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Reviews, Student Loan ReFi

Review: Citizens Bank Parent PLUS Refinancing

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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Paying for college is a hefty burden for students right out of high school, so it’s no surprise many parents want to offer a helping hand. The Parent PLUS loan from the U.S. Department of Education is one option parents can rely on to fund an undergraduate degree.

Parent PLUS loans disbursed between July 1, 2015, to July 15, 2016, have a fixed rate of 7.24% for the life of the loan. That interest rate can be a bit steep when compared with refinancing options. Citizens Bank (RI) offers a refinance, which is a solution for those who can qualify for a lower rate once their dependent student graduates.

Basics of the Citizens Bank (RI) Parent PLUS Refinance

Citizens Bank (RI) has loan terms of 5, 10, 15 and 20 years. Fixed interest is available from 3.45% APR . The lowest rates include a 0.50% discount that’s made up of two offers.

First, you get a 0.25% loyalty discount if you have an open Citizens Bank (RI) account when you apply for the refinance. Then, you receive another 0.25% discount if you use autopay from any bank account. Citizens Bank (RI) will refinance up to $90,000 for bachelor’s degrees and below. But, you can’t consolidate loans taken out by parents with the loans taken out by students.

Qualification Criteria

The student must no longer be attending school for a Parent PLUS loan to qualify for refinancing, but a completed degree isn’t required. If the student hasn’t earned a degree, at least 12 full payments on the student loan must be made before it can be refinanced.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens with a Social Security number. U.S. resident aliens have to apply with a co-signer who is either a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

As far as financial history, Citizens Bank (RI) considers borrowers with strong credit and you must make a minimum annual income of $24,000. Citizens Bank (RI) allows you to add co-signers to get approved or to secure a lower interest rate. Co-signers are eligible for release once 36 on-time payments are made on the loan.

Application and Funding Process

If you’re interested in this refinance, you’ll have to provide the following information:

  • Social Security number
  • Gross annual income
  • Employer information
  • Monthly rent or mortgage payment
  • Current loan account numbers, balances, monthly payments, due dates, interest rate type and last statement

All of the information you provide is verified once your application is submitted and Citizens Bank (RI) offers you a final decision. If the application is approved, you’ll choose your type of interest rate (fixed or variable) and your loan term length. At closing, you accept the loan terms and give your final sign off. Then, Citizens Bank (RI) pays off the Parent PLUS loan and you start paying your newly refinanced loan.

[5 Options to Refinance a Parent PLUS Loan]

Fees and Gotchas

The great thing about the loan process with Citizens Bank (RI) is the simplicity and doesn’t cost you anything. There’s no application fees, origination fees or prepayment penalties. Plus, the terms of the agreement are transparent. The one condition you should be mindful of is that you need to have an open Citizens Bank (RI) account before applying to qualify for the 0.25% loyalty discount.

Accounts that qualify for the loyalty discount include checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts, certificates of deposit, automobile loans, home equity loans, home equity lines of credit, mortgages, credit card accounts, education refinances and other private student loans from Citizens Bank (RI). 

Pros and Cons

The big pro of using Citizens Bank (RI) is the fact that it will refinance Parent PLUS loans. Student loan refinancing is a major market right now, but not all lenders will refinance this type of federal loan. We’ll review a few of your other options in the next section. In addition, the lack of fees overall is a major plus.

The con of refinancing your Parent PLUS student loan is you give up the benefits of having a federal student loan. It’s true, Parent PLUS loans don’t qualify for some of the perks of other federal student loans like most income-driven payment plans (you could be eligible for ICR). But, Parent PLUS loans may be eligible for deferment, forbearance or discharge in certain circumstances like financial hardship or death. 

Citizens Bank (RI)

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Alternatives to a Citizens Bank (RI) Parent PLUS Refinance

There are two other Parent PLUS refinance options that have even lower interest rates.

Laurel Road Bank(formerly known as DRB)

The refinance at Laurel Road Bank offers variable interest starting at 1.99% APR and fixed interest starting at 3.50% APR. Like Citizens Bank (RI), the lowest rates include a 0.25% discount for making electronic payments. But, to get the discount you must make payments directly from a Laurel Road Bank checking account. Terms are available for 5, 10, 15 and 20 years. Laurel Road Bank doesn’t charge application fees or origination fees. The minimum amount you can refinance is $5,000 and you can refinance up to 100% of the Parent PLUS loan.

Laurel Road Bank

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SoFi

SoFi offers variable rates from 2.31% to 6.88% APR. Fixed rates range from 3.46% to 6.88% APR. Both variable and fixed rates include a 0.25% discount for using autopay. There are no application fees, origination fees or prepayment penalties. Loan terms are available for 5, 7, 10 and 15 years. The loan minimum is $$5,000 and the maximum is the amount of your entire loan.

SoFi

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on SoFi’s secure website

 *Referral link

Who Will Benefit Most from a Citizens Bank (RI) Parent PLUS Refinance?

