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

Updated on August 13, 2019
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 2.24% for a variable interest loan or 3.64% for a fixed interest loan. Laurel Road's variable rate loans start at just 2.50% interest and fixed rate loans start at 3.50% 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

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

  • APR: 2.27% - 7.59%
  • 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

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

  • APR: 2.43% - 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.

#3 View More Details

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

  • APR: 2.27% - 8.24%
  • 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.

#4 View More Details

Offers unemployment protection and career/coaching/networking

  • APR: 2.27% - 7.94%
  • 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.

#5 View More Details

Works with 300+ community lenders for higher approval chances

  • APR: 2.24% - 7.50%
  • 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.

#6 View More Details

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

  • APR: 2.80% - 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!
#7 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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