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8 Best Student Loan Refinance Bonus Programs of December 2020

Student loan refinance bonuses can save you money, but likely not as much as a lower interest rate.

Ryan LaneNovember 24, 2020
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Many student loan refinance lenders offer a sign-up or welcome bonus to get your business. To receive these bonuses, you typically must do the following:

  • Apply with a lender via a specific link or URL from a third party.

  • Meet that lender’s approval standards.

  • Complete the refinancing process, from application through disbursal.

Lenders may also offer loyalty rewards to existing customers, as well as bonuses for referring other borrowers or prepaying your refinanced loan.

Student loan refinance bonuses are a nice perk, especially if you use this found money to pay your loan. But they may not put more cash in your pocket than a low interest rate. When considering your refinancing options, aim to save the most money — even if that means passing on the biggest bonus.

Here are our picks for the best student loan refinance bonuses. Select "view details" for each below the summary to find program details, and keep reading for information on how refinance bonuses work.

Summary of Best Student Loan Refinance Bonus Programs of December 2020

Our picks for

Refinance referral bonuses

Have a friend or family member who should refinance their student loans? These lenders pay you for successful referrals — and in some instances, offer a bonus to the person you refer as well.

Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance
Check Rate

on Education Loan Finance's website

Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance

Fixed APR

2.79 - 5.99%

Variable APR

2.39 - 6.01%

Min. Credit Score

680

Check Rate

on Education Loan Finance's website


Variable APR

2.39 - 6.01%

Key facts

Earn $400 for every person you successfully refer to ELFI; the person you refer will get $100 credited toward their loan.

Pros

  • You are assigned a personal loan advisor.

  • You can refinance parent PLUS loans in your name.

Cons

  • Payment postponement isn’t available for borrowers who return to school.

  • The minimum amount to refinance is more than many lenders require.

  • No co-signer release available.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 774.

  • Loan amounts: $15,000 up to your total outstanding loan balance.

  • Must have a degree: Yes, at least a bachelor’s degree.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years

Disclaimer

Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. https://www.elfi.com/terms/
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Splash Financial Student Loan Refinance
Check Rate

on Splash Financial's website

Splash Financial Student Loan Refinance

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Splash Financial Student Loan Refinance

Fixed APR

2.63 - 5.49%

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

650

Check Rate

on Splash Financial's website


Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Get $250 for each person you successfully refer to Splash Financial. Your referral will receive $250 as well.

Pros

  • You are assigned a dedicated account representative.

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Cons

  • Loan features vary by lender.

  • Forbearance and death discharge may not be available.

  • You may need to become a member of a credit union to qualify.

Qualifications

  • Splash Financial currently does not offer variable rates or accept co-signers through NerdWallet.

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 700+.

  • Loan amounts: $25,001 to $500,000.

  • Must have a degree: Yes, a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, and 15 years

Disclaimer

Fixed rates range from 2.63% APR to 5.49% APR. Rates are current as of October 1, 2020 and reflect those offered by participating lending partners. Lending partners may vary and are displayed at the sole discretion of Splash. Not all lending partners are available for all application channels. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income, and other factors. Terms and conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice.
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Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance
Check Rate

on Laurel Road's website

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance

Fixed APR

2.99 - 6.20%

Variable APR

1.99 - 6.10%

Min. Credit Score

700

Check Rate

on Laurel Road's website


Variable APR

1.99 - 6.10%

Key facts

Earn up to $400 for each person you refer to Laurel Road. You can divide that bonus between you and your referral however you choose.

Pros

  • You can refinance parent PLUS loans in your name.

  • Refinancing available for medical and dental residents.

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Cons

  • Payment postponement isn’t available if borrowers return to school.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose.

  • Loan amounts: $5,000 up to your total outstanding loan balance.

  • Must have a degree: At least an associate degree for select professions. Borrowers in their last year of undergrad can refinance. For parent PLUS loans, the child does not need to have graduated to refinance.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years

