Earnest and Laurel Road are two frontrunners for student loan refinancing opportunities. Both lenders offer competitive rates for borrowers, especially those with six-figure debt. But each lender has its own reputation among different professions and offers various benefits that may not be available across the board.
In this review, we’ll compare what each lender typically offers to help you decide which lender is the better option for your financial situation.
Earnest vs. Laurel Road: Student loan refinancing basics
Your primary goal when refinancing is to save money by finding the lowest interest rate with a reputable lender. Let’s look at a comparison of the fundamentals of refinancing with each lender.
|Terms||5 to 20 years||5, 7, 10, 15, 20 years|
|Amounts||$5,000 to $500,000||$5,000 to $500,000+|
*Rates and terms as of January 9, 2020
*Lowest rates include autopay discounts
Earnest and Laurel Road offer similar, competitive rates, loan terms and minimum loan limits. But if you reside in Delaware, Kentucky or Nevada, you have a clear winner — Laurel Road — because Earnest doesn’t provide loans in these states.
Additionally, Earnest doesn’t offer variable rates to residents of Alaska, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Tennessee or Texas.
Who has better refinancing perks?
While you will want to use refinancing interest rates as an important deciding factor, there are many other features and perks offered by each lender that you should weigh before choosing a lender, such as the following:
to Adult Child
|Referral Bonus||$200||Up to $400|
|Cashback Bonus||Up to $500||Up to $750|
- Option to use or release a cosigner. Both lenders offer a cosigner release, but Earnest’s is automatic because it doesn’t give you the option to refinance with a cosigner at this time. Instead, the cosigner will automatically be dropped, and the debt will be consolidated solely in your name.
- Ability to transfer loan to another person. Laurel Road gives your family more flexibility than Earnest by allowing you to refinance a Parent PLUS loan into your own name.
- Factors used to determine loan approval. Earnest requires a credit score minimum of 650, but the company also looks at your education, earning potential and other financial data to determine your rate. Laurel Road’s credit score requirement is a bit higher, and the lender uses traditional data to determine whether your loan will be approved.
- Programs to earn cash. You can earn up to $500 with the Earnest cash-back bonus for refinancing and up to $750 with Laurel Road’s refinancing bonus. You also have the opportunity to earn $200 per customer referral with Earnest or up to $400 with Laurel Road’s referral program.
Laurel Road vs. Earnest comparison based on borrower feedback
We recently surveyed over 1600 Student Loan Planner readers to better understand their experiences with the major refinancing lenders listed on our website.
Laurel Road and Earnest ranked in the overall top three, with Earnest taking home the silver medal and Laurel Road taking the bronze. Earnest ranked higher in terms of customer service and technology, but Laurel Road earned plenty of praise for its interactions and quick response to borrowers’ needs.
Application process comparison
Earnest’s application process may be more robust because it considers additional education and financial factors when making loan decisions. Part of this process requires access to your banking information, which some of our survey respondents said felt invasive.
Our survey showed that Earnest has an advantage over Laurel Road when it comes to the application process, however, because Laurel Road’s application process can get dragged out, sometimes taking 30 days to get a finalized answer. Earnest’s processing time, by comparison, tends to be faster and more web-friendly.
Refinancing by profession
Earnest and Laurel Road service loans for borrowers from all income levels, but the majority of our survey respondents who refinanced with these two lenders have six-figure incomes.
Our survey found that Laurel Road tends to earn more business from those in the healthcare profession, as well as borrowers in residency or fellowship for their training. One of our readers said:
“I appreciated Laurel Road’s targeted approach to medical professionals. Their website was easy to navigate, and their customer service was friendly and helpful.”
Earnest took a bigger piece of the pie with borrowers in the corporate world, like lawyers and other miscellaneous business roles.
Which Lender Closes the Most Loans with Each Profession
Laurel Road vs Earnest: Comparable results
When it comes to physicians and physician assistants, it’s pretty much a tied ball game. Our survey found:
- Laurel Road secured loans with 20% of the physicians that were surveyed, while 15% went with Earnest.
- Both lenders earned 29% of the physician assistants’ refinancing market.
Professions that choose Laurel Road
Laurel Road does a better job with capturing refinancing opportunities with dental and physical therapy (PT) professions:
- Laurel Road refinanced loans for 37% of the dentists surveyed, while Earnest only closed 19%.
- Laurel Road offers an American Physical Therapy Association rate discount through our website, helping them to land 27% of this occupation, whereas Earnest was only able to capture 9% of PT borrowers.
Professions where Earnest is the clear winner
Earnest has a significant lead when locking down lawyers and pharmacists involved in our survey:
- 33% of surveyed lawyers refinanced with Earnest, and only 7% chose Laurel Road.
- More than one-third (36%) of pharmacists refinanced with Earnest, while 12% went with Laurel Road.
The real question: Should you refinance with Earnest or Laurel Road?
Earnest and Laurel Road are both popular refinancing lenders with solid reputations and competitive rates. It can be difficult to determine which lender is the best choice, especially when they offer similar benefits.
Here are a few scenarios that may help you choose a lender based on your unique situation.
- If you have six-figures’ worth of debt, both lenders are great options. We recommend checking rates with at least three lenders before moving forward with refinancing. Both of these lenders should be at the top of your research list if you’re carrying over $100,000 of student loan debt, but Laurel Road tends to be more powerful for ultra-high debt over $500,000.
- If you live in Delaware, Kentucky or Nevada, Laurel Road wins. Unlike Earnest, Laurel Road offers refinancing to residents of all 50 states; Washington, D.C.; and Puerto Rico.
- If you’re a Parent PLUS borrower, Laurel Road wins again. Earnest doesn’t offer the option to transfer your parent’s loan to your name yet, but Laurel Road can help you make the transfer.
- If you want to customize your monthly payment, Earnest has more flexible terms. Earnest uses its Precision Pricing tool to match your rate and term based on how much you can afford to pay each month, which means you can choose an unusual loan term, like 10.5 years, if it better fits your needs.
- If you’ve received rates from multiple lenders, Laurel Road may match it. Laurel Road tends to do a better job of matching rates from other lenders than Earnest.