The Best Student Loan Refinance Companies of 2020

Bankrate’s guide to choosing the best student loan refinance company

By Holly Johnson

As of Friday, July 10, 2020

Student loan refinancing companies help borrowers consolidate their student debts into a new loan with better terms.

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When comparing companies that offer student loan refinancing, look for a competitive interest rate, repayment terms that meet your needs and minimal fees. Loan details presented here are current as of the publish date, but you can check the lenders’ websites for more current information. The top lenders listed below are selected based on factors such as interest rate, loan amounts, fees, credit requirements and broad availability.

The best student loan refinancing options of 2020

Lender
Current APR Range
Loan Terms
Min. Loan Amount
Max. Loan Amount
SoFi
3.50% to 7.70% variable, 4.25% to 7.70% fixed
5 to 20 years
$5,000
Full balance of qualified education loans
Earnest
Starting at 3.50% variable and 4.25% fixed
5 to 20 years
$5,000
Full balance of education loans
Figure
Starting at 3.49% variable
5 to 20 years
$5,000
$250,000
CommonBond
3.38% to 5.64% variable, 3.38% to 6.45% fixed, 4.34% to 6.06% hybrid
5 to 20 years
$5,000
$500,000
Citizens Bank
2.72% to 9.05% variable
5 to 20 years
$10,000
$500,000
LendKey
Starting at 2.70% variable and 3.39% fixed
5 to 20 years
$5,000
$300,000
College Ave
3.64% to 8.99% variable, 4.64% to 8.99% fixed
5 to 20 years
$5,000
$300,000
Splash Financial
Starting at 1.58% variable and 2.88% fixed
5 to 25 years
$5,000
Full balance of education loans

Summary: student loan refinance companies in 2020

What is the difference between student loan consolidation and student loan refinancing?

It's easy to conflate consolidation and refinancing when it comes to student loans. If you have private student loans, the two processes are functionally the same — you take out a new loan with a private lender in order to combine your loans or take advantage of a better interest rate.

However, if you want to consolidate a federal student loan, you'll have to apply for a federal Direct Consolidation Loan, which gives you a fixed interest rate based on the weighted average of your current loans' interest rates. Refinancing a student loan in order to score a better interest rate requires taking out a new loan with a private lender (and losing federal benefits in the process).

How does student loan consolidation work?

Student loan consolidation can work differently depending on whether you have federal or private student loans. If you have federal student loans and you want to consolidate into a new student loan product, you could do that with a Direct Consolidation Loan. This lets you combine all of your federal student loans into a single new loan product. This can be a good way to easily keep track of multiple loans and take advantage of a fixed interest rate, although you won’t get a lower interest rate, since Direct Consolidation Loans use a weighted average of the existing rates on your student loans.

With that in mind, you can also consolidate federal student loans or other private student loans with a private student lender. In this case, you would consolidate all your old loans into a new loan, hopefully to get a lower APR and better terms.

Just remember that if you consolidate federal student loans with a private lender, you’ll lose out on federal student loan benefits like forbearance, deferment and income-driven repayment plans.

Pros and cons of refinancing student loans

Pros:

  • Being able to consolidate several student loans into one, which means you can make just one payment each month.
  • Simplifying your financial life.
  • Securing a lower interest rate.
  • Refinancing to a longer repayment period to get a lower monthly payment.

Cons:

  • Private lenders usually require good or excellent credit (or a co-signer) to qualify for a new loan with their best rates and terms.
  • You give up federal protections like deferment, forbearance and income-driven plans when you refinance federal loans with a private lender.
  • You’re locking yourself into another repayment plan.

Should you refinance your student loans? That really depends on your financial situation and what your goals are. However, it can make sense to refinance if you have a good idea of what your income will be in the future and if you can qualify for a lower interest rate than you’re paying now.

If you want to know how much you could save by refinancing your student loans, try using a student loan calculator.

Details: student loan refinance rates in 2020

The best student loan refinancing companies offer competitive interest rates and low fees (or no fees) for qualified buyers. These companies also offer helpful resources on their websites, as well as the ability to apply for student loan refinancing online. Make sure to compare each of these lenders' loan terms and limitations before you apply.

