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Reviews, Student Loan ReFi

Review: CommonBond Parent PLUS Loan

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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Updated September 7, 2017

CommonBond has been refinancing student loans for the last few years, and has recently created a Parent PLUS refinance program. If you’re a parent of a graduate who has loans with interest rates above 7%, and you’ve been looking to refinance to a more affordable rate,CommonBond may have the solution you’ve been looking for.

Details of CommonBond’s Parent PLUS Loan

With CommonBond’s Parent PLUS loan, you can refinance a maximum of $500,000 on a 5, 10, 15, or 20 year term.

CommonBond offers variable loans with rates starting at 2.72% APR and fixed loans ranging from 3.14% to 7.25% APR.

There’s also a hybrid loan option offered only on a 10 year term. For the first 5 years, you pay at a fixed rate, and for the following 5 years, you pay at a variable rate.

CommonBond allows you to transfer your PLUS loan to your child. If they can afford to take on the loan and want to lessen the burden you’re shouldering, this is a great option not available with the Federal Direct PLUS loan.

A payment example looks like this: if you refinance $10,000 on a 10 year term with a variable APR of 3.17%, you’ll pay around $97.35 per month. That comes to a total of $11,681.69 over 10 years. If you refinance under the same terms, but with a fixed APR of 4.74%, your monthly payment will be $104.80, and you’ll pay a total of $12,575.90 over 10 years.

How Does CommonBond’s Parent PLUS Loan Compare to a Federal Direct PLUS Loan?

Depending on when you took out your Parent PLUS loan, you could have an interest rate of 6.84% to 8% or higher. With CommonBond’s low rates, it’s not surprising its customers save, on average, $14,000 by refinancing.

Direct PLUS loans have a 6.84% fixed rate as of the 2015-2016 academic year; variable rates are unavailable. While fixed rates are great for stability, they’re higher and more expensive over the course of 10 years.

Judging by interest rates and terms offered, refinancing through CommonBond will save you money. However, it’s not for everyone. If you think you may need to take advantage of income-driven repayment plans, or if your loans are eligible to be forgiven, you might want to stick with your original loan, as private lenders don’t offer these benefits.

[Are Parent PLUS Loans Eligible for Income-Driven Repayment Plans?]

On the other hand, if your child is willing to take on your PLUS loan, you can transfer it to them through CommonBond. A Direct PLUS loan taken out in your name can’t be transferred to your child – not even through a Direct Loan Consolidation.

Eligibility Requirements

Your child must have graduated from one of CommonBond’s approved Title IV schools or graduate programs to refinance. You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to be approved as well.

If your child is refinancing the loan into their name, they must have graduated with at least a Bachelor’s degree, and 24 months need to have passed from their date of graduation before they can apply.

Credit history and income is also taken into consideration. Having a credit score of 720 or above will help you secure the best rates possible. If your child doesn’t have a long credit history, they can apply with a cosigner.

Application Process and Documents Needed

CommonBond says it only takes minutes to receive a credit decision, and it uses a soft inquiry (initially) to give you estimated rates. A hard inquiry will be used if you want to move forward with the loan and get an exact rate.

Once your loan is approved, it typically takes 30 to 60 days to begin monthly payments with CommonBond.

If you’d like to transfer your PLUS loan to your child, he or she will need to fill out a separate application. Your child can select the option “I graduated and want to refinance,” and input your loan information.

Documents needed include:

  • Proof of employment – you can submit your two most recent paystubs, two most recent years of tax documents, or a letter of acceptance from a job you just secured
  • Proof of residence – driver’s license, utility bill, or recent bank statement all work
  • Loan documentation – you need your most recent loan statement with the account number and details for the loan you want to refinance

You’ll upload these documents after receiving a pre-approval to move onto the next stage in the refinance process. In the FAQ,CommonBond says the entire process can be completed in a few business days.

The Fine Print

There’s no origination fee or prepayment penalty associated with the loan. In fact, CommonBond goes so far as to state, “No application fees. No origination fees. Nothing that ends with the word ‘fees.’” on its website.

However, anytime you’re refinancing federal student loans to private student loans, you should be aware you’re forfeiting several benefits exclusive to federal loans. These benefits include loan forgiveness, cancelation, discharge, deferment, and access to income-driven repayment plans.

