Laurel Road and Earnest are big names in student loan refinancing, but they are very different companies.
The borrowers who understand the critical distinctions between the two lenders will better position themselves to find the best deal.
Basic Terms from Laurel Road and Earnest
|Variable-Rate Loans||4.74% – 7.65%||4.59% – 8.94%^|
|Fixed-Rate Loans||4.49% – 7.75%||4.47% – 8.99%^|
|Loan Terms||5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 Years||5 – 20 Years|
^ The lowest listed rate for Earnest is a 5-year variable rate loan, and rates for both lenders are listed as an APR. Please see the Earnest Disclosure for more details on rates and bonus terms.
At first glance, there isn’t much separating these two lenders. Both variable and fixed-rate loans appear in similar ranges.
However, things get interesting as we dig deeper into the two lenders.
Key Differences Between Lenders
Laurel Road and Earnest approach student loan refinancing from two unique perspectives.
Earnest, at its core, is a tech company. They believe that with the information provided in a short application, they can understand a borrower’s finances far more comprehensively than a traditional lender. Credit score and income are still important factors, but Earnest looks beyond these conventional metrics. For example, If you diligently save for retirement each month, it may help your cause with Earnest.
Laurel Road, however, is a product of a traditional bank. At first glance, this might seem like a negative, but it does have some benefits for borrowers. The majority of the major refinance lenders are tech-driven companies. Interest rates with tech-focused lenders tend to move very quickly with the broader market. The lenders backed by a bank tend to change rates a little slower. During times of inflation, traditional banking lenders often have the lowest interest rates.
Finally, Laurel Road places a big emphasis on doctors and those in the medical field. They seem to understand that a young physician’s starting salary is likely to increase considerably in the future. As a result, many recent medical school graduates find the best deal with Laurel Road.
Interest Rates Offered and Reader Feedback
The strategies used by the two lenders are interesting, but ultimately, the interest rates are the most important details.
More specifically, the interest rates actually offered by the two lenders are the most important details. In many cases, the lenders that advertise the lowest interest rates are not the lenders that offer the lowest interest rates.
In the case of Earnest, borrowers have reported a wide variety of interest rate outcomes. Many readers of this site have found the best deal with Earnest. Others have been insulted by surprisingly high rates. This is likely attributable to the unique formulas employed by Earnest.
Laurel Road tends to offer rates pretty close to their advertised rates in various loan categories. Unfortunately, Laurel Road tends to be in the middle of the road regarding approvals. They are not terribly strict, but a rejection at Laurel Road doesn’t necessarily mean a borrower can’t get approved anywhere.
Deciding Between Laurel Road and Earnest
These two lenders sit at the top of the student loan refinance rankings. Additionally, they have both been towards the top for many years.
If you are a borrower who is very responsible financially, but you don’t have a long credit history, or you have a lower income, Earnest should probably be the first company you check out.
However, Laurel Road should be your first stop if you are in the medical field.
If you don’t fit into either of these small boxes, both companies merit serious consideration. Checking rates with both lenders is often well worth the 10-15 minutes required to get an offer.
Finally, both lenders offer a $150 bonus to borrowers who refinance using the links on this page.