LendKey Student Loan Review

 May 31, 2022
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Pros

  • Borrow up to 100% of the cost of attendance
  • No application or origination fees
  • Six-month grace period for all borrowers

Cons

  • No prequalification option
  • Only one loan term
  • Unclear forbearance policies

Private student loan rating 2.8

Accessibility
2.3 out of 5
Rates & Terms
3.3 out of 5
Repayment Experience
2.7 out of 5

Pros

  • $200 referral bonus
  • Wide range of loan amounts
  • Prequalification tool available

Cons

  • Unclear forbearance policies
  • Must have at least an associate degree
  • Parent loans ineligible for refinancing

Refinancing rating 3.5

Accessibility
2.8 out of 5
Rates & Terms
5 out of 5
Repayment Experience
2.9 out of 5

LendKey is a relatively young company — it was founded in 2009 — but has grown at a rapid rate. Since its inception, it has worked with its partner lenders to issue over $4.5 billion in loans. LendKey offers private student loans and student loan refinancing.

LendKey is a marketplace, meaning it connects borrowers with lenders. But while most marketplaces only work with a few companies, LendKey partners with hundreds of banks and credit unions.

So, will LendKey be right for you? Whether you need private student loans to cover your remaining education costs or want to refinance existing student loan debt, here’s what you need to know.

LendKey student loan refinance review

LendKey allows borrowers to refinance both federal and private student loans. You can refinance as little as $5,000, and have up to 20 years to repay your loans. LendKey does have cosigned loan options, and its partner lenders also may offer cosigner releases — an attractive option for the parent or relative cosigning your loan.

LendKey student loan refinancing is a good fit for college graduates that want to consolidate their debt with a cosigner.

What to like: What to keep in mind:
Referral bonus for refinancing
Prequalification available
Wide range of loan amounts
Services loans originated through the site
Forbearance policies vary by partner lender
Must have at least an associate degree
Parent loans ineligible for refinancing
Cosigner release policies vary by partner lender

LendKey student loan refinance review: The basics

LendKey has a relatively low loan minimum for student loan refinancing compared to other lenders, so it could be a useful option if you have a small amount of debt with high interest rates. LendKey’s loans have fixed or variable interest rates, and terms range from five to 20 years.

APRs Student loan refinancing:
Variable: 2.49% to 7.93% (including 0.25% autopay discount)
Fixed: 2.05% to 5.25% (including 0.25% autopay discount)
Basics Prequalify and check rates without affecting your credit score
Borrowers are matched with partner lenders
Borrow as little as $5,000 and as much as $175,000 (maximum dependent on degree level)
Eligibility Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
Must have at least an associate degree
Minimum loan amount: $5,000
Maximum loan amount:
$125,000 for undergraduate degrees
$175,000 for graduate degrees
Applying Option to apply with a cosigner
No application or origination fees
Some of LendKey’s partner lenders charge late or insufficient fund fees
Repayment Repayment terms range from five to 20 years
0.25% autopay discount
No prepayment penalties
Support LendKey doesn’t list details about financial hardship programs, forbearance options or discharges due to death or disability

What to like about LendKey refinance for student loans

When comparing LendKey to other student loan refinancing companies, LendKey stands out in the following ways:

Wide range of loan amounts

With many lenders, you’ll need to have a fairly significant amount of debt to qualify for refinancing. With some lenders, the minimum can be as high as $15,000.

But with LendKey, you can refinance as little as $5,000. It can be a useful option for borrowers that have relatively small balances with high interest rates.

LendKey services all loans originated through the site

With many marketplace sites, the company only connects you with lenders; once you submit an application, the company has no more interaction with you.

LendKey works differently: It acts as the loan servicer for all loans originated through the site, so LendKey is who you will work with before and after submitting an application. As the loan servicer, LendKey will handle any questions you may have about your account or payments.

Prequalification tool available

When you apply for a loan, the lender will perform a hard credit inquiry, which can cause your credit score to drop. When you’re shopping for a loan, it’s important to limit credit inquiries to keep your credit score as high as possible.

LendKey has a loan prequalification tool, so you can check your eligibility and view rates and loan options without affecting your credit. It allows you to get rate quotes and compare LendKey’s options with the loans of other lenders, so you can find the best rates.

