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Reviews, Small Business

Swift Capital Small Business Loan Review

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Swift Capital Small Business Loan Review

Swift Capital offers small businesses a simple and affordable way to borrow money quickly. It can wire $5,000 to $10,000 to a small business account within an hour. And it’ll lend up to $500,000 within 1 business days.

Swift Capital takes into account business cash flow to review applicants instead of relying solely on credit history to make a decision. If your business is in need of extra funds fast this is an option to consider because of the flexible eligibility requirements and easy application process. Here we’ll dive into the details of this loan and compare it to two other small business loan products. 

Swift Capital Business Funding at a Glance

To qualify for Swift Capital you must have at least a 500 credit score. In addition, your business must be at least a year old with a minimum of $100,000 in annual revenue. According to Swift Capital, 4 out of 5 applicants are approved for funding so you have a good chance of borrowing money if you meet the basic requirements.

Loan terms are available for 3 to 12 months. Rates at Swift Capital start at 9.90% and are charged as a one-time fixed fee and applied to the funding advance. The lowest rate is only offered to businesses with superior credit. Once the loan is funded, payments are taken from your business checking account daily. Some businesses may qualify for a weekly payment plan. You can speak with an agent during the application process to discuss your payment options.

Swift Capital funding is backed by a Best Price Guarantee. If you receive a better offer with comparable terms from another lender before the loan is funded, Swift Capital will beat the other offer or pay you $500. 

Fees and Gotchas

There’s no loan application fee, but there’s an origination fee of 2.5% that’s deducted from the loan amount before it’s deposited into your account. You won’t be penalized with a fee if you prepay the loan. However, Swift Capital also charges a minimum 9.9% premium fee upfront. So, prepaying the loan early may not negate the interest accruing during the loan.

Swift Capital promises access to $10,000 within an hour, but that’s after you turn in all of your paperwork including bank statements. Make sure you get your information in fast if you need money right away. The application process requires a hard pull. Consider how that will impact your credit score before requesting a quote.

Pros and Cons

So what are the pros and cons of Swift Capital funding?

If your business brings in steady income you can qualify even with a below average credit score. And as mentioned you can get both a small and large sum of money within a few days.

Payments are drafted from your business account each day, which is good for business cash flow according to Swift Capital. And although Swift Capital charges a closing fee of 2.5%, its fees are less than some of the other business loans on the market (we’ll discuss that later in this post).

The main downside of Swift Capital is its rate structure. There is an origination fee. While it’s great there isn’t a pre-payment penalty, you still get hit with a fee. And although the starting rate (9.9%) is reasonable, it’s quite possible that your rate will be much higher than that if you only meet the minimum eligibility requirements. 

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Alternatives to Swift Capital Funding

Swift Capital funding has comparable terms to other small business loan products offered by Accion and LendingClub. But overall Swift Capital may charge you less in fees and offer quicker access to cash.

Accion will offer existing businesses between $500 and $50,000. Interest rates start at 8.99% with loan terms available from 6 to 60 months. Closing costs are between 3% to 5%. There’s also a $135 processing fee.

To qualify for an Accion loan you must have a credit score of 525 or above and have enough cash flow to make payments. Once you apply for an Accion loan you’ll receive a call to move forward with the application in 2 to 3 days. So you’ll likely get faster cash if you borrow from Swift Capital.

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Lending Club offers rates as low as 5.90% on its business loans if you have excellent credit. You can borrow up to $300,000 for 1 to 5 years. The origination fee is 0.99% to 5.99%. Like Swift Capital your money from Lending Club can be deposited into your bank within a few days. In order to qualify for Lending Club your business must be at least two years old and have annual sales above $75,000.

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Who Will Benefit Most from a Swift Capital Loan?

You’ll benefit from Swift Capital if you’re running a new business and you need a small amount of cash quickly. If your business is more mature, you have higher monthly sales and excellent credit, Lending Club is worth checking out or a variety of other loan providers.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor at taylor@magnifymoney.com

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College Students and Recent Grads, Reviews, Student Loan ReFi

LendKey Student Loan Refinance Review

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

LendKey Student Loan Refinance Review

Updated July 13, 2017

Could you imagine trying to find the best student loan refinancing rate from community banks and credit unions on your own? How would you do it? Would you call every bank and credit union and ask for help? What a nightmare.

LendKey has relationships with 300+ community banks and credit unions all over the United States. LendKey* can issue loans to residents in any of the 50 states. This keeps you from having to pound the pavement by your lonesome. LendKey’s website will show you the best rate for refinancing your student loans.

Since 2007, LendKey has been a one stop shop for student loan refinancing. It also offers other types of loans. But for the sake of this review we’ll be focusing on how LendKey takes care of graduates looking to improve their debt situation. Fixed APRs range from 3.25% – 7.26%. Variable rates start as low as 2.66%. (All of these rates include the auto-pay discount). LendKey is one of the top four lenders in MagnifyMoney’s survey of where to refinance your student loan.

Who can benefit from using LendKey? Anyone hoping to refinance their student loans should consider LendKey. It is easy to apply:

If you’re on the fence about refinancing, here are some of the benefits to be gained:

Lower Payments

Refinance your way to a more manageable monthly payment.

Lower Rates

Spend less on interest by getting a lower rate than the aggregate of all individual student loans.

Simplified Finances

Making payments on multiple loans to multiple institutions at different times of the month can be quite the hassle. It’s much easier to remember just one payment. Many lenders even let you consolidate both private and federal loans.

Different Repayment Options

Different lenders offer different repayment options. It’s wise to explore all the options to determine what makes the most sense for your particular situation.

Pros of Using LendKey

A Unified Application Process

This is hugely important. With LendKey, you’re not shuffled through tons of screens on different domains – all using different logons and different (confusing!) user interfaces. Within 5 minutes, a person can navigate through LendKey’s application process. This means after 5 minutes, you can see how much you can save by refinancing. You can even choose what loan you want.

Cosigner Release Available

Yes, you can secure a low interest rate and then cut loose your cosigner. Once you prove you are responsible – LendKey no longer needs a cosigner tied to your account. This may help convince a cosigner to work with you initially. They won’t need to be on the hook for long. Once you’ve made 12 full and consecutive on-time payments, your cosigner may be released. LendKey does a credit check and examines your income to see if you are free to go it alone.

No Origination Fee

This is helpful since it means you are free to shop around without feeling committed.

Further Interest Rate Reduction

1% interest rate reduction once 10% of the loan principal is repaid during the full repayment period. This is subject to the floor rate.

0.25% ACH Interest Rate Reduction

Many lenders reduce interest rates by a quarter percent for borrowers who agree to automatic payments.

Federal and Private Loans Can Be Consolidated Together

However, you lose some federal benefits in doing so. Things like free insurance (provided with federal loans if you are killed or severely disabled), public service forgiveness and military service forgiveness as well as income-based repayment plans. Grace periods will likely be omitted when writing the new consolidated loan.

Over 40,000 Borrowers Serviced

As of January 2016, 40,000 people have used LendKey’s services.

Excellent Customer Support

According to cuStudentLoans (which LendKey owns so take this with a grain of salt), 97% of customers are satisfied. Customer support comes out of New York and Ohio. Phone support is available each day from 9AM to 8PM EST.

For what it’s worth, I called into support 5 times at random. The support I received from the sales team was really great. Even the gentleman with only 6 months of experience was quite knowledgeable.

Eligible Schools

This list of eligible schools is 2,200 and growing. Chances are your school is on the list. However, LendKey doesn’t encourage students to submit eligibility requests as other student loan refinancers do.

Return Policy

Yes, you can ‘return’ your loan. LendKey offers a 30 day no-fee return policy to allow you to cancel the loan within 30 days of disbursement without fees or interest. That’s pretty incredible.

Cons

LendKey Doesn’t Give You the Complete Picture

LendKey doesn’t help a lot with stacking institutions against each other. I suppose this is meant to not to play favorites. However, it would be nice to be able to read about each institution within the LendKey interface. I’d still advise opening up another tab to research the banks you are considering.

The Fine Print You May Miss

Since LendKey is a loan matchmaker, there isn’t a lot of fine print on the site. This means a person still needs to review the fine print of each institution before finalizing his or her loan as mentioned before. LendKey does a fantastic job of getting you 90% of the way. But that last 10% of fine print is between you and your lending institution. Read through everything before signing up for a new loan.

