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Personal Loans

Earnest Personal Loan Review

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Earnest
APR

6.99%
To
18.24%

Credit Req.

680

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

36 to 60

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

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Instead of offering credit-based loans, Earnest has taken a very nontraditional approach using a merit-based system.... Read More

Earnest personal loan details
 

Fees and penalties

  • Terms: Earnest loan terms range from 36 to 60 months.
  • APR range: The APR for this loan is 6.99% to 18.24%.
  • Loan amounts: You may borrow between $5,000 and $75,000.
  • Time to funding: Earnest aims to respond to most loan applications within five to 10 business days.
  • Hard pull/soft pull: Earnest performs a hard inquiry on your credit and only shows your rates once you have submitted your loan application, though the company says it’s working on a rate check for personal loan applications. This inquiry will appear on your credit report and will slightly lower your credit score.

Not only are there no fees, if you find yourself in a difficult situation that affects your ability to repay your loan, Earnest will work with you. It offers several ways to help borrowers.


  • Late payments: Earnest extends a seven-day grace period beyond the originally scheduled payment date to all clients. The lender also allows borrowers to adjust their monthly auto-payment date.
  • Unexpected financial changes: Earnest staff are available to immediately discuss borrowers’ situations with them.
  • Death or disability: If the borrower dies or becomes permanently and completely disabled, the executor of of the borrower’s estate can petition Earnest for relief.

Eligibility requirements

  • Minimum credit score: Earnest requires a minimum credit score of 680.
  • Minimum credit history: The lender looks for those with enough savings to cover two months of expenses, spend less than they earn, do not carry large amounts of credit card debt and have a history of making payments on time.
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Though Earnest’s website does not specify a certain debt-to-income ratio, the lender consistently describes its target audience as responsible borrowers who keep their credit levels relatively low.

Earnest personal loans are not available everywhere — residents of Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada and Rhode Island are ineligible. You must be 18, a U.S. citizen, long-term permanent resident alien or conditional permanent resident alien or hold certain visas through the life of the loan. Applicants must show that they are paid in U.S. dollars and have a consistent income.

Applying for a personal loan from Earnest

Earnest’s loan application process starts online like many other lenders, but it may require you to submit more information than competitors. The process begins with the borrower selecting a loan amount, terms and reason for applying such as credit card consolidation, debt refinance, or paying for a home improvement, security deposit on a rental property, vacation or honeymoon, wedding, a move or career development. “Other” also is an option.

The borrower must then create an account, providing name, state of residence and email address.

Applicants also will be asked to provide:

  • Education and employment information: The application will ask for all of your educational background and work history. Underwriters will use the information to get a picture of your academic and career growth as well as your earning potential to assess how likely you are to pay back your Earnest loan.
  • Financial information: You must provide Earnest with read-only access to financial transactions in your bank accounts by linking them to your Earnest profile. Underwriters will look at your balance history and transactions only, not your charges, and will use secure data from your accounts and LinkedIn profile to verify your identity. Earnest doesn’t sell any personal data or ever have access to your usernames or passwords.
  • Personal information: Earnest does not operate physical branches where staff could verify an applicant’s identity in person, so applicants are asked to securely upload a government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license. You also will be required to enter your Social Security number so that Earnest can run a hard pull on your credit.

Earnest communicates through email once you submit your loan application. You may check the status of your loan during the review process by signing in to your Earnest account and clicking on “My Loans” at the top of the page. You may receive an email asking for additional information, and the final decision will be emailed. You can find more details about your loan offer when you sign in to your Earnest account.

You have seven calendar days to accept an offer. Earnest encourages successful applicants to contact the company during this period with any questions or concerns. Earnest will transfer the money to you by the next business day after you accept the offer and provide your bank account information. The funds should appear in your account within one to two days of signing.