Referral bonus for refinancing

If you refer friends or family members to LendKey and they refinance their student loans through the company, you’ll earn a $200 referral bonus — plus, the person you referred will also get a $200 bonus. There are no caps or limits on how much you can earn in referral bonuses.

What you’ll need to begin the refinancing process with LendKey
● Government-issued ID
● Proof of income
● Loan statements from current servicers

What to keep in mind about LendKey refinance for student loans

Although LendKey is a reputable company with hundreds of banking and credit union partners, it may not be the best student loan refinancing option for you. Before applying for a loan through LendKey, keep the following drawbacks in mind:

You must have at least an associate degree

While some lenders allow borrowers to refinance their loans while they’re still in school, LendKey’s requirements are more strict. To qualify for a loan, you’ll need to have earned at least an associate degree — otherwise, you’re ineligible for a loan.

Parent borrowers and parent loans are ineligible for refinancing

One benefit of student loan refinancing is the ability to transfer parent student loans to the child, eliminating the parent’s responsibility for the loan — unfortunately, LendKey doesn’t offer that option.

LendKey doesn’t allow parents to refinance loans taken out on behalf of a child, nor does it allow students to refinance and take over parent loans. LendKey only offers student loan refinancing for education loans in the name of the student borrower.

Cosigner release policies vary by partner lender

Applying with a cosigner is an excellent way to improve your chances of qualifying for a loan and getting a lower interest rate. But it’s also a serious obligation on behalf of the cosigner — so as your income and credit improve, you may want to apply for a cosigner release to remove your parent or relative from the loan.

However, while LendKey’s partner lenders may offer cosigner releases, their requirements for qualifying may vary. The minimum credit score, income and number of payments required can differ depending on the lender that originated the loan, so review your loan agreement carefully before signing to make sure you understand the terms.

Forbearance policies vary by partner lender

Student loan refinancing is offered by private lenders, so your refinanced loans aren’t eligible for federal forbearance or deferment programs. That’s why it’s so important to do your homework and see what hardship options are available from refinancing lenders before choosing a company.

According to LendKey, many of its partner lenders offer financial hardship forbearance — however, it doesn’t provide details on how to qualify or the duration of forbearance.

How LendKey student loan refinance compares

Many lenders offer student loan refinancing, and rates, terms and benefits can vary by lender. Before refinancing your loans with LendKey — or another lender — make sure you view options from multiple companies.

LendKey PNC MEFA
SLH rating 3.5/5 3.6/5 2.6/5
Products Student loan refinancing Student loan refinancing Student loan refinancing
Eligibility requirements U.S. citizenship or permanent residency
Associate degree or higher
U.S. citizenship or permanent residency
If no degree, must make at least 24 consecutive monthly payments on time within past two years
U.S. citizenship or permanent residency
Six months of timely payments on existing loans
Established credit history
APRs Variable starting at 2.05% and fixed starting at 2.49% Variable starting at 1.46% and fixed starting at 3.44% Variable starting at 4.80% and fixed starting at 4.45%
Minimum loan amount $5,000 $10,000 $10,000
Repayment terms available Up to 20 years 10,30 years 15 years
Apply with a cosigner Yes Yes Yes

Is refinancing student loans with LendKey right for you?

There are many different companies that you can use to refinance your student loans. So when does it make sense to choose LendKey?

LendKey has a low loan minimum, so it can be a good option if you have a fairly small loan balance. You can refinance your debt and potentially secure a lower rate, allowing you to save money over time. Depending on your degree level, you can refinance up to $175,000 through LendKey. And if you have a good experience and decide to share LendKey with friends, you can receive a $200 bonus for every person that successfully refinances their loans through the company — as will they.

However, LendKey does have some limitations. Parent borrowers are ineligible for refinancing, and LendKey doesn’t allow student borrowers to take over parent loans. Plus, LendKey’s forbearance and discharge policies vary by the partner lender originating the loan, making it difficult to see how it compares to other lenders.

Before applying for a loan, shop around and review the terms from top refinancing lenders so you can make the best decision for your situation.

Best student loan refinancing options for…
Parent PLUS Loan consolidation Refinancing with a credit union
Job loss protection Refinancing without a college degree
Consolidating six figures of student loan debt

How to apply for refinancing with LendKey

With LendKey, you can view your loan options by using its prequalification tool. Enter basic information about yourself — including your address, what college you attended, your total annual income and outstanding loan balance — and LendKey will show you available loans and rates without performing a hard credit check.

