5-year variable-rate loans

Cap and money.
zimmytws / Shutterstock

For borrowers looking to pay off student loans faster, five-year variable-rate refinance loans dropped to an average 2.48% during the week of Oct. 18, according to figures released this week. That's a new record low for the refi rates tracked by the Credible marketplace.

The previous all-time low was 2.53%, set in late August. Rates fell last week from the previous week's average of 2.59%. One year earlier, the typical rate was a higher 3.20%.

The average rate is specifically for borrowers with good credit scores of at least 720. Even better rates are possible for people with exceptional credit of 780 or above.

Borrowers with so-so credit scores (between 640 and 679) land stiffer rates, averaging 4.59%.

Because variable rates fluctuate based on market conditions, borrowers could find themselves paying even more as their loan term progresses.

10-year fixed-rate loans

Lock and money.
Levent Unal / Shutterstock

For borrowers wanting to lock in a good deal, 10-year fixed-rate loans averaged 3.39% last week, according to the data. That was down from 3.46% the previous week.

Rates are now close to the all-time low average of 3.36% set in September.

Better credit scores mean better rates. But borrowers with only "fair" scores of between 640 to 679 are getting less favorable rates averaging 4.77%.

A 10-year loan offers more affordable payments than a five-year because because you have more time to repay the money, but you’ll spend far more money on interest due to the longer life of the loan.

How to get the best refinance rate

Gadget people. Indoors leisure. Phone browsing. Mobile communication. Satisfied overweight curly hair woman student in headphones typing message at modern light apartment.
Golubovy / Shutterstock

If you have a federal student loan, make sure you know what you’re giving up before you make the move to a refi.

When you switch from a government loan to a private one, you’ll be ineligible for the government support some borrowers have enjoyed during the pandemic, including payment freezes, interest waivers and even loan forgiveness.

If you already have a private loan or don’t mind the trade-offs, refinancing your student debt could make a big difference in your budget.

Here are some tips to help you grab the best possible rate.

  • Raise your credit score. Lenders factor in your credit score to decide if you're a good risk for a refinance loan. Check your credit score for free and look for ways to improve it. You can get tips by using a free credit monitoring service, which can show how you can get rid of other debts faster.

  • Set up auto-pay. Many lenders will chip a small percentage off your interest rate if you enrolled in auto-pay. It ensures that they'll get paid on time every month.

  • Consider a co-signer. If your credit score is too low to qualify for a better interest rate, you may want to ask a friend or family member with good credit to co-sign your loan. But be careful, because your co-signer will be stuck making your loan payments if you can’t afford them

  • Compare your options. The student loan world is enormous — there are dozens and dozens of lenders. The only way to make sure you’re getting the best deal is to shop around. Always get multiple quotes. Different lenders are going to weigh factors in your application differently. Compare the terms of each offer before you click “Apply.” One way — which won’t affect your credit score — is to check out Credible to compare student loan refinancing rates from up to 13 lenders.

About the Author

Noel Fletcher

Noel Fletcher

Reporter

Noel Fletcher is an insurance and taxes reporter at MoneyWise. Prior to joining the MoneyWise team, Noel wrote for various U.S. and international business magazines, newspapers, syndicates and wire services, including Reuters. For fun, she writes books, takes photographs and enjoys adventure, travel, history and a good cup of coffee.

You May Also Like

Looking For Passive Income? There's One Option Right Below Your Feet

One company’s innovative approach makes farmland investing easier and more accessible.

3 Ways to Reduce Student Loan Debt Before Biden's Payments Freeze Ends

Here's how to reduce your debt before loan repayment and interest resume in the new year.

3 Ways to Earn Big Returns Without the Shaky Stock Market

Don't limit yourself to the stock market. These alternatives can trounce the S&P 500.

Do Big Stores Save You the Most? We Price-Check Our Shopping List

With one 30-second trick, we found $460 in savings beyond Walmart and Amazon.