I read the Better Business Bureau complaint log for LendKey. There are only 11 complaints in the past 3 years. SoFi (a competitor) has 18 and another competitor, Earnest, has no complaints. These complaints were mostly small misunderstandings between the LendKey support team and the borrowers.

The Application Process

There are four steps to the simple application process. Step 1 is for estimating monthly payments for a private student loan. It’s simple. You identify the amount you’d like to borrow and fill in a radio button indicating your credit is fair, good, or excellent. The last part is where you enter which state you live in. This is because many programs are state specific. Step 1 takes 1 minute.

Step 2 takes 2 minutes. This is the step where you compare the rates and offers available to you. Choose what works best for your unique situation.

Step 3 again only takes 1 minute. This is the actual application. As mentioned earlier in this article, this process is done through the LendKey interface. And don’t worry, information inputted into LendKey is safe (privacy policy).

Step 4 takes 10 minutes. This is the step where a person verifies identity, school, and income (screenshots/pictures work so there’s no hassle with scanning!). You will know if you are approved during this step.

As with any company, there are competitors. Here are two worthy rivals also worth considering:

Alternatives to LendKey

SoFi

SoFi stands out with a job placement programs, free wealth management for borrowers and even a dating app. More importantly, SoFi has low interest rates, with variable rates starting at 2.795% and fixed rates starting at 3.35%.

SoFi

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Earnest

If you have a low credit score but have potential to earn a good income, Earnest will treat you well. Earnest looks beyond a simple credit score. The application process examines employment history, future earning potential and overall financial situation.

Earnest seems to take a very personal approach to each customer. A customer states an amount they can pay each month and Earnest will give them a loan, accordingly. Earnest also lets borrowers skip a payment each year. This could come in handy if money gets tight around the holidays. Just keep in mind, this can increase your future payments to compensate for the missed on.

Fixed interest rates start at 3.35% and variable interest rates start at 2.79%.

However, Earnest isn’t available for all US residents.

Final Thoughts

LendKey runs a fantastic student loan refinancing division. The company offers many, many customizable options with very few downsides. With no application fee, it’s worth seeing what this student loan refinancing powerhouse can do for you.

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Will Lipovsky
Will Lipovsky |

Will Lipovsky is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Will at will@magnifymoney.com

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Reviews, Student Loan ReFi

Review: LendKey Private Student Loan

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

mortar board cash

Updated July 13, 2017

Most private student loans can’t compete with Federal loans when it comes to interest rates. Private loans are typically more expensive, especially if longer repayment periods are offered. (You’ll pay more in interest over the life of your loan.)

However, LendKey provides a different solution. It’s a marketplace that offers you a chance to browse private student loans offered by credit unions and community banks. These institutions usually have better interest rates than big banks. As another bonus, credit unions offer a more personalized banking experience, and tend to be more lenient when it comes to credit history.

If you’ve had a rough time finding a private student loan lender who will work with you, then you should give LendKey a shot.

How Does LendKey Work?

It’s important to understand that LendKey itself is not a lender. It’s a portal you can use to find a lender. Filling out one application (on LendKey’s website) enables you to view all the private loans you’re eligible for from community banks and credit unions that have partnered with LendKey.

Unfortunately, because there are hundreds of banks listed with LendKey, it’s impossible to say what the specifics of each loan are. On its website, LendKey says interest rates start as low as 2.98% APR.

Eligibility Requirements

You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to apply for a private student loan through LendKey. You must also be pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree at an eligible school. You can check to see if your school is eligible in the first section of the application.

Be prepared to join a credit union or community bank if you choose to move forward with a loan offered. Most institutions require that you become a member during the application process. This is standard for credit unions and community banks that have specific membership requirements.

Application Process

The LendKey application process has three steps:

  1. Check your eligibility: You can fill in preliminary information to see if you’re eligible to apply for a loan.
  2. Apply for a loan: If you want to move forward with any loan option presented, you can do so in this step. This requires you to fill out personal information such as your Social Security number and identification information.
  3. Submit documents: LendKey requires you to submit proof of identity (photo ID, such as a Driver’s License), your school transcript, and other documents as needed.

Overall, the application process should take around 15 minutes or less to complete. LendKey will then review the information you’ve provided and give you a decision.

If your credit history isn’t the best (or isn’t very lengthy), you can apply with a cosigner. This gives you a better chance of getting the best interest rates possible on your private student loan. Some lenders affiliated with LendKey may actually require you to apply with a cosigner. Be aware that a hard credit inquiry will be used when you apply.

[What happens when a borrower defaults on a co-signed loan?]

The Fine Print

LendKey claims that there are no origination fees associated with any of the private loans offered by the credit unions or community banks it has partnered with. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any fees; late fees may still apply.

Additionally, a search for credit unions that use the LendKey application revealed one that does charge an origination fee. On The Great Lakes Credit Union page, a 2.5% fee is listed. It states there is an “upfront fee” which “is charged one time at loan disbursement.” As you can see on the page, “Powered by LendKey” is at the bottom.

We strongly recommend reading through the fine print of the organization you choose should you find a loan through LendKey. Don’t be afraid to ask about fees before signing anything.

The disclaimers are also nearly hidden at the bottom of LendKey’s site as you need to click on “Some Disclaimers” to review them.

Pros and Cons of LendKey

There are many advantages to applying for a loan through LendKey:

Pro: After paying back 10% of your loan principal, you’ll be eligible for a 1% interest rate reduction. This is only applicable to those who have entered full repayment status (after your grace period has ended).

Pro: You’re also eligible for a 0.25% interest rate deduction if you enroll in automatic payments. Most lenders offer this.

Pro: Most of the lenders that partner with LendKey don’t charge origination fees for private loans.

Pro: If you apply with a cosigner, a release is available after a certain amount of consecutive payments have been made. For most lenders, this period is between 24 to 48 months.

Pro: Most loans offered through LendKey seem to come with a 30-day return if you decide you don’t want to take the money. No fees or interest will be charged.

Pro: The application process is simple. Instead of having to shop around for loans individually, you have one company that will do it for you. This is much more convenient for you and takes less time.

Pro: LendKey has extensive customer service hours. You can call 888-549-9050 Monday through Friday from 9AM – 8PM ET.

There are several disadvantages to LendKey as well:

Con: You’re dealing with a number of different lenders, and it may be difficult to choose the best from a large list. You should do your own research on the banks LendKey matches you with.

Con: There are possible origination fees even though LendKey claims its lenders don’t charge upfront fees. You should call and confirm if you go with a loan that says its origination fee is 0%.

Con: Many of the individual lenders have loan pages that state the only options for repayment are interest-only or a minimum of $25 per month while in school. This means your loans are never in deferment, unlike Federal student loans.

Con: One large negative to consider with any private student loan is the lack of inherent benefits that come with them. Federal student loans give you more options when it comes to repayment plans and flexibility during tough financial times. It’s worth calling and asking if repayment assistance is offered before you go through with any of these loans.

Con: Some institutions may not offer fixed rates. Variable rates may be lower, but they’re subject to change, which can make it difficult to budget for your student loan payment in the future. Fixed rates offer stability as they’re locked in for the life of your loan.

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Other Private Student Loan Alternatives

Some states may not have as many private student loan choices as others. If you can’t find a loan that fits your needs, you may have to look elsewhere.

Citizen’s Bank: Fixed APRs range from 5.76% to 11.51%, and variable APRs range from 2.69% to 9.15%. You can choose to repay your loans on terms of 5, 10, or 15 years, and the maximum amount you can borrow is $90,000.

citizens-bank (1)

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SunTrust Custom Choice Loan: Fixed APRs range from 4.751% to 10.415% and variable APRs range from 3.21% to 8.672%. A 7 and 10 year repayment term is available, and if you borrow over $5,000, you can choose a 15-year term. The minimum amount required to borrow is $1,001 and the maximum amount is $65,000. SunTrust also offers a 1% reduction on your principal loan balance if you graduate with (at minimum) a Bachelor’s degree.

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It’s worth mentioning that you should exhaust your federal loan options before considering private student loans. Fill out the FAFSA and see how much you’re eligible for. Private student loans should only be used to bridge the gap if federal loans aren’t enough to cover your tuition.