Repayment Assistance Options for Parents

CommonBond doesn’t offer as many repayment options as other lenders, but it does say it’s willing to help borrowers out in case of an economic hardship with temporary loan forbearance. This means you won’t be required to pay your monthly payment for a set period of time.

If forbearance isn’t enough, or if you still can’t pay after the period of forbearance has ended, you can speak with CommonBond and it will try to find another repayment solution for you.

[5 Options to Refinance a Parent PLUS Loan]

Pros and Cons of CommonBond’s Parent PLUS Loan

Pro: CommonBond offers a hybrid loan, which involves paying at a fixed rate for 5 years, and a variable rate for the following 5 years. It’s an interesting way to save, especially if you value stability and can afford to take on the “risk” of a variable loan after 5 years.

Con: The loss of federal benefits can be a negative if you think you’ll need them. Loan forgiveness doesn’t apply to everyone, and if you think you have enough savings (or a source of very stable income), then you may not need the extra repayment assistance provided.

Pro: If you are unable to pay due to permanent disability (or in the event of the death of a borrower), the loan is eligible for forgiveness if there’s no cosigner on the loan.

Con: Repayment assistance isn’t as robust as other private lenders, such as SoFi, but the important thing is CommonBond is willing to work with borrowers in case of financial hardship.

Pro: For parents who have taken out PLUS loans recently, you might be happy to refinance to a variable rate with CommonBond. This is a good option if you want to pay off your loan quickly – lower interest rates mean more of your payment going toward principal.

Con: CommonBond offers terms up to 20 years. Be careful about refinancing to a longer term to “save money” – the longer you pay back a loan, the more interest you’ll pay. Your monthly payment may be lower, but it’s worthwhile to pay extra (when you can) so you’re not stuck paying this loan back for the next 20 years, well into your retirement.

Pro: Customer service from CommonBond is extremely accessible. It has a live chat feature on the website, and you can email or you can call. Its FAQ is also helpful in answering any questions you may have.



on CommonBond’s secure website

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Auto Loan, Reviews

LightStream Auto Loan 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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If you’re in the market for a quick, affordable and hassle-free way to finance your next car, a LightStream auto loan should definitely be on your radar. It’s particularly well-suited for deal-seekers with good credit who don’t mind working with an online company when it comes to financing their cars. If you’d rather work with a local company that can offer in-person support, however, you might want to skip this lender.

How LightStream auto loans work

LightStream offers a wide range of options for financing your next ride, including:

  • Purchase of a new or used car, either from a dealer or an individual
  • Auto loan refinance (except it does not refinance its own loans)
  • Auto lease buyouts
  • Loans for motorcycles, as well as boats and RVs
  • Classic car loans

Auto loans at a glance:

  • Starting APR range: 3.49%–9.49%
  • Fees: None
  • Loan amounts: $5,000–$100,000
  • Terms: 24–84 months
  • Credit requirements: Minimum 660 credit score
  • Mileage or vehicle restrictions: None

LightStream offers the same starting rate whether you’re buying a new or used car from a dealer, something you don’t see at other lenders. But keep in mind that the lowest rates go to those with the best credit who opt for the shortest loan terms possible and use autopay to make their car payments.

Satisfaction guarantee

If you see a lower rate elsewhere, LightStream will beat any verified offer with a rate that is .10 percentage points lower. It also promises a $100 guarantee within 30 days if you aren’t satisfied with your loan experience.

How to apply for a LightStream auto loan

The only way you can apply for a LightStream auto loan is through its online form. It is an online lender, after all, so you should be comfortable with handling your business details — including the loan application — online. You’ll need to:

  1. Acknowledge receipt of LightStream’s statement on the use of electronic records.
  2. Agree to receive electronic records.
  3. Agree to use electronic signatures to sign your loan documents.

You’ll also need to have a Visa or Mastercard credit card to apply, which LightStream uses during the verification process.

You will be asked to provide:

  • The purpose, term and amount of desired loan
  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Phone number
  • Social Security number
  • Employment information
  • Annual income
  • Total amount of assets and equity in your home

From there, LightStream may contact you for more details and documentation. If approved, you’ll need to sign your loan documents electronically and provide LightStream with your bank account details. The money will then be deposited into your bank account, which means you’ll need to pass it along to the seller, whether that’s a dealer or private seller. LightStream will not send the money to the seller directly.