Disclaimer

FIXED APR Fixed rate options consist of a range from 3.00% per year to 5.00% per year for a 5-year term, 3.60% per year to 5.30% per year for a 7-year term, 4.10% per year to 5.60% per year for a 10-year term, 4.50% per year to 5.65% per year for a 15-year term, or 4.60% per year to 6.20% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. The fixed interest rate will apply until the loan is paid in full (whether before or after default, and whether before or after the scheduled maturity date of the loan). The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.75% per year to 5.80% per year for a 5-year term would be from $183.04 to $192.40. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.14% per year to 6.25% per year for a 7-year term would be from $142.00 to $147.29. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.24% per year to 6.65% per year for a 10-year term would be from $107.24 to $114.31. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.30% per year to 7.05% per year for a 15-year term would be from $80.65 to $90.16. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.61% per year to 7.27% per year for a 20-year term would be from $69.41 to $79.16. However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account. VARIABLE APR Variable rate options consist of a range from 1.99% per year to 6.05% per year for a 5-year term, 3.75% per year to 6.10% per year for a 7-year term, 4.00% per year to 6.15% per year for a 10-year term, 4.25% per year to 6.40% per year for a 15-year term, or 4.50% per year to 6.65% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rate will change on the first day of every month (“Change Date”) if the Current Index changes. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes. The variable interest rates are calculated by adding a margin ranging from 0.98% to 3.80% for the 5-year term loan, 2.35% to 3.85% for the 7-year term loan, 2.40% to 3.90% for the 10-year term loan, 2.65% to 4.15% for the 15-year term loan, and 2.90% to 4.40% for the 20-year term loan, respectively, to the 1-month LIBOR index published on the 25th day of each month immediately preceding each “Change Date,” as defined above, rounded to two decimal places, with no origination fees. If the 25th day of the month is not a business day or is a US federal holiday, the reference date will be the most recent date preceding the 25th day of the month that is a business day. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.49% per year to 6.31% per year for a 5-year term would be from $181.87 to $194.77. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.86% per year to 6.36% per year for a 7-year term would be from $140.68 to $147.82. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.91% per year to 6.41% per year for a 10-year term would be from $105.63 to $113.09. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.16% per year to 6.66% per year for a 15-year term would be from $79.92 to $87.99. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.41% per year to 6.91% per year for a 20-year term would be from $68.28 to $76.99. However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
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Earnest Student Loan Refinance
Check Rate

on Earnest's website

Earnest Student Loan Refinance

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Earnest Student Loan Refinance

Fixed APR

2.98 - 5.49%

Variable APR

1.99 - 5.34%

Min. Credit Score

650

Check Rate

on Earnest's website


Variable APR

1.99 - 5.34%

Key facts

You and your referral both earn $200 for a successful student loan refinance referral. Referrals aren’t available for Earnest’s other financial products.

Pros

  • Customizable payments and loan terms.

  • Option to skip one payment every 12 months.

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Cons

  • You can’t apply with a co-signer.

  • Loans aren't available in Kentucky and Nevada.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 760.

  • Loan amounts: $5,000 to $500,000.

  • Must have a degree: No, but must be within six months of graduation and have income or a job.

Available Term Lengths

5 to 20 years

Disclaimer

Specific Annual Percentage Rate (APRs) offered within these ranges will depend on a variety of factors including your creditworthiness and other application details. Annual percentage rates (APRs) reflect 0.25% discount for optional enrollment in autopay. Your approval for an Earnest Loan is subject to the full underwriting of your loan application. Read more about qualifying for a loan with Earnest here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility
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LendKey Student Loan Refinance
Check Rate

on LendKey's website

LendKey Student Loan Refinance

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
LendKey Student Loan Refinance

Fixed APR

2.95 - 8.77%

Variable APR

1.97 - 8.54%

Min. Credit Score

680

Check Rate

on LendKey's website


Variable APR

1.97 - 8.54%

Key facts

Get $200 deposited to PayPal for every person you successfully refer to LendKey who refinances a student loan. The person you refer will receive $200 via PayPal as well.

Pros

  • Forbearance of 18 months for 15- and 20-year loan terms is longer than many lenders.

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Cons

  • Loans aren't available in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island or West Virginia.

  • No payment postponement available if borrowers return to school or serve in the military.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 751.

  • Loan amounts: $5,000 to $300,000, depending on the higest degree earned.

  • Must have a degree: Yes, at least an associate degree.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years

Disclaimer

See LendKey's full terms and conditions at https://www.lendkey.com/disclaimers
Read Full Review

Our pick for

General referral bonus

SoFi offers a student loan refinance referral bonus. But if no one you know should refi their loans, you can still make up to $10,000 with successful referrals to SoFi’s other financial products, like personal loans and investment accounts.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
Check Rate

on SoFi's website

SoFi Student Loan Refinance

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
SoFi Student Loan Refinance

Fixed APR

2.99 - 6.28%

Variable APR

2.25 - 6.28%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on SoFi's website


Variable APR

2.25 - 6.28%

Key facts

Referral amounts for SoFi products vary by promotional campaign.

Pros

  • You can refinance parent PLUS loans in your name.

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • Additional perks like career planning, job search assistance and entrepreneurship support available.

Cons

  • No co-signer release available.

  • Loan size minimum is higher than most lenders.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 700+.

  • Loan amounts: $5,000, up to your total outstanding loan balance.

