LendKey Review: Better Than Splash Financial?
Updated: May 19
There is no shortage of private refinancing lenders in the student loan market. One of the largest is LendKey, an online only business that serves as an aggregator to show borrowers multiple refinancing offers across different lenders all at one time.
They will compare rates nationwide from large lenders all the way down to small community banks.
In this article, we're going to discuss refinancing your student loan debt with LendKey.
Minimum Loan Amount
Maximum Loan Amount
Starting at 4.13%
Starting at 2.99%
Term of Loan
5 - 20 years
Student Debt Destroyer Rating
*Unless your state of residence mandates a higher level (AZ, CT, MA)
What is LendKey?
LendKey is a student loan lending platform company started in 2009 that works in both the student loan lending and refinancing markets. In fact, they are able to assist with:
Undergraduate school loans
Graduate school loans
Student loan refinancing (for all of the previous three categories, except for Parent PLUS loans)
The company is not a lender itself, but serves as a partner to over 13,000 smaller banks and credit unions, advertising their competitive rates through their platform.
This article will only cover their refinancing services.
More: Have you checked out our 2022 guide to refinancing student loan debt?
How does working with LendKey work?
Remember - LendKey is not a lender.
You will use the platform in order to apply for refinancing, and then the system itself will pair you with your best options.
After providing information about your degree, address, income, and loans, you'll start to receive offers from lenders within the network. In most instances, you don't care who the loan is underwritten or offered by, as you are likely to shop for the most competitive term and interest rate that works best for you.
Since rate shopping may impact your credit score for a period of time, it is generally advised to do so within a short period of time. Since the majority of the network won't be an option to you because of geographic region, income, or other factors anyway, you'll likely want to consider doing your other rate shopping with other companies at the same time.
Refinancing with LendKey
LendKey offers refinancing loans up to $300,000 for certain borrowers. Your loan amount will be determined by considering your educational achievement level as it appears below.
For undergraduate loans, you can refinance $5,000 - $125,000.
For graduate degrees, you can borrow up to $250,000.
For medical degrees, including dental and veterinary school, you can borrow up to $300,000.
These figures do vary ever so slightly based on the state in which you reside. Massachusetts, for instance has a minimum loan of $6,000, while a couple of other states have $10,000 minimum thresholds. But if you have more debt than that, these nuances will not come into play.
It is estimated that LendKey's average refinancing client earns about $65,000 annually, which is lower than with some other lenders, like SoFi, for example.
LendKey loan terms
Like many other refinancing lenders out there, loans with terms of varying lengths are offered. As of time of writing, terms could be found for 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years. If you're looking to spread your payments out over a thirty year period, you may be best off using federal consolidation or searching for another lender.
Our student loan calculator can help you model your future payments at varying terms and interest rates.
LendKey refinancing eligibility
Refinancing with LendKey comes with a handful of requirements that you should be aware of. First of all, you'll be expected to have a credit score of at least 660, but you can use a cosigner in an attempt to secure a lower rate and/or make your application more competitive.
Additionally, you'll need to make at least $24,000 annually, or $12,000 with a cosigner.
Other eligibility requirements that you should keep in mind are as follows:
You must keep your debt to income ratio below 50% (ideally below 43%)
You must have graduated from your program with at least an associate degree
You must not live in Maine, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Nevada, or North Dakota
Be a United States citizen or permanent resident with a legal status
Since LendKey compares your rates across hundreds of different lenders, there is a chance that you'll find slightly different criteria for your resulting refinanced loan. But largely, these requirements should be fixed.
Perks of refinancing with LendKey
When you decide to use LendKey, you'll soon realize that there are no origination fees on your loan(s). Some lenders have a 1-2% origination fee based on the level of education your loans were used for, but you won't have to worry about it.
Second on the list has to be the extended forbearance option available to borrowers. With the potential of 18 months of lifetime forbearance available to those who opt for for longer 15 or 20 year terms, it is a much more generous program than most lenders offer, though interest will continue to accrue.
Another advantage, though fairly standard in 2022, is their autopay discount. By signing up to automatically make your monthly payments via a valid checking or savings account, you'll receive a 25 basis point reduction in your interest rate, which is equal to 0.25%.
Finally, you have the possibility of receiving a lower interest rate by using a cosigner.
What refinancing interest rates does LendKey offer?
The interest rate that you are offered is highly dependent on a variety of factors, including your credit and prevailing market conditions.
But as of September 2022, rates started at 2.99% (for variable rate loans) and 4.13% (for fixed rate loans).
