Best Student Loan Marketplaces of 2022


Student loan marketplaces let you see if you’ll qualify for offers from multiple lenders and estimate rates with no harm to your credit score. Marketplaces also allow borrowers to compare multiple loan offers in one place online. But you’ll still need to shop around to make sure you get the best deal on a student loan.

Here’s what you can expect from student loan marketplaces and how to best use them to find a private student loan.

LendKey

3.99% to 8.49% with autopay Fixed APR
Cost of attendance, minus aid Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

Purefy

3.26% to 14.50% with autopay Fixed APR
Not disclosed Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

Sparrow Student Loans

2.99% to 14.98% with autopay Fixed APR
Cost of attendance, minus aid Max. Loan Amount
No minimum Min. Credit Score

Credible

3.15% to 14.75% Fixed APR
Not disclosed Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

Lender

Learn More
3.99% to 8.49% with autopay Fixed APR
Cost of attendance, minus aid Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

Lender

Learn More
3.26% to 14.50% with autopay Fixed APR
Not disclosed Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

Lender

Learn More
2.99% to 14.98% with autopay Fixed APR
Cost of attendance, minus aid Max. Loan Amount
No minimum Min. Credit Score

Lender

Learn More
3.15% to 14.75% Fixed APR
Not disclosed Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

U.S. News selects the Best Loan Companies by evaluating affordability, borrower eligibility criteria and customer service. Those with the highest overall scores are considered the best lenders.

To calculate each score, we use data about the lender and its loan offerings, giving greater weight to factors that matter most to borrowers. The scoring factors for private student loan providers are customer service ratings, fixed APR, variable APR, loan product availability, minimum and maximum loan terms, minimum and maximum loan amounts, minimum FICO score, and online features.

The weight each scoring factor receives is based on a nationwide survey on what borrowers look for in a lender.

To receive a rating, lenders must offer qualifying loans nationwide and have a good reputation within the industry. Read more about our methodology.

Find the Best Student Loans for You

LendKey’s digital platform connects borrowers who need private student loans or refinancing loans with credit unions and community banks. Since 2009, LendKey has helped more than 135,000 people by funding $5 billion in loans. The company offers fixed- and variable-rate loans for undergraduate and graduate students.

Founded in 2014, Purefy is a student loan refinance rate comparison site, and it also originates refinanced student and parent loans via a partnership with Pentagon Federal Credit Union. As a rate comparison tool, Purefy shares interest rates and terms from lending partners, including Earnest, ISL Education Lending and College Ave. This lender review will focus on the loan refinancing options Purefy and PenFed offer together.

Sparrow, founded in 2020, is an online marketplace where students and parents can fill out a single application to see whether they qualify for loan offers from a variety of lenders. Although Sparrow is not a lender, the free service allows you to compare rates across lending partners. Sparrow is also available to international students.

Credible is a loan comparison marketplace that allows would-be borrowers to shop around for loans that meet their needs – including mortgages, mortgage refinancing, student loans, student loan refinancing and personal loans. The company was founded in 2013 in San Francisco as a tool to empower borrowers to shop rates and products.

Splash Financial

2.59% to 8.49% with autopay Fixed APR
No Maximum Max. Loan Amount
640 Min. Credit Score

Purefy

2.50% to 5.69% with autopay Fixed APR
$500,000 Max. Loan Amount
650 Min. Credit Score

LendKey

2.99% to 9.93% with autopay Fixed APR
$300,000 Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

Lend-Grow

As low as 2.40% Fixed APR
$500,000 Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

Credible

2.35% to 8.73% Fixed APR
Not disclosed Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

Find the Best Student Loan Refinance Lenders

Best for speedy credit decisions

Splash Financial is a student loan refinancing marketplace that uses its network of banks, credit unions and other lenders to match borrowers with refinancing options. Splash Financial is based in Cleveland and can help U.S. citizens and permanent residents refinance federal, private and Parent PLUS loans. Splash Financial also offers a specialized refinance program for doctors and dentists completing residencies and fellowships.

Founded in 2014, Purefy is a student loan refinance rate comparison site, and it also originates refinanced student and parent loans via a partnership with Pentagon Federal Credit Union. As a rate comparison tool, Purefy shares interest rates and terms from lending partners, including Earnest, ISL Education Lending and College Ave. This lender review will focus on the loan refinancing options Purefy and PenFed offer together.

LendKey’s digital platform connects borrowers who need private student loans or refinancing loans with credit unions and community banks. Since 2009, LendKey has helped more than 135,000 people by funding $5 billion in loans. The company offers fixed- and variable-rate loans for undergraduate and graduate students.

Sparrow, founded in 2020, is an online marketplace where students and parents can fill out a single application to see whether they qualify for loan offers from a variety of lenders. Although Sparrow is not a lender, the free service allows you to compare rates across lending partners. Sparrow is also available to international students.

Best for comparing rates on student loan refinancing from local lenders

Lend-Grow is an online lending marketplace founded in 2019 that matches borrowers with local lenders in its network. The Reston, Virginia, business partners with small and midsize banks and credit unions that compete to give borrowers low student loan refinancing rates. Private and federal loans from $5,000 to $750,000, including Parent Direct PLUS loans, can be refinanced.