Conclusion

LendKey is a great tool to use if you want to see what your local credit unions and community banks can offer you in terms of private student loans. There’s no application fee, but you should double check origination fees on any loan recommended to ensure you’re not left paying extra for a loan.

It’s also a good idea to shop around for private student loans as you want to get the best rates available. As long as you apply to multiple lenders within a 30-day period, the credit bureaus will count those inquiries as one inquiry. There’s no reason not to apply with more than one lender as one could offer you better rates, saving you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

Erin Millard
Erin Millard |

Erin Millard is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at erinm@magnifymoney.com

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College Students and Recent Grads, Pay Down My Debt, Reviews

CommonBond Student Loan Refinance Loan Review

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

CommonBond Grad Student Loan Refinance Loan Review

Updated July 10, 2017

CommonBond was founded by three Wharton MBAs who felt the sting of student loans after they graduated. The founders decided to provide a better solution for graduates, as they thought the student loan system was broken and in need of reform. As a result, they strive to make the refinance (and borrowing) process as simple and straightforward for graduates as possible.

CommonBond* began by servicing students from just one school, and has rapidly expanded. Today, CommonBond loans are available to graduates of over 2,000 schools nationwide. Although the business started servicing only students with graduate degrees, today CommonBond is also available to refinance undergraduate degrees as well.

CommonBond is one of the top four lenders identified by MagnifyMoney to refinance student loans.

As you might be able to tell by the name, CommonBond thinks of its community as family. There is a network of alumni and professionals within the community that want to help borrowers. This alone sets it apart from other lenders, as members often meet for events.

While these are all great things, we know you’re more interested in how CommonBond might be able to help you make your student loans more affordable. Let’s take a look at what terms and rates they offer, eligibility requirements, and how they compare against other lenders.

Refinance Terms Offered

CommonBond offers low variable and fixed rate loans. Variable rates range from 2.79% – 6.72% APR, and fixed rates range from 3.35% – 6.74% APR.

Note that these rates take a 0.25% auto pay discount into consideration.

There is no maximum loan amount. CommonBond will lend what you can afford to repay. CommonBond offers fixed and variable rates with terms of 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years.

The hybrid loan is only offered on a 10 year term – the first 5 years will have a fixed rate, and the 5 years after that will have a variable rate.

CommonBond has a great chart listing repayment examples based off of borrowing $10,000, which can be found on its rates and terms page.

To pull an example from that, if you borrow $10,000 at a fixed 4.74% APR on a 10 year term, your monthly payment will be $104.80. The total amount you will pay over the 10 year period will be $12,575.90.

The Pros and Cons

CommonBond is available to graduates of 2,000 universities. While that is a very long list, not all colleges and universities are included.

One pro to consider is the hybrid loan option available. It might seem a little confusing at first – why would someone want a variable rate down the road?

If you’re confident you’ll be able to make extra payments on your loan and pay it off before the 5 years are up, you might be better off going with the hybrid option (if you can get a better interest rate on it).

This is because you’ll end up paying less over the life of the loan with a lower interest rate. If you were offered a 10 year loan with a fixed rate of 6.49% APR, and a hybrid loan with a beginning rate of 5.64%, the hybrid option would be the better deal if you’re intent on paying it off quickly.

What You Need to Qualify

CommonBond doesn’t list many eligibility requirements on its website, aside from the following:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • You must have graduated

CommonBond doesn’t specify a minimum credit score needed, but based on the requirements of other lenders, we recommend having a score of 660+, though you should be aiming for 700+. The good news is CommonBond lets you apply with a cosigner in case your credit isn’t good enough.

Documents and Information Needed to Apply

CommonBond’s application process is very simple – it says it takes as little as 2 minutes to complete. Initially, you’ll be asked for basic information such as your name, address, and school.

Once you complete this part, CommonBond will perform a soft credit pull to estimate your rates and terms.

If you want to move forward with the rates and terms offered, you’ll be required to submit documentation and a hard credit inquiry will be conducted. CommonBond lists the following as required:

  • Pay stubs or tax returns (proof of employment)
  • Diploma or transcript (proof of graduation)
  • Student loan bank statement
  • ID, utility bills, lease agreement (proof of residency)

CommonBond also notes it can take up to 5 business days to verify documents submitted, so the loan doesn’t happen instantaneously.

Once your documents are approved, you electronically sign for the loan, and CommonBond will begin the process of paying off your previous lenders. It notes this can take up to two weeks from the time the loan is accepted.

Who Benefits the Most from Refinancing Student Loans with CommonBond?

Borrowers who are looking to refinance a large amount of student loan debt will benefit the most from refinancing with them.

Keeping an Eye on the Fine Print

CommonBond does not have a prepayment penalty, and there are no origination fees nor application fees associated with refinancing.

As with other lenders, there is a late payment fee. This is 5% of the unpaid amount of the payment due, or $10, whichever is less.

If a payment fails to go through, you’ll be charged a $15 fee.

It’s also noted that failure to make payments may result in the loss of the 0.25% interest rate deduction from auto pay.

Transparency Score

Getting in touch with a representative is simple and there is a chat and call option right on the homepage. Some lenders have this hidden at the bottom, or they don’t offer a chat option at all.

CommonBond also lets borrowers know they can shop around within a 30 day period to lessen the impact on their credit.

It does not list its late fees on its website, unlike other lenders. However, after making a chat inquiry, the question was answered promptly.

CommonBond does offer a cosigner release and is ranked with a A+ transparency score.

Alternative Student Loan Refinancing Lenders

The student loan refinancing market continues to get more competitive, and it makes sense to shop around for the best deal.

One of the market leaders is SoFi. It’s always worth taking a look to see if SoFi* offers a better interest rate.

The two lenders are very similar – CommonBond offers “CommonBridge,” a service that helps you find a new job in the event you lose yours. SoFi offers a similar service called Unemployment Protection.

SoFi’s variable rates are currently 2.795% – 6.720% APR with autopay, and its fixed rates are currently 3.35% – 6.74% APR, which is in line with what CommonBond is offering.

SoFi also doesn’t have a limit on how much you can refinance with them.

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Another lender to consider is Earnest. There is no maximum loan amount, and Earnest has a very slick application process. Interest rates start as low as 2.79% (variable) and 3.35% (fixed).

Lastly, you could check out LendKey. It offers student loan refinancing through credit unions and community banks, but only offers variable rates in most states and fixed rates in a select few. The maximum amount to refinance with an undergraduate degree is $125,000, and the maximum amount to refinance with a graduate degree is $175,000.

All three of these options provide forbearance in case of economic hardship and offer similar loan options (5, 10, 15 year terms).

Don’t Forget to Shop Around

As CommonBond initially conducts a soft pull on your credit, you’re free to continue to shop around for the best rates if you’re not happy with the rates it can provide. As the lender states on its website, if you apply for loans within a 30 day period, your credit won’t be affected as much.

Since CommonBond does have strict underwriting criteria, you should continue to shop around and don’t be discouraged if you are not approved. The market continues to get more competitive, and a number of good options are out there.

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*We’ll receive a referral fee if you click on offers with this symbol. This does not impact our rankings or recommendations. You can learn more about how our site is financed here.

 

Erin Millard
Erin Millard |

Erin Millard is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at erinm@magnifymoney.com

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College Students and Recent Grads, Credit Cards, Reviews

Altra Federal Credit Union Student Visa Review: Great Savings for Future Auto Loans

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

The Altra Federal Credit Union Student Visa card is made for college students and helps you build credit while also taking advantage of rewards. You’ll earn 1 point per dollar spent, and double points during the 60 days after opening your card. The rewards points can be redeemed for cash back, travel, merchandise, and more. This card is especially beneficial if you plan on taking out an auto loan in the next few years, as you may be eligible to redeem rewards points for a .25% or .50% interest reduction on an Altra auto loan. The various features Altra provides make this card a good option for students starting their credit journey.

