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Citizens Bank Education 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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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 or below, up to $225,000 if you have a graduate/doctoral degree (MBA included), up to $300,000 if you have a law degree, or up to $350,000 if you have a professional degree (law, medical, dental).

The range on its fixed rate loans is 3.45% – 9.02% APR, and the range on its variable interest rate loans is 2.19% – 8.92% 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).

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The Pros and Cons

Citizens Bank offers low rates and the option of having a fixed rate or variable rate loan. 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.

*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.

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]

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EverBank Yield Pledge Checking 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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EverBank is an Internet-only bank looking to compete in the checking account game. Its Yield Pledge Checking comes with a unique guarantee, but this promise may not be enough to give EverBank an edge against competitors.

About Yield Pledge Checking

Yield Pledge Checking is an online checking account for users anywhere in the United States. The standout feature is the yield pledge guarantee stating your checking account interest rate will always be in the top 5% of all competing checking accounts. EverBank does earn an “A” transparency score, because it discloses its fees and hoops, but keep in mind it isn’t quite as user friendly as some of the other Internet-only checking account options.

In addition, the account offers unlimited ATM fee reimbursements, but only if you maintain a minimum average daily balance of $5,000. If you keep that balance in your account, you can go to any ATM in the United States and EverBank will pay back 100% of the ATM fees charged by the other bank to use its ATM. But it must be a daily balance, which means if your average daily balance dips to $4,999 you revoke the right for a free trip to the ATM.

Some people worry about not having a bank branch nearby, but for the typical bank customer bank branch visits are rare. Like other Internet-only bank options, EverBank provides the ability to do anything you would in a bank branch, except deposit cash. Instead, deposits can be made from your phone, so you can deposit checks anywhere with the Android or iPhone app.

Pros and Cons of EverBank Yield Pledge Checking

Like all checking accounts, EverBank Yield Pledge Checking has both pros and cons. Here are some major benefits and drawbacks compared to the competition.

Pros:

  • Full featured online banking
  • Deposit checks from your phone
  • ATM fee reimbursement with minimum balance requirement

Cons:

  • No cash deposits
  • Fee for out-of-network ATM when minimum balance not met
  • Complicated, tiered interest rate structure

What Are the Fees?

For typical banking activity, there are no fees charged for your Yield Pledge Checking account, but there are a few hoops to jump through in order to qualify for all the perks

Yield Pledge Checking has no monthly fee and includes free bill pay. There is no minimum balance requirement to avoid the monthly fee, though a $1,500 deposit is needed to open the account.

EverBank never charges any ATM fees, though to qualify for the reimbursement you must keep an average daily balance of at least $5,000.

If you overdraw your account, you will be charged a $30 non-sufficient funds fee, though you can choose to decline NSF service or link an overdraft line of credit, or just never overdraft, to avoid this charge. If you deposit a bad check, you will have a $10 charge and if you stop a payment, you will be charged $30. If you do opt to keep overdraft service turned on, there is a cap of five overdrafts per day, or $150. After that, transactions will be declined. This policy is actually worse than all of the Big 4 Banks, so if you’re banking with EverBank you need to have overdraft protection.

You may also have to pay fees for infrequent requests such as cashier’s checks, replacing a lost debit card, or wiring funds out of your EverBank account, though there are no fees for an inbound wire.

How Does EverBank Yield Pledge Checking Compare to the Competition?

EverBank does tout being in the top 5% for interest rates, but its tiered structure makes it a bit complicated. As with most banks, EverBank lures you in with an intro rate of 1.40% on all funds under $100,000 in the first six months. Then APY reduces depending on your assets. Less than $10,000 and you’ll be earning 0.85% for the rest of year one. Into year two you’ll only earn 30%. Granted, most banks don’t focus on checking account interest rates and place a stronger emphasis on savings – we recommend you do too.

Ally Bank only offers .10% on balances less than $15,000 in Interest Checking and .60% on balances $15,000 or higher. Charles Schwab only offers 0.06% APY on its High Yield Investor Checking Account and Bank of Internet (Now Axos Bank) offers up to 1.25% APY, but with a rather complicated tiered structure.

EverBank’s Yield Pledge really loses the battle compared to the competition when you stack it up against other bank’s ATM fee offers. Ally, Charles Schwab and Axos Bank all reimburse 100% of ATM fees within the United States, with no minimum account balance requirements. Charles Schwab also reimburses international ATM fees.

EverBank also loses against competition when it comes to overdraft fees. Axos Bank automatically declines overdraft charges without a fee. Charles Schwab and Ally both offer no-fee overdraft protection. Without protection, Ally only charges $9 with a once a day cap. Charles Schwab automatically declines pin-based transactions without charging a fee. But if you wrack up overdraft charges on checks and ACH payments, they will cost $25 each with unlimited fees being charged in a day.

Most large banks now offer a mobile deposit feature and powerful online banking, and EverBank does as well. Features are comparable to any other large online bank such as Capital One 360 or Ally Bank.

You can also link your accounts to an EverBank mortgage loan and extensive investment account options including foreign currency bank accounts and precious metal investments. Most online banks do not offer these investment options, so if you are looking at currency diversification, EverBank is one of your only options in the United States.

How to Sign Up

Head to the EverBank website to begin the simple online application process.

You will need your typical personal information including an address, email address, and social security number. If you’ve lived at your current address for less than three months, you will need an additional proof of address such as a utility bill, bank or credit card statement, or mortgage statement clearly showing your address.

