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10 Best Student Loan Refinance Companies – Reviews & Comparison


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At first glance, all student loan refinance lenders look a lot alike. But once you delve into the details, multiple differences in their loan features can make a significant difference in how easy it is to get or pay off the loan.

For example, some offer cosigner release, allowing you to take full financial responsibility for your loan after a series of on-time payments — an attractive feature for reluctant cosigners. Others allow you to combine loans with your spouse to get a single lower monthly payment. There are also deferment and forbearance options and special discounts and interest rate reductions.

And since refinancing your student loans can impact your finances for years to come, it pays to compare lenders to find the best student loan refinancing company for you. These are the top options.

Best Student Loan Refinance Companies

As you’re researching student loan refinance companies, note that lenders’ annual percentage rates (APRs) and terms are subject to change. Always check the lenders’ websites for the latest information. The interest rate you qualify for depends on your credit profile, application, and the loan length you select.

The most creditworthy borrowers qualify for the lowest interest rates. That includes having a high annual income, low debt-to-income ratio, and a high credit score. If you don’t know yours, check your credit score before applying for a loan.

While a lower interest rate helps you save money, it’s not the only loan term to look for when comparing refinance loan offers. The best lenders lack origination fees, prepayment penalties, or excessive late fees. They also offer perks like autopay discounts.

They also have more generous deferment and forbearance options, including economic hardship deferment and in-school deferment. That’s crucial if you’re opting to refinance undergrad loans before going to grad school.

Although interest accrues on any deferred loans, the best student loan lenders allow you to make interest-only payments to avoid capitalization (the interest getting added to the principal loan balance when the deferment ends).

If you can’t manage interest-only payments while in school, some top lenders have plans that allow flat-rate payments of low amounts, such as $25 per month, so you can tackle at least a portion of the accruing interest.

All these options help your bottom line just as much as qualifying for the best rates.

That said, of the best-known and highest-ranking student loan refinance lenders, these companies get high marks for their low interest rates, flexible terms, excellent customer service, extra perks, and borrower reviews.

1. Credible

  • Available Loan Terms: Five to 20 years, depending on the lender
  • Fixed APR: 2.58% to 8.90%
  • Variable APR: 2.13% to 9.15%
  • Balance Limits: Minimum balance requirement of $7,500 and up, depending on the lender and state
  • Minimum Required Income: Sufficient to cover debts, including refinanced loans
  • Minimum Required Credit Score: 670 to 700 for most of its partner lenders
  • Eligible Loans: Undergraduate, graduate, parent PLUS, and private student loans
  • Graduation Requirement: Varies by lender, but most lenders require a degree
  • Allows a Co-Signer: Yes, for most lenders; options for co-signer release (the ability to remove your co-signer from the loan after a set period) vary by lender
  • Spousal Loan Refinancing Available: No
  • Repayment Options and Borrower Protections: Varies by lender
  • Discounts and Special Perks: Some lenders offer discounts, such as an interest rate reduction for making automatic payments

Technically, Credible isn’t a lender. It’s a marketplace where you can search for and compare rates from its partner lenders using one convenient online application.

Credible doesn’t share your information directly with lenders and uses a soft credit inquiry to match you with prequalified rates. So you can easily shop around to find the best refinance loan for you without it affecting your credit score.

If you like a rate, you can apply for the loan and get a final offer in as little as one business day.

The best student loan refinance company is the one that offers you the lowest interest rate with the best possible terms. But it’s hard to know which one that is without the ability to compare offers. That makes a marketplace like Credible a useful option for borrowers.

Find out how you can apply for refinancing with Credible.

