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Reviews, Student Loan ReFi

CommonWealth One Federal Credit Union Student Loan Refinance Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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With Federal student loan rates skyrocketing, and tuition costs at an all-time high, refinancing high-interest student loans is something everyone burdened with student loan debt should consider.

CommonWealth One Federal Credit Union offers student loan refinancing to its members at rates as low as 3.00%.

The Offer

  • Competitive Rates: Ranging from 4.14% APR to 10.14% APR with autopay
  • Loan Amounts: You can borrow up to $75,000
  • No Origination Fee
  • No Prepayment Penalties: You can prepay the principal on your loan, partially or in full, without any penalties, ever.
  • 15 Year Repayment Period
  • Proactive Payments: You have the option to make either interest payments only or $25 proactive payments towards the loan while in school.
  • Cosigner Release: You are initially required to have a cosigner to take out the student loan with CommonWealth One. However, after 24 consecutive on-time principal and interest payments, creditworthy borrowers may be released from the cosigner requirement.
  • 30-Day No-Fee Return Policy: If, within 30 days from disbursement, you decide that you would like to cancel, you can do so without any fees or penalties.
  • 0.25% APR Reduction: Enrolling in automatic payments with CommonWealth One entitles you to a 0.25% APR reduction.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Competitive Rates
  • Loan amounts up to $75,000
  • No origination fee
  • No prepayment penalties
  • 0.25% APR reduction for automatic payments
  • Cosigner release
  • 30-Day No Fee Return Policy
  • Proactive Payments

Cons

  • Must be a CommonWealth One member
  • Variable APR
  • Cosigner required
  • Failed or canceled automatic payment will result in a rate increase of 0.25%

The Fine Print

You must be a member of CommonWealth One in order to apply for its student loans. In order to become a member, you must;

  • Live, work, worship, go to school, or volunteer in one of the following areas:
    • Washington, DC;
    • City of Harrisonburg, VA;
    • Warren County, VA;
    • Clarke County, VA;
    • City of Alexandria, VA. (Specific areas)
  • Or, Be an employee of one of more than 200 sponsor groups
  • Or, Have a family member who adheres to the above criteria

You can open and maintain an account with CommonWealth One for as little as $5, which will qualify you to apply for student loans.

A Cosigner is required for this student loan refinance program, but can be released if the primary borrower is creditworthy and after they have made 24 consecutive, on-time principal and interest payments.

Additionally, the APR on the loan is variable. CommonWealth One’s student loan program operates through LendKey, which offers loan refinance options from more than 300 banks and credit unions. Only a few lenders who operate through LendKey offer fixed rate loans, and CommonWealth One is not one of them.

While CommonWealth One offers a 0.25% APR reduction for borrowers who enroll in automatic payments, cancellation of automatic payments, or a failed automatic payment will result in the APR being increased by 0.25%.

Commonwealth One Federal Credit Union

Apply Now Secured

on Commonwealth One Federal Credit Union’s secure website

How It Stacks Up Against The Competition

You should shop around. You can find the best places to refinance student loans here.

Social Finance, known to most as SoFi, offers rates as low as 2.31% on variable interest with autopay, and does not require a cosigner in most cases, like CommonWealth One. It also offers terms of up to 20 years. However, the minimum amount that you can borrow is $10,000.

During the underwriting process, SoFi takes into account criteria such as professional accomplishments and employments history in addition to income and credit, in an attempt to create a more “holistic” loan application process.

SoFi

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Earnest finances amounts from $5,000 with no maximum amount you can borrow. It offers terms of up to 20 years, and the ability to switch between variable and fixed rates with no charge.

Earnest does not have many loan eligibility requirements, and allows borrowers to skip a payment every 12 months, but that isn’t a freebie. Skipping payments will ultimately result in paying more interest.

Earnest

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on Earnest’s secure website

Look Around for the Best Fit

The CommonWealth One Student Loan refinance program, while only open to individuals who live or work in a certain geographic area, is fair. There are very few fees, and in fact it offers several rate discounts for on-time or automatic payments. However, if your goal is a low or fixed interest, rate, you should carefully weigh your options and choose the student loan refinance program that will save you the most money.

Customize Student Loan Offers

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Gretchen Lindow
Gretchen Lindow |

Gretchen Lindow is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Gretchen at [email protected]

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Refinance with Earnest

Refinancing rates from 1.99% APR. Checking your rates won’t affect your credit score.