Altra Federal Credit Union Student Visa

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Altra Federal Credit Union Student Visa

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Rewards
1 point per dollar spent
APR
14.90%

Fixed

Credit required
zero-credit
New to Credit
  • Earn double Reward Points on every dollar of purchases in the first 60 days after opening your new account. After, earn 1 point per dollar spent.
  • Points can be redeemed for cash back, travel rewards and merchandise.
  • Redeem 5,000 CU reward points for a .25% point reduction or 10,000 points for a .5% point reduction off an Altra vehicle loan.
  • Each quarter one random cardholder will have their previous month’s purchases paid (up to $500, $50 minimum).
  • Receive a one-year congratulatory letter rewarding you with $20 for maintaining your account in an “exceptional way.”

How the Card Works

Altra offers a credit card designed with students in mind to help you build credit. There is no annual fee for this card, though you may have to pay a $5 membership fee; but more on that later. In addition to a low 14.90% APR, Visa Checkout, and fraud alerts, Altra offers a rewards program. You will earn 1 point per dollar spent on all purchases and will earn double points during the 60 days after opening your new account. This allows you to get a rewards boost while you’re in the honeymoon phase of being a cardholder. However, this may not be the largest rewards program compared to other cards, but it is better than no rewards.

The reward points that Altra offers do not have a standard value like most rewards programs. Instead, points can be redeemed for merchandise or cash back at CURewards.com. Note that there is only one cash back option of $50, and you need 8,334 points to redeem. So you would need to spend $8,334 to receive $50 cash back.

Although you earn unlimited rewards points, they expire after five years — but on the last day of the year. For example, if you earned points on June 1, 2017, they would expire in five years but on the last day of the fifth year — December 31, 2022. As a result, think twice about saving all your points for a large reward because you may lose them.

In addition to a rewards program, Altra will give you a $20 cash back reward at the end of your first year as a cardholder. All you need to do to qualify is to maintain your account in an “exceptional” manner by having no late payments, no over-the-limit usage, and 6 out of 12 months’ activity. This should be an easy $20 since your goal is to pay every statement in full each month.

If that isn’t enough, Altra will choose one cardholder at random each quarter and pay their previous month’s purchases, with a minimum of $50 and maximum of $500 paid. To qualify for this “lottery” you need to be in good standing, which means you pay your bill on time and in full every month, and wait for your lucky day!

If you plan on taking out an auto loan in the next few years, Altra has a unique offer that can save you significant money. You are able to redeem 5,000 points for a .25% interest reduction or 10,000 points for a .50% interest reduction on your Altra auto loan.

Keep in mind that your primary goal with a student card is to create a positive credit history with the hopes of having a credit score in the 700s upon graduation. Don’t let the prospect of rewards hinder your credit and lead to overspending. Some best practices to promote a positive credit score include paying each statement in full and on time and using no more than 20% of your credit limit — meaning don’t max out your card.

How to Qualify

Altra designed this card with students in mind, which means they don’t expect you to have a great credit history, or any at all. Though they do expect you to have a stable source of income, so a job is needed to apply for this card. This will prove that you can afford to make your monthly payments on time and are responsible.

Another requirement Altra has that is unique to credit unions is that you need to be a member to become a cardholder. No worries, though, since the application process is simple. You can either qualify for membership via various eligibility options or by joining the credit union for $5. In addition, while you’re actively using the card you will need to keep $5 in a savings account.

What We Like About the Card

Low APR.

Altra offers a relatively low 14.90% APR, compared to other cards that offer APRs as high as 24.74%. The low APR is beneficial if you don’t pay your balance in full one month and as a result are charged interest. It helps that Altra has an APR 10% lower than competing cards; however, you should always pay your bill in full every month to avoid interest charges and damage to your credit score.

Earn rewards points.

Altra provides you the opportunity to build your credit while also earning rewards. With this card you can earn 1 reward point per dollar spent. Even better is that during the first 60 days after opening your account you will earn double rewards points. Don’t let this get to your head and spend more than you can to maximize your double points. Remember that your primary goal is to build good credit, and earning rewards is only an added bonus. It’s important to note that Altra rewards points do not have a standard value like typical rewards programs from other credit cards. Point value varies based on each redeemable item.

$20 cash back for good behavior.

If at the end of your first year as a cardholder you have no late payments, no over-the-limit usage, and used your card for 6 out of 12 months, you will receive a $20 cash back reward. This is an added perk for responsible cardholders that makes Altra’s card more appealing.

Random winner each quarter.

An added level of excitement is Altra’s bill pay “lottery.” Each quarter Altra will choose one random cardholder and pay their previous month’s purchases, anywhere between $50 and $500. Make sure you’re in good standing to qualify.

Redeem points for a lower interest rate on an Altra vehicle loan.

If a car is in your near future, Altra provides a great option that can save you money. You will receive a .25% or .50% point reduction on your loan by redeeming 5,000 and 10,000 points, respectively. This may save you a significant amount of cash in the long run.

What We Don’t Like About the Card

Foreign transaction fee.

Be careful if you travel abroad since this card charges a 1% foreign transaction fee. This isn’t as high as some cards that charge 3%; however, you can find other student cards that don’t charge a fee when you’re traveling out of the country, such as the Discover it for Students card or the Capital One Journey Student Rewards card.

Need to join the Altra Federal Credit Union.

Unlike credit cards from banks, you have to be a member of the Altra FCU. There are two ways to become a member, and the first option — meet their eligibility requirements — is free. Otherwise you will need to pay a one-time $5 membership fee. All members will also need to have a $5 balance in an Altra savings account that must remain in the account while you have the card open.

Who the Card Is Best For

If you’re a student who doesn’t mind joining a credit union and wants to earn rewards while building your credit score, this card may be right for you. We recommend this card for students who plan on taking out an auto loan since you can benefit greatly from the .25% or .50% interest reduction Altra offers. With numerous cardholder benefits, the Altra FCU Student Visa card is a good choice for students starting their credit journey.

Alternatives

If You Frequently Spend on Gas, Groceries, and Restaurants

The Golden 1 Credit Union Platinum Rewards for Students card is a great card if you want to receive a cash rebate for your purchases. With Golden 1 you will earn a cash rebate instead of rewards points that will be deposited into your account at the end of every month. The cash rebate program also boasts a high 3% rebate for gas, grocery, and restaurant purchases, with 1% for all other purchases. If you frequently spend money in these areas, you’ll be able to maximize your cash rebate. You can become a member of Golden 1 by joining the Financial Fitness Association for $8 per year and keeping at least $5 in a savings account.

If a Credit Union Isn’t for You

Not everyone wants to join a credit union, and there are numerous student credit cards offered by banks. The Discover it for Students card is a great card to help you build credit while earning cash back. With Discover you will earn 5% cash back on quarterly rotating categories and 1% elsewhere — but it doesn’t end there. They also reward students with good grades, match your cash back at the end of the first year, and provide access to your FICO score for free. Overall, Discover is a great card for students who don’t mind tracking rotating categories to maximize cash back.

FAQ

It’s a smart choice to start building your credit while you’re in college so by the time you graduate you have a healthy credit score in the high 600s to mid 700s. As a result, you’ll be in good standing with financial institutions and will benefit from being able to make larger purchases like a new car. Also, if you want to get an additional credit card that offers cash back or rewards, you will be more likely to get approved with a good credit score. Check out our student credit card guide.

To join the Altra Federal Credit Union you may already meet several eligibility options that come at no cost. If not, there is a one-time $5 membership fee. You will also need to have a $5 balance in an Altra savings account that must remain while you have the card open.

You should work hard to make sure you make payments on time every month. A missed payment will lead to a late fee and interest accruing on the balance. This will ultimately leave a negative mark on your credit report and lower your credit score. Try not to spend more than you are able to and stick to a budget with these helpful budgeting apps.

If a credit card isn’t the right product for you, don’t fret, there are other options available. You can build credit by using a secured card or by becoming an authorized user on your parents’ account. A secured card is where you deposit an amount of money that acts as collateral, and the amount you deposit becomes your credit limit. This is a great way to build credit with less risk than a typical credit card. Compare the best secured cards for your needs. Your second option, becoming an authorized user, allows you to piggyback off of someone else’s good credit. You will receive their good credit behavior on your credit report.

Alexandria White
Alexandria White |

Alexandria White is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Alexandria at alexandria@magnifymoney.com

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College Students and Recent Grads, Reviews, Student Loan ReFi

SoFi Parent PLUS Loan Refinance Review

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Senior Couple Talking To Financial Advisor At Home

Updated July 3, 2017

Are you a parent who wanted to help your child finance his or her education, and ended up taking out more loans than anticipated? Many parents find themselves in a precarious situation as they try to plan for retirement and while balancing student loan debt.

