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Should You Refinance Your Student Loans?

Due to financial consequences of COVID-19 — and the broader impact on our economy — now is an excellent time to consider refinancing most loans you have. This can include mortgage debt you have that may be converted to a new loan with a lower interest rate, as well as auto loans, personal loans, and more.

Refinancing student loans can also make sense if you’re willing to transition student loans you currently have into a new loan with a private lender. Make sure to take time to compare rates to see how you could save money on interest, potentially pay down student loans faster, or even both if you took the steps to refinance.

Get Started and Compare Rates Now

Still, it’s important to keep a close eye on policies and changes from the federal government that have already taken place, as well as changes that might come to fruition in the next weeks or months. Currently, all federal student loans are locked in at a 0% APR and payments are suspended during that time. This change started on March 13, 2020 and lasts for 60 days, so borrowers with federal loans can skip payments and avoid interest charges until the middle of May 2020.

It’s hard to say what will happen after that, but it’s smart to start figuring out your next steps and determining if student loan refinancing makes sense for your situation. Note that, in addition to lower interest rates than you can get with federal student loans, many private student lenders offer signup bonuses as well. With the help of a lower rate and an initial bonus, you could end up far “ahead” by refinancing in a financial sense.

Still, there are definitely some negatives to consider when it comes to refinancing your student loans, and we’ll go over those disadvantages below.

Should You Refinance Now?

Do you have student loan debt at a higher APR than you want to pay?

  • If no: You shouldn’t refinance.
  • If yes: Go to next question.

Do you have good credit or a cosigner? 

  • If no: You shouldn’t refinance.
  • If yes:  Go to next question.

Do you have federal student loans?

  • If no: You can consider refinancing
  • If yes: Go to next question

Are you willing to give up federal protections like deferment, forbearance, and income-driven repayment plans?

  • If no: You shouldn’t refinance
  • If yes: Consider refinancing your loans.

Reasons to Refinance

There are many reasons student borrowers ultimately refinance their student loans, although they can vary from person to person. Here are the main situations where it can make sense to refinance along with the benefits you can expect to receive:

  • Secure a lower monthly payment on your student loans.
    You may want to consider refinancing your student loans if your ultimate goal is reducing your monthly payment so it fits in better with your budget and your goals. A lower interest rate could help you lower your payment each month, but so could extending your repayment timeline.
  • Save money on interest over the long haul.
    If you plan to refinance your loans into a similar repayment timeline with a lower APR, you will definitely save money on interest over the life of your loan.
  • Change up your repayment timeline.
    Most private lenders let you refinance your student loans into a new loan product that lasts 5 to 20 years. If you want to expedite your loan repayment or extend your repayment timeline, private lenders offer that option.
  • Pay down debt faster.
    Also, keep in mind that reducing your interest rate or repayment timeline can help you get out of student loan debt considerably faster. If you’re someone who wants to get out of debt as soon as you can, this is one of the best reasons to refinance with a private lender.

Why You Might Not Want to Refinance Right Now

While the reasons to refinance above are good ones, there are plenty of reasons you may want to pause on your refinancing plans. Here are the most common:

  • You want to wait and see if the federal government will offer 0% APR or forbearance beyond May 2020 due to COVID-19.
    The federal government has only extended forbearance through the middle of May right now, but they might lengthen the timeline of this benefit if you wait it out. Since this perk only applies to federal student loans, you would likely want to keep those loans at 0% APR for as long as the federal government allows.
  • You may want to take advantage of income-driven repayment plans.
    Income-driven repayment plans like Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Income-Based Repayment let you pay a percentage of your discretionary income each month then have your loans forgiven after 20 to 25 years. These plans only apply to federal student loans, so you shouldn’t refinance with a private lender if you are hoping to sign up.
  • You’re worried you won’t be able to keep up with your student loan payments due to your job or economic conditions.
    Federal student loans come with deferment and forbearance that can buy you time if you’re struggling to make the payments on your student loans. With that in mind, you may not want to give up these protections if you’re unsure about your future and how your finances might be.
  • Your credit score is low and you don’t have a cosigner.
    Finally, you should probably stick with federal student loans if your credit score is poor and you don’t have a cosigner. Federal student loans come with fairly low rates and most don’t require a credit check, so they’re a great deal if your credit is imperfect.

