UPDATE: Earnest no longer offers personal loans. Check out our other reviews here.
Earnest loans are ideal for people who are financially responsible but don’t necessarily have a ton of credit history. The company uses a unique system of “merit-based lending” to qualify borrowers. It uses data to drive an underwriting process that looks at factors beyond your credit score.
This information includes your education, employment history, and your financial behavior. These loans aren’t for people with bad credit; rather, they’re intended to help financially responsible people with limited credit get the access they need to personal loans.
Earnest Personal Loans
Earnest is available in 45 states. They do not lend to borrowers in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, and Rhode Island.
Borrowers from Earnest can expect to see APRs from 5.99% to 17.24% on personal loans. The minimum loan amount is $5,000 and the maximum loan amount is $75,000. Loan terms vary from 3 to 5 years.
It can take 1 – 3 business days to complete the application process and receive your loan funds, so be sure to take that into account when deciding on a lender.
Loans can be used for debt consolidation, weddings, home improvement, vacations, moving, engagement rings, medical expenses, and more. With rates as low as 5.99% for those with good credit, paying off high-interest credit cards with a credit card consolidation loan is a popular option.
One major advantage with Earnest loans is that there are no origination fees. Earnest is also rather flexible in what your personal loan may be used for, although it may not be used for business expenses.
Earnest borrowers are employed with an above-average, consistent income. However, an exception is that Earnest also accepts borrowers who have a job agreement in place, even if they haven’t necessarily started yet.
You’ll also need a low amount of personal debt to qualify for a loan, although mortgages and student loans aren’t weighted as heavily.
The minimum credit score is 680 which means you must have good to excellent credit. Most borrowers have credit scores above 720. The lender also recommends that you have enough savings to cover at least one month of expenses, if not more.
You should earn more than you spend while demonstrating bank account balances that increase in funds. Finally, you’ll definitely need a history of on-time payments
Earnest Application Process
Earnest allows you to check your interest rate for personal loans without a hard inquiry.
When you complete the application, you’ll be required to state your loan purpose, education, and employment information. A unique feature of the Earnest process is that you must also grant the lender read-only access to your financial accounts.
They use this access to scan your bank accounts and determine your financial patterns, one of the ways they determine how responsible you are with your money.
You’ll also need to enter some personal information that helps verify identity. Another neat feature is that you can actually connect your Linkedin profile to import much of the information required on the application.
Once everything is entered, Earnest then performs a hard credit check through Experian to look at your credit history. From there, it takes up to two business days to receive a response with whether or not you’ve been approved and what your loan term will be.
Once You’re Approved
If you are approved, you have the opportunity to review the offer and loan term. If you decide to take the loan, you must accept the loan terms within seven calendar days by signing an electronic loan agreement.
You can then enter your bank account details and the funds will be deposited the next business day. They’ll be available for withdrawal within two days of signing the agreement.
In addition to no fees on originating the loan, Earnest barely charges any other fees during the life of the loan. There are no late payment fees or check processing fees, but you will be charged $8 for an unsuccessful payment. That’s a pretty lenient policy compared to most other lenders.
Earnest Special Features
Earnest provides an iPhone app to help you manage your loan and make monthly payments directly from your smartphone. You have full access to your dashboard and can even adjust your payments or make additional payments on the go.
Earnest also has an excellent in-house customer service team that you can email anytime or call during normal business hours Monday through Friday.
Launched in 2013, Earnest started out focusing on student loan refinancing, the lender has since branched into originating private student loans as well as personal loans. Earnest was acquired by Navient in 2017 and is now the second-largest student loan refinancing company in the U.S.
Earnest Personal Loan Reviews
One of the best ways to research online lenders is by reading third-party reviews. You can discover what actual customers are saying about them before you choose to do business with them.
Earnest currently has a Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating of A+, which is an indicator of great customer service. They also have very few complaints. You can find more Earnest Personal Loan reviews at other review sites as well.
Is an Earnest personal loan right for you?
Personal loans from Earnest come with plenty of perks, but how do you know it’s the best choice for you? Here are a couple of tips to help you find out the answer.
Know your spending habits
Earnest also requires read-only access into all of your bank accounts so it can see exactly how you spend your money. Even if you meet all of the other borrower requirements, you need to make sure you’re not spending outside of your means in the time leading up to your loan application.
The company takes the time to put your everyday finances through a complex algorithm. It’s safe to assume that they don’t want to see a negative balance, or more charged on your credit cards than you actually earned.
As with any loan application, it’s helpful to know your audience before you apply. Even with the highest income or credit score, your spending should be in line with how much you earn.
Pay attention to your funding needs
Some online personal lenders boast two-minute approvals and same-day funding. Earnest doesn’t claim to do either of these things and perhaps that’s due to the diligence they perform with their unique underwriting standards.
The lender is upfront about telling borrowers exactly what to expect with the projected funding timeline. It can take up to a week or more, depending on how quick you are on your end.
But even if you sign and return all the requested documentation and signatures as fast as possible, it’s still going to take at least a few business days from start to finish before you receive your money.
Make sure your funding needs aren’t a time-sensitive emergency because there doesn’t seem to be a way to expedite the process. If you need near-instant approval, then an Earnest loan might not be right for you. On the other hand, with a little time and patience, you might end up getting fantastic rates repaid over a short amount of time.
As with any loan product, it’s important to shop around with several lenders to find the best deal you possibly can. Always be mindful of their approval process and what kind of inquiry they perform on your credit report. If you can’t find the information online, you can always call or email to ask.
Most online lenders are eager for your business and quick to respond to any questions you may have. A responsible application process can lead to getting the lowest interest rates so that your personal loan is as inexpensive as possible.
Check out our other personal loan reviews below to continue exploring your options.