To remain competitive in the financial space, student loan refinancing lenders have largely moved from a paper application to online forms. Some even claim that you can apply to refinance in as little as 10 to 20 minutes.
Top lenders have even made it easy to apply for refinancing on your mobile device. So, why would you want to talk through your application with a real person?
Applying for loans over the phone might sound like something out of the 90s, but it could give you greater clarity on your application as you’re completing it. Let’s look into this option and how it might help you.
Banks that let you refinance by phone
Making big financial decisions over the phone isn’t always advised. You can spot a scam if a stranger or little-known company asks for personal information or asks you to pay for their services.
- Citizens Bank: 877-573-4829
- LendKey: 877-304-9306
As a lending platform, LendKey allows you to start your application over the phone before completing it online.
Citizens Bank, meanwhile, allows you to complete the application by phone. The master promissory note for your loan is handled after you’ve been approved, off the phone.
Over 90 percent of applicants include a co-signer, said the bank’s head of student lending, Christine Roberts.
“They’re typically parents and grandparents,” said Roberts. “We saw the need for more service for folks who are busy, technologically-constrained. On the refinance side, it’s really more prevalent for customers who have multiple loans or large amounts of debt.”
Believing that “it should be [the] channel and conversation of your choice,” Roberts said Citizens Bank allows its customers to apply to refinance over the phone, online, and in-person. In fact, about 15 percent of its 2016 student loan applications were completed across the bank’s 1,200-plus locations, she added.
How to refinance loans over the phone
If you want to apply for refinancing with Citizens Bank, you’ll be asked to first complete a pre-application process. This involves submitting to a soft credit check to access the rates and loan amounts available to you.
Once that’s done, you can either cue up the application online or have your banker do it for you. As you reach stages in the paperwork that require documentation (such as your driver’s license or pay stubs), you can email digital copies to your lender.
All you need is a mobile device with internet access; Citizens Bank accepts .jpg files that can be snapped on your smartphone, said Roberts. You’ll also need your co-signer (if you have one) present.
3 pros of refinancing student loans over the phone
Being able to apply for loans over the phone might seem unnecessary for some borrowers. For others, though, being able to have someone walk you through the application can be convenient.
Here are three benefits to applying for refinancing by phone.
1. You have a knowledgeable guide
Unless you’re applying for a refinanced loan with a co-signer, you might feel alone when staring at your computer screen. There is seemingly no end to the amount of student loan information, advice, and research at your fingertips. But you might want help combing through it all.
Calling up a lender like Citizens Bank or LendKey gives you, at the very least, a sounding board. Roberts emphasized that a licensed banker would be offering guidance.
“Someone who can take your specific situation into account and give you a holistic overview of your options when you’re not sure what questions to ask,” she said. “Where we like to differentiate ourselves is [that] we are here to be full-service for folks who are challenged through the process … especially folks with multiple student loans or big debts.”
Citizens Bank’s phone representatives are licensed with an industry standard Series 6 or Series 7 certification, said Roberts. When you’re emailing or chatting online with most lenders, you’re likely to be communicating with an unlicensed customer service representative.
Keep in mind that your knowledgeable guide isn’t a completely objective one. They work for the lender — and that’s important to remember.
2. You complete the application at your own pace
Citizens Bank and LendKey applications for loan refinancing take less than 20 minutes to complete online. Although speed wouldn’t be your goal of refinancing loans over the phone, Roberts said the application process isn’t any slower. Customers still prefer completing it quickly.
You’ll need to have your application materials handy, but the banker will work at your speed, not their own. If you feel rushed, say so. Ask for their patience and you’ll receive it.
If you feel pressure to apply when another person is talking you through it, don’t. Nothing is keeping you from starting the application at all. You can say thanks and hang up the line about as quickly as clicking save and closing out a webpage.
Just make sure you write down a callback number in case you’re ready to resume later on.
3. You can use the phone line as a free resource
Take advantage of the option to apply for loans over the phone. You can do this by peppering your banker with questions before you even start an application (if you start one at all).
Citizens Bank found, for example, that in-school borrowers will ask a laundry list of questions, from how to complete the FAFSA to using savings for college costs.
If you’re looking to refinance existing loans, perhaps you have higher-level questions. Use the banker’s time as a learning opportunity. You might be wondering what an interest rate hike means for refinancing or whether you should be refinancing at all.
Roberts said Citizens Bank’s bankers are trained to talk through suitability before even starting the application.
“If you’re a teacher in a city, you probably shouldn’t refinance your federal loans because you can lose [paths to loan] forgiveness; if you’re a doctor and you work in the city, the same thing,” she said. “We don’t want people to lose benefits that could help them in the long-term.”
Talk through your refinancing options
Talking through your options — that’s the key takeaway. Whether you prefer tackling your student loans online or off, focus on figuring out your next steps.
If you’re unsure whether refinancing is right for you, maybe it’s too soon to dial. Before picking up the phone, find out if refinancing is right for you.
If you decide before or during the phone application process that either the lender or refinancing itself isn’t in your best interests, thank the person for their time, put the phone down, and reevaluate your options.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Rates (APR)||Eligible Degrees|
|Get real rates from up to 4 Lenders at once
Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
|2.56% - 7.40%||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.57% - 6.32%||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.58% - 8.12%||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.80% - 7.02%||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.54% - 6.65%||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.90% - 7.34%||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|