LendKey Student Loan Refinancing Review: Better Interest Rates With Community Lenders

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

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LendKey Review

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Refinancing with Earnest

Refinancing rates from 2.57% APR. Checking your rates won’t affect your credit score.

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Are you looking to refinance your student loans? LendKey has the solution you’re looking for. Having partnered with hundreds of community banks and credit unions, LendKey brings you competitive refinancing offers and attentive customer service.

Before choosing a refinancing lender, check with LendKey to compare the best rates. This full LendKey review will show you how to refinance your student loans with LendKey, step by step.

LendKey review: just the essentials

LendKey is on a mission to help borrowers lower their monthly payments and interest rates by refinancing their student loans. They believe community banks and credit unions offer the lowest interest rates and best customer service.

However, community lenders don’t have the same reach or name recognition as big banks. By partnering with them, LendKey connects these smaller lenders to borrowers on a national scale.

With LendKey, you can immediately see your refinancing offers and choose one with the best terms for you. According to the lender, credit unions and community banks “prioritize people over profits.” Instead of trying to make money, they offer low interest rates while providing personal customer service.

How much can you borrow through LendKey?

When you refinance your student loans, the bank or credit union buys your loan and issues you a new one. If you refinance through LendKey, you can refinance loans from $5,000 to $300,000.

Refinance Your Student Loans with LendKey

What interest rates will you get if you refinance with LendKey?

LendKey features offers with both fixed and variable interest rates. It offers a variable rate as low as 2.47% and a fixed rate as low as 3.49%.

Fixed rates stay the same over the life of your loans, whereas variable rates fluctuate with the prime index. Your interest rate is largely based on your credit score, repayment history, and salary.

LendKey review: what about repayment plans?

In addition to other factors, your interest rates will also depend on the repayment plan you select. You have a choice of five repayment plans through LendKey: five years, seven years, 10 years, 15 years, or 20 years.

There’s no penalty if you pay more than your monthly payment in an effort to pay down your loan faster. For instance, if you choose a 10-year repayment plan, you can pay it off early by paying more than is due every month.

Eligibility requirements

So what are the eligibility requirements for obtaining a refinancing offer through one of LendKey’s partners? First, you must refinance more than $5,000 but no more than $300,000 in student loans.

Second, your credit score and salary must exceed a certain threshold. LendKey doesn’t advertise a minimum for either, as both are likely determined by the actual lender. However, without a certain credit score and salary, you’ll have trouble qualifying for a refinancing loan by yourself.

Refinancing with a co-signer

If your credit score or salary don’t meet LendKey’s requirements, then you can apply with a co-signer. Applying with a co-signer with strong credit can help you become eligible or get more attractive offers.

The co-signer must be willing to have a hard credit check on their account. They also become liable in the event you can’t pay back the loan.

LendKey has a forgiving co-signer release policy. If you make an approved number of consecutive on-time payments, then your co-signer will be released from the agreement.

Are there any fees for refinancing with LendKey?

LendKey is completely free. You don’t have to pay a fee to use the service, and refinanced loans don’t have any origination fees.

You should note that LendKey will run a hard credit check to complete your loan application. Credit inquiries can decrease your credit score. But with on-time repayment of your new loan, your credit score will go back up.

How to apply for a refinancing loan with LendKey

Step 1: Provide your personal details

You can check out refinancing offers through LendKey in just a few minutes. All you need to do is enter your personal details. These include:

  • Name, address, email, phone number
  • Citizenship
  • Total annual income
  • Loan amount
  • Loan type


If you have both federal and private loans, you can indicate that under loan type. Otherwise, you’ll choose one or the other. After filling this out, you’ll see your preliminary loan offers.

Once you hit continue, LendKey will perform a soft credit inquiry. Note that this is not a hard credit check at this point; it will not affect your credit score.

Step 2: Review refinancing offers

Once you click through to the next step, LendKey will show you several refinancing offers. You can browse offers with different repayment plans and interest rates. Keep in mind that these offers will be limited by location.

Most credit unions and community banks require that you live in a certain geographic area. Since you provided your address, LendKey can check the banks and credit unions that you’re eligible for.

For example, here are a few of the offers I got when I entered an address in Massachusetts, salary of $55,000, and loan amount of $30,000.

