3 best private student loans of February 2018 | finder.com

Compare the best private student loans

Top private lenders for your college education.

You’ve taken out all the federal loans that you can, but they still don’t cover everything. It’s time to start looking into private student loans. We made the search easy for you by breaking your choices down to the top student loan providers based on interest rates, cosigner options, repayment terms and more.

3 best private student loan providers

Best for business and graduate students
  • Starting APR: 2.81% (variable)
  • BBB rating: B
  • MBA student discount
  • Donates to charitable causes
Best for getting multiple quotes
  • Starting APR: 2.57% (variable)
  • BBB rating: A+
  • Check personalized rates at no cost
  • No origination fee
Best for easy approval
  • Starting APR: 2.75% (variable)
  • BBB rating: A-
  • Lots of educational resources
  • Funding for Associate’s degree

How these 3 top private student loan providers compare

Learn more about how each provider works and what their strongest benefits are to find the best one for you.

Credible: Best for getting multiple quotes

  • Starting APR: 2.57%
  • Loan amount: Starting at $1,000
  • Loan terms: Varies by lender
  • Eligibility: Be enrolled at least half-time in a qualifying US educational program. Have a co-signer if you are younger than 18.
  • Cosigner: Yes
  • Repayment options: Varies by lender

Credible isn’t a lender, but it can make finding one a whole lot easier. It’s a connection service that allows you to get estimates from multiple lenders on your interest rate, how much you can borrow and how long you’ll have to pay it back.

Since Credible allows you to apply with a cosigner, you don’t have to meet all of the eligibility requirements to qualify. If you like what you see, continuing your application is generally quick and painless. Just select an offer and fill out the application on the lender’s website.

Not interested in any of your offers? There’s no obligation to continue. Credible conducts a soft credit check that doesn’t affect your score when you submit your initial application. Its service is free and its lenders don’t charge any origination fees or prepayment penalties, so there’s little risk involved in seeing what’s out there.

If you have any trouble with your application or can’t find an answer to a question online, you can reach out to its customer service team any day of the week by phone or live chat. In addition to private student loans, Credible offers personal loans and student loan refinancing products.
Read our review of Credible private student loans

CommonBond: Best for business and graduate students

  • Starting APR: 2.81%
  • Loan amount: From $5,000 to $500,000
  • Loan terms: 5 years to 20 years
  • Eligibility: You must be an American citizen or a permanent resident of the US and have good to excellent credit or a creditworthy cosigner. Education requirements: You must be enrolled at or graduated from an approved Title IV undergraduate, graduate or MBA program
  • Cosigner: Yes
  • Repayment options: Defer or make interest-only repayments while in school full-time, or start repayment immediately.

In 2011, three MBA students founded CommonBond with the mission of simplifying the process of getting a private student loan. Now you can apply online to get funding for your undergraduate and graduate degrees through CommonBond like any other private student loan provider. But its MBA student loans are what really set it apart.

Its founders know first-hand what paying for business school is like. You can typically cover your education costs, borrowing up to $110,000 per year to pay for business school. You also aren’t required to have a cosigner, though it’s recommended if you don’t meet CommonBond’s credit requirements. And once your school has your funds, you can either defer your repayments until you drop below half-time, make interest-only repayments or start making full repayments right away.

The downside is that you need to attend a business school in CommonBond’s network. You’ll also have to pay a 2% origination fee on any CommonBond student loan.
Read our review of Commonbond private student loans

LendingTree: Best for easy approval

  • Starting APR: 2.75%
  • Loan amount: Varies by lender
  • Loan terms: 0 years
  • Eligibility: Must be a US citizen. Must have eligible expenses from an accredited school. Must have good to excellent credit or apply with a co-signer.
  • Cosigner: Yes
  • Repayment options: Varies by lender

LendingTree is an online marketplace that can connect you with lenders who fund student loans for undergraduate, graduate and associate’s degrees, as well as PhDs. While you’ll need to have good credit to qualify for the best rates, LendingTree’s wide network of lenders means that you’ll have a better chance of getting approved.