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Reviews, Strategies to Save

BB&T CD Rates and Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

BB&T’s website can leave CD investors wanting more, as the information regarding CDs is fairly basic. Although the bank’s website has as basic overview of certificates of deposit (CDs) stating it offers CDs with terms ranging from 7 days to 5 years with rate information, you need to navigate through a menu and choose your state of residence in order to view current rates.

We called BB&T branches and, on the same day, compared its CD rates with those at other banks and the national averages. After conducting this research, it’s not surprising to see that BB&T makes its CD rates hard to find — they aren’t very competitive.

BB&T CD products and rates

BB&T offers CD terms ranging from as short as 7 days to as long as 5 years. It has 24 CD options, each with different investment goals.

7-day to 60-month Personal CD

For short-term investments, BB&T offers CDs with terms ranging from 7 days to 60 months. These Personal CDs offer a fixed rate of return – annual percentage yield (APY) – along with the flexibility to focus on developing either a short- or long-term investment. It is worth noting that a higher minimum deposit, $2,500, is required for CDs that range for terms of 7 to 31 days.

CD Term

APY

Minimum Deposit to Open

3 months

0.03%

$1,000

6 months

0.05%

$1,000

12 months

0.10%

$1,000

18 months

0.15%

$1,000

2 years

0.20%

$1,000

3 years

0.30%

$1,000

4 years

0.30%

$1,000

5 years

0.30%

$1,000

With the 7-day to 60-month BB&T CDs, there are no penalty-free options for withdrawing your funds before the CD matures. The early withdrawal penalty is the lesser of $25 or 12 months of interest for longer-term CDs. So with smaller initial deposits, early withdrawal penalties will negate any interest you may have earned.

Not only can you find better CD rates at other banks and credit unions for each of the terms BB&T offers, you can also usually secure those rates with smaller minimum deposits. You can see some of the top options in our monthly roundup of the best CD rates.

Can’t Lose CD

As the name of this product implies, whether rates go up or down, you can’t lose – in the broad sense of your investment accruing interest. However, the APY is so low you’re almost certainly going to lose money due to inflation on the longer-term CDs.

At the 12-month mark of this CD’s term, you may make one withdrawal without paying any fees. So if the market rate is higher than what you’re currently getting, simply withdraw the money and reinvest at a higher rate.

If, however, the interest rate you’re receiving is better than what’s currently available, you also have the option of making a second deposit into the Can’t Lose CD (up to $10,000). This locks in the rate for the new investment amount for the remainder of the term. Whether rates go up or down, you’re locked in for the higher rate.

CD Term

APY

Minimum Deposit Amount

Withdrawal Penalties

30-month Can’t Lose

0.25%

$1,000

No penalty for one withdrawal after 12 months

Even when you consider locking in that higher rate, remember that you can find many CDs with better APYs than BB&T’s Can’t Lose CD, regardless of term.

Stepped Rate CD

Creating a CD ladder is a way to stagger your investments so can take advantage of increasing rates. With the Stepped Rate option from BB&T, laddering is built into the CD product. The initial CD starts out at a lower rate and increases each year. BB&T’s 48-month Stepped Rate CD tiers rates this way:

Months

APY

12

0.30%

24

0.40%

36

0.55%

48

0.75%

This particular product allows you to make an additional deposit each year (up to $10,000). So if the interest rate you’re receiving is better than the market, you can invest more money into your existing CD to make a higher return. But if the current CD market is offering better rates than your existing CD, you can simply take advantage of that offer and still make a higher return.

In addition, you may make a withdrawal from what you initially deposited into your Stepped Rate CD after two years. So, again, if the market changes dramatically, you may withdraw your money with no penalty and reinvest in a better option.

An alternative to using the bank’s stepped rate CD is to create a CD ladder on your own, choosing CDs with better rates than those BB&T offers.

Add On CD

The Add On CD option from BB&T offers a 12-month CD with an opening deposit of $100. You’ll need a BB&T checking account and a $50 automatic deposit every month from your checking account into the CD. To get a personal account, you’ll just need to set up direct deposit or maintain a $1,500 balance.

Note that the 12-month Add On CD product is not advertised on BB&T’s website. You need to visit a branch in order to open an Add On CD — contact the bank to learn about the current APY offered on this product.