A Parent PLUS refinance is particularly useful for parents who’ve spent a lifetime building excellent credit. Excellent credit will qualify you for a lower interest rate than the Parent PLUS loan provides. This can save you money on interest over time and lower your monthly payment. Head over to the Citizens Bank (RI) savings calculator page to see exactly how much you can save.

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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.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here

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Credit Cards, Reviews

The Platinum Card from American Express 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 credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

If you’re a frequent traveler looking for a top-of-the-line luxury credit card with lounge access and other premium perks, The Platinum Card® from American Express might be the card you want to carry. It charges a high annual fee of $550, but it comes with unparallelled airport lounge access, statement and travel credits which can help you cut down on the cost of the annual fee and a strong welcome offer, among other perks.

We’re going to look at the details of where this card stands out and where it falls short, and help you determine how well it fits your spending habits and travel needs.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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Terms Apply |  Rates & Fees

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Annual fee
$550
Rewards Rate
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Where The Platinum Card® from American Express stands out

Lounge access. This is where The Platinum Card® from American Express outshines its competitors. You’ll get access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection®, which includes more than 1,200 airport lounges in 130 countries.

Annual airline fee statement credit. You can select one qualifying airline and receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year to cover incidental fees (such as checked bags and in-flight refreshments) that are charged to The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Annual Uber credit. When you link this card with your Uber account, you can get up to $15 per month (and up to $20 in December) in Uber Cash. That adds up to almost $200 a year.

Welcome offer. 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.

Rewards. Earn 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. Points are worth varying amounts depending on how you redeem them — booking airfare and hotel stays through American Express Travel will net you good value, with each point being worth 1 cent when redeemed that way.

You can also transfer your points to the following airline loyalty programs:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Avios)
  • AeroMexico Club Premier (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,600 Premier Points)
  • Air Canada Aeroplan (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Aeroplan Miles)
  • AIR FRANCE KLM Flying Blue (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Flying Blue Award Miles)
  • MilleMiglia Alitalia(1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Alitalia Miles)
  • ANA Mileage Club (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 ANA Mileage Club Miles)
  • Asia Miles (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Asia Miles)
  • Avianca LifeMiles (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 LifeMiles)
  • British Airways Executive Club (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Avios)
  • Delta SkyMiles (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 miles)
  • El Al Israel Airlines Matmid Club (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 20 Matmid Points)
  • Emirates Skywards (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Skywards Miles)
  • Etihad Airways Guest (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Etihad Guest Miles)
  • Hawaiian Miles HawaiianMiles (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 HawaiianMiles)
  • Iberia Plus (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Avios)
  • JetBlue TrueBlue (250 Membership Rewards points = 200 TrueBlue points)
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer (500 Membership Rewards points = 500 Qantas Points)
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 KrisFlyer Miles)
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Flying Club miles)

And you can transfer your points to the following hotel loyalty programs:

  • Choice Privileges (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Choice Privileges)
  • Hilton Honors (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 2,000 Hilton Honors Points)
  • Marriott Bonvoy (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy points)

Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. You can get a credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or a credit of up to $85 for TSA Precheck when you use this card to pay. If you purchase both, you’ll only get a credit for the one that’s charged to your card first.

You can get the Global Entry credit once in a four-year period or the TSA Precheck credit once in a 4 ½-year period.

Additional benefits

Fine Hotels & Resorts Program. Receive complimentary benefits at more than 1,000 properties, such as daily breakfast for two, guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout and a room upgrade when available.

Where The Platinum Card® from American Express falls short

Annual fee. At $550, the annual fee for The Platinum Card® from American Express is in the top tier for what it charges you as well as for the perks it offers. If you’re only a casual traveler, you may be better off with a mid-tier travel card charging an annual fee in the $95 range.

Compare it with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Another big name among premium travel cards is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Here’s how it stacks up against The Platinum Card® from American Express:

 

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Welcome offer

60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.

Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Credits

Up to $200 in statement credits per year to cover incidental airline fees. Up to $200 in Uber Cash each year.

Up to $300 in statement credits each account anniversary year as reimbursement for travel purchases.

Rewards

5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.

3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Annual fee

$550

$450

Annual fee for additional cards/authorized users

$175 for up to three additional cards. $175 per card for each card after that.

$75 for each authorized user.

Both of these cards offer significant value for frequent travelers who have the funds to cover a high annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is slightly less expensive than The Platinum Card® from American Express, but when you factor in the value of the annual credits offered by both cards, the two annual fees are relatively similar.

We also like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® better for ongoing rewards, as it offers 3X points on a wide variety of travel purchases, whereas The Platinum Card® from American Express has a more limited category for earning a higher rewards rate — airline tickets (booked either directly with the airline or via American Express Travel) and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com. Plus, you get 50% more value when you redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

When it comes to airport lounge access, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with a Priority Pass Select membership (you’ll need to complete a one-time enrollment), which can get you into more than 1,300 lounges around the world. But this is territory where The Platinum Card® from American Express truly excels. The American Express Global Lounge Collection® allows you access to the following:

  • Air Space
  • Delta Sky Club®
  • Escape Lounges
  • Plaza Premium
  • The Centurion Lounge
  • The International American Express Lounges

In short, if wide-ranging lounge access is what you’re looking for, The Platinum Card® from American Express is probably the card for you.

