CommonBond vs. SoFi Student Loan Refinance Review: Which Is Right for You?

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Refinancing rates from 1.89% APR. Checking your rates won’t affect your credit score.

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With more than 44 million Americans owing student loans, many of us are looking for strategies to manage our debt better. Refinancing is one approach, as it could save you money on interest and let you choose new repayment terms. But first, you’ve got to find the right lender.

In this review, we’ll take a close look at two leading lenders in the student loan refinancing space — CommonBond and SoFi. Find out whether one finishes on top in the CommonBond vs. SoFi showdown.

CommonBond vs. SoFi: The basics

As online companies with high-tech approaches to lending, CommonBond and SoFi have a lot in common. For one, they provide student loan refinancing for the most debt-burdened borrowers. CommonBond will refinance up to $500,000, while SoFi has no maximum amount.

Both provide competitive interest rates and let you choose between fixed and variable rates on your refinanced student loan. CommonBond also has a hybrid loan option, which involves a fixed rate for five years and a variable rate for the rest of your term.

The CommonBond vs. SoFi chart below takes a closer look at the rates and terms on these two lenders’ student loan refinancing products.

CommonBondSoFi
Loan amount$5,000-$500,000$5,000 or more
APR range1.99% – 5.59%2.25% – 6.09%
Repayment terms5, 7, 10, 15 or 205, 7, 10, 15 or 20
Rate typeFixed, variable or hybridFixed or variable
Origination fee0%0%
Allows a cosigner?YesYes
Offers cosigner release?Yes, after 36 consecutive on-time paymentsNo
Instant pre-qualificationYesYes
Eligibility requirementsMinimum 660 credit score; graduated from an eligible school; U.S. citizen or permanent resident; meets other requirements for income and employmentMinimum 650 credit score; graduated from an eligible school; U.S. citizen or permanent resident; meets other requirements for income and employment
Residency requirementsLends in all states except for Mississippi, Nevada and VermontLends in all 50 states
Extra benefitsForbearance if you encounter financial hardshipDeferment if you return to school; forbearance if you encounter financial hardship; career coaching; community events; Entrepreneur Program; financial coaching; referral program

Since CommonBond and SoFi allow for instant rate quotes, you can easily compare preliminary offers from the two lenders. Although you might go with the loan with the lowest interest rate, remember that there are other factors to consider, too.

Choose CommonBond if you want hybrid loans or cosigner release

Although CommonBond and SoFi offer competitive terms and useful benefits to creditworthy borrowers, CommonBond offers a few perks that its rival doesn’t. Here are a few scenarios when it could make sense to choose CommonBond as your refinancing provider.

You’re interested in a hybrid loan

CommonBond is unique with its hybrid loan product, which combines a fixed rate and variable rate on the same loan. When you borrow a hybrid loan, you’re signing up for a 10-year repayment term.

The first five years will have a fixed rate, after which the loan will switch to a variable rate. The variable rate will be assigned based on the London Interbank Offered Rate — a key financial benchmark, often known as Libor — and could fluctuate.

That said, you could pay off your loan ahead of time without penalty. According to CommonBond, the hybrid loan is best for borrowers who intend to pay off their loan earlier than planned and avoid much exposure to the variable rate.

With the hybrid loan, you could get a lower fixed rate than you would on the traditional fixed-rate loan. If you can pay off your debt within five years, you’ll save money on interest and never have to deal with the uncertainty of a variable rate.

You want the option of cosigner release

Adding a cosigner to your refinancing application could help you qualify for lower rates, especially if you don’t have strong credit or steady income. But you and your cosigner must be comfortable sharing debt, as your cosigner’s finances will be on the line if you can’t pay.

CommonBond, however, offers the perk of cosigner release. If you make 36 consecutive on-time monthly payments, you could apply to have your cosigner removed from the loan. Going forward, you’d be the only one responsible for your debt. SoFi, on the other hand, allows you to apply with a cosigner, but it doesn’t offer cosigner release.

You support CommonBond’s social mission

When you refinance with CommonBond, the lender promises to cover the cost of a child’s education in the West African nation of Ghana. It partners with nonprofit organization Pencils of Promise to provide schools, teachers and technology to thousands of young learners.

To date, CommonBond has donated over $1 million through this program. If you want to refinance with a lender that’s committed to improving social good, CommonBond could be the right choice for you.

