Citizens Bank Review

ByTop10.com StaffOct.08, 2018

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In a Nutshell

Citizens Bank offers impressive student loan and refinancing services, giving customers the opportunity to receive the best possible interest rates with its variety of incentives and deals. It is an ideal solution for customers looking for a flexible multi-year student loan or refinancing solution.

pros

  • Multi-year approval to cover full period of studies
  • Incredibly versatile amount of options for repayment

cons

  • Limited forgiveness programs and options
  • Loyalty discount dependant on availability of bank branches

Citizens Bank ID Card

Loan types 
Private Student Loans and student loan refinancing
Loan amount 
$1,000 to $90,000 (undergraduate degrees), $,1000 to $350,000 (graduate degrees), $300,000 (refinancing)
Repayment Terms 
5, 10, 15, 20 years
Top Pro 
Receive multi-year approval to cover the full period of studies
Top Con 
Limited forgiveness programs and options
Best for 
Students with good credit looking for a multi-year financial solution

Citizens Bank at a Glance

Ranked as one of the largest retail banks in the United States, Citizens Bank is one of the oldest and most established financial institutions in the country. The company offers a variety of banking and lending services, including its burgeoning student loans division. Today, Citizens Bank delivers lending services to a variety of students at different stages of their education alongside convenient refinancing programs designed to help graduates repay their outstanding loans more easily. The bank has won an impressive number of awards and recognitions over the years thanks to its innovative products and outstanding customer service. Also, the company’s student lending arm offers customers a quick online solution to go along with its brick-and-mortar services.

Citizens Bank Homepage
Student loans from a trusted financial institution

Best for Whom?

With a wide variety of loan terms, rates, and amounts available, Citizens Bank presents an applicable financing solution for a wide range of borrowers. The company’s outstanding financing amounts make them ideal for graduate students and those specializing in certain fields, such as medicine and healthcare. With loan amounts that can reach up to $350,000, medical students and other health-related fields can take advantage of a multi-year loan that will cover all their expenses. In addition, customers can take advantage of the company's incentives to cut down their starting interest rates and save more over the long run. Borrowers looking to refinance their existing loans can also benefit from a high ceiling available for refinancing amounts, as well as competitive interest rates that can result in significant savings down the line.

Loan Features

There are several features and characteristics that help Citizens Bank stand out from the competition. The bank underwrites an excellent variety of loans for different educational tracks, including graduate and undergraduate studies as well as medical school and business or law schools. Borrowers benefit from the company’s no-fee policy, which eliminates application, origination, and disbursement fees along with penalties for loan prepayment. Moreover, Citizens Bank offers an excellent range of interest rates that can be lowered significantly through a variety of programs and incentives. For individuals with outstanding loans, the company allows refinancing for students that have not completed their degree if they are no longer enrolled. Additionally, customers that sign up with a cosigner can have them released after 36 consecutive payments made on time. Citizens Bank also provides customers with a longer grace period following graduation than many of its competitors. Customers who require a more personal touch can contact the company at any of their physical locations across 11 states. Finally, one of the biggest standouts for Citizens Bank is their inclusion of multi-year loans, which many competitors do not issue under any circumstances.

Some Citizens Bank highlights:

  • Receive a loan amount that covers several terms with multi-year financing
  • Lower interest rates by as much as 0.50% with incentives and benefits
  • No application, disbursement, or origination fees
  • Flexible range of loan terms and amounts
  • Interest rates can be lowered by starting payments earlier
  • Refinance loans even if academic program was not completed
  • Visit any of the company’s physical branches for in-person assistance
  • Different loans available for specialized degree programs
 Citizens Bank Benefits
  Citizens Bank gives excellent benefits

The Application Process

The application process for a Citizens Bank student loan is straightforward. The company very clearly states the requirements on their website, and the application itself is easy to complete quickly. The initial form takes only a few minutes to fill out, and the process can be greatly expedited by having all the pertinent documents and information readily available. To qualify for a Citizens Bank student loan, the company requires the following:

  • Be a US citizen or permanent resident
  • Be enrolled at minimum half-time in a program that grants degrees at a qualifying university
  • Have good credit, or a cosigner with good credit
  • Be legally of age in applicant’s state of residence (customers who are legally under age can apply, but require a cosigner)

Customers that meet the approval criteria should also have the following information ready to upload or input:

  • Name, contact details, date of birth
  • Social Security Number
  • A pay stub no older than 60 days or similar proof of income and housing payments
  • Name and contact details of employer (if applicable)
  • Name of the university being applied to
  • Cost of attendance and financial aid granted
  • Expected graduation date, loan term and amount
  • Students are expected to provide references
  • Name and valid email address for cosigner (if applicable)

Once approved, Citizens Bank will disburse the loan amount directly to the student’s university.

