variable APR starting at 2.31%.
  • Bonus$100 to $750 depending on amount refinanced (offered through Credible)

SoFi was one of the first companies to offer student loan refinancing. Borrowers in the medical, dental, and legal fields should check their rates. Additionally, SoFi offers residency and fellowship refinancing.

Student Loan Refinancing Companies Compared

Splash Financial: Best new student loan refinancing startup

  • PositivesCompares multiple lenders, good customer service available
  • Allows cosignersYes. Cosigner release offered by some lending partners
  • Deferment or forbearance availableYes. Length varies based on lending partner
  • Interest ratesFixed APR starting at 3.48%. Variable APR starting at 1.99%.
  • Bonus$300 to $500 starting when you refinance over $50,000

Splash is similar to Credible and LendKey in that it searches multiple lenders. Splash refinances loans from borrowers with an associate, bachelor or grad degrees as well as loans from for-profit colleges.

Citizens Bank: Best traditional bank with student loan refinancing

  • PositivesCan refinance Parent PLUS loans in child’s name, possible to refinance without degree
  • Allows cosignersYes. Cosigner release available after 36 months.
  • Deferment or forbearance availableYes, with limitations.
  • Interest ratesFixed APR starting at 3.45%. Variable APR starting at 2.19%.
  • Bonus$100 to $750 depending on amount refinanced (bonus paid through Credible)

Citizens Bank is a good option for borrowers with strong credit looking to refinance $50k to $100k and who don’t mind opening a debit or credit card account with Citizens Bank. Transferring Parent PLUS loans to your child or refinancing without a degree are unusual perks offered.

College Ave: Low rates and flexible options

  • PositivesOffers many different repayment terms
  • Allows cosignersYes. Offers cosigner release after 24 months.
  • Deferment or forbearance availableYes
  • Interest ratesFixed APR starting at 3.54%. Variable APR starting at 2.37%.
  • Bonus$500 Amazon gift card for refinancing more than $100,000. Paid by Student Loan Planner

College Ave refinances up to $150k for undergrad and grad degrees but up to $300k for dentists, physicians, veterinarians and pharmacists.

Elfi: Best for phone based customer service

  • PositivesHistorically offers good 5 and 7 year fixed rates
  • Allows cosignersYes, but no cosigner release
  • Deferment or forbearance availableYes. Up to 12 months
  • Interest ratesFixed APR starting at 3.14%. Variable APR starting at 2.39%.
  • Bonus$350 for refinancing at least $20,000

Education Loan Finance, aka ElFi has good customer support and sometimes low rates. You can refinance a minimum of $15,000 with a repayment term of 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years. The online application may take longer and if you don’t mind picking up the phone this could be a good option to consider.

Commonbond: Best refinancing company for customer service and Parent PLUS borrowers

  • PositivesOffers fixed, variable and hybrid rates.
  • Allows cosignersYes. Cosigner release offered after 36 months
  • Deferment or forbearance availableYes. Up to 24 months
  • Interest ratesFixed APR starting at 3.21%. Variable APR starting at 1.85%.
  • Bonus$300 for refinancing 40k to 75k. $550 for refinancing over 75k

Even though Commonbond is one of the few lenders not owned by a large company, they are consistently one of our top 3 lenders. Commonbond is a must check for borrowers with six figure balances as well as Parent PLUS loans. They also have a social mission of donating to a child’s education abroad for each loan funded.

Brazos: Best if you want to check non-profit borrowers in Texas

  • Positives40 years of experience, nonprofit status.
  • Allows cosignersYes, but no cosigner release.
  • Deferment or forbearance availableYes. Up to 12 months total
  • Interest ratesFixed APR starting at 3.10%. Variable APR starting at 1.90%.
  • Bonus$600 for refinancing at least $20,000

Brazos is a nonprofit lender only available to residents of Texas looking to refinance less than $250,000. The website requires patience to apply.

LendKey: Best search for community banks and credit unions

  • PositivesCompares many smaller lenders you might not apply to
  • Allows cosignersYes
  • Deferment or forbearance availableYes
  • Interest ratesFixed APR starting at 3.49%. Variable APR starting at 2.01%.
  • Bonus$100 to $750, depending on amount refinanced

Student Loan Refinancing Companies Compared

LendKey searches community banks and credit unions and offers some of the strongest unemployment protection terms. Historically, they haven’t been as competitive for borrowers who owe over $200,000 but remain an excellent option if you owe less than that.

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