Tag: Citizens Bank

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Citizens Bank Review: CDs, Checking, Savings, Money Market, and IRA Accounts

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.

Citizens Bank
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Although Citizens Bank is one of the largest banks in the nation, it only got its start relatively recently, in 2005. Since then, it has become the largest bank in Rhode Island (where it’s headquartered) and opened over 1,200 local branches along the East Coast and in the Midwest.

We wanted to know: How do the deposit accounts at Citizens Bank stack up with the competition? What are the hidden “gotchas” and what do you need to know before opening an account?

The interest rates that Citizens Bank offers on its deposit accounts vary according to where you live. So, to make things simple, we’ll compare their rates across accounts in the 02903 zip code (Providence, R.I.) where its headquarters is located. To find out the rates in your area, click on the link “Specify Your Location” on their homepage.

All rates are current as of Jan. 2, 2018.

Citizens Bank CD Rates

Citizens Bank offers limited options for CDs and very low rates unless you also have an existing premium account with them.

 

12-Month Breakable CD

14-Month CD

48-Month CD

Standard APY

0.05%

0.10%

0.10%

APY with Platinum Checking

0.10%

1.15%

1.55%

APY with Platinum Plus Checking

0.20%

1.40%

1.70%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000 for the 14 and 48 month CDs and $10,000 for the 12 month CD
  • How interest is compounded: Interest is calculated based off of your daily balance, then tallied up and deposited into your account monthly.
  • Early withdrawal penalties: $50 plus whichever of the following two options is less:
        1. 180 days’ worth of interest on the withdrawn amount
        2. Half of the remaining interest you would have earned
  • Grace period: Your CD will automatically roll over to another CD with the same term. However, you have a 10-day grace period to withdraw or add funds without paying an early withdrawal penalty.

12-Month Breakable CD

The bar for opening this CD is set very high: You’ll need to come to the table with at least $10,000. In return, you will earn interest, but at very low rates even if you qualify for a higher rate by also holding a platinum-level checking account.

One of the benefits of this account is that you’re allowed to make one full or partial withdrawal of your cash during its 12-month term without paying an early-withdrawal penalty. If you think you might need to withdraw the cash before the term ends, this may be a wise choice.

14-Month CD

This CD is much more accessible for people with smaller amounts of cash because it only requires one tenth of the money as the 12-month breakable CD. The rate for this CD is also a lot better — but only if you have an existing Platinum or Platinum Plus Checking Account.

48-Month CD

This CD is interesting. It’s also fairly accessible for people with smaller opening deposits. However, unless you have one of the Platinum checking accounts, there’s no real incentive to open a 48-month CD over a 14-month CD because the rates are exactly the same.

In fact, if these two CDs pay the same interest rate for non-Platinum checking account members, it’s probably better to stick with the 14-month CD because you’ll earn exactly the same interest rate and you’ll get more frequent access to your money if you need it.

How Citizens Bank CD rates compare

Citizens Bank clearly wants you to be a Platinum Checking Account member, and these CDs only make sense if you are one. The rates offered for Platinum Checking Account holders on their 14-month and 48-month CDs are actually slightly better than national averages.

Otherwise, if you’re just walking into this bank off the street (or logging in), pass this one up. You can earn much better CD rates elsewhere without the checking account requirements.

How to get a Citizens Bank CD

If you decide a Citizens Bank CD is right for you, good news: It only takes about 10 minutes to apply for an account, and you can apply online or in a local branch. All you’ll need is basic personal information (including your social security number), a government-issued photo ID, and some way to fund your account.

You can fund it with a check, or a credit or debit card, but heads up: If you go the card route, you can only make the minimum opening deposit of $1,000 — you can’t deposit anything more than that.

Citizens Bank Checking Account Options

The checking accounts at Citizens Bank offer few benefits in exchange for high fees and requirements — however, they may be useful if earning higher rates on another product is your endgame.