  • Best overall student loan refinance company: SoFi
  • Best student loan refinance company for flexible repayment options: Earnest
  • Best student loan refinance company for quick funding: Figure
  • Best student loan refinance company with forbearance protection: CommonBond
  • Best student loan refinance company for available discounts: Citizens Bank
  • Best student loan refinance company for long prepayment terms: LendKey
  • Best student loan refinance company with no fees: College Ave
  • Best student loan refinance company for the lowest rates: Splash Financial

Best overall student loan refinance company: SoFi

Overview: SoFi is one of the most popular lenders for student loan refinancing, and it’s easy to see why. This lender offers loans with competitive interest rates and no hidden fees, including no origination fees. You can even get prequalified for student loan refinancing online and without a hard inquiry on your credit report.

Perks: There are no hidden fees with SoFi, and you can also qualify for an autopay discount of .25 percent. SoFi's interest rates are exceptionally low, though the rate you're quoted depends on your credit score, your income and other factors.

What to watch out for: SoFi may not be a good option for people without stable income; it offers refinancing only to university graduates who have sufficient income, a responsible financial history and a strong monthly cash flow.

Lender SoFi
APR Variable: 3.50% to 7.70%
Fixed: 4.25% to 7.70%
Loan amounts $5,000 to full balance of qualified education loans
Loan terms 5 to 20 years
Fees No origination fees or hidden fees

Best student loan refinance company for flexible repayment options: Earnest

Overview: Earnest lets you refinance your student loans with the potential for a low APR and flexible repayment options. In fact, Earnest even lets you pick a payment that fits with your budget, meaning it will tinker with the length of your loan until you land on a monthly payment you can afford. Variable interest rates start at 3.50 percent and fixed rates at 4.25 percent.

Perks: Earnest student loans don’t come with an origination fee or any hidden fees. Earnest also offers customized rates based on a variety of factors outside of your credit score.

What to watch out for: You typically need a credit score of at least 650 to refinance your student loans with Earnest.

Lender Earnest
APR Variable: Starting at 3.50%
Fixed: Starting at 4.25%
Loan amounts $5,000 to full amount of education loans
Loan terms 5 to 20 years
Fees None

Best student loan refinancing company for quick funding: Figure

Overview: Figure lets you refinance students loans with competitive interest rates and no loan fees, including no origination fees. You can borrow between $5,000 and $250,000, and you can pay this amount off over five to 20 years.

Perks: The online application process with Figure is easy, and it only takes minutes to apply and get a decision. You can get prequalified online without a hard inquiry on your credit report. Figure also says that it can complete the refinancing process for you in as little as five days.

What to watch out for: Figure does not offer any fixed APRs for student loan refinancing, so it's not the best option if you don't like the unpredictability of a variable rate. And while its advertised rate is low, Figure says that this rate is only available to people with a minimum credit score of 800.

Lender Figure
APR Variable: Starting at 3.49%
Loan amounts $5,000 to $250,000
Loan terms 5 to 20 years
Fees None

Best student loan refinancing company with forbearance protection: CommonBond

Overview: CommonBond is another student loan refinancing company that lets you get prequalified for a new loan online and without a hard inquiry on your credit report. This lender offers fixed and variable rates that start at just 3.38 percent, and you can repay your loan in five to 20 years. This lender also offers loans with no prepayment fees or origination fees.

Perks: CommonBond offers up to 24 months of forbearance if you endure a hardship while paying down your student loans. It also offers a unique hybrid-rate loan, which gives you a fixed rate for the first five years of loan and a variable rate for the final five years. This allows you to pay down the majority of your interest while on a fixed rate and take advantage of a variable rate for the second half of your payments.

What to watch out for: The minimum credit score for student loan refinancing with CommonBond is 660, which may be out of reach for some borrowers.

Lender CommonBond
APR Variable: 3.38% to 5.64%
Fixed: 3.38% to 6.45%
Hybrid: 4.34% to 6.06%
Loan amounts $5,000 to $500,000
Loan terms 5 to 20 years
Fees Late payment fee: 5% or $10, whichever is less; Returned check fee: $5

Best student loan refinancing company for available discounts: Citizens Bank

Overview: Citizens Bank offers student loan refinancing for borrowers who need to refinance up to $500,000 in student loans. Variable interest rates as low as 2.72% are available, and you can choose a repayment option between 5 and 20 years.

