Updated September 17, 2019

CommonBond Review: Is It Legit?

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CommonBond offers competitive rates for student loan refinance along with a strong social mission. Is it right for you? See the pros and cons.

Overall Score


Customer Service


Loan Term


Ease of Use


Interest Rates


Payment Flexibility

5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Hybrid program
  • Payment protections
  • Social mission
  • Not available for all states
  • Long process to approval

Bottom Line

Community-focused lender with unique hybrid rate option

If you're looking for a way to get rid of student loans faster, refinancing your loan with CommonBond may get you a better rate. But would that be a smart move?

Is CommonBond a Good Company?

CommonBond is one of many fairly new companies out there offering to refinance student loans.

It looks beyond your credit history when determining approval. It also considers other factors, like whether your career is on the right track and how you handle your money.

If they like what they see, they could offer you a lower interest rate on your student debt—which can save you good money in the long run and make your monthly payments more manageable.

To find out what rate you qualify for, click here. It might be better than the one you're currently getting.

CommonBond also stands out with their social promise to provide education for children in need.

Is it right for you? Read on for the pros and cons.

CommonBond at a Glance:

  • Loans from $5,000 to $500,000
  • Terms of 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years
  • Fixed, variable, or hybrid rates
  • No origination fee or prepayment penalty
  • Refinance federal, private, previously consolidated, and Parent PLUS loans


Before we jump in, let's highlight some promotions for refinancing if you have private loans.

Should I Refinance My Student Loans?

© CreditDonkey

Before you pull the trigger, think carefully if refinancing is right for you. It could be a smart idea if:

  • Your credit has improved since college.
    With a better credit score, you'll be able to qualify for a better interest rate, which will save you a lot in the long run.

  • You've still got a lot of time left on your debt.
    If you're only a couple of years away from being debt-free, you've pretty much paid most of the interest by this point. Refinancing probably isn't going to yield much of a benefit at this stage.

  • You don't plan to apply for forgiveness programs.
    Before refinancing federal loans, make sure you don't plan to take advantage of federal forgiveness programs. You'll lose the ability to take part in them.

How to Refinance with CommonBond:

  1. Get an estimated rate by filling out a short form. This takes just a couple of minutes and has no impact on your credit.

  2. If you like the rate, go ahead with the official application and upload supporting documentation.

  3. CommonBond will then give you a final offer. This a hard pull and will show up on your credit report. Once approved, CommonBond will pay off your loan within 2 weeks.


© aleca_99 (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

  • Potentially big savings
    You can save a lot if you qualify for a lower interest rate. According to the company website, the average savings is around $14,000.

  • More well-rounded review process
    CommonBond doesn't see borrowers as just a credit score. They also look at other factors beyond that three-digit number. You'll still need good credit to qualify, but it's not the only way CommonBond is going to judge you.

  • Fixed, variable, and hybrid rates
    CommonBond offers three rate choices for refinancing. Fixed rates are higher but good if you want predictability. Variable rates are lower, but it's a risk as it can go up according to market changes.

    The hybrid rate is a unique option. This loan has a 10-year term and gives you a fixed rate for the first 5 years and a variable rate for the last 5. The rate is lower than the typical 10-year fixed rate, so it's good if you think you can prepay.

    Compare with other lenders. Shop around with different lenders to see who gives you the best rate. You can get multiple rate quotes with no obligation. Check out some of those top student loan refinance lenders.

  • No hidden fees
    CommonBond does not charge an origination fee or application fee.

  • No prepayment penalty
    There is no penalty for paying off your loan early if you decide to pay more than the monthly payment and wipe the debt out at warp speed.

  • 0.25% discount
    When you enroll in auto-pay, you'll receive a 0.25% discount off your rate.

  • Forbearance and deferment options
    If you run into economic hardship and can't make payments anymore, you don't need to panic. CommonBond offers up to 24 months of forbearance over the life of the loan.

    CommonBond also offers academic deferment for borrowers going back to school.

