Many or all companies we feature compensate us. Compensation and editorial
research influence how products appear on a page.
Student Loans

American Express Student Loan Alternatives

Updated Feb 01, 2024   |   5-min read

American Express is one of the most popular credit card issuers in the market. The company has a wide variety of cards and other loan products, but it does not offer student loans.

Instead, you can choose federal or private student loans if you need to borrow money for college. While federal student loans should be your first choice because of their low rates, loan forgiveness programs, and repayment options, private lenders can help you cover costs if you’ve maxed out your federal loans.

4 American Express student loan alternatives

Since American Express doesn’t offer student loans, you’ll have to look elsewhere for a private loan. Check out our guide to the best private student loan lenders for a comprehensive comparison. We’ve also reviewed some of the lenders below.

If you want to refinance existing student loans, you can check out our guide to the best student loan refinance companies.

College Ave

Editorial Selection: Best Overall

  • Student loans for undergraduates, graduates, parents, and career training
  • You choose your repayment plan and term
  • Get a decision in just 3 minutes

College Ave is our top-rated private student loan lender, and they offer a wide range of student loan products. While most College Ave loans require a cosigner, you can remove the cosigner halfway through the repayment term and after 24 on-time monthly payments.

The lender has limited options for deferment and forbearance. As with all private loans, the interest rate will depend on your credit score and other criteria.

  • Fixed rates (APR): Between 3.24% and 13.95% APR
  • Variable rates (APR): Between 0.94% and 12.99% APR
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to 100% of the certified costs
  • Repayment Terms: 5, 8, 10, or 15 years
  • In-school repayment options: Deferred payments, $25 monthly payments, interest-only payments, and full principal and interest payments
  • Grace Period: 6 months
  • Cosigner Release: Yes; after 24 on-time monthly payments and when you’re halfway through the repayment term
  • Unique benefits: You can apply and receive a credit decision within 3 minutes

College Ave student loan benefits

Borrowers who select College Ave can pick from a variety of in-school repayment options and repayment terms, so students can find a monthly payment that works for them.

Also, College Ave has partnered with Payce Rewards, which lets you earn cash back when you shop at certain retailers. You could put the cash back toward your student loans, save for an emergency, or treat yourself.


Sallie Mae

Editorial Selection: Best for Cosigners

  • Student loans for undergraduates, graduates, and career training
  • Cosigners can be released after 12 consecutive, on-time monthly payments

Sallie Mae is one of the most well-known private lenders. They offer low interest rates and several in-school repayment options. Students can take out loans for undergraduate, graduate, and career training programs.

  • Fixed rates (APR): Between 3.75% and 13.72% APR
  • Variable rates (APR): Between 2.62% and 12.97% APR
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to 100% of school-certified costs
  • Repayment Terms: 5 – 15 years
  • In-school repayment options: Interest-only payments, $25 payments, and deferred payments
  • Grace Period: 6 months
  • Cosigner Release: After 12 on-time payments and if you meet credit requirements

Sallie Mae student loan benefits

Borrowers only have to make 12 consecutive on-time payments and meet credit requirements before they can remove the cosigner.


Earnest

Editorial Selection: Best for No Fees

  • Ability to skip one payment per year
  • No fees
  • Check your rate without impacting your credit

Earnest offers student loans and student loan refinancing to undergraduate students, graduate students, and parents. Their interest rates are low, and they have a variety of in-school repayment options and loan repayment terms.

  • Fixed rates (APR): Between 3.22% and 13.86% APR
  • Variable rates (APR): Between 3.22% and 13.86% APR
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to 100% of the cost of attendance
  • Repayment Terms: 5, 7, 10, 12, or 15 years
  • In-school repayment options: $25 monthly payments, interest-only payments, deferred payments, and full principal and interest payments
  • Grace Period: 9 months
  • Cosigner Release: Not available
  • Unique benefits: Can set up biweekly payments

Earnest student loan benefits

Earnest offers a nine-month grace period, while most other lenders only offer a six-month grace period.

Another Earnest perk is the option to skip one payment each year. This will push back your payoff date but may help if you’re struggling financially and need a temporary break from student loan payments.


Ascent

Editorial Selection: Best for Eligibility

  • Student loans for undergraduates, graduates, and career training
  • 1% cash back upon proof of graduation
  • Check your rate without impacting your credit

Ascent offers cosigned and non-cosigned loans to student borrowers. Non-cosigned loans let students qualify for a loan without their parents, and Ascent is the only lender on this list that targets undergraduate students who don’t have a cosigner.

  • Fixed rates (APR): Between 3.22% and 13.86% for cosigned loans and between 8.83% and 14.75% APR for non-cosigned loans1
  • Variable rates (APR): Between 0.98% and 10.29% APR for cosigned loans and between 6.00% and 11.79% APR for non-cosigned loans1
  • Loan amounts: $2,001 to $200,000
  • Rate reduction: 1% discount for automatic payments for non-cosigned loans and 0.25% discount for automatic payments for credit-based loans
  • Repayment Terms: 5, 7, 10, 12, or 15 years
  • In-school repayment options: Interest-only payments, $25 fixed payments, and deferred payments
  • Grace Period: 9 months
  • Cosigner Release: 12 consecutive on-time payments and must meet credit requirements
  • Unique benefits: Students can get a 1% cash-back bonus after graduation

Ascent student loan benefits

Ascent has a nine-month grace period, while most lenders only offer six months. Also, Ascent provides a 1% cash-back bonus after graduation. Students can use this money to start a savings account, put toward their loans, or cover other expenses.


1 Ascent’s undergraduate and graduate student loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills or DR Bank, each Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 10/01/2022 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner.  Lowest APRs require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, and a cosigner, and are only available to our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores.