LendKey Student Loans: Best for Finding Credit Union and Local Bank Lenders

LendKey
LendKey

LendKey Student Loans: Best for Finding Credit Union and Local Bank Lenders

LendKey is a student loan marketplace that matches student loan and refinancing borrowers to credit union and local bank lenders. However, most of the lenders in its network only serve certain areas, which can limit your options based on the state you live in.

Good for

  • Low student loan refinancing rates
  • Comparing multiple offers at once
  • Some lender partners allow interest-only refinancing for four years
  • Several loan term options

Bad for

  • Limited number of national lenders
  • Transparency of rates, fees and forbearance policies on website
  • Refinancing borrowers in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island or West Virginia

Editor's Rating

4.0/5.0

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LendKey stands out among other student loan refinancing lenders by allowing borrowers to compare multiple offers at once. The lender has partnered with more than 300 community banks and credit unions to offer low interest rates to borrowers.

Keep in mind that your rates and eligibility will depend on the lender and where you live, which can limit your options. You should still explore the lenders you are matched with using LendKey and check out other options to find the best loan for you.

LendKey Student Loan Refinancing Review

LendKey
LendKey

LendKey matches student loan borrowers looking to refinance to community bank and credit union lenders in its network. The lender is a great option, since you will be able to compare multiple lenders rather than applying for each one individually through one application.

The lenders that LendKey partners with tend to have competitive rates compared to big banks and other online lenders. And, according to LendKey's website, some of its refinance partners offer interest-only payments for the first four years, which allows you to lower your monthly payment. However, keep in mind that only paying the interest will increase the time it takes to pay off your loan, and your loan will end up costing more than if you were to make the full payments.

The lender falls short with transparency, as it doesn't list maximum rates, loan amounts, fees and forbearance policies on its website. Although the various lenders LendKey works with have different loan features, LendKey could do a better job of giving borrowers more details on their loan options.

Another drawback is that borrowers that did not graduate don't have the option to refinance with LendKey, as the lender requires all borrowers to have graduated with at least an associate's degree. And LendKey doesn't lend for refinance loans to borrowers in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island or West Virginia.

LendKey Student Loan Refinance Rates, Terms and Fees

As a result of LendKey being a student loan marketplace, rates, terms and fees will vary from lender to lender. You should go through the details of each student loan refinancing lender you're matched to before settling on a loan.

Due to having a large network of lenders, LendKey offers several loan terms from borrowers to choose from and states that their lenders offer various repayment options, with some even providing interest-only payments for the first four years of loan repayment.

Private Refinance Loan Features

Loan typeRefinance
APR range*
  • 3.64% - 7.50% Fixed rate
  • 2.38% - 6.81% Variable rate
Loan terms5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years

*Rates include 0.25% rate discount with auto-pay

Eligibility

LendKey refinancing loans are available to borrowers who graduated with an associate's, bachelor's, graduate or doctorate degree from a Title IV-accredited school. The lender doesn't disclose a required credit score for its loans but mentions that having a steady income and good credit score will make you a lower-risk refinancer. And if you want to qualify for a better rate, you can apply with a co-signer.

Credit scoreNot specified
Co-signerDepends on the lender
Accepted citizenship status
  • U.S. citizen
  • Permanent resident
Degree requiredMust have completed an associate's, undergraduate, graduate or doctorate degree
Eligible schoolsTitle IV-accredited institution

Repayment Options

Your repayment options for refinancing student loans will depend on the lenders you are matched to. As we stated earlier, some of LendKey's partners offer interest-only repayment for up to four years, which can significantly reduce your monthly payment, if you can't afford full payments at the time.

However, if you can, it's best to make full payments, because you will accrue less interest over time and pay off your loans sooner. Otherwise, your monthly payments will be based on the loan term you choose.

Lenders working with LendKey offer between five and 20 years for repayment, giving you the opportunity to find the best loan term that works with your finances.

LendKey Student Loans Review

LendKey
LendKey

Currently, LendKey student loans are provided by WSFS Bank and Sallie Mae, depending on the state that you live in. Instead of being matched to multiple lenders, you'll have one option and you will be directed to either site to apply for a loan.