Perks: You can qualify for several discounts that can reduce your interest rate including a loyalty discount and an automatic payment discount. These loans can knock .50% off your APR, saving you even more money over the long-term.

What to watch out for: You need to have at least $10,000 in loans to refinance with Citizens Bank.

Lender Citizens Bank
APR Variable rates from 2.72% to 9.05% APR
Loan amounts $10,000 to $500,000
Loan terms 5 to 20 years
Fees None

Best student loan refinancing company for long repayment terms: LendKey

Overview: LendKey offers student loan refinancing with variable APRs starting at 2.70 percent and fixed APRs starting at 3.39 percent. There are origination fees.

Perks: Like several other lenders, LendKey lets you refinance your student loans in terms of up to 20 years. This means you could significantly lower your monthly payment by taking on a longer loan.

What to watch out for: LendKey is a lending platform that connects you with multiple lenders in this space. In other words, it doesn't lend the money itself. It only connects you with eligible lenders who may be able to meet your student loan refinancing needs.

Lender LendKey
APR Variable: Starting at 2.70%
Fixed: Starting at 3.39%
Loan amounts $5,000 to $300,000
Loan terms 5 to 20 years
Fees None

Best student loan refinancing company with no fees: College Ave

Overview: If you want to refinance your student loans and you don’t want to pay any fees, College Ave is worth checking out. This lender offers variable rates as low as 3.64 percent and fixed rates as low as 4.64 percent, and you can refinance up to $300,000 in student debt if you have a medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degree.

Perks: This lender doesn’t charge any fees for its loans. You can also choose among 16 different loan terms and repayment plans.

What to watch out for: Student loan refinancing is not available to borrowers in Maine. The maximum loan amount for undergraduate borrowers is $150,000, which is less than that of many other lenders.

Lender College Ave
APR Variable: 3.64% to 8.99%
Fixed: 4.64% to 8.99%
Loan amounts $5,000 to $300,000
Loan terms 5 to 20 years
Fees None

Best student loan refinancing company for the lowest rates: Splash Financial

Overview: Splash Financial easily advertises the lowest rates for student loan refinancing. You can borrow from $5,000 to the full amount of your loans.

Perks: In addition to potentially low rates, you can also receive a $250 cash bonus when you refinance your loans and refer a friend who refinances their loans.

What to watch out for: Splash works with banks and credit unions, which are its lending partners. In other words, Splash doesn’t originate the loan itself — meaning you may have to become a member of a credit union in order to receive your loan. Because Splash doesn't originate its own loans, your potential fees and discounts will vary based on which lender you're matched with.

Lender Splash Financial
APR Variable: Starting at 1.58%
Fixed: Starting at 2.88%
Loan amounts $5,000 up to the full amount of your loans
Loan terms 5 to 25 years
Fees None

Frequently asked questions about student loan refinancing

Am I eligible for student loan consolidation?

Student loan refinancing companies all have their own eligibility requirements that you’ll have to meet to get approved, including a minimum credit score. We suggest checking eligibility requirements for any company you’re considering.

You can also use a student loan refinancing platform like LendKey to compare rates among multiple banks and credit unions. This way you can enter your information once and compare loan offers from companies whose eligibility requirements you meet.

How do I refinance student loans

Refinancing student loans starts with finding a student loan refinance company you want to work with. Once you settle on a company, your lender will ask you to fill out an application and apply.

On your application, you’ll enter your personal and income information, along with the current student loan balances you hope to refinance. Your lender will then process your application and, if approved, it’ll use the proceeds from your new loan to pay off your old one. From there, you’ll make a single payment on your new student loan.

How can I choose the best refinancing company?

Make sure to compare student loan refinancing companies in terms of their interest rates and repayment terms. Also check for hidden fees, including application fees and late fees. If your goal is finding the best student loan refinance rates, we recommend shopping around with at least three to four lenders and taking advantage of any prequalification offers if they're available — prequalification allows you to check your eligibility and rates without impacting your credit score.