LendKey Private Student Loans: Pros, Cons, and Reviews

Written by: Kristyn Pilgrim
Updated: 11/02/20

CollegeFinance Score: ★★★★☆


LendKey offers borrowers competitive annual percentage rates (APRs) and other benefits that make it a top competitor. 

As far as private student loans go, LendKey is a great option. Many borrowers enjoy working with LendKey because they prefer borrowing and working with credit unions and small banks. For students with a credit history or co-signer with credit history, it can be an even better match for undergraduate and graduate students. 

Even though there are many benefits to a LendKey private student loan, those with a poor credit history are at a bit of a disadvantage with this student loan type. Continue reading to discover if a LendKey private student loan is the right choice for you. 


  • Simple application process 
  • Loan refinancing options
  • Can borrow up to 100% of school-certified costs
  • Lower fixed high APR
  • Fewer fees


  • Must be at least a part-time student
  • Not all residents are eligible for LendKey private student loans, as certain states are excluded 
  • May not be able to defer payment while in school 

LendKey: What You Need to Know

LendKey is dedicated to helping students and families with funding their higher education. Since 2009, LendKey has partnered with banks and credit unions to help borrowers make the best financial decisions by offering various loan options. They offer different loan repayment plans, so students can start paying back their loans while in school or defer payment until after graduation. Ultimately, this helps borrowers make the best financial decisions for their unique circumstances. 

Fast facts: 

  • LendKey partners with hundreds of nonprofit credit unions and banks
  • By automating much of the loan process, they can offer low-rate loans online. 
  • They prioritize people over profits. 

LendKey recommends that borrowers have a co-signer so that they can have a higher chance of approval and lower loan rates. By having a co-signer with a good credit history and demonstrates certain income requirements, you are more likely to have competitive loan rates with LendKey. 

In addition, they recommend that students start paying off loans while in school. Although this is not a requirement, they believe that repaying private student loans while in school will help borrowers in the long run. This is because students will be repaying federal student loans after graduation, and they don’t want to put too much pressure on students to pay back federal and private student loans at the same time. 

LendKey’s BBB Rating: A

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) gives LendKey an “A” rating, which means the lender has scored somewhere between 94 and 96.99. This is one of the higher rating options, as the highest letter rating is an A+. Having this rating indicates that LendKey ranks high among other businesses but has some areas for improvement. 

The BBB uses these criteria to rate businesses: 

  • They look at the business complaint history related to the business’s marketplace activities. 
  • They consider the type of business and if there are any concerns regarding if the business violates any law. 
  • The BBB considers the length of time in which the business has been operating. 
  • They look at the business’s transparency practices
  • Businesses that fail to honor their commitments to the BBB have their score lowered.
  • The BBB rates businesses with licensing issues and any government actions lower. 
  • The BBB lowers the score if the business misuses the BBB name or there are advertising issues. 

Each criterion for ranking has different ranges of points. Although LendKey hasn’t received a perfect score, they are still ranked quite high. In fact, the lowest ranking, an “F” rating, includes points 0 through 59.99. 

Additionally, LendKey has 4.5 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot. One borrower described the application process as “one of the easiest applications” they’d ever completed. Many borrowers explain that LendKey is transparent, straightforward, and has wonderful customer service. Although there are some bad reviews, out of over 250 reviews, 80% rate LendKey as “Excellent.” 

LendKey: Potential Benefits for Borrowers

If you want a student loan that requires a simple application process, loan refinancing options, the funding you need for school, and a competitive APR, you should consider LendKey. LendKey offers borrowers a variety of benefits so that they get the most out of their investment.

  • Simple application process: LendKey offers a streamlined and simple application process. 
  • Loan refinancing: LendKey offers students the chance to refinance their student loans without any origination fees. Ultimately, this helps borrowers simplify their finances and potentially have lower payments. 
  • You can borrow up to 100% of your school-certified costs: With LendKey, you can borrow whatever is needed to cover tuition, textbooks, housing, and other education-related expenses.  
  • Lower fixed high APR: LendKey has a fixed high APR of 9.01% (with autopay), which, when compared to other fixed high APRs, is on the lower end. 
  • Fewer fees: With LendKey, you won’t need to pay application or origination fees. However, it’s important to note that you are subject to late fees. 

LendKey: Potential Drawbacks for Borrowers 

Like any lender, there are some potential drawbacks for LendKey borrowers. Even though there aren’t many drawbacks to a private student loan with LendKey, it’s important that you consider the following when making your decision: 

  • Short grace period: Even though they offer a grace period, LendKey only offers a grace period of six months that begins once the student graduates or is no longer enrolled at least half-time. 
  • You must be at least a part-time student: To receive a LendKey private student loan, you must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program. 
  • Not all residents are eligible for LendKey private student loans: Unfortunately, residents of Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and West Virginia are not eligible for private student loans through LendKey.
  • You may not be eligible to defer payments while in school: LendKey encourages students to make payments while in school. Even though they encourage borrowers to make some type of contribution each month, you may be able to defer payments while in graduate school. That being said, there is no guarantee that you will be able to defer payments. 