One Deposit Checking from Citizens Bank®

  • Minimum opening deposit: Any amount.
  • Interest rate: None.
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $9.99
  • How to waive monthly maintenance fee: Citizens Bank will waive the fee if you’re a minor, or if you have at least one deposit into your account each statement period.
  • ATM fees: None for Citizens Bank ATMs. $3 for using non-Citizens Bank ATMs, plus whatever surcharge fees the ATM’s owner charges.
  • ATM fee refunds? None.
  • Overdraft fee: $35 per item (up to seven per day).

Even though this is Citizens Bank’s most basic-level checking account, it isn’t one you can walk away from and leave on autopilot. You’ll need to make at least one deposit into the account each statement period in order to avoid the exorbitant $9.99 monthly fee.

Not only that, but it will cost you to use this account anyway — at least indirectly. Checks do not come free with this account. You’ll need to pay at least $9.99 for an order of checks if you want to, you know, write checks from your checking account.

Citizens Bank Platinum Checking™

  • Minimum opening deposit: Any amount.
  • Interest rate: 0.02% APY for any amount in your account.
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $25
  • How to waive monthly maintenance fee: Keep at least $25,000 across all of your Citizens Bank investment and deposit accounts.
  • ATM fees: None for Citizens Bank ATMs. $3 for using non-Citizens Bank ATMs, plus whatever surcharge fees the ATM’s owner charges.
  • ATM fee refunds? Your first four non-Citizens Bank ATM charges will be waived each statement period (but not the ATM surcharge).
  • Overdraft fee: No fee for overdraft transfers or overdraft lines of credit.

This is Citizens Bank’s lowest premium-level checking account. If you have this account, you can qualify for higher rates on CDs, savings accounts, and money market accounts, a 0.125% discount on a mortgage, and waived fees for things like paper statements or stop check orders. Plus, you’ll get free checks. You can also earn interest with this account, albeit at a very low level.

In return, Citizens Bank wants you to keep a fairly high amount of cash with them in deposit and investment accounts. Make sure you can commit to this so you don’t have to face the high $25 monthly fee.

Citizens Bank Platinum Plus Checking™

Amount

$0-$24,999

$25,000-$249,999

$250,000+

APY

0.03%

0.05%

0.07%

  • Minimum opening deposit: Any amount.
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $25
  • How to waive monthly maintenance fee: You’ll need to keep at least $25,000 in linked deposit or investment accounts, plus one of the following two requirements: either deposit at least $5,000 per month into your account, or keep at least $10,000 in your account.
  • ATM fees: None for Citizens Bank ATMs. $3 for using non-Citizens Bank ATMs, plus whatever surcharge fees the ATM’s owner charges.
  • ATM fee refunds? Your first four non-Citizens Bank ATM charges will be waived each statement period (but not the ATM surcharge).
  • Overdraft fee: No fee for overdraft transfers or overdraft lines of credit.

This is basically the same account as the lower-level Citizens Bank Platinum Checking account with one extra bonus: a slightly higher, but still overall lackluster, interest rate.

In return for this higher interest rate you’ll need to jump through a few extra hoops (in addition to having at least $25,000 in linked deposit or investment accounts): keep an average of at least $10,000 in your checking account, or deposit at least $5,000 into your checking account each statement period.

How Citizens Bank checking accounts compare

Most checking accounts at large national banks set the bar fairly high to waive their outrageous monthly fees in return for low interest rates. Citizens Bank is no exception. Rather than using this account for its low interest rate, however, think outside the box: You actually can earn some decent rates on CDs if you hold one of the Platinum checking accounts.

If you can meet the requirements on these Platinum checking accounts, want to earn higher rates on CDs, and if Citizens Bank is convenient for you to work with, then this bank might make sense for you.

However, it’s still possible to find higher interest rates with fewer pesky requirements by opening a checking account with one of these online banks.

How to get a Citizens Bank checking account

If you decide a Citizens Bank Checking Account is right for you, good news: it only takes about 10 minutes to apply for an account, and you can apply online or in a local branch. All you’ll need is basic personal information (including your social security number), a government-issued photo ID, and some way to fund your account.

You can fund it with a check or a credit or debit card, but again, if you go the card route, you can only make the minimum opening deposit of $1,000 — you can’t deposit anything more than that.