Important Things to Note

Before you move forward with student loan refinancing, there are some details you should know and understand. Here are our top tips and some important factors to keep in mind.

Compare Rates and Loan Terms

Because student loan refinancing is such a competitive industry, shopping around for loans based on their rates and terms can help you find out which lenders are offering the most lucrative refinancing options for someone with your credit profile and income.

We suggest using Credible to shop for student loan refinancing since this loan platform lets you compare offers from multiple lenders in one place. You can even get prequalified for student loan refinancing and “check your rate” without a hard inquiry on your credit score.

Check for Signup Bonuses

Some student loan refinancing companies let you score a bonus of $100 to $750 just for clicking through a specific link to start the process. This money is free money if you’re able to take advantage, and you can still qualify for low rates and fair loan terms that can help you get ahead.

We definitely suggest checking with lenders that offer bonuses provided you can also score the most competitive rates and terms.

Consider Your Personal Eligibility

Also keep your personal eligibility in mind, including factors beyond your credit score. Most applicants who are turned down for student loan refinancing are turned away based on their debt-to-income ratio and not their credit score. Generally speaking, this means they owe too much money on all their debts when you compare their liabilities to their income.

Credible also notes that adding a creditworthy cosigner can improve your chances of prequalifying for a loan. They also state that “many lenders offer cosigner release once borrowers have made a minimum number of on-time payments and can demonstrate they are ready to assume full responsibility for repayment of the loan on their own.”

It’s Not “All or Nothing”

Also, remember that you don’t have to refinance all of your student loans. You can just refinance the loans at the highest interest rates, or any particular loans you believe could benefit from a different repayment term.

4 Steps to Refinance Your Student Loans

Once you’re ready to pull the trigger, there are four simple steps involved in refinancing your student loans.

Step 1: Gather all your loan information.

Before you start the refinancing process, it helps to have all your loan information, including your student loan pay stubs, in one place. This can help you determine the total amount you want to refinance as well as the interest rates and payments you currently have on your loans.

Step 2: Compare lenders and the rates they offer.

From there, take the time to compare lenders in terms of the rates they can offer. You can use this tool to get the process started.

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Step 3: Choose the best loan offer you can qualify for.

Once you’ve filled out basic information, you can choose among multiple loan offers. Make sure to check for signup bonus offers as well as interest rates, loan repayment terms, and interest rates you can qualify for.

Step 4: Complete your loan application.

Once you decide on a lender that offers the best rates and terms, you can move forward with your full student loan refinancing application. Your student loan company will ask for more personal information and details on your existing student loans, which they will combine into your new loan with a new repayment term and monthly payment.

The Bottom Line

Whether it makes sense to refinance your student loans is a huge question that only you can answer after careful thought and consideration. Make sure you weigh all the pros and cons, including what you may be giving up if you’re refinancing federal loans with a private lender.

Refinancing your student loans can make sense if you have a plan to pay them off, but this strategy works best if you create a debt repayment plan you can stick with for the long-term.

The post Should You Refinance Your Student Loans? appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

Source: goodfinancialcents.com

Should I Buy or Lease My Next Car?

Gas can make summer road trips expensive, but the right credit card can earn some of that spending back.

One of the most common questions I am asked as a financial planner is “should I lease or buy my car?” Leasing commercials on the radio make it sound like leasing a car is the only cheap, intelligent choice. However, it really depends on how you define “cheap.” If it means a lower monthly payment, then leasing is usually cheaper. If it means what you pay long term, though, leasing is usually not the best option.

What’s the Process of Buying a Car?

Buying a car is a relatively straightforward process. Essentially, you negotiate the price of the car at the dealership and you secure financing. After providing a down payment, you’d finance the entire remaining value of the car, usually through a loan from a bank or credit union. You would then make payments that include both principal and interest for a specified period of time. Once your contract is complete, and the loan or other financing is paid off, you’d own the car outright.

