The Smart Investor reviews are unbiased, and reflect the views of our editorial staff. We’ve collected the information independently. Issuers did not provide the details, nor are they responsible for their accuracy. The review is not a recommendation, the actual rates/fees may be different.
Earnest – About The Lender
Earnest is a technology-enabled lender, launched in 2014 and headquartered in San Francisco, that offers personal loans and student loan refinancing. The parent company is Navient, which services about 25% of student loans in the US.
“The company (Earnest) uses software and algorithms to evaluate a person’s full education, employment, and financial profile, looking beyond a traditional credit score (also known as a FICO score) in order to obtain a complete financial profile of each applicant. This type of credit is referred to as “merit-based lending.”
- Loan amount range$5,000 – $75,000
- Interest rate rage 6.99% – 18.24%
- Terms36 to 60 months
- Origination feeNone
- Late payment fee None
- Returned payment feeNone
- Prepayment feeNone
- Minimum credit score680
- Funding5 to 10 days
- Employment history
- Banking information
- creditor information (debt consolidation)
Soft Pull Inquiry – Earnest allows for an initial soft pull inquiry so the borrower can get an idea of the options for which they may qualify, but because of Earnest requirements, often they cannot offer a rate unless you go through the whole application process and do a hard pull.
Flexible Payment Options – Earnest allows for adjustments to the monthly payment amount, and the borrower can pay higher, early, or extra payments. You can also change your payment due date.
Competitive Interest Rates – Interest rates are competitive and rates are not as high as those of many other lenders for personal loans.
Many Loan Uses – Earnest allows for many different uses for their loans, with a focus on borrowers who are early in their careers.
Not Available in All States –Earnest does not operate in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, or Rhode Island.
Longer Application Process –Earnest turnaround is longer than many other online personal loan providers. This is because Earnest looks at many different variables and requires more documentation.
Large Amounts on Short Terms –The terms are short and the payments on higher amounts can be too large for some borrowers.
Restrictions for Business Use –Earnest loans cannot be used to fund a startup or expand an existing business.
More Requirements –Earnest considers more information from the borrower and has more requirements than many other personal loan providers. They look at more than just credit history, see eligibility.
What Can a Earnest Personal Loan Be Used For?
Earnest personal loans can be used to pay for debt consolidation, vacations, medical expenses, engagement rings and wedding expenses, home improvements, or moving expenses. They cannot be used for any post-secondary education expenses, to fund a startup or an existing business, or purchase or invest in real estate.
Earnest debt consolidation takes one or more loans or bills and pays them off with the new Earnest personal loan. Instead of multiple payments to multiple lenders you can create one payment to one lender. Earnest offers flexible repayment options.
An Earnest vacation loan offers a way to get money for your vacation without having to deal with credit cards, or worry about every dime during your travel.
Engagement Ring and Wedding Expenses
Using Earnest for an engagement ring will reduce the overall cost of one of the biggest purchases in you lifetime. You can also use Earnest for wedding expenses to help pay for your dream wedding day.
An Earnest home improvement loan is for home repairs or renovations. The advantage of using an Earnest home improvement loan is the promptness of receiving the funds. Typically, it takes a month or more to get an equity line of credit on your home.
An Earnest loan for moving expenses is a fast way to get the funds needed to move you and your items from point A to point B.
Earnest loans for medical expenses help borrowers manage large unexpected medical costs.
Earnest Application Process
Compared to other lenders, Earnest has a much more rigorous application process. Earnest looks beyond credit history, considering your saving patterns, employment history, career growth potential, and retirement savings. You will need all of this information for the application process.
Earnest offers a soft pull or “check my rate” option, but often cannot come up with a rate because of the many different items they evaluate. You will likely have to do a hard pull and fill out an application that includes personal information, education, and savings information. Many times you will need to show proof of those items by uploading them to their dashboard. This includes bank statements, identification, 401K or IRA statements, pay stubs and/or taxes.
Earnest has a longer turnaround time than other lenders with funding of the loan taking 5 to 10 days. Turnaround also depends on how quickly they obtain the information required to get your interest rate. Once the information has been verified you will need to sign loan documents if you decide to move forward.
Earnest Personal Loan is Best for..
Earnest is geared toward young professionals who may have many new and large expenses as they start out in life. They cater to borrowers who have good credit, consistent income, good saving patterns, and low debt. They have a more extensive application process and take much longer than other lenders to approve your loan.
The biggest advantage to Earnest is that they have no fees. Origination fees can greatly increase the cost of a loan, so Earnest should be seriously considered during any search for a personal loan.