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2. LendKey

  • Available Loan Terms: Five to 20 years
  • Fixed APR: 2.95% to 7.63%
  • Variable APR: 1.90% to 5.25%
  • Balance Limits: $5,000 to $125,000 for undergraduate loans; up to $175,000 for graduate loans; and up to $300,000 for medical school loans
  • Minimum Required Income: $24,000 for individuals applying alone; $12,000 for individuals with a co-signer
  • Minimum Required Credit Score: 660
  • Eligible Loans: Undergraduate, graduate, parent PLUS, and private student loans
  • Graduation Requirement: Associate’s degree or higher
  • Allows a Co-Signer: Yes; co-signer release available after 12 consecutive on-time monthly payments
  • Spousal Loan Refinancing Available: No
  • Repayment Options and Borrower Protections: Varies by lender
  • Discounts and Special Perks: 0.25% interest rate reduction for enrolling in autopay

Like Credible, LendKey is also a marketplace of lenders. But that’s where the similarity ends. LendKey’s exclusive network of lenders consists of credit unions and community banks.

It uses a single application to match borrowers with the best possible interest rates for refinancing their student loans. But it also manages the application process, services the loans, and provides all the customer support.

LendKey vets its partners with a focus on nonprofit lenders, such as credit unions. As such, borrowers can often find student loan products with highly competitive interest rates and those that may be a better fit for their specific refinancing needs.

ome credit unions offer more flexible repayment options and generous economic hardship deferment terms, making LendKey a top choice for those with low income.

Find out how you can apply for refinancing with LendKey.

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3. PenFed

  • Available Loan Terms: Five, eight, 12, and 15 years
  • Fixed APR: 2.89% to 5.08%
  • Variable APR: 2.13% –to 4.75%
  • Balance Limits: $7,500 minimum; $300,000 maximum
  • Minimum Required Income: $42,000 for loans up to $150,000 or $25,000 with a co-signer who has a minimum income of $42,000 and a credit score of 720 or higher; $50,000 for loans exceeding $150,000 or $25,000 with a co-signer who has a minimum income of $50,000 and a credit score of 725 or higher
  • Minimum Required Credit Score: 670
  • Eligible Loans: Undergraduate, graduate, parent PLUS, and private student loans
  • Graduation Requirement: Bachelor’s degree
  • Allows a Co-Signer: Yes; co-signer release available after 12 consecutive on-time monthly payments
  • Spousal Loan Refinancing Available: Yes
  • Repayment Options and Borrower Protections: Offers financial hardship forbearance (length is determined on a case-by-case basis)
  • Discounts and Special Perks: None

The Pentagon Federal Credit Union, also known as PenFed, is known for its third-party student loans offered by Sallie Mae and its student loan refinancing program, which it administers itself. Though PenFed is a military credit union and does serve those in the military, its membership isn’t limited. Anyone can join and use its services.

PenFed is an ideal choice if you want to combine your debt with a spouse. It’s one of only two lenders, along with Splash Financial, that allows spouses to consolidate their debt into one joint loan, giving them the option to knock out their student debt faster together.

To determine eligibility and set rates, PenFed looks at your combined income. So if one of you is a stay-at-home parent or earns significantly more than the other, this approach can help get you a better interest rate than you’d qualify for on your own.

Find out how you can apply for refinancing with PenFed.

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4. Earnest

  • Available Loan Terms: Five to 20 years
  • Fixed APR: 2.50% to 5.79%
  • Variable APR: 1.88% to 5.64%
  • Balance Limits: $5,000 minimum ($10,000 in California); no maximum
  • Minimum Required Income: No set minimum, but applicants must either have consistent employment or a written job offer for employment starting within six months
  • Minimum Required Credit Score: 650
  • Eligible Loans: Undergraduate, graduate, parent PLUS, and private student loans
  • Graduation Requirement: Must be within six months of graduation if not already graduated
  • Allows a Co-Signer: No
  • Spousal Loan Refinancing Available: No
  • Repayment Options and Borrower Protections: Payment customization (can choose biweekly or monthly payments, increase payments, make extra payments, or adjust payment dates at any time); qualified borrowers can skip one payment every 12 months; three-month COVID-19 relief of interest-only payments; deferment or forbearance for graduate school, financial hardship, military deployment, or unpaid parental leave (offered in three-month increments and capped at 12 months); total and permanent disability discharge and death discharge
  • Discounts and Special Perks: 0.25% interest rate reduction for enrolling in autopay

Earnest stands out for the flexible refinancing options it offers borrowers and its unique approach to underwriting. Instead of relying solely on a borrower’s income and credit score, it looks at their complete financial picture, including how well they can afford their expenses, how regularly they save, and whether they have a retirement account.

