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LendKey Review: Refinancing and Borrowing Student Loans

LendKey connects borrowers with student loans from community banks and credit unions. It also services its own loans.
Sept. 5, 2018
Loans, Student Loans
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

LendKey is a marketplace that connects borrowers with student loans from credit unions and community banks.

LendKey matches borrowers who qualify with loans from its partner lenders. The requirements below apply to all loans made through LendKey. Once you choose a loan, make sure you understand that partner lender’s specific terms.

Here we review LendKey’s refinance loan; you’ll find a review of its private student loan below.

Review of LendKey’s private student loan

LendKey student loan refinancing

4.5 NerdWallet rating

LendKey offers the opportunity to work with a community bank or credit union rather than a big bank, which is important to some borrowers. Also, LendKey’s average refinance borrower earns $63,000 a year, making the company a strong option for those who don’t earn six figures.

LendKey student loan refinancing at a glance:

  • LendKey services all loans.
  • Extended forbearance and interest-only payment options for longer loan terms.
  • No loans available in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island or West Virginia.
Reviewed loanStudent loan refinancing
Interest ratesFixed: 3.49% - 8.72%
Variable: 2.47% - 7.99%
Includes autopay discount of 0.25%
Loan terms5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years
Loan amounts$7,500 to $125,000 for undergraduate degrees; $250,000 for graduate degrees; and $300,000 for medical, dental, or veterinary degrees.
Co-signer release availableYes
Can transfer a parent loan to the childNo

How LendKey student loan refinancing scores

NerdWallet student loan experts evaluated more than 50 data points across five categories to see whether LendKey ranks below average, average or above average compared with other student loan refinance lenders.

Enables faster repayment:
Average
Lenders score highly if they offer a variety of term lengths and make extra payments easy.

Discloses requirements, limits costs:
Above average
Lenders score highly if they limit fees and interest rates, are transparent about their underwriting criteria and allow borrowers to get personalized rate estimates before applying.

Serves range of borrowers:
Below average
Lenders score highly if they cater to customers in varying locations, in different financial situations, and with varying citizenship statuses.

Offers payment flexibility:
Average
Lenders score highly if they offer longer than 12-month forbearance periods, in-school and military deferment, and any other flexible policies that help borrowers during tough times.

Supports customers:
Below average
Lenders score highly if they assign borrowers an advisor, offer multiple ways to get in touch, and have in-house customer service. Websites should display full APR ranges, fees and forbearance policies.

How LendKey student loan refinancing could improve

LendKey could improve by:

  • Offering refinancing to borrowers without a degree and to visa holders.
  • Displaying maximum interest rates and available loan terms on its website. While the community banks and credit unions LendKey works with have different loan features, LendKey’s website could provide more information about what borrowers can expect.

LendKey student loan refinancing details

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: Yes.
  • Application or origination fee: No.
  • Prepayment penalty: No.
  • Late fees: Yes; $5 to $15, depending on the lender.

Compare LendKey’s range of interest rates with other student loan refinance lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer’s — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate LendKey will offer you, apply on its website.

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: 660.
  • Minimum income: $24,000 per year; $12,000 per year with a co-signer.
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 757.
  • Typical income of approved borrowers: $63,000 per year.
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 43%.
  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Yes; after seven years.

Other

  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Location: No loans available in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island or West Virginia.
  • Must have graduated: Yes, must have at least an associate degree.
  • Must have attended a Title IV-accredited school: Yes.
  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: 90%+.

  • Academic deferment: No.
  • Military deferment: No.
  • Forbearance: On 5, 7- and 10-year loans, postpone payments for up to four months at a time, for up to 12 months total. On 15- and 20-year loans, postpone payments for up to six months at a time, for 18 months total.
  • Interest-only payments: Borrowers with 15- or 20-year loan terms can make interest-only payments for the first four years.
  • Are loans discharged in the event of death/disability of borrower? Loan agreements do not guarantee it, but automatic discharge has been common practice among lenders, according to LendKey.
  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.
  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

  • Loan servicer: LendKey.
  • In-house customer service team: Yes.
  • Process for escalating concerns: No.
  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.

How to refinance with LendKey

Before deciding on a student loan refinance lender, compare multiple student loan refinance options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, compare lenders’ repayment options and the flexibility they offer borrowers who are struggling to make payments.

If you’re ready to borrow, you can apply on LendKey’s website.


LendKey private student loan

4.0 NerdWallet rating

LendKey’s undergraduate private student loans are best for those who value working with a community bank or credit union, and those who like the idea of a long forbearance period as a safety net. LendKey offers 18 months of forbearance for undergraduate student loans, more than many other lenders provide.