CD Term

Minimum
Deposit to Open

Withdrawal
Penalties

12-month Add-on

$100

Greater of $25 or
6 months’ interest

Home Saver CD

If you’re in the market for a new home, and you want to earn a little more interest on the money you’re saving, consider the Home Saver CD. Starting with as little as $100, you’ll be able to deposit money earmarked for your new home every month. With this CD, as long as you’re withdrawing the money for use toward the purchase of your new home, you won’t pay any penalties for early withdrawal. But you will need a BB&T checking or savings account set up with a monthly deposit of $50 into your Home Saver CD.

Note that Home Saver CDs are not advertised on BB&T’s website, and you can only open them by visiting a branch. Contact the bank to learn about the current APY offered on this product.

CD Term

Minimum Deposit to Open

Withdrawal Penalties

36-month Home Saver

$100

No penalty for home purchase

College Saver

The College Saver CD is meant for parents or students saving for college. It offers the benefit of starting at a higher APY with the flexibility of withdrawing the money up to four times per year to pay for the cost of attending school. As with the Home Saver CD, you’ll need to have a BB&T checking or savings account with an automatic monthly deposit of $50 into the College Saver. It offers terms of 36, 48 and 60 months.

Note that you must visit a branch to open College Saver CDs, and they are not advertised on BB&T’s website. Contact the bank to learn about the current APYs offered on these products.

CD Term

Minimum Deposit to Open

Withdrawal Penalties

36-month College Saver

$100

No penalty for school costs

48-month College Saver

$100

No penalty for school costs

60-month College Saver

$100

No penalty for school costs

Treasury CD

This CD offers the ability to make additional deposits of at least $100 into your CD at any time and one monthly withdrawal without penalty.

The CD has a six-month term with a variable interest rate tied to the U.S. Treasury Bill — if the rate goes up, you’ll make more money, but if the rate declines, you’ll make less.

If Treasury Bills rise, this can be a great option if you have the $5,000 minimum deposit amount and want a short-term investment with the option to add or remove funds from the CD. You will need to make monthly deposits of $100, and the CD will automatically renew if not cashed out.

CDARS

CDARS, which stands for Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service, protects your principal and interest by making sure your money is placed into multiple CDs across a network of banks to keep your CDs insured by the FDIC (maximum limit for each CD is $250,000).

Other things to know about BB&T CDs

Can customers take advantage of rising rates once they’ve opened a CD?

BB&T has two CD options that allow you to take advantage of rising rates: the Can’t Lose CD and the Stepped Rate CD. Both allow you to make a withdrawal before the CD comes to maturity in case rates increase (certain terms apply). They also allow to make additional deposits in case rates drop and you want to invest more at the existing rate of your CD. However, the current rates on those products are very low, essentially negating the value of their flexibility.

About BB&T

BB&T (Branch Banking and Trust Co.) is a North Carolina-based bank with locations in 16 states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia – and the District of Columbia.

BB&T offers a mobile app for both iOS and Android devices. While its website is easy enough to use, finding specific information, particularly about rates, is difficult. The bank’s customer service number isn’t much help either, with most questions answered with a suggestion to visit a branch location. To find the BB&T branch closest to you, use its branch locator tool.

The bottom line

BB&T offers some flexible CD deals to its customers, but in general, better CD rates can be found at other banks and credit unions. You can find them on our list of the best CD rates, which is updated monthly.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Ralph Miller
Ralph Miller |

Ralph Miller is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Ralph here

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Best of, Reviews

The Top 7 Second Chance Bank Accounts

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Some banks don’t like giving second chances to customers who have less-than-stellar financial histories, especially since it could expose them to expensive risks. A record of bounced checks or debit card overdrafts could easily lock you out of the conveniences of modern banking.

Fortunately, banks also like making money, and some offer special “second chance” accounts that minimize their risk while allowing consumers to stay in the banking system. A second chance bank account gives customers with troubled records a fresh opportunity to demonstrate they can bank responsibly.

When it comes to a second chance account, fees are an unfortunate reality. But some accounts offer customers a better deal than others, and we’ve researched our database to find the second chance accounts with the most reasonable fee structures, while also factoring in whether they provide online and mobile banking, and how accessible accounts are throughout the country.

Account Name

Monthly Fee

Minimum to open

Availability

Chime$0$0Nationwide
Peoples Bank Cash Solutions Second Chance Checking$4.95 $30Nationwide
GoBank Checking Account$8.95, can be waived if you meet requirements$20Nationwide
Radius Essential Checking$0$10Nationwide
Wells Fargo Opportunity Checking and Savings Accounts$10, can be waived if you meet requirements$25Nationwide
BBVA Easy Checking$13.95$25Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Texas
Woodforest National Bank Second Chance Checking$9.95 monthly maintenance fee if you use a direct deposit; $11.95 without a direct deposit$25Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia

Second chance account basics

With a second chance bank account, customers shut out of traditional bank accounts get the opportunity to win their way back into a bank’s good graces. Similar to credit bureaus, financial services company ChexSystems maintains records of consumers’ banking histories. Bounced checks, overdrawn accounts or instances of fraud can all end up on your ChexSystems record; if you accumulate enough black marks on ChexSystems, banks could deny your application to open a new account.

