Earnest Student Loan Refinancing Review: Personalized Rates and Repayment Terms

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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.

earnest student loan refinancing review

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Refinancing your student loans is not a simple process, and things are often much more confusing than they have to be.

Earnest is a student loan consolidation and refinancing company that aims to change that. They have a merit-based approval process that looks at many indicators rather than traditional lenders. As a result, more borrowers have been able to refinance and consolidate their student loans to save money.

This Earnest student loan refinancing review will cover how the application and approval processes work, and if it’s the best fit for your needs.

Earnest student loan refinancing review

If you have a short credit history or a series of negative events on your credit report, refinancing a student loan can be tough. The current credit score system benefits those who are the most active with credit. But if you have never had a credit card or loan, you could have a bad score or no score at all – without ever having done anything wrong!

Personalized interest rates with Earnest

Earnest takes into account other aspects of your personal finances – checking, savings, and investments – and includes those in the approval process. This makes Earnest loans different from other lenders and benefits you as a borrower.

Earnest products

Both personal and student loan-related products are available. For this review, we will focus on the student loan offering. But any borrower looking to consolidate credit cards with a personal loan should consider Earnest.

Earnest student loans work differently than most other loans throughout the application and signup process. This setup specifically benefits potential borrowers with a limited credit history. Even if you have never had a credit card, auto loan, or mortgage, Earnest will look at your other financial accounts. They will use that information to help approve you as a borrower.

Applicants are requires to connect the Earnest platform to their bank accounts when applying for a loan. The connection process works similarly to budgeting tools such as Mint and Personal Capital. It requires your username and password to download your account information.

Once Earnest approves you as a borrower, things get even better!

Earnest offers flexible repayment terms that you can customize before locking in your loan. Adjust the payoff term to choose your monthly payment. Instead of choosing a term and automatically receiving an interest rate and monthly payment amount, you’re in control. You can choose your monthly payment as part of the loan application process.

Be aware – Earnest currently does not serve customers in Nevada, South Dakota, Kentucky, Alabama, or Mississippi. If you are reading this Earnest review from those states, look into alternate lenders.

Using the Earnest online platform

Earnest offers the ability to get your rate in two minutes. To see if they can live up to the promise, let’s walk through and take a look at the application and signup process.

The application starts with a request for your basic information (name, email address, phone number, and residency status).

Then, you’ll answer questions about your education, student loan balance, and your current finances. Next, you’ll need to provide info about your income, total student loan balance, and balance of your checking, savings, and investments.

On the next screen, you’ll enter your address.

Refinance with Earnest today

Finally, choose a password and enter your social security number to get your rate. It really is that easy.

The simplicity and speed with which you can create an account and get your rate blew me away. It looks like they live up to their two-minute promise!

Earnest interest rates and fees

Earnest bases its student loan interest rates on your personal financial information, your repayment term, and various market factors.

Current interest rates for fixed rate loans start at 3.89% and variable rates start at 2.57%. Fixed rate loans can charge as much as 6.32% interest while the current maximum variable rate is 5.87%.

As is common with student lenders, you can save .25% by enrolling in automatic payments.

With its variable payment platform, you can adjust the term of your loan to get the perfect monthly payment for your needs. If that results in an odd interest rate and a repayment term of seven years, four months, and nine days, that’s fine.

Loans are available for any length from five years to 20 years. Expect your interest rate to rise with a longer loan term.

Earnest eligibility requirements

Even with a short or nonexistent credit history, approval is possible. If you don’t have a long credit history, Earnest can still approve you for a student loan refinance based on other factors. A particularly negative history, however, can prevent you from approval.

Earnest looks at over 1,000 signals when approving borrowers for student loan consolidation or refinancing. Those factors do include your credit, but also other aspects of your finances.

By looking at your income, job history, and bank accounts, Earnest’s approval process is unique. Earnest is a great option for borrowers struggling to refinance or consolidate due to a short credit history.

Major factors considered by Earnest include:

  • Employment status and salary (including average monthly income compared to average expenses).
  • A trend to increase savings and investments over time.
  • On-time payments and little to no credit card debt.
  • No regular overdrafts or late charges.
  • No recent bankruptcies or collections.

To refinance your student loans with Earnest, you must be at least 18 years old, and a United States citizen or permanent resident. Your debt must be from a Title IV accredited college or university. The debt must be for a completed degree or a degree estimated to complete the next semester.

If that sounds like you, Earnest might be the perfect fit for your needs, even with a low credit score.

Earnest: Repayment on your terms

Earnest customer service

The company’s customer service ratings are generally quite good. Most people have a positive experience going through the online signup process. They can handle most of their needs online without any assistance from an Earnest employee.

However, not all users were as happy with their experience. Some users shared that they ran into bugs on the Earnest website. One customer shared that his tax forms were late to show up online two years in a row.

If you do need help, the best option is to send Earnest an email through the help section of the website. You can also call Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST..

More about Earnest

The Earnest company is in the heart of Silicon Valley in San Francisco, California. The company is focused on extending credit to individuals who are financially responsible, even if they don’t have a high credit score.

The company was founded by CEO Louis Beryl and COO Benjamin Hutchinson in 2013. It has received funding from major venture capital firms including Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, Maveron, and Atlas Venture. The company has raised a total of $107 million through three funding rounds.

Earnest contact

Earnest is located at 1455 Market St., 18th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103. The company offers a detailed help section in addition to customer support contact. You can start a live chat on the site or reach email support here. Chat hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.

Connect with Earnest on social media:

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
Get real rates from up to 4 Lenders at once

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. 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. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, 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 inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score
  2. 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)

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. 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. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have 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, or other student 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 and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval 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.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. 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. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
2.57% – 5.87%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.80% – 6.38%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 7.52%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 7.99%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.57% – 6.65%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.17%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
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.