Everything You Need to Know About Refinancing a Loan

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If you have a loan with a high interest rate, you might be struggling to make large payments. High-interest loans can hold you back from paying off your loan sooner. But you can refinance a loan if it gets to be too much to handle.

If you’re looking to lower your loan payments, refinancing can help. Learn what refinancing a loan means and what you need to do to get started.

What does it mean to refinance a loan?

Refinancing a loan replaces your current loan with a new one, usually with a lower interest rate, a longer repayment period, or both. These better terms can help if you’re struggling to make payments.

Your old financing agreement is replaced with a new one, hence “refinancing.” You can refinance many types of loans: a mortgage, a car loan, and even your student loans.

What’s the difference between refinancing and consolidation?

Refinancing can be a form of consolidation, but not all consolidation is refinancing. Consolidation combines many different loans into one streamlined loan, usually averaging your interest rates to make a new one. Refinancing just means having one loan in place of another.

You can learn more about the differences between consolidation and refinancing before making your decision.

Why should you refinance a loan?

When you first took out a loan, your credit score was a major factor in your repayment term and interest rate. If you took out a student loan before starting college, you might’ve had your cosigner’s credit considered as well.

Your loan might have a variable interest rate, which fluctuates depending on how the market changes. If you received a loan when the market was up, your interest rate was probably up too (and vice versa).

Refinancing a loan is beneficial if it lowers your interest rate or perhaps your monthly payment. If you’re struggling to keep up with your payments, you should probably look into refinancing.

When should you skip refinancing a loan?

Refinancing a loan is great, but there are downsides. Lower monthly payments mean you’re going to pay more over the life of the loan because of the accruing interest. Even if it’s less than your last loan, it can still raise your total payment.

Refinancing isn’t for everyone. If your income isn’t steady, you might not have the means to afford to repay your loans at all.

If you want to refinance your student loans, make sure to check with your lenders. You can refinance both federal and private student loans. But if you refinance your federal loans, you could lose some federal protections, such as qualifying for income-driven repayment plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

If you can’t repay your student loans, though, look into deferment or forbearance until you can get your finances in order. Deferment is when you are allowed to stop paying your student loans for up to three years. Forbearance can pause or reduce your payments for up to one year and has slightly different eligibility requirements. Both are only temporary, and you must get lender approval to receive either.

If you can’t afford your mortgage payments, refinancing might also help, but you could still be struggling. In that case, you can talk to your servicer about mortgage assistance. The Department of Housing and Urban Development offers housing counseling. Depending on your situation, you might qualify for rehabilitation counseling, services for homeless counseling, and mortgage delinquency, among others.

While you can’t refinance credit card debt to lower monthly payments, you can do a few other things. You can take out a personal loan to pay off high-interest credit card debt or take advantage of 0% interest charges on a credit card balance transfer. Both of these are good refinancing alternatives.

For car loans, if you can’t lower your interest by at least one percentage point, which could save you hundreds, or if you owe more than the car is worth, you likely should avoid refinancing.

How to refinance a loan

If you’re refinancing your private student loans, you might be consolidating many different loans into one. Check with a few different lenders before you choose. Look through different rates and repayment terms to find the best one for your financial situation. Make sure you’re prepared to refinance before you get started.

If you’re refinancing credit cards, you might want to take out a personal loan. Personal loans tend to have lower interest rates than credit cards and friendlier repayment terms.

If you’re refinancing your mortgage to lower your monthly payments, your credit score and income determine your new rates. Make sure you have all your requirements to refinance your mortgage.

Can you refinance a loan more than once?

If you’ve already refinanced a loan and want to refinance again, it’s possible. You probably won’t get better terms than you have now, but it might be worth checking out to see if you can lower interest rates and monthly payments again.

You’re still extending the life of your loan, though, so you could end up paying more in interest over time because of it. Review all your financial options before deciding to refinance again.

Refinancing isn’t always the right fit

Refinancing a loan is a great option for you if you’re having trouble making your monthly payments, though you’ll want to shop around for a good rate. But even though there are many benefits to refinancing, it’s not ideal for everyone.

Review your loans and see what you qualify for as you consider the possibility of refinancing. There are a few options for you to lower your payments if you can’t refinance, so explore all the ways you can save on loan repayment.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. 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 understand what you are buying, and consult 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. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.