Earnest Personal Loans: 2017 Review

Loans, Personal Loans, Personal Loans Reviews
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4 stars out of 5

NerdWallet rating: 4.0 / 5.0
Good for: Good credit, short credit history

Earnest Logo

Earnest makes personal loans to financially responsible borrowers with thin credit files.

Earnest is a good fit for those who:

  • Are new to credit
  • Have an excellent credit score (generally above 720)
  • Have enough income to cover expenses and a low debt-to-income ratio
  • Save money on a regular basis, do not carry a lot of debt and maintain a retirement savings account
  • Have no delinquencies or defaults

Earnest at a glance

APR range5.25% to 12.99%
Loan amount$2,000 to $50,000
Time to fundingUp to a week
Origination feeNone
Soft credit check with application?No

Clicking “Check rates” will take you to the Earnest site for an online application.

» MORE: Best loans for good credit

Earnest personal loan review

To review Earnest, NerdWallet collected more than 30 data points from the lender, interviewed company executives, completed the online loan application process with sample data, and compared the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar personal loan productLoan terms and fees may vary by state.

If you make a steady income, pay your bills on time and save for retirement, you might expect to borrow money at a low interest rate. But a limited credit history can outweigh those factors when you go shopping for an unsecured personal loan — even if you have an excellent credit score.

Online lender Earnest collects and analyzes thousands of data points about each prospective borrower, which is how the San Francisco-based lender says it’s able to assess risk and offer low rates even to those with thin credit files.

Earnest’s assessment favors low debt levels, so borrowers who want to consolidate debt may have higher approval odds and receive tips to pay off debt at other online lenders.

Earnest wants to be the Amazon of lending, understanding its customers to build an ongoing relationship, CEO Louis Beryl says.

How Earnest compares

Earnest offers some of the lowest rates among online lenders that NerdWallet has reviewed. Earnest doesn’t charge origination or late fees, which many online lenders do.

Earnest also allows borrowers to move their payment date at any point during the loan. If you want to change the due date by more than a week, you will have to sign a new loan agreement.

SoFi and Upstart serve similar borrowers: those who are new to credit but have high earning potential and are responsible with their finances. SoFi has additional services to help young professionals. It organizes networking events, provides career coaching and even pauses loan payments if a borrower becomes unemployed. Upstart considers a person’s academic credentials in its underwriting, lending to those with average credit scores as well as those who are new to credit.

How to apply for an Earnest loan

You can apply on Earnest’s website in a six-step application. You will have to provide information about why you’re borrowing money, your education and profession, and give Earnest permission to scan bank account transactions to learn about your financial behavior. The company conducts a hard credit check with credit bureau Experian before finalizing the loan.

If you want to compare an offer from Earnest with those from other lenders, click the button below to fill out a pre-qualification form. NerdWallet will check its lender marketplace and display the loans and rates for which you qualify. Pre-qualifying won’t affect your credit score.

More about Earnest

Earnest loan requirements

  • Minimum credit score: None, but generally 720+
  • Minimum gross income: None, but generally high
  • Minimum credit history: None
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: None

Earnest lending terms

  • APR: 5.25% to 12.99%
  • Loan amount: $2,000 to $50,000
  • Loan duration: 1 to 3 years
  • Time to receive funds: Up to a week

Earnest fees and penalties

  • Origination fee: None
  • Prepayment fee: None
  • Late fee: None
  • Personal-check processing fee: None
  • Other fees: Up to $8 for unsuccessful payment
Before you shop for a personal loan

Updated Aug. 11, 2017


Personal Loans Ratings Methodology

NerdWallet’s ratings for personal loans awards points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks, no origination fees, payment options, short time to funding, interest rate caps of 36%, and absence of prepayment penalties. Features are considered for their positive impact on consumers’ credit history and financial health. To ensure accuracy and consistency, our ratings are reviewed by multiple people on the NerdWallet Personal Loans team.

5 stars out of 5— Among the very best for consumer-friendly features

4.5 stars out of 5— Excellent; offers most consumer-friendly features

4 stars out of 5— Very good; offers many consumer-friendly features

3.5 stars out of 5— Good; may not offer something important to you

3 stars out of 5— Fair; missing important consumer-friendly features

2.5 stars out of 5— Poor; proceed with great caution

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