Citizens Bank Savings Account Options

Citizens Bank does offer savings accounts with some neat features, but they’re still plagued with low interest rates and potentially high fees.

GoalTrack Savings®

GoalTrack Savings is a savings reward program that you can enroll in with any savings account, except for the CollegeSaver and Citizens Bank HomeBuyer Savings accounts. If you enroll in this program, you have to make a pledge: I will save X dollars each month for X months.

If you reach your goal, Citizens Bank will reward you with a gift card to certain merchants such as Best Buy, Lowe’s, Hyatt, or Pizza Hut. The amount of the gift card may be as follows:

Months

$25-$49

$50-$99

$100-$199

$200-$399

$400+

8-11

Discount at a merchant

$5

$5

$10

$20

12-17

$5

$5

$10

$20

$40

18-23

$5

$10

$20

$40

$75

24-35

$10

$20

$40

$75

$100

36+

$20

$40

$75

$100

$250

Green Savings®

  • Minimum opening deposit: Any amount.
  • Interest rate: 0.01% APY for any amount in your account.
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $4.99
  • How to waive the monthly maintenance fee: Fee is waived for the first four months of account opening. After that, the fee is waived if you keep an average of at least $200 in your account every day.
  • ATM fees: None for Citizens Bank ATMs. $3 for using non-Citizens Bank ATMs, plus whatever surcharge fees the ATM’s owner charges.
  • ATM fee refunds? None.
  • Excessive transaction fee: You’re allowed six certain transactions per month as per Federal Regulation D. After that, you’ll be charged $15 per transaction.

Citizens Bank’s Green Savings account is their most basic savings account. It’s also their only savings account to charge a fee, which you can avoid as long as you keep a small amount of cash ($200) in this account.

That means that this account isn’t meant to ever be drained completely lest you face the pesky monthly fee. Make sure you take that into account — i.e., if you’re saving for a specific goal, you’ll need to bump up your savings target by $200 to leave enough in this account after you withdraw the cash.

Citizens Bank Platinum Savings™

  • Minimum opening deposit: Any amount.
  • Interest rate: 0.02% for any amount in your account.
  • Monthly maintenance fee: None.
  • ATM fees: None for Citizens Bank ATMs. $3 for using non-Citizens Bank ATMs, plus whatever surcharge fees the ATM’s owner charges.
  • ATM fee refunds? None.
  • Excessive transaction fee: You’re allowed six certain transactions per month as per Federal Regulation D. After that, you’ll be charged $15 per transaction.

This account comes standard with Citizens Bank’s Platinum Checking account. Although this account doesn’t have a monthly maintenance fee, the checking account does: $25, unless you qualify to have the fee waived.

The benefits of this savings account aren’t much greater than Green Savings, which you can open without a demanding checking account. Thus, we only recommend this account if you’re interested in the Platinum Checking account anyway.

Citizens Bank Platinum Plus Savings

Amount

$0-$24,999

$25,000-$249,000

$250,000+

APY

0.03%

0.05%

0.07%

  • Minimum opening deposit: Any amount.
  • Monthly maintenance fee: None.
  • ATM fees: None for Citizens Bank ATMs. $3 for using non-Citizens Bank ATMs, plus whatever surcharge fees the ATM’s owner charges.
  • ATM fee refunds? None.
  • Excessive transaction fee: You’re allowed six certain transactions per month as per Federal Regulation D. After that, you’ll be charged $15 per transaction.

This is Citizens Bank’s most premium-level savings account. It also comes standard with a Platinum Checking account, meaning that you’ll have to pay a $25 monthly fee for that account as well unless you qualify to have the fee waived.

In return, you get slightly higher savings account rates, as well as higher rates on things like CDs and money market accounts.

CollegeSaver®

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25 if your child is under 6 years old. $500 if your child is 6-12 years old.
  • Interest rate: 0.05% for any amount in your account.
  • Monthly maintenance fee: None.
  • Minimum monthly deposit: If your child is under 6 years old, you’ll need to deposit $25 per month until his or her 18th birthday. If your child is between 6 to 12 years old, you’ll need to deposit $50 per month until his or her 18th birthday.
  • Excessive transaction fee: You’re allowed six certain transactions per month as per Federal Regulation D. After that, you’ll be charged $15 per transaction.

