When you refinance student loans, you want to make sure that you’re getting a good deal. Yes, you want to lower your APR, but other things are important as well, like flexible repayment terms, forbearance and forgiveness options, and customer service.
With so companies out there that refinance student loans, it can be hard to know which companies to trust. But in this guide, we’ll help you compare the 7 best lenders to refinance student loans.
7 Best Lenders to Refinance Student Loans
All of the banks and lenders below allow borrowers to refinance student loans for an attractive rate and without charging any junk fees. But that’s the only reason why these companies made this list. Read on to see the perks and benefits that sets each of these companies apart.
Best for Payment Flexibility: CommonBond
Private student loans are typically known for being less generous than federal student loans when it comes to forbearance and deferment periods. But this is an area where CommonBond really shines.
While many private lenders have a 12-month cap on forbearance periods, CommonBond borrowers are eligible for 24 months of forbearance, in three-month increments. That blows most other banks out of the water. CommonBond also allows borrowers to defer payments if they go back to school, enlist in the military, or begin a residency or fellowship.
On top of all that, CommonBond offers Parent Plus refinancing and has partnered with Pencils of Promise, to help get technology, teachers, and schools to students in Ghana. Read our full editorial review of CommonBond.
Best for Parent Plus Refinancing: Laurel Road
A handful of lenders now allow Parent PLUS loan refinances. But Laurel Road’s interest rates are some of the most competitive we’ve seen. Plus, they allow parents to transfer ownership of the Parent PLUS loans to the child. In this case, the child would have to qualify for the loans in their own right by having a sufficient income and credit score.
Laurel Road also allows physicians and dentists to pay $100 a month towards their student loans during residency. This isn’t quite as low as the $1 payments that Splash Financial offers to doctors, but it’s still impressive. Plus, Splash Financial doesn’t currently cover dentists in its program.
Wallet Wise Guy readers can get a $200 cash bonus from Laurel Road by using our direct link. Read our full review of Laurel Road to learn more about what they have to offer.
Best for Career Advancement Opportunities: SoFi
Having a low APR on your student loans is great. But moving forward in your career and increasing your income could make an even bigger difference on how fast you’re able to pay off your loans. SoFi understands this. That’s why every borrower who decides to refinance student loans with SoFi gets access to a suite of career advancement tools.
First, SoFi gives their members free career coaching, which includes helping you choose your industry, identify career path goals, and designing your resume and LinkedIn profile. SoFi also holds events around the country called “Member Experiences,” where borrowers can network and receive career training.
In addition to career advancement opportunities, SoFi offers a wide variety of companion finance products. Their services have continued to grow through the years, and now include personal loans, mortgages, no-fee investing, high-yield cash accounts, and insurance products. Read our full editorial review of SoFi.
Best for Customizing Repayment Periods: Earnest
The majority of the lenders on this list offer student loan repayment terms of 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20-year loans. But Earnest breaks from the pack by offering 180 different options. And with this type of flexibility, you can just about pick what every monthly payment works for your budget.
Here’s how it works. You start with how much you are able to afford for a monthly payment. For sake of example, let’s say you’d like for your monthly payment to be $600. Earnest will then tell you exactly what month your student loans would be paid off with that monthly payment.
You can even play around with things a bit to see how much faster you’d be able to pay off your loans by paying $700 a month. Or how far back it would push your payoff date if you paid $500 a month instead. The only stipulation is that your payoff date has to fall between 5 and 20 years. Read our full editorial review of Earnest.
Best for Borrowers Who Make Less Than 6-Figures: LendKey
Like Credible, LendKey is a comparison tool that shops several different lenders that refinance student loans. But what’s different about LendKey is that they partner with small community banks and credit unions. These are companies that may offer great terms on their refinance products, but without LendKey, you’d probably never know they existed.
LendKey says that they’ve partnered with over 300 community banks and credit unions. And what’s really great is many of their partners are willing to refinance student loans for borrowers who make less than 6-figures.
The minimum income that they’ll accept for individual refinance is $24,000 and $12,000 if you have a co-signer. And LendKey says that their average refinance borrower makes $63,000 a year. Read our full editorial review of LendKey.
Best for Customer Service: ELFI (Education Loan Finance)
Education Loan Finance (ELFI) checks all the boxes that you look for if customer service is important to you. They do have an in-house customer service team. And they do have a process whereby an issue or complaint can be escalated to a customer service manager. Furthermore, every borrower is assigned a dedicated customer service representative that they can reach out to at any time.
If you currently have federal student loans, you may be accustomed to “customer no-service.” If so, you’ll probably be shocked by the level of care that you’ll receive from ELFI. Add all that to the fact that ELFI offers competitive interest rates and repayment terms and it makes perfect sense why they’ve made it onto this list. Read our full editorial review of ELFI.
Best for Medical Residents: Splash Financial
Medical students in residency they face a very unique financial situation. They have to start paying back massive loans while only earning average salaries for 3-7 years. This can cause medical professionals to struggle financially during this time, fall behind on their payments, or default on their loans altogether.
But Splash Financial has a unique repayment program that can relieve the financial burden. Splash Financial borrowers who are medical graduates in residency can make as little as $1 payments for up to 84 months, and even up to 90 days following the completion of their residency.
Keep in mind that interest will continue to accrue during these periods. But still, the lower payments could help a great deal with cash flow until your income increases. Read our full editorial review of Splash Financial.