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Earnest Personal Loans: 2019 Review

Feb. 21, 2019
Loans, Personal Loans, Personal Loans Reviews
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4.5 NerdWallet rating

Good for: Good credit

Earnest provides low-interest personal loans up to $75,000 for borrowers with good credit and solid finances.

Earnest is a good fit if you:

  • Have a good credit score: Earnest requires a minimum credit score of 680 and a history of on-time payments.
  • Don’t carry consumer debt: You likely won’t qualify with large amounts of consumer debt, such as credit cards and personal loans.
  • Save money: Earnest looks for borrowers who have consistent income and enough savings to cover at least two months of regular expenses.

Earnest loan rates and terms

Loan amounts$5,000 to $75,000
Typical APR6.99% - 18.24%
FeesOrigination fee: None

Late fee: None

Prepayment fee: None
Time to fundingWithin a week
RepaymentsMonthly payments over three to five years
Soft credit check?Yes
How to qualify
  • Minimum credit score: 680.
  • Proof of consistent income.
  • History of on-time payments.
  • No bankruptcies in past 3 years.
  • No open collections accounts.
  • Live in the District of Columbia or a state other than Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada or Rhode Island.
Best forBorrowers with good credit, consistent income and low debt
Click "Check rates" to get started with Earnest.

» 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.

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 to financially responsible borrowers.

Best of 2019: NerdWallet recognized Earnest among our list of Best Personal Loans of 2019 in the category of home improvement loans.

Loan uses: Earnest personal loans cannot be used for tuition, to fund a startup or an existing business, or to purchase or invest in real estate. However, they can be used for home improvement or to fund your vacation.

» MORE: Compare vacation loans in 2019

No fees: Earnest offers some of the lowest rates among online lenders that NerdWallet has reviewed. The company doesn’t charge origination or late fees, which many online lenders do.

How to qualify: Credit history matters to Earnest, but just as important is the financial strength of the applicant.

The company desires borrowers who make on-time payments on accounts reported to a credit bureau (such as student loans and credit cards), spend less than they earn each month, and have enough savings to cover at least two months of regular expenses.

Flexible payments: Borrowers can adjust the monthly payment amount, and there are no penalties for higher, early or extra payments. You can move your payment due date at any point during the loan.

Earnest also has an iOS app, where you can track and manage your loan, modify your payment schedule, or adjust your payment amount.

Loan example: For a borrower with excellent credit, a three-year, $10,000 personal loan at 13.9% APR would have monthly payments of $341, according to NerdWallet’s personal loan calculator.

» MORE: Earnest student loan refinancing review

How Earnest compares



6.99% - 18.24%

Min credit credit score


Time to funding

Within a week


5.74% - 16.79% (with autopay)

Min credit score


Time to funding

Typically 7 days


7.69% - 35.99%

Min credit score


Time to funding

Typically one day; three days for education loans

Click “Check Rate” to pre-qualify and receive a personalized rate from multiple lenders on NerdWallet.

SoFi and Upstart serve similar borrowers: those who are new to credit but have high earning potential and are responsible with their finances.

SoFi offers higher borrowing amounts — up to $100,000 — than Earnest. It requires no minimum credit history, but borrowers have strong credit scores (typically 700 or higher) and high income (its borrowers’ average is over $100,000). It also has services to help young professionals.

Upstart provides personal loans between $1,000 to $50,000 and has a slightly higher APR range than Earnest and SoFi. It 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 your requested loan amount and repayment term, the reason for your loan, your education and profession, and permission to scan bank account transactions to learn about your financial behavior. The company conducts a hard credit check when you submit your application.

For help with the application, Earnest provides an in-house team that be reached through website messaging, e-mail and phone. A help center on its website answers frequently asked questions.

NerdWallet recommends comparing loans to find the best rate for you. Click the button below to pre-qualify and receive a personalized rate from multiple lenders on NerdWallet.

Before you shop for a personal loan:

NerdWallet’s ratings for personal loans award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks, no fees, transparency of loan rates and terms, flexible payment options, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus, and financial education. We also consider the number of complaints filed with agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This methodology applies only to 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.

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