What is Earnest?
Earnest got its start in 2013 and claims to be a different kind of lender — one that’s focused on providing loans to financially responsible people. That’s why you might be more familiar with Earnest as a student loan refinancer. The company is a popular option among people trying to get lower rates, but it has an active personal loan division, too.
Earnest offers some very attractive personal loan rates and has almost no fees. But to qualify for those rates, you’ll need to pass a high bar. Earnest considers a wider range of financial factors than most lenders, such as what career field you’re in and how much money you have in your savings, retirement and investment accounts. We’ll spill the beans on everything you need to know about Earnest in this review to help you decide if it’s the right lender for you.
Earnest personal loan highlights
- No origination fee, late or prepayment fees: The only fee that Earnest charges is an $8 returned payment fee. So as long as you continue to manage your money well, you won’t have to pay anything beyond interest.
- Holistic approval process: Earnest looks at a wide range of factors when making a decision, so you may qualify for lower rates based on other factors than your credit score.
- Low rates: You may be able to find cheaper rates with other lenders, but there aren’t a ton of lenders offering better APRs.
- Lack of other perks: Earnest bills itself as a premium lender, which is why it’s surprising that it doesn’t offer perks such as unemployment protection, a free credit score or an option to periodically skip payments, as it does for its student loans.
- APR range: 6.99% to 18.24%
- Minimum credit requirement: 680
- Terms: 36 to 60 months
- Fees: $8 returned payment fee
Earnest Personal Loan Details
Earnest product details
Earnest claims to offer a “range of protections should your financial situation change.” But it only goes into detail for two programs.
First, if you die or become permanently disabled, whoever takes charge of your estate can apply to have the loan discharged. Second, you can qualify for up to 12 months of forbearance (in three-month increments) if you have a documented hardship, such as if you lose your job. If you quit, you won’t qualify for forbearance. Earnest does not offer unemployment support like some other lenders.
That’s not to say that Earnest won’t support you in other ways if you run into trouble. It just doesn’t disclose what, if any, other programs are available on its website.
- Minimum credit score: 680
- Minimum credit history: Earnest doesn’t specify a certain number, but it will consider your credit history when making a decision
- Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Again, Earnest doesn’t provide a specific debt-to-income ratio, but it will consider your other debts
Earnest has high standards when it comes to who it will approve for a loan. Besides the above requirements, you’ll also need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, be at least 18 years old and live in a state in which Earnest operates. Earnest personal loans are available in every state except for Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada and Rhode Island
You’ll also need to meet some financial qualifications. Earnest requires you to have a steady income and at least two months’ worth of living expenses in an emergency fund. You also need to spend less than you earn.
Finally, Earnest will check that you don’t overdraft your account or pay late fees frequently. You can’t have any open accounts in collections, and you can’t have declared bankruptcy in the past three years.
Applying for a personal loan from Earnest
Earnest allows anyone to check their rate before they begin an application, which results in a soft credit inquiry. In some cases (such as if you’re not likely to be approved for a loan), Earnest can’t give you a rate. You can still continue with the application and provide documents if you think your extenuating circumstances might still allow you to be approved, but be aware that this will result in a hard inquiry on your credit report regardless of whether you’re approved.
For everyone who gets a rate quote, you can decide whether to proceed. If you do, Earnest will then perform a hard credit check. It can take five to 10 business days for Earnest to make a decision on whether you’re approved for the loan, so be patient.
If you are approved, you have up to seven days to accept the offer. You’ll also find out who your loan servicer will be. Some personal loans are serviced by Earnest itself, while other personal loans are serviced by Systems & Services Technologies, or SST. Once you accept the loan offer, the funds will be deposited into your bank account within one to two business days.
Pros and Cons of an Earnest Personal Loan
Who’s the best fit for an Earnest personal loan?
If you’re responsible with managing your money, you would be a good fit for a personal loan from Earnest. The company prides itself in offering low rates to trustworthy people who can demonstrate their ability to manage money responsibly through their credit report, bank account history and savings account balances. People who are money-savvy also tend to look for low (or no) fees, and Earnest checks off this box. If you’re looking for a relatively cheap loan, Earnest is a good choice.
