CommonBond v. LendKey Student Loan Refinance Review


Updated on November 12, 2019
By Julissa Trevino

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Once you've decided to refinance your student loans, selecting the right lender is your next step.

Two popular lenders are CommonBond and LendKey. While they each have their advantages, you might find that one works best for your particular circumstances. Let's take a look at how they compare.

Who should refinance with CommonBond?

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If you're looking to refinance with a company that's committed to making student loan payments simpler, CommonBond might be for you.

The company offers a diverse range of fixed- and variable-rate loans to fit a wide range of financial situations. It has also been recognized for its best-in-class customer service.

They do a lot of good, too. While keeping interest rates below double-digits for their lenders, CommonBond also finds time to partner with an organization that builds schools and promotes literacy in Ghana.

Who should refinance with LendKey?

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LendKey is known for its unique approach to refinancing.

Its mission is to connect people with lenders they might not normally have access to — like credit unions and community lenders that offer low interest rates and personalized customer service. This means LendKey could be a great option for people looking save money while supporting small businesses.

And since LendKey operates as a portal — a platform that connects you to direct lenders based on your individual needs — it offers side-by-side comparisons of lenders and terms so you can make an informed decision without any of the legwork.

Advantages of CommonBond and LendKey

Both CommonBond and LendKey have made names for themselves when it comes to providing excellent customer service and dedication to low interest rates and cost savings.

CommonBond's loan products offer flexibility for a wide range of financial needs (more about that in a minute).

But they're also committed to helping you advance in your career. The company runs regular networking events, panel discussions, and dinners that help connect customers with industry thought leaders.

For customers between jobs, their CommonBridge program helps customers transition to their next role—a novel benefit for a lender.

With LendKey, the focus is on meeting your particular needs through a wide range of loan options.

With one single application, LendKey's portal helps you find a lender by showing you refinance quotes from more than 300 community banks and credit unions.

That means you don't have to shop around for the best rate on your own or have to fill out multiple applications.

Throughout your application process, you will have access to LendKey's loan specialists who can help you decide which loan option best fits your needs. Those same customer service reps will be there to help you through your application and during your entire payment period. 

Comparing interest rates and loan terms

One reason LendKey is popular is because it offers extremely competitive rates, starting at 2.01% for a variable interest loan or 3.49% for a fixed interest loan. To be clear, a variable rate can fluctuate, while a fixed rate stays the same over the life of your loan. Of course, rates are also dependent on other factors, like your credit score.

LendKey also offers flexible repayment plans including 5-, 7-,10-, 15- and 20-year loan terms.

CommonBond's interest rates start as low as 2.02%. Their refinancing options include a fixed interest rate loan and variable interest rate loan.

Plus, they also offer a unique hybrid option in which the interest on your loan stays fixed for five years before becoming variable for the next five. Interest rates start at 4% and term loans range from five to 20 years.

CommonBond boasts another impressive figure: their customers save about $24,000 over their loan’s lifetime on average.

Neither LendKey nor commonBond charge origination fees, so you can be sure all your hard-earned cash is going directly into paying back your loans.

Does either lender offer discounts?

Yes, both offer a .25% interest rate reduction when you sign up for automatic monthly payments.

CommonBond also offers an option that's similar to forbearance that allows you temporarily postpone loan payments if you qualify during a time of financial hardship.

What are the eligibility requirements and application processes?

CommonBond:

You must have at least $5,000 in student loans and be a graduate of a Title IV-accredited university or graduate programs in the United States. Your credit history will also help determine eligibility and interest rates.

You can apply online, and you'll need two of the following:

  • Proof of employment,
  • A recent loan statement, or
  • Proof of residency

A preliminary decision is usually made within minutes. Once your application is approved, CommonBond will handle the refinance process with your current lenders.

LendKey:

To qualify, you must have between $5,000 and $300,000 of existing student loan debt (the exact amount varies based on your degree), an income of at least $24,000 a year, a credit score in the mid 600s, and a degree from an eligible school.

LendKey's online application process takes 15 minutes. All you have to do is go to LendKey’s “check your rates” page and enter information about yourself, your school, and your existing loan. If you qualify for refinancing, you will be shown several offers from different lenders. LendKey will handle origination and servicing.

Want to see what interest rates you qualify for with LendKey and CommonBond? Compare the two and cash in the savings.

Refinance & Save Today With These Leading Lenders

#1 View More Details

Earnest empowers people with the financial captial they need to live better lives.

  • APR: 1.81% - 6.99%
  • Minimum credit score: 650
  • Refinance up to $500K
View More Details
Visit Earnest View Loan Disclosure

Using technology, data, and design to build affordable products, Earnest's lending products are built for a new generation seeking to reach life's milestones. The company understands every applicant's unique financial story to offer the lowest possible rates and radically flexible loan options for living life.