If you’re looking to save up some extra cash for your kid’s college bill, the CollegeSaver account might be able to help. Be warned, though: it does have some steep requirements. You’ll have to commit to depositing at least $25 into the account ($50 if your child is between ages 6-12) every single month until their 18th birthday. If you can do this, you’ll get a nice bonus: When your child turns 18, Citizens Bank will throw an extra $1,000 into your savings account.

This is a nice idea, but unfortunately this account still doesn’t earn much interest — just 0.05% APY. If saving for your kid’s college is a priority, you may be better off investing that money in a tax-advantaged savings account such as a 529 plan or a Coverdell account.

Citizens Bank HomeBuyer Savings®

  • Minimum opening deposit: $100
  • Interest rate: 0.05% for any amount in your account.
  • Monthly maintenance fee: None.
  • Minimum monthly deposit: $100
  • Excessive transaction fee: You’re allowed six certain transactions per month as per Federal Regulation D. After that, you’ll be charged $15 per transaction.

If you’re saving for a house, you might want to consider the Citizens Bank HomeBuyer program. If you can commit to saving $100 per month for 36 months straight, you can get a $1,000 credit toward the closing costs on a Citizens Bank mortgage (assuming you qualify). You also get a free pass to skip one monthly deposit per year without losing eligibility for the $1,000 credit.

If you do earn the credit, be prepared to use it fairly soon: You have another 36 months after you earn the credit to complete the purchase of a home, or lose it.

This sounds like a good plan (and it very well may be), but remember: Just because you get a $1,000 credit at the start of your mortgage doesn’t mean it’ll be cheaper in the long run.

Who knows what mortgage interest rates Citizens Bank will be charging three years from now and whether they’ll be competitive or not. You might end up saving $1,000 now only to shell out thousands more later.

How Citizens Bank savings accounts compare

While we do like some of the unique savings accounts that Citizens Bank offers (specifically the savings accounts for college and home down payments), we think that the interest rates offered are still very low.

Furthermore, their savings accounts either come with unnecessarily high fees, or are linked to checking accounts that do have high fees.

Unless there’s something really tying you to Citizens Bank, we think that you can earn a lot more and pay a lot less with other online savings accounts.

How to get a Citizens Bank Savings account

If you decide a Citizens Bank savings account is right for you, good news: It only takes about 10 minutes to apply for an account, and you can apply online or in a local branch. All you’ll need is basic personal information (including your social security number), a government-issued photo ID, and some way to fund your account.

You can fund it with a check or a credit or debit card, but once again, if you go the card route, you can only make the minimum opening deposit of $1,000 — you can’t deposit anything more than that.

Citizens Bank Money Market Account Options

The rates you can earn on these money market accounts are generally rock-bottom, unless you can qualify for the promotional rates offered on the premium-level accounts.

Personal Money Market

  • Minimum opening deposit: Any amount.
  • Interest rate: 0.01% APY for any amount in your account.
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $10
  • How to waive the monthly maintenance fee: Keep a minimum of $2,500 in your account.
  • ATM fees: None for Citizens Bank ATMs. $3 for using non-Citizens Bank ATMs, plus whatever surcharge fees the ATM’s owner charges.
  • ATM fee refunds? None.
  • Excessive transaction fee: You’re allowed six certain transactions per month as per Federal Regulation D. After that, you’ll be charged $15 per transaction.

This account also comes with checks, however watch out: You can only use the checks up to three times per month without incurring an excessive transaction fee. Like savings accounts, you’ll also be limited to just six certain transactions per month according to Federal Regulation D rules. If you go over, you’ll have to pay a $15 transaction fee.

If you end up paying this fee more than three times in a year (or “significantly exceed these transaction limits in any one statement cycle,” as stated in Citizens Bank's Fees and Features Guide), your account may be automatically downgraded into a non-interest-bearing checking account.

