Student loans are a huge business. There are currently 1.48 TRILLION in student loans.
When I consolidated my student loans, back in 2005, I got nothing.
Well, not entirely true. I did get a 0.25% break on my interest rate (so good!) for direct debit but …
Nowadays, you can get cash back.
Now, cash back bonuses aren't everything. Banks and lenders know that there's a ton of competition out there so they have competitive rates too. I'm keeping tabs on a list of the richest cashback rebates and rewards you can get for refinancing your student loans.
Here's what you need to do:
- Compare rates for all (or most) of the options below,
- Then pick the one with the best mix of rate and bonus.
Here are the best of the best student loan refinance cashback offers:
Credible – $200
Credible is a marketplace of lenders who compete against each other for loans. You submit your details and get actual rates (not ranges) from multiple, vetted lenders in 2 minutes. You can refinance federal, private and ParentPLUS loans. Private student loans can be for college, graduate and professional degrees. If you have personal loans, they're included too (personalized rates from six vetted lenders in 2 minutes) so you can consolidate credit cards or other large expenses (moving, home improvement, wedding, vacations, etc.) into a lower rate loan.
Bonus of $200 when you refinance your student loans with Credible!
Laurel Road – $200
Laurel Road is a division of Darien Rowayton Bank, headquartered out of Darien, CT; and they offer refinancing of student loans, parent loans and in-school MBA loans. One distinguishing offer is that for medical students, you can refinance as soon as you're matched to a residency program residency program and you only pay $100 a month all throughout your residency or fellowship.
Bonus of $200 when you refinance your student loans with Laurel Road!
SoFi – $100
SoFi refinances student loans (among many other loan types) and has $25 billion in loans funded to date with 390,000 members. Rather than a marketplace, they are themselves a lender. In handling your loan, they analyze your finances taking into account your education, financial history, monthly income vs. expenses, and career experiences.
Plus, they run private SoFi events for their members, offer career advice and counseling, and even have a wealth management arm. (SoFi is short for Social Finance!)
Bonus of $100 when you refinance your student loans with SoFi!
CommonBond – $100
CommonBond refinances student loans (student and Parent PLUS loans) and also offers private student loans, acting as a marketplace lender for MBA, graduate, and undergraduate student loans.
They also follow a “one-for-one” social model like Toms Shoes where for every degree funded on the CommonBond site, they will fund the education of a student abroad for a full year through Pencils of Promise. They've also been active domestically, partnering with charter schools and financial literacy campaigns.
Bonus of $100 when you refinance your student loans with Laurel Road!
Elfi – $100
Elfi (Education Loan Finance) is a relatively newcomer to the student loan refinancing world. They are the student loan financing arm of SouthEast Bank, a community bank based out of the eastern Tennessee area. They offer student loan refinancing with terms starting at 5 years all the way up to 20 years with variable and fixed rates. They also offer loan consolidation, which combines multiple loans into a single one.
Bonus of $100 when you refinance your student loans with Elfi!
LendKey is a marketplace of lenders but the difference is the lenders are local credit unions and community banks. You submit your details and are instantly given rates and terms for your loan amount, location, and credit. You can adjust the term, rate and monthly payment to customize the loan. They've facilitated the lending of $1.7+ billion and 59,000 borrowers.
We are unable to offer a bonus when you refinance your student loans with them.
What to Watch For
The rebate you can get for refinancing or consolidating your loan should be the last piece of the puzzle.
Getting $500 today but paying a higher interest rate makes no sense. Be sure that the interest rate you get on the refinance, coupled with the other terms, makes financial sense before you make any decisions.
Also, refinance and consolidation are slightly different processes. With a refinancing, you are getting a new loan and using the proceeds to pay off old loans. You get new terms, new (lower) interest rates, and you can refinance federal and private loans.
With consolidation, you are combining your loans into a single loan. This is typically done with federal loans (you can do this with private loans too sometimes but it's not governed by federal rules) and your interest rates are the blended average of the loans being consolidated. This is typically done to simplify your life. Paying back one loan is logistically easier than paying off five.
With each of these, it's important to compare what benefits or advantages you may be surrendering. For example, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is only available to Direct Loans. If you refinance a Direct Loan, you no longer have access to that program.
As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts and a cash rebate is just the final piece!