Editorial Review

Earnest Personal Loans: 2019 Review

Earnest is ideal for young borrowers with good credit, strong income and savings, offering some of the lowest personal loan rates around.

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Our Take

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: Earnest is a good option if you're new to credit and responsible with money. Offers low rates and no fees.

Earnest

on Earnest's website

Min. Credit Score

680

Est. APR

5.99-17.24%

Loan Amount

$5,000-$75,000

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • No fees.

  • Accepts borrowers new to credit.

  • Flexible payments.

Cons
  • Requires good credit.

  • Requires permission to scan checking account.

Compare to Other Lenders

Earnest
SoFi
Upstart
Est. APR

5.99-17.24%

Est. APR

5.99-16.79%

Est. APR

7.69-35.99%

Loan Term

3 to 5 years

Loan Term

2 to 7 years

Loan Term

3 to 5 years

Loan Amount

$5,000-$75,000

Loan Amount

$5,000-$100,000

Loan Amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. Credit Score

680

Min. Credit Score

680

Min. Credit Score

620

Compare estimated rates from multiple lenders

Compare Rates

Full Review

To review Earnest’s personal loans, NerdWallet collected more than 30 data points from the lender, interviewed company executives 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. They can be used for debt consolidation, home improvement or other large personal expenses.

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:

  • 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.

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. You likely won’t qualify with large amounts of consumer debt.

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.

Unlike their student loans, Earnest doesn’t offer a lower APR with autopay on personal loans.

Customer service: Earnest has an in-house customer service team that be reached through website messaging, e-mail and phone. A help center on its website answers frequently asked questions.

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.

Before you shop for a personal loan

Pre-qualify on NerdWallet

NerdWallet recommends comparing loans to find the best rate for you. Click the button below to pre-qualify on NerdWallet. You may receive personalized rates from multiple lenders that partner with us, including Earnest. Pre-qualifying will not impact your credit.

Apply on Earnest

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.

Personal Loans Rating Methodology

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.