Pros and cons of an Earnest personal loan

Pros:

Cons:

  • Low rates. Earnest has some of the lowest rates on the market, with a maximum APR of 18.24%.
  • Smooth application process: Despite the lengthy application process, Earnest’s reviews praise its ease and helpful customer service.
  • Comprehensive website: Earnest is upfront about its terms, rates and loan requirements, and its website is easy to navigate and provides detailed information about Earnest personal loans.
  • Extensive application: Earnest has a more involved application process than many other lenders, and it requires documentation of your financial, personal, education, and employment information.
  • Hard pull: Personal loan applicants will not receive their rate until their loan is approved, a process which requires a hard pull on your credit.
  • Responsibility required: Even though Earnest doesn’t base its loan decisions solely on credit scores, borrowers must prove they are financially responsible. Applicants who have struggled to pay bills in the past and whose finances are disorganized likely will not be approved.

Who’s the best fit for an Earnest personal loan?

Earnest personal loans are an excellent option for people in their 20s and 30s who have a college education and are establishing their careers but need to build credit. Unlike most lenders, Earnest will make a decision about their loan application based on their potential and career trajectory rather than just their past. As long as underwriters can determine that an applicant is financially stable, financially responsible and likely to pay back the loan, the applicant likely will be approved.
Borrowers who want a good deal on a versatile loan also should consider Earnest. The lender does not charge any fees, and its APR range is lower than many other lenders. While Earnest personal loans cannot be used to repay student loans or for businesses, they can be used for everything from consolidating debt to new job expenses to relocation.

Alternative personal loan options

Before you sign up, it’s important to research other lenders who offer different terms, stipulations and rates to make sure you get the best loan for your situation. MagnifyMoney’s online tool for comparing personal loans will give you a comprehensive look at your options.

This roundup includes loans that allow you to check rates with a soft pull.

Lending Club

APR

6.95%
To
35.89%

Credit Req.

600

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

36 or 60

months

Origination Fee

1.00% - 6.00%

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LendingClub is a great tool for borrowers that can offer competitive interest rates and approvals for people with credit scores as low as 600.... Read More

LendingClub, established in 2007, works with borrowers with credit scores as low as 600, which is lower than Earnest’s minimum credit score of 600 though APR rates are as high as 35.99%. Unlike Earnest however, LendingClub will conduct a Hard Pull of your credit; it will not affect your credit score and will allow you to get rates and terms before deciding to apply.

Upgrade

Upgrade
APR

7.99%
To
35.89%

Credit Req.

620

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

36 or 60

months

Origination Fee

1.50% - 6.00%

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on LendingTree’s secure website

Upgrade is an online lender that offers fairly priced personal loans for a term of either 36 or 60 months.... Read More .

Like LendingClub, Upgrade is an online lender available to those with fair credit that also offers a Soft Pull. A LendingClub loan may be a quicker turnaround than Earnest — once your application is approved, the money will be transferred to your bank account within four business days.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs®

Marcus by Goldman Sachs®
APR

5.99%
To
28.99%

Credit Req.

Varies

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

36 to 72

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

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on LendingTree’s secure website

Marcus by Goldman Sachs® offers personal loans for up to $40,000 for debt consolidation and credit consolidation. ... Read More

This relatively new line of personal loans was launched by Goldman Sachs Bank USA. The lender offers no-fee personal loans, which sets it apart from others in this list, but its APR rates are somewhat higher than Earnest’s. Marcus will conduct a Soft Pull on your credit to generate rates and offers borrowers the option to defer one payment without accruing extra interest or fees. More than 80% of borrowers last year had a credit score of at least 660, according to Goldman Sachs’ most recent annual report.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Marty Minchin
Marty Minchin |

Marty Minchin is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Marty here

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Personal Loans

Top 5 Personal Loan Myths of 2019

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

personal loans
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When it comes to personal loans, many Americans are more likely to turn to credit cards as a way to pay emergency bills, enjoy a dream vacation, or pay for items they can’t afford with cash.

According to Experian, existing personal loan debt was at $273 billion in the second quarter of 2018, while existing credit card debt was at $782 billion in the same period.

But it also shows personal loans with a greater year-to-year change in debt growth than credit cards. Whether personal loans are a viable option for expenses depends, apparently, on who you ask.

Awareness seems to be a key factor. When people are in the dark about financial solutions, they will draw their own conclusions, often leading to false perceptions.

What are some of the myths about personal loans?