Because second chance accounts are meant for customers who have demonstrated bad banking behavior, some lack features of traditional accounts, such as overdraft protection. In the eyes of the bank, you represent too much of a risk for them to extend you such courtesies.

Nobody likes paying fees, and we generally advise consumers to avoid needless banking fees due to the many fee-free banking options available. But fees are the price you pay for access to banking when you have a poor record. Plus, the second chance accounts listed below give you access to online and mobile banking, which is always a plus.

The 7 best second chance bank accounts

1. Chime

Chime

Fintech app developer Chime is not a bank, however their online checking account product is open to everybody no matter how bad your record is with ChexSystems. Chime does not check on applicants with ChexSystems, plus they offer lots of non-traditional features to help you get your financial life back on track. Best of all is the fact that they charge no fees at all, and require neither a minimum opening deposit or a minimum balance.

Chime account features:

  • No opening balance or minimum balance requirements.
  • Set up direct deposit for your paycheck, and the funds from each pay period will be deposited as soon as the transaction is initiated, giving you access to your pay up to two days earlier than conventional checking accounts.
  • Automatic savings features to help you save in your connected Chime Savings account.
  • The app sends you daily bank account balance notifications, and sends transaction alerts every time you use your debit card.
  • You can disable the debit card from the app.

Fees to watch out for:

  • Chime’s service is almost entirely fee-free: No monthly charges, no ACH transfer fees, no foreign transaction fees, and no ATM fees if you withdraw funds from MoneyPass ATMs.
  • If you make an ATM withdrawal outside of these networks, there is a $2.50 fee.
  • Overdrafts are not permitted, so there is never an overdraft fee.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Chime’s secure website

Member FDIC

2. Peoples Bank Cash Solutions Second Chance Checking

Peoples Bank Cash Solutions

This Texas-based bank offers a second chance bank account that is available nationwide, and so long as you don’t have a record of bank or checking fraud on your record, you should be approved for this account. You’ll need to deposit at least $30 before the bank activates your account and provides you with checks and a debit card.

Fees to watch out for:

  • $4.95 monthly maintenance fee
  • $27.50 overdraft fee
  • $27.50 nonsufficient funds fee
  • $3.95 printed statement fee (which can be avoided with electronic statements)
  • $2.00 ATM withdrawal fee at machines not owned by Peoples Bank
  • $25 stop payment fee
  • $20 account closure fee (if within 90 days of opening account)

LEARN MORE Secured

on Peoples Bank Cash Solutions’s secure website

Member FDIC

3. GoBank Checking Account

GoBank

A brand of Green Dot Bank, GoBank does not run a background check for new checking customers on ChexSystems, and it does not require a credit check. The account comes with a free debit card and fee-free access to a large network of ATMs, although be warned that out-of-network ATM withdrawals carry a $3 fee, on top of whatever the ATM operator charges. GoBank’s $8.95 monthly fee is high. However, this fee can be avoided with a monthly $500 direct deposit.

Account Features:

  • A free debit card
  • 24/7 mobile and online banking
  • Simple budgeting and spending tracker tools
  • Mobile check deposits

Fees to watch out for:

  • $2.95 sign-up fee, waived if you set up your account online
  • $8.95 monthly maintenance fee, waived each month your account receives payroll or government direct deposits totaling at least $500
  • Fees of up to $4.95 charged by retailers to make cash deposits
  • $3 out-of-network ATM withdrawal fee
  • $5 card replacement fee
  • Foreign transaction fee is 3% total transaction

LEARN MORE Secured

on GoBank’s secure website

Member FDIC

4. Radius Essential Checking

Radius Bank

Products from online bank Radius are available to customers nationwide, and accessibility is a strong point in its favor. This second chance bank account only requires customers to deposit $10 to open an Essential Checking account, which is lower than some other accounts on this list.

