A solid income and a strong credit score are key if you’re looking to refinance your student loans.
But what exactly is a good credit score for student loan refinance?
In general, you need a credit score that’s at least in the range of 650 to 680 to secure a refinanced student loan. Any lower than that and you’ll have trouble finding a lender. However, if you want the best rates, you’ll need a score in the high 700s.
Continue reading to learn why credit score matters and the minimum credit score our refinancing partners require.
Why Does Credit Score Matter for Student Loans?
Credit score matters whether you’re signing up for a store credit card or borrowing thousands to pay for college. Lenders use your credit score to determine how likely you are to pay them back. The higher your score, the more likely you are to pay back your debt, so the less risky it is to lend to you.
Most lenders evaluate credit card and loan applicants based on their FICO credit score. Your FICO credit score is a three-digit number and ranges from 300 to 850.
A FICO score is based on five factors:
- Your payment history (35%)
- Your total debt (30%)
- Your credit history (15%)
- New credit/inquires (10%)
- Types of credit you have (10%)
The score is also broken into categorized ranges like this: Poor (300-579), Fair (580-669), Good (670-739), Very Good (740-799), and Exceptional (800-850).
Borrowers looking to refinance should aim for the good, very good, and exceptional range. The higher your credit score, the lower the rate you’ll likely get.
Minimum Credit Score Needed by Our Refinance Partners
To refinance with our vetted refinancing partners, you’ll need to meet their minimum criteria for refinancing. A big piece of that criteria is their minimum credit score requirement.
Minimum Credit Score: 660
LendKey lets you compare several refinancing deals in one easy-to-use online platform. Simply input your information to get matched to deals from different banks and credit unions. LendKey looks for a minimum credit score of 660, but the typical LendKey borrower or cosigner has a credit score of 754. They also look for a minimum income of $24,000 per year or $12,000 per year without a cosigner.
With LendKey, borrowers enjoy flexible repayment terms, an autopay discount, and unemployment protection for up to 18 months.
Minimum Credit Score: 650
Earnest helps financially responsible student and parent borrowers refinance their private and/or federal student loans. They require a minimum credit score of 650, but they don’t base rates solely on your credit score. Rates and term lengths are based on your monthly budget instead.
If you have a short credit history but a stable job, Earnest is a good pick. With Earnest, borrowers receive seven-day payment extensions, military deferment, and death or disability discharge.
Minimum Credit Score: 660
CommonBond works with borrowers who have at least a bachelor’s degree and a minimum credit score of 660. Students can refinance their own federal and private student loans and/or their parent’s Parent PLUS loans. CommonBond gives back when you refinance too. For every refinanced loan, CommonBond funds a child’s education in Ghana.
Other perks of refinancing with CommonBond include unique interest rate options, a responsive in-house customer service team, up to 24 months of deferment or forbearance, and cosigner release.
Minimum Credit Score: 680
Education Loan Finance (ELFI) works with SouthEast Bank to offer refinancing solutions to students who have earned at least a bachelor’s degree. ELFI requires a minimum income of $35,000 and a minimum credit score of 680. You can see if you qualify in just two minutes.
With ELFI, borrowers enjoy no fees, military deferment for active duty military, and an in-house customer service team. Plus, you get paired with a personal loan advisor to guide you through the refinancing process.
Minimum Credit Score: mid-600s
Along with requiring a credit score in the mid-600s, CollegeAve also requires a minimum income of $65,000 for solo applicants. If you don’t earn that much, you can apply with a cosigner. For married couples, applying with a spousal cosigner means you rate is based on your combined income instead of just yours. This gives you access to better rates.
With CollegeAve, borrowers pay no fees, receive an autopay discount, and work with an in-house customer service team.
Minimum Credit Score: 700
To refinance through Splash Financial, you must have a bachelor’s degree or higher, a minimum credit score of 700, and a minimum income of $42,000. If you don’t meet the last two criteria, you can apply with a cosigner and receive cosigner release after one year of on-time payments. Adding a spousal cosigner also means your rate is based on your combined income. Medical residents who choose Splash Financial pay only $1 on their refinanced student loans for up to 84 months.
