Earnest Personal Loan Review: Personal Loans for Financially Responsible Borrowers

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Earnest Personal Loan Review: Personal Loans for Financially Responsible Borrowers

Earnest is a good option for creditworthy and financially savvy borrowers making large purchases or investments. Because of this, Earnest is likely not the best choice for a debt consolidation loan.

Good for

  • Financially responsible, creditworthy borrowers
  • Large, one-time expenses

Bad for

  • Debt consolidation
  • Joint applications
  • Borrowers in AL, DE, KY, NV or RI

Editor's Rating


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Earnest is a good option for creditworthy and financially savvy borrowers and for making large purchases or investments (i.e., bootcamp course, honeymoon, home renovation). Because of this, Earnest is likely not the best choice for a debt consolidation loan. You can borrow up to $75,000 with Earnest, and rates range from 5.99% to 17.24% with terms of one to three years.

Earnest Personal Loan Review: Should You Apply?

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Earnest markets itself to financially responsible borrowers who need funds to cover large expenses, such as weddings, home improvement, career development or moving. The lender offers very competitive APRs from 5.99% to 17.24% and terms of one to three years. If approved for a loan, it takes, on average, one business day to receive funds.

Good for...Bad for...
  • Financially responsible, creditworthy borrowers
  • Large, one-time expenses
  • Debt consolidation
  • Joint applications
  • Borrowers in AL, DE, KY, NV or RI

Earnest looks for financially responsible borrowers. The lender looks for borrowers with good savings habits, little to no non-student or non-mortgage debt (meaning a low debt-to-income ratio), good credit history and no recent bankruptcies or accounts in collection. While they don’t advertise a minimum credit score need to be eligible, having good to excellent credit, which is any FICO score of 680 or more, will improve your chances of getting approved.

If you can meet the qualifications, Earnest offers very competitive interest rates and virtually no fees on its loans. APRs range from 5.99% to 17.24%, and there are no origination fees, prepayment penalties, late fees or check processing fees. There is a returned payment fee of $8, but this is lower than the industry standard of $15. One downside to Earnest is that you won’t be able to check your rate online before applying.

Because Earnest looks for financially responsible borrowers, it may not be the best option for Best Personal Loans for Debt Consolidation. While you can apply for a loan to consolidate debt, Earnest advertises itself as providing loans to help people take on new endeavors or projects, such as home renovation, weddings, relocation, new job expenses, vacations or education. Earnest also does not offer the option to pay your creditors directly.

Earnest is available in 45 states (Earnest cannot lend to borrowers in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada or Rhode Island). You cannot use an Earnest personal loan for business purposes or to pay off student loan debt.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for a Earnest personal loan, we recommend that borrowers meet the following minimum criteria (and the recommended criteria if you want to improve your chances):

  • U.S. citizen, permanent resident or on an eligible visa
  • At least 18 years old
  • Credit score of 660 or higher
  • Proof of consistent income

Earnest will evaluate your credit history, your application information, planned use of funds and your ability to repay when approving you for a loan offer.

Earnest Personal Loan Terms and Requirements

Earnest offers competitive APRs for personal loans up to $75,000. You can borrow funds with a three to five year term, and there are no origination or prepayment fees.

Loan Amount Range$5,000 - $75,000
APR Range5.99% - 17.24%
  • No origination fee
  • No late payment fee
  • NSF/returned payment fee: $8
  • No check processing fee
  • No prepayment penalty
Loan Terms3 to 5 years
Repayment OptionsMonthly
Direct Payment to CreditorsNo

Application Process

Earnest does not offer the ability to check your rate before applying. If you are interested in taking out a loan, you will need to complete an application. To complete the application, you’ll need to provide Earnest with details on the loan: the amount, the loan term and the planned use of funds. You’ll also need to fill in personal information, including work and educational history.

Application ProcessOnline
Time to Get Funds1+ days
Credit CheckHard credit check when you apply
Credit ReportingYes
Cosigners/Co-borrowers Allowed?No

Earnest will also let you connect your LinkedIn account to complete your application. Like many other online lenders, they will evaluate your job history when making a loan decision. You’ll also need to let Earnest access your bank account to analyze your spending and savings habits (they do not save or store any of this information). Earnest will conduct a hard credit check through Experian when finalizing your application. If approved, you’ll be able to see your interest rate and loan offer before accepting.

Earnest Application Process
Earnest Application Process

How Does Earnest Compare to Other Lenders?

Earnest offers great rates for qualified borrowers, but you may still want to shop around. Let’s take a look at some of the company’s competition.

Earnest vs. LendingClub

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LendingClub is a great choice for borrowers who can’t qualify for an Earnest personal loan or who want to use a loan for debt consolidation. While LendingClub does have higher average APRs, you will only need a credit score of 640 to apply. LendingClub also allows you to have a cosigner on a loan and offers direct payment to your creditors. You can borrow up to $40,000 through LendingClub with three or five year terms. It will take longer to receive your funds, up to one or two weeks.

Earnest vs. SoFi

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If you need to borrow more than $50,000, SoFi is the better option over Earnest. Similar to Earnest, SoFi markets itself toward financially responsible, creditworthy borrowers. You should have a credit score of 660 or above if you want to apply at SoFi, though most borrowers have scores of 700 or more and incomes around $100,000. APRs are very comparable to those at Earnest. If approved at SoFi, you can expect to receive funds within three days or so.

Earnest vs. Discover

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Discover offers more payment terms than Earnest, making it a good option for borrowers who want longer to repay. You can repay your loan over the course of three to seven years, and you can borrow up to $35,000. You’ll need at least $25,000 in household income, and we also recommend borrowers have a credit score of at least 660 to improve their chances of qualifying. The lender also offers a lot of flexibility in how you repay your loan, allowing to pay by any method without any fees and to change the your due date twice during the life of the loan.

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