LendKey Review: Student Loan Refinancing and Private Student Loans

Thinking about financing your student loans with LendKey? This article reviews their student lending services.

LendKey is a student loan marketplace that helps connect borrowers with lenders that offer private student loans and student loan refinancing. The platform primarily works with credit unions and community banks.

If you're thinking about working with LendKey and want to read some LendKey reviews, here's everything you need to know.


About LendKey

Founded in 2009, LendKey offers a way for college students, graduates and parents to connect with community banks and credit unions to obtain private student loans and student loan refinancing.

The platform partners with hundreds of local and regional financial institutions, allowing borrowers to shop around and compare options all in one place.

The company offers private student loans in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. However, refinancing is not available in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island or West Virginia.

In total, LendKey has funded more than $4.1 billion in loans and has serviced more than $2.1 billion on behalf of its partner banks and credit unions. 

LendKey student loan reviews

Because LendKey offers both private student loans and student refinance loans, we'll break those down into separate categories. 

LendKey private student loans

If you're looking for a private student loan, LendKey offers options ranging from $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance at your school, minus other financial aid you've received. Repayment terms are five, 10 and 15 years.

There are no application or origination fees or prepayment penalties. However, there is a late fee of 5% of the payment amount if you're 15 days late, so make it a priority to pay on time every month.

Unlike other private student loan companies, LendKey doesn't allow you to get prequalified and view rate offers before you submit an official application. So proceed only if you plan to go with one of the platform's lenders. Eligibility requirements include:

  • Minimum credit score: 660 
  • Minimum annual income: $24,000
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 33%, not including your housing payment
  • Bankruptcy: Must have filed five or more years ago
  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Enrollment: No half-time requirement

One major perk of getting private student loans with LendKey is that you don't have to be in school at least half time to get approved. Also, the platform offers up to 18 months in forbearance for struggling graduates in six-month increments.

If you have a co-signer, you can request to have them released after 24 months of on-time payments, though you must meet the lender's requirements to maintain the loans on your own.


LendKey student loan refinancing

If you're a college graduate or a parent who took out student loans to help your child get through school, refinancing your student loans can have a positive impact on your repayment plan.

With LendKey, you can refinance between $5,000 and $125,000 for undergraduate loans, up to $250,000 for most graduate loans, and up to $300,000 for loans used to obtain a medical, dental or veterinary degree.

The platform offers repayment term options of five, seven, 10, 15 and 20 years. There's no origination fee, application fee or prepayment penalty, but there is a late fee, which can vary by lender.

One drawback to consider is that if you're a parent, you can't use LendKey to transfer your debt to your child after they graduate. Unlike with LendKey private student loans, you can get prequalified for a refinance loan and compare rate offers with just a soft credit check. Here are some of the eligibility criteria:

  • Minimum credit score: 660 
  • Minimum annual income: $24,000 ($12,000 if you have a co-signer)
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 50%
  • Bankruptcy: Must have filed five or more years ago
  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Graduation: Must have graduated with at least an associate degree.

If you apply with a co-signer, you can request to have them removed after 12 months of on-time payments and another credit check.

Is LendKey Right for You?

LendKey is somewhat unique in the student loan space because it eliminates big banks from the equation. If you prefer the idea of working with a smaller financial institution that might provide better service and more favorable terms, LendKey should be on your radar.

As with any lender, though, it's important to consider multiple options before you go with one of LendKey's partners. The platform's structure of providing competing offers from credit unions and community banks makes it easier to compare and get a low interest rate, but you'll also want to check options outside the marketplace.

For example, Juno offers undergraduate student loansgraduate student loans and student loan refinancing. But instead of just showing you offers based on your credit profile, Juno actively negotiates with lenders to get them to compete for your business.

This approach results in exclusive interest rates and discounts for Juno's members. Juno will even offer a price match guarantee for new student loans (not refinancing) in the form of cash to make up the difference if you find a better deal elsewhere.

In addition to the financial side of things, you'll also want to consider other factors, including co-signer release options, forbearance and deferment, and customer satisfaction. Take some time to read other LendKey student loan reviews to get an idea of what customer experiences have been like.


The bottom line

LendKey offers both private student loans and student loan refinancing options. Instead of originating the loans itself, though, the marketplace partners with credit unions and community banks to provide funding. 

LendKey can be a great option if you prefer to work with smaller banks, but it's important to shop around and compare several options before settling on one. 

Also, consider joining Juno for free to get some help negotiating your loan terms. The process is free, takes less than a minute and doesn't involve a credit check to get you access to the best deals that are available.


Ben Luthi
Written By
Ben Luthi

Ben Luthi is a personal finance and travel writer based in Salt Lake City, UT. He loves helping people better understand their finances. When he's not traveling, Ben enjoys spending time with his kids, hiking, and watching films. His work has been featured in U.S. News & World Report, The New York Times, MarketWatch, Fox Business, and many other publications.

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