Credible is a loan comparison marketplace that allows would-be borrowers to shop around for loans that meet their needs – including mortgages, mortgage refinancing, student loans, student loan refinancing and personal loans. The company was founded in 2013 in San Francisco as a tool to empower borrowers to shop rates and products.

Find the Best Student Loans for You

You can use an online marketplace for free to prequalify with multiple lenders at once and compare loan offers. You can also complete your loan application on the marketplace.

“A student loan marketplace allows you to compare terms, rates, repayment ability, prepayment penalties and costs in the private loan market,” says Whitney Barkley-Denney, senior policy counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group.

A marketplace may show you a dashboard with options for each lender, including estimated interest rates and term lengths. Make sure you look at the annual percentage rate, maximum loan amount, minimum credit score and repayment timeline for any loan you are considering.

A student loan marketplace will also offer a way to apply for a loan. This may be as simple as clicking on a link to the lender from the marketplace.

Take some time to understand the virtues and limitations of a student loan marketplace.

  • Serves as a good starting point for loan research.
  • Offers easy access and navigation.
  • Helps you easily compare loan options.
  • Saves time by allowing you to prequalify with multiple lenders in one place.
  • Produces a curated list of recommended lenders.

  • Excludes federal loans.
  • Includes many but not all private lenders.
  • May lack support for borrowers.

Find the Student Loan That’s Right for You

You can trust the information you find on a student loan marketplace, but make sure you consider the source. A marketplace is a sales platform and may steer you toward a featured lender. Take some time to research any lender before applying.

“Just because a lender is featured on the marketplace doesn’t mean they’re any good,” says Bruce McClary, senior vice president of communications for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. “Seek guidance from other resources that may not be trying to sell you something.”

That means shopping around and getting independent advice from trusted sources, such as a nonprofit credit counselor, McClary says. Even a simple online search can help inform your decision about using a particular lender.

“You may not be receiving the most objective overview of each choice, so look at it as a starting point and go to other sources that can be helpful,” McClary says.

When you apply through a marketplace instead of directly through a lender, the main difference is that you can prequalify with multiple lenders simultaneously. The marketplace also connects borrowers with appropriate lenders.

“You’re going through the portal to interface with the lender,” McClary says. “You’re not applying through the marketplace; you’re using the platform to connect to the lender.”

Soft credit checks are used to produce a marketplace’s personalized rate estimates you can then compare. You can save time, money and stress as the terms for multiple loan offers are laid out for comparison.

Here are some of the most important factors to consider as you compare student loans in a marketplace:

  • Interest rate.
  • Interest rate type. Is the rate fixed or variable?
  • Loan term. How many years will you have to pay off the loan?
  • Loan amount. Will this amount cover enough of your school expenses?
  • Repayment options. When do payments start? Can you defer or make interest-only payments while you’re in school?
  • Loan fees. How much will you pay in origination and other fees? Does the lender charge prepayment penalties?
  • Co-signer requirements. Do you need to apply with a co-signer?
  • Customer service and lender’s reputation. Does the lender have negative reviews or other red flags? What are common complaints?
  • Deferment and forbearance options. What happens if you can’t make payments?

For many borrowers, loan choice boils down to the right monthly payment. Still, make sure you’re also looking at the fine print, including fees and repayment options.

Prioritize loans from trustworthy lenders with the best rates, fees and repayment terms for your financial situation. A lender that accepts co-signers could be a good choice if you need help qualifying for a loan.

And if your financial future is uncertain, find out what happens if you miss a payment. Learn what options you have for deferment or forbearance before you need them.

“Don’t avoid reviewing some of the worst-case scenarios because you assume it won’t happen to you,” McClary says.

A student loan marketplace is a good resource for loan shopping, but it might not be your best option.

A marketplace shows you just the lenders featured on the platform. You won’t find federal student loans, and you may miss out on smaller or local lenders, for instance.

Before you rely on a student loan marketplace, you should also consult:

  • A credit counselor. Credit counselors from a nonprofit credit counseling agency can take a holistic view of your finances and help you identify the best loan for your situation.
  • Your school’s financial aid office. The office may provide you with a list of suggested lenders.
  • The Education Department. Make sure you research federal student loans, which typically have better terms than private loans. “The fact is, for a vast majority of borrowers, a federal loan really is a safer loan,” Barkley-Denney says.

Ultimately, even the best private student loan in a marketplace probably won’t beat the terms of a federal loan. A federal student loan provides significant advantages, including fixed interest rates, forbearance and deferment options, and income-driven repayment plans.

Exhaust federal loans before you turn to private lenders. And you will always need to do your homework before you apply for a loan, regardless of whether you use a marketplace or go straight to a lender.

A student loan marketplace, McClary says, “could be viewed by some as one-stop shopping, but there’s a danger because that may lead to a lack of effort on the part of the borrower to do some research. What you’re looking at is a presentation of featured lenders that is not likely to represent the full spectrum of choices.”

Advertising Disclosure: Some of the loan offers on this site are from companies
who are advertising clients of U.S. News. Advertising considerations may impact
where offers appear on the site but do not affect any editorial decisions,
such as which loan products we write about and how we evaluate them. This site
does not include all loan companies or all loan offers available in the marketplace.



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