You deserve the best student loan refinancing deal you can find. Why then do >90% of borrowers refinance student loans without receiving a cashback bonus for doing so? It’s because they don’t know there’s something better.
Banks have big advertising budgets. Many of them now sponsor professional sports programs and send you a letter in the mail every other week. Other sites give away a bunch of free tools in the hopes that you’ll click on their $0 cashback refinancing links. Not us. We want to put money back in your pocket and slash your interest rate.
- 2.54% - 6.65%
- Bonus for 20k+
- 2.57% - 6.32%
- Flexible repayment
- 2.96% - 7.28%
- Loan min varies
- 2.58% - 8.12%
- Local banks
- 2.80% - 7.02%
- Medical, dental
- Fixed from 3.25%
- Min $100k
- Starts at 1.95%
- NYC, CA, Boston
- 3.02% - 6.47%
- Texas Only
I negotiated these large cash bonuses for you. These are referral links, so if you get an awesome deal with a lower interest rate, we’ll both get a bonus. Notice that for some of those bonuses, you need to refinance a minimum amount with that lender.
Unlike other websites, I try to take as much out of my own referral bonus as possible and give it back to you (again, it’s your money, not mine).
I frequently receive limited time promotions the banks are running. Sometimes I get folks better offers by introducing them directly to banks by email and playing them off against each other.
You’ll have a hard time finding anything as good for you as the links above. If you do find something better elsewhere, please let me know because I might still be able to help you beat it.
Who should refinance student loans and what banks should you start with? The quiz button below will give you our free recommendation.
- 1 Exclusive Bonuses for Student Loan Planner Readers
- 2 What Kind of Student Loan Refinancing Rates Exist?
- 3 Use this Student Loan Refinance Calculator to See Potential Savings
- 4 National Student Loan Refinancing Lenders
- 5 Regional Student Loan Refinancing Lenders
- 6 Who Should Refinance Student Loans?
- 7 What Do You Lose from Doing a Student Loan Refinance?
- 8 What Could You Gain By Refinancing Student Loans?
- 9 Refinancing Benefit: Dump Your Horrible Student Loan Servicer
- 10 Get Cash in Your Pocket that Other Sites Keep for Themselves
- 11 Student Loan Prepayment Calculator to Get You Out of Debt Sooner
- 12 Testimonials from Student Loan Planner Readers Who Refinanced
- 13 Take this Student Loan Refinancing Quiz to Start!
Exclusive Bonuses for Student Loan Planner Readers
If I were looking for a great student loan refinancing deal, I’d click on all of the links and check my rate at each company. It doesn’t take very much time.
Additionally, getting a prequalified offer doesn’t affect your credit score as it’s a “soft inquiry.” If you go through with the refinancing, then the lender will need to do a hard inquiry, which will have a small impact on your credit score. The impact is similar to applying for a credit card.
In other words, if you need to refinance you should do it as long as you’re not about to buy a house next month.
What Kind of Student Loan Refinancing Rates Exist?
To know if it even makes sense to try and refinance your student loans, it helps to know what kind of interest rates are available in the market right now.
If you have federal debt, my general rule of thumb is that you want to save at least 1% on your interest rate. Even then, you should only refinance if the math makes sense. You should generally have a debt to income ratio below 1.5 and be in the private sector.
For example, say you refinanced your loans into a 10 year fixed rate at 5%, and you’ve made payments for 2 years. It would make a lot of sense to apply for a 7 year fixed rate to see if your rate could go down from 5% to perhaps a 4.5%. Your monthly payment might stay similar since you already paid down some principal.
These are examples of interest rates I’m seeing in the national student loan refinancing market (excluding regional lenders). “Excellent” means that’s among the best rates you could possibly get. “Good” simply means that you’re getting a solid deal. “Average” is the max rate where I’d refinance federal student loans at that term length.
If you have private student loans, including student loans you’ve already refinanced, any rate that’s lower than what you have now justifies refinancing a first, second, or third time.
Use this Student Loan Refinance Calculator to See Potential Savings
To refinance student loans, you need to choose a repayment term. While Earnest allows you to pick your own term length (ie anything from 5 years to 20 years), most lenders ask you to choose between 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 year terms.
