Most student loan borrowers would jump at $2,784 in annual savings — and according to Citizens Bank, you could trim that amount off your repayment through student loan refinancing, according to its 2019 review of nearly 16,000 customers’ data.
So if you’re anxious to pay off your student loans as soon — and as cheaply — as possible, Citizens Bank might be worth a look.
With strong credit or a creditworthy cosigner, you could get access to savings on your education debt. Before you rush to apply, however, consider whether Citizens Bank is the best fit for your needs. Specifically, this Citizens Bank student loan refinance review will touch on:
- Citizens Bank student loan refinancing review: The basics
- What we like about Citizens Bank student loan refinancing
- What to keep in mind about Citizens Bank student loan refinancing
- Is Citizens Bank student loan refinancing right for you?
Refinancing your student loans through Citizens Bank, or another lender, could lead to benefits other than savings. You could consolidate your student loan debt into one monthly payment, making it easier to keep track of. You might also extend your repayment term and reduce your monthly payment.
Citizens Bank stands out for its accessibility. Any former student or parent borrower who has a Social Security number could be eligible for refinancing. You (or your cosigner) must also have a credit score of at least 680 and $24,000 in annual income.
If you can clear those criteria, you could enjoy the following perks of refinancing with Citizens Bank:
- View your potential fixed or variable interest rate in two minutes and without harming your credit.
- Refinance a minimum of $10,000 and a maximum of $300,000 for bachelor’s degree holders or $500,000 for professional degree holders.
- Receive up to a 0.50% interest rate discount for being an existing Citizens Bank customer and enrolling in autopay.
- Pay no origination or application fees or prepayment penalties.
- Choose among repayment terms of five, seven, 10, 15 or 20 years.
- Apply to release your cosigner after making 36 on-time, consecutive payments
The interest rate you’ll receive is typically the most important part of your loan agreement, as it determines how much you’ll save from refinancing.
Citizens Bank’s rates are competitive, offering APRs as low as 1.99% (variable), corresponding to your loan amount, repayment term, degree level and other factors.
Additionally, the bank also offers incentives to reduce your interest rate even more. If you or your cosigner have a Citizens Bank savings or checking account, you can get 0.25% off your interest rate. Plus, if you sign up for automatic payments, you can get another 0.25% discount.
Aside from low fixed and variable rates, below are other highlights of the bank’s refinancing product.
Flexible eligibility requirements
Some banks, credit unions and online lenders limit refinancing to U.S. citizens with at least a four-year degree. Citizens Bank is more flexible on both fronts.
U.S. citizens, permanent residents and resident aliens with a Social Security number are eligible to apply. However, resident aliens will need to have a resident cosigner to complete the application.
Citizens Bank is one of the few lenders that offer refinancing even if you didn’t graduate. Many people who left school early may feel like they’re out of options —but, by refinancing through Citizens Bank, you can save on your debt even without a degree.
The only hard-and-fast rule is that you must no longer be attending school, and you need to have started making payments on the debt. If you earned an associate’s degree or did not graduate, you simply need to have made at least 12 full, on-time payments in order to refinance.
Easy-to-use online platform
Citizens Bank will give you a personalized rate and savings quote, in you qualify, in as little as two minutes. Their “Get My Rate” tool also won’t ding your credit, as it triggers only a soft credit pull. If you are satisfied with the rate and choose to complete your application, the bank then makes a hard inquiry.
You and your cosigner, if you have one, can use the tool separately to gauge your potential refinancing options.
Citizens Bank also has a robust mobile banking app. You can check your balance, make payments and review your account history after you download the app. You can also apply over the phone.
Low rates, flexible eligibility requirements and ease of use are benefits of Citizens Bank student loan refinancing. But also keep the following drawbacks in mind as you shop around.
Fewer student loan refinancing perks
One of the largest retail banks in the U.S., Citizens Bank has been around since 1828. It allows you to potentially house your personal finances under one roof, offering savings accounts and credit cards as well as personal loans, mortgages and more. If you live close to a branch, you have the option to hash out your financial plan with a banker.
If those features aren’t relevant to you, however, you might find competitors’ more modern perks to be more enticing:
- SoFi offers unemployment protection and career guidance during repayment.
- CommonBond funds the education of an underserved student abroad when you refinance.
- Earnest lets you choose from as many as 180 repayment term options, spanning five to 20 years.
Limited repayment protections
Before selecting a refinancing lender, compare the safeguards it provides to protect you in repayment. Being able to press pause on your monthly payment because of a job loss, for example, would help you avoid student loan default.
For its part, Citizens Bank awards forbearance on a case-by-case basis for borrowers experiencing financial hardship. You could postpone your monthly payment for up to 12 months.
Citizens Bank, which also awards deferments for borrowers returning to school and serving in the military, could improve its product by offering more transparency about how to qualify for forbearance. SoFi’s unemployment protection program, for example, spells out how you could qualify for relief.
If student loan refinancing is the right measure for your education debt, it’s wise to shop around for the right bank, credit union or online lender.
Thanks to its low rates and easy-to-use platform, Citizens Bank should be among your options. It could be worthwhile to consider if you’re a noncitizen or non-graduate who hasn’t found a refinancing lender elsewhere.
As you compare Citizens Bank with competitors, however, keep in mind that you must have a strong credit profile, or a cosigner with one, to qualify. Citizens Bank also might not meet your needs if you’re attracted to online lenders with more perks or stronger repayment protections.
To make a thorough comparison, review our recommended lenders in the student loan refinancing marketplace.
Andrew Pentis and Sarah Sharkey contributed to this report.