Earnest vs. SoFi: Which Personal Loan Is Best for You?

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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.

earnest vs. sofi

When you’re in a pinch, access to an unsecured personal loan can be a big help. I’ve used a personal loan in the past to help me move across the country, and I know what a relief it can be to have the funds you need.

If you’ve felt that way, you’re in good company. Between the fourth quarter of 2016 and the fourth quarter of 2017, the number of personal loan accounts increased by 7.5%, according to TransUnion’s Q4 2017 Industry Insights Report.

Two top contenders for personal loans are Earnest and SoFi. Here’s what you need to know when weighing Earnest versus SoFi for your next personal loan.

Earnest vs. SoFi: A quick comparison

Everyone has their own needs when it comes to getting a personal loan. Your unique financial situation might make one lender work better than another.

Think about the purpose of the loan, and be honest about your credit and debt situation.

“Know what you need before you even start your search,” said Riley Gilson, the chief revenue officer for payday loan alternative company Credit Fair-E. “You can save money on interest and confidently set the loan terms.”

The chart below offers you a quick overview of some of the key characteristics of Earnest and SoFi loans:

Earnest SoFi
Interest rates 5.49% to 18.24% APR 5.83% to 14.74% APR
Loan amounts $5,000 to $75,000 $5,000 to $100,000
Minimum income None None
Loan term length 3, 4, or 5 years 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 years
Minimum credit score 680 None
Alternative credit information Yes No
Origination fees No No
Prepayment penalty No No
Administration fees No No
Late payment fees No No
Soft credit pull Yes Yes

As you can see, neither Earnest nor SoFi charges extra fees. And they both use a soft credit pull to provide you with rate quotes. A soft pull won’t impact your credit score, so you don’t have to worry about getting dinged when comparing Earnest versus SoFi.

However, it’s important to note that SoFi offers loans in higher amounts. It’s possible to get up to $100,000 from SoFi. With Earnest, you’re limited to a maximum of $75,000.

Because you can borrow more with SoFi, you also get access to longer loan terms — up to seven years. The longest term with an Earnest loan is five years.

Finally, SoFi doesn’t have a minimum credit score requirement, while you need a score of at least 680 to qualify for a loan with Earnest.

How to apply for an Earnest personal loan

Get an Earnest personal loan

Image credit: Earnest

Applying for an Earnest personal loan is fairly straightforward and intuitive. Interestingly, after you create an account, you go right into sharing information about your education.

Even though Earnest has a minimum credit score of 680, the lender also takes into account your education, job history, and other data to help determine an interest rate.

Once you finish entering your education data, you need to share your work history. After that, you’ll be asked for your financial information, including your annual income and assets. Link your bank account so Earnest can get a full picture of your situation.

At the bottom of the financial page, you’re required to declare whether you’ve missed any payments or have accounts in collections. If these conditions apply to you, Earnest asks for a short explanation of the situation.

You finish your application with the kind of personal information often asked for with any type of loan:

  • Name
  • Birthdate
  • Phone number
  • Address
  • Citizenship status
  • Address
  • Living situation (own or rent)

Earnest also requires you to upload a full-color government ID. Once you’re done with that, you’ll move on to the review page, where you’ll double-check your information, enter your Social Security number, and consent to have Earnest pull your credit.

The whole process took me about five minutes.

How to apply for a SoFi personal loan

Get a personal loan with SoFi

Image credit: SoFi

Before you can apply for a SoFi personal loan, you need to create an account and log in. You’ll need to provide your name and email address and create a password.

Once you get into your account, look for the lender’s personal loan offering. Unlike Earnest, SoFi asks for your personal information first. On the first page of the form, you’ll provide the following:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Whether you rent or own (or live with your parents)
  • Birthdate
  • Citizenship status
  • Education information (including schools attended and graduation dates)
  • Employment information
  • How you plan to use the money

After that’s done, you’ll consent to have SoFi check your credit. It took me about three minutes to fill out the form and get a rate quote. Once you have the quote, you can upload required documentation and apply for a loan. If you have the documentation ready, it only takes a few more minutes to complete your application.

When Earnest might be a good choice for you

Earnest might be a good choice if you:

  • Prefer to choose your monthly payment
  • Want a lower interest rate based on factors beyond your credit score
  • Don’t need a longer repayment term

In some cases, you might be rejected for a SoFi personal loan if you have a delinquency in your recent credit history. I recently applied for a SoFi loan, and the reason given for the rejection was a missed payment several months ago. Earnest, on the other hand, might be willing to overlook such mistakes if they’re small and infrequent.

If you’re working on improving your credit and have a score of at least 680, you might benefit from Earnest’s policy of looking at alternative data and considering extenuating circumstances. This can result in a lower interest rate even if you wouldn’t normally see the best rates thanks to a less-than-perfect credit score.

“Some independent lenders consider aspects of your background beyond credit score,” said Joseph Toms, president of FreedomPlus, a personal lender. “Traditional credit data doesn’t necessarily account for your complete financial profile and ability to pay debts.”

When SoFi might be a good choice for you

SoFi might be a good choice if you:

  • Need to borrow more than $75,000
  • Want a discount on your interest rate for being a member
  • Want a longer loan term

Even though SoFi doesn’t have a minimum credit score requirement, it’s important to note that the lender does take missed payments and current delinquencies seriously. If you’ve made a couple of mistakes recently, you could find yourself rejected for a loan from SoFi.

However, SoFi does offer a hardship program. If you lose your job, your payments could be temporarily paused. You could also get a discount on your interest rate if you’re a SoFi member. If you’ve refinanced student loans with SoFi already, getting a personal loan can make sense due to an additional discount on rates.

“Some lenders offer interest rate discounts,” said Toms. “Find out what you need to do to qualify. You can save money over time this way.”

Earnest vs. SoFi: Which should you choose?

When shopping around for the best personal loans, don’t limit yourself to online lenders. While Earnest and SoFi can both be good choices, it’s not always about the lowest rate or which lender will approve you.

Gilson suggested comparing online offerings with local personal loans from banks and credit unions.

“Read the reviews, too,” Gilson said. “Check with the Better Business Bureau and search online to see what others are saying about them.”

In the end, whether you go with Earnest or SoFi depends on what you’re looking for. If you need a bigger loan and you have a good credit track record, SoFi could be a great choice. However, if you need a little leeway because of a couple of repayment mistakes, Earnest might be the way to go.

Get offers from three to five lenders. Then see what personal loan fits your needs in terms of customer service, fees, payment flexibility, and terms.

With a little extra research, you should be able to get a loan that works for you — no matter your financial situation.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2018!
LenderRates (APR)Loan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 5.950% APR to 14.740% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.825% APR to 14.365% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of May 18, 2018, 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 5.825% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.90% plus 4.175% 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. 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 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Fixed interest rates range from 4.99% – 16.24% (4.99% – 16.24% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates shown 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.

* 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.

7.73% - 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
5.83% - 14.74%1$5,000 - $100,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
5.96% - 35.97%*$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upgrade
8.00% - 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
4.99% - 29.99%$10,000 - $35,000Visit FreedomPlus
4.99% - 16.24%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
15.49% - 34.49%$2,000 - $25,000Visit LendingPoint
5.99% - 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.49% - 18.24%$5,000 - $75,000Visit Earnest
9.95% - 35.99%$2,000 - $35,000Visit 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.