Citizens Bank Student Loan Refinancing Review
Matt is a Certified Financial Planner® and investment advisor based in Columbia, South Carolina. He writes personal finance and investment advice, and in 2017 he received the SABEW Best in Business Award.
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Citizens Bank may not exactly be a household name for many Americans, but it offers several feature-packed student loan products, including student loan refinancing options. Citizens Bank says that its Education Refinance Loan product saves borrowers an average of $2,544 in interest per year, so let’s take a look at the pros and cons of these loans, and some other things to keep in mind before making your decision.
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Citizens Bank Student Loan Refinancing
Rating image, 3.0 out of 5 stars.
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Rates & Terms:
Fixed Rates: 4.39 - 9.99%
Variable Rates: 3.5 - 9.74%
Terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years
- Competitive APR -- Citizens Bank’s refinancing loans come with competitive APRs. In addition to credit and income qualification factors, Citizens Bank considers the borrower’s educational level and term length when determining a borrower’s APR. In order to get the lowest rates, a borrower must have outstanding credit, a completed graduate degree, and select a five-year loan term.
- Autopay discount -- Citizens Bank offers a 0.25% interest rate deduction for borrowers who agree to make their loan payments automatically from a bank account. This is a standard feature in the industry, but is still worth mentioning.
- No fees -- Citizens Bank doesn’t charge any origination or prepayment fees.
- Cosigners welcome -- Applicants can choose to apply with a creditworthy cosigner in order to increase their chances of approval or to lower their APR.
- Loyalty discount -- Citizens Bank’s banking customers can get an additional 0.25% interest rate discount when refinancing their student loans, which is in addition to the autopay discount. (Note: The APR ranges stated earlier reflect both of these discounts.)
- Federal and private -- Citizens Bank can refinance both federal and private student loans. Some refinancing lenders will only refinance private loans.
- Check your APR -- Citizens Bank allows prospective borrowers to check their APR in less than two minutes, and with a soft credit pull (meaning no effect to their credit score).
- Don’t need a degree -- Most refinancers require borrowers to have completed their degree, but Citizens Bank allows loans to non-degreed refinancing applicants with at least 12 qualifying payments to their student loans after leaving school.
- Five different repayment terms -- Borrowers can choose between repayment terms of five, seven, 10, 15, or 20 years. While this isn’t the most flexible in the industry, many competitors only offer two or three repayment term options.
- High maximums -- Citizens Bank allows maximum aggregate loan amounts of $90,000 to borrowers with bachelor’s degrees and below, $225,000 to those with graduate and doctoral degrees, $300,000 to borrowers with law degrees, and $350,000 to borrowers with professional degrees.
What could be improved
As I mentioned, even the best student loan lender has its drawbacks, and while its refinancing program is very good, Citizens Bank is not an exception. Here are a couple of reasons you may want to look elsewhere for your refinancing needs:
- High minimum -- Citizens Bank only makes refinancing loans for borrowers with at least $10,000 in student loans. Other lenders will refinance as little as $5,000 or even less, so Citizens isn’t the best option for borrowers with relatively low debt loads.
- Long cosigner release -- Citizens Bank allows cosigners to be released from the loan after 36 on-time monthly payments, significantly longer than some of its competitors.
How to refinance with Citizens Bank
As I mentioned, you can check your APR from Citizens Bank quickly and easily. If you choose to apply, the application shouldn’t take more than a few minutes longer. Borrowers will need a recent pay stub or other proof of income, the billing statements for existing student loans, and a copy of their driver’s license. If approved, you’ll select your loan terms, sign your promissory note, and Citizens Bank will send your loan proceeds directly to your existing lenders.
It’s also worth mentioning that although you can pre-qualify for a Citizens Bank refinancing loan without affecting your credit score, if you choose to proceed with the application, it will trigger a hard credit pull. That can potentially cause your credit score to drop by a few points.
When to refinance with Citizens Bank
Citizens Bank is definitely one of the top refinancing lenders, with flexible terms, low APRs for creditworthy borrowers, and an easy application process. Refinancing with Citizens Bank can be an especially good choice for borrowers who didn’t complete their degrees, as it is one of the only refinancers to allow non-graduates to refinance.