LendKey: The Details

Loan Amounts and Term Lengths

Minimum loan amount: $5,000

Loan term options: They have terms anywhere from five to 20 years.  

Multi-year approval available: Not disclosed

Interest Rate Ranges

Fixed and variable rates available: Yes

Fixed low APR: 4.99%

Fixed high APR: 9.01%

Variable low APR: 2.99%

Variable high APR: 8.15%

Repayment Options

In-school payment options: Yes

Grace period: 6 months

Co-signer release available: Co-signer release is subject to lender approval. To qualify for co-signer release, a borrower must make payments on time, be in good status, provide proof of income, have no bankruptcies, and have not defaulted on loans. 

Loan servicer: LendKey does not outsource servicing of its private student loans. 

Other Perks and Options

Interest rate discounts: LendKey offers a 0.25% autopay discount. 

Other rewards or services: LendKey borrowers have access to career assistance, a credit score analysis, and payment for referring a friend.

LendKey: Eligibility and Application Requirements

Eligibility Details

Income requirements: The borrower or co-signer must have a minimum annual income of $24,000.  

Credit score requirements: Borrowers must have a minimum of 36 months of established credit history. Most approved applicants have a credit score in the mid-to-high 700s. 

Eligibility for international borrowers: No

Application Details

Application or origination fees: None 

Soft pull rate check availability: Yes

Private Student Loans: Understanding Your Options

Funding higher education can be challenging enough, especially when you’re bombarded with different loan types. Federal student loans offer many advantages and are backed by the federal government. On the other hand, private student loans are student loans made by private lenders. These lenders can include banks, credit unions, schools, and state agencies.  

In this section, we’ll break down the differences between federal and private student loans

Federal Student Loans  Private Student Loans 
Payments are due after you graduate, leave school, or change enrollment status to less than part-time.  Many private student loans require payment while in school; however, many, like LendKey, allow you to defer until you finish. 
Interest rates are often fixed and tend to be lower than private student loans. Interest rates can be variable or fixed and may be lower or higher, depending on your unique circumstances. 
If you qualify for a subsidized student loan, the government will pay the interest on your loan while you’re in school.  Private lenders do not usually offer subsidized student loans. 
Federal loans offer different repayment plans that can be tied to your monthly income. Lenders have different rules for repayment options. 
You do not need a credit check to qualify for most federal student loans.  Private student loans usually require a credit history or a co-signer with a credit history.
Borrowers who work in public service may be eligible for loan forgiveness. Private lenders do not offer loan forgiveness, but some borrowers might be able to have loan forgiveness under certain circumstances.


Typically, applying for a private student loan should be done after all federal options have been exhausted. The federal government offers four types of student aid: grants, scholarships, work-study, and federal student loans. Since student loans cap at a certain point, many students need additional funds to cover the costs associated with their education. 

Undergraduate federal student loans max between $5,500 and $12,500 per year, while graduate and professional federal student loans allow students to borrow up to $20,500 annually, depending on their financial status. 

Often, federal student loans are the best choice for students because of their benefits. For instance, there are different loan forgiveness and cancellation programs that private student loans simply cannot offer. Even though most borrowers may not need these options, private student loans do not usually have these advantages: 

  • Deferment: You do not need to make payments, but your loan will accrue interest. 
  • Income-driven repayment: Monthly payment is based on how much money you earn monthly.
  • Forbearance: You do not need to make payments, and your bill will not increase due to interest fees.

If you borrow from LendKey, you may be able to have deferment and forbearance options. Normally, deferring loan payments with LendKey is rare. In fact, they have a minimum $25 monthly payment for borrowers, even while they are attending school. 

However, they do offer deferment to military veterans and others if under specific circumstances. Although they do not usually offer deferment, borrowers do have forbearance provisions. Borrowers usually can use up to 18 months of forbearance in six-month intervals. 

Is LendKey Right for You?

LendKey is best for borrowers with some credit history. If you prefer to work with small banks and credit unions, LendKey is a great option. Although you do not need an extensive credit history to qualify for a private student loan with LendKey, you will have lower rates by having a good credit history or a co-signer with a good history. Overall, LendKey private student loans have competitive fixed and variable APRs. 

LendKey Could Be a Good Option for You If:

  • You want a competitive APR 
  • You or a co-signer have a credit history  
  • You prefer to borrow through small banks or credit unions
  • You can make $25 monthly payments while in school 

Deciding to attend college and build your career is a great first step in investing in your future. Although it may seem overwhelming at first, funding your education can be eased with the right information. 

At CollegeFinance.com, we are passionate about bringing you the right information so that you can make the most informed decisions. We are confident that with the right tools and resources regarding planning, borrowing, and repaying student loans, you will be able to shape your future the way you want. 

That’s why we’ve made it our mission to provide readers with the information they need to plan for their next steps. Get the most out of your college investment by taking advantage of CollegeFinance.com’s resources