Of course, this is subject to change as prevailing interest rates change.
Pros and cons of refinancing with LendKey
As with any refinancing company or lender, there are distinct pros and cons to doing business with LendKey. The most notable pros are:
The lack of fees
The ability to browse rates from multiple lenders at one time
Pro: The lack of fees
LendKey has no loan origination fees or prepayment penalties. While the lack of prepayment penalties has become more mainstream in the student loan space in the past few years, many rivals, like CommonBond, still do have some origination fees for certain types of loans.
Pro: Search multiple lenders at one time
Since LendKey is a marketplace, rather than a lender, you'll be able to see rates across multiple different lenders at one time.
At this time, they have relationships with over 300 lenders, many of them known for their customer service.
(Potential) Con: LendKey's relationship with local banks and credit unions
While LendKey allows you to browse different rates across multiple lenders, many of these lenders are small community banks and credit unions, which means that you may find different eligibility criteria with each lender.
While not a deal breaker by any means, it is something that you will want to pay attention to. It can easily become a pro if you receive great and personalized service.
Con: No standard cosigner release
Additionally, since you can browse different lenders, there is no standard policy or procedure when it comes to cosigner release. Instead, it depends on the lender that you ultimately refinance with.
Applying to refinance with LendKey
To provide you with the most updated information, we went through the steps of the rate check and application process. You'll be prompted to create an account, and provide personal information including:
Your name and address
Email and phone information
After that, you'll just need to provide information about your degree, followed by some questions about your loans. All in, these questions will take you less than five minutes, and you'll then receive your projected rate offer.
The exact form that you'll complete is below.
LendKey vs CommonBond, SoFi, and Earnest
We'll start with CommonBond. Offering similar terms and the ability to refinance a lot of money at one time, both "lenders" are highly rated. CommonBond does charge origination fees for certain types of of loans (mainly graduate school), whereas LendKey does not. CommonBond does have more robust hardship options, however.
SoFi may be the closest competitor in terms of offerings. If you're considering refinancing your student loans, you'll likely want to rate shop with both lenders.
Earnest also may be a suitable alternative for you if your credit score isn't quite where you want it to be, since they focus more on your career history and earning potential, while also having some of the lowest minimum credit scores.
But from our experience, we'd recommend Splash Financial first over LendKey. Much like LendKey, Splash is a marketplace that can compare rates across its network of lenders for you. Unlike LendKey, Splash does offer cosigner release options, and you can rate check in less than three minutes without hurting your credit score.
Is refinancing with LendKey right for you?
The majority of student loan borrowers that we have talked to have seemed happy with with their LendKey refinancing experience. Those that have a positive experience have talked about their satisfaction with the easy and digital process, which we checked out for ourselves.
But how do you know whether refinancing with LendKey is right for you? Over the past couple of years, we've gained a lot of experience regarding the various private student loan lenders on the market, and have built a checklist to help you determine whether the LendKey experience is right for you:
Can your new rate save you money? Remember your primary objective for refinancing. You are either looking to reduce your monthly payments, shorten your repayment term, or in some scenarios, both. If your goal is to increase your monthly cash flow, you'll want to be sure that your new rate allows you to do this.
Are you okay without cosigner release? The lack of a cosigner release program does not mean that you cannot apply with a cosigner, but rather that once your cosigner is attached to your loan, they may remain there until the loan is successfully repaid. If you need a cosigner, you'll need to make sure that he/she is okay this policy. Otherwise, you'll likely need to consider another lender.
Are you willing to work with any participating lenders? As a reminder, LendKey is a student loan marketplace that will compare your rates across a number of different participating lenders. It is possible that you could end up being quoted a low rate with a local credit union or community bank that you have not heard of before. You'll want to make sure you are comfortable with that idea before you proceed.
Our recommendation goes like this - we like both LendKey and Splash Financial more than other lenders. But in most instances, it makes sense to simply choose the loan that has both the lowest rates and makes the most sense for you.
Get our refinancing calculator
We built a student loan refinancing calculator to help you understand whether refinancing with LendKey or any other lender may be right for you. This free tool will help you:
Determine whether refinancing can save you money, cut years off your repayment, or both
Calculate your new monthly payments
Decide which loan term is right for you
LendKey has a great place as a marketplace to help borrowers find refinancing lenders, terms, and rates that work best for them.
With a strong emphasis on customer service, there is a good chance that you may be able to avoid some of the typical hiccups you may encounter with other lenders. Combined with small participating banks and credit unions, it is also likely you'll find more personalized service.
Other student loan refinancing lenders
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