  • Refinance up to $500,000
    Altogether, you can refinance up to $500,000 in loans through CommonBond. That's good news if you borrowed heavily to get through school.

  • Ability to add a co-signer
    You can add a co-signer, which can help you get approved or get a lower interest rate. CommonBond also offers co-signer release after a certain number of payments so they're not tied to your loan for the entire term.

  • Community events
    CommonBond has a strong community that hosts networking events, panels, and career assistance. You can take advantage of it to make connections and find job opportunities.

  • Social mission
    One thing that makes CommonBond stand out from other lenders is their social promise. For every loan refinanced with CommonBond, they will fund the education of a student in need in the developing world.

  • Referral bonus
    Every time you refer a friend to refinance with CommonBond and they get approved, you'll get a $200 cash bonus.


Ideally, you want to refinance your student loans when interest rates are low. Waiting until rates start to climb may mean missing out on the best deal.

At the moment, rates are still low but that could change in the future. Ultimately, whether it's a good time to refinance for you depends on what your credit looks like and where you're at financially.


Be aware of these risks. We found three reasons why you might want to proceed with caution.

  • Eligibility requirements
    To refinance with CommonBond, you have to have graduated from an eligible school. Also, CommonBond currently does not lend in Mississippi and Nevada.

  • No guaranteed savings
    Refinancing doesn't necessarily mean you're going to save money. If your credit doesn't qualify you for the best rates, you may end up with an APR that's pretty close to what you were already paying. You might even be at risk of paying more in interest if you choose a variable rate loan and the rate takes a big jump later on.

  • Loss of federal loan safety net
    If you have federal and private loans, you can refinance them into a single loan—but you're taking a big gamble. Once you refinance federal loans, you're not going to be eligible for things like income-based repayment, deferment, or loan forgiveness if you work in the public sector.

    If you've got both types of loans, you're probably better off refinancing just the private ones and consolidating the others through a federal loan program.


Applying for CommonBond is simple and done completely online. Here's how it works:

  1. Fill out a short form
    First, you'll fill out some general information. This includes your estimated loan balance, highest degree awarded, and income. You'll also supply your Social Security number.

  2. Get an estimated rate
    CommonBond will conduct a soft pull on your credit. Within minutes, you'll have an estimated rate. This has no impact on your credit.

  3. Officially apply
    If you decide to continue, you'll officially apply and upload supporting documents, like your loan statements, pay stubs, and proof of residency.

  4. Get the final offer
    CommonBond will then conduct a hard credit pull to come up with your final loan rate and term options. This will show up on your credit report and have an impact on your score.

  5. Approve loan
    Once the loan is approved, CommonBond will pay off your student loans. After that, you will just make one payment to CommonBond each month.

Am I Obligated Once I Apply?
CommonBond provides rate quotes with no obligation, so you're not locked in if your rate isn't as low as you'd like. You're actually better off shopping around with different lenders to see what kind of loan terms you might be able to qualify for.

CommonBond partners with institutional investors who provide the funding to cover the loans. These investors realize returns on the money they've put up when you pay the loan back.


Before you can refinance with CommonBond, you have to make sure you're eligible. Here's a rundown of the most important requirements you need to meet:

  • Residency
    You must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or H1-B, J-1, L-1, E-2, or E-3 visa holder.

  • School
    You must have earned a degree from one of the over 2,000 Title IV accredited universities or graduate programs.

  • Credit history
    The better your credit, the better the offer you'll receive. If your credit isn't up to snuff, you'll need to find a creditworthy co-signer to get the ball rolling.

  • Income and employment
    CommonBond requires either proof of income (like pay stubs) OR a letter of acceptance from a future employer.


Not everyone is going to get the green light for a refinance loan with CommonBond. Even though they're not a traditional lender, they still hold borrowers to a certain set of standards.

If you're wondering what your chances of getting approved are, take a step back and see yourself the way a lender would see you.