You can also filter your options by interest rate, repayment plan, or type of rate. The site also reminds you that applying with a co-signer could get you a better rate.

Step 3: Choose your refinancing offer

Once you’ve reviewed your options, you’ll select an offer for a LendKey student loan. Make sure that you’ve selected the repayment plan, interest rate, and interest type that makes sense for you. Even though it may be tempting to choose a five-year plan over a 15, don’t select it if the monthly payments are too much for your budget.

Visit LendKey Now

Step 4: Create an account and agree to a credit inquiry

To finalize your application, you’ll enter your social security number and date of birth. You’ll also create an account by entering your email and a password.

At this point, LendKey will ask whether you consent to a credit inquiry. This will be a hard credit check, so it will affect your credit score. The offers of a LendKey student loan are not final until the company has checked your credit score and confirmed your eligibility.

Step 5: Upload verification documents

Once your offers are confirmed, you can complete the application process. LendKey will ask you to verify your personal details with documentation. You’ll upload documents to verify your income and loan balances.

Typically, lenders accept pay stubs or a letter of acceptance from a future employer. They usually need official statements from your current lenders that show a history of repayment and the loan’s outstanding balance. Since LendKey works with credit unions and local banks, some of which have geographic requirements, you may have to provide proof of residence.

LendKey will review all your information and contact you if any further documentation is needed. Don’t stop repaying your current loans in the meantime. Wait until your refinanced loan is confirmed and you’ve entered into repayment with your new lender.

How to get a deduction on your interest rate

LendKey offers a 0.25% interest rate deduction if you sign up for automatic payments. If you qualified for a 5% interest rate, for instance, it would effectively go down to 4.75%. Use a student loan refinancing calculator to see how lower interest rates save you money over the long term.

Automatic payments are also a great idea so you never miss a payment. Missing payments would hurt your credit score, cause interest to build up, and could lead to default.

Pros of refinancing your student loans with LendKey

  • LendKey connects you with over 320 credit unions and local banks to offer some of the lowest interest rates around. The community lenders offer strong customer service.
  • LendKey lets you apply with a co-signer, plus it releases that co-signer after 12 months of on-time repayment.
  • You won’t have to pay any origination fees for your refinanced loan.
  • There are no penalties if you want to pay off your loan early. You can make more than the minimum monthly payment at any time.
  • If the lender allows, you can pause payments for up to 18 months if you become unemployed. This is one of the longest unemployment protection periods you’ll find from refinancing lenders.

LendKey review of customer service

LendKey customer reviews are largely positive, with many of them citing the company’s helpful customer service. You can contact LendKey at 888-549-9050 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday. You can also email them at customer.care@lendkey.com.

How to get started

To apply for a refinanced loan, go to the LendKey website. You can browse its educational resources, or go straight through the 15-minute application process. To finalize everything, you’ll just need to provide documentation to verify your salary, student loans, and residency.

Take advantage of LendKey’s low interest rates

LendKey review verdict: is LendKey right for you?

LendKey offers an alternative to big banks by bringing credit unions and local banks into the forefront of the loan refinancing market. Because there’s no commitment, there’s no reason not to check with LendKey and see what offers you get.

Keep in mind that no offers are final until LendKey runs a hard credit check on your account. Assuming your credit score is strong enough, you should have no trouble getting a refinanced loan. Since LendKey is not the actual lender, read the fine print of any agreement before signing.

You should also note that refinancing student loans has some downsides. If you’re refinancing federal loans, then you’ll lose some federal programs and protections. For instance, you’ll no longer be eligible for federal income-based repayment plans or forgiveness programs.

By working with a private lender, you won’t have as many options if you lose your income. That being said, LendKey does have one of the best protection plans for borrowers in the event of unemployment.

LendKey is an excellent option for borrowers looking to refinance their student loans. It especially appeals to consumers who prefer credit unions and local banks to big, for-profit institutions.

If you want to simplify your monthly payments and lower your interest rates, then head to LendKey. You could save thousands of dollars over the life of your student loans.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
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Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
2.57% – 5.87%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.80% – 6.38%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 7.52%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 7.99%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.57% – 6.65%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.17%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.