If you're struggling with educational debt, you might be wondering if you should refinance your student loans. Student loan refinancing allows you to replace your existing student loans with a new one, potentially lowering your interest rate or providing better repayment terms.
Citizens Bank offers student loan refinancing, including for people who paid for higher education and never earned a degree.
Read on for our Citizens Bank student loan refinance review. We'll go through pros, cons, offerings and pricing, plus important information and frequently asked questions about Citizens Bank .
Best student loan refinancing for borrowers with no degree
If you're one of the 40% of student loan borrowers without a four-year degree, you may be seeking a lender that allows you access to refinancing programs. Many private lenders only accept applications from those who have graduated. However, Citizens Bank offers refinancing for borrowers with no degree, so it may be one of the options available to you even when it missed the cut for our list of best student loan refinancing.
Citizens Bank student loan refinance pros and cons
- Available to those who didn't complete their degrees
- Discounts for those who enroll in autopay
- Can combine federal and private loans
- No quick repayment estimate calculator
- Not an ideal option for those with smaller debts
- Income-driven repayment options offer a potentially better option for federal loans
Available to those who didn't complete their degrees
You don't need to have graduated to be eligible for Citizens Bank student loan refinancing, which sets it apart from many other refinancing options. However, to be eligible, you must have made at least 12 months' worth of consecutive student loan payments.
Discounts for those who enroll in autopay
If you have a savings or checking account with Citizens Bank, you can get a discount on your refinancing plan. You can also increase this discount when you enroll in autopay. The discount comes in the form of a reduction in your monthly annual percentage rate (APR).
Can combine federal and private loans
If you have a combination of loans from private lenders and the government, Citizens Bank allows you to consolidate these debts into one monthly payment. Furthermore, you can consolidate previously refinanced student loan debts.
For example, if you currently have a Federal Direct PLUS loan and two private loans, one of which was already consolidated through refinancing, you could consolidate all three, streamlining your student loan debts into one single payment and potentially paying less interest if you qualify for a lower APR.
No quick repayment estimate calculator
While you can find estimates of what you could potentially pay in terms of APRs, the Citizens Bank website doesn't offer a quick repayment estimate calculator. This is a basic feature that many other banks provide and it allows potential borrowers to estimate costs based on their particular situation. If you want a realistic estimate of what you might expect to pay each month after refinancing, you might prefer to look elsewhere.
Not an ideal option for those with smaller debts
Citizens Bank requires a minimum total student loan debt of $10,000 for its refinancing program. Other lenders may have lower minimum debt requirements. For example, Earnest can refinance student loan debts over $5,000.
Income-driven repayment options offer a potentially better option for federal loans
If you have private loans, it's likely that refinancing can save you money. However, if you have federal student loans, you have access to a potentially better option: income-driven repayments.
While refinancing programs like the ones offered by Citizens Bank may offer lower APRs than what you were previously paying on your initial loan, your payments will not change if your income drops. On the other hand, income-driven repayments allow federal student loan borrowers to make monthly payments that will not exceed 10% of their discretionary income. They also allow you to temporarily defer payments due to economic hardship.
Furthermore, unlike income-driven repayment programs, student loan refinancing programs do not forgive debt. With income-driven repayment, after 20 or 25 years of paying off your loans, your remaining student loan balance is forgiven.
While the Citizens Bank student loan refinancing program might be great for those struggling under the weight of private loans, an income-driven repayment option might be a better choice for you if you have federal loans.
Citizens Bank student loan refinance offerings
When you enroll in Citizens Bank's student loan refinancing, you'll be given the option to choose between two different types of APR structures. Here's what you need to know about both.
Variable rate student loan refinancing
One of Citizens Bank's student loan refinancing options is variable rate refinancing. A variable interest rate is one that can fluctuate depending on economic conditions, which means you're not locked into a set interest rate when you refinance. Variable rates are based on market interest rates, which means that you'll pay a smaller interest rate when market conditions are poor and a higher interest rate when market conditions are good.
The lender doesn't state whether or not it offers an introductory, locked-in low interest rate, which is often the case for variable interest rate loans.
Fixed-rate student loan refinancing
Citizen Bank also offers fixed-rate refinancing. With a fixed-rate loan, your APR is always the same regardless of fluctuations in the market. While you can potentially end up paying more in interest than you would on a variable-rate loan should market interest rates drop, you also don't run the risk of paying more should interest rates go up.
Citizens Bank student loan refinance pricing
Citizens Bank offers competitive APRs on its student loan refinancing. If you have another account with Citizens Bank and enroll in autopay, you can further reduce your APR.
Citizens Bank doesn't charge any application, origination or disbursement fees to its student loan refinancing customers. Should you choose to pay more than what you owe in a single month or pay off the entirety of your loan early, Citizens Bank doesn't charge any prepayment fees.