  • Must have a degree: Yes, an associate degree or higher.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years

Disclaimer

Fixed rates from 2.99% APR to 6.28% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.28% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.25% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.18% plus 2.32% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the interest savings are applied to the principal loan balance, which may help pay the loan down faster. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
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Our picks for

Loyalty bonuses

You may be able to get a lower interest rate by having an existing account with a financial institution. These discounts are on top of deductions for enrolling in automatic payments.

Wells Fargo Student Loan Refinance
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

Wells Fargo Student Loan Refinance

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Wells Fargo Student Loan Refinance

Fixed APR

3.74 - 9.74%

Variable APR

3.00 - 8.74%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Variable APR

3.00 - 8.74%

Key facts

Wells Fargo customers can qualify for one of the following: (1) a 0.25 percentage point interest rate discount with a qualifying Wells Fargo consumer checking account; (2) a 0.25 percentage point discount for having a prior federal or private student loan made by Wells Fargo; or (3) a 0.50 percentage point discount for having Portfolio by Wells Fargo, which links all your Wells Fargo accounts.

Pros

  • You are assigned a dedicated student loan advisor.

  • More flexible repayment options for struggling borrowers than other lenders.

Cons

  • Shorter length of hardship forbearance than most other lenders.

  • Only borrowers with existing Wells Fargo student loans are eligible.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 748.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance.

  • Must have a degree: No.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years
Read Full Review
Citizens One Student Loan Refinance
Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website

Citizens One Student Loan Refinance

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Citizens One Student Loan Refinance

Fixed APR

2.99 - 8.49%

Variable APR

1.99 - 8.24%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website


Variable APR

1.99 - 8.24%

Key facts

You can get a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction by having a qualifying account with Citizens Bank.

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • You can refinance parent PLUS loans in your name.

  • Loyalty discount: Borrowers with a Citizens Bank account when they apply get an additional 0.25% interest rate discount.

Cons

  • Estate is still responsible for loans refinanced by parents if the borrower dies.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Does not disclose.

  • Loan amounts: $10,000 to $500,000.

  • Must have a degree: No.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years

Disclaimer

Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.99%-8.24% (1.99%-8.24% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 2.99%-8.49% (2.99%-8.49% APR).
Read Full Review

How student loan refinance bonuses work

Third parties, including websites like NerdWallet, receive a commission from student loan refinance lenders for sending borrowers their way. Some of these referrers reduce that commission, offering the difference to borrowers as a bonus for refinancing via their website.

You may not make money by opting for the best sign-up bonus if it isn’t paired with the lowest interest rate. For example, say you plan to refinance $30,000. One lender offers you a $500 refinance bonus and an interest rate of 5%. Another has no bonus but a rate of 4.5%.

Even if you put that $500 directly toward your loan, you’d still pay more overall ($37,547 vs. $37,310) thanks to the higher interest rate, based on a 10-year repayment plan. Use a student loan refinance calculator to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.

How student loan referral bonuses work

Many lenders offer money for referring new customers to them. These are similar to sign-up bonuses, except you’re the third party providing the application link. If you plan to take advantage of a referral bonus, do the following first:

  • Know which link to use. The lender will provide you with a custom link. If your friends, family or other referrals don't click on that specific link at the start of their application, you likely won’t be able to get the referral bonus.

  • Learn when the deadline is. The person you refer must successfully complete the refinancing process within a set number of days from starting it. ELFI, for example, gives you 90 days to do this; for SoFi, the window is 120 days. Know this deadline so you know when to give someone a nudge.

  • Find out if there’s a limit. Some lenders limit how many bonuses you can receive. For example, you can’t earn more than 10 referral bonuses from Laurel Road in a calendar year.

Additional terms and conditions will apply. Be sure to read the lender’s complete guidelines.

Other student loan refinance promotions

It’s rare to find student loan refinance bonuses that don’t require a referral from a website, another borrower or your employer. But other promotions are available from some lenders:

  • Prepayment bonuses. A lender may reward you for paying off your loan early.

  • Interest rate discounts. Most lenders will lower your interest rate by 0.25 percentage points if you enroll in automatic payments. Some offer a larger deduction; PNC’s autopay discount is 0.50 percentage points, for example.

  • Loyalty rewards. Financial institutions may lower your interest rate further if you have an existing account with them. For example, Wells Fargo customers can get a 0.50 percentage point discount by taking part in the Portfolio by Wells Fargo program.

  • Additional perks. Putting extra cash toward your loan is a great strategy to pay it off faster. But you may value a different kind of benefit; for example, CommonBond makes a donation to the nonprofit Pencils for Promise for every student loan it refinances. The lender also offers a SmartSave service, which automatically deposits monthly savings from your refinance into an account with high-yield savings.

Last updated on November 24, 2020

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Student Loan Refinance Bonus Programs of December 2020

Frequently asked questions