If you find a loan that works for you, you can complete an application online. LendKey will request a copy of a government-issued ID, proof of income and recent loan statements for your existing student loans.

Once your loan application is approved and you accept the loan disclosures and sign the agreement, it can take 10 to 30 days for LendKey to pay off your existing loans, so continue making all minimum payments until you receive a confirmation that your loans have been paid in full.

LendKey student loans review

While federal student loans should be your first borrowing choice, you may not be eligible for enough federal loans to cover the full cost of your degree. If that’s the case, LendKey’s private student loans could be a useful resource. You can borrow up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance, and you won’t have to make payments until six months after graduation.

LendKey student loans are a good fit for those who’ve reached the annual or aggregate limits for federal loans and need additional money to cover the full cost of attendance.

What to like: What to keep in mind:
Borrow up to 100% cost of attendance
Six-month grace period
No application or origination fees
Unclear cosigner release requirements
No prequalification process
Only one repayment term
Unclear forbearance policies

LendKey student loans reviews: The basics

To be eligible for a LendKey student loan, you must be enrolled at least half-time and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

APRs Variable: 1.13% to 11.23% (including autopay discount)
Fixed: 3.50% to 12.60% (including autopay discount)
Basics Borrow as little as $2,000 or as much as the total cost of attendance
Fixed and variable interest rates available
0.25% autopay discount
Eligibility Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
Must be the age of majority in your state
Must be enrolled at least half time
Must have an established credit history or a cosigner
Applying Option to apply with a cosigner
No application or origination fees
Late fees and insufficient fund fees vary by lender
Repayment All loans have six-month grace periods
All loans have 10-year repayment terms
No prepayment penalty
Support LendKey doesn’t disclose details about forbearance or forgiveness policies

What to like about LendKey student loans

If you need additional financing for your college education, LendKey has some advantages that can make it a valuable option.

You can borrow up to 100% of the total cost of attendance

LendKey’s private student loans have a wide range of loan amounts. You can borrow as little as $2,000, or as much as 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance. With LendKey, you can borrow exactly as much as you need to pay for college.

Six-month grace period

All LendKey student loans have a grace period that lasts for six months after you graduate or drop below half-time status. You don’t have to make full payments against the principal and interest until the grace period expires.

No application or origination fees

With some student loans — such as federal loans — there are origination or disbursement fees. These fees are deducted from the loan amount before it’s disbursed. But with LendKey, there are no application or origination fees, helping you save money.

Can’t find a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or permanent resident cosigner? Prodigy Finance is among lenders assisting international student borrowers
Not attending an eligible degree-granting school? Check out options for non-degree-seeking student loans
Not attending classes at least-half time? There are lenders with part-time student loan options

What to keep in mind about LendKey student loans

Before choosing LendKey as your private student loan lender, make sure you do your homework and consider these negatives:

Only one loan term available

Most private student loan lenders have several loan term options to choose from — for example, lenders will typically let you choose a term between five and 15 years. Having multiple options allows you to choose the term and monthly payments that work best for your budget.

Unfortunately, LendKey has just one loan option — its loans are repaid over 10 years.

No prequalification tool

Although LendKey has a prequalification tool for refinancing debt, it doesn’t have one for in-school loans. The only way to view available loan options is to complete an application and undergo a hard credit check.

Unclear cosigner release requirements

While LendKey does say its partner lenders offer cosigner releases, the criteria to qualify may vary by lender. There are no clear requirements for income, credit score or number of payments listed on LendKey’s website.

Unclear forbearance policies

Because LendKey isn’t the actual lender that originates its loans, forbearance and forgiveness policies are dependent on the bank or credit union issuing the loan; there aren’t clear forbearance requirements or descriptions available.

How LendKey student loans compare

How do LendKey’s private student loans stack up against the loans of other lenders? We compared LendKey to leading private student loan companies to find out.