The minimum amount of debt to refinance your loans with Citizens Bank is $10,000. The maximum amounts are as follows:
- Bachelor’s degree or below: $300,000
- Graduate degree: $500,000
- Professional degree: $750,000
Repayment terms are available for five, seven, 10, 15 or 20 years.
Citizens Bank financial stability
Citizens Bank has an A3 long-term risk rating with Moody's, which means that it has sufficient financial backing with little risk of default. While it's likely a safe choice for potential borrowers, no financial institution is completely safeguarded against defaults or unexpected market conditions.
Citizens Bank accessibility
Here's what you need to know about accessing the Citizens Bank student loan refinancing program.
Citizens Bank's student loan refinancing is available to anyone with a good credit score. While the lender doesn't specify exactly what it considers to be a good credit score, 670 or above is typically what's considered "good" by most lenders. You also must make at least $24,000 in annual income. Those who don't meet that criteria may still apply with a co-signer.
Borrowers cannot currently be enrolled in school, unless they're pursuing their graduate studies and seeking to refinance loans associated with their undergraduate degree. Those who are looking to refinance loans for an associate's degree or those who never finished their degrees must demonstrate that they've made payments on their loans for 12 consecutive months in order to qualify for the loan terms.
Currently, physical Citizens Bank locations are only available in the following states:
- Connecticut (32 branches)
- Delaware (19 branches)
- Florida (5 branches)
- Maryland (3 branches)
- Massachusetts (198 branches)
- Michigan (71 branches)
- New Hampshire (50 branches)
- New Jersey (113 branches)
- New York (192 branches)
- Ohio (81 branches)
- Pennsylvania (246 branches)
- Rhode Island (53 branches)
- Vermont (11 branches)
- Virginia (3 branches)
- Washington DC (1 branch)
You can reach Citizens Bank at 1-800-922-9999. Customer service is available 24/7. If you'd rather discuss your student loan refinancing options in person, use the branch locator on the Citizens Bank website to find one close to you.
The Citizens Bank website is fairly bare-bones. Customers can use their Citizens Bank login to enter an online banking portal, where they can set up functions like automatic bill pay. However, many online reviewers complain of issues with the website, including trouble accessing accounts and technical glitches.
Citizens Bank customer satisfaction
Overall, Citizens Bank receives mediocre to poor ratings across third-party review sites. It receives 1.07 out of five stars on the BBB's website. Disgruntled reviewers cite issues with Citizens Bank's phone-based customer service when trying to resolve problems such as billing errors or unauthorized uses of their accounts. These issues include long hold times and unhelpful representatives who did not provide them with solutions. Customers on other reputable review sites cited issues with the Citizens Bank app, unexpected moving or holding of funds and account closures without warning.
That being said, some positive Citizens Bank student loan refinance reviews came from customers who dealt with polite and helpful representatives at Citizens Bank branches. If you live in close proximity to a Citizens Bank branch, you might have a better experience with in-person customer service.
Citizens Bank student loan refinance FAQ
How long does it take to find out your application status with Citizens Bank loan refinance?
Why can't you get an education refinance loan from Citizens Bank if you are enrolled in school?
What do I need to refinance a Citizens Bank student loan?
Per the Citizens Bank website, you'll need to provide the following information to refinance your student loan: name, address, email, phone number, date of birth, citizenship status, Social Security number, monthly mortgage or rent cost, your highest degree level, employment status and income information, and expected completion of residency (for medical residents and fellows).
International students are not eligible, as the program is only available to citizens and permanent residents of the United States.
What credit score do you need for a Citizens Bank student loan?
How we evaluated Citizens Bank student loan refinance
While researching our Citizens Bank student loan refinancing review, we assessed the following:
- Eligibility requirements — We looked at what's required to access Citizen Bank's refinancing, including minimum debt and graduation status.
- Offerings — We looked at the interest rates offered by Citizens Bank.
- Pricing — We considered Citizen Bank's rates, fees and discounts compared to other student loan refinancing options.
- Company stability and reputation — We researched online reviews on trusted third-party sites and ratings from leading credit agencies to assess Citizen Bank's reputation and financial stability.
- Accessibility — We analyzed factors such as user experience and availability.
Summary of Money's Citizens Bank student loan refinance review
For those who didn't complete their degrees, Citizens Bank student loan refinancing might be the right choice, as many other lenders will only offer refinancing to graduates. If you're saddled by both federal and private loans, Citizens Bank allows you to consolidate them into one monthly repayment. This may lower what you pay in interest rates and make staying on top of your student debt a lot easier. You can even save a little extra each month by having a Citizens Bank checking or savings account and enrolling in autopay.
However, be aware that borrowers with debts lower than $10,000 aren't eligible, and those with poor credit or incomes of less than $24,000 a year might need a cosigner. Furthermore, if you have federal loans, Citizens Bank student loan refinance does not offer the benefits of an income-driven repayment option.