  • Commitment-free 2 minute rate check
  • Client Happiness can be reached via in app messaging, email, and phone 
  • No fees for origination, prepayment, or loan disbursement
  • Flexible terms let you pick your exact monthly payment or switch between fixed and variable rates
  • Skip a payment and make it up later
  • Online dashboard is designed to make it easy to apply for and manage your loan

Click here to apply with Earnest and to see how much you can save.

#2 View More Details

For every loan they fund, they contribute to the education of a child in need

  • APR: 2.02% - 6.45%
  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • Refinance up to $500K
View More Details
Visit CommonBond View Loan Disclosure

CommonBond was founded in 2011 by three MBA graduates from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who wanted to help their peers escape from high-interest student loan debt. Its original focus was on grad students, but it has since expanded to cover undergrads as well.

Of all the companies we reviewed, CommonBond has some of the best customer service. The company prides itself on being easy to reach by email, phone, or live chat. It offers networking events, expert panels, insider newsletters, and even has a program help borrowers who lose their jobs to find new ones. CommonBond also makes you feel good about choosing to refinance with them by donating money to an education nonprofit for each loan they write.

CommonBond Student Loan Refinance review

  • Unemployment protections - If you lose your job or decide to go back to school, you can delay your payments for up to 24 months.
  • Social promise - For every loan they fund, they also contribute to the education of a child in need.
  • Hybrid loan option - Offerings include a 10-year hybrid loan with fixed interest for the first five years, and variable interest for the final five.
  • Referral bonus - For every friend you refer who refinances their loans with CommonBond, you’ll earn a $200 cash bonus.
  • Qualification - Borrowers must have graduated at least 2 years prior if they want to apply without a co-signer. And borrowers in 6 states – Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, South Dakota, and Vermont – cannot currently refinance through CommonBond.

Get a personalized review of your refinancing options with CommonBond today.

#3 View More Details

Offers unemployment protection and career/coaching/networking

  • APR: 1.81% - 5.98%
  • Minimum credit score: 650
  • Refinance up to 100% of student debt
View More Details
Visit SoFi View Loan Disclosure

SoFi, which stands for “Social Finance,” was created by a group of Stanford business students who found themselves with a mountain of debt after graduation. They set out to change the student loan industry and help borrowers like themselves to get lower interest rates. SoFi has some of the lowest interest rates and, unlike the other lenders we reviewed, it has no maximum amount you can finance. However, Nevada residents can’t currently refinance with SoFi. Minimum loan balances are higher in Arizona, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania due to state laws. Additional state restrictions may apply.

SoFi Student Loan Refinancing Review

  • Low interest rates - For well-qualified borrowers, SoFi offers some of the lowest rates we have found.
  • Strong customer service - It has more than 350 customer service reps available to help applicants through process.
  • Career coaching and networking - Perks include career services representatives who can help you find a job or negotiate a higher salary. SoFi also hosts networking events, happy hours and educational lectures on topics like buying a home in major cities around the country.
  • Unemployment protection - Borrowers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own may apply for Unemployment Protection. If approved, SoFi will suspend their monthly SoFi loan payments and provide job placement assistance during the forbearance period. These benefits are offered in three month increments, and are capped at 12 months, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. Note that interest will still accrue while loans are in forbearance.

Find out what interest rate SoFi can offer you here.

#4 View More Details

Operates in all 50 states; 2nd largest student loan refinancing lender

  • APR: 1.99% - 7.02%
  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • No refinancing amount maximum
View More Details
Visit Laurel Road View Loan Disclosure

Laurel Road is a national online lender with customers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Many of our non-bank competitors are not able to lend in all 50 states.Laurel Road has grown to be the second largest player in the student loan refinancing space in large part because of our reputation as the go-to low rate provider.

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance Review

  • National reach - Online lender that is available in all 50 US states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
  • No fees & the lowest rates in the space - Laurel Road is the most transparent about the rates they provide customers, and offer the lowest rates where it counts. Our customers will save more than $20,000 over the life of their loans on average. 
  • Customer service reputation - Laurel Road's customer service representatives are no rookies. With 19 years of experience on average, Laurel Road’s Customer Service team delivers an experience that is best in the industry. They work to build meaningful, life-long relationships with our valued customers to improve their overall financial wellness.
  • The stability & security of a bank - They are a division of Darien Rowayton Bank, a stable and secure FDIC-insured bank, regulated by the FDIC and the Connecticut Department of Banking.

Get your personalized, pre-approved rates in less than 5 minutes.

