Advertiser Disclosure

How to Refinance International Student Loans: Compare Options for 2019

To refinance international student loans you must build U.S. credit, get a co-signer or qualify for a niche loan.
Feb. 1, 2019
Loans, Student Loans
gettyimages-1081381810-story.jpg
At NerdWallet, we adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

Refinancing international student loans is more difficult for visa holders working in the U.S. who don’t have a credit history. There are private lenders that will refinance your student loans, but you’ll have to do one of the following:

  • Build your U.S. credit history.
  • Have an eligible co-signer.
  • Qualify for a niche loan for international working graduates.

Refinancing means a lender will pay off your existing student loans with a new single loan at a lower interest rate. It can help you save money immediately and over time. Estimate how much you could save using a refinancing calculator.

» MORE: When to refinance student loans

3 ways to refinance international student loans

Building a U.S. credit history

U.S. credit bureaus don’t take into consideration credit history from other countries, so you’ll have to start from scratch. But as you live and work in the U.S. you can grow your credit profile.

Start building U.S. credit history. If you attended college in the U.S. and have student loans in repayment with a U.S. lender, you may already have some credit built. You can find out an existing credit history for free from one of the three major credit reporting bureaus — TransUnion, Experian or Equifax.

If you attended college in the U.S. and have student loans in repayment with a U.S. lender, you may already have some credit built.

If you don’t have a history or you want to continue building credit, apply for a credit card. Typically, credit lenders will want you to have a permanent address, a taxpayer ID number, income and a bank account. You might have to start with a secured credit card, which requires a cash security deposit.

» MORE: How international students and immigrant workers can get a credit card

Once you have a line of credit established, make payments each month, on-time and in full. Over time, you can build enough credit history to get your loans approved for refinancing by private lenders. Refinancing lenders look for borrowers with credit in at least the high 600s, a history of on-time loan payments and an income that is high enough to pay off the debt.

Refinancing if you have a visa

Some lenders may allow you to refinance, even if you have a working visa, as long as you have a co-signer who can meet credit history, income and payment history qualifications. Your co-signer will have to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, as well.

Applying for a niche refinancing loan

If you don’t have U.S. credit history or a qualifying co-signer, your only option to refinance is with Prodigy Finance. It is the only private lender that offers student loan refinancing to international working graduates in the U.S. Prodigy’s loan doesn’t require a U.S. credit history or a Social Security number, but to qualify you’ll need a high income — the average approved income among borrowers is $139,140 — and a graduate degree.

Lenders that refinance student loans for visa-holders

LenderDo you need a co-signer or credit history?Get started

5.0 NerdWallet rating
Yes

SoFi review
CommonBond
5.0 NerdWallet rating
Yes

CommonBond review

5.0 NerdWallet rating
Yes

Discover review

4.5 NerdWallet rating
Yes

Citizens One review

4.5 NerdWallet rating
Yes

U-fi review

4.0 NerdWallet rating
Yes

First Republic review
prodigy-finance-logo.png
3.5 NerdWallet rating
No

Prodigy review

About the author