11 Best Student Loan Refinancing Companies in 2016

If you have strong credit, a steady income or access to a co-signer, you may qualify to refinance your student loans. Refinancing allows you to replace one or more loans with a new, lower-rate loan, to save you money.

NerdWallet has partnered with Credible, a student loan refinancing marketplace, to save you time finding the lowest interest rate you qualify for. Through Credible, you’ll fill out one application for multiple lenders; we’ve compared them all in the table below. To get started, fill out a short form on Credible’s website. If you qualify, you’ll get immediate refinancing offers without affecting your credit. The lender you choose will only perform a hard credit pull once you complete a full application.

IN THIS POST:
Compare refinance lenders on Credible
See how much you could save
Compare additional refinance lenders
Read lender reviews
Learn more about refinancing

Student loan refinance options

LenderAPR ranges*Average credit
score
Eligible loan balancesNext steps
*All APR ranges include a 0.25% autopay discount if available
Citizens BankFixed: 3.74% to 7.99%

Variable: 2.21% to 8.00%
781Undergrads: $10,000 to $150,000

Graduate students: Up to $170,000


Citizens Bank review

CollegeAveFixed: 4.15% to 6.75%

Variable: 2.63% to 5.88%
750+$5,000 to $250,000

CollegeAve review
CommonBondFixed: 3.50% to 7.74%

Variable: 2.24% to 6.04%

Hybrid: 3.82% to 6.26%
750+$10,000 and up; no maximum

CommonBond review
iHelpFixed: 4.65% to 8.84%

Variable: 3.34% to 9.17%
700+Undergrads: $10,000 to $150,000

Graduate students: $10,000 to $250,000


iHelp review
MEFA

Fixed: 4.95% to 6.85%

Variable: 3.41% to 6.31%
746$10,000 and up
RISLAFixed: 3.49% to 7.64%778$7,500 to $140,000

RISLA review

Estimate your savings

To estimate how much money you could save by refinancing, enter your loan information below. If you plan to refinance multiple loans, include the total balance of all the loans and their average interest rate.


Additional refinance options

Some refinancing lenders aren’t available on Credible’s platform, but they might be good matches for you. Visit their websites to fill out an application.

LenderAPR RANGES*AVERAGE
CREDIT
SCORE
ELIGIBLE LOAN BALANCESNERD REVIEW
*All APR ranges include a 0.25% autopay discount if available
DRB logoFixed: 4.20% to 7.20%

Variable: 3.64% to 6.29%
750+$5,000 and up; no minimumDRB review
Earnest logoFixed: 3.50% to 7.45%

Variable: 2.14% to 5.79%
700+$5,000 and up; no minimumEarnest review
LendKey logoFixed: start at 3.25%

Variable: start at 1.97%
680$7,500 to $175,000LendKey review
Fixed: 3.95% to 6.75%

Variable: 3.00% to 5.20%
770$20,000 to $350,000
Purefy review
SoFi logoFixed: 3.38% to 6.74%

Variable: 2.19% to 6.11%
774$5,000 and up; no minimumSoFi review


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Lender reviews

 

citizens-bank-logo-52

PROS

  • Former students who didn’t graduate can refinance
  • Co-signer release program

CONS

  • Less competitive interest rates compared to other lenders
  • Lacking in a range of features
collegeave-logo-52

PROS

  • Quick application process
  • Flexible repayment terms

CONS

  • Less competitive interest rates compared to other lenders

commonbond-logo-52

PROS

  • Competitive interest rates
  • Save on interest with the hybrid loan

CONS

  • Hybrid loan can be risky
  • More limitations
ihelp-logo-52

PROS

  • Flexible repayment options
  • Dedicated customer support

CONS

  • Less competitive interest rates compared to other lenders
  • Longer term lengths, which increases total interest paid

risla-logo-52

PROS

  • Income-based repayment options
  • Rates without a credit check

CONS

  • Less competitive interest rates compared to other lenders
  • Limited term lengths
drb-logo

PROS

  • Competitive interest rates
  • No loan balance maximum

CONS

  • No co-signer release
  • DRB checking account needed for interest rate discount

earnest-logo

PROS

  • Customized repayment terms
  • Flexible monthly payments
  • Nontraditional underwriting

CONS

  • Requires connecting your online accounts with Earnest
  • Not available nationwide
lendkey-logo-52

LendKey is a marketplace, like Credible, which allows you to compare offers from multiple lenders.

LendKey specializes in community banks and credit unions.


purefy-logo-52

PROS

  • Couples can refinance together
  • Unique loan terms

CONS

  • High minimum balance requirement
sofi-logo

PROS

  • Competitive interest rates
  • Career coaching offering

CONS

  • Forbearance limitations


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Student loan refinancing is best if:

You have great credit or a co-signer

Lenders use several factors to decide whether to offer you a loan, including your credit score, income, educational background and job history. Each lender prioritizes those factors differently. You’ll get more offers, at lower interest rates, if your credit score is in the 700s or 800s. If you don’t meet these requirements, you can use a co-signer who does.

You want a lower interest rate

Maybe you took out federal loans when interest rates were high, like 6.8%. Or maybe you took out private loans with even higher interest rates to fill the gap federal loans didn’t cover. Refinancing lets you take advantage of the good credit history you’ve built, and offers you lower interest rates than you initially received. That could mean big savings over time.

Consider refinance alternatives if:

You’ll use federal loan repayment programs

When you refinance a federal student loan, a lender pays it off and issues you a new, private loan. That means you can’t repay the refinanced loan on an income-driven repayment plan, postpone payments using deferment or forbearance, or get loan forgiveness for working in public service. Only refinance your federal loans if you don’t plan to take advantage of these programs.

You don’t meet the requirements

At a minimum, lenders want to see that you have a stable job and a steady income, that you use credit responsibly and that you’ve been in the workforce for a little while. Some lenders also prefer customers who have graduate degrees, especially if you have a lot of debt. This means refinancing isn’t an option for graduates who are struggling to pay their student loan bills.

Understanding fixed, variable and hybrid interest rates

You’ll likely get offers for both fixed- and variable-rate loans. Fixed interest rates don’t change throughout the life of the loan. Variable rates are tied to an economic benchmark and go up and down according to market conditions. Although variable rates have been low, they’ll increase as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, so they’re best for borrowers who plan to repay their loans fast. A few lenders offer hybrid rates, meaning the interest rate will be a combination of fixed and variable. For example, CommonBond’s hybrid loan is fixed for the first five years and variable for the next five years.