Making student loan payments with a credit card can be tempting. After all, if your credit card offers you rewards like points or miles, by putting your student loan payments on your card, you could be cashing in on points and scoring a free flight to Vegas, right?
On the flip side, you might be looking for a way to make your monthly student loan payment during a month when your checking account isn’t quite as full as you’d like.
So is it even possible to pay down your student loans with a credit card? The short answer is yes, but make sure you have all the information.
Can I Make a Student Loan Payment With My Credit Card?
Federal student loan servicers as a rule do not allow credit card payments directly. In order to pay student loans with a credit card, payments have to go through a third-party platform, for a fee.
Some private student loan companies may allow credit card payments, but there may also be a transaction fee.
To find out if student loan payment with your credit card is an option, consider calling your student loan servicer to find out. Some allow credit card payments in certain situations, such as if it’s the last day before your payment becomes overdue.
And then there are credit cards that welcome payments on certain student loans. Stay tuned.
Is Using a Credit Card to Pay on a Student Loan a Good Idea?
Even if your student loan servicer accepts credit card payments, the practice could have downsides.
As previously mentioned, there may be additional fees to use a credit card to pay student loans. Paying additional fees could offset the benefit of earning any additional points or miles on your credit card.
Another factor — credit card interest rates are generally higher than your student loans. If you’re unable to make monthly payments in full on your credit card, you might end up paying even more interest by using your credit card.
So while racking up those credit card points can seem enticing, they might not be such a great deal if you’re paying more on your student loans in the long run.
How Paying Student Loans With a Credit Card Can Affect Your Credit
You might want to also consider your credit score. Your credit usage makes up 30% of your FICO® score. Typically, you don’t want to use more than a third of the credit available to you. If you put a large student loan payment on your credit card, you might use a bigger chunk of your available credit, which could potentially bring down your credit score.
If you’re unable to keep up with your student loan or credit card payments, you could end up with both student loan and credit card debt.
Paying off your student loans can also result in a temporary dip in your credit score. Both the mix of credit and length of credit history are two factors that inform your credit score. Paying off your student loans may result in a temporary dip in your credit score because you have closed the loan.
Is There a Better Way to Manage Student Loan Debt?
If you feel like you’re going to fall behind on student loan payments, using a credit card isn’t your only option.
If you’re experiencing long-term financial difficulty, federal student loan borrowers may consider switching to an income-driven repayment plan. These plans tie your monthly payments to your income and are intended to make payments more affordable.
Consolidating Student Loans
A Direct Consolidation Loan could lower your monthly payment by giving you up to 30 years to repay your federal student loans.
If you’re not able to make your monthly payments, you could ask your loan servicer about forbearance or deferment, both of which pause payments until your financial situation improves. (Of course in 2020-22, there was an extended period of government forbearance, when payments and interest were waived.)
Refinancing Student Loans
You could also consider refinancing your student loans with a private lender. Refinancing combines existing student loans into a new loan, one ideally with a lower interest rate and a more favorable loan term. To determine your interest rate, private lenders will generally conduct a credit check, evaluate your credit score and income among other factors.
Recommended: 7 Tips to Lower Your Student Loan Payment
Can you pay student loans with a credit card? In short, yes — it’s possible but may require the use of a third-party app or paying additional fees to the lender. These fees can outweigh the benefits of earned credit card points or miles. If you’re using a credit card because you’re struggling to make monthly payments on your student loan — consider refinancing as another option.
Refinancing could help you secure a more competitive interest rate or lower monthly payment (which might be the result of extending your repayment term, which could mean paying more interest in the long run). A lower interest rate could mean spending less in the long-term and more affordable monthly payments.
Refinancing student loans with SoFi is fee-free, can be completed using a simple online application, and becoming a SoFi Member provides additional benefits like career coaching. Plus, qualifying borrowers can secure a competitive interest rate.
Can I pay student loans with a debit card?
Generally, paying student loans with a debit card is not permitted. It may be possible, but there may be fees associated. For the most part, student loan servicers prefer payments made electronically from your bank account. Most lenders will allow borrowers to enroll in automatic payments, where the loan payment is automatically debited from the checking account each month.
Can you pay off student loans all at once?
It is possible to make a lump sum payment to pay off all of your loans at once. Your lender should be able to provide a payoff quote if you are interested in this option.
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SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are looking to refinance federal student loans, please be aware that the White House has announced up to $20,000 of student loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for qualifying borrowers whose student loans are federally held. Additionally, the federal student loan payment pause and interest holiday has been extended beyond December 31, 2022. Please carefully consider these changes before refinancing federally held loans with SoFi, since the amount or portion of your federal student debt that you refinance will no longer qualify for the federal loan payment suspension, interest waiver, or any other current or future benefits applicable to federal loans. If you qualify for federal student loan forgiveness and still wish to refinance, leave unrefinanced the amount you expect to be forgiven to receive your federal benefit.
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Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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