Loan Terms – Essentials

One of the areas where Citizens Bank stands out from the competition is in the wide range of loan terms available to borrowers. Customers can request a great variety of loan amounts and terms depending on the level of education they are pursuing.
Undergraduate loans are offered in amounts ranging between $1,000 and $90,000. These loans also give customers the ability to select how they want to handle repayment of their loans. Interest rates for undergraduate loans vary depending on how customers choose to repay them. Borrowers can select from:

  • Immediate repayment, which starts monthly payments immediately and covers both principal and interest amounts. APRs for this payment method range from 4.22% to 10.67%
  • Interest-only payments, which set a fixed amount to be paid each month to cover interest costs. Full payment begins after graduation and the end of the grace period. APRs are the same as the immediate payment option.
  • Deferred payments start after the end of the borrowers’ grace period following graduation. Interest does accrue during the non-payment period. APRs range from 5.57% to 10.18%

Graduate loans also start at $1,000, but can reach as high as $350,000 for certain degrees. Qualified graduate students can borrow up to $150,000, with MBA and law students eligible for up to $225,000, and healthcare professionals entitled to borrow up to 180,000 or $350,000 depending on the degree being pursued. Graduate students also have the same repayment options for their time in school. Refinancing loans offer amounts between $1,000 and $300,000 with interest rates that start as low as 4.39% and reach up to 8.24%.
Borrowers can lower their interest rates significantly by choosing shorter repayment terms or taking advantage of other incentives to reduce the overall APR. Citizens Bank offers a 0.25% interest rate reduction for customers who sign up for automated payments, as well as a 0.25% loyalty discount for applicants with accounts at the bank.

Repayment Terms

Customers desiring student loans or refinancing loans from Citizens Bank have a broad range of repayment terms to choose from that are designed to help fit a wide range of borrower needs. The most beneficial interest rates are made available to customers who select shorter repayment periods.
Customers who apply for undergraduate and graduate loans can choose repayment periods ranging between 5, 10, and 15 years. Approved borrowers can elect to start paying back their loans immediately while in school or defer repayment until after graduation.
Refinancing loans come with terms of 5, 10, 15, or 20 years with interest rates that vary accordingly. Overall, Citizens Bank offers excellent versatility for customers looking for the right repayment period to fit their financial capabilities.

How Safe is It?

Borrowers can rest easy knowing their information is safe with Citizens Bank. As one of the largest financial institutions in the United States, the bank is subject to a variety of Federal and State-level regulations on customer security and informational protection. Additionally, the company is transparent about the information it collects from customers, as well as how it stores and shares that data with third parties. Customers can opt out of certain collection practices.

Help & Support

For support, customers can reach Citizens Bank via a phone line available around the clock, secure email, in-person visits, and even social media such as Twitter or Facebook. The company’s service was professional and well-mannered, with representatives over the phone able to answer our queries efficiently. Wait times both over the phone and email were relatively short, and in-person visits feature highly trained banking staff that can help customers solve problems regardless of their complexity.

Deep Dive into Pros and Cons

We were impressed with Citizens Bank, but there were some areas where the company could optimize its services:

  • We would have liked to see more value-added benefits for qualifying borrowers
  • The bank does not include unemployment forgiveness with its student loans
  • Customers who do not live in a state with a Citizens Bank branch cannot qualify for the loyalty discount

On the other hand, there were several notable aspects of Citizens Bank’s services that stood out:

  • The company offers an incredibly versatile amount of options for repayment
  • Customers can reduce as much as 0.50% from their initial interest rate with minimal effort
  • Borrowers can begin paying down their loans immediately and reduce the overall cost of financing
  • The company offers multi-year loans, unlike many competitors
 Citizens Bank Customer Support
Customer support available around the clock

Summary

Overall, Citizens bank offers impressive student loan and refinancing services. The bank gives customers the opportunity to receive the best possible interest rates with its variety of incentives and deals, such as their loyalty program. In addition, the company’s loan terms and multi-year financing solutions let borrowers find a loan and rest easy for the duration of their education. Thanks to an excellent choice of repayment options and a friendly grace period, the company also helps by giving graduates a chance to get on their feet before beginning to pay off their full loans. All in all, Citizens Bank is an ideal solution for customers looking for a flexible multi-year student loan or refinancing solution.

Physical Address

Citizens Bank Student Loans
One Citizens Plaza
Providence, RI
02903