At that point, you could decide to keep it or sell it. If you sold it, you’d have to negotiate the sale to get the price you want. One disadvantage of owning the car is that thanks to regular wear and tear and other factors, you have no guarantee of what the car will be worth at the end of the financing period.

How is Leasing Different from Buying?

Leasing is a bit more complicated, but it’s basically just another method of financing a car. The difference is you aren’t financing the entire car—just the use of the car during the first few years of the car’s life. The payments you make would still consist of principal and interest, but only for the portion of the car’s life you’d be using up.

The biggest difference is that unlike buying a car, you don’t own anything once a lease is complete—and if you still needed a vehicle, you’d have to acquire another one. Typically, you can purchase the car for a pre-set price (known as the residual value) once the lease term is over, or you can give the car back to the leasing company and decide to either purchase or lease another vehicle.

Do You Have to Pay Extra Fees to Lease a Car?

Many advertised leases also require a down payment. If you’re short on cash, you can skip the down payment, but your monthly payment would be higher because you’d be financing more of the car. Also, keep in mind that you’re still responsible for the condition and mileage of the cars you lease. When you turn the car back in, if it isn’t in good condition or if you’ve driven more miles than your lease allows (around 12,000 miles per year), then you’ll have to pay extra.

When Is It Better to Lease Rather Than Buy?

Before you decide to lease or buy, you’ll also need to determine how many miles you drive per year and how long you like to keep your cars. If you are a high mileage driver (say, more than 15,000 miles per year) or you like to keep your cars for three years or more, you are most likely better off purchasing the car. If you don’t drive much and you prefer driving new cars, then leasing may be a better option for you.

Regardless of whether you lease or buy, you’ll need good credit to qualify for a low interest rate. So before you shop for a car, see where you stand: check your credit score for free at Credit.com.

Image: monkeybusinessimages 

The post Should I Buy or Lease My Next Car? appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com

How Long Does It Take to Refinance a House (+ 5 Ways to Speed Up the Process)

We’re all looking for ways to cut down on expenses — especially fixed expenses that lock us into a contracted bill month after month. One common way to spare your budget is to decrease your living expenses, including your house payment. Refinancing your loan could help cut down on your mortgage payments and could update your loan terms, saving you money. If you’re considering refinancing, you may ask, “how long does it take to refinance a house?”

Refinancing your home can be tedious but it could help your budget in the long run. Luckily, we’re here to help by sharing the typical refinancing process and detailing how to make it as efficient as possible.

How Long Does It Take to Refinance?

How Long Does It Take to Refinance?

Typically, refinancing a house takes 45 days, but it may vary depending on your financial situation and your lender vetting process. Preparing your financials early and picking the appropriate lender for your case are a few factors that could help the timeline of your updated mortgage loan. To speed up the refinancing application process, skip to our section below or keep reading to refinance your home in seven steps.

Steps to Refinance Your Home

Refinancing your mortgage has its positives and potential negatives. You could decrease your monthly mortgage payments, get a shorter loan period, or lock in a better interest rate. But you could also end up spending more on application fees or face prepayment penalties. Before speaking with a lender, research the refinancing process, requirements, and added costs that could deter your ideal result.

The 7-Step Home Refinancing Timeline

Step 1: Define Your Financial Goals

Start by asking yourself what you’d like to get out of a refinancing loan agreement. Do you want to shorten your loan term? Do you want to secure an interest rate lower than your current rate? Or, do you want both? Determine your ideal end result, verify your investment choice, and seek a lender that supports your goals.

Step 2: Compare Lenders (and Reviews)

Ask around or search online to find the right lender for you and your goals. Pick out a few professionals you’d be interested in working with and ask them their rates, terms, and requirements. To help narrow down your lender options, seek out reviews online or ask for referrals in your network to ensure you pick the right choice.

Step 3: Double-Check for Additional Fees or Costs

Refinancing a loan can rack up a bill you may not be aware of until after you start the loan process. Attorney, application, inspection, appraisal, and title searches are a few refinancing tasks that you could be charged for. To budget for these expenses, save a bit extra from each paycheck or assess your current savings account using our app. If you have enough saved, start inquiring about this loan. If you don’t, put extra cash into savings each month until you have enough to cover the extra charges.