Other perks of Splash Financial include bi-weekly payments via autopay, an autopay discount, an assigned representative, and no fees.
How Do I Check My Credit Score?
Now that you know what credit score you to aim for, you need to find out what your credit score is.
Anyone hoping to refinance should check their credit score with all three major credit reporting bureaus—TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. It’s important to check all three because each uses its different methods to calculate your credit score. You can request a free report from each bureau every 12 months under The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Other places to check your credit score include:
- Credit monitoring services offered by Transunion, Experian, and Equifax
- Your bank or credit union
- Your credit card lender
Read the article, How to Check Your Credit Score and Why It’s Important to learn more.
How Can I Improve My Credit Score For Student Loan Refinancing?
Remember, the higher your credit score, the lower the rate you’ll likely qualify for. Barely meeting a lender’s minimum requirements won’t give you access to the best deals. Build your score up higher or add a cosigner with good credit so that you can refinance at a low rate with good terms.
Improve Your Own Credit Score
You can improve your credit score in as few as 30 days. All it takes is some diligence and good timing. Follow some of these tips to boost your score and gain access to lower rates:
- Negotiate late payments with your creditors and ask to have the late payment removed from your credit score. If it isn’t removed, it can negatively affect your credit for up to seven years.
- Review your free credit report and then contact the credit-reporting agency to dispute any errors you find.
- Pay extra on your credit cards, home mortgage, or student loans to reduce the amount of debt you owe. This will increase your available credit limits and boost your score.
- Call your credit card company and ask for an increased credit limit. Just be sure to request a soft inquiry because hard inquiry will appear on your credit report and hurt your score.
For more tips on improving your credit score, read the article, How to Improve Credit Score in 30 Days.
Consider Adding a Cosigner
If you’re unable to boost your credit score high enough, you can boost the credit score on your refinancing application by adding a cosigner with good credit. The lender will offer rates based on the cosigner’s credit and credit history. All our refinancing partners permit cosigners except for Earnest.
Make sure you and your cosigner are on the same page when you choose a refinancing deal. If you fail to make payments, your cosigner is on the hook. LendKey, CommonBond, and Splash Financial all offer cosigner release after a set number of on-time payments—a policy that can make you cosigner feel more comfortable. ELFI and CollegeAve do not offer this perk.
Final Thoughts on Credit Score for Student Loan Refinance
Refinancing your student loans can save you money, free up your monthly budget, and help you get out of debt sooner. It works best when your credit score is high enough to get you a low-interest rate and good loan terms. Don’t rush into refinancing though. Take your time evaluating your options, building up your credit score, and choosing a new loan that will help you accomplish your goals.
Compare the Best Student Loan Refinance Rates
Here are our top student loan refinance picks for 2019
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Student Debt Relief Loan Refinancing Advertiser Disclosure
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. (1)College Ave Refi Education loans are not currently available to residents of Maine. (2)The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as the borrower or cosigner, if applicable, enrolls in auto-pay and authorizes our loan servicer to automatically deduct your monthly payments from a valid bank account via Automated Clearing House (“ACH”). The rate reduction applies for as long as the monthly payment amount is successfully deducted from the designated bank account and is suspended during periods of forbearance and certain deferments. Variable rates may increase after consummation. (3)$5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees. Information advertised valid as of 9/24/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. (4)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. Information advertised valid as of 9/24/2020. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
ELFI: Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. To qualify for refinancing or student loans consolidation through ELFI, you must have at least $15,000 in student loan debt and must have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved post-secondary institution.
LendKey: Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
CommonBond: Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate.
Splash Financial: Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval.com
Earnest: To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest’s fixed-rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with autopay) to 7.89% APR (with autopay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with autopay) to 7.27% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms of 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 0.26% and 5.03% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 23, 2019 and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay Discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/23/19. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice.
Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 303 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.