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Credit Unions That Refinance Student Loans

Feb. 8, 2019
Loans, Student Loans
Credit Unions That Refinance Student Loans
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Not all credit unions offer student loan refinancing, but many do. A credit union student loan refinance lender may be right for you if:

  • It offers the lowest interest rate you qualify for.
  • It offers a unique feature you value, such as initial interest-only payments.
  • You prefer credit unions over banks.

Refinancing student loans through a credit union is similar to refinancing with a bank or online lender. The type of lender you choose is less important than finding the best possible rate and features you’re seeking, like the option to combine your loans with your spouse’s.

Compare credit union refinance rates with other student loan refinance lenders’ rates before making a decision.

Credit union student loan refinance lenders

Interest rates
Get started

4.5 NerdWallet rating
Fixed: 3.75% - 7.03%
3.11% - 7.85%
Check rates at PenFed
4.5 NerdWallet rating
Fixed: 3.49% - 8.93%
Variable: 2.7% - 8.96%
Check rates at LendKey
3.5 NerdWallet rating
Fixed: 3.75% - 7.15%
Variable: N/A.
Check rates at First Tech
3.5 NerdWallet rating
Fixed: 4.29% - 12.46% Variable: 4.96% - 12.84%
Check rates at Navy Federal
3.5 NerdWallet rating
Fixed: 4.50% - 7.00%
Variable: 4.00% - 6.25%
Check rates at Alliant

» MORE: Banks that refinance student loans

How credit unions are different

Unlike banks and online lenders, credit unions require membership and are nonprofit institutions.

You may be able to apply for credit union membership as part of your student loan refinancing application. The credit union may require that you live in a certain geographic area, have a certain employer or are a military member, for example.

As nonprofits, credit unions give back to their members in different ways. For instance, some credit unions periodically reward student loan refinance customers for staying current with their loans, says Christian Widhalm, senior vice president of lender partnerships at LendKey.

“They can be very creative with benefits,” Widhalm says, citing lump-sum rebates and small interest rate reductions as two examples.

» MORE: Credit unions vs. banks: How to decide

Credit union student loan refinance details

1. PenFed

Pentagon Federal Credit Union, or PenFed, stands out as one of the only lenders — credit union or otherwise — that allows married couples to refinance student loans together. PenFed uses the couple’s combined incomes and the higher credit score of the two to evaluate eligibility and assign a new interest rate. This means the spouse with the lower score would likely qualify for a lower interest rate than he or she would otherwise.

PenFed Credit Union review

2. LendKey

LendKey is a student loan refinance marketplace that helps pair borrowers with community banks and credit unions, including Summit Credit Union and Veridian Credit Union. LendKey services all of the loans originated through its platform.

LendKey’s average refinance borrower earns $63,000 a year, making the company a strong option for those who don’t earn six figures. Additionally, borrowers who choose 15- or 20-year loan terms can make interest-only payments for the first four years.

LendKey review

3. First Tech Federal Credit Union

First Tech Federal Credit Union has unique repayment options that let borrowers make lower monthly payments starting out. Its student loan specialists can answer your questions throughout the refinancing process. However, it doesn’t offer deferment or forbearance options.

First Tech caters to borrowers who work in the technology industry. Working for one of the companies it partners with is one way to become a member. If you work in a different industry, there are other relatively easy ways to qualify for membership, such as joining the Financial Fitness Association.

First Tech Federal Credit Union review

4. Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union is one of the few student loan refinance lenders that accepts borrowers whose highest education level is an associate degree. It also allows borrowers to pause payments through forbearance for up to 18 months, which is longer than many lenders allow.

To qualify for membership and student loan refinancing with Navy Federal, you must be active-duty, reserve, retired or a veteran of the military; a Department of Defense civilian employee or contractor assigned to one of DOD’s facilities; or related to someone who fits one of those categories or who is already a member.

Navy Federal Credit Union review

5. Alliant Credit Union

Alliant stands out by enabling faster repayment. It allows weekly and biweekly payments via autopay and discounts your interest rate by 0.4% for enrolling in autopay, which is greater than the 0.25% autopay discount most other lenders offer. But Alliant lacks options if you run into financial trouble — its six months of forbearance is half as much as many other refinance lenders.

Like other credit unions, Alliant refinances student loans only for its members. You can qualify by living in certain Illinois communities or being affiliated with specific organizations, employers or current Alliant members. If you don’t meet those criteria, you can join by donating $5 to the national nonprofit Foster Care to Success through Alliant’s website.

Alliant Credit Union review

NerdWallet’s picks: credit union student loan refinance

  1. PenFed Credit Union
  2. LendKey
  3. First Tech Federal Credit Union
  4. Navy Federal Credit Union
  5. Alliant Credit Union

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