Mortgage Refinancing Documents

Step 4: Apply for Your Best Loan Estimate

Once you’ve found the right loan for your financial goals, the next step is to fill out your application.. To submit your application, you may have to provide proof of income, assets, debts, and other forms that complete your financial portfolio. These documents may be helpful in the application process:

  • Proof of income: W2 earnings statements, 1099 DIV income statements, Federal tax returns for the last two years, bank statements for the last few months, recent paycheck stubs.
  • Credit information: your credit score and your credit reports from the last three years will be pulled for you, upon your approval.
  • Proof of assets: reports from your checking, savings, retirement, and other investment accounts.
  • Proof or insurance: providing evidence of your homeowners and title insurance.
  • Debts statements: statements of any debt accounts open — student loans, credit cards, current home loan, auto loans, etc.

Step 5: Start the Loan Process and Appraise Your Home

It’s now time to begin the loan process and appraise the value of your home. Once you’re approved for your loan, it’s time to get your home inspected, appraised, and conduct a title search. To ensure you’re on track with your timeline, prepare all your documents ahead of time. Skip to our section below for more ways to speed up this process.

Step 6: Wait for Underwriters to Cross-Reference

Now, the underwriters take it from here. Underwriters double-check your financial information to ensure everything is accurate before approving your loan. Your creditworthiness and debt-to-income ratio are generally the key factors underwriters will look at. Your property details, including when you bought your house and your home’s value, are a few other determining factors. This process may be the longest time constraint, taking a few days up to a few weeks.

Step 7: Close Your Loan to Lock in Your Interest Rate

Once your loan is approved and you’ve agreed upon your terms, it’s time to lock in your rate. This stage is commonly known to stretch your timeline as well. It can take your lawyer anywhere from one day to two months to settle your current loan and redeem your property. Keep in mind, this is typically where you pay the brunt of your fees whether you’re approved or denied. These fees may include closing costs and application fees.

Ways to Speed up the Application Process

credit score of 620 or higher, it may be the right time to check in on your score. Use our app to see your credit score, your credit history, and helpful tips to boost your ranking.

  • Avoid taking on more debt: Your credit score is impacted by your debt. Maxing out your credit card could negatively impact your credit score and cost more in the long run. Focus on paying off debts and only spending your readily available money to free up more credit utilization.
  • Stay away from applying for new credit: Additionally, inquiring about new debt opportunities could drop your credit score up to eight points. Next time you’re offered a new credit card or a deal on a car loan, take a few days to analyze the potential credit changes that could impact your refinanced mortgage.
  • Do what you can to accommodate your appraiser and lender: During this process, you may run into a couple issues — such as needing different paperwork or extra signatures. While life can get busy, do your best to make your appraisers and lenders live’s easy. Doing so could speed up your process and earn you a better home loan in no time!
  • Refinancing your home takes time, but it can be well worth it in the long run. Getting a lower interest rate and a shorter term length could lessen your payments going towards interest. Use our app and our loan calculator to see what refinancing could do for your budget.

     

    The post How Long Does It Take to Refinance a House (+ 5 Ways to Speed Up the Process) appeared first on MintLife Blog.

    Source: mint.intuit.com

    Can I Get a Car Loan If I Have No Credit?

    buy a car with no credit

    Yes, lenders have auto loans for people with no credit, but getting one is not guaranteed. It will depend on the lender’s flexibility, the down payment you can afford, and the kind of car you want to buy. It may even depend on how you ask.

    Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor for the consumer auto site Edmunds has some good advice on how to get a car loan with no credit. He says a surprising number of people simply walk into a dealership and say, “Hi, I have no credit, and I want to buy a car.” He doesn’t recommend this approach. Instead, he offers these five tips for people who need a no-credit car loan.

    1. Get Pre-Approved

    If you have no credit or a thin credit profile, you should try to get preapproved for a loan before heading to the dealership. This will let you compare rates with any loan the dealer may offer. It may also give you a bargaining chip when negotiating the final deal.

