Laurel Road and Earnest are big names in student loan refinancing, but they’re very different companies.
Borrowers who understand the critical distinctions between the two lenders will be better positioned to find the best deal.
Basic Laurel Road and Earnest Terms
|Variable rate loans
|4.74% – 7.65%
|4.99% – 8.94%^
|Fixed rate loans
|4.49% – 7.75%
|4.47% – 8.99%^
|5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years old
|5 – 20 years old
^ The lowest rate listed for Earnest is a 5-year variable rate loan, and both lenders’ rates are listed as an APR. Please consult the Serious Disclosure for more details on pricing and bonus terms.
At first glance, there isn’t much that separates these two lenders. Variable rate and fixed rate loans appear in similar ranges.
However, things get interesting as we dig deeper into the two lenders.
Main differences between lenders
Laurel Road and Earnest approach student loan refinancing from two unique perspectives.
Earnest, at its core, is a technology company. They believe that with the information delivered in a short app, they can understand a borrower’s finances much more completely than a traditional lender. Credit score and income are always important factors, but Earnest looks beyond these conventional measures. For example, if you are diligently saving for retirement each month, it can help your cause with Earnest.
Laurel Road, however, is a product of a traditional bank. At first glance, this may seem negative, but it has certain advantages for borrowers. The majority of major refinance lenders are technology-focused companies. Interest rates from tech-focused lenders tend to move very quickly with the broader market. Bank-backed lenders tend to change rates a bit more slowly. In times of inflation, traditional bank lenders often have the lowest interest rates.
Finally, the Laurel Road locations a big accent on physicians and those in the medical field. They seem to understand that a young doctor’s starting salary is likely to increase significantly in the future. As a result, many recent medical school graduates find the best deal with Laurel Road.
Interest rates offered and comments from readers
The strategies used by both lenders are interesting, but ultimately the interest rates are the most important details.
Specifically, the interest rates actually offered by the two lenders are the most important details. In many cases, the lenders who advertise the lowest interest rates are not the lenders that offer the lowest interest rates.
In the case of Earnest, borrowers reported a wide variety of interest rates. Many readers of this site have found the best deal with Earnest. Others were insulted by surprisingly high rates. This is likely due to the unique formulas employed by Earnest.
Laurel Road tends to offer rates quite close to their advertised rates in various loan categories. Unfortunately, Laurel Road tends to be middle of the road when it comes to approvals. They aren’t very strict, but a rejection at Laurel Road doesn’t necessarily mean a borrower can’t be approved anywhere.
Deciding between Laurel Road and Earnest
These two lenders sit at the top of the student loan refinance ranking. Moreover, they have both been at the top for many years.
If you’re a very financially responsible borrower, but don’t have a long credit history or 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 any of these little boxes, both companies are worth serious consideration. Checking rates with both lenders is often well worth the 10-15 minutes it takes to get an offer.
Finally, both lenders are offering a $150 bonus to borrowers who refinance using the links on this page.