Earnest vs. SoFi: Which Is Better for Refinancing Student Loans?

Earnest and SoFi may offer you the same refinance rate, but their loans differ in key areas.

Ryan LaneSep 18, 2020
Earnest vs. SoFi: Which Is Better for Refinancing Student Loans?
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If you’re shopping for a student loan refinance lender, Earnest and SoFi are strong options. NerdWallet gives both five stars and rates their refinancing loans among the best overall.

The right choice is the one that saves you the most money.

But if you’re debating Earnest versus SoFi because their interest rates are similar, compare features like loan terms and options for avoiding default to help decide which is better for you.

Earnest vs. SoFi refinancing at a glance

Earnest Student Loan Refinance
SoFi Student Loan Refinance
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Check RateCheck Rate
Fixed APR

2.98 - 5.79%

Fixed APR

2.99 - 6.99%

Variable APR

1.99 - 5.64%

Variable APR

2.25 - 6.53%

Min. Credit Score

650

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Earnest vs. SoFi key features

Here are some key areas in which Earnest and SoFi differ — and which has the advantage in each. For complete details, read our individual Earnest student loans review and SoFi student loans review.

Borrower eligibility

Advantage: SoFi

To qualify with any refinance lender, you’ll typically need a credit score in at least the high 600s and enough income to cover all your debts.

Neither SoFi nor Earnest is fully transparent about its specific financial requirements. But SoFi at least refinances loans for borrowers in a wider range of situations.

For example, Earnest won’t qualify you if you want or need to do the following:

  • Transfer parent loans to your name.

  • Refinance during a medical or dental residency.

  • Apply with a co-signer.

If you plan to apply with a co-signer, compare CommonBond vs. SoFi.

NerdWallet recommends pre-qualifying with multiple lenders before you apply. That way, you’ll know if you’re likely to be approved and at what rate without affecting your credit.

Options for struggling borrowers

Advantage: Earnest

You’ll need to be in good financial shape to refinance loans. But if your situation changes, lender support can be crucial.

If you can’t afford payments, both Earnest and SoFi let you postpone them for 12 months via forbearance. But Earnest offers additional options to avoid delinquency or default:

  • For short-term flexibility: You can skip a payment once every 12 months.

  • For long-term relief: You may be able to change your repayment term or interest rate.

Earnest also doesn’t have late fees in case you do miss a payment. SoFi charges $5 once your payment is 15 days overdue.

If you want a lender with a more generous forbearance policy, compare Earnest vs. CommonBond.

Repayment terms

Advantage: Earnest

SoFi offers a number of repayment terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years. But Earnest lets you fully customize your schedule by choosing any term between 5 and 20 years.

That kind of precision can be important to your monthly budget or long-term goals.

For example, say eight years are left on your current loan. If you refinance to a shorter term, your savings could increase — but your payments might as well, depending on your new interest rate. Opting for a longer term could shrink your bills, but also your savings.

In this case, you’d have to speed up or slow down repayment with SoFi. Earnest would let you stay on the same track.

Use a student loan refinance calculator to see how adjusting your repayment term could affect your short- and long-term savings.

Extras

Advantage: SoFi

Both Earnest and SoFi have student loan bonus programs. But SoFi’s extends beyond student loans, letting you earn up to $10,000 with referrals to the lender’s other financial products, like personal loans and investment accounts.

SoFi members also receive access to nonfinancial benefits, including career coaching and community events. If you’ll take advantage of these extras, SoFi has the edge versus Earnest.

Earnest vs. SoFi: the bottom line

Earnest is best if you value repayment flexibility. But if you can’t qualify with Earnest — for example, you need a co-signer — SoFi is a great alternative that also offers a number of member benefits.

Earnest and SoFi are also good choices depending on your specific refinancing goals. Compare their products to others lenders in the following instances to get the best deal possible:

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