For example, if you have a good credit score, you've been working steadily since you left school, you don't have any other debts, and you're bringing in some decent cash, then you're going to look a lot more attractive.

If you're the total opposite of that, your odds of getting approved might be slim if you don't have a co-signer who's willing to help.


© CreditDonkey

Doing your research before you commit to refinancing with CommonBond is a must. To make it easier, check out how it stacks up the competition.


LendKey has a lot in common with CommonBond. You can use it to refinance private or federal loans, you have a choice between variable and fixed rates, and there are no origination fees. The one big difference is that instead of using larger banks to fund loans, LendKey relies on credit unions and community banks for funding.

What we like about LendKey
We think LendKey is worth a look for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the interest rates it advertises are slightly lower than what CommonBond is currently offering. LendKey also offers more flexibility with repayment, and certain loans will even let you make interest-only payments for the first four years.

Why we like CommonBond more
Even though LendKey has somewhat lower rates, we'd still recommend CommonBond based on how much you stand to save. According to LendKey's website, their borrowers save an average of $12,500, which is $1,500 less than what CommonBond advertises. The fact that you get a third interest rate option with the hybrid loan also gives it an edge.


Citizens Bank is a traditional bank that offers refinancing for private and federal student education debt. Loan terms last either 5, 10, 15 or 20 years, which is the same as CommonBond. There are no origination fees for loans and no prepayment penalties, which can save you money.

What we like about Citizens Bank
One of the biggest marks in Citizens Bank's favor is the fact that you don't need to have graduated to refinance your student loans. That requirement can be a major barrier if you've got your eye on CommonBond. One other nice perk is a 0.25% interest rate reduction if you have a checking or savings account with Citizens Bank.

Why we like CommonBond more
CommonBond beats outs Citizens Bank for a few reasons. Because it is a traditional lender, Citizens Bank is more stringent in terms of the kind of credit you need to qualify. Not only that, but the fixed and variable rates the bank offers are a bit higher than what you can get with CommonBond.


SoFi, a heavy hitter in the student loan refinancing arena, is not all that different from CommonBond. This lender offers loans for federal and private refinancing with fixed and variable rates. Loan terms are similar, lasting 5, 10, 15 or 20 years, and SoFi also offers extra protections if you lose your job.


Earnest is unique in that it customizes your term and payments based on your budget. You say how much you can afford to pay each month, and Earnest will give you a custom term anywhere from 60—240 months (instead of the standard 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years). This helps you save on interest since you're not pushed to a longer term.


Am I obligated once I apply?
Nope. Even if you officially apply and get your actual rate, you don't have to take it if you don't like the rate. In fact, it's smart to shop around at different lenders. FICO treats all inquires within 45 days as one single inquiry.

Does refinancing student loans cost money?
It should NOT cost money (aside from when you make repayments). Many student loan refinance lenders do not charge an application fee or origination fee. So there is no reason why you should pay for those.

Can you refinance student loans more than once?
Yes, technically you can refinance with private lenders as often as you like. If you can qualify for lower rates and/or a better term, this can save you money on interest. If your credit has improved a lot or you're making more income since you first refinanced, it could be a good option.

How soon can I refinance my student loans?
CommonBond requires that you have graduated before you refinance with them. This also depends on your individual situation. If you have a job lined up right after graduation and you already have some positive credit history, you can refinance right away and benefit from a lower interest rate. If you don't have a job yet and no credit history, you may need to get those in order first.


© Gonzalo Baeza (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

There are lots of things to like about CommonBond if you're in the market to refinance your student loans.

If you're able to get approved, it could help you put thousands of dollars back in your pocket. Do your comparison shopping and some math before you sign off on new loan terms. For example, if you decide to go with a longer payment term to keep your monthly payments low, know that you could end up forking over a lot more money over time in interest charges.

All in all, CommonBond is worth a look if you're ready to save some money on your loans and you've got the rest of your financial ducks in a row.

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a student loan comparison and reviews website. Write to Rebecca Lake at rebecca@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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