Citizens Bank Platinum Money Market™

Promotional offer: If you deposit at least $25,000 of new-to-Citizens-Bank money in a new Citizens Bank Platinum Money Market account, you’ll earn the following interest rates until November 30, 2018:

Amount

$0-$24,999

$25,000-$2,999,999

$3,000,000+

APY

0.03%

1.10%

0.03%

  • Minimum opening deposit: Any amount.
  • Interest rate: 0.03% APY for any amount in your account (unless you qualify for the promotional rates above).
  • Monthly maintenance fee: None.
  • How to waive the monthly maintenance fee: Keep a minimum of $2,500 in your account.
  • ATM fees: None for Citizens Bank ATMs. $3 for using non-Citizens Bank ATMs, plus whatever surcharge fees the ATM’s owner charges.
  • ATM fee refunds? Your first four non-Citizens Bank ATM charges will be waived each statement period (but not the ATM surcharge, however).
  • Excessive transaction fee: You’re allowed six certain transactions per month (including three checks) as per Federal Regulation D. After that, you’ll be charged $15 per transaction or check.

You are eligible to open this account if you have a Platinum Checking account. Like the other premium-level savings accounts, this account has no monthly maintenance fee of its own, but its linked Platinum Checking account does.

Citizens Bank Platinum Plus Money Market™

Promotional offer: If you deposit at least $25,000 of new-to-Citizens-Bank money in a new Citizens Bank Platinum Plus Money Market account, you’ll earn the following interest rates until November 30, 2018:

Amount

$0-$24,999

$25,000-$2,999,999

$3,000,000+

APY

0.05%

1.35%

0.25%

  • Minimum opening deposit: Any amount.
  • Interest rate: 0.10% APY for any amount in your account (unless you qualify for the promotional rates above).
  • Monthly maintenance fee: None.
  • ATM fees: None for Citizens Bank ATMs. $3 for using non-Citizens Bank ATMs, plus whatever surcharge fees the ATM’s owner charges.
  • ATM fee refunds? Your first four non-Citizens Bank ATM charges will be waived each statement period (but not the ATM surcharge, however).
  • Excessive transaction fee: You’re allowed six certain transactions per month (including three checks) as per Federal Regulation D. After that, you’ll be charged $15 per transaction or check.

If you have a Citizens Bank Platinum Plus checking account, you’re eligible to open this corresponding money market account as well. Normally, the rates are very low (0.10% APY), however, if you have enough cash to take advantage of the promotional offer (meaning you have $25,000 stashed somewhere outside of Citizens Bank that you bring in to open a new account), you can earn much more interest.

How Citizens Bank’s Money Market accounts compare

If you can qualify for the promotional rates offered on the Platinum or Platinum Plus Money Market accounts, you can actually earn pretty decent rates. Unfortunately, most people may have a difficult time earning them because you need to deposit at least $25,000 from another non-Citizens Bank account, and the rates only last until November 30th.

If you’re looking to maximize the interest rates you receive on a money market account, you can find better rates with money market accounts from other institutions.

How to get a Citizens Bank Money Market account

If you decide a Citizens Bank money market account is right for you, good news: It only takes about 10 minutes to apply for an account, and you can apply online or in a local branch. All you’ll need is basic personal information (including your social security number), a government-issued photo ID, and some way to fund your account.

You can fund it with a check or a credit or debit card, but if you go the card route, you can only make the minimum opening deposit of $1,000 — you can’t deposit anything more than that.

Citizens Bank IRA Options

These retirement savings vessels are light on information—make sure you do your research before choosing to open an account.

IRA CDs

Citizens Bank offers some less-touted IRA CD options, including terms ranging from one to 120 months. You can get started with one of their IRA CDs with a deposit as small as $250. There is no monthly account maintenance fee.

The interest rates on these IRA CDs are not advertised on their website, however, so you’ll need to contact the bank directly if you’d like to open an IRA CD.

How to get a Citizens Bank IRA CD

If you’re interested in getting a Citizens Bank IRA CD, make sure you do your homework first by calling the bank or visiting them in person to verify the rates and term options for their different CDs.