    If you have a relationship with a bank or credit union, you should start looking for financing there. Reed recommends making an appointment to meet with your bank’s loan officer in person.

    “Make a case for yourself,” he says. That means bringing your pay stubs and bank account records with you. You should also check your credit reports, if they exist, and credit scores. You want to know as much about your credit profile as a lender would. If you don’t know your credit score, don’t worry—you can check your credit score for free every month on Credit.com.

    If you can’t get a loan from your financial institution, you may be able to find a no-credit auto loan online. Just make sure it’s from a reputable lender. Credit.com can also help you find auto loan offers from trustworthy lending institutions.

     

    2. Negotiate a Good Price

    A dealership could beat the offer you get from your bank or credit union. However, if you know you’re already approved for a loan, you can focus on comparing rates and prices instead of worrying about financing.

    Reed says that it’s important to be wary. You don’t want to feel so indebted to the dealer for “giving” you a loan that you fail to negotiate the price of the car. And if the dealer’s financing isn’t better than the bank’s, at least you still have an approval in your pocket.

    Having a good down payment or trade-in can also help your case. A trade-in would reduce the amount you’ll need to borrow, and a larger down payment would show the lender some commitment on your part. Edmunds recommends putting at least 10% down on a used car, so start saving now.

    3. Choose the Right Car

    Be sure the car you’re buying is affordable for you, even if it’s not the car you’d choose if you had more money and better credit. “If you have no credit, it’s not the time to get your dream car,” Reed says. “You have to choose the right car and the right amount [to borrow].”

    You want reliable transportation you can afford. Making regular, on-time payments won’t just pay down your load, it will also build your credit, so don’t get a loan that requires higher payments than you can comfortably make.

    Sites like Kelley Blue Book, Cars.com, and Edmunds can help you find information on the cars that match your budget. When you’re at the car dealership, remember your budget and don’t spring for optional add-ons you don’t really need.

    4. Don’t Let Interest Rates Scare You Off

    Reed cautions that when you get a loan with no credit, the interest rates you’re offered may seem appallingly high, but that’s part of the cost of having no credit history.

    When you don’t have a credit score, lenders can’t assess how big of a risk they’re taking by giving you a loan. To protect the money they’re lending, they will likely treat you as a high-risk borrower, which means the loan will have a higher interest rate.

    As you make payments, you’ll establish a pattern of reliably paying back money. Over time, you can improve your interest rate by refinancing. Reed says that, according to a dealership employee, a customer once lowered his interest rate from 13% to 2% in two years’ time by improving his credit and refinancing.

    5. Give Yourself Some Credit, Not a Cosigner

    Reed advises against cosigning—a process that involves checking someone else’s credit and using that score to qualify for a loan. It might get you a lower rate and help you get approved, but Reed says that if you bite the bullet and pay a higher interest rate rather than get a cosigner, you’ll have the opportunity to build credit.

    In addition, having a cosigner will tie that person’s credit to yours, and the way you repay your car loan will influence their credit. Reed says if you’re going to do it, do it only as a last resort, and make sure the cosigner is a relative.

    Bottom line, though, as Reed explains, “It’s asking a lot.” It’s better to finance the car yourself, pay on time, and build your credit. That way, the next time you need a loan, you won’t have to worry about whether you’ll qualify.

    Good credit doesn’t just help you get reliable transportation: good credit can make a huge difference in improving your financial security and the peace of mind that comes with it. Start tracking your credit for free today at Credit.com. Your new car will get you moving around town, but your new credit score will get you moving up in the world.

    Image: iStock

    The post Can I Get a Car Loan If I Have No Credit? appeared first on Credit.com.


    Source: credit.com

    What Happens When You Pay Off Your Car Loan?

    A man wearing sunglasses drives his car.

    According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, around 2.3 million car loans originate every year. Car loans can take years to pay off. So when you finally pay it off, you might be wondering—now what?

