Laurel Road v. LendKey: Which is Better for Student Loan Refinancing?

Updated on March 9, 2022
By Trish Sammer

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So you want to refinance your student loans. How do you know which lender to choose? 

Many people choose Laurel Road or LendKey. Let's take a look at the advantages and term options for each lender so you can make a better, educated decision about which one is for you.

Why refinance with Laurel Road?

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One of the major drawbacks to refinancing federal loans is that you lose federal protections like forbearance and forgiveness. Most private lenders don't offer these benefits. But Laurel Road solves that problem. The lender is one of the few in the market that offers low interest rates and protections like forbearance and forgiveness under certain circumstances.

Additionally, the lender will forgive the full amount of the loan if the borrower dies. Borrowers who qualify due to a disability can also qualify for full or partial forgiveness. This kind of flexibility could serve you well if your finances or life circumstances change.

The lender also promises savings: Laurel Road customers save an average of $20,000 or more over the life of their loans.

Why refinance with LendKey?

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Do you prefer having lots of options but would rather someone else do the legwork of comparing lenders and terms? LendKey might be for you. The lender operates as a portal, with its platform connecting you to direct lenders based on your personalized needs. From there, you're able to see a comparison of terms and rates and make a decide what's best for you.

This unique approach to refinancing is what makes LendKey a popular choice. But what's more, the company's emphasis is on credit unions and community lenders, rather than big banks, that offer low interest rates and remarkable customer service. So you can be sure you're in good hands.

Advantages of LendKey and Laurel Road

LendKey's portal gives you the chance to compare interest rates and loan terms of more than 300 community banks and credit unions, all within a single portal and a single application. In other words, the LendKey experience is designed to meet your needs by giving you options. And if you need assistance, LendKey's loan specialists can help you navigate the choices.

On the other hand, Laurel Road offers extreme flexibility. In addition to the benefits outlined above, the lender is a great choice for medical students. A special program for medical students allows them to refinance as a soon as they're matched to a residency or fellowship program. Through this program, medical students enrolled in a residency or fellowship pay just $100 per month while they're enrolled, and accrued interest does not capitalize during this time.

Comparing rates and fees

Luckily, both lenders offers similarly flexible, competitive repayment plans. Here's what that means. LendKey rates start at 1.90% for a variable interest loan or 2.49% for a fixed interest loan. Laurel Road's variable rate loans start at just 1.99% interest and fixed rate loans start at 3.00% interest.

Remember, a variable rate can fluctuate, while a fixed rate stays the same over the life of your loan. Your credit score and other factors will ultimately affect the interest rate you qualify for).

Neither of the two lenders charge origination fees, and loan terms for both range from 5 to 20 years. Generally, the longer the term of the loan, the higher the interest rate.

Do the lenders offer discounts?

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

In addition, once you've paid off 10% of your loan principal, LendKey will also offer a 1% interest rate reduction. And while it's technically not a discount, Laurel Road's referral program offers you up to $400 for each person you refer who refinances their loans with the lender.

How do eligibility requirements compare?

To qualify with LendKey, you must have an income of at least $24,000 a year, a credit score in the mid 600s, and a degree from an eligible school. You can refinance between $5,000 and $250,000 of existing student loan debt, but the exact amount varies based on your degree. 

To keep its interest rates low, you generally must be a low-risk borrowers with a good credit history to qualify with Laurel Road. The lender will look at your income, debt, and expenses to decide if you qualify. You must also:

  • Be a US citizen or permanent resident with a Green card
  • Be a graduate of a Title IV institution in the U.S., and
  • Have at least $5,000 in student loans to refinance.

Parents refinancing PLUS loans must have children who graduated from Title IV institutions.

Comparing the application process 

To start the process, visit LendKey’s “check your rates” page. Here, you'll enter information about yourself, your school, and your existing loan. Those who qualify will be shown several offers from different lenders. And even though another lender will technically refinance your loans, LendKey will handle origination and servicing. If you want a more detailed explanation of the application process, head over to our LendKey review. The application process takes just 15 minutes.

Applying with Laurel Road is easy. You can see rate options instantly after completing a short online form; the lender doesn't need to pull your credit just yet. This means you can decide if the lender is good fit before you your credit is checked. For the application, you'll also need:

  • A photo ID 
  • Two recent pay stubs or other proof of income, and
  • Payment statements for your existing student loans

At the end of the day, it's up to you to decide which lender meets your personal and financial needs. But you can be sure that either LendKey or Laurel Road will provide a means to help you pay down your debt with ease. 