LendKey PNC College Ave
SLH rating 2.8/5 3.6/5 4.6/5
Loans for… Undergraduate and graduate students Undergraduate and graduate students
Health profession students
Medical residency loans
Bar study loans
Undergraduate and graduate students
Professional students: MBA, medical, dental and law school
Career training (non-degree programs)
Parents
APRs Variable starting at 1.13% and fixed starting at 3.50% Variable starting at 1.09% and fixed starting at 2.99% Variable starting at 1.19% and fixed starting at 3.49%
Ability to prequalify without affecting credit No No Yes
Borrowing amount $0 $1,000 $1,000
In-school repayment options 3 3 4
Repayment terms 10 years 5, 10, 15 years 5, 8, 10, 15 years
Cosigner release available Varies by partner lender Yes — after 48 months of timely payments (and meeting other criteria) Yes — after half the repayment term elapses

You’ll very likely be better off if you shop around beyond a few lenders. Make sure you learn all about the best options for your specific needs.

Borrower Programs Other degrees Personal situation Lender feature
Part-time students Community college Associate degree Applying without a cosigner Credit unions
International students Trade school Non-degree programs Bad or no credit Cosigner release
Adults returning to school Nursing school Economic hardship forbearance
Graduate students Medical school Hybrid interest rate
Parents Law school
Dental school
Business school

Are LendKey student loans right for you?

If you’re considering taking our private student loans to cover your remaining costs, LendKey allows you to borrow up to the total cost of attendance at your school. Its loans include a six-month grace period, giving you time after graduation to find a job and get on your feet before you have to make payments.

However, if you think you’ll need more time to repay your loans, you may need to work with another lender. LendKey only has one loan term — 10 years — while other lenders generally offer terms as high as 15 years. In addition, LendKey’s forbearance and cosigner releases policies are dependent on the credit union or bank issuing the loan, so you may not be eligible for a payment freeze if you’re dealing with a financial hardship.

To find lenders that offer longer loan terms, or ones that are more transparent about their forbearance and deferment policies, check out the best private student loan companies of 2022.

How to apply with LendKey

LendKey doesn’t have a prequalification tool for private student loans, so the only way to start the process is to fill out an application. LendKey will ask questions about where you intend to go to college, your class standing, major, GPA and enrollment status, and will then ask you to consent to a credit check. If you will apply with a cosigner, your cosigner can also apply online by filling out a separate form.

How to contact LendKey

LendKey services all student loans and refinancing loans issued through its site. If you have questions about your application, account or repayment options, reach out to LendKey:

Email [email protected] (New student loans and student loan refinancing)
[email protected] (Existing LendKey borrowers)
Phone 888-549-9050 (New student loans and student loan refinancing)
888-966-9268 (Existing LendKey customers)
Monday through Friday
9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. EST
Mail LendKey
9999 Carver Road, Suite 400
Cincinnati, OH 45242

Frequently asked questions about LendKey student loans

If you didn’t find your question answered in our LendKey reviews, see the following FAQs:

What type of loan is LendKey?

LendKey offers private student loans and student loan refinancing through its site; it does not issue or service federal student loans.

Does LendKey offer loan forgiveness?

LendKey partners with credit unions and banks to issue student loans and student loan refinancing options. Loan forgiveness in the cases of death or disability may be available, but it’s dependent on the lender originating the loan.

Is LendKey a good lender?

LendKey is a reputable company. It was founded in 2009, and has issued billions of dollars in student loans since its inception.

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Methodology for ratings

To come up with our star rating for student loan refinancing lenders and companies/private student loan lenders and companies, Student Loan Hero asks hard questions — 20 of them, in fact. These questions span three categories: Accessibility, Rates & Terms and Repayment Experience. That’s because we want to judge financial institutions on their products and services from start to finish: when our users are shopping around, filing applications and paying down their debt. A top-rated lender, for instance, has inclusive eligibility criteria, allows you to prequalify and check rates without harming your credit score and is supportive as you face monthly payments.

The answers that we get to our 20 questions — either from the lenders themselves or by combing through their fine print — determine their overall rating. We score answers consistently, sometimes awarding partial points, to ensure that you can make equal comparisons between all lenders that we put under the microscope.

Student Loan Hero isn’t paid for conducting these reviews, and lenders don’t have a say in their content. The goal with our reviews and ratings, along with everything else we do, is to give our users the most comprehensive and up-to-date information available to make the best decisions according to their borrowing needs.

Student Loan Hero has independently collected the above information related to LendKey student loans, which is current as of May 5, 2022, unless otherwise noted. None of the financial institutions named has either provided or reviewed the information shared in this article.