If you’re looking to save on the amount of interest you’re paying, SoFi’s Parent PLUS loan refinance program may be right for you.

Details of the Parent PLUS Loan

You can refinance a minimum of $5,000 under SoFi. Fixed rates range from 3.35% to 6.74% APR and variable rates range from 2.80% – 6.47% APR (these rates assume you enroll in autopayment).

Terms of 5, 7, 10, and 15 years are available. Variable rates on terms of 5, 7, and 10 years are capped at 8.95%, while the 15 year term is capped at 9.95%.

An example payment looks like this: if you refinance $10,000 on a 5 year term with a fixed APR of 5.49%, your monthly payment will be $190.97 and you’ll pay a total of $11,457.93 over the life of the loan. If you refinance $10,000 on a 5 year term with a variable APR of 4.2%, your monthly payment will be $185.07 and you’ll pay a total of $11,104.43.

How Does the Parent PLUS Loan From SoFi Compare to a Federal PLUS Loan?

The interest rate for Federal Direct PLUS Loans disbursed on or after July 1st, 2015 and before July 1st, 2016 is 6.84%. During much of the 2000s, interest rates were higher. Currently, interest rates are fixed – variable rates are unavailable.

Most people are looking to refinance to save money, and SoFi offers very competitive rates compared with the Direct PLUS Loan, especially on variable rates.

While there are no fees to refinance, you should calculate your estimated savings before going through the process. Be aware if you do refinance, you’ll lose out on certain benefits that come with having Federal student loans, such as deferment, forbearance, and various repayment options.

PLUS loans made to parents are eligible for the Graduated or Extended Repayment Plans, and Direct PLUS loans are also eligible for forgiveness. In some cases, PLUS loans can be discharged due to the death of the borrower (or student).

Private loans often don’t extend these same benefits. In fact, SoFi explicitly states on its legal page that this loan “is not discharged in the event of death or permanent disability of the borrower or student on whose behalf the loan is taken out.”

Eligibility Requirements

You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and employed to be approved. SoFi is unable to lend in Nevada, and variable rates aren’t offered in Illinois, Ohio, or Tennessee. The loans must have been used to obtain at least a Bachelor’s degree with an eligible school as well.

There are no specific credit score requirements as SoFi tries to take a broader view of borrowers. It focuses on income and credit history instead.

Application Process and Documents Needed

The application process to refinance a PLUS Loan with SoFi is easy and can be done completely online. The application takes around 15 minutes to complete, and you’ll know whether or not you qualify by going through the pre-approval process first. During this portion of the application, a soft credit inquiry is used. If you decide to move forward with the loan offered to you, a hard credit inquiry will be used.

You’ll be asked to upload a few documents, so it’s a good idea to have the following ready to go:

  • Proof of residence – ID with matching address, otherwise a utility bill dated within the last 60 days is okay
  • Proof of income – most recent pay stubs
  • Proof of citizenship – a passport or birth certificate can be provided
  • Verification of loans – most recent loan statements for the loans you’re refinancing

Once you submit this documentation, SoFi’s review team gets to work on evaluating your loan. If no other documentation is needed, reviews can take anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks to complete.

The Fine Print

There isn’t an origination fee or application fee, and there are no prepayment penalties. Rates are determined on a number of factors, including the term you choose, your income, and your credit history.

There are late fees associated with the loan. The Parent PLUS Refinance program is currently offered through SoFi’s lending partner, Mohela, and it assesses any fees owed. When you receive the paperwork for the loan, the fees can be found under the disclosures.

Repayment Assistance Options

If you’re struggling to repay the loan after refinancing with SoFi, we recommend you contact a representative and make them aware of the situation. The worst thing you can do with any loan is not make a payment.

SoFi offers unemployment protection on a case-by-case basis, during which payments can be paused for a period of 3 to 12 months.

Pros and Cons of SoFi Parent PLUS Loan

Pro: SoFi offers much better rates than the 6.84% fixed rate that comes with Direct PLUS loans. If you have a higher interest rate – around 8% – you’ll stand to benefit even more.

Con: As we mentioned, refinancing means losing out on benefits associated with Federal student loans. If you’re not as concerned about needing repayment assistance, the savings might be enough to make refinancing worthwhile.

Pro: SoFi also offers variable interest rates, whereas the most recent Direct PLUS loans don’t. Variable rates can be tricky, though – SoFi says rates may change on a monthly basis. If you value stability and peace of mind, variable rates may not be for you. If you’re trying to pay off your balance quicker, and a lower interest rate would help, then it might be worth considering this option. 

Con: You may have to extend the repayment term to get a lower monthly payment, as SoFi offers terms up to 15 years. Unfortunately, this increases the amount of interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan. It’s important to use a calculator to estimate how much your savings will be to make sure refinancing is worth it. For example, if you have less than 5 years remaining on your loan, refinancing may not save you a lot of money.

Pro: SoFi offers unemployment protection, and you can also take advantage of SoFi’s career assistance program. If you or your child is experiencing trouble finding employment, it will connect you with its network of alumni and give you tools and tips to succeed in your job search.

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Other Parent PLUS Refinance Alternative

If you don’t qualify with SoFi, you can try these lenders that also offer refinancing options:

CommonBond: Fixed APRs range from 3.35% to 6.74%, and variable APRs range start at 2.79%, and terms offered are 5, 10, 15, and 20 years. CommonBond also has hybrid APRs. Only a 10 year term is offered with this choice; it starts off as fixed for 5 years, and changes over to variable for 5 years. There are no origination fees or application fees, no prepayment penalty, and CommonBond actually allows you to transfer your loan to your child (which isn’t allowed with Federal loans). You can borrow a maximum of $110,000.

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Citizens Bank: Citizens Bank refinances Parent PLUS and Direct PLUS loans through its Education Refinance program. The minimum amount you can refinance is $10,000 and up to $90,000 for Bachelor’s degrees and below, $130,000 for graduate and doctoral degrees, and $170,000 for professional degrees. For a Bachelor’s degree and above, you must have made 3 consecutive monthly payments to refinance. For anything less than a Bachelor’s degree, you must have made 12 consecutive monthly payments. The loan you’re refinancing must be in repayment status and can’t be enrolled in an Income-Based Repayment plan. Fixed APRs start at 6.24%. Terms of 5, 10, 15, or 20 years are offered. You need a minimum income of $24,000 to qualify.

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Be sure to shop around as there are other lenders out there that will refinance PLUS loans – you want to make sure you’re getting the best rates and terms available to you so you can save the most. Shopping around within 30 days will only count as one credit inquiry, so your credit won’t get penalized heavily. Take advantage of this and lessen the burden of student loan payments so you can focus on saving for your future.

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Erin Millard
Erin Millard |

Erin Millard is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at erinm@magnifymoney.com

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Reviews, Student Loan ReFi

Laurel Road (formerly DRB) Student Loan Refinance Review

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Students throwing graduation hats

Updated June 30, 2017

Laurel Road (formerly know as DRB – rebranded on June 15) is a division of Darien Rowayton Bank that offers a highly competitive student loan refinance product. In addition to a competitive interest rate, Laurel Road offers some decent loan perks that sets it apart from others.

According to Laurel Road, someone who refinances $100,000 has the potential to save up to $15,000 over the life of a 10 year loan. And in special circumstances like disability or financial hardship, the bank might completely forgive loans or allow for partial payments. Read on for the ins and outs of a Laurel Road loan to see if it’s the right refinance for you.

Loan Details

Laurel Road will refinance up to 100% of Federal, private and Parent PLUS loans. The minimum amount you can refinance is $5,000 and loan terms are available for 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years.

Fixed interest rates are available from 4.20% to 7.20% APR. Starting variable interest rates are available from 3.76% to 6.42% APR. If you choose a variable interest loan, the rate will fluctuate throughout the loan term depending on market conditions. Only consider variable interest if you can pay off your student loan refinance quickly. Otherwise, you might be taking too much interest rate risk since your interest has the potential to increase over time.

The interest rates above include a 0.25% discount for using auto-pay. You just need to set up automatic payment from any checking account in order to get the auto-pay discount.

