Are you looking to refinance your student loans? It’s common for most people to take private and federal student loans to fund their higher education. However, these loans, especially private student debt, often have higher interest rates. That’s where student refinance loans come in.
Most people usually use “consolidate loans” and “refinance student loans” interchangeably, but the two terms represent two different repayment methods. Debt consolidation combines multiple federal student loans into one federal loan. But refinancing combines federal and private loans into one private student loan.
Refinancing your student loans will allow you to enjoy lower interest rates, lower monthly loan payments, or both. Luckily, today there are lots of companies offering student loan refinancing. This means you have the chance to find a reputable company with great rates. That’s especially true if you have a stable income and a good credit score.
Here, we have provided you with an in-depth comparison of Credible vs. SoFi to help you make an informed student refinancing decision.
Let’s dive in.
Credible: a one-stop platform
Credible is among the most popular online loan platforms today. It lets borrowers access competitive, personalized loan offers from reputable lenders. The website doesn’t do any lending itself; instead, it allows quick comparison shopping of several consumer loan products. It features a prequalification tool that saves borrowers a lot of time by instantly delivering personalized offers by up to 11 lenders.
Established in 2012, this online loan marketplace has grown into a one-stop shop for borrowers, especially students. Today, the website faultlessly connects students with personalized rates and lenders and offers educational content on essential lending and borrowing topics.
At Credible, borrowers can shop around for private student loans, student loan refinancing, personal loans, credit cards, and mortgages. All you have to do is enter your information into the system, and the platform will instantly present you with quotes from multiple lenders. You can then compare the customized loan quotes and select the option that better suits you.
The best part is, online lenders at Credible offering student loan refinancing and private student loans do not charge origination fees, prepayment fees, or service fees.
The website seamlessly delivers on ease of use and customer experience. It’s the ideal platform for individuals interested in exploring and comparing rates from many lenders within a short period.
As said earlier, the website’s prequalification tool presents you with a quick and easy way to compare rates offered by multiple lenders. However, there is a downside to this. For those people interested in knowing all details before making a decision, the selection dashboard might not contain all the information they seek.
Credible attempts to provide borrowers with educational articles and lender reviews within the platform to be referenced.
Credible’s 3-step application process
Credible is a simple and easy-to-use platform. Here’s how it works:
1. Find your rate with a soft credit check
On the website, you must click the “Find My Rate” option and input your education and finance details on a short form. The process will take approximately 2 minutes. Also, you need to provide details on the loan amount you wish to refinance.
You might think this step will impact your credit score, but that’s not the case. Credible starts the process by running a soft credit check, meaning a student can check if a loan refinance is worth it, worry-free.
2. Compare available options
Once you’ve entered your information, your dashboard will present you with several offers that might suit your needs.
3. Apply for the loan
After going through the list of options and selecting a lender with the best rates and term length, you can apply for the loan. During the application process, the lender will ask you more questions to find more details about your loans and credit history. The lender will also conduct a real credit check through the Credible website.
Once the process is over, the lender will finalize the details. If you require a co-signer for the loan, they can start an application process on Credible’s website too.
Credible is a free online loan marketplace. Students can carry out all the activities on the site, including comparing, applying, and choosing a loan at no cost. Credible gets commission from lenders if a loan is closed through the website.
However, you may incur some charges from the lenders of other types of loans. For instance, you will pay an origination fee when you take a personal loan with one of the website’s business partners.
The Credible platform is easy to use and works with reputable loan lenders, such as Sallie Mae, LendKey, Discover, SoFi, Common bond, Citizens Bank, and College Ave. Also, it has other interesting features worth mentioning, including:
- Best rate guarantee: The website guarantees the best interest rates for student loan refinancing and personal loans. If the borrower finds a better student loan refinance than the one offered by the website, Credible will give him or her $200. All bonus payments are by gift card. See terms. This nice gesture shows confidence in Credible’s ability to deliver on its promise.
- Security: Credible’s website and its business partners use SSL certificates and a 256-bit encryption system to protect their client’s information. So, rest assured anything you input on the website will remain safe and secured.
- Refinance many types of loans: Students can refinance any type of student loan, including ParentPlus, private and federal loans. However, most students often want to refinance their private student loans. Student loan refinancing helps you by lowering your monthly payment or interest rate.
- Private student loans: Still in school? Credible can offer you a variety of student loan options, such as fixed and variable rate loans for students. Credible’s partners offer borrowers flexible repayment terms, including flat rate payments, deferred payments, and interest-only payments. Through Credible, you can add a cosigner to your loan application to lower the interest rate on your loan and increase your approval chance.
- Personal loans: Credible loan lenders can also offer borrowers personal loans. The repayment terms range from two to eight years.
Overview of SoFi
Started in 2012, SoFi is the leading student refinancing company in the market. Unlike Credible, SoFi was designed specifically with one objective in mind: refinancing student loans. However, today it offers more than one product, including personal loans, ParnetPlus, Mortgage refinancing, and more.
SoFi became the first finance company to offer a seamless online experience. According to their website, they have funded over $30 billion in refinanced student loans to approximately 375,000 individuals. The company even says 98% of their members are most likely to recommend them to a friend.
