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LendKey Student Loan Refinance Review

Kathryn Morstad
lendkey student loan refinance review
lendkey student loan refinance review

Federal student loan
Payments Return August 31

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Federal student loan
Payments Return August 31

We've got you covered.

Get Purefy’s free 20-page Ultimate Guide with just one click.

If you are looking at options for refinancing your student loans, LendKey offers solutions for both federal and private student loans. They also offer a variety of other financial products, such as private student loans and home improvement loans.

Rather than being an actual lender, LendKey is a digital technology marketplace and loan servicing organization that offers end-to-end financial services for hundreds of small and medium-sized banks and credit unions.

If you are interested in refinancing your student loans and are researching reviews, benefits, and pros/cons of reputable companies, then LendKey is worth a look.

LendKey Student Loan Refinance Review:  Company Overview

Founded in 2009 following the recession, LendKey has partnered with a group of over 300 community-based banks and credit unions. According to LendKey, this segment of the banking/financial sector is more apt to prioritize member satisfaction and customer service.

In addition to functioning as a loan marketplace, LendKey services the loans they originate, which sets them apart from other marketplaces. They have positioned the company as a way for smaller lenders to connect with Millennial and Gen Z borrowers in hopes of securing their loyalty for a lifetime.

LendKey’s fully automated, cloud-based digital platform allows smaller lenders to gain scale and save money. As a “Lending As A Service” (LAAS) platform, all steps of the process are done online, from the initial rate quote through funding and servicing of the loan.

Once a loan is secured, LendKey continues to service that loan on behalf of the lender. They also provide marketing and audit support, operational support, and technical support.

Is Lendkey a Good Student Loan Refinance Company?

LendKey boasts a 4.5 out of 5-star rating on both NerdWallet.com and TrustPilot.com for their student loan refinancing and private student loans. Many reviews comment on the platform’s ease of use and LendKey’s quick decision making as key benefits when refinancing their student loans.

While Lendkey has a minimum annual income requirement of $24,000, their average borrower earns about $65,000 per year. As of this time, LendKey loans are not available in several states, including Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.

Here are some attributes offered by LendKey and their family of lenders:

  • Fixed and variable rate loans (currently as low as 2.49% for fixed and 2.05% for variable rates).
  • LendKey’s loan minimum is $5,000 (except in states where the minimum limit has been legislated higher: $10,001 in AZ, $15,001 in CT, and $6,000 in MA).
  • On the flip side, loan maximums are $125,000 for an undergraduate degree, $175,000 for a graduate degree, and $300,000 for certain medical degrees.
  • LendKey currently offers 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20-year terms for student loan refinancing.
  • Unique for most lenders, LendKey will refinance associate degrees.
  • To refinance though one of LendKey’s partner lenders, you will need a minimum credit score of 660 — although the higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate will be. The average borrower at LendKey has a credit score of 765.
  • LendKey can issue cosigned loans through a parent, grandparent, guardian, or other qualified person as long as the cosigner meets all financial requirements. To be eligible for a cosigned loan, the cosigner is required to have an annual income of at least $25,000, while the borrower needs an annual income of at least $12,000.
  • U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents are eligible to refinance through LendKey.
  • There are no application fees or origination fees to refinance student loans through LendKey.

7 Reasons to Refinance Student Loans with LendKey

As with any student loan refinancing lender or marketplace, there are pros and cons to consider. As part of our LendKey Student Loan Refinance Review, let’s take a look at seven pros to using LendKey to refinance your student loans.

Cosigner Release

LendKey offers a cosigner release. This means that if you initiate a loan using a cosigner, you can have your cosigner removed from the loan after a predetermined period of time, as long as all payments are made on time.

Typically, the cosigner release requires between 12 and 24 months of on-time payments. LendKey defers to the individual lenders to determine their own cosigner release requirements, so be sure to check your lender’s rules if you are considering this option.

Cosigner release is a great benefit for people who need a cosigner to qualify. It allows borrowers to build credit, and after a year or two of strong payment history, the cosigner can be removed so that person can focus their buying power elsewhere.

