Citizens Bank Reviews: Student Loan Refinancing and Private Student Loans

Citizens Bank lets borrowers who aren't U.S. citizens take out and refinance student loans.

Ryan LaneDec 18, 2020
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Student loan ratings

Citizens
  • Student loan refinancing

  • Private student loan

The bottom line: Citizens Bank is a traditional bank whose Rhode Island roots go back to 1828. Citizens Bank offers student loans and student loan refinancing. Its refinancing loan is best for financially stable borrowers who didn't graduate or who aren't U.S. citizens. Its private loan is best for international students and existing Citizens Bank customers.

Student loan refinancing review

Citizens Student Loan Refinance
Check Rate

on Citizens's website

Citizens Student Loan Refinance

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Check Rate

on Citizens's website

Fixed APR

2.69 - 9.15%

Variable APR

2.24 - 8.90%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • You can refinance parent PLUS loans in your name.
  • Loyalty discount: Borrowers with a Citizens Bank account when they apply get an additional 0.25% interest rate discount.

Cons

  • Estate is still responsible for loans refinanced by parents if the borrower dies.

Best for existing Citizens Bank customers or borrowers who didn't graduate or aren't U.S. citizens.

Full Review

Citizens Bank offers two refinancing options: one for loans in the student's name, and one for loans in the parent's name. Both are good for existing Citizens customers, as the lender offers a 0.25 percentage point interest rate discount for borrowers who have a qualifying account with the bank.

Beyond that, refinancing through Citizens Bank is a solid option for students who are financially stable but didn't graduate, as well as non-U.S. citizens with a qualifying co-signer. It's less ideal if you want to take over your parents' loans. Citizens' process is more complex than with other lenders: Your parent needs to refinance first with you as a co-signer, then you can apply to refinance on your own.

Citizens bank STUDENT LOAN REFINANCING AT A GLANCE

  • Borrowers without a degree can refinance.

  • Offers personalized rate estimates via a soft credit check.

  • Loan qualifies for co-signer release after 36 months of on-time payments.

HOW Citizens bank COULD IMPROVE

Citizens Bank could improve its student loan refinance product by:

  • Disclosing minimum credit score and income requirements.

  • Allowing biweekly payments via autopay.

Citizens Bank student loan refinancing details

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: Yes.

  • Loan terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years.

  • Loan amounts: $10,000 to $500,000.

  • Can transfer a parent loan to the child: Yes, but the parent must refinance the loan first with the student as a co-signer.

  • Application or origination fee: No.

  • Prepayment penalty: No.

  • Late fees: Yes; 5% of payment amount for payments not made within 15 days of the due date.

Compare Citizens Bank's range of interest rates with other student loan refinance lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer’s — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate Citizens Bank will offer you, apply on its website.

Citizens Bank doesn’t disclose most details about what it takes to qualify for student loan refinancing. Lenders typically look for borrowers who have good credit and enough income to afford their debts and expenses.

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: Did not disclose.

  • Minimum income: $24,000.

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose.

  • Typical income of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Did not disclose.

  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Did not disclose.

Other

  • Citizenship: Eligible noncitizens can qualify with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer.

  • Location: Available to borrowers in all 50 U.S. states.

  • Must have graduated: No.

  • Must have attended a school authorized to receive federal aid: Yes.

  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: Did not disclose.

Many lenders are offering relief related to COVID-19. Check this list of private loan relief options to see what this lender offers.

  • Academic deferment: Postpone payments if you return to school at least half-time.

  • Military deferment: Postpone payments if you're on active military duty.

  • Forbearance: Postpone payments for up to 12 months if you're experiencing economic hardship.

  • Medical residency deferment: Postpone payments for up to 48 months if you enroll in an eligible internship or residency program.

  • Co-signer release available: Yes, after 36 consecutive months of on-time principal and interest payments. Co-signer release not available for Education Refinance Loans for Parents.

  • Death or disability discharge: Yes, but estate is held responsible for Education Refinance Loans for Parents.

  • Loan discharge if co-signer dies or becomes disabled: No.

Repayment preferences

  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.

  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

  • Loan servicer: Firstmark Services.

  • In-house customer service team: Yes.

  • Process for escalating concerns: Yes.

  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.

  • Average time from approval to payoff: Does not disclose.

  • Loyalty discount: Borrowers with a Citizens Bank account — like a checking account or auto loan — at the time of application get an additional 0.25% interest rate discount. Citizens Bank operates only in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Before refinancing with Citizens Bank

Before deciding on a student loan refinance lender, compare multiple student loan refinance options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, compare lenders’ repayment options and the flexibility they offer borrowers who are struggling to make payments.

If you aren’t eligible to refinance with Citizens Bank

If Citizens Bank denies your refinance application, the lender will let you know why. Depending on the reason, you may want to consider other lenders or need a co-signer.

NerdWallet recommends prequalifying with multiple refinance lenders before you apply. This will let you know which lenders you may be eligible with, without affecting your credit.

How does this loan compare?

Citizens Student Loan Refinance
SoFi Student Loan Refinance
Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Check RateCheck RateCheck Rate
Fixed APR

2.69 - 9.15%

Fixed APR

2.74 - 6.94%

Fixed APR

2.58 - 5.99%

Variable APR

2.24 - 8.90%

Variable APR

2.25 - 6.59%

Variable APR

2.39 - 6.01%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Min. Credit Score

650

Min. Credit Score

680

Private student loan review

Citizens Private Student Loan

Citizens Private Student Loan

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Fixed APR

4.16 - 10.95%

Variable APR

1.16 - 10.42%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Pros

  • Six-month grace period extension is available.
  • Loyalty discount for existing Citizens Bank customers.
  • Multiyear loan approval is available.

Cons

  • You must be pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Best for existing Citizens Bank customers.

Full Review

Citizens Bank private student loans are best for international students with a qualifying co-signer and those with an existing relationship with the bank. Citizens Bank offers a 0.25 percentage point interest rate discount for applicants with a qualifying Citizens Bank account.

Citizens Bank is not a good option if you're attending a community college or taking a certificate course at a four-year school. Students must be pursuing a bachelor's degree or higher to qualify.

Citizens Bank offers multiyear approval for student loans. After freshman year, you can request loans for subsequent school years without you or your co-signer undergoing a hard credit check, which affects your credit. International students cannot receive multiyear approval.

Citizens Bank private student loan at a glance

  • No personalized rate estimates via a soft credit check.

  • International students can qualify with a co-signer.

  • Loan qualifies for co-signer release after 36 on-time payments.

How Citizens Bank could improve

Citizens Bank could improve its private student loans by offering:

  • Minimum credit score and income requirements.

  • Personalized rate estimates via a soft credit check.

Citizens Bank private student loan details

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: No.

  • Loan terms: 5, 10 and 15 years.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $100,000.

  • Application or origination fee: No.

  • Prepayment penalty: No.

  • Late fees: Yes; 5% of payment amount for payments not made within 15 days of the due date.

Compare Citizens Bank's range of interest rates with other private student loan lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer’s — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate Citizens Bank will offer you, apply on its website.

Citizens Bank doesn’t disclose most details about what it takes to qualify for its student loans. Lenders typically look for borrowers who have good credit and enough income to afford their debts and expenses.

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: Did not disclose.

  • Minimum income: $12,000.

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose.

  • Typical income of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Did not disclose.

  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Did not disclose.

Other

  • Citizenship: International students are eligible if they apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

  • Location: Available to borrowers in all 50 U.S. states.

  • Must be enrolled half-time or more: Yes.

  • Types of schools served: Borrowers must attend a degree-granting institution and be pursuing a bachelor's degree or higher.

  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: Did not disclose.

Many lenders are offering relief related to COVID-19. Check this list of private loan relief options to see what this lender offers.

In-school repayment options

  • Immediate: Begin making full monthly payments as soon as the loan is disbursed. This option will save you the most in interest.

  • Interest-only: Make monthly interest payments while you're in school and during your grace period.

  • Deferred: You won’t be required to make any payments until your grace period ends, but you can choose to make payments if you’d like. Interest will accrue while you’re in school and capitalize, or get added to your principal balance, at the end of your grace period.

Post-school repayment options

  • Grace period: 6 months.

  • Academic deferment: Postpone payments if you return to school at least half-time.

  • Military deferment: Postpone payments if you're on active military duty.

  • Internship and residency deferment: Postpone payments during an eligible internship or residency.

  • Grace period extension: Yes, an additional 6 months.

  • Forbearance: Postpone payments for up to 12 months if you're experiencing economic hardship.

  • Co-signer release: Yes, after 36 on-time payments.

  • Death or disability discharge: Yes.

  • Loan discharge if co-signer dies or becomes disabled: No.

Repayment preferences

  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.

  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

  • Loan servicer: Firstmark Services.

  • In-house customer service team: Yes.

  • Process for escalating concerns: Yes.

  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.

  • Average time for approval: Two to four weeks on average.

  • Loyalty discount: Borrowers with a Citizens Bank account — like a checking account or auto loan — at the time of application get an additional 0.25% interest rate discount. Citizens Bank operates only in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

  • Multiyear approvals: After freshman year, borrowers can request loans for subsequent school years without you or your co-signer undergoing a hard credit check, which affects your credit. International students cannot receive multiyear approval.

Before applying for a Citizens Bank student loan

Before taking out a Citizens Bank student loan or any other private student loan, exhaust your federal student loan options first. Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to apply.

Compare your private student loan options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, look at lenders’ repayment alternatives and the flexibility they offer to borrowers who struggle to make payments.

If you aren’t eligible for a Citizens Bank student loan

If Citizens Bank denies your student loan application, the lender will let you know why. Depending on the reason, you may want to consider other lenders or, if you haven’t already, try applying with a co-signer.

If you don’t have access to a co-signer — or still aren’t eligible with one — consider lenders that don’t require co-signers or specialize in bad or no credit student loans.

STUDENT LOANS RATINGS METHODOLOGY

NerdWallet believes the best student loan is one you can repay at the lowest interest rate you can get. That's why NerdWallet’s student loan ratings reward lenders that offer a variety of loan terms, limit their fees and penalties, and extend borrowers multiple options to avoid default. Points are also awarded for soft credit checks, underwriting transparency and other consumer-friendly features. Use these ratings as a guide, but we encourage you to shop around for the lowest interest rate you can qualify for. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for its reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.

Frequently asked questions