If you’re looking for a good benchmark to compare the rates, check out other IRA CD options.

IRA Savings

Citizens Bank also offers an IRA Savings account, however they offer just about as much information on it as with their IRA CDs (that is to say, very little).

You can open an IRA Savings account with any amount you wish. Your first four months with this account are free, but after that you’ll need to pay a $4.99 monthly maintenance fee if you don’t keep at least $200 in your account.

How to get a Citizens Bank IRA savings account

Again, if you’re interested in this account you’ll need to either call Citizens Bank or visit a branch to get the information you need to make an informed decision. Specifically, you’ll need to inquire about the interest rate being offered and whether there are any fees associated with the account.

Overall review of Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank does offer some niceties with their accounts. In particular, we like the monetary bonuses they throw in for the CollegeSaver and HomeBuyer Savings accounts, in addition to their GoalTrack gift card bonuses. These rewards may provide just enough incentive if you’re looking to stick to your savings goals.

However, we are not excited about the rates that they offer and the amount of fee baggage that these accounts come with. In this day and age, it’s very easy to find a bank that doesn’t hang you high and dry with fees.

The only reason we can see recommending Citizens Bank is if you want to use an in-person branch exclusively and if Citizens Bank is the closest bank to you. Otherwise, we’d skip past this one in favor of something better.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here

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Citizens Bank Education 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.

mortar board cash

Citizens Bank offers student loan refinancing for both private and federal loans through its Education Refinance Loan.

Since Citizens Bank is a traditional bank, its loan process is very thorough. You’ll have to fill out the application and supply the requested documentation before hearing back. Citizen’s Bank does have a rate quote tool they call "Get My Rate", that uses a soft credit pull to show users what rate they would qualify for without affecting their credit.

Let’s take a look at what Citizens Bank can offer if you’re looking to refinance your student loans.

Refinance Terms Offered

With Citizens Bank,you need a minimum of $10,000 in student loans to refinance. The max amount you can refinance is $90,000 if you have a Bachelor’s Degree, $225,000 if you have a graduate/doctoral degree (MBA included), or $350,000 if you have a professional degree (law, medical, dental).

The range on its fixed rate loans is 3.35% - 8.24% APR, and the range on its variable interest rate loans is 2.89% - 8.24% APR.

You can refinance on a 5, 10, 15, or 20 year term.

You can also receive up to 0.50% in interest rate deductions. 0.25% comes from enrolling in automatic payments (meaning your monthly payment is automatically deducted from your checking account). The other 0.25% comes from already having an account with Citizens Bank (its “loyalty” discount).

An example payment would look like this: $10,000 balance at a 5.44% fixed rate on a 20 year term = $68 per month (that’s with excellent credit).

Citizens Bank

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on Citizens Bank’s secure website

The Pros and Cons

Citizens Bank offers low rates and the option of having a fixed rate or variable rate loan. It claims to save borrowers an average of $128 per month. It offers a wide variety of terms (fixed and variable rates, and 5, 10, 15, and 20 year terms), and it has a forbearance option for those face financial hardship and have difficulty paying back the loan.

There aren’t too many downsides to refinancing with Citizens Bank aside from the more involved application process, and the hard credit inquiry.

One con to note is its 0.25% loyalty interest rate deduction won’t be available to everyone. According to the Citizens Bank Loyalty Discount Disclosure, the following accounts would qualify: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank. Its checking and savings accounts are only available in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. If you don’t live in those states, you’re out of luck (but can still get the 0.25% auto-payment discount).

If you graduated with a Bachelors degree but have six-figures of student loan debt, refinancing with Citizens Bank might not be the best option, due to its maximum loan cap. There are other lenders out there with a larger maximum loan limit.

[Find out what happens when you refinance a Federal student loan.]

What You Need to Qualify

To be eligible to refinance your student loans with Citizens Bank, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You can’t be currently enrolled in school
  • You should have a history of paying your current student loans back on time
  • It’s not necessary to have graduated, but if you didn’t obtain a degree, then you must make 12 full on-time payments of principal and interest before you’re eligible to refinance
  • If you have a Bachelors degree, then you only need to make 3 full on-time payments of principal and interest before being eligible to refinance
  • You may be able to refinance even if you’ve previously consolidated your student loans
  • Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States.
  • As for credit, Citizens Bank states, “You’ll need to present a reasonably strong credit history, which is derived from your credit score”
  • You need a minimum household income of $24,000

If you’re worried about the income and credit qualifications, you can elect to have a cosigner on your loan. Cosigners are released after 36 consecutive payments on the loan.

Documents and Information Needed to Apply

Citizens Bank recommends you have the following documents on hand during the application process:

  • Existing student loan information (you’ll need recent billing statements for the loans you want to refinance)
  • Employment information (employer, gross monthly income, phone number, length of employment)
  • Social Security Number or birth certificate
  • Two most recent pay stubs
  • Receipt of monthly housing payments, if applicable

If you’re self-employed or earn any income on the side, additional documentation such as previous tax returns may be required. Citizens Bank has a list of other documents you might want to have on its FAQ.

Who Benefits the Most from Refinancing Student Loans with Citizens Bank?

The most common reason to refinance student loans is to get a better interest rate, and to simplify how many payments you’re sending out a month. If your interest rates are on the higher side (above 7%), or if you’re making payments to several different lenders, refinancing could be beneficial.

When it comes to refinancing with Citizens Bank, borrowers (or cosigners) who have a strong credit history and score are most likely to be approved.

With a good credit score, you may be able to refinance to lower interest rates. If you would like to have a fixed rate instead of a variable rate, you can refinance for that reason, too.

If you have federal student loans you’re refinancing, be aware that certain benefits are no longer available once you refinance them into private loans. For example, you won’t have access to the variety of repayment options that comes with federal loans.

Citizens Bank does at least offer a forbearance option for those facing financial hardship.

[Click here to read more about student loan forgiveness programs.]

Fees and Gotchas

When you refinance with Citizens Bank, there are no hidden fees. You won’t have to worry about an application, origination, or disbursement fee, and there’s no prepayment penalty, either.

The only fee you might incur is a late fee, which is 5% of your monthly payment amount. This is standard for most loans.

Transparency Score

Citizens Bank receives an A+ transparency score from MagnifyMoney because it offers both a co-signer option and a co-signer release. However, its late fee wasn’t explicitly stated on their website, unlike other lenders.

Alternative Student Loan Refinancing Lenders

There are many lenders offering student loan refinancing solutions. If you don’t qualify with Citizens Bank, you might qualify with another lender.

If you have a good credit score, but have a larger amount you want to refinance than Citizens Bank will allow, look into SoFi. It doesn’t have a maximum loan amount, and it has lower fixed and variable interest rates.

SoFi* also has the same options for loan terms (5, 10, 15, and 20 years). Your credit score should be at least 700 or higher and co-signers are accepted on a case-by-case basis. However, SoFi does a soft credit inquiry to start, so applying with it first is recommended.

LendKey* may also be a good option, although it only offers fixed interest rates in select states. The maximum amount for borrowers with an undergraduate degree is $125,000, and $250,000 for those with a graduate degree.

Its loan term is only up to 20 years, though the shorter the term, the less you’ll pay in interest over the life of your loan. It also allows cosigners in case your credit needs a bit of work and also offers a cosigner release. Its loans are offered exclusively through credit unions and community banks.

SoFi and LendKey also offer forbearance options and will work with borrowers in the event they face a financial hardship. Remember, you’re giving up payment flexibility when refinancing federal loans privately, so this is important to consider.

Don't Be Afraid to Shop Around

You always want to get the best rates on your loans, especially if you’re refinancing to lower the amount of interest you’re paying. It’s wise to first apply with lenders who only conduct a soft credit inquiry to get an idea of your rate options.

If you’re not satisfied with your results, continue to shop around with lenders who conduct a hard credit inquiry. As long as you do so within a 30-day period, your credit score won’t be affected as much, as all the inquiries made will count only once.

Check out our Student Loan Refinance Marketplace Here

*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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