Citizens Bank/Charter One Student Loan Consolidation Review

Michael Lux Student Loan Blog, Student Loan Consolidation Reviews, Student Loans 6 Comments

Citizen's/Charter One Bank

Interest Rates
Co-Signer Release
Loan Terms
Repayment Length


Citizen's Bank is one of the last of the major banks offering student loan consolidation. The rates are not terrible; but better options exist.

Updated on 7/3/19 to include the latest interest rate information and $200 new customer bonus.

Charter One Bank, along with parent company Citizens Bank, is one of the few remaining traditional banks left in the student loan refinance marketplace.  Though Citizens and Charter One are technically two different entities, the loan rates and terms appear to be exactly the same.  Based upon their advertised interest rates, their loans may be among the best options available.  Like many lenders, there are some reasons for concern with these loans, but overall Charter One/Citizens seems to have a very competitive program.  Because Citizens is a solid choice but for a couple drawbacks, Citizens is currently ranked #8 out of 19 lenders in our student loan consolidation company rankings.

The Basics

Interest rates start at 2.60% for variable interest loans and the current highest rate is 8.90% (because these are variable rate loans the rates could go up or down over the life of the loan).  The fixed rate loans start at 3.59% and peak at 8.66%.  One the lower end, these rates are excellent, but the higher rate loans are pretty abysmal.  Whether or not Citizens/Charter One ends up being the best deal will depend upon your credit score and income.

Citizens does get high marks for the length of time available to repay the loans.  With up to 20 years to repay your loans, Citizens has one of the longest repayment plans in the market.  Smart borrowers know that paying the minimum over the life of the loan is a recipe to spend a lot on interest, but by stretching out repayment so far, the minimum is much more manageable for months when the budget is tight.

Citizens Bank Interest Rates vs. Other Lenders

When we break down the interest rates according to loan type (fixed and variable) as well as loan length, Citizens does rank in the top three in a couple of the following categories: 20-year fixed-rate loans, 15-year fixed, 10-year fixed, or any of the variable-rate loans.  Additionally, Citizen’s is routinely just outside the top three in many loan categories.

Ultimately, while Citizens advertised rates across many loan types are very competitive, the only way for an individual borrower to verify they are getting the best possible rate is to apply with several different student loan refinance companies.  This is because each lender uses a unique formula when evaluating credit applications.

Some Concerns

One thing we don’t like is Citizens emphasis on co-signers.  While co-signing may be a necessity for some, it is something that most borrowers would be wise to avoid.  The mandatory 36 month waiting period for a co-signer release is also one of the longest we have seen.  Many co-signers will want to be able to be removed from the loan within a year or two.

Citizens and Charter One seem to be targeting people with federal loans for their refinancing.  Here at the Student Loan Sherpa, we think private consolidation of federal loans can be a huge mistake.  However, for others is it is good idea.  It is important for any perspective borrower to understand that if you consolidate your federal loans with a private lender, you will never qualify for student loan forgiveness or an income-driven repayment plan.

However, Citizens and Charter One do a better job than most companies at pointing out some of the risks associated with private loan consolidation.

Citizens Bank Refinancing Review: The Bottom Line

This new loan consolidation program vaults into the top seven of our Student Loan Consolidation Rankings, based largely on the low interest rates advertised.  Due to the large range of possible interest rates, borrowers would be wise to apply to several different companies in order to find the lowest rate actually available.  By working with multiple companies, potential customers also get the opportunity to directly compare the companies and how they interact with their customers before any contracts are signed.  Please note, if you do decide to go this route, be sure to apply to all of them in a short period of time in order to prevent any damage to your credit report.

Because Citizen’s is one of the many lenders on the Credible student loan platform, borrowers are able to submit one application to check their rates with many lenders.  Additionally, borrowers can get a $200 bonus when they refinance through this route.


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your font is impossible to read. why is it light gray? which design wonk came up with this?

Colin Shawhan
Colin Shawhan
Reply to  FightOurFuture

On any web page you can press Ctrl + A and it will auto-select all text. Everything. This will put the type in white-on-blue contrast which is very easy to read or you can follow up with Ctrl + C and the paste into Word (or any text editor) and set the contrast to any size, font or color you like. That’s a bit of a stretch, but it’s a nice computer trick to know, regardless.


Thank you so much for your research and compiling it here! I came across your site while researching what I could do about my wife’s loans. I don’t think I would have ever come across these lenders. Citizen’s bank ultimately came through for us. I’m so grateful to have 6.3% fixed instead of her multiple private loans that were 10-15% >_<

Anyway, thanks for your time and efforts on this site!


Just refinanced my private student loans. I was approved by both SoFi and Citizens Bank (here in MA), and the Citizens rate was better by 0.25%. Both lenders made the process easy online, and I have nothing bad to say about either. Both had great rates compared to my student loans, but Citizens came through with a slightly better rate in the end. As noted by the Sherpa, be sure to apply to whichever lenders you choose at the same time so as to minimize the negative impact of the hard credit pulls.

The Student Loan Sherpa
Reply to  JK

Thanks for the insight JK. Congrats on the savings!

Colin Shawhan
Colin Shawhan

Don’t sweat credit ratings if you are making a decision as important, and possibly beneficial as this. In my case I own a home, am happy with my car and have all the credit I need. Credit ratings will recover fast when you make monthly payments on time. If refinancing does affect your ability to access a mortgage or car loan, well? Perhaps the credit agencies are right to raise an eyebrow.