Earnest Personal Loans Review

Borrowers with a stellar financial history can qualify for good perks

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Earnest logo

A subsidiary of Navient, Earnest is an online personal loan lender founded in 2013. Offering loans "to financially responsible people," Earnest features competitive interest rates as low as 5.99% with no origination fees. Applicants can use the personal loan proceeds toward most purposes, and in cases of financial hardship, Earnest may be able to offer assistance.

This Earnest personal loan review will offer you important details, including rates, fees, and whether it’s the right fit for your lending needs.

  • Product Specifications
  • Pros & Cons
  • Fees
Product Specifications
  • APR Range 5.99% to 17.24%
  • Loan Amounts $5,000 to $75,000
  • Loan Terms three to five years
  • Recommended Minimum Credit Score 680
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • No Fees

  • Competitive Interest Rates

  • Financial Hardship Assistance

Cons
  • Not Available in All States

  • Good Credit History Needed

  • No Joint Applications

Fees
  • Origination fee: None
  • Prepayment penalty: None
  • Late fee: $8
  • Other: Florida residents will be charged a 0.35% stamp tax, which goes directly to the Florida Department of Revenue.

As of April 20th, 2020, Earnest is currently not accepting new applications for personal loans.

Pros Explained

  • No Fees – Earnest won’t charge you an origination fee or any prepayment penalties if you want to pay off your loan early.
  • Competitive Interest Rates – Rates for personal loans start at 5.99% for applicants who are able to meet Earnest’s eligibility requirements.
  • Financial Hardship Assistance Earnest offers forbearance (the ability to delay loan payments) if you can prove that you’re unable to pay back your loan due to financial circumstances.

Cons Explained

  • Not Available in All States – Residents of Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, and Rhode Island aren’t eligible to apply for a personal loan with Earnest. 
  • Good Credit History Needed – Borrowers with credit scores lower than 680 or who can’t demonstrate sound financial history may not qualify for a loan. 
  • No Joint Applications – Unlike some lenders, Earnest doesn’t allow co-borrowers on personal loan applications (it does permit co-borrowers on student loans).

COVID-19 Assistance

Earnest personal loan borrowers can get up to three months of postponed payments through disaster forbearance. Interest will continue to accrue during the forbearance but will not be capitalized.

Earnest's response time is currently 10 days and any payments due will still be required until forbearance is approved.

Types of Personal Loans Offered by Earnest

Earnest allows you to use your personal loan for a variety of reasons. These can include consolidating credit card debt, relocation expenses, home improvement projects, medical expenses, vacation costs, and wedding expenses.

Basically, you can use Earnest’s personal loans for any reason other than those specifically restricted, which include paying for school expenses at an accredited institution, business purposes, or buying or investing in real estate, including mortgages (though security deposits for rented residences are acceptable).  

Time to Receive Funds

After submitting your personal loan application, Earnest will review it and reach a decision within five to 10 business days. 

Once your loan is approved and you sign all necessary paperwork, Earnest will transfer the funds by the next business day. It should arrive in your account within one to two business days. 

Earnest Personal Loan Features

  • Hardship Assistance Available – Borrowers may qualify for forbearance, temporarily pausing payments on your loan. If you can prove you are experiencing financial hardship, Earnest will direct you to its service partner, Systems & Services Technologies, to discuss options.
  • Prequalification Option – Earnest lets you check rates and terms you may qualify for with a soft credit check. Doing so won’t impact your credit score. However, when you submit a full application, the lender will conduct a hard inquiry on your Experian credit report, which could temporarily impact your credit score.

Apply for an Earnest Loan

Here’s what you can expect from the Earnest application process:

  1. Fill out an initial application to get a rate estimate, which won’t affect your credit score. This prequalification information will include your mailing address, birthday, credit score, Social Security number, and employment information. You’ll also indicate how much you want to borrow and for what purpose: credit card debt consolidation, home improvement, wedding/honeymoon, or unaccredited education.
  2. Earnest will show you an estimated loan offer, which includes rates and terms, based on this information. Note: These may be a range of rates and are not guaranteed until the final offer. 
  3. Continue to the application process by confirming the desired rate and term.
  4. Provide additional information, including your Social Security number (even though you already provided it during the initial inquiry), proof of income, and bank account information. If Earnest requires additional documentation, such as a tax return, it will request it.
  5. Submit your application once you’ve reviewed the terms and confirm all information entered is correct. 

You can expect a decision within five to 10 business days. 

Can I Refinance a Personal Loan with Earnest?

Earnest doesn’t allow refinancing for personal loans.

Verdict

Borrowers who have a good credit profile—a minimum 680 credit score and a history of good financial behavior—will be able to take advantage of Earnest’s personal loans. “Good financial behavior” includes things such as a history of on-time debt payments, two months’ worth of savings to cover expenses, and no recent bankruptcy or foreclosure on your record.

With its prequalification process—soft credit pulls so your credit score won’t be affected until you submit a full application—Earnest in effect offers you a preview of what sort of loan rates and terms it’ll offer you. 

However, if you’re not a solid financial citizen, you won’t be able to take advantage of Earnest’s low-interest rates, lack of fees, and other desirable, highly competitive features. And Earnest currently doesn’t allow the option of submitting a joint application—a courtesy other lenders extend to borrowers whose applications could benefit from a boost. 

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of personal loan lenders. We collected over 25 data points across more than 50 lenders—including interest rates, fees, loan amounts and repayment terms—to ensure that our content helps users make the right borrowing decision for their needs.

Article Sources

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  1. Earnest. "Your Earnest Loan and Coronavirus (COVID-19.)" Accessed May 3, 2020.

  2. Earnest.com. "Personal Loans." Accessed April 20, 2020.

  3. Earnest.com. "Personal Loan: Ineligible Loan Purposes." Accessed April 20, 2020.

  4. Earnest.com. "Common questions about personal loans: How soon can I expect a decision?" Accessed April 20, 2020.

  5. Earnest.com. "Common questions about personal loans: How soon will I receive my personal loan?" Accessed April 20, 2020.

  6. Earnest.com. "What if I cannot make a loan payment on time?/Personal Loans." Accessed May 3, 2020.

  7. Earnest.com. "Can I get an interest rate estimate before applying?/Personal Loans." Accessed April 20, 2020.