Earnest Personal Loan Review 2020

Good For: Student Loans, Good Credit

In the realm of personal lending, there are dozens of institutions for hopeful borrowers to choose from. And among this array of options, modern consumers are increasingly looking to an organization named Earnest. But what distinguishes this lender from the competition? And are Earnest loans a great option for everybody? Find out the answers to these questions in this comprehensive review of Earnest personal loans.

About Earnest

Founded in 2013 and headquartered in San Francisco, Earnest first made a name for itself by offering online student loans with some of the industry’s most competitive terms. In fact, Earnest found so much success in this field, that in 2017 the company was acquired by the student-loan giant Navient. These days, Earnest continues to offer student loans in addition to personal loans with equally attractive terms. Yet there’s more to Earnest than merely reasonable interest rates. The lender also stands out from other institutions by exclusively working with borrowers who have strong FICO scores and lengthy credit histories. And unlike many other lenders, Earnest accounts for factors including education, saving habits, and career trajectory when it comes to calculating the creditworthiness of an applicant.

Earnest Loan Rates & Terms

APR Starting at 6.99%
Loan amounts $5,000-$75,000
Time to fund As Early As 48 hours
Credit needed 680
Best for Borrowers With Good Credit

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» MORE: Best Loans For Good Credit

Earnest Personal Loan Review

Browse through some Earnest personal loan reviews and you’ll find that many borrowers are thrilled with their financial arrangements. For other people, however, Earnest hasn’t been the best choice.

Here’s a quick breakdown of who Earnest loans are good for — and which applicants should look elsewhere.

An Earnest loan might be right for you if :

  • You have a lengthy and relatively clean credit history.
  • Your credit score is at least 680, and you have few or no late payments.
  • You have little to no outstanding debt.
  • You earn a decent income and have made a habit of saving money.
  • You’re interested in making a large one-time purchase.

On the other hand, you’re likely better off looking elsewhere if:

  • You want to consolidate credit card balances. Earnest loan consolidation is expensive compared to other options.
  • You need a cosigner. Joint applications aren’t an option with Earnest.
  • You live in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, or Rhode Island. Earnest doesn’t operate in these states.

How to Qualify

If you’re interested in finding out what kind of loan you can qualify for with Earnest, start by filling out an application on their website. Be prepared to enter the desired loan amount and repayment length, as well as what you intend to do with the requested funds. You’ll also be asked about your education and profession, and Earnest will request access to your bank account in order to understand your spending habits. This process will result in a hard inquiry on your credit report, so be prepared to see your credit score drop for a few months.

Loan Use: You can use an Earnest personal loan for nearly any purpose, though there are a few exceptions. For instance, you can’t use it for tuition — Earnest offers separate student loans for qualified applicants. You’re also restricted from funding a startup or similar business with an Earnest loan, and you can’t use the money to invest in real estate either.

Flexible Payments: One of the distinguishing features of Earnest is the company’s adjustable payment amounts. Borrowers can make payments early and often without facing a penalty, and they can adjust their due date at any time.

Loan Example: Earnest offers three- to five-year loans in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $75,000 with interest rates spanning from 6.99% to 18.24%. And with Earnest, there are no extraneous fees to worry about such as prepayment fees, origination fees, or late fees within the first seven days. So, if you took out a $10,000 loan over three years with an interest rate of 6.99%, your payments would be around $309 per month.

Eligibility: Your eligibility for an Earnest loan depends on a number of factors including your education, work history, and savings account balance. At the very minimum, you’ll also need a credit score of 680 or above and a credit report with few or no late payments.

How Earnest Compares

In your quest to find the perfect loan, you’ll want to compare several options before settling on one. Among the other players in this space, SoFi, Upstart, and LendingClub are three lenders Earnest is often compared to. Here’s how they stack up against each other.

  • Earnest vs SoFi
    Similar to Earnest, SoFi prefers responsible applicants with annual incomes around $100,000. SoFi offers larger loan amounts than Earnest, however, reaching up to $100,000. And also unlike Earnest, SoFi requires no minimum credit history, but borrowers must have credit scores of 700 or above. Additionally, SoFi offers special services for young professionals, and this institution can deliver requested funds faster than Earnest — usually in as little as three days.
  • Earnest vs Lending Club
    LendingClub has more lax standards than Earnest, requiring a minimum credit score of only 600. Interest rates with this institution, however, can be as high as 35.89%, and loan amounts are limited to $40,000. Plus, LendingClub charges an origination fee that ranges from 1% to 6%, and it may take up to two weeks for approved applicants to receive their funds. Overall, though, LendingClub is a great choice for borrowers with less-than-immaculate credit reports, especially those who seek a consolidation loan. Plus, LendingClub permits the use of cosigners for joint applications
  • Earnest vs Upstart
    Earnest’s competitor Upstart provides personal loans from $1,000 to $50,000 for individuals with average credit. Upstart tends to charge slightly higher APRs than the aforementioned lenders, though. And similar to Earnest, Upstart weighs an individual’s academic credentials and professional achievements when deciding whether to approve or deny a loan.  

Earnest Pros and Cons

As with everything else in life, there are benefits and drawbacks of getting an Earnest Loan. Here are a few pros and cons to keep in mind.


  • Low APRs and no annoying fees
  • Outstanding customer service
  • Earnest will work with you during unexpected financial changes


  • Not great for consolidating debt
  • Requires a hard inquiry on your credit report
  • Can’t use funds for tuition or business purposes

How to Apply for an Earnest Loan

The Earnest application process is relatively straightforward. Select a loan amount, terms, and intended use of the funds, then wait five to ten days to receive a response. Next, you’ll have seven days to accept the terms, and if you choose to proceed, Earnest will transfer the funds to you in as little as one business day.

Earnest personal loans are an excellent choice for educated young people with prosperous careers. If this sounds like you, apply for an Earnest loan now to get started.

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