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Earnest Personal Loans: 2018 Review

July 20, 2018
Loans, Personal Loans, Personal Loans Reviews
At NerdWallet, we adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.
We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

4 stars out of 5

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

Earnest provides low-interest personal loans up to $75,000 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$5,000 to $75,000
Typical APR5.49% - 18.24%
Origination feeNone
Time to fundingWithin a week
RepaymentsMonthly payments over three to five years. You can change the monthly due date if desired.
Hard credit check with application?Yes
How to qualify
  • Minimum credit score of 660
  • Proof of consistent income
  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • At least 18 years old
  • Live in the District Columbia or a state other than Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada or Rhode Island
Best forBorrowers with good credit, thin credit histories, consistent income, low debt
Click "Check Rates" to apply on 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.

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.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s Earnest student loans review

How Earnest compares



5.49% - 18.24%

Min credit credit score


Time to funding

Within a week


5.81% - 15.37%

Min credit score


Time to funding

Typically 7 days


7.43% – 29.99%

Min credit score


Time to funding

Typically one day; three days for education loans

Compare rates on NerdWallet. Click to see estimated rates from multiple lenders.

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:


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.

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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