You will be required to submit a $1,500 opening deposit, so have that cash available in a checking account to be transferred into your new account as an opening balance.

If you get stuck or need time to find some required information, you can save your application and return to complete it later.

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Is This the Right Account for You?

You know your personal finances better than anyone else, so only you can decide if an EverBank checking account is right for your situation.

If you keep a high balance in your checking account and like the convenience of online only banking, this is a great option and ranks among the top accounts available. Your account will offer the same features and benefits of the largest nationwide banks and regional banks, but with a higher interest rate than you will find at 95% of them.

If you like going into a bank branch and working with a live person or if you need to make frequent cash deposits, this is not your best option, but otherwise EverBank Yield Pledge checking should be able to handle any needs, and you can avoid lots of pesky fees while you’re at it.

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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.

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Eric Rosenberg |

Eric Rosenberg is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Eric at [email protected]

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Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking 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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When I initially signed onto Bank5 Connect to check out account options, I was met with a pleasant surprise. In big bold font right next to “High-Interest Checking” was a nice number- 0.76 percent APY. I figured I must’ve been reading it wrong. An interest rate of 0.76 percent seemed like an impossibly good deal. Surely there had to be a catch.

CheckingBut Bank5 Connect’s High-Interest Checking holds up to its advertisement. The only requirement is to keep a $100 balance, but no stress if you fall below that amount – with no minimum balance requirements or sneaky fees, Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking is a safe bet.

Like other online only banks Bank5 Connect doesn’t have to shoulder the expense of pricey real estate, live teller salaries, and other brick and mortar banking expenses – which means more savings and perks passed on to you, the user.

You can open a High-Interest Checking account through the Bank5 Connect website or by calling the customer service number, 1-855-522-2655. The minimum opening deposit requirement is just $10 and can be funded through an online transfer from an external checking account, direct deposit, mobile deposit, check, or credit card.

Pros

Though you need $10 to open account you will not be penalized if your balance falls below. Bank5 Connect’s High-Interest Checking is among the top fee-free accounts.

  • No monthly maintenance fee
  • No fees at domestic SUM Network ATMs
  • Reimbursement up to $15 for out of network ATM fees
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • No early closure fee
  • Free first order of checks
  • Free cashiers checks
  • Free incoming wires

The account also comes with a debit card with a sweet perk of its own- a debit rewards program. Earn 1 point for every $2 spent using Bank5’s UChoose debit card and redeem points for various items online- vacation packages, gift cards, electronics, etc. The daily purchase limit on the card is $1,000.

Finally, the Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking account comes with all the staples of online banking convenience- online bill pay, e-statements, e-check deposit, mobile banking, and quick person-to-person payment options.

Bank5 Connect also earned an “A” Transparency Score for creating a simple product with partial ATM reimbursement, disclosure of fees, no minimum requirements and real overdraft protection.

Cons

While you can avoid ATM charges by using your UChoose debit card at any ATM within the SUM Network, you are responsible for fees charged by ATMs outside that network should you exceed the $15 monthly fee reimbursement allowance. The bonus reimbursement ATM coverage is also limited to domestic ATMs. Travel internationally and you’ll be on the hook for all fees.

In addition to checking, Bank5 Connect offers a savings account that can be linked for free overdraft protection. If you find yourself in a position of non-sufficient funds however, you’ll be responsible for the $15 overdraft fee.

High interest and low fees make Bank5 Connect’s High-Interest checking account a top option. Thanks to those features, it is consistently ranked among the best accounts. But further research into the customer experience suggests reason for concern.

Despite an absence of physical branches, many online only banks have exceptionally high rated customer service. I had a hard time finding similarly complimentary reviews of Bank5 Connect, so I called in to customer service to check it out for myself.

While the wait time was minimal, my representative wasn’t particularly well informed. She had a hard time recounting some of the most basic account features I had been reading about online. Her responses to my questions were so dubious and unsure that I actually called back later with the hope of being connected to a more authoritative source. My second representative proved a better experience, but I can still see why Bank5 Connect might not be winning a people’s choice award winner any time soon.

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Bank5 Connect High Yield Checking vs. Simple

Though the interest rate on Bank5 Connect’s High Yield Checking Account blows Simple’s out of the water (with Simple coming in at a weak 0.01 percent), Simple has the top-notch money management tools and excellent customer service representatives noticeably absent at Bank5 Connect. Where Simple provides a user-friendly experience, Bank5 Connect provides yield. Both options are first-rate on the debatably most important checking account features though- freedom from fees and transparency.

Bank5 Connect High Yield Checking vs. Ally Bank Checking

Ally Bank is another online only option boasting low fees. Interest rates on checking start at 0.10 percent, an improvement from those at Simple but a far cry from those at Bank5 Connect. For users with a balance greater than $15,000, the rate jumps to 0.60 percent, but that’s a pretty major requirement considering the small $100 balance required at Bank5 Connect.

Ally customer service is also well rated. Though Ally’s money management tools are not as comprehensive as Simple’s, for basic checking account needs, Ally is consistently a top contender in ratings and customer reviews.

Should You Use Bank5 Connect High Yield Checking?

A minimal fee structure paired with shockingly high interest makes Bank5 Connect High Yield Checking an option worth considering, but I would recommend taking customer service for a test run before singing up. Even when you bank online, you need to feel secure in where and with whom you leave your money.

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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.

Stefanie O
Stefanie O'Connell |

Stefanie O'Connell is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Stefanie at [email protected]