[Look into refinance options on our table here.]

Loan Qualifications

You must be a working U.S citizen or permanent resident with a degree from an accredited U.S. school program to be eligible. In terms of creditworthiness, Laurel Road does not disclose its underwriting requirements. The requirements can change over time. However, Laurel Road is targeting people with good credit.

To have the best chance of approval, your existing student loans should be in good standing. You should be able to demonstrate affordability and have limited negative marks on your credit report.

A cosigner is not required to be eligible for refinancing although you’ll probably need one if you only meet the minimum credit score or income requirements above. Laurel Road does not have an official co-signer release program. However, a representative of Laurel Road confirmed to MagnifyMoney that Laurel Road will consider a co-signer release upon request of the borrower on a case by case basis.

Laurel Road will ask for documents to backup the details of your application like photo ID, pay stubs, proof of graduation and student loan pay off statements.

Fees & Gotchas

Laurel Road is very transparent with fees. There are no fees for origination or loan prepayment. There’s a late fee of 5% or $28 (whichever one is less) for payments that are over 15 days late. Laurel Road also charges $20 for returned checks or electronic payments whether it’s due to insufficient funds or a closed account.

Pros and Cons

Low interest is the major pro of refinancing with Laurel Road. Loan benefits like forbearance, deferment and loan forgiveness are other advantages. Laurel Road may forgive loans if you die or if you can prove a significant reduction in income due to disability. Hopefully these situations don’t occur, but it’s good to know you and your family is covered if it does.

On a less morbid note, Laurel Road offers full or partial forbearance of payments if you can prove that you’re going through financial hardship. You may also qualify to pay just $100 per month while you complete a full-time post-graduate training program like an internship, fellowship or residency. If you graduate less than 6 months before refinancing, Laurel Road may allow you to defer payments for up to 6 months.

There aren’t many disadvantages of going with Laurel Road other than it not having an official co-signer release program with explicit qualification terms. This may be a turnoff for cosigners since your loan will likely appear on his or her credit report until it’s repaid.

Student Loan Refinance Alternatives

How does Laurel Road stack up to other available student loan refinances?

SoFi has a higher rate cap for fixed interest and a higher starting rate cap for variable interest than Laurel Road. SoFi currently offers variable rates from 2.795% APR and fixed rates from 3.35% APR(if you sign up for autopay). However, the SoFi refinance does come with a benefit comparable to Laurel Road called unemployment insurance. If you’re laid off, SoFi will pause your payments and help you find a new job.

SoFi

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CommonBond has similar rates to Laurel Road. Fixed interest rates are available from 3.35% APR and variable interest rates are available starting at 2.79% APR (if you use autopay). Although to qualify for the CommonBond refinance you must have obtained a degree from one of the graduate programs on its eligibility list. On the other hand, Laurel Road will refinance any loan (graduate or undergraduate) from an accredited program in the U.S.

Who Will Benefit Most From This Refinance?

The Laurel Road refinance may work out really well for people who need to complete a post-graduate training program before finding a job in their profession. Since Laurel Road allows for reduced payments in this circumstance, you’re given some leeway until you can earn your full professional salary. Still, you should compare the benefits of any Federal loans you have to the benefits of a refinance before making a decision.

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Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor at taylor@magnifymoney.com

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Balance Transfer, Reviews

Review: Alliant Credit Union Visa Platinum Card Balance Transfer

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

If you have credit card debt, you are probably paying a high (double-digit) interest rate. One of the best ways to get out of debt faster is to use a 0% balance transfer offer. At MagnifyMoney, our favorite balance transfers have no balance transfer fee. Alliant Credit Union — a credit union that anyone can join — is offering a no-fee 0% balance transfer for 12 months. Although there are longer 0% balance transfers on the market, this is a solid no-fee option that can help you save money and become debt-free faster.

One added perk: Once you become a member of the credit union to take advantage of the balance transfer offer, you will also be able to take advantage of Alliant’s other competitive products. They offer a savings account that pays 1.05% APY. They offer 2.5% cash back on a new credit card. And their mortgage and auto loan rates are some of the lowest in the country. Alliant, one of our favorite credit unions in the country, provides the value you expect from a credit union with the user interface and digital tools that you would expect from a bank.

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Visa® Platinum Card from Alliant CU

Intro Rate
0%

promotional rate

Intro Fee
0%
APR
9.99%-21.99%

Variable

Duration
12 months
Credit required
fair-credit

Average

  • As low as 0% introductory rate for 12 months (After the introductory period, a low standard variable rate applies, ranging from 9.99%-21.99%)
  • No annual fee
  • No balance transfer fee (unless associated with a promotional offer)
  • Generous credit lines
  • $0 fraud liability guarantee

How the Card Works

The Alliant Visa Platinum Card is a very simple, straightforward credit card. There is no annual fee, and there are no rewards. You will probably be given a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months that you have the card (more on that later). Even better — there is no fee for the balance transfer. After 12 months, the APR will range from 9.99% to 21.99%, depending upon your credit score.

Unfortunately, there is one part of this card that is a little complicated — and could lead to disappointment. You are not guaranteed the 0% interest rate for the 12 months. Depending upon your credit score, the interest rate during the 12-month promotional period could be as high as 5.99%. While a 5.99% rate (especially for someone with a less than perfect credit score) could be a good deal — it is certainly not the 0% intro APR being advertised.

In order to get the credit card, you will need to become a member of the credit union. There are a number of ways that you can become a member. Some of the ways are free (for example, you live in a community in Illinois that is covered). But for most people, the easiest way to join is to make a $10 donation to Foster Care to Success. This is an organization that serves foster teens across the U.S. that are “ageing out” of the system. Once you make that contribution, you will be eligible to join the credit union and get the credit card (along with other credit union products). The application process is easy — you just need to select “not a member” at the beginning of the process, and it will walk you through the membership process as part of your credit card application.

The credit card does offer some standard credit card perks, like $0 fraud liability and rental car insurance. However, the real value is the low interest rate that can help you become debt-free fast.

If you want to earn rewards, Alliant does offer another card — the Visa Platinum Rewards Card. This card has the same balance transfer offer (0% for 12 months with no balance transfer fee). But with this card, you also earn rewards. You can earn 2 points for every $1 spent on the card. However, the APRs (after the balance transfer period) will be higher. In general, we advise people to separate their spending from their borrowing. Cards that offer no rewards tend to have lower interest rates, and cards with rewards have higher interest rates — as we see in this case. If you are looking to become debt-free, it is probably better to ignore rewards and get the lowest interest rate possible.

How to Qualify for the Card

Alliant targets people with good or excellent credit. In general, that means you have a decent chance of being approved if your score is in the mid-600s, but you have a much better chance of being approved if your score is above 700.

In addition, Alliant (like all lenders) will need to be comfortable that you will be able to afford your payments. That means you will need to have a steady source of income. In addition, the lender will likely look at your total debt in relation to your income. If you have too much debt, you will find it more difficult to get approved.

What We Like About the Card

No fee for the balance transfer.

There is nothing better than free. And with no balance transfer fee and no interest for 12 months, that is exactly what you get. Pay down as much of the debt as possible during the promotional period — because every dollar of every payment will go toward principal.

It is from a credit union.

At MagnifyMoney, we like credit unions — in theory. As member-owned organizations, credit unions do not need to worry about shareholders and should be able to offer better value and lower interest rates. Unfortunately, far too many credit unions have websites that look like they were designed in the 1990s. With Alliant, we finally have a credit union that has made the application process easy, and has a great website. Alliant is delivering on the true potential of a credit union.

What We Don’t Like About the Card

It is not the longest balance transfer.

There are a number of longer no-fee balance transfer options on the market. You can get a no-fee balance transfer for as long as 15 months from some of the leading banks in the country.

You are not guaranteed a 0% intro offer — the rate could be higher.

In the fine print, Alliant makes it clear that you might not get a 0% intro rate. The intro rate could be as high as 5.99%, depending upon your credit score. The only silver lining: Alliant is willing to give intro rates to people with less than perfect credit. But we still find it a bit annoying that you could apply for a 0% intro rate and end up with a 5.99% rate instead.

Joining the credit union costs money.

If you can’t find a free way to join the credit union, you will have to make a $10 donation. We certainly like the cause that you would be supporting. However, it is still additional money that you would need to spend in order to get access to the product.