Earnest then allows qualified borrowers to choose their monthly payments and build their interest rate and terms around that. Like many other lenders, Earnest refinances both federal and private student loans and allows the refinancing and transfer of parent PLUS loans.

Earnest offers better protections and repayment options than most student loan refinance lenders. However, it doesn’t accept co-signers, which means borrowers with limited credit histories or those who don’t meet Earnest’s other expanded criteria may not receive approval.

Find out how you can apply for refinancing with Earnest.

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5. SoFi

  • Available Loan Terms: Five, seven, 10, 15, or 20 years
  • Fixed APR: 2.99% to 6.94%
  • Variable APR: 2.25% to 6.74%
  • Balance Limits: $5,000 minimum; no maximum
  • Minimum Required Income: No minimum, but borrowers who qualify generally have a high income and few to no debts
  • Minimum Required Credit Score: 650
  • Eligible Loans: Undergraduate, graduate, parent PLUS, and private student loans
  • Graduation Requirement: Associate’s degree or higher
  • Allows a Co-Signer: Yes; no co-signer release available
  • Spousal Loan Refinancing Available: No
  • Repayment Options and Borrower Protections: Deferment or forbearance for unemployment, disability, natural disaster, military deployment, residency or internship, or a return to school (offered in three-month increments and capped at 12 months); COVID-19 financial hardship forbearance for a minimum of 90 days; in-school deferment; honors the first six months of the grace period on preexisting loans; total and permanent disability discharge and death discharge
  • Discounts and Special Perks: 0.25% interest rate reduction for enrolling in autopay; medical students can refinance their student loans during their medical residency; free career coaching and financial planning

SoFi, short for “Social Finance,” is one of the largest and most well-known student loan refinance lenders.

It’s consistently rated one of the top lenders because it offers a comprehensive array of benefits, including unemployment protection, career coaching, and free financial planning along with competitively low interest rates and flexible repayment options.

SoFi’s advantages include a quick online preapproval application and the ability to choose your own repayment plan. Its interest rates are competitive, and it offers loan deferment options for borrowers in graduate school, making it possible to refinance your undergraduate loans and not have to worry about them in grad school.

But its credit and income requirements are relatively strict, and some borrowers may have difficulty getting approved for refinancing with SoFi.

Find out how you can apply for refinancing with SoFi.

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6. CommonBond

  • Available Loan Terms: Five, seven, 10, 15, or 20 years
  • Fixed APR: 2.59% to 6.74%
  • Variable APR: 2.46% to 6.81%
  • Hybrid: 2.86% to 6.56%
  • Balance Limits: $5,000 minimum; $500,000 maximum
  • Minimum Required Income: No set minimum, but low six figures is preferable
  • Minimum Required Credit Score: 680
  • Eligible Loans: Undergraduate, graduate, parent PLUS (transfer to the student available), private student loans, and international student loans
  • Graduation Requirement: Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Allows a Co-Signer: Yes; co-signer release available after 24 consecutive on-time monthly payments
  • Spousal Loan Refinancing Available: No
  • Repayment Options and Borrower Protections: Up to 24 months of forbearance for financial hardship, including job loss, reduced income, or natural disasters (including COVID-19 relief), over the life of the loan
  • Discounts and Special Perks: 0.25% interest rate reduction for enrolling in autopay

CommonBond is another lender that stands out for its borrower protections. Its option to defer loans up to 24 months for financial hardship is longer than most. It’s also the highest-rated lender that allows borrowers to refinance their parents’ PLUS loans with their own.

One unique feature of CommonBond is that for every loan they fund, they support the education of a child in a developing country through their partnership with the nonprofit Pencils of Promise.