It’s important to note that LightStream doesn’t offer any preapproval options, but if you apply and are approved for a loan, you are under no obligation to accept the loan.

How to qualify for the best rates

LightStream requires good credit at a minimum, but looks for excellent credit when giving the best rates. It defines excellent credit as:

  • Five or more years of significant credit history.
  • A credit history with a variety of account types such as major credit cards (for example, Visa, MasterCard, Amex), installment debt (vehicle loans) and mortgage debt if applicable.
  • An excellent payment history with no delinquencies or other problems repaying debt obligations.
  • A proven ability to save as shown by some or all of the following: liquid assets (stocks, bonds, bank deposits, etc.), cash down payments on real estate, retirement savings and little, if any, revolving credit card debt.
  • Stable and sufficient income and assets to easily repay current debt obligations and any new loan with LightStream.

Pros and cons of LightStream auto loans

LightStream offers the convenience of an online lender with the backing of a brick-and-mortar bank as the online arm of Truist, the bank created by the merger of  SunTrust Bank and BB&T. But it’s important to weigh all of your options carefully when choosing an auto loan. It’s one of the biggest purchases you’ll make, after all.


  • Wide variety of loans: New, used, refinance and lease buyouts loans are available on a wide range of vehicles. Unlike other lenders, LightStream doesn’t place restrictions on your vehicle’s age, make, model or mileage.
  • Decent rates: We’ve seen lower starting rates at credit unions, but you’ll have to meet membership requirements. LightStream has no membership requirements and provides the same starting rates for new and used vehicles as well as refinance loans.
  • No down payment required: LightStream finances up to 100% of the car’s cost. Of course, it’s always best to put down as much as you can afford on an auto loan. This will help you save money over the life of your loan and avoid becoming underwater on that loan.
  • Quick funding: If you complete the application process and are approved by 2:30 p.m. EST, you could receive funds the same day.
  • Good reviews: LightStream auto loan reviews are generally positive.


  • Good credit required: To qualify for a LightStream auto loan you’ll need a credit score of at least 660 or better.
  • No preapproval process: Unlike many lenders, you’ll have to complete a full application in order to see your rates and terms. Still, the process is fast, and if you complete your rate shopping within a certain time period, multiple applications should not impact your credit any more than a single application.
  • No face-to-face service: If you’re the type of person who likes to seal the deal with a handshake after signing the documents, you’ll want to stick with some place local.

LightStream vs. Capital One

If you’d like a bit more of a guided approach to the car-buying process,  Capital One’s Auto Navigator loan options might be better for you. Rather than sending you cash directly that you can use on whatever car you want to buy, Capital One’s Auto Navigator service lets you first get prequalified for financing, and then shows you which dealers in your area may offer based on the type of car you want to buy and the financing you can afford.

If any of the offerings pique your interest, you can then finish the application and buy the car. It’s still a good idea to compare the offer with other new and used car loan rates.

LightStream vs. Carvana

Carvana works similarly to Capital One Auto Navigator in that you can prequalify for financing and browse real cars in your area that you may then be able to buy. It’s important to remember that Carvana only sells used cars and its financing is only available on Carvana cars. But it is possible to finance here with poor credit — Carvana requires borrowers to be 18 years old, have no active bankruptcies on their credit report and earn at least $4,000 per year.

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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Credit Cards, Reviews

CreditStacks Mastercard 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.

Written By

The CreditStacks Mastercard offers a unique opportunity for individuals with little or no U.S. credit history – such as recent college graduates or professionals relocating to the U.S. for employment – to be approved for a credit card.

That’s because instead of requiring a Social Security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) as most traditional credit cards do, the CreditStacks Mastercard allows applicants to apply using a valid passport or U.S. government-issued ID, a U.S. visa or a permanent resident “green” card (if applicable), as well as proof of income. The CreditStacks Mastercard also allows you to apply up to 60 days prior to starting your new job in the U.S.

We break down the pros and cons of the CreditStacks Mastercard, and show how it compares to the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, which is also designed to help individuals establish or rebuild credit.

CreditStacks Mastercard pros

No credit history required. With the CreditStacks Mastercard, you can apply without a Social Security number and with little or no U.S. credit history. Once you obtain your Social Security number, you must provide it within 60 days of account opening. At that point, CreditStacks will begin reporting your credit activity to the Equifax and TransUnion credit bureaus.

