LendKey Student Loans Review


Borrowers can compare low-rate student loans offered by credit unions and small banks with the LendKey online marketplace.

Fixed-Rate APR
as low as 4.99%
Loan Amount
100% of costs
Lender fees
4.6 / 5.0
  • Rates
  • Loan Size
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Support
  • Fees
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.
Full review

Our Two Cents — 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.

LendKey at a glance

Lender Loan Amount APR Terms Key Benefit
LendKey 100% of cost of attendance As low as 2.99% (variable); 4.99% (fixed) 5 – 20 years 6-month payment grace period

Rates accurate as of July, 2020

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.

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 (3.39% – 7.75% fixed; 2.61% – 5.25% variable) 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 as low as 2.63% APR and fixed rates as low as 3.39% 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 1.24% APR for variable loans and 4.00% 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.

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 1.25% to 11.15% APR, and fixed rates are 4.25% to 12.35%. Graduate loan rates will vary depending on the specialty you choose. Unfortunately, personalized rates require a hard credit check.

Too long, didn’t read?

LendKey is perfect for borrowers looking to refinance their student loans with a credit union that can offer competitive rates and excellent customer service. The LendKey platform lets you compare multiple offers from lenders you may not have considered before. However, if finding the lowest rate possible is your goal, expand your search to traditional lenders before applying for any loan.

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Christine Renee
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 is an editor at The Simple Dollar who specializes in insurance, personal finance, and loans. Previously, she wrote and edited for Interest.com, PersonalLoans.org, Ballantyne Magazine, Thread Magazine, The Post, ACRN, The New Political, Columbus Alive and the Institute for International Journalism.