If you’re looking for a lender with flexible repayment options, CommonBond is a top choice. It offers military and academic forbearance for up to 24 months, much longer than the average.

And its unique unemployment protection program provides hardship forbearance for up to 24 months and helps eligible graduates find new jobs.

Find out how you can apply for refinancing with CommonBond.

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7. Citizens Bank

  • Available Loan Terms: Five, seven, 10, 15, or 20 years
  • Fixed APR: 2.39% to 9.15%
  • Variable APR: 2.24% to 8.90%
  • Balance Limits: $10,000 to $90,000 for undergraduate loans; up to $225,000 for graduate loans; up to $300,000 for law school loans; and up to $350,000 for medical school loans
  • Minimum Required Income: None disclosed
  • Minimum Required Credit Score: 680
  • Eligible Loans: Undergraduate, graduate, parent PLUS, and private student loans
  • Graduation Requirement: None
  • Allows a Co-Signer: Yes; co-signer release available after 36 consecutive on-time monthly payments
  • Spousal Loan Refinancing Available: No
  • Repayment Options and Borrower Protections: Up to 12 months of deferment or forbearance for the life of the loan; borrower must make six months of payment before becoming eligible for the first forbearance and cannot forbear more than twice within five years
  • Discounts and Special Perks: 0.25% interest rate reduction for enrolling in autopay; additional 0.25% interest rate reduction if you have a checking or savings account with Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank is consistently ranked the highest by borrowers and reviewers among brick-and-mortar banks that offer student loan refinancing. It serves a diverse range of borrowers, including those who didn’t graduate. You need only have made 12 months of consecutive on-time payments toward your student loans before applying with Citizens.

This lender is a good choice for borrowers who never graduated or have certificates rather than degrees. Many refinance lenders require an associate’s degree or higher.

However, it’s not an ideal option for refinancing while still in school. Citizens Bank doesn’t allow interest-only or low monthly payments for current students.

Find out how you can apply for refinancing with Citizens Bank.

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8. Splash Financial

  • Available Loan Terms: Five, eight, 10, 12, 15, or 20 years
  • Fixed APR: 2.49% to 5.79%
  • Variable APR: 1.89% to 6.15%
  • Balance Limits: $7,500 minimum; $350,000 maximum
  • Minimum Required Income: $42,000
  • Minimum Required Credit Score: 700 for an individual applying alone; 670 for an individual with a co-signer
  • Eligible Loans: Undergraduate, graduate, parent PLUS, and private student loans
  • Graduation Requirement: Associate’s degree or higher; medical students must be in residency or fellowship programs
  • Allows a Co-Signer: Yes; co-signer release available after 12 consecutive on-time monthly payments
  • Spousal Loan Refinancing Available: Yes
  • Repayment Options and Borrower Protections: Varies by lender; for medical school loans, borrowers can make $100-per-month payments during their medical residencies plus six months after their training ends
  • Discounts and Special Perks: 0.25% interest rate reduction for enrolling in autopay

Splash Financial operates as an online marketplace, matching borrowers with banks and credit unions. Like similar platforms, after you apply with Splash, you choose the bank or credit union that offers you the interest rate and terms that work best for you.

It’s also one of the few lenders that offer spousal loan refinancing. Married couples can consolidate their loans into one joint loan.

Splash Financial is a top choice for refinancing medical school loans. It offers residents the ability to make low $100-per-month payments for up to six months after their residency ends (maximum of 84 payments). That could be significantly lower than what you’d pay in a federal income-driven repayment plan.

But it could also prevent you from taking advantage of public service loan forgiveness. So it may be a bad idea for those planning to apply for forgiveness.

Note that medical student refinance loans are only available to borrowers currently in a residency or fellowship program.

Find out how you can apply for refinancing with Splash Financial.