    What happens when you pay off your car? What should you do with the money you were previously putting towards your monthly payments? We’ve got a few ideas, but keep in mind that everyone’s finances are different. So while our suggestions might work for some people, they probably won’t work for everyone.

    What to Do When You Pay Off Your Car

    Firstly, paying off your car loan is a huge accomplishment. So congratulations! Paying off any loan isn’t always easy. And now you finally own your car, which is a pretty big deal.

    Luckily for you, the hard part is over. But there are still a few steps you should take after you pay off your car.

    1. Get Your Car Title

    You usually don’t have to take action for this step. In most states, your lender notifies the Department of Motor Vehicles—or BMV or other equivalent entity in your state—of the title change. Once the paperwork clears, the title is mailed to you.

    There’s not much for you to do except keep an eye on the mail. If you don’t get your title a few weeks after paying off your loan, call your lender. You’ll need the title if you ever want to sell your car or use it for collateral when applying for credit.

    2. Reconsider Your Finances

    If you’re paying off a vehicle and not planning to buy another with a new loan, you’ll have a little more extra room in your budget. In 2019, new car buyers committed to an average monthly payment of around $550. So when you pay off your car loan, there’s a good chance you’ll have an extra $300 (or more) per month.

    You might be tempted to splurge on fun stuff or to make large purchases you’ve been putting off. But unless your transportation situation is radically changing soon, you’ll always need a car. And that means you’ll eventually need to pay for the next one.

    Plus, owning a car is expensive—even if you’ve completely paid it off. You’ll have to your oil changed, new tires and much more. And that’s just regular maintenance. If you get in even a minor accident, you could have a major repair expense on your hands.

    That’s why it’s a good idea to put that some of that extra money in savings. If you end up getting a new car eventually, you can pay for all or part of your next vehicle with cash. That reduces how much you have to finance, which can significantly reduce the total cost of your next vehicle. Another option is to use the money to continue to pay down other debt to put yourself in a better financial situation in the future.

    It’s also worth putting part of that cash in your short-term savings. You could easily dip into those funds if you need to get any work done on your car. But whatever you plan to do with the money, take the time to look at your personal budget. That gives you a chance to see exactly where this extra money might make the most difference.

    3. Notify Your Car Insurance Company

    Notify your car insurance company when you’ve paid off your loan so you can remove the lien holder from your policy. You don’t need to wait until you have the title in your hand to make the call.

    This step is important because if your financed vehicle were totaled in a wreck, the insurance payment would go to the lender. Once you’ve paid off the car and own it outright, the payment goes to you.

    4. Consider Any New Insurance Options

    Most states have requirements for what type of coverage you must carry on your car. At minimum in most states, you need bodily injury and property damage liability that will cover the losses of other people if it’s caused in a wreck that is deemed your fault. There are some exceptions to those requirements, though.

    But your lender will likely require additional insurance coverage until you pay off the loan. Many lenders require you to also carry comp and collision coverage. This is the part of your insurance policy that pays for damage to yourvehicle if you get into an accident that is deemed your fault.

    Lenders require this extra coverage to protect their investment. They want to know that if your car is totaled, they can recover the value that you owe them. Once you pay off the loan, whether or not you carry this level of coverage might be your choice.

    Talk to your insurance agent to find out what your options are and if you can save money by changing your insurance coverage. Just remember that if you drop this coverage and get into an accident, you may have to cover the costs of repairs or a new vehicle on your own.

    You can also check rates for auto insurance online. In addition to saving money on your monthly vehicle payment, you may be able to save a lot on your insurance coverage.

    Does Paying Off Your Car Loan Early Hurt Your Credit?

    To get out of debt or change your current car, you might decide to pay off your car loan early. Your credit isn’t penalized by making early payments on debt. However, paying off an entire account can cause a small dip in your credit score temporarily. That’s because open accounts with a positive payment history impact your score more than closed accounts with positive payment histories.

    Your wallet might also take a small hit depending on how your loan is structured. Find out if your loan includes any penalties for paying off the principle early before you make a decision to go this route.

    The post What Happens When You Pay Off Your Car Loan? appeared first on Credit.com.

    Source: credit.com