No Prepayment Penalties

There are no prepayment fees or penalties with LendKey’s network of student loan refinance lenders. Borrowers are able to make larger monthly payments or pay lump sum amounts to save on interest costs and pay their loan off sooner. This is also beneficial if you choose to refinance your loan again at a later date.

Autopay Discount

LendKey offers a .25% discount when you set up automatic payments.

That means if you refinance your loans at 2.50%, the autopay discount will lower your interest rate to 2.25% — plus, you don’t have to worry about sending a payment each month. Not a bad deal!

In-School Refinancing

Most lenders will only consider you for refinancing once you have graduated. With LendKey, you can refinance while you are still in school (as long as you meet the income and credit requirements). However, refinancing while still enrolled would cause you to lose the benefit of loan deferment until graduation, so it’s important to consider this if you choose to refinance before graduating.

Direct Servicing

LendKey services all loans originated through their platform throughout the life of the loan. That means that you can count on having the same loan servicer until the loan is paid off, rather than periodically having your loan transferred between different servicers.

Forbearance

Forbearance benefits are available for borrowers experiencing financial hardship. However, those benefits are based on lender preference. If you choose to refinance student loans through LendKey, be sure to understand the lender’s specific forbearance options.

Referral Program

LendKey has a generous referral program. They offer up to $200 for you and $200 for the person you refer with each closed loan. There are no referral limits, so you can refer as many people as you know with student loans and earn some extra money.

 

The 4 Best Companies to Refinance Student Loans

Our Top-Rated Picks for 2022 Offer Low Rates and No Fees

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5 Potential Cons of Refinancing with LendKey

Now that we’ve talked about the positives of refinancing student loans with LendKey, let’s take a look at some of the drawbacks.

No Parent Loans

If you’re a parent and have a Parent PLUS loan or a private student loan for your child, LendKey doesn’t refinance those loans. Unlike many student loan refinancing lenders, LendKey and their community partner banks and credit unions have chosen not to refinance parent loans.

No Deferments

There are no deferments for military or academic reasons, so if you decide to return to school and continue your education, your student loan refinance will still require payments.

No Spouse Loans

You may have heard of spouse loans, where you and your spouse can use your combined income and the best credit score between you to refinance all of your student loans into one package. This is not an option with LendKey, but spouse loans can be pursued through PenFed Credit Union.

No Refinancing Loans in Your Parent’s Name

LendKey doesn’t refinance loans obtained by a parent into a student’s name. If the loans were originally made in your name, you can refinance with a parent cosigner to get a better interest rate and save money. If you are a student who would like to take over a parent’s loans, SoFi and PenFed Credit Union offer this option.

Not Available in All 50 States

This is an obvious drawback for residents of states where LendKey is not available. However, LendKey is actively trying to recruit new lenders, which could potentially allow refinancing in those areas in the future.

Unique Features of LendKey Student Loan Refinancing

While LendKey’s program offers a good balance of positives with few drawbacks, there are some unique features as well, including:

  • They service their own loans — Since LendKey handles the student loan refinancing process from start to finish, borrowers know who to talk to and how to find resolution if problems arise.
  • In-house customer service team — While LendKey doesn’t offer dedicated appointment time with a student loan advisor, they do offer in-house customer service. Their customer service team can be reached by email or by phone between the hours of 9 am and 8 pm (EST), Monday through Friday.
  • Community-based lenders — Because they focus entirely on small and medium-sized community-based banks and credit unions, LendKey is a great solution for people who prefer this type of lender relationship.

Free eBook: How to Conquer Student Loans

Free eBook: How to Conquer Student Loans

Who Should Refinance Student Loans with Lendkey?

When considering a student loan refinance, it’s important to assess your overall personal financial situation. If you have your financial ducks in a row, now may be a great time to look into refinancing — but what exactly do you need?

If you received a federal student loan when you were in school, chances are you were able to obtain that loan with minimal trouble. The federal lending requirements have more to do with the number of hours you are enrolled in school and your financial need rather than your debt-to-income ratio or your credit score.

Private lenders are not as lenient when it comes to eligibility requirements. They want to know their money is safe and will be repaid in a timely fashion, so their underwriting criteria is stricter.