How to Complete a Balance Transfer

Completing the balance transfer is easy. During the application process, you can provide the credit card number of your existing credit cards (where the debt is located now). Alliant will then make a payment to your existing credit card companies.

Alternatively, you can call Alliant once you have the card to complete the balance transfer on the phone.

Just remember these tips:

  • If you start the balance transfer close to the payment date, you might want to make the minimum payment to ensure you don’t get hit with any late charges. Although balance transfers usually process quickly — they can take a couple of weeks. And you would not want to get stuck with a late fee.
  • Get the transfer done as quickly as possible. The 0% is for 12 months from when you open the account — not from when you transfer the debt. The faster your transfer the debt, the more money you can save.

Alternatives to the Card

If You Want a Longer Intro Period and No Balance Transfer Fee

With Barclaycard Ring, you can get 0% intro APR for 15 months on a balance transfer and no intro balance transfer fee — so long as you complete the transfer within 45 days of opening the card. Just remember: Barclaycard only accepts people with excellent credit.

Barclaycard is the American credit card division of Barclays Bank. Barclays is a large British bank, and you don’t need a branch near you to get the card.

Who Benefits Most from the Card

If you have credit card debt that you think you can pay off in a year, this is a great option. With no balance transfer fee and 0% interest for one year — you can pay down your debt quickly. If you think it will take longer to pay off your debt, you might want to consider a longer balance transfer from a more traditional bank.

FAQs

Yes, anyone can join. During the application process, you will be asked if you are already a member of the credit union. Just select “not a member” and you can join during the application process.

Once the introductory period is over, interest will start to accrue at the standard purchase interest rate on a go-forward basis. Interest during the introductory period is waived — so you do not need to worry about a retroactive interest charge.

In the short term, your credit score will probably take a small hit (5-10 points) because you applied for new credit. However, over time, a balance transfer can increase your credit score with proper practices. This is because while new credit makes up 10% of your credit score, the amount you owe accounts for 30%. By using a balance transfer, you will reduce your interest rate. That should help you get out of debt a lot faster.

Liz Stapleton
Liz Stapleton |

Liz Stapleton is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Liz here

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Balance Transfer, Reviews

Citi Simplicity Review: Now 0% Balance Transfer for 21 Months

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Citi Simplicity has one of the longest 0% balance transfer offers on the market. If you transfer credit card debt to Simplicity, you will get a 0% intro APR for an incredible 21 months. There is a 3% balance transfer fee. You should do the math (and we will help you later in this post) — but for most people the fee is worth paying. As the name implies, Citi has tried to make this card “simple.” That means no late fees, no annual fee, and no penalty APR. It also means no rewards. If you have credit card debt at a high interest rate, Simplicity can help you save a lot of money and become debt-free faster if you use it wisely.

Citi Simplicity® Card

APPLY NOW Secured

on Citibank’s secure website

Citi Simplicity® Card

Intro Rate
0%

promotional rate

Intro Fee
3%
APR
14.49%-24.49%

Variable

Duration
21 months
Credit required
fair-credit

Average

  • The ONLY card with No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee… EVER.
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 21 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.49% - 24.49% based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The same great rate for all balances, after the introductory period.
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day – just say “representative”
  • Enjoy the convenience of setting up your own bill payment schedule on any available due date throughout the month.

How the Card Works

The card gets its name, Citi Simplicity, from its effort to keep things simple. There is never an annual fee, late fee, or penalty rate. There is an introductory offer of 0% for 21 months which includes balance transfers made within the first four months of opening the card and all purchases made during the 21-month period. After 21 months your rate will depend on your creditworthiness. Additionally, after the introductory rate ends, you will see the same interest rate for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances.

The Introductory Offer

This is the longest 0% purchase offer that we have found on the market. If you need to finance a purchase, it will be hard to find a better deal. What we particularly like about this 0% APR is that the interest is waived, not deferred. Most store credit cards only defer the interest (and for far fewer than 21 months), and you would be hit with a big penalty if you don’t pay the balance in full before the promotional period is over. That is not the case with Citi Simplicity.

In addition to the 0% purchase offer, there is also a very strong 0% balance transfer offer. You will pay no interest for 21 months, but will need to pay a 3% balance transfer. If you think you can pay your debt in full within 6 months, a balance transfer is usually not worthwhile. However, if you think it will take longer than 6 months, the fee is usually worth it and you can use this calculator to see how much you can save.

Here is an example to help understand the math. If you are making a monthly payment of $300 on $10,000 of credit card debt at a current interest rate of 17% and you transfer it to the Citi Simplicity card, you will be charged a $300 upfront fee. However, during the 21-month promotional period you would save over $2,000 — making the $300 fee worthwhile.

What Happens After 21 Months

Even if you still have a balance at the end of the 21 months, interest will start to accrue on your remaining balance on a go-forward basis. There is no penalty, and no retroactive interest will be applied.

No Late Fee

Most credit cards charge a late fee of around $30 when you miss paying at least the minimum payment by the deadline. However, the Citi Simplicity does away with this fee and will let you choose your payment due date when you sign up.

However, just because Citi doesn’t charge a late fee doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for making a late payment. If your payment is more than 30 days late, Citi would report that information to the credit bureau. This can have a negative impact on your credit score that can result in higher interest rates when you later apply for new lines of credit.

No Penalty Rate

Most credit cards in addition to charging a late fee will penalize you with an increased interest rate when you are late with a payment. This rate could be somewhere in the 30% range for purchases moving forward. The Citi Simplicity Card promises no penalty rate, meaning even if you are late with a payment, after all mistakes happen, you won’t be gouged with your credit card interest rate. However, if you bounce a check for payment, then you can be charged $35.

Same Interest Rate No Matter What You Use Your Card For

The Citi Simplicity card, keeping things simple, makes the interest rate for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances all the same. Many other credit cards will have different interest rates for each.

Price Protection

It’s already been mentioned that the Citi Simplicity card does not offer any rewards programs. However, they do offer some price protection. It’s called Citi Price Rewind. After you make a purchase with your card, you can register that purchase with Citi. Then Citi will search for lower prices across hundreds of online retailers. If Citi finds it at a lower price within 60 days, you will receive the difference between what you paid and the lower price found, up to $500 per purchase and $2,500 per year.

The only downside is this benefit only applies to certain purchases. For example, it doesn’t apply to purchasing a car, but can apply for tires purchased. You can view the full list of what qualifies here. If you find a lower price yourself, then you can submit a Price Rewind Benefit Request.

How to Qualify for the Card

You need to have good or excellent credit in order to be approved for the credit card.

In addition to a strong credit score, you will also need to demonstrate your ability to repay the debt. Citi will look at your total debt relative to your income to ensure that you are not too deep into debt. This product is not a way for people in trouble to get a lower rate — it is a way for Citi to get borrowers with a good profile who want a lower interest rate.

What We Like About the Card

A very long 0% period.

At a 3% balance transfer fee, this is the longest balance transfer on the market. Time is money — and every additional month at 0% can represent considerable savings.

Fewer “gotcha” fees.

Although we hope you never need to take advantage of these benefits, the card has no late fees and no penalty APR. In order to avoid even the risk of a late fee, we strongly recommend that you automate your monthly payments. However, mistakes can happen — and we do applaud Citi for removing some of the most annoying fees.

Price Rewind — it is actually a nice feature.

Price Rewind is a feature that is not used enough. Citi will look for a better deal — and give you the difference if you overpaid. This isn’t just a promise — we have spoken with people who have benefited from this feature.

What We Don’t Like About the Card

There is a balance transfer fee.

In most cases, and for most people, the fee will more than pay for itself. However, there are other balance transfer deals on the market that don’t have a fee. Just make sure you do the math to ensure that the fee is worth paying in your situation.

The rate after the 0% intro offer is not low.

After the intro period is over, the go-to purchase APR is not low. It ranges from the teens to the 20s, depending upon your credit risk. Hopefully, the 21-month period is long enough to eliminate your debt completely.

How to Complete a Balance Transfer

After receiving your card, you should call the number on the back of your card to initiate the balance transfer. You will need to give the credit card number of the credit card that has the debt. You cannot transfer debt from another Citi credit card (including its co-brand cards).