The bottom line

If you’re looking to travel in luxury, you’ll find a lot to like about The Platinum Card® from American Express. It stands head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to airport lounge access. And if you make use of the annual airline fee statement credit (up to $200) and the annual Uber statement credit (also up to $200), that knocks the effective annual fee down to a more reasonable $150.

The information related to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

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.

Glen Luke Flanagan
Glen Luke Flanagan |

Glen Luke Flanagan is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Glen Luke here

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Earning Cashback, Reviews

Sallie Mae Accelerate Credit Card 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 credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

If you’re looking for a cashback credit card, the Sallie Mae AccelerateSM offers an OK flat APR along with an interesting incentive — bonus cash back when you use your rewards to make a payment on a student loan. At a time when American college students and graduates are facing daunting levels of debt, this could be another weapon in your arsenal to apply toward paying down student loans. Let’s take a look at the details of what this card offers, where it falls short and how it stands up against other cashback cards.

Where the Sallie Mae AccelerateSM stands out

Chance to earn bonus cash back. Unlimited 1.25% cash back on every purchase. Earn a 25% bonus on your cash back rewards used to pay down your student loans. You can earn the bonus toward both federal and private student loans.

No annual fee. This card’s annual fee is $0, and since it’s targeted at recent college grads who are often on a tight budget, that’s important.

Additional benefits

Intro APR. Get a 0% Introductory APR for purchases for 12 months. After that, a 14.74% to 24.74% variable applies. The intro purchase APR is a decent amount of time to purchase a big-ticket item and pay it off without accruing interest charges, but there are cards with longer intro periods listed on our site.

Cellphone protection. When you pay your cellphone bill with this card, you can get up to $600 per claim in cellphone protection. Note that this is secondary coverage only (meaning it kicks in after any other insurance) and each claim is subject to a $50 copay. Terms apply.

Free FICO Score. The FICO® Score is one of the most common credit score models around. If you apply for a credit card, car loan or other credit product, it’s likely the bank will check your FICO Score before approving or declining you. Your FICO Score will influence the interest rate that you can get approved for – it’s smart to keep an eye on it.

Read: View Your Free FICO Score for all 3 Credit Bureaus

Where the Sallie Mae AccelerateSM falls short

Low cashback rate. It’s pretty easy to find a credit card that offers 1.5% cash back, and some offer up to 2% — and that’s just for flat-rate cards. You can earn up to 5% cash back with cards such as the Discover it® Cash Back, which offers a 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories (up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter you activate, then the rate drops to 1% cash back).

Earning 1.25% on the Sallie Mae AccelerateSM doesn’t cut it. And while it’s true that you can earn a 25% bonus on your cash back when applied toward a student loan, that’s likely not a big enough bonus to make up for getting a subpar cashback rate on all your purchases.

The minimum amount of cash back to redeem is $25.

Discover it® Cash Back

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Discover it® Cash Back

Annual fee
$0
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 14 months
Regular APR
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
Rewards Rate
5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Foreign transaction fee. If you use the Sallie Mae AccelerateSM outside the United States, there’s a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars. It’s better to leave this card at home and travel with a card that charges no foreign transaction fee.

Compare it with the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

One of the best cards around for earning flat-rate cash back is the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer. Let’s take a look at how the two cards compare:

 

Sallie Mae AccelerateSM

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Rewards

Unlimited 1.25% cash back on every purchase. Earn a 25% bonus on your cash back rewards used to pay down your student loans.

Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay.

Purchase APR

0% Introductory APR for purchases for 12 months. After that, a 14.74% to 24.74% variable APR applies.

15.49% - 25.49% (variable)

Balance transfer APR

14.74% to 24.74% variable

Intro 0% for 18 months on balance transfers. After that, a 15.49% - 25.49% (variable) APR applies.

Annual fee

$0

$0

Foreign transaction fee

3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.

3%

The clear winner is the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, with a cashback rate that’s 0.75% higher than the Sallie Mae AccelerateSM. Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay. (We recommend paying your card in full each month if possible.)

Another strong choice for flat-rate cash back is the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, which earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

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on Capital One’s website

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee
$0
Intro Purchase APR
0% intro on purchases for 15 months
Intro BT APR
0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months
Balance Transfer Fee
3%
Regular Purchase APR
15.74% - 25.74% (Variable)
Rewards Rate
1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The bottom line

Earning bonus cash back when you use your rewards toward student loan payments is an interesting feature offered by the Sallie Mae AccelerateSM. However, the card’s cashback rate is subpar, and a card such as the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer or the Discover it® Cash Back can put more rewards back in your pocket.

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.

Glen Luke Flanagan
Glen Luke Flanagan |

Glen Luke Flanagan is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Glen Luke here

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