Refinancing your student loans can be a great option for those who aren’t utilizing a federal repayment program and are looking to get a better rate, or lower monthly payment.
But do you have a high enough credit score to refinance? And if you don’t, what steps can you take to improve your credit score? Let’s find out:
Credit Score Needed to Refinance with Earnest
Our eligibility requirements1 to apply for student loan refinancing include a credit score of 650 or above. This falls in the ‘fair’ range for a credit score. Possible scores fall between 300 (poor) to 850 (excellent).
Does Earnest only consider my credit score?
While we do have a minimum credit requirement, that isn’t all we consider when reviewing a refi application. We look at data other lenders don’t (like your savings, education, and earning potential) to offer fair, customized rates.
Benefits of a Higher Credit Score when Refinancing
The better your credit, the lower a rate a lender will be willing to offer. This can mean major savings in interest payments over the life of your loan.
You might also find that you are accepted by more lenders and have more choice when it comes to picking who to go with. This can be great if one lender offers a benefit that another doesn’t (like Earnest clients ability to skip one payment2 per year).
How to Improve Your Credit Score
Don’t have the score you need to be eligible to refinance your student loans? Not everyone does at first, but you can get there if you take steps to improve your score:
Figure out where you are starting
Check your credit report to get an idea of your current score, so you know how far you have to go. Everyone can get a free copy of their credit report each year from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
If you see any errors, dispute them now to clean up your report before you apply again.
Pay every bill on time
Payment history makes up 35% of your FICO score, so this should be a priority if you want to make a change. Recent history is much more weighted than your past payment history, so get on track now and make every payment in-full and on time.
Stay below your credit limits
Credit utilization makes up 30% of your FICO score, making it the second more important factor. This is the amount of credit you use, versus the amount available to you. Aim to keep this below 30% when making big swings at bringing your credit score up.
Don’t close old accounts
Length of credit history accounts for 15% of your score, and this can be an easy one. Just don’t close your oldest credit cards or accounts. This might go against the consolidation and financial housekeeping that you have been doing, but showing that you have a long credit history will have a positive impact on your score.
1Terms and conditions to refinancing your loans with Earnest apply. See Eligibility criteria information at www.earnest.com/eligibility.
2Earnest clients may skip one payment every 12 months. Your first request to skip a payment can be made once you’ve made at least 6 months of consecutive on-time payments, and your loan is in good standing. This skipped payment will then be spread out across your remaining payments, resulting in an increase in your monthly minimum payment and interest will continue to accrue. Please be aware that a skipped payment will count towards the forbearance limits outlined in your loan agreement. Please note that skipping a payment is not guaranteed and is at Earnest’s discretion.