NerdWallet rating: 4.0 / 5.0
Good for: Good credit, short credit history
Earnest provides low-interest personal loans up to $50,000 for borrowers who have good credit scores but short credit histories.
Earnest is a good fit for those who:
- Are new to credit
- Have a good or excellent credit score
- Have more than enough income to cover expenses and do not carry a lot of debt
- Save money regularly and maintain a retirement savings account
Earnest loan rates and terms
|Loan amounts||$2,000 to $50,000|
|Typical APR||5.25% - 14.24%|
|Time to funding||Within a week|
|Repayments||Monthly payments over one to three years. You can change the monthly due date if desired.|
|Hard credit check with application?||Yes|
|How to qualify||
|Best for||Borrowers with good credit, thin credit histories, consistent income, low debt|
» MORE: Best loans for good credit
Earnest personal loan review
To review Earnest’s personal loans, 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 product. Loan 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.
It doesn’t have explicit minimum requirements for credit history, nor does it set a ceiling on debt-to-income ratio or require a minimum income for approval.
Earnest also touts flexibility in how you can make payments; borrowers can adjust the monthly payment amount for their personal loan, and there are no penalties for higher, early or extra payments.
Loan example: For a borrower with excellent credit, a three-year, $10,000 personal loan at 13.9% APR would have monthly payments of about $341, according to NerdWallet’s personal loan calculator.
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. You can pay as early as you want to, but if you want to delay the due date by more than six days, 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. 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.
NerdWallet recommends comparing loans to find the best rate for you. Click the button below to see estimated rates from multiple lenders on NerdWallet.
Before you shop for a personal loan
- Learn how personal loans work
- 4 steps to pre-qualify for a personal loan
- Read more personal loan reviews
Updated March 6, 2018.
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. We only review lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation of any sort for our reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.
— Among the very best for consumer-friendly features
— Excellent; offers most consumer-friendly features
— Very good; offers many consumer-friendly features
— Good; may not offer something important to you
— Fair; missing important consumer-friendly features
— Poor; proceed with great caution