5 things people say about personal loans

Myths about personal loans have developed over two centuries, making them hard to debunk.

Fortunately, the internet makes it easier than ever to not just raise awareness about personal loans and to clarify misconceptions, but to find the lowest interest rates and apply for loans.

Personal loans have a difficult and lengthy application process

Before the internet, borrowers had to apply for a personal loan by visiting their bank. During the days of the Morris Plan banks, they often evaluated borrowers based on character and income. This may have meant dressing in your Sunday best and arriving for a meeting with a loan officer with stacks of paperwork, pay stubs and tax returns.

Today, applying for a personal loan is easier than applying for a home equity loan or a mortgage.

You can apply easily online in just a few clicks. Many lenders will ask you to provide your Social Security number, your monthly expenses — including any outstanding debt such as mortgages, car loans, student loans and credit card debt — and your income.

Keep in mind that applying for a personal loan may require a hard credit inquiry and could lower your credit score. If you can, try to pre-qualify for a loan before you apply.

You won’t qualify for a personal loan if you don’t have excellent credit

This common misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. Personal loans are available for borrowers with a FICO Score as low as 500, but you won’t get the best rates with a rock-bottom credit score.

Most lenders look for borrowers with a credit score of 670 or higher. But a score of 800 or more will net you the best terms and interest rates.

Personal loans have lower interest rates than credit cards

Unlike the other myths explored, this one has some truth to it. It all depends on your creditworthiness.

Borrowers with a credit score of 720 or higher get personal loans at an average APR of 7.09%, according to LendingTree data, which is lower than the current 14.73% average APR for credit cards. (Disclosure: MagnifyMoney is owned by LendingTree.)

But if your credit is between 660 and 679, the average APR for a personal loan jumps to 16.72%.

It might be smarter to open a credit card with a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers and pay down as much debt as you can during that introductory period. With on-time payments, your credit score will rise and you can continuing using the same process until your high-interest debt is paid off.

Personal loans have high interest rates

“Personal loans have high interest rates” and “personal loans have lower interest rates than credit cards” might seem to be contradictory misconceptions.

In fact, they show just how much confusion there is about personal loans. Some people perceive the rates to be too high, while others assume a personal loan will offer a lower interest rate than their existing credit card debt.

There is just not enough awareness about personal loans being a good option for many people.

So what’s the truth?

If you have an excellent credit score, you could qualify for a personal loan with single-digit interest rates, which is lower than most credit cards.

Personal loans are also a better option than predatory payday loans, which can have an APR of almost 400%.

But if you own a home, a secured loan such as a home equity loan or home equity line of credit will almost certainly deliver a lower interest rate than an unsecured personal loan.

Personal loans just aren’t right for many borrowers

Many people don’t think of themselves as a good candidate for a personal loan. Maybe they feel their credit isn’t good enough or they don’t make enough money to quality.

Homeowners often consider home equity loans or HELOCs before personal loans. And, of course, the 70 million Americans carrying credit card debt month to month may not have thought about a personal loan.

But you could be a good candidate for a personal loan if you have excellent credit and need cash to consolidate credit card debt, pay medical bills or make a large purchase.

With an easy online application process, personal loans are increasingly becoming a smart choice for many borrowers.

What are your personal loan options?

In spite of the myths surrounding them, personal loans continue to grow in popularity.

In the second quarter of 2018, personal loans showed the greatest year-over-year growth than any other type of loan, according to Experian. Personal loan debt increased by 11.4%.

Borrowers looking for cash to pay off revolving credit cards or remodel their home may want to consider a personal loan. If you’re considering a personal loan, check your credit reports from all three credit bureaus and repair any errors to be sure your credit is in tip-top shape so you can qualify for a lower interest rate.

If your score isn’t where you’d like it to be, take time to pay down existing debt to improve your credit utilization ratio and raise your credit score. Avoid opening or closing accounts before applying for a personal loan since these actions could reduce your score.

