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Citizens Bank

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Citizens Bank

Get monthly discounts for making auto-payments and/or banking with Citizens Bank.

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Citizens Bank was founded in 1828, and has around 1,200 branches in 11 states. The company serves over five million people, foundations, nonprofits, and businesses. It is headquartered in Rhode Island, and is one of the oldest financial services firms in the United States. Citizens Bank offers retail and commercial banking, as well as services to small businesses, individuals, and more. It is the 13th largest retail bank. Citizens Bank is transparent with its information and offers great ways for borrowers to discount their rates; however, it does require borrowers to have reasonably good credit, which could be tricky for people just out of college.
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The Good

No Hidden Fees

Citizens Bank is transparent with payment information, and there is no prepayment, application, or origination fee. Customers need to only pay one convenient fee that includes all of their student loans. In fact, the company boasts saving its customer around $145 a month, or an approximate average of $1,764 a year.

Savings Calculator

Citizens Bank offers a helpful savings calculator. Borrowers can input information like their loan amount and monthly payment to see what they could save.

Short Application

The application is user friendly and easy to fill out. The website clearly lists how to apply and is upfront about what kind of documentation Citizens Bank requires from borrowers. Some customers report filling out the application in less than 30 minutes.

Cosigner Release

Citizens Bank gives borrowers with little or no credit history the option to have a cosigner. People with a cosigner are more likely to qualify for a lower interest rate. Citizens bank also offers cosigner release, which is helpful if the cosigner decides to opt out of cosigning the loan.

Interest Rate Discount

The company offers two great options to lower the interest rate:

  • Loyalty Discount: People with qualifying Citizens Bank accounts who apply for a new Education Refinance Loan can get 0.25% off of their interest rate.
  • Automatic Payment Discount: The company offers 0.25% off of the interest rate for people who set up automatic payments each month.

Transparency

One of Citizens Bank's main draws is how transparent the company is with information. All of the most important information is listed clearly on the company's website, and Citizens Bank customer service representatives can answer any questions potential or current borrowers may have. The company provides details on the interest rate, APR, monthly payment, and the "total to pay back" payment on both fixed and variable interest rate types. Citizens Bank reveals all of that information for loans with 5-, 10-, 15- and 20-year terms.

The Bad

Long Cosigner Release Time Period

In order to apply for a cosigner release, the borrower must have made 36 consecutive, on-time monthly payments of principal interest. This is a longer than average waiting period since other companies offer an average period of only 24 months. The 36-month period is inconvenient because most cosigners will appreciate the ability to opt out after only one or two years.

Strict Eligibility Requirements

The company requires a minimum annual gross income of $24,000. This amount can be split between the cosigner and borrower combined. This could be difficult for recently graduated borrowers without a cosigner. Borrowers are required to have made three on-time loan payments to the principal and interest loans prior to applying. Additionally, borrowers must have reasonably good credit and a strong credit history, derived from their credit score.

No Information on Eligible Schools

While Citizens Bank is very transparent, it does not specify in which states it does or does not offer student loan refinancing. Additionally, the website does not provide information on school eligibility for its program.

Not Available to Current Students

Borrowers cannot refinance their student debt while still in school; no current students can apply for an Education Refinance Loan. Students who have not earned a degree from a federally accredited university are required to have made at least 12 payments on their principal and interest loans before applying.

The Bottom Line

Citizens Bank is a transparent company that is well established in the industry. It doesn't charge hidden fees and its rates are reasonable. Most of the crucial information you'll need to know about its refinancing program is listed right on the company's website. That being said, Citizens Bank does require at least $24,000 in yearly gross income, and has a high credit requirement that could be hard for some applicants. Rates are on the standard-to-lower end in the industry. The company is ideal for someone with good credit who has graduated from a federally accredited undergraduate or graduate university. While this company is certainly not the top industry performer, it is definitely a solid option to look into.

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