Advertiser Disclosure

Citizens Bank/Citizens One Reviews: Student Loan Refinancing and Private Student Loans

Citizens One lets borrowers who aren't U.S. citizens take out and refinance student loans.
Aug. 6, 2019
Loans, Student Loans
At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Citizens Bank is a traditional bank whose Rhode Island roots go back to 1828. Its national lending division, Citizens One, offers student loans and student loan refinancing. Visitors will see either “Citizens Bank” or “Citizens One” on the company’s website, depending on where they live.

Here we review the bank’s refinance loan; you’ll find a review of its private student loan below.

Review of Citizens One’s private student loan

Citizens One student loan refinancing

4.5 NerdWallet rating

Bottom line: Citizens One is a solid option for financially stable borrowers who didn’t graduate or who aren’t U.S. citizens.

Citizens One
Reviewed loanStudent loan refinancing
Interest ratesFixed: 3.45% - 9.49%
Variable: 2.34% - 9.33%
Includes autopay discount of 0.25%
Loan terms5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years
Loan amounts$10,000 to $500,000
Co-signer release availableYes, after 36 consecutive months of on-time principal and interest payments
Can transfer a parent loan to the childYes

Pros & Cons

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

CONS

  • No flexible repayment options for struggling borrowers.

Full Review

Refinancing through Citizens One is a solid option for financially stable borrowers who didn’t graduate or who aren’t U.S. citizens, but have a qualifying co-signer. The company doesn’t offer a generous safety net for struggling borrowers beyond forbearance during periods of economic hardship, which many other lenders provide.

Citizens one STUDENT LOAN REFINANCING AT A GLANCE

  • Borrowers without a degree can refinance.
  • Offers personalized rate estimates via a soft credit check.
  • Loan qualifies for co-signer release after 36 months of on-time payments.

HOW Citizens one COULD IMPROVE

Citizens One could improve its student loan refinance product by:

  • Offering specific terms for forbearance.
  • Disclosing minimum credit score and income requirements.
  • Allowing biweekly payments via autopay.

» MORE: Banks that refinance student loans

Citizens One student loan refinancing details

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: Yes.
  • Loan terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years.
  • Loan amounts: $10,000 to $500,000.
  • Can transfer a parent loan to the child: Yes.
  • Application or origination fee: No.
  • Prepayment penalty: No.
  • Late fees: Yes; 5% of payment amount for payments not made within 15 days of the due date.

Compare Citizens One’s range of interest rates with other student loan refinance lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer’s — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate Citizens One will offer you, apply on its website.

Citizens One doesn’t disclose specific details about what it takes to qualify for student loan refinancing. Lenders typically look for borrowers who have good credit and enough income to afford their debts and expenses.

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: Did not disclose.
  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose.
  • Typical income of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Did not disclose.
  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Did not disclose.

Other

  • Citizenship: Eligible noncitizens can qualify with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer.
  • Location: Available to borrowers in all 50 U.S. states.
  • Must have graduated: No.
  • Must have attended a school authorized to receive federal aid: No.
  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: Did not disclose.

  • Academic deferment: Postpone payments if you return to school at least half-time.
  • Military deferment: Postpone payments if you’re on active military duty.
  • Forbearance: Postpone payments if you’re experiencing economic hardship; no duration specified.
  • Co-signer release available: Yes, after 36 consecutive months of on-time principal and interest payments.
  • Death or disability discharge: Yes, but not for Education Refinance Loans for Parents.
  • Repayment preferences

  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.
  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

  • Loan servicer: Firstmark Services.
  • In-house customer service team: Yes.
  • Process for escalating concerns: Yes.
  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.

  • Loyalty discount: Borrowers with a Citizens Bank account — like a checking account or auto loan — at the time of application get an additional 0.25% interest rate discount. Citizens Bank operates only in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

How to refinance with Citizens One

Before deciding on a student loan refinance lender, compare multiple student loan refinance options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, compare lenders’ repayment options and the flexibility they offer borrowers who are struggling to make payments.

Citizens One private student loan

4.0 NerdWallet rating

Bottom line: Best for international students and existing Citizens Bank customers.

Citizens One
Type of loanPrivate student loan
Loan terms5, 10 and 15 years
Loan amounts$1,000 to $100,000
Grace period6 months
Co-signer release availableYes, after 36 on-time payments
Related productsGraduate student loans, law school loans, medical school loans and parent loans

Pros & Cons

PROS

  • International students can qualify with a co-signer.
  • Loyalty discount for existing Citizens Bank customers.