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9. Education Loan Finance

  • Available Loan Terms: Five, seven, 10, 15, or 20 years
  • Fixed APR: 2.58% to 5.99%
  • Variable APR: 2.39% to 6.01%
  • Balance Limits: $15,000 minimum; no maximum
  • Minimum Required Income: $35,000
  • Minimum Required Credit Score: 680 and a minimum three-year credit history
  • Eligible Loans: Undergraduate, graduate, parent PLUS, and private student loans
  • Graduation Requirement: Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Allows a Co-Signer: Yes; co-signer release unavailable
  • Spousal Loan Refinancing Available: No
  • Repayment Options and Borrower Protections: Up to 12 months financial hardship or medical forbearance
  • Discounts and Special Perks: None

Education Loan Finance (ELFI) has some drawbacks, offering few perks and no co-signer release. But it scores highly with borrowers for its excellent customer service.

One reason is that ELFI matches borrowers with a dedicated, highly trained personal loan advisor. Borrowers can call, text, or email their advisors to ask questions throughout the refinancing process and throughout the life of their loan.

In fact, ELFI’s customer service is so outstanding, it lands it in the top ranks of refinance lenders year after year. Otherwise, its rates and terms are on par with other top lenders.

Find out how you can apply for refinancing with ELFI.

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10. Laurel Road

  • Available Loan Terms: Five, seven, 10, 15, or 20 years
  • Fixed APR: 2.25% to 5.75%
  • Variable APR: 1.64% to 5.65%
  • Balance Limits: $5,000 minimum; no maximum
  • Minimum Required Income: None disclosed
  • Minimum Required Credit Score: 660
  • Eligible Loans: Undergraduate, graduate, parent PLUS, and private student loans
  • Graduation Requirement: Bachelor’s degree or higher, although it accepts select associate degrees
  • Allows a Co-Signer: Yes; co-signer release available after 36 consecutive on-time monthly payments and passage of an underwriting review
  • Spousal Loan Refinancing Available: No
  • Repayment Options and Borrower Protections: $100-per-month payments for medical and dental residents; six-month deferment after medical or dental residency or fellowship; three months of financial hardship deferment available every 12 months, capped at 12 months total for the life of a 10-year loan; COVID-19 forbearance of three monthly payments; natural disaster relief of two monthly payments
  • Discounts and Special Perks: Borrowers can receive a 0.25% interest rate reduction for enrolling in autopay; borrowers who open a linked savings account get an initial 0.25% interest rate discount on a refinanced student loan and further interest rate reductions as their savings account grows; physicians, dentists, optometrists, and physician assistants are eligible for special pricing and reduced rates

Laurel Road caters primarily to health professionals, specializing in lending graduate student loans to medical, dental, and nursing students. It also refinances both federal and private undergraduate, graduate, and parent-student loans for all degrees as well as for select associate’s degrees.

Laurel Road is one of the top options for refinancing student loans borrowed for a health professional degree. In addition to special pricing, Laurel Road allows medical and dental residents to refinance their student loans as soon as they get a residency or fellowship.

And graduate students in health care professions can refinance as early as their final semester with a signed contract or letter of employment.

Find out how you can apply for refinancing with Laurel Road.

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Final Word

Many Americans are experiencing reduced income or job loss due to the coronavirus pandemic, making it difficult to pay their student loan bills. Thankfully, the government has suspended federal student loan payments and interest through at least Jan. 31, 2022. That has provided significant relief to households across the United States.

It also makes it a poor time to refinance federal student loans since you’d be required to start making payments with interest in addition to losing the ability to take advantage of any current or future federal relief programs. Once you refinance your federal student loans, they’re no longer federal loans. A private bank owns them.

However, if you have private student loans, there’s no downside to refinancing if you can qualify for a better interest rate. In fact, now could be the best time to refinance, as interest rates on student loans are currently at record lows, according to Forbes. And rates are likely to rise as the economy begins to recover.

And if you can lock in a low interest rate, you can save significant amounts of money over the life of your loan, possibly enabling you to pay off your debt sooner so you can free up cash to save toward retirement, make a down payment on a home, or start a family.

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