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When you refinance your student loans, you can take advantage of a lower interest rate while also consolidating multiple loans into one monthly payment. The caveat is that you typically need good or excellent credit (at least a 670 credit score) in order to qualify.
There are, however, very few private lenders whose eligibility requirements allow applicants to have less-than-stellar credit. Earnest is one of them.
Earnest Student Loan Refinancing stands out for giving student loan borrowers a better chance at qualifying. With Earnest, fair credit applicants with a minimum credit score of 650 can qualify, and there are no minimum income requirements. For these reasons, Select ranked Earnest Student Loan Refinancing on our list of the top student loan refinance companies.
Read on for the full details of Earnest’s Student Loan Refinancing, including the APRs, perks, fees, loan amounts and term lengths. (See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best student loan refinance companies.)
No origination fees to refinance
Federal, private, graduate and undergraduate loans
Variable rates (APR)
Starting at 1.99% (rates include a 0.25% autopay discount)
Fixed rates (APR)
Starting at 2.98% (rates include a 0.25% autopay discount)
Flexible terms anywhere between 5-20 years
A minimum of $5,000, up to $500,000 (residents of California must request to refinance $10,000 or more)
Minimum credit score
Allow for a co-signer
Earnest offers both variable and fixed APRs. Variable interest rates fluctuate over the life of the loan, while fixed rates stay the same for the duration of the loan term.
Earnest’s variable rates start at 1.99%. Fixed rates start at 2.98%. Both variable and fixed APRs automatically include a 0.25% autopay discount.
Variable rates are not available on Earnest loans in the following states: AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN and TX.
Being able to refinance through Earnest with fair credit is a huge perk. Most other refinancing lenders require borrowers to have at least good credit in order to qualify.
Earnest doesn’t allow you to add a co-signer, but because the company is open to fair credit applicants, it’s less likely you’ll need one.
In addition to pulling your credit report, refinancing lenders in general look at your income as well. With Earnest, however, it publicizes that there is no minimum income requirement.
Earnest offers payment protections for borrowers, like a 9-month grace period, as well as personal loan customization. Borrowers who refinance can choose their preferred payment amount based on their budget, select biweekly or monthly payments and increase their payment and/or adjust their payment date at any time. And, if you’re short on cash one month, Earnest allows qualified borrowers to skip one payment every 12 months and make it up later.
Earnest does not charge borrowers any origination fees to take out a refinancing loan. There are also no late fees, disbursement fees or early payoff penalties.
Loan sizes start at a minimum of $5,000 and go up to $500,000. For California residents, the minimum loan amount is $10,000.
Borrowers have flexibility, with loan terms ranging between 5 to 20 years.
Earnest Student Loan Refinancing is the best option for borrowers looking to refinance with fair credit. Applicants with fair credit typically need a co-signer in order to qualify with most refinancing lenders, but that’s not the case with Earnest. You also won’t need to meet a minimum income requirement to apply for refinancing with Earnest.
If you’re a student loan borrower with good credit, you have many more refinancing options. We recommend SoFi Student Loan Refinancing (Select’s top-ranked pick) for its robust payment protections and perks like free career coaching, financial advice from planners and a Career Advisory Group that can help you look for new employment. Read our full review of SoFi Student Loan Refinancing here.
To determine which student loan refinance companies are the best for borrowers, Select analyzed and compared private student loan funding from national banks, credit unions and online lenders. We narrowed down our ranking by only considering those that offer low student loan refinancing rates and prequalification tools that don’t hurt your credit.
While the companies we chose in this article consistently rank as having some of the more competitive interest rates for refinancing, we also compared each company on the following features:
- Broad availability: All of the companies on our list refinance both federal and private student loans, and they each offer a variable and fixed interest rate to choose from.
- Flexible loan terms: Each company provides a variety of financing options that you can customize based on your monthly budget and how long you need to pay back your student loan.
- No origination or signup fee: None of the companies on our list charge borrowers an upfront “origination fee” for refinancing your loan.
- No early payoff penalties: The companies on our list do not charge borrowers for paying off loans early.
- Streamlined application process: We made sure companies offered a fast online application process.
- Co-signer options: Each company on our list allows for a co-signer if the direct borrower does not qualify for refinancing on their own.
- Autopay discounts: All of the companies listed already calculate autopay discounts into their advertised rates.
- Private student loan protections: Though you lose federal student loan benefits when you refinance, each company on our list offers some type of their own financial hardship protection for borrowers.
- Loan sizes: The above companies refinance loans in an array of sizes, from $5,000 to $500,000. Each company advertises its respective loan sizes, and completing a preapproval process can give you an idea of what your interest rate and monthly payment would be.
- Credit requirements/eligibility: We took into consideration the minimum credit scores and income levels required if this information was available.
- Customer support: Every company on our list provides customer service available via telephone, email or secure online messaging. We also opted for lenders with an online resource hub or advice center to help you educate yourself about the student loan refinancing process.
After reviewing the above features, we sorted our recommendations by best for overall refinancing needs, having a co-signer, applying with a fair credit score, refinancing parent loans and medical school loans.
Note that the rates and fee structures for private student loan refinancing are not guaranteed forever; they are subject to change without notice and they often fluctuate in accordance with the Fed rate. Choosing a fixed-rate APR when you refinance will guarantee that your interest rate and monthly payment will remain consistent throughout the entire term of the loan.
Your refinanced rate depends on your credit score, income, debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, savings, payment history and overall financial health. To refinance your student loan(s), lenders will conduct a hard credit inquiry and request a full application, which could require proof of income, identity verification, proof of address and more.
Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.