Want to compare more lenders? We've done the research for you. See how the best refinancing companies compare in rates and loan terms

Refinance & Save Today With These Leading Lenders

#1 - Nitro Recommended View More Details

Special offers for medical resident and fellow refinance products

  • Fixed rates: 2.59% - 8.49% APR
  • Variable rates: 2.49% - 11.72% APR
  • Minimum credit: 650
View More Details
Visit Splash View Loan Disclosure

Splash Financial is a leader in student loan refinancing with some of the lowest fixed in the industry 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.

#2 View More Details

ElFi offers top-rated customer service, some of the lowest rates available, and flexible terms to fit your goals.

  • Fixed rates: 4.29% - 7.29% APR
  • Variable rates: 2.48% - 7.98% APR
  • Minimum credit: 680
View More Details
Visit ElFi View Loan Disclosure
Student Loan Refinancing Made Simple.
Discover our low rates and fast, no-fee application process for refinancing your student loans or financing your college education.
The ELFI Difference:
  • Some of the Lowest Rates Available – We believe in rewarding financially responsible borrowers by providing some of the lowest refinancing rates available.
  • Expertise That’s Second to None – Our ELFI management team has over 30 years of expertise in student loans and student loan refinancing.
  • Fast and Easy Process – Secure your personalized student loan or refinancing options in just a few short minutes.
  • Personal Loan Advisors – Our award-winning customer service team will guide you every step of the way.
  • Service Coast to Coast - ELFI private student loans and student loan refinancing are available across the entire U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Click here to refinance now with ELFI.

#3 View More Details

SoFi is the leading student loan refinancing provider. 

  • Fixed rates: 3.99% - 8.24% APR
  • Variable rates: 2.49% - 7.99% APR
  • Minimum credit: 650
View More Details
Visit SoFi View Loan Disclosure

$30 billion+ in refinanced student loans. SoFi has some of the lowest interest rates and, unlike the other lenders we reviewed, there's no maximum on the amount you can finance. Some state restrictions may apply.

  • Serious savings: Save thousands of dollars thanks to flexible terms and low fixed or variable rates.
  • No hidden fees, no catch: No application or origination fees. No pre-payment penalties.
  • Fast, easy, and all online: Simple online application and access to live customer support 7 days a week.
  • Access to member benefits: SoFi members get career coaching, financial advice, and more—all at no cost.
  • 98% of surveyed members would recommend SoFi to a friend

Save thousands on your student loans and pay off your loans sooner. Find your rate.

#4 View More Details

Works with 300+ community lenders for higher approval chances

  • Fixed rates: 2.49% - 7.75% APR
  • Variable rates: 1.90% - 5.25% APR
  • Minimum credit: 660
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.

#5 View More Details

Best for borrowers who want to customize their repayment schedule to pay off debt fast.

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.

  Rates (APR) Loan Types Terms Eligible Degrees Eligible Loans  
2.49% - 11.72% Variable & Fixed 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20

Undergrad & Graduate Private & Federal Visit Splash

View Disclosure

  Rates (APR) Loan Types Terms Eligible Degrees Eligible Loans  
2.48% - 7.98% Variable & Fixed Student: 5, 7, 10, 15, 20
Parent: 5, 7, 10

Undergrad & Graduate Private & Federal Visit ElFi

View Disclosure

  Rates (APR) Loan Types Terms Eligible Degrees Eligible Loans  
2.49% - 8.24% Variable & Fixed 5, 7, 10, 15, 20

Undergrad & Graduate Private & Federal Visit SoFi

View Disclosure

  Rates (APR) Loan Types Terms Eligible Degrees Eligible Loans  
1.90% - 7.75% Variable & Fixed 5, 7, 10, 15, 20

Undergrad & Graduate Private & Federal Visit LendKey

View Disclosure

  Rates (APR) Loan Types Terms Eligible Degrees Eligible Loans  
2.49% - 8.49% Variable & Fixed 5 to 20 years

Undergrad & Graduate Private & Federal Visit Earnest

View Disclosure

I reduced my student loan payment by $152 per month, by refinancing thru Nitro

Save Money Now