Although it can take less time, Citi warns that a balance transfer takes at least 14 days to complete. And you will remain responsible for making all payments on your card until the transfer is complete. We recommend paying close attention so that you do not end up with any late fees on your existing cards.

Alternatives to the Card

If You Want to Avoid a Balance Transfer Fee

There’s a good option if you want to avoid a balance transfer fee from Barclaycard.

With Barclaycard Ring, you can get 0% for 15 months on balance transfer and no balance transfer fee — so long as you complete the transfer within 45 days of opening the card. Just remember: Barclaycard only accepts people with excellent credit.Barclaycard is the American credit card division of Barclays Bank. Barclays is a large British bank.

Who Benefits Most from the Card

If you have a lot of credit card debt that will take a long time (more than 15 months) to pay off, this card is a great option. Over 21 months, the savings can be incredible. Just make sure you take advantage of the 0% period to attack your debt as quickly as possible.

FAQs

No — you do not need excellent credit. Citi will approve anyone with good or excellent credit.

Once the introductory period is over, interest will start to accrue at the standard purchase interest rate on a go-forward basis. Interest during the introductory period is waived — so you do not need to worry about a retroactive interest charge.

In the short term, your credit score will probably take a small hit (5-10 points) because you applied for new credit. However, over time, a balance transfer can increase your credit score with proper practices. This is because while new credit makes up 10% of your credit score, the amount you owe accounts for 30%. By using a balance transfer, you will reduce your interest rate. That should help you get out of debt a lot faster.

Liz Stapleton
Liz Stapleton |

Liz Stapleton is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Liz here

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Advertiser Disclosure

Balance Transfer, Credit Cards, Reviews

Review: Aspire Credit Union Platinum MasterCard Balance Transfer

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

When you have a less than stellar credit score, and you’re battling credit card debt, it can seem like a steep uphill battle. You want a balance transfer, but finding a card that you qualify for and that has a low introductory rate for balance transfers can be tough. This is where the Aspire Platinum MasterCard (from a credit union) comes into play.

It offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first six months. It also doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee during the introductory period. There is no annual fee, and the standard purchase APR is much lower than the competition. This is the best balance transfer for fair credit that we could find on the market.

MasterCard Platinum from Aspire FCU

APPLY NOW Secured

on Aspire Credit Union’s secure website

MasterCard Platinum from Aspire FCU

Intro Rate
0%

promotional rate

Intro Fee
2%
APR
9.15%-18.00%

Variable

Duration
6 months
Credit required
fair-credit

Average

  • No annual fee
  • 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 6 months
  • After intro period variable 9.15%-18.00% APR
  • 2% balance transfer fee, waived during the intro period
  • 1% foreign transaction fee
  • Generous credit limits

How the Card Works

In order to apply for this credit card, you need to open a savings account and maintain a minimum deposit of $5, and you will need to be a member of the credit union. Fortunately, anyone can join the credit union. During the credit card application process, you can elect to join the American Consumer Council (at no cost), which will make you eligible for all credit union products.

The credit card itself is relatively simple. The Platinum MasterCard has been created for people with fair to good credit. The card has a good intro balance transfer offer and much lower ongoing interest rates than traditional credit card companies.

The balance transfer offer is relatively simple. You will get a 0% introductory APR for six months with no balance transfer fee during this period. Although there are much longer balance transfer offers in the market, most of those are not available to people with fair credit. So, although this is a relatively short balance transfer, it might be the best offer for someone with fair credit.

The card has no annual fee. After the 0% intro offer the interest rate will revert to the standard purchase APR, which is from 8.90% to 18%. Most credit card issuers tend to start in the teens and end in the 20s (14%-24%, for example). These are very good rates — and for people with fair credit, these could be excellent rates.

Just remember: You can only transfer debt from other credit card issuers. That is probably not an issue (because you most likely do not already have debt with Aspire), but it is something to remember. Also, the 0% offer lasts for six months from the date you open the card, not six months from the date you transfer the debt. So you should get the transfer done as soon as possible.

How to Qualify for the Card

The Aspire Platinum MasterCard is designed for those with a fair to good credit score, somewhere between 600 and 700. If you fall in this range, you are likely to qualify.

Just remember that credit score is only part of the underwriting decision. Most credit card issuers, including this credit union, will want to know that you can afford to repay the debt. That means you will need to have a job and sufficient income.

What We Like About the Card

Finally, a balance transfer for people with fair credit.

If you have fair credit, it can be impossible to get approved for a balance transfer offer. This is one of the only (and by default, best) deals that we could find to get a 0% balance transfer. Just remember: This offer is for people with fair to good credit. If you have good credit, you can find a much better deal with someone else (with a longer balance transfer). But if you have fair credit (low 600s), this is probably one of the best deals out there.

Low ongoing APR.

Because this balance transfer offer is only for six months, you will probably still have debt remaining after the balance transfer is over. Fortunately, Aspire offers credit union rates. There are no rewards on the card — but that helps to keep the interest rate low.

What We Don’t Like About the Card

Short introductory period.

The Aspire card has a very short introductory period of only six months. This is low compared to other cards that have intro periods around 15 months and can be as many as 21 months (or more). If you have good credit, you can find better deals elsewhere.

No rewards program.

You might also take note that the Aspire Platinum MasterCard does not include any rewards program. Aspire offers the Platinum Rewards MasterCard and World Rewards MasterCard as rewards card options. However, they both require a good to excellent credit score.

How to Complete a Balance Transfer

To transfer your existing credit card debt to a new balance transfer credit card, you need to call your new credit card company and give them your old account number. Then they will pay off that credit card for you and tack that debt onto your new card. There are a few things to make note of before you complete a balance transfer to ensure the most benefit:

  • Note that you can’t transfer balances between cards from the same bank.
  • Make sure you request a balance transfer within six months of receiving your new credit card or receiving an offer.
  • Check to make sure the terms of the balance transfer match the offer you received.
  • Make sure you always pay your bill on time or you may lose your balance transfer offer.

Alternatives to the Card

If you have fair credit (low 600s), this might be one of your only options. However, if you have good or excellent credit, there are much better balance transfer deals on the market.

Many cards offer an introductory period of at least 12 months, and some offer introductory periods of 21 months or longer. These cards also do not charge an annual fee or new member fee.

If You Want a Longer Intro Period (And Are Willing to Pay a Transfer Fee)

The Citi Simplicity Credit Card has a 0% introductory period for 21 months. This is one of the longest intro periods we have seen and can be extremely beneficial. There is a 3% balance transfer fee that isn’t waived during the intro period, unlike Aspire. However, the length of the intro period may save you money if you have a large amount of debt and need time to pay it off. Besides no annual fee, Citi Simplicity boasts no late fees and no penalty rate. The APR for Citi is higher than Aspire, ranging from 14.49% to 24.49%, but if you plan on paying off your debt before the end of the intro period and pay each statement on time, the APR won’t be a major point.

If You Want a Longer Intro Period and No Balance Transfer Fee

The Barclaycard Ring is another option for balance transfers. Save with no balance transfer fee and get 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers made within 45 days of opening the account. Just make sure you complete your balance transfer within 45 days of opening the account.

Who Benefits Most from the Card

The short introductory period makes the Aspire Platinum MasterCard a good option for people with a fair credit score who have a debt to pay off. Not only do you get a nice low intro rate, but the ongoing APR will likely be lower than your current credit card.

However, if you have good credit, then you could easily get a balance transfer card with a longer introductory period.

FAQs

Yes, anyone can join at no cost. When you apply for the card, you will also be asked to register as a member of the credit union, at no additional cost. All that is needed is for you to deposit $5 in a savings account. Note that the $5 must remain in the account during the length of time you have the credit card.

Once the introductory period is over, interest will start to accrue at the standard purchase interest rate on a go-forward basis. Interest during the introductory period is waived — so you do not need to worry about a retroactive interest charge.

In the short term, your credit score will probably take a small hit (5-10 points) because you applied for new credit. However, over time, a balance transfer can increase your credit score with proper practices. This is because while new credit makes up 10% of your credit score, the amount you owe accounts for 30%. By using a balance transfer, you will reduce your interest rate. That should help you get out of debt a lot faster.

Liz Stapleton
Liz Stapleton |

Liz Stapleton is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Liz here

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