Note, if you have been living in the U.S. for more than one year, you will be required to provide a Social Security number when applying for the card. A credit check may also be performed.

Decent credit limit. The CreditStacks Mastercard offers a credit line of up to $5,000 – which is a generous amount for an unsecured credit card that doesn’t require credit history.

Your credit limit will be determined by the proprietary underwriting procedures of CreditStacks, which will consider your current employment situation and additional factors, instead of your credit score.

No annual fee. The CreditStacks Mastercard comes with a $0 annual fee.

Additional CreditStacks Mastercard benefits:

  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection(™). Access free identity theft resolution services, as well as Mastercard ID Theft Alerts(™).
  • Extended warranty. Receive an extended warranty of up to one year past a manufacturer’s warranty of 12 months or less.
  • Purchase protection. If you are dissatisfied with a purchase, you may be eligible to receive a full refund for up to 60 days from the date of purchase.
  • Price protection. Get reimbursed for the difference if you find a lower price for an eligible new item within 60 days of purchase using your CreditStacks Mastercard.
  • Purchase assurance. Cardholders receive coverage if an item is lost, damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase.
  • Travel protections. The CreditStacks Mastercard offers a MasterRental(R) collision damage waiver, lost or damaged luggage insurance, travel accident insurance, baggage delay insurance and trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance. Plus, receive access to exclusive experiences and offers through Priceless Cities and special travel offers through Mastercard’s online booking tool.
  • Cellphone insurance. If you use your CreditStacks Mastercard to pay your monthly cellphone bill, you can receive coverage against theft or damage of up to $600 per claim and up to $1,000 per 12-month period.

CreditStacks Mastercard cons

No rewards program. The CreditStacks Mastercard does not offer a sign-up bonus or rewards on the purchases you make using the credit card. That said, when trying to build or rebuild credit, it’s best to focus on paying your bill on time and in full (when possible) each month, rather than racking up rewards.

No intro APR on purchases. The CreditStacks Mastercard does not offer a 0% intro APR on purchases – meaning, if you don’t pay your balance in full each month, you will be subject to interest charges at a rate of 15.49% Variable APR.

That said, the card’s ongoing APR for purchases is reasonable – considering that some cards designed for individuals with little or no credit come with APRs upwards of 26.99% (variable).

Compare it to the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Similar to the CreditStacks Mastercard, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is designed for individuals with little or no credit. However, because it is a secured credit card, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® requires a refundable security deposit of $49, $99 or $200, for an initial credit line of $200.

If you deposit more money before your account opens, you may be eligible for a higher credit line, up to $1,000. Additionally, you can be given access to a higher credit line after demonstrating responsible card usage by making your first five monthly payments on time.

While the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® does not require U.S. citizenship to apply, it does require a valid SSN or ITIN, as well as a residential address in the U.S. or a U.S. military location.

See how the cards compare side-by-side in the table below.

CreditStacks Mastercard vs. Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

 CreditStacks MastercardCapital One® Secured Mastercard®
Annual fee$0$0
Rewards rateN/AN/A
Credit lineUp to $5,000$200-$1,000
Deposit requiredNone$49, $99 or $200
Regular purchase APR15.49% Variable26.99% (Variable)

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® also comes with a number of benefits, including auto rental collision damage waiver, travel accident insurance, extended warranty and 24-hour travel assistance services. As a Capital One member, you will also have access to virtual card numbers and account alerts from Eno, as well as access to your credit score and fraud monitoring through CreditWise.

But if you plan to carry a balance on your card, you’ll be better off with the CreditStacks Mastercard, since the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® comes with a substantially higher APR of 26.99% (Variable).

Read our: Capital One Secured Mastercard review

Which credit card is best for me?

If you haven’t yet established credit in the U.S., the CreditStacks Mastercard could be a good fit. In addition to not requiring a Social Security number for approval, the card helps build your credit by reporting to two major credit bureaus.

But if you’re in the market for a secured credit card and already have a SSN or ITIN, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is a good alternative. While the card offers a much lower credit line than the CreditStacks Mastercard, it does offer a variety of useful benefits that aren’t common for a secured credit card.

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.