What makes SoFi stand out is its emphasis on career advancement. Borrowers stand a chance of qualifying for free career coaching and local networking seminars. Through these personalized services, SoFi can help its members secure higher-paying jobs and repay debts faster.
SoFi’s website is easy to use and offers amazing 24/7 customer support. Additionally, the loan lender offers borrowers competitive interest rates and an abundance of interesting features. It comes with flexible repayment options and provides loans to undergraduates, graduates, and parent borrowers.
Besides career coaching, members can also enjoy free financing to help them after graduation and referral bonuses. In terms of fees, SoFi doesn’t charge borrowers any application fees, origination fees, prepayment fees, or late fees. Therefore, individuals who select this lender don’t have to worry about costly charges.
Unlike other loan lenders, SoFi doesn’t set caps on the amount of money you can borrow. Students can borrow up to the total cost of attendance. This means you can receive enough funds to pay off your degree. The lender’s fixed rates begin at 2.99%, and variable rates can go as low as 2.25% if you enroll in AutoPay.
SoFi’s student loan refinancing comes with a repayment period ranging between five to 20 years. Members will enjoy flexible options, including deferred, interest-only, partial, and immediate. Also, the company doesn’t impose prepayment penalties.
SoFi benefits & protections
SoFi borrowers enjoy lots of perks. However, one benefit that truly stands out is the unemployment protection and forbearance program. The program aims to help individuals facing various hardships once they enter into repayments, such as medical emergencies or job loss.
In the case of job loss, the company will help you find a new job and even defer your payment until you get back on your feet. The lender prefers spending some money helping its members get back on their feet instead of collecting cash from them when they’re not working.
Apart from that, borrowers can also take advantage of one-on-one career mentoring to get advice on improving their resume or landing a new job. SoFi has an app that makes it easier for borrowers to access deals, education materials, and financial planning tools. The lender also allows you to make free appointments with a financial planner to receive advice on various financial topics.
To help members save money, SoFi offers exclusive discounts and financial products. Other benefits include access to local networking and social events, online community, and referral programs. Low rates, discount opportunities, and flexible repayment options make SoFi a worthy consideration.
Pros and cons of Credible
- Multiple lender comparison at the same time
- Borrowers see what loans they qualify for without a hard credit check.
- Best Rates Guarantee
- Personal information is kept safe and secure
- No discounts
- You must research the lenders before submitting an application
Pros and cons of SoFi
- Low rates and zero fees for student refinancing
- Flexible payment options
- Members can check rates and loan terms before without hurting their credit score.
- Additional perks like job search assistance, Autopay discounts, and career planning
- Fails to disclose all loan requirements
- Slow funding process
Reasons to pick SoFi over Credible
If you are looking for the best lender for student loan refinancing, then SoFi is your best bet, and here are the reasons why:
- Unlike Credible, SoFi was established specifically to provide student loan refinancing, and that’s its signature product to date.
- Besides SoFi student loan refinancing, the company offers borrowers access to other products, such as personal loans, investing, mortgage refinancing, and banking.
- The lender puts its members in mind; that’s why it offers career coaching and financial advice at no cost.
- It offers customers loyalty perks, including discounts, flexible payment options, referral programs, and more. Also, the company’s website has a student loan calculator that estimates the loan amount you will pay each month for better financial planning.
- In case of hard times, the company’s Unemployment Protection Program allows members to apply for forbearance 3 months at a time for up to a year.
Reasons to pick Credible over SoFi
Credible is not a lender, rather a platform that connects borrowers to lenders. However, Credible has a better score than SoFi in terms of reputation and loan specification. Other reason to select Credible include:
- All partner lenders at the marketplace forgo prepayment penalties, service fees, and origination fees.
- The website prequalification tool saves you from inputting your information on several websites and doesn’t impact your credit score.
- During the application, your Credible dashboard will only provide you with quote options that you might qualify for.
- Adding a Cosigner increases your chance of getting better rates.
SoFi and Credible share similar eligibility criteria. The only difference is that Credible’s eligibility requirements vary depending on the lender. However, if you have a lower credit score, then Credible might provide you with a variety of options that SoFi lacks.
With SoFi, the eligibility criteria differ based on the loan type. Nevertheless, here are a few general requirements you must meet:
- Be a US citizen, permanent resident, or visa holder.
- Be legally an adult in your state.
- Have an employment offer that starts within 90 days of application, or you’re employed with enough income. The company can waive this requirement if you add a cosigner.
- Looking to refinance education debt or take debt for education.
- Looking to borrow at least $5,000
Although the company doesn’t list the minimum credit score or debt-to-income limit, there’s a high chance this aspect will influence whether your application will get approved.
If you’d like to see more student loan refinance options, we reviewed the 9 best lenders.
Joshua Holt is a practicing private equity M&A lawyer and the creator of Biglaw Investor. Josh couldn’t find a place where lawyers were talking about money, so he created it himself. He is always negotiating better student loan refinancing bonuses for readers of the site or finding honest companies that provide student loan advice for a fair price.