These lenders are quite different. While Sallie Mae offer various loan types and can cover up to 100% of your school costs, WSFS Bank only provides one loan with a maximum loan amount of $30,000. And WSFS Bank is only available for borrowers in Connecticut, D.C., Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. And Sallie Mae is available to borrowers in all 50 states and D.C.

The main drawback to using LendKey is that you can't really do comparison shopping for private student loans. If you live in a state other than the ones listed above for WSFS Bank, you can go straight to the Sallie Mae website to apply. WSFS Bank works with LendKey to supply education loans, but the options for borrowers with this lender are limited. You should compare offers from other lenders, as there may be better offers available.

LendKey Student Loan Refinance Rates, Terms and Fees

LendKey is currently using two lenders—Sallie Mae and WSFS Bank—to offer private student loans to undergraduate, graduate and professional students and parents of students. Rates vary based on the type of loan you need but are competitive with other lenders. It's important to note that WSFS Bank only lends up to $30,000. So, if you need more money for school, you should look into other lenders.

On the other hand, Sallie Mae will lend up to 100% of school-certified costs. Sallie Mae offers undergraduate, graduate, parent, MBA, medical school, dental school, health professions graduate and law school loans. Also, the lender provides more specialized loans for bar study, medical residency and relocation and dental residency and relocation, not included in the chart below.

Eligibility

LendKey loans are available to undergraduate, graduate, professional and parent borrowers. Though LendKey doesn't have a specific credit score requirement, it may help to apply with a co-signer if you don't have a high credit score or a lot of credit history.

WSFS Bank applicants will need to have an annual income of at least $1,200 with at least 12 months of credit history or they will be required to apply with a credit-worthy co-signer. Note that Sallie Mae allows non-U.S. citizens to apply with a citizen or permanent resident alien co-signer.

Credit scoreNot specified
Co-signerYes, release permitted after 12 consecutive payments
Accepted citizenship status
  • U.S. citizen
  • Permanent resident
  • Non-U.S. citizen with U.S. citizen/permanent resident co-signer*

*Sallie Mae only

Repayment Options

LendKey's repayment options will depend on the lender you are matched to. Sallie Mae allows you to defer your loan until you leave school, repay a fixed amount each month while in school or only pay the interest in school. And you will have six months after you graduate, known as the grace period, before full principal and interest payments begin. LendKey and WSFS Bank encourage borrowers to make payments while in school to reduce overall debt burden.

Deferment and Forbearance

Sallie Mae allows you to temporarily defer your payments if you go back to school, start graduate school or enter an internship or residency program. By pausing payments, you can reduce your monthly expenses and focus on school or your program. If you don't qualify for deferment and are struggling financially, you can apply for forbearance with Sallie Mae to temporarily stop your payments. However, forbearance is only granted on a case-by-case basis. With LendKey and WSFS Bank you will need to discuss your deferment and forbearance options as they are determined on a case-by-case basis.

How Does LendKey Compare to Other Student Lenders?

If you're looking to get a private student loan or refinance your student loans, you should compare rates from all three lenders to see which offers you the lowest rates and the best terms. The biggest difference between these lenders is that SoFi and Earnest are lenders and LendKey is a marketplace for borrowers to be matched to a lender.

LendKey vs. SoFi

SoFi
SoFi

SoFi stands out among other lenders as it offers bonus perks in addition to competitive rates. The lender provides borrowers with job placement services, including career coaches, panel sessions and networking opportunities. Compared to LendKey, SoFi is an actual lender, while LendKey is a marketplace where you will be matched to a lender. So, you will have to look at what the lenders that you're matched to offer and compare the terms to SoFi to determine which lender works better for you.

LendKey vs. Earnest

Earnest
Earnest

Earnest is a great option for borrowers who want low rates and repayment flexibility. The lender allows you to customize your loan terms, choose your preferred payment amount based on your budget, skip one payment per year and make biweekly automatic payments. With LendKey, you'll be able to compare multiple lenders in one place and find the one that best fits your needs. To improve your odds of finding the best lender, you should shop around and compare offers from multiple student loan companies.

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