Earnest Personal Loan Review

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Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.

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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
Fees and Penalties
  • Term lengths: 36 to 60 months
  • APR range: 6.99% – 18.24%
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 – $75,000
  • Time to funding: 6-19 days
  • Credit check: Earnest will do a soft credit check when you check your rate; if you proceed, Earnest will do a Hard Pull credit check
  • Origination fee: No origination fee
  • Prepayment fee: None
  • Late payment fee: None
  • Other fees: $8 returned payment fee

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.

Eligibility requirements

  • 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
  • Few fees: Earnest does not charge late, origination or prepayment fees. The only fee it charges is an $8 returned payment fee, which you can avoid if you manage your money well.
  • Low rates: Earnest offers relatively low APRs starting at 6.99%.
  • High loan amounts: You can take out a loan between $5,000 and $75,000 if approved.
  • Wide range of uses: You can use the personal loan to pay for anything except business expenses, education or to refinance an existing student loan.
  • Not available in all states: Loans are not available for people living in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada or Rhode Island.
  • Strict requirements: Earnest only lends to people with the documents to prove that they manage money well.
  • Few perks: Once you take out the loan, Earnest does not provide any other perks besides the ability to discharge your debt in extreme cases, or short-term forbearance options if you unintentionally run into financial trouble.
  • Long funding time: It can take up to 19 days before you see the money in your account after applying.

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!
LenderAPR RangeLoan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Fixed rates from 5.990% APR to 16.990% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.74% APR to 14.70% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of March 18, 2019 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.72% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.49% plus 4.28% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
  2. To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.
    See Consumer Licenses.
  3. Minimum Credit Score: Not all applicants who meet SoFi’s minimum credit score requirements are approved for a personal loan. In addition to meeting SoFi’s minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must also meet other credit and underwriting requirements to qualify.
  4. SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Maximum interest rate on loans for residents of AK and WY is 9.99% APR, for residents of IL with loans over $40,000 is 8.99% APR, for residents of TX is 9.99% APR on terms greater than 5 years, for residents of CO, CT, HI, VA, SC is 11.99% APR, and for residents of ME is 12.24% APR. Personal loans not available to residents of MI who already have a student loan with SoFi. Personal Loans minimum loan amount is $5,000. Residents of AZ, MA, and NH have a minimum loan amount of $10,001. Residents of KY have a minimum loan amount of $15,001. Residents of PA have a minimum loan amount of $25,001. Variable rates not available to residents of AK, TX, VA, WY, or for residents of IL for loans greater than $40,000.
  5. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.

Payoff Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.

3 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.

FreedomPlus Disclosures

  1. All loans available through FreedomPlus.com are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loan and rate terms are subject to eligibility restrictions, application review, credit score, loan amount, loan term, lender approval, and credit usage and history. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Loans are not available to residents of all states – please call a FreedomPlus representative for further details. The following limitations, in addition to others, shall apply: FreedomPlus does not arrange loans in: (i) Arizona under $10,500; (ii) Massachusetts under $6,500, (iii) Ohio under $5,500, and (iv) Georgia under $3,500. Repayment periods range from 24 to 60 months. The range of APRs on loans made available through FreedomPlus is 5.99% to a maximum of 29.99%. APR. The APR calculation includes all applicable fees, including the loan origination fee. For Example, a four year $20,000 loan with an interest rate of 15.49% and corresponding APR of 18.34% would have an estimated monthly payment of $561.60 and a total cost payable of $7,948.13. To qualify for a 5.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan for an amount less than $12,000.00, and with a term equal to 24 months. Adding a co-borrower with sufficient income; using at least eighty-five percent (85%) of the loan proceeds to directly pay off qualifying existing debt; or showing proof of sufficient retirement savings, could help you also qualify for the lowest rate available.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.79% – 20.89% (6.79% – 20.89% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

5 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.

LendingPoint Disclosures

  • Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates (“APR”) may vary based upon LendingPoint’s proprietary scoring and underwriting system’s review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 6% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon LendingPoint’s final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. LendingPoint makes loan offers from $2,000 to $25,000, at rates ranging from a low of 9.99% APR to a high of 35.99% APR, with terms from 24 to 48 months. The loan offer(s) shown reflect a 28 day payment cycle which is being offered as a courtesy as many of our customers are paid on a biweekly schedule and thus this may better align the loan payment dates with your actual income receipt schedule.

6 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.

LendingClub Disclosures

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.

Earnest Disclosures

  1. Earnest does not lend in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, or Rhode Island.

8 Important Disclosures for Avant.

Avant Disclosures

* 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

* Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification and review process. You may be asked to provide additional documents to enable us to verify your income and your identity. This rate includes an Autopay APR reduction of 0.5%. By enrolling in Autopay your payments will be automatically deducted from you bank account. Selecting Autopay is optional. Annual Percentage Rate is inclusive of a loan origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. All loans made by WebBank, member FDIC. Please refer to Upgrade’s Terms of Use and Borrower Agreement for all terms, conditions and requirements.

** 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

Visit SoFi

7.54% – 35.99%$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upstart

7.99% – 35.89%*$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upgrade

5.99% – 24.99%2$5,000 - $35,000

Visit Payoff

5.99% – 29.99%3$7,500 - $40,000

Visit FreedomPlus

6.79% – 20.89%4$5,000 - $50,000

Visit Citizens

9.99% – 35.99%5$2,000 - $25,000

Visit LendingPoint

6.95% – 35.89%6$1,000 - $40,000

Visit LendingClub

6.99% – 18.24%7$5,000 - $75,000

Visit Earnest

9.95% – 35.99%8$2,000 - $35,000

Visit Avant

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

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