As your credit score is increasing, use the MagnifyMoney personal loan marketplace to find a loan with the lowest rates and best terms for your situation. Always remember to do your research, consider all your options and make sure your finances are in order before applying for a personal loan.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Dawn Allcot
Dawn Allcot |

Dawn Allcot is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Dawn here

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Loan Origination Fees: Should I Be Paying Them?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

girl with a cup of coffee with a money bag symbol
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If you’ve applied for a personal loan or mortgage, chances are you probably came across something called an origination fee. If you’re wondering what it’s for and whether you have to pay it, here’s what you need to know.

Understanding origination fees

An origination fee is a common charge that is added to a personal loan, student loan or mortgage. It is charged by the lender and can also be referred to as an application, processing or underwriting fee. Its purpose is to cover the hard costs of preparing documents, processing and underwriting your loan, and any third party fees that might be incurred along the way, said Ashley Luethje, a York, Neb.-based sales manager at Waterstone Mortgage.

“These fees are typically a percentage of the total amount you’re borrowing,” Luethje said. “Generally, a mortgage origination fee is around one percent, but for consumer and commercial loans, the fee can be greater and is at the discretion of the lender.”

How an origination fee can come into play

If you’re deciding between lenders, one criteria you might want to take into account is the difference in their origination fees. There are some key points to consider, depending on the type of loan you’re applying for.

Personal loan

As personal loans are typically unsecured and not backed by any collateral, you may find the highest origination fees in this category. Because these types of loans carry more risk for lenders, they may charge you anywhere between 1% to 6% of the total amount you are borrowing. Those higher fees also offset the lower amount of interest lenders like banks and credit unions will receive during the life of a personal loan. These loans tend to be extended for a shorter term and in smaller amounts than other kind of loans.

If you’re not getting charged an origination fee with your personal loan, be aware that the lender may make up for it some other way, such as charging higher interest rates, said Jacob Dayan, the Chicago, Ill.-based CEO and co-founder of Community Tax and Finance Pal.

“It’s important to note that having a good credit history will yield you a much lower origination fee,” Dayan said. “Those fees are negotiable for larger loans, but will commonly require you to put up something, such as accepting a higher Annual Percentage Rate (APR) on your loan.”

Mortgage

Mortgage origination fees — also called mortgage points — can vary drastically as they are determined by the lender, said Jason Larkins, a Scarborough, Maine-based branch manager at United Fidelity Funding. These fees are charged to cover the labor involved in the processing, underwriting and funding of a mortgage, as well as third party fees incurred in tasks such as verifying your employment.

Many lenders, such as banks, credit unions and brokerages, charge a flat origination fee. This means the fee is not based on the amount you borrow. Others could charge a 0.5% to 1% origination fee; the VA home loan program sets a cap at 1%. “However, if a borrower is paying a 1% origination fee, they are likely paying too much and can shop for a better deal,” Larkins said.

At the beginning of the mortgage application process, lenders must disclose the exact origination fee being charged in an official Loan Estimate form. Lenders may not increase the stated fee except under special circumstances, such as if you decrease your down payment or change your type of loan. However, you could negotiate it downwards depending on your credit score, and the size and duration of your requested loan.

As long as you meet certain criteria outlined in IRS Publication 530, your mortgage origination fees may also be tax deductible.

Student loans

Origination fees for federal student loans are set by the government and may vary depending on whether you have a direct subsidized, direct unsubsidized or direct plus-type loan. Those fees could range from 1.062% to 4.264%  and are deducted from the loan amount — meaning you get a smaller loan in the end but will still pay back the full amount. For example, if you were to take out a $10,000 loan with a 4% origination fee, you would only receive $9,600 but would have to pay back the entire $10,000.

The only federal student loans that didn’t charge an origination fee were the Perkins Loans for undergraduate and graduate students in financial need, but this program recently ended. While most student loans provided by private lenders such as credit unions and banks might not come with origination fees, they could cost you more in the long run by charging higher interest rates. Private student loans also don’t come with the federal protections that are standard with federal loans.

Keep in mind that loans with lower interest rates but higher fees can cost more than loans with a higher interest rate and no fees. An easy way to calculate whether your lender is giving you a good deal is to remember that 3% to 4% in fees is equivalent to a 1% higher interest rate.

Is my origination fee too high?

Origination fