LendKey Student Loans Review

LendKey lets you compare multiple student loan offers from not-for-profit lenders you may not have considered before. You could save money by consolidating multiple loans into one low-rate student refinance loan.

Fixed APR
as low as 3.99%
Loan Amount
100% of the costs of attendance
$25 or 5% late fee
4.6 / 5.0
SimpleScore LendKey 4.6
Max Fixed APR 5
Perks 5
Transparency 4
Loan Amount 5
Fees 4

Borrowers can compare low-rate student loans offered by credit unions and small banks with the LendKey online marketplace. Founded in 2009 with offices in New York and Ohio, LendKey is a digital lending marketplace that connects credit unions, banks and online lenders from around the U.S. with borrowers looking for low-interest student loans. It offers private student loans, student loan refinancing and home improvement loans for contractors.

LendKey Disclosure

Eligibility for federal, state and university funded financial aid is determined by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). All students are strongly encouraged to apply for federal aid by completing the FAFSA, which can be obtained online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.

Students can check their eligibility for a private student loan with LendKey and our network of private student loan lenders by starting a student loan application.

In this article

    LendKey at a glance

    LenderLoan AmountAPRTermsKey Benefit
    LendKey100% of cost of attendanceas low as 1.49% (variable);
    as low as 3.99% (fixed)
    5 – 20 years6-month payment grace period

    Rates accurate as of September 2021

    What we like about it

    LendKey student loan rates are competitive to those of traditional banks, and the platform shows you offers from lenders you may not have considered before. You can compare different offers from multiple lenders so you can choose the best student loans for your college education.

    And when you apply with a creditworthy cosigner, you may qualify for some of the best student loans for bad credit; this could help build up your credit scores. Once approved, you get rate discounts for automatic payments, cosigner release after 12-months of on-time payments and up to 18-months of forbearance for financial hardships.

    Check Your Student Loan Rates

    View our top-rated lenders and find the best rates today. It’s quick and easy.

    Things to consider

    When you refinance federal student loans into private loans, you give up any federal loan protections such as income-based repayment programs and student-loan forgiveness. To qualify for a Lendkey refinance loan, you must be a U.S. citizen, have at least an associate’s degree from an eligible school and meet credit history and income requirements.

    Something to consider about the LendKey platform is that it will only connect you to offers matching lenders based on your information and credit profile. For example, military personnel may get offers from Navy Federal Credit Union. If you’re searching for the absolute lowest rates, expand your search outside the LendKey marketplace.

    What you need to know

    One of the best ways to save money on your student loans is by combining multiple loans into one, so you can lower interest rates. While LendKey doesn’t offer the highest maximum limits for refinancing ($125,000 for undergraduate; $175,000 for graduate degree), it does offer some low, competitive rates and five to 20-year loan terms. If you’re a college graduate with multiple high-interest student loans, consolidating your student loans with a credit union may be less stressful than working with a traditional bank.

    If you’re still in school and in need of a student loan, LendKey has private student loans with variable rates from as low as 1.49% APR and fixed rates from as low as 3.99% APR. You can borrow up to 100% of your school-certified cost of attendance, and you only need to be enrolled part-time in a degree-granting program at the time of application. LendKey offers five-, seven-, 10-, 15- and 20-year loans.  After graduation, you’ll get a six-month grace period before the first payment is due, and LendKey offers 18-month forbearance for financial hardships.

    When you’re ready to check your rates or apply for a loan, start by filling out the application online:

    1. The application requires personal information such as name, address, citizenship and annual income. For private loans, input school information, degree, GPA, academic status and loan amount.
    2. Compare offers from the list of lenders curated for you and pick a lender to continue the application process.
    3. Submit any supporting documentation (proof of income, identification, cosigner information, etc.) and continue the application process as needed.

    Once approved, LendKey will be the servicer of your loan. You’ll be able to access your account and make all payments to the lender through the LendKey platform, making the whole lending process more straightforward.

    LendKey vs. Earnest

    Similar to LendKey, Earnest has no fees or penalties for early payment; however, Earnest loans are not available in all 50 states. The company does, however, offer a nine-month grace period for private loans, bi-weekly payments and a mobile app to make paying your bills more manageable. This is something LendKey does not feature.

    Earnest also offers more loan choices than LendKey. In addition to student loan refinancing, Earnest also has five low-interest private student loans starting at as low as 1.04% APR for variable loans and as low as 3.34% for fixed loans. It also offers parent loans and personal loans.

    LendKey vs. Sallie Mae

    Unlike LendKey, Sallie Mae does not offer student loan refinancing. However, it does give borrowers the chance to get a loan for non-degree career training.

    Check Your Student Loan Rates

    View our top-rated lenders and find the best rates today. It’s quick and easy.

    Sallie Mae offers the most choices when it comes to student loans. You can finance schooling for part-time education or get a loan for career training. There are also parent and K-12 loans available. For undergraduate loans, variable rates are 1.13%–11.23% APR, and fixed rates are 3.50%–12.60%. Graduate loan rates will vary depending on the specialty you choose. Unfortunately, personalized rates require a hard credit check.



    The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

    For every review, our editorial team:

    • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
    • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
    • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore™

    Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best student loans of 2020.

    Max Fixed Rate

    Lenders who offered a lower maximum fixed rate were awarded higher scores.


    We awarded higher scores for lenders that list more perks including services, discounts and special offers for their borrowers.


    Lenders that laid it all bare by publishing important data about products — APR, offered loan amounts, applicable fees and customer support contact links — scored higher for transparency.

    Loan Amount

    Lenders that offered higher loan amounts compared to others received higher scores. 


    We awarded higher scores to lenders that have fewer loan fees for borrowers. 

    Christine Renee

    Contributing Writer

    Christine C. Renee is a personal finance writer who enjoys delving into money topics like budgeting and fintech. She has been published in Careful Cents, Investor Junkie, and Money Mini Blog. When not writing, she uses her bachelor’s degree in business admin to help micro-businesses and solopreneurs manage time and money. On her days off, you may find her with a book on information technology and security.

    Reviewed by

    • Courtney Mihocik
      Courtney Mihocik
      Loans Editor

      Courtney Mihocik is an editor at The Simple Dollar who specializes in personal loans, student loans, auto loans, and debt consolidation loans. She is a former writer and contributing editor to Interest.com, PersonalLoans.org, and elsewhere.