The application itself only takes a few seconds. All you need to do is fill in basic information about where you go to school, how much you need to borrow and some contact details before hitting submit. You’ll see around five or six offers broken down by total cost, monthly payments, number of payments and APR. To apply for an offer, just click through to the lender’s application.

In an effort to help consumers borrow wisely, LendingTree also has lots of free educational resources on its site. Not sure if you have the credit to qualify without a cosigner? You can find out what yours is by using its free credit score tool.
Read our review of LendingTree private student loans

A few more providers worth mentioning

ProviderWhat sets it apartStarting APRAmountsTermsEligibilityCosigner
Citizens BankMulti-year approval means you can get approved for funds for your entire degree with one application3.24%$1,000 to $295,000Up to 15 yearsAge of majority in your state, be enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school, US citizen or resident, good creditYes
Ascent Maximum loan amount is almost twice as high as other lenders3.78%$1,000–$200,0005 years–15 yearsUS citizen or permanent resident, annual income of at least $24,000, strong credit, attend an eligible school at least half-time.Yes
DiscoverGives cash rewards for good grades4.62%–12.99%Up to 100% of your cost of attendance, certified by your school5–20 yearsEnrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program, make satisfactory academic progress, US citizen or permanent resident, at least 16, good credit.Yes

How we picked the best private student loans

To select these top lenders, we considered a number of factors. We looked at the basics: How much each loan costs, how long you have to pay off your debt and how much you can borrow. We also looked at other qualities you might be looking for, like whether it allows you to apply with a cosigner and how easy it is to fill out the application and get approved.

We’ve reached out to each lender ourselves and made sure that the information we have is accurate and up-to-date. We also consider customer comments on sites like Trustpilot, the Better Business Bureau and Reddit to weed out providers with red flags.

This list is intended to be a starting point. If one lender sticks out to you, read our review and reach out to the lender itself before you apply. You can always find more student loan options through our master guide to borrowing for school.

Compare private student loans

Rates last updated February 17th, 2018
Name Product Minimum Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR Product Description
LendingTree Student Loans
Good to excellent credit
Varies by lender
From 2.75% (fixed)
Compare multiple student loans and student loan refinancing options in one place.
Same rates
everywhere
Go to site More
CommonBond Student Loans
Good to excellent credit
$500,000
From 2.81% (fixed)
Finance your higher education or refinance existing student loans through a lender with a strong social mission and terms that fit your budget.
Same rates
everywhere
Go to site More
Credible Private Student Loans
Good to excellent credit
Varies by lender
From 2.57% (variable)
Get prequalified rates from private lenders offering student loans with no origination or prepayment fees.
Same rates
everywhere
Go to site More

Compare up to 4 providers

5 tips to get the best rates on a private student loan

  1. Get quotes from multiple lenders. There’s no way to know you’re getting a good rate if you don’t compare multiple lenders. One easy way to do this is to apply through a connection service like CommonBond or LendingTree.
  2. Check your credit report first. Your credit history and score are often the most important factor lenders consider when coming up with your rate. Make sure your credit score is accurate and free of errors by contacting one of the top three credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion or Equifax.
  3. Apply with a cosigner. Even if you meet your lender’s credit requirements, applying with a cosigner who has better credit and a higher salary is a great way to keep your rates as low as possible.
  4. Look for discounts. Most lenders offer a 0.25% discount for signing up for autopay, but you can sometimes find lenders out there who will knock your rate down even more. For example, Citizens Bank account holders get an additional 0.25% loyalty discount.
  5. Understand how fixed and variable rates work. The fixed rate you get doesn’t change over the life of your loan. The variable rate does, however. More than that, the variable rate you see posted on the site is just the variable rate for now. Ask your lender if they cap variable rates to get a true idea of how expensive that option can get.

Frequently asked questions

Anna Serio

Anna Serio is a writer at finder who specializes in loans. She spent the past five years living in Beirut, where she worked as a news editor and hung out with a lot of cats. She loves to eat, travel and save money.

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