CONS

  • You must be pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Full Review

Citizens One private student loans are best for international students with a qualifying co-signer and those who don’t foresee needing to postpone or lower payments in the future. The company doesn’t offer a generous safety net for struggling borrowers beyond the 12 months of forbearance many lenders provide.

Citizens One offers multiyear approval for student loans. After freshman year, you can request loans for subsequent school years without you or your co-signer undergoing a hard credit check, which affects your credit. International students cannot receive multiyear approval.

Citizens One private student loan at a glance

  • No personalized rate estimates via a soft credit check.
  • International students can qualify with a co-signer.
  • Loan qualifies for co-signer release after 36 on-time payments.

How Citizens One could improve

Citizens One could improve its private student loans by offering:

  • More than 12 months of forbearance.
  • Minimum credit score and income requirements.
  • Personalized rate estimates via a soft credit check.

Citizens One private student loan details

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: No.
  • Loan terms: 5, 10 and 15 years.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $100,000.
  • Application or origination fee: No.
  • Prepayment penalty: No.
  • Late fees: Yes; 5% of payment amount for payments not made within 15 days of the due date.

Compare Citizens One’s range of interest rates with other private student loan lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer’s — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate Citizens One will offer you, apply on its website.

Citizens One doesn’t disclose specific details about what it takes to qualify for its student loans. Lenders typically look for borrowers who have good credit and enough income to afford their debts and expenses.

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: Did not disclose.
  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose.
  • Typical income of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Did not disclose.
  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Did not disclose.

Other

  • Citizenship: International students are eligible if they apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Location: Available to borrowers in all 50 U.S. states.
  • Must be enrolled half-time or more: Yes.
  • Types of schools served: Borrowers must attend a degree-granting institution and be pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: Did not disclose.

In-school repayment options

  • Immediate: Begin making full monthly payments as soon as the loan is disbursed. This option will save you the most in interest.
  • Interest-only: Make monthly interest payments while you’re in school and during your grace period.
  • Deferred: You won’t be required to make any payments until your grace period ends, but you can choose to make payments if you’d like. Interest will accrue while you’re in school and capitalize, or get added to your principal balance, at the end of your grace period.

Post-school repayment options

  • Grace period: 6 months.
  • Academic deferment: Postpone payments if you return to school at least half-time.
  • Military deferment: Postpone payments if you’re on active military duty.
  • Grace period extension: Yes, an additional 6 months.
  • Forbearance: Postpone payments for up to 12 months if you’re experiencing economic hardship.
  • Co-signer release: Yes, after 36 on-time payments.
  • Death or disability discharge: Yes.

Repayment preferences

  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.
  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

  • Loan servicer: Firstmark Services.
  • In-house customer service team: Yes.
  • Process for escalating concerns: Yes.
  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.
  • Average time for approval: Did not disclose.

  • Loyalty discount: Borrowers with a Citizens Bank account — like a checking account or auto loan — at the time of application get an additional 0.25% interest rate discount. Citizens Bank operates only in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
  • Multiyear approvals: After freshman year, borrowers can request loans for subsequent school years without you or your co-signer undergoing a hard credit check, which affects your credit. International students cannot receive multiyear approval.

How to apply for a Citizens One student loan

Before taking out a Citizens One student loan or any other private student loan, exhaust your federal student loan options first. Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to apply.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s FAFSA Guide

Compare your private student loan options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, look at lenders’ repayment alternatives and the flexibility they offer to borrowers who struggle to make payments.

STUDENT LOANS RATINGS METHODOLOGY

NerdWallet believes the best student loan is one you can repay at the lowest interest rate you can get. That’s why NerdWallet’s student loan ratings reward lenders that offer a variety of loan terms, limit their fees and penalties, and extend borrowers multiple options to avoid default. Points are also awarded for soft credit checks, underwriting transparency and other consumer-friendly features. Use these ratings as a guide, but we encourage you to shop around for the lowest interest rate you can qualify for. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for its reviews. Read our editorial guidelines

5 stars out of 5 — Among the very best for consumer-friendly features

4.5 stars out of 5 — Excellent; offers most consumer-friendly features

4 stars out of 5 — Very good; offers many consumer-friendly features

3.5 stars out of 5 — Good; may not offer something important to you

3 stars out of 5 — Fair; missing important consumer-friendly features

2.5 stars out of 5 — Poor; proceed with great caution

About the authors