So how do you demonstrate your ability to repay in an effective way? Typically, lenders look at these five things when you apply for student loan refinancing:

Credit Score

Your credit score (and credit report) gives lenders a detailed picture of your financial behavior to date. It demonstrates your willingness to effectively manage money and your ability to repay debts.

Everyone from your landlord to potential employers will access your credit report and make decisions based on the results. Most student loan refinance lenders require a minimum credit score to be eligible, and LendKey requires a score of at least 660 to qualify. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate offer will be.

To obtain your current credit score and report, you can get a free copy annually from each of the three credit bureaus or at www.annualcreditreport.com. Here are the ranges used by the credit agencies:

                        Poor                            300-579

                        Fair                              580-669

                        Good                           670-739

                        Very Good                   740-799

                        Excellent                     800-850

Income

Next, lenders are eager to see that you make an adequate living and can repay your student loan debt. You can include income you earn from a variety of different sources, including (but not limited to):

  • W-2 or paycheck income earned at a job or side gig
  • Independent contractor or 1099 income
  • Income from a business or partnership
  • Alimony
  • Child support
  • Rental income
  • Retirement income
  • Employment offers with an official offer letter (note: not all lenders will accept offer letters as income verification, so check with the individual lender before applying)

Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI)

Your debt-to-income ratio is calculated by dividing your monthly fixed costs by your gross monthly income. Your fixed monthly costs include anything that you routinely pay on a monthly basis, such as your rent or mortgage, car loan, your current student loan payment(s), credit card minimum payments, or any other tradelines that would show on your credit report. A low DTI shows lenders that you have the cashflow to easily meet all of your financial obligations and demonstrates your ability to repay the loan.

Most lenders want to see a DTI of 38% or lower, but LendKey will allow a DTI of 50% or lower.

School Attended

All of LendKey’s student loan refinancing lenders require you to show proof of graduation from a Title IV accredited school.

Degree Obtained

Lenders want to know what degree you received, and some lenders have special programs for certain degrees. LendKey requires an associate degree or higher to be eligible for student loan refinancing.

See How Much You Can Save

Student Loan Refinance Calculator

View Details

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Student loan refinancing combines your current loans into a single loan with a new rate and term. See how much you can save by entering your loan information below, or by getting quotes from multiple lenders using Purefy’s rate comparison tool.

Step 1: Enter Current Loan Information

Loan Balance
Your remaining student loan debt to be repaid.
Interest Rate
The amount that the lender charges in interest, expressed as a percentage.
Current Monthly Payment
The total amount of your monthly student loan bill.
Add Multiple Loans to Calculate

Step 2: Enter New Loan Information

New Interest Rate
Your updated interest rate after refinancing student loans.
Term
The length of time you have to repay your student loan debt in full.

Add Multiple Loans

Insert additional loan

Step 3: See How Much You Can Save

$15,310

Lifetime Interest
Savings

$1,018

New Monthly
Payment

$128

Monthly
Savings

Current Loan New Loan Savings
Rate 6.7% 4.2% 2.5%
Lifetime Interest $37,520 $22,210 $15,310
Monthly Payment $1,146 $1,018 $128

Like what you see? Check your actual prequalified rates from the industry’s top lenders in just 2 minutes or less.

When’s the Right Time to Refinance with LendKey?

Some say that timing is everything — and that is certainly true with refinancing student loans. Finding the right time to refinance your loans is a matter of personal preference.

For instance, if you have federal student loans, your loans may currently be in forbearance at 0% interest due to the CARES Act. The most recent extension runs through August 31, 2022, so waiting to refinance after that date might make sense for some borrowers.

However, you may have private loans that are not on deferment at high interest rates and refinancing those loans may be prudent. You can always refinance your student loans again in the future to include your federal loans once the forbearance ends.

As you evaluate the timing, be sure to consider these benefits:

Lower Your Interest Rates and Save Money

One of the best reasons to refinance is to save money. This is possible when your new interest rate is significantly lower than what you are currently paying.

