For American expats living outside the U.S., repaying student loans ain’t easy. The challenge lies in the fact that many student loan servicers like Nelnet require a U.S. bank account and routing number for online payments. If you still have a U.S. bank account, the process is a little bit easier. If you do not have access to a U.S. bank account, you may be wondering what to do. Luckily, there’s a solution.

What should you do if you still have a U.S. bank account? If you DO still have a U.S. bank account, the process of paying your U.S. student loans as an expat can be slightly less complicated. Normally, you can pay directly with your U.S. bank account, and if needed, transfer money from your overseas bank accounts to your U.S. bank account. There are several ways to transfer money back home like wire transfer or remittance services, depending on the country you are living in. If you’re based in South Korea, I recommend reading the article, “How to Transfer Money to or from South Korea”, to compare money transfer options.

Now, what do you do if you don’t have access to a U.S. bank account anymore and you need to pay your U.S. student loans? If you do not have access to your U.S. bank account anymore and you need to pay your loan servicer with a U.S. checking or savings account, I recommend opening a Wise account. I’ve written step-by-step instructions to get you started below.

Full disclosure: I’ve sprinkled referral links to Wise, but that doesn’t change my stance on how useful it has been for me. If you sign up using my referral link, you’ll get a fee-free transfer up to £500 when you sign up with my link, and I’ll get £50 when 3 people send over £200 in one go. But honestly, as an expat, Wise has been a godsend for me. Whether or not you use the referral link, I highly recommend it!

How to Use Wise to Pay Your American Student Loans

Open a Wise Account

The first thing you need to do is sign up for a Wise account (formerly known as Transferwise). Once you do, you should verify your identity with your government I.D. (passport, driver’s license, or national I.D. card) to open a USD account. Once you open a checking account in USD on Wise, you’ll be able to transfer money onto it and use the account details to pay your student loans.

Add Money to Your Wise Account

Click on your newly created USD account on Wise, then click the add button to transfer money into the account. Choose the amount you’ll be sending and the method you’ll be paying with (wire transfer, debit card, credit card, or international wire).

This is particularly useful if you’re in a pinch and you need to pay your student loan servicer with a credit card. You can load a balance on Wise with a credit card (although an additional fee applies.) So, again, paying your student loans with a credit card as an expat is possible.

Grab the Details to Your Wise Account

Go back to your USD account and under “USD balance”, click your account number in the grey bubble. You’ll be directed to your USD account details, and under USD account details, copy your routing number, account holder name, and account number.

Go Back to Nelnet and Enter Your Banking Details

After you have your account details, return to Nelnet (or your loan servicer portal) and log in to manage student loans. You can then click “Make a Payment” on your loan servicer portal and enter the details of your payment, making sure that the “Payment Date” is set in the future. Take note that there may be a significant time difference between your current location and the U.S.

Once you get to the payment method page on Nelnet, you can paste the information from your Wise USD account details when asked for your checking account information. After, just review your payment and you’re ready to submit.

I’ve tested this recently to see if it can be done, and it was submitted successfully and withdrawn from my Wise account without a problem. To review, open an account on Wise, create a USD account, and then use the USD account details for your student loans. Hope this helps!

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