Account Features:

  • A free debit card
  • 24/7 mobile and online banking
  • Access to Radius’s budgeting and personal finance tracking apps
  • Eligibility to upgrade to Radius’s Reward Checking account after 12 months of positive banking history

Fees to watch out for:

  • $9 monthly maintenance fee
  • $25 per item non-sufficient funds fee (waived on all overdraft items $5 or less)
  • $5 daily overdraft fee

LEARN MORE Secured

on Radius Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

5. Wells Fargo Opportunity Checking and Savings Accounts

Wells Fargo Bank

Wells Fargo’s Opportunity Checking and Savings Accounts are tailor-made for folks with a lackluster credit or banking history. With a $25 opening deposit, you’ll get access to a second chance bank account that offers most of the bells and whistles of a traditional bank account. The account does come with a monthly fee, although it’s possible to waive it if you meet a few requirements (see below).

Account features:

  • $25 minimum deposit to open
  • Free transfers are available between Opportunity Checking and Savings accounts
  • You can choose to opt into overdraft protection
  • Free access to bill pay
  • “My Spending Report with Budget Watch” is available if you want to pay extra attention to where your money is going
  • Free debit card with access to more than 13,000 Wells Fargo ATMs throughout the country

Fees to watch out for:

  • $10 monthly service fee, waived if any of the following are true:
    • You make 10 posted debit card purchases or payments
    • You keep a minimum daily balance of $1,500 in the account
    • You receive $500 total in direct deposits each statement cycle
  • $35 overdraft and returned item fee
  • $12.50 overdraft protection transfer fee
  • $15 fee for excess activity (exceeding withdrawals from your savings account)
  • 3% foreign transaction fee with your debit card
  • $5 for money orders
  • $31 for stop payments

LEARN MORE Secured

on Wells Fargo Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

6. BBVA Easy Checking

BBVA
BBVA’s Easy Checking product is available as a second chance account to customers in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Texas. There is a $13.95 monthly service charge to maintain the account. You can request that BBVA upgrade your account one of their regular checking products after 12 months — and ditch that high monthly fee — so long as the Easy Checking account remains active and has a positive balance.

BBVA Easy Checking features::

  • Online and mobile banking, customized alerts, and a free debit card (with option to personalize)
  • $25 minimum deposit to open
  • Free BBVA ATM withdrawals

Fees to watch out for:

  • $3 fee for out-of-network ATM withdrawals
  • $38 insufficient funds fee ($32 in California)
  • $15 deposit item returned fee
  • $32 stop payment fee made over the phone or in person ($30 in California); $25 if made online

LEARN MORE Secured

on BBVA’s secure website

Member FDIC

7. Woodforest National Bank Second Chance Checking

Woodforest National Bank

This regional bank has a checking account aptly named Second Chance Checking, to help people rejected by other banks access — provided they live in one of the 17 states where a physical branch exists and can meet the $25 minimum opening deposit requirement. Those states are: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Fees to watch out for:

  • $9.95 monthly maintenance fee if you use a direct deposit
  • $9 one-time account set-up fee
  • $2.50 ATM withdrawal fee when used at a non-Woodforest network ATM
  • $15 debit card set-up fee
  • $32 overdraft fee (for each charge)

LEARN MORE Secured

on Woodforest National Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Alternatives to a second chance bank account

Get a prepaid debit card

Tired of the traditional banking experience? You could opt for a prepaid debit card instead. With a prepaid card, you can load money onto it and spend at merchants that accept major credit and debit cards. But if you try and spend more money than what’s on the card, the transaction is declined — although this prevents you from accruing any overdraft or insufficient funds fees. This is useful if you feel you may still have trouble managing your spending and need an extra layer of security to prevent you from getting into trouble.

Some prepaid cards offer extra perks like advance direct deposit and free ATMs so long as you stay in their network.

Open a secured credit card

Discover it® Secured

APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® Secured

Regular APR
24.49% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Minimum Deposit
$200
Credit required
bad-credit
New/Rebuilding

You may also have better luck applying for a secured credit card if your credit score is in good enough shape. Usually, this requires depositing cash with the lender, who then gives you the credit card for the same amount. Each month that you make on-time payments, the bank will report that good behavior to the credit bureaus, helping you boost your credit score. At the end of the payment period (generally 12 months, though it varies by banks), you’ll get the full deposit back.

Secured cards can come with high interest rates and many don’t feature the enticing rewards other high-end cards do, but they get the basic job done for consumers who don’t need a card with a high credit limit.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Erin Millard
Erin Millard |

Erin Millard is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at [email protected]

James Ellis
James Ellis |

James Ellis is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email James here