Choose SoFi if you’ll make the most of member benefits

While CommonBond has low rates and flexible terms, SoFi also offers a variety of benefits to customers, plus it often has relatively low interest rates, so it’s worth looking at when you do your comparison shopping. Here are some instances when refinancing with SoFi might be preferable to refinancing with CommonBond.

You can qualify for the lowest rates

With its variable rate starting at 2.25%, SoFi had a slightly lower interest rate on a refinanced student loan than CommonBond did at the time this article was written. That said, things can change, so it’s worth checking the rates, and either way, you or your cosigner will need excellent credit to qualify for those lowest rates.

If your priority is to save the most money on interest, SoFi could come out as the winner against CommonBond. But look at you offered rates with both lenders to see which will give you the best deal based on the information you provide in your application.

You want options for both deferment and forbearance

Both CommonBond and SoFi offer forbearance — or the option to postpone payments — if you run into financial hardship. This flexibility could be a huge help since going into default on your student loans could harm your credit for years to come.

But SoFi additionally has the option of deferment if you return to school on a half- or full-time basis. You can also defer your refinanced student loan if you undergo rehabilitation for a disability or get called into active military duty.

You will make use of its member benefits or Entrepreneur Program

SoFi is unique for all the benefits it offers to its customers. Here are the resources you’ll be connected with if you choose to refinance your student loans with SoFi:

  • Career services to help you with searching for a job, changing careers and personal branding
  • Financial coaching to help you achieve your financial and investing goals
  • Community events to meet people through dinners, happy hours, educational activities, networking opportunities and other exclusive experiences
  • Member discount of 0.125% on additional loans you borrow from SoFi
  • Bonus of up to $300 for referring another customer

What’s more, entrepreneurs can apply for SoFi’s Entrepreneur Program, which provides seed capital, mentorship, and access to investors and a community of like-minded professionals.

When you refinance with SoFi, you become eligible for a host of other benefits that go beyond paying off your student loans.

You’re a medical or dental resident looking to refinance

SoFi offers a special student loan product for medical and dental residents looking to refinance their medical school debt. If you’re a medical resident or fellow with more than $10,000 in student loans, you could be eligible for a SoFi medical resident refinance loan.

You can choose repayment terms of five, seven, 10, 15 or 20 years, as well as a fixed or variable rate. You won’t have to make full monthly payments right away. Instead, you can send in $100 a month until you finish your program, for up to 54 months.

While some residents simply put their loans into deferment, refinancing and making small monthly payments could limit the accrual of interest. As a result, your balance won’t be as big when you finish residency and start full repayment.

What to know before choosing a refinancing lender

Before you refinance, make sure you understand the pros and cons of refinancing.

For instance, refinancing can save you money if you qualify for a lower interest rate. It lets you adjust your monthly payments by choosing new repayment terms — a shorter term could get you out of debt faster, whereas a longer term could reduce your monthly bills. Plus, you can refinance both federal and private student loans together into one new loan, simplifying your debt.

But when you refinance a federal student loan, you turn it into a private one. As a result, you lose access to federal programs, such as income-driven repayment plans and certain loan forgiveness programs.

If you’re relying on either, refinancing likely wouldn’t be a good move. But if you’re confident you can pay back the loan on time — or take advantage of CommonBond or SoFi’s forbearance benefit, if necessary — then refinancing could save you money on your debt.

CommonBond vs. SoFi: Which is right for you?

CommonBond and SoFi offer useful perks and benefits to customers, along with competitive rates and flexible repayment terms on their student loans.

Neither comes out as a clear winner in the CommonBond vs. SoFi contest. Rather, the right lender depends on your unique circumstances and needs.

If the option of cosigner release is important to you, for instance, CommonBond could be the better choice. But if you’re intrigued by SoFi’s member benefits, you might be better off going with SoFi.

Either way, make sure to compare offers from a variety of lenders before choosing. By shopping around, you can feel confident you’ve found the best offer for your refinanced student loan.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
1.99% – 5.64%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.89% – 5.90%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

2.25% – 6.09%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.89% – 6.77%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

2.39% – 6.01%Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Elfi

1.99% – 5.41%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit CommonBond

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

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 will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.79% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.64% APR (with Auto Pay). 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 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years 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 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of July 31, 2020, 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 7/31/2020. 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 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

All credit products are subject to credit approval.

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.

As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.

Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.

Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.

KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

This information is current as of September 9, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
 


3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 2.99% APR to 6.09% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.09% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.25% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.18% plus 2.32% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. 

4 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

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. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of September 10, 2020.


5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. 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. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.16% effective August 10, 2020.

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.