#5 - Nitro Recommended View More Details

Credible is an online marketplace that provides borrowers with competitive, personalized loan offers from multiple, vetted lenders in real time.

  • Free to use, no hidden fees
  • Minimum credit score: 650
  • No refinancing maximum amount
View More Details
Visit Credible View Loan Disclosure

Credible is a multi-lender marketplace that empowers consumers to discover student loan refinancing options that are the best fit for their unique circumstances. Our integrations with leading lenders and credit bureaus allow consumers to quickly compare accurate, personalized loan options ― without putting their personal information at risk or affecting their credit score. The Credible marketplace provides an unrivaled customer experience, as reflected by over 2,000 positive Trustpilot reviews and a TrustScore of 9.5/10. Credible is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

For more information, click here to apply now with Credible.

  • Compare prequalified rates from multiple, vetted lenders in 2 minutes.
  • Refinance federal, private and ParentPLUS loans.
  • San Francisco-based customer support 7 days a week.
  • Checking your rates won't affect your credit score.
  • Get your final offer in as little as 1 business day.
  • Credible’s partner lenders do not charge prepayment penalties, loan application fees, or origination fees.
  • Free to use, no hidden fees: Requesting rates can take just minutes and costs you nothing.
#6 View More Details

Works with 300+ community lenders for higher approval chances

  • APR: 2.01% - 8.88%
  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • Refinance up to $300K
View More Details
Visit LendKey View Loan Disclosure

Connecting student borrowers to a network of over 300 community lenders with low interest rates. By partnering with these lenders, LendKey is able to give consumers direct access to the best rates available from the most borrower friendly institutions. As the servicer of all loans obtained through its platform, you can rest easy knowing your personal information will be safe and that the best customer service team will be ready to answer your questions from application until your final payment.

LendKey Student Loan Refinance review

  • Lightning fast rate check - 2-minute rate check with no impact on your credit score
  • More lenders, more options - see the best offers from over 300+ community lenders for higher approval chances
  • Life of loan relationship - With LendKey, your personal information will never be sent or passed on to third parties. Their customer service team is with you from the moment you land on their website until you've completely repaid your loan.
  • Unmatched benefits- Community lenders put people over profits and offer unique benefits like cosigner release after 12 on-time payments, interest only repayment options to keep monthly payments low, the largest unemployment protection period in the market, and more.

Get a personalized quote from LendKey now.

#7 View More Details

Many ELFI customers save hundreds per month month and thousands over the length of the loan term.

  • APR: 2.39% - 6.69%
  • Minimum credit score: 680
  • No refinancing maximum amount
View More Details
Visit ElFi View Loan Disclosure

Education Loan Finance is designed to assist borrowers through consolidating outstanding education loans into one single loan that effectively lowers your costs of education and/or makes repayment very simple. Education Loan Finance - backed by the strength of SouthEast Bank - combines the benefits of traditional education loan refinancing with the superior products, service, and support found in the private market.

Education Loan Finance (ElFi) review

Check out their low rates today to see how much you can save.

  • Get Your Rate. With Education Loan Finance's Find My Rate tool, you can complete a short application to receive a preliminary quote on your eligible rates and terms, all without affecting your credit score.
  • Apply in Minutes. Education Loan Finance's online application is fast and simple.
  • Outstanding Personalized Service. Our Personalized Loan Advisors specialize in student loan refinancing and help busy professionals find the option that's right for them.
  • Student Lending Experience: Education Loan Finance isn't a start-up company - we have a longstanding history and expertise in serving student loan borrowers.

Attractive Bonus and Referral Programs:

  • Education Loan Finance Fast Track Bonus**: Education Loan Finance's application process is streamlined and simple, and you can earn a $200 bonus just for closing your loan within 30 days of your initial application.
  • Education Loan Finance Referral Program**: Earn $400 for each new Education Loan Finance Client referred by you!
#8 View More Details

Special offers for medical resident and fellow refinance products

  • APR: 2.43% - 7.60%
  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • No Maximum when refinancing
View More Details
Visit Splash View Loan Disclosure

Splash Financial is a leader in student loan refinancing with new rates as low as 3.25% fixed APR which can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loans. No application or origination fees and no prepayment penalties. Splash Financial is in all 50 states and is intensely focused on customer service. Splash Financial is also one of the few companies that offers a great medical resident and fellow refinance product. You can check your rate with Splash in just minutes.

  • Low interest rates – especially for graduate students
  • No application or origination fees. No prepayment penalties.
  • Co-signer release program - you can apply for a cosigner release form your loan after 12 months of on-time payments
  • Specialty product for doctors in training with low monthly payment

Click here to see more of Splash's offerings and to see how you can save money.

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