It’s common to start with a 10 or 15 year, make a bunch of extra payments above what you owe, then refinance again in a couple years to a 5 or 7 year.
Plug in your numbers below to see what kind of savings you might have (assuming no extra payments are made).
I’m using the government Standard 10 year plan as the benchmark. Hence, you might save money on interest yearly if you chose a 15 year term at a lower interest rate. However, the long term savings would be negative since you’d be moving from a 10 year to 15 year term.
Terms longer than 10 years for student loan refinancing should in my opinion be used temporarily.
National Student Loan Refinancing Lenders
National lenders have a footprint in almost every state. Some don’t lend in specific locations, but that’s the exception, not the rule. Here’s six different choices. If you want to learn more, we’ve also written reviews for each linked to in the respective section.
Commonbond: The Lender with a Social Mission
Commonbond has unemployment protection. They also fund a child’s education in a foreign country every time they do a refinancing, which is really cool. Commonbond has a clear social mission that other student loan lenders do not focus on quite as much. My wife and I refinanced with them, so they have a special place in my heart. If you have a debt to income ratio below 2 and you owe over $100,000, Commonbond is a must check. You can read our Commonbond review and see why more of our readers use them than any other lender on the site.
You’re eligible for the $500 Commonbond referral bonus if you refinance more than $20,000 in student loans through our link. Commonbond can refinance you too if you owe less than that, but you won’t get the $500 unless it’s over $20,000.
With any of these companies, if you’ve already applied you might want to create a new profile with a different email address if you want to make sure you’ll get the cash back bonus.
Earnest: the Most Flexible Student Loan Refinancing Company
Earnest allows for flexible repayment terms instead of the typical 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 year terms offered elsewhere. No one else offers that to my knowledge. Earnest is a workhorse of the student loan refinancing world, and they service their loans internally instead of outsourcing that to a third party. Earnest is not as flexible with cosigners and Parent PLUS loans as other refinancing companies are (check out our Earnest review for the full story).
If you have Sallie Mae loans, you won’t be able to refinance them with Earnest because they recently got bought by Navient. Don’t let that dissuade you from applying though. Earnest is operating independently with the same culture they had when they were a scrappy startup. Get our $400 Earnest referral bonus by filling out their 2 minute rate check and securing a lower cost loan. Earnest currently doesn’t have a minimum loan size needed to get the refinancing bonus.
Laurel Road: Focused on Medical Professionals and Residents
Laurel Road is known for refinancing student loans for medical professionals. They invented resident and fellow refinancing, but they also help out with Parent PLUS loans too. Anyone is eligible to refinance with Laurel Road. Check out the Laurel Road review, and you’ll see why we think they have the best chance of offering your outstanding interest rates for 15 or 20 year fixed rate terms.
Our Laurel Road $300 referral bonus gives you $300 for applying through the Student Loan Planner link and selecting them as your lender.
LendKey: Use it to Find Student Loan Refinance Deals for Small Banks and Credit Unions
LendKey searches a network of small banks and credit unions. Check out our LendKey review, and you’ll find that LendKey has among the best unemployment protection of any private lender. Their max is $300k for medical professionals. If you’re a ‘bank local’ person, LendKey is a must check.
Our LendKey referral bonus is $300 when you apply through our link. They have a habit of connecting you with lenders that you never would have searched. We have seen a large growth in the number of readers using LendKey, so I assume their rates must continually be getting better relative to the competition.
Splash Financial: New Upstart Student Loan Lender from the Midwest
Would you be more likely to trust a financial company if it was located in the Midwest? From our Splash Financial review, you’ll see that Splash is a brand new entrant into the student loan refi space based in Cleveland. They should be a very competitive option, especially for folks with FICO scores in the 700s.
I’ve found that the folks at Splash are very fast to respond and help out. They also offer residency student loan refinancing that they claim to be the best in the business. You should compare Splash to Laurel Road above to make sure.
Note that Splash Financial is running a temporary bonus for October only. It will be $500 if you refinance more then 50k, $1,000 if you refinance more than 100k, and $2,000 if you refinance more than $200,000. This is significantly above average compared to the normal $500 Splash referral bonus.