Earnest is an especially good choice for people who are looking to take out larger loan balances. You can borrow up to $75,000 — if you qualify — from Earnest.
Of course, Earnest isn’t the only provider of low-cost personal loans, especially for people in its target market. It’s a crowded field, so it’s always a good idea to check your rate with other lenders.
Alternative personal loan options
- APR: 3.99% to 16.99%
- Credit requirements: 660
- Terms: 24 to 144 months
- Origination fee: No origination fee
If you’re looking to minimize your interest rate as much as possible, LightStream is a lender you should check out. LightStream is a good choice if you need a large or long-term loan. LightStream offers personal loans between $5,000 and $100,000, and offers term lengths from 24 to 144 months. Even if you don’t need to borrow a huge chunk of change, it’s worth checking your rate to see if it’ll be cheaper than Earnest.
- APR: 5.98% to 29.99%
- Credit requirements: Minimum 640 credit score
- Terms: 36 or 60 months
- Origination fee: 1.00% - 6.00%
RocketLoans may offer lower APRs than Earnest, but it’ll also charge more fees. You’ll pay an origination fee, and if you aren’t prompt or careful with your payments, you could owe a late payment and a returned payment fee. If you need your money faster than Earnest can get it to you, RocketLoans may be a better option since you could receive your funds on the same day you apply.
- APR: 5.99% to 24.99%
- Credit requirements: Minimum 640 credit score
- Terms: 24 to 60 months
- Origination fee: 0.00% - 5.00% of the loan amount
If you’re taking out a personal loan for a specific purpose — to consolidate high-interest credit card debt — you should check your rate with Payoff. Besides a potentially lower APR, this company offers specific perks and benefits to help you do just this, including free monthly FICO® score updates to track your credit-building progress, job loss support and quarterly check-ins from a customer care representative to see how your debt payoff progress is going.
Interested in a personal loan?Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2019!
|Lender||APR Range||Loan Amount|
|1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.
3 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.
4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
5 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.
6 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.
All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage & history. The APR ranges from 6.95% to 35.89%*. The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6% of the original principal balance and is deducted from your loan proceeds. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at the time of application. The average origination fee is 5.49% as of Q1 2017. In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,025 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months. Borrower must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or be in the United States on a valid long term visa and at least 18 years old. Valid bank account and Social Security number are required. Equal Housing Lender. All loans are subject to credit approval. LendingClub’s physical address is: LendingClub, 71 Stevenson Street, Suite 1000, San Francisco, CA 94105.
†Per reviews collected and authenticated by Bazaarvoice in compliance with the Bazaarvoice Authentication Requirements, supported by anti-fraud technology and human analysis. All reviews can be reviewed at reviews.lendingclub.com
**Based on approximately 60% of borrowers who received offers through LendingClub’s marketing partners between January 1, 2018 to July 20,2018. The time it will take to fund your loan may vary.
7 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
8 Important Disclosures for Avant.
* The actual rate and loan amount that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and other factors. Funds are generally deposited via ACH for delivery next business day if approved by 4:30pm CT Monday-Friday. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.
** Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33
* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.
Upgrade Bank Disclosures
** Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank via ACH within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes this transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days.
|5.74% – 16.99%1||$5,000 - $100,000|
|7.54% – 35.99%||$1,000 - $50,000|
|7.99% – 35.89%*||$1,000 - $50,000|
|5.99% – 24.99%2||$5,000 - $35,000|
|5.99% – 29.99%3||$7,500 - $40,000|
|6.79% – 20.89%4||$5,000 - $50,000|
|9.99% – 35.99%5||$2,000 - $25,000|
|6.95% – 35.89%6||$1,000 - $40,000|
|6.99% – 18.24%7||$5,000 - $75,000|
|9.95% – 35.99%8||$2,000 - $35,000|