Even though there has been a lot of talk in the media about interest rates going up, the recent Federal Reserve increase of .25% has had a minimal impact on the interest rates being offered in the refinance industry. However, if the promised interest rate increases continue through 2022 and into 2023, that will begin to change.

If you have current interest rates in the 6% or 7% range and can secure lending at 2.5%, you’ll save a significant amount of money on interest throughout the life of your new loan.

Lower Your Monthly Payments

How do you lower your monthly student loan payments through refinancing? Simple — by selecting a longer term than you currently have, your payments will be spread out over a longer period of time so they will be lower.

If you have $35,000 in student loans and you are currently paying 7.2% for 7 years, your monthly payment is $531.67 per month. You will also pay a total of $9,660 in interest. But if you refinance the same $35,000 for 15 years at 3.4% your new monthly payment will be $248.49, and you will pay about the same in interest over the life of the loan ($9,730).

Who couldn’t use an extra $300 dollars a month, give or take?

Consolidate Multiple Loans

Another reason many people refinance is to consolidate multiple loans into one payment. If you have a bunch of loans with different due dates, payments, and even servicers, paying your monthly bills can be a nightmare.

When you refinance, you are paying off all of those loans and creating one new loan with one monthly payment. And with LendKey, using autopay scores you an additional .25% interest rate discount.

Release a Cosigner from Further Obligations

If you used a cosigner on your current loans, you might not have the luxury of a cosigner release (as we talked about above). In that case, your cosigner will be on the hook financially for the entire life of your loan or loans.

At this point in time, you may be in a position to assume your loans without a cosigner, or your cosigner might want to shift their resources but cannot due to the cosigned loan. In those cases, it makes good sense to refinance your loan and assume the debt in your name alone.

How to Compare Lendkey with Other Refinance Companies

In this LendKey Student Loan Refinance Review, it’s important to talk about how to decide on the best refinance company. Yes, LendKey works exclusively with small and medium-sized community lenders, but that may not be the only option available to you.

One solution is to compare two marketplaces where you can get a wide variety of offers from both LendKey’s pool of lenders, plus another group — perhaps one that works with larger national lenders. Purefy’s student loan refinancing rate comparison tool will compare rates from some of the top industry lenders, with offers tailored to your unique financial profile. Both marketplaces will allow you to compare different offers and choose the one that works best for your circumstances.

How a Marketplace Works

Accessing pre-qualified student loan refinancing rates with Purefy is easy. You’ll start by completing the following information:

  • Personal info like your name, address, and social security number (don’t worry, your information is secure and protected by SHA-256 with RSA Encryption)
  • Annual Income
  • Information about your current student loans, including the total amount you wish to refinance
  • University attended and degree obtained

In about two minutes (or less), you receive a sortable report with pre-qualified rate quotes from up to four lenders that want to do business with you. It’s free, checking rates doesn’t affect your credit score, and there’s no obligation to go further unless you find a good match.

Applying for a Loan

Once you have a chance to compare quotes from multiple companies, then you can select the winner and apply for a loan directly with that lender.

Applying for a loan is generally the same from lender to lender and usually takes about 15 minutes — they will ask for more detailed information and request supporting documentation (like your ID, income verification, and loan statements). Once you submit the application, the lender will conduct a hard credit pull to make their decision.

Now What?

After approval, your new student loan lender will pay off your existing loans and notify you of your new loan information. If you refinance your student loans through LendKey, don’t forget to sign up for auto pay and get that .25% interest rate discount!

You’ll need to continue making payments on your current loans until the payoff funds are processed by your previous servicer. Any overpayments will typically be credited back to your new account. That’s it — you’re all set!

A Final Word

You’ve had a chance to go over our LendKey Student Loan Refinance Review and the refinancing process. If you’re looking to refinance student loans, LendKey could be a great option, but it’s still important to compare with other lenders in order to save the most money.

For no obligation, try the Purefy.com Comparison Rate Tool today. If you have questions or need more support, contact one of the Purefy Student Loan Advisors for a personalized consultation. These experts can answer questions, help you assess offers, or walk you through the application process. Give them a call today at 202-524-1115.

 

Interested in Student Loan Refinancing? Check Out the Top Lenders of 2022.

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