Keep in mind that you should focus not just on cash bonuses but also interest rates obviously. That said, that kind of a bonus is extremely tempting.
Credible: Easy to Check A Lot of Lenders at Once
Credible shops a bunch of lenders all at once. It’s a great option especially for folks with <$100,000 in income. There is no unemployment protection with Credible, but they’ll often offer a loan when other spots can’t. I would expect that a physician with $300,000 of income and $200,000 of debt would find a better rate with some of the options I already mentioned. That said, Credible has one of the best websites of any student loan lender as you’ll find in our Credible review. I would take a couple minutes just to see what they could offer.
They’re running a promotion right now where you get a $1,000 Credible referral bonus if you refinance more than $100,000. You can still get $300 if you refinance less than that.
Regional Student Loan Refinancing Lenders
These two companies require that you live within their service area. They might have an alternative goal besides just making a fair profit on your refinanced loan. For First Republic, they want you to sign up for a bank account with them. For Brazos, they want to help Texas residents only.
If you do live in their area, you should apply to these lenders because they will likely have the best rates if you can qualify.
First Republic Bank: Best Rates in the Country if You Can Qualify
First Republic Bank is only available to residents of NYC, most of California, Portland, Boston, and a couple other places. They have unbelievably low fixed rates. Email our banker Miguel by copy pasting email@example.com and mention the $200 Student Loan Planner referral bonus to see if you qualify for the best rates in the country.
Brazos Higher Education: Exclusively for Texas Residents
Available only in the State of Texas, Brazos is a nonprofit with over 40 years of experience in student loans. Because of Brazos’ nonprofit status, their rates are often better than the national lenders listed above. You can refinance up to $150,000 with a bachelor’s degree and up to $250,000 with a graduate, law, medical or other professional degree.
Who Should Refinance Student Loans?
I actually built an awesome free student loan calculator that you can get for free to see how much refinancing might save you. In general, refinancing student loans is a great idea for folks in the private sector that owe less than two times their salary.
Why is that the case? Most people’s salaries go up over time. If you already owe less than double your income, then that ratio will probably continue to get better. When you make a significant amount of money, the income driven repayment plans like IBR and REPAYE are less attractive.
For someone who owes three times their salary or more, the income driven repayment plans can be super helpful. Options like REPAYE can even cover part of your interest. Once you make a lot of money though, that interest subsidy goes away.
In my experience, if you’re in the private sector and owe less than 1.5 times your income, refinancing student loans makes a lot of sense. If you owe between 1.5 and 2 times your income, then it’s a tougher decision between refinancing and a forgiveness strategy.
When you owe more than 2 times your income and don’t expect this ratio to change, then forgiveness over 20-25 years is likely the better option.
If you want to hear more examples of who should and should not refinance and how to apply with these lenders, check out my video below.
What Do You Lose from Doing a Student Loan Refinance?
The biggest and most important thing you’ll lose is Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). That program allows you to pay a fraction of what you owe for 10 years. After that, the government forgives the rest tax free.
If you could potentially qualify for PSLF, I’d highly suggest hiring me to get student loan help. I’ll look at all your options before starting a student loan refinance. With a $100,000+ balance, a mistake can be very costly. For anyone working at a not for profit or government employer, you have to run the analysis first before refinancing because you can’t take it back.
You’ll also lose the ability to use deferment or forbearance. However, some of the lenders I mentioned above have unemployment protection. That allows you to put your loan payments on hold for up to 3 months if you lose your job.
Additionally, you will no longer have access to income driven repayment programs like IBR, REPAYE, and PAYE. That means you won’t be able to pay based on your income.
What Could You Gain By Refinancing Student Loans?
Remember that the only real reason to refinance student loans is to pay them off and save lots of money with a lower interest rate. The government sets federal student loans at very high levels. For individuals with high incomes, those rates don’t reflect the credit risk of borrowing. That means millions of people out there are giving Uncle Sam free money.
If you want to compare refinancing to the long term cost of other options, check out my free student loan calculator.
Why would anyone not refinance? One reason would be that they aren’t aware of the possibility. Another could be that they aren’t ready to start making big payments.
I can tell you that for my wife and I, we refinanced to five year private student loan because we want to be out of student loan debt. We’re making extra loan payments, and we’re on track to be debt free in two years.
Refinancing Benefit: Dump Your Horrible Student Loan Servicer
We had an awful experience with FedLoan Servicing when we were debating between PSLF and refinancing student loans. One of the best experiences from refinancing so far has been getting to deal with MOHELA instead of FedLoans.
My wife and I have experienced none of the problems with our private student loan servicer that we have with the terrible servicers picked by the Department of Education. Many of my clients tell me dealing with a competent company that correctly applies their payments is a nice breath of fresh air.
Get Cash in Your Pocket that Other Sites Keep for Themselves
I get paid when clients hire me to make a student loan plan for them. I also get paid when a reader refinances their student loans through Student Loan Planner. Wherever possible, I try to get you the best cash bonuses to refinance student loans.
I do that even when it means taking money out of my own pocket. Frequently, I ask my refinancing partners to get me better deals for readers rather than increasing my payment terms. Just recently, I had the choice to keep an additional $100 per loan or give it readers. I chose the latter.
Please spread the word by sharing this page with your friends so that they don’t use the top ranked search result that offers $0 for refinancing.
Tell Us if You Can Find a Better Student Loan Refinancing Deal or Bonus Elsewhere
In contrast, many personal finance blogs and competing student loan companies don’t disclose very much how they get compensated. That’s because they keep the entire referral bonus. Another strategy to try to make as much money as possible is to only mention one company for student loan refinancing. That’s often done because that company pays the best commissions to the website.
I want anyone visiting Student Loan Planner to get the best interest rate and cash bonus the can possibly find. Of course, we don’t list every company either. I want to get best in class bonuses or not list the company. I try to be transparent and always work for you. If you find better bonuses or refinancing deals out there, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. In some cases, I might be able to get lenders to fight over your business.
Student Loan Prepayment Calculator to Get You Out of Debt Sooner
One thing you can do with any of these lenders that I list on my site is pay extra every month without any penalty. By making prepayments on your student loans, you can get out debt sooner and save money on interest.
You can also make one time lump sum payments that also speed up your debt freedom date. Keep in mind that you can refinance multiple times. Many readers and clients of mine tell me that they started with a 10 or 15 year fixed rate, made extra payments, and then refinanced again to a 5 or 7 year fixed rate with a similar monthly payment.
Of course, the upside to that strategy is you limit your required monthly payment initially but get out of debt sooner.
Use the student loan prepayment calculator below to see how much faster you could pay off your student loans.
Student Loan Planner Prepayment Calculator
Testimonials from Student Loan Planner Readers Who Refinanced
These readers refinanced through Student Loan Planner and picked up a cash back bonus. I wanted to share some real world examples so you’ll feel confident that yes, refinancing and getting paid to do it is a real thing.
Experience Getting a Lower Interest Rate through Student Loan Planner
Refinancing with CommonBond was super easy and quick!
They were able to beat all the other big companies and […my rep] at CommonBond was a pleasure to work with!
I want to thank Travis for referring me and also getting a $500 refinance bonus!!!
-Zach, Dentist / ‘Disillusioned Dentist’ podcast host
TJ and I were able to refinance with Commonbond. We each received $500…an extra $1000 for something we were going to do anyways!
With your help, we chose Commonbond as they had the most competitive interest rate. I have been VERY happy with them as their customer service is fantastic.
– TJ and Lauren, Physicians
Student Loan Planner made refinancing so easy!!
Travis gave me the best companies to look into and then after I did my research I chose which company worked best for me!! The refinancing process was a breeze! I am so glad that I did it and the cash back was a nice bonus too!
If you use these links and save money, I’d love to know about it. Click on this link to drop me a note.
Please share these deals with your friends who are thinking about refinancing. Maybe they’ll take you out to dinner with part of the bonus. Better yet, maybe they could put it to their principal and get out of student loan debt even sooner!
Take this Student Loan Refinancing Quiz to Start!
Are you a little unsure of what to do after reading our discussion of the pros and cons of student loan refinancing? That’s why we made this quiz below that you can take. It will recommend if we think refinancing is a good idea, and the quiz will suggest a specific lender if we do think refinancing could help you out. It will also warn you if student loan forgiveness might be your better option.