Earnest Personal Loans Review

Earnest is an online lender best known for its student loan refinancing options. That reputation is bolstered by the fact that the company is owned by Navient, the nation’s largest student loan servicer.

While you can refinance your student loans with Earnest, the company also offers a wide range of affordable and accessible personal loans consumers can use to reach their goals. If you need to borrow money for a wedding, a home remodeling project, debt consolidation, or any other objective, Earnest makes it easy to apply online and get the cash you need within a few weeks or less.

Check Your Personal Loan Rates

Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. The process is quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.

Earnest Personal Loans: Key Takeaways

  • Borrow money to consolidate credit card debt, remodel your home, pay for your wedding, or most other purposes
  • Fixed interest rates start at 6.99%
  • Loan amounts from $5,000 to $75,000
  • No origination fees, early prepayment fees, or hidden fees
  • Available for consumers with a credit score of 680 or higher

Earnest Personal Loans Review

If you’re looking for a personal loan and have a credit score of 680 or higher, you may want to check out Earnest. This company offers loans to consumers with a wide range of financial circumstances, but they stand out for their willingness to consider applicants without a long credit history.

Qualifying for a personal loan from Earnest is simple provided you meet their basic requirements. In addition to a good credit score of 680 or higher, you need to be a citizen of the United States and have proof of consistent income.

You must also live in one of the 45 states Earnest currently services (or Washington, D.C.); as of this writing, Earnest is not yet lending in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Rhode Island, or Nevada. And your credit history must be free of bankruptcies within the last three years. Finally, you cannot have any accounts in collections and you must have a history of on-time payments with current accounts.

If you can meet these requirements, Earnest may have what you’re looking for in terms of low rates and generous repayment terms. The online lender offers fixed interest rates as low as 6.99% to qualified buyers with an interest rate cap of 18.24%. You can borrow up to $75,000 if eligible, and repayment terms are offered between 36 and 60 months.

While Earnest loans cannot be used for college tuition, business capital, or the acquisition of real estate, the company markets its loans for the following purposes:

  • Debt consolidation
  • Home improvements
  • Weddings
  • Honeymoons
  • Unaccredited education activities (bootcamps, culinary schools, conferences, etc.)
  • Security deposits
  • Medical debt consolidation
  • Vacations
  • Engagement rings

One area where Earnest really stands out is in its lack of fees. When it comes to their personal loan products, Earnest doesn’t charge an origination fee, prepayment fees, or any other hidden fees.

Where Earnest Comes Up Short

If you’re looking for a reason not to borrow money with Earnest, one of the biggest factors to consider is whether you live in a state they service. While Earnest personal loans are available in 45 states and Washington D.C., you cannot borrow money from this company if you live in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, or Rhode Island.

Also note the narrow span of loan repayment options available. Where many other personal loan companies let you pay back funds you borrow for up to 144 months, Earnest only offers repayment plans that last up to 60 months. Depending on how much cash you need, a shorter repayment timeline could leave you able to borrow less or with a higher monthly payment than you wanted.

Another potential downside of applying for a loan from Earnest is the fact that they require a lengthier application and loan approval process than some of their rivals. You’ll need to provide plenty of information for your loan application to process, and even then it can take several days to get approval and several more days to get cash in your bank account.

Finally, it’s important to note that Earnest does not offer the lowest starting interest rates among their competitors. If you shop around among several lenders, you may see interest rates as low as 3% or 4% for qualified buyers. Keep in mind, however, that the rate you qualify for will depend on your income, credit score, and other factors.

Earnest Personal Loans are Best for:

  • Individuals with good credit who need to borrow small sums they can afford to pay back within 60 months
  • Anyone who lives in a state where Earnest loans are offered
  • Consumers who want a personal loan with zero fees
  • Borrowers who need up to $75,000 in cash

How We Rate Earnest

At The Simple Dollar, we aim to provide a general overview of a lender’s products and services through a standard rating process. After a thorough research and discovery period, here’s how Earnest stacks up:

Earnest at a Glance
Overall Rating
Affordability (interest rates, fees, and terms) 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌕
Availability (credit requirements, geographic reach) 🌕🌕🌕🌑🌑
Ease of Use 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌕
Transparency 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌕

How to Apply for a Personal Loan with Earnest

Once you’re ready to apply for a personal loan from Earnest, you’ll find the process is rather seamless. While the loan application may be lengthy, Earnest goes the extra step to evaluate your savings habits, education, and earning potential so they can offer you the lowest possible rate.

You can apply for a personal loan online once you have the following information ready:

  • Loan purpose
  • Ideal loan amount and repayment term
  • Full name
  • Address
  • Social Security number
  • Income and employment information

Earnest promises to give you a quick decision that allows you to make plan for your money right away, although it can take a few days to receive a definitive answer on your loan application. Once your loan is approved, however, they may let you tailor your loan payment amount to your needs and budget. Also note that, since these loans don’t come with a prepayment penalty, you can pay more than your monthly payment or pay your loan off at any time.

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The Bottom Line

If you’re in the market for a personal loan, make sure to compare rates from Earnest to rates you are able to qualify for with other lenders in your area or online. Also make sure to compare repayment terms as well as applicable fees such as an origination fee or prepayment fees.

While Earnest doesn’t offer the lowest personal loan rates on the market, they do tend to offer lower-than-average rates for borrowers with thin credit profiles and good credit scores. As always, you should make an apples to apples loan comparison, read reviews, and weigh the pros and cons before decide to work with any lender.

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Holly Johnson
Contributing Writer

Holly Johnson is a frugality expert and award-winning writer who is obsessed with personal finance and getting the most out of life. A lifelong resident of Indiana, she enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling the world with her husband and two children. In addition to The Simple Dollar, Holly writes for well-known publications such as U.S. News & World Report Travel, PolicyGenius, Travel Pulse, and Frugal Travel Guy. Holly also owns Club Thrifty.