LendKey private student loan at a glance:

  • LendKey services all loans.
  • 18 months of forbearance available, in six-month increments.
  • No personalized rate estimates to see what rate you’ll get before applying.
Reviewed loanPrivate student loan for undergraduates
Loan terms10 years
Loan amounts$2,000 to $160,000
Grace period6 months
Co-signer release availableYes, after 24 months

How LendKey private student loans score

NerdWallet student loan experts evaluated more than 50 data points across five categories to see whether LendKey ranks below average, average or above average compared with other private student loan lenders.

Enables faster repayment:
Below average
Lenders score highly if they offer a variety of term lengths and make extra payments easy.

Discloses requirements, limits costs:
Above average
Lenders score highly if they limit fees and interest rates, are transparent about their underwriting criteria and allow borrowers to get personalized rate estimates before applying for the loan.

Serves range of borrowers:
Below average
Lenders score highly if they cater to customers in varying locations, in different financial situations, and with varying citizenship statuses.

Offers payment flexibility:
Average
Lenders score highly if they offer longer than 12-month forbearance periods, in-school and military deferment, and any other flexible repayment policies that help borrowers during tough times.

Supports customers:
Below average
Lenders score highly if they assign borrowers an advisor, offer multiple ways to get in touch, and have in-house customer service. Websites should display full APR ranges, fees and forbearance policies.

How LendKey could improve

LendKey would score higher if it offered additional features such as:

  • Personalized rate estimates without affecting credit.
  • Payment postponement for those who return to school or serve in the military.
  • Maximum interest rates and available loan terms displayed on its website. While the community banks and credit unions LendKey works with have different loan characteristics, LendKey’s website could provide more information about what borrowers can expect.

LendKey private student loan details

  • Get a personalized rate before applying: No.
  • Application or origination fee: No.
  • Prepayment penalty: No.
  • Late fees: Yes; $5 to $15, depending on the lender.

Compare LendKey’s range of interest rates with other private student loan lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer’s — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate LendKey will offer you, apply on its website.

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: 660.
  • Minimum income: $24,000 per year.
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 725.
  • Typical income of approved borrowers: $53,000 per year.
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 33%, not including housing costs.
  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Yes, after five years.

Other

  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Location: No loans available in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island or West Virginia.
  • Must be enrolled half-time or more: Yes.
  • Must attend a Title IV-accredited school: Yes.
  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: 90%+.

In-school repayment options:

  • Flat-fee repayment: Borrowers must pay a flat fee of $25 a month while in school. You’ll pay the full amount — principal plus interest — after your 6-month post-graduation grace period has ended.

Post-school repayment options

  • In-school deferment: No, borrowers cannot request to defer payments when returning to school.
  • Military deferment: No.
  • Forbearance: Borrowers are eligible for 18 months of forbearance, in six-month increments, over the life of the loan.
  • Are loans discharged in the event of death/disability of borrower? Loan agreements do not guarantee it, but automatic discharge has been common practice among lenders, according to LendKey.

Repayment preferences

  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.
  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

  • Loan servicer: LendKey.
  • In-house customer service team: Yes.
  • Process for escalating concerns: No.
  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.
  • Average time from application to funding: 27 days.

How to apply for a LendKey student loan

Before taking out a LendKey student loan or any other private student loan, exhaust your federal student loan options first. Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to apply.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s FAFSA Guide

Compare your private student loan options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, look at lenders’ repayment alternatives and the flexibility they offer to borrowers who struggle to make payments.

If you’re ready to borrow with LendKey, you can apply on its website.

STUDENT LOANS RATINGS METHODOLOGY

NerdWallet believes the best student loan is one you can repay at the lowest interest rate you can get. That’s why NerdWallet’s student loan ratings reward lenders that offer a variety of loan terms, limit their fees and penalties, and extend borrowers multiple options to avoid default. Points are also awarded for soft credit checks, underwriting transparency and other consumer-friendly features. Use these ratings as a guide, but we encourage you to shop around for the lowest interest rate you can qualify for. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for its reviews. Read our editorial guidelines

5 stars out of 5 — Among the very best for consumer-friendly features

4.5 stars out of 5 — Excellent; offers most consumer-friendly features

4 stars out of 5 — Very good; offers many consumer-friendly features

3.5 stars out of 5 — Good; may not offer something important to you

3 stars out of 5 — Fair; missing important consumer-friendly features

2.5 stars out of 5 — Poor; proceed with great caution

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