If you’re the kind of person that loves supporting small businesses, banking at your local credit union, and shopping at neighborhood grocery stores, then you’re going to student loan refinancing with LendKey. They are a bit of an oddity in the student loan refinancing marketplace (in a good way).
LendKey is the partner for hundreds of small banks and credit unions that want to be involved in the student loan marketplace but lack sleek websites and infrastructure to do it on their own.
They offer Student Loan Planner readers $300 for refinancing through our bonus link (if you refinance between $20,000 and $100,000). You actually get $750 if you refinance more than $100,000. So if you get a great deal with them, you’ll get a bonus and support this site at no additional cost to you.
LendKey is unique because they aren’t an online social / startup type lender like Commonbond or Sofi. They also aren’t a big bank constrained by heavy regulation. LendKey is unique because they connect you with hundreds of potential small lenders based on your personal location and characteristics.
In this LendKey review, we’ll cover how good their interest rates are, what kind of benefits they offer that other student loan companies do not, who should apply, how LendKey is different, and how to apply.
Who Could Expect a Good Deal with LendKey?
I have seen a lot of people in the middle of the spectrum get good deals with LendKey. They seem to show up very well for folks with $20,000 to $100,000 in student debt. They’re also able to make loans to some folks who might not be able to get offers elsewhere because of the large number of lenders they search.
While you should still check them out if you owe six figures, LendKey would be one of the first places I’d shop if I owed five figures of student debt.
LendKey Offers the Best Unemployment Protection
If you’re really worried about moving your loans off the federal system because of the protections you’d lose, then LendKey really differentiates themselves here. As you might know, you get up to three years of forbearance with federal student loans.
While no private lender is going to be that generous, LendKey offers an industry leading 18 months of paused payment eligibility if you become unemployed. That kind of protection is very meaningful.
If you’re worried about your job stability but know you need to pay off your student loans, LendKey might be worth going with over a competitor because of this stellar unemployment protection.
Pros for Refinancing with LendKey
A few of the main reasons to go with LendKey would be:
- One stop shopping for rates with hundreds of local banks and credit unions
- Leading unemployment protection
- $300 LendKey cash back bonus (more if you refinance over 100k)
- Fast online application
- Ability to shop special deals based on your location
Improvement Areas for LendKey
LendKey has a max loan limit of $250,000 for most graduate degrees and $300,000 for medical degree programs. Hence, I haven’t seen them shop up in the top 2 for most borrowers with high debt loads.
Keep in mind that their lenders are smaller financial institutions. I suspect they might just be wary of taking on large loans onto their balance sheet and prefer the bread and butter student loan refinancing cases.
Hence, as of now if you’re a dentist with $350,000 of student debt you wouldn’t include LendKey in your search. I expect as they do more and more volume with their refinancing business, the limits will be increased over time.
LendKey FAQs for How to Qualify
- How high does your income need to be? While you could qualify with income as low as $30,000 or $40,000, ideally you’ll be earning at least $50,000 and owe less than two times your income.
- How high should your credit score be? LendKey only requires a 660. If your credit score is very high, LendKey might be one of the lenders you get a better deal from as they don’t focus on specific metrics like cash flow as other lenders do.
- Where do you need to live to get a LendKey loan? Anywhere in the US except for a few smaller states. You also need to be US citizen or permanent resident and have graduated from an accredited Title IV program.
How Do You Apply for LendKey Student Loan Refinancing?
It’s stunningly easy to apply to LendKey. You can click this link and do the following:
- Enter your income, personal info, loan balance, where you went to school, etc.
- View all the different prequalified offers you could get (this is a “soft credit check,” and does not impact your credit score)
- Select one specific deal and submit your pay stubs, loan statements, etc. (this does have a small temporary impact on your credit score, called a “hard credit check”)
- Wait about one business day for LendKey to get back to you with a decision
- Sign the final documents and wait a couple weeks for your $300 bonus
On average, it takes about two weeks between the loan being approved and the loan funds disbursing and taking out your old loan.
LendKey Offers Some Death and Disability Protection for Your Student Loans
Another worry about refinancing federal student loans is that you could lose protections for death and disability. In every case so far, all of LendKey’s lenders have forgiven loans where the borrower becomes disabled or dies.
Technically though, they don’t have a legal obligation to do that. That shouldn’t prevent you from refinancing though if that’s the smart thing to do. An easy way to protect against this is with some cheap term life and disability policies.
One note for healthcare professionals, the loan would still be there if you were disabled from your profession but could still work in another capacity. That would probably be the same with federal student loans.
Your disability agent refers to this as “own occupation” protection where your policy pays out if you can’t do procedures but can still sit at a desk job.
The main point is that you should have insurance protection that any smart person should have. Perhaps have a bit extra if you decide to refinance your student debt with a private lender.
How Does the $300 LendKey Bonus Work?
You only get that bonus if you apply through our Student Loan Planner reader link and accept the loan. LendKey sends it over once your loan disburses and they’ve had a couple weeks to process everything.
The reason readers get a bonus at all is that I try to negotiate giving away much of our referral bonus from working with LendKey student loan refinance. There are plenty of financial blogs out there that have different philosophies that give no cash bonuses because they seek higher profits.
I’m all for trying to get the best deal for readers. You should apply to LendKey, but you should shop around as well. Go for the best combination of low interest rate and high cash bonus when you’re shopping around.
Should You Refinance Student Loans with LendKey?
If you owe less than $100,000, I think considering student loan refinancing with LendKey is a must. If you owe more than that, I would definitely still give them a shot. I always suggest shopping around anyway.
If you’d like to see if you should refinance in general and with what company, we’ve built a refinancing quiz that can tell you.
If you have an affinity for local banks and credit unions, you might be surprised at how good LendKey’s offers are. I have seen consistent improvement on their end as they add more and more lenders to their platform.
With LendKey’s stellar protections for death, disability, and unemployment, you can refinance student loans to a lower interest rate while not worrying about the “what ifs” when you give up those federal protections. Check out the service today and get up to a $750 for refinancing through our bonus link.
What’s your experience been like with LendKey? Share in comments and don’t forget to check out our refinancing page to learn about other lenders!