Earnest Personal Loans Review

UPDATE: Earnest no longer offers personal loans. Check out our other reviews here.

Earnest personal loans are designed for those who may not have extensive credit history but demonstrate financial responsibility. The company adopts a merit-based lending system, assessing factors beyond credit scores.


This includes educational background, employment history, and overall 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.

Loan Options and Availability

Earnest is operational in 45 states, excluding Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, and Rhode Island. Their loans range from $5,000 to $75,000, with APRs from 5.99% to 17.24%. The terms for these loans vary between 3 and 5 years. Notably, the application process typically takes 1 to 3 business days, and loan funds are disbursed shortly thereafter.

Utilization of Loan Funds

Loans from Earnest can be used for various purposes, including debt consolidation, home improvement, or significant life events such as weddings and medical expenses. The company’s flexibility in the use of loan funds, combined with competitive rates, makes it a popular choice for credit card consolidation and other major financial needs. Importantly, Earnest does not charge origination fees, enhancing the attractiveness of their loans.

Borrower Profile for Earnest Loans

Earnest targets borrowers who are employed and demonstrate a consistent, above-average income. An interesting aspect is their acceptance of borrowers with job agreements, even if they haven’t started their employment yet. To qualify, applicants need a minimum credit score of 680, indicating good to excellent credit. Most Earnest borrowers have credit scores above 720.

Financial Health Indicators

Earnest looks for signs of financial health in its borrowers. This includes a low amount of personal debt (excluding mortgages and student loans), the ability to cover at least one month’s expenses with savings, and a history of on-time payments. The lender also expects to see a positive trend in bank account balances, reflecting responsible financial management.

The Earnest Application Process: A Closer Look

Earnest’s application process is unique in the lending industry. They allow prospective borrowers to check their interest rates without a hard credit inquiry, protecting their credit score during the initial stages.

Deep Dive into Financial Habits

During the application, Earnest requires read-only access to applicants’ financial accounts. This allows them to analyze spending patterns and financial behaviors, forming a comprehensive view of the applicant’s financial responsibility.

Credit Check and Decision Time

After completing the application, Earnest conducts a hard credit check through Experian. The decision on the loan application, including the terms and rates, is typically communicated within two business days.

loan application

Post-Approval: Managing Your Earnest Loan

Once approved for a loan, applicants have a week to review and accept the loan terms. After accepting and providing bank details, the funds are deposited the next business day and available for withdrawal within two days.

Minimal Fees and Flexible Management

Earnest stands out for its minimal fee structure. The only significant fee is an $8 charge for unsuccessful payments. They also offer an iPhone app for convenient loan management, allowing borrowers to adjust payments and manage their loans on the go.

Earnest’s History and Market Presence

Since its launch in 2013, Earnest has expanded from student loan refinancing to personal loans, becoming a significant player in the lending market. Acquired by Navient in 2017, it is now the second-largest student loan refinancing company in the U.S.

Customer Insights on Earnest Personal Loans

Earnest enjoys an A+ rating from the BBB, an indicator of exceptional customer service and satisfaction. Reviews on various platforms reflect a mix of experiences, underscoring the importance of aligning personal financial needs with the lender’s offerings.

Is Earnest the right fit for your personal loan needs?

Determining whether an Earnest loan is suitable involves assessing your financial habits and requirements. Their unique underwriting process, focusing on financial behavior, and the lack of an instant approval process mean that Earnest loans are best suited for those with a bit of flexibility in their funding needs and who can benefit from their competitive rates.

Final Thoughts

As with any financial product, it’s prudent to compare offers from multiple lenders. Pay attention to the approval process and the type of credit inquiry performed. Most online lenders, including Earnest, are responsive to queries, so don’t hesitate to reach out with questions. A well-informed application can lead to securing a loan with the most favorable terms for your financial situation.

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Meet the author

Crediful is your go-to destination for all things related to personal finance. We're dedicated to helping you achieve financial freedom and make informed financial decisions. Our team of financial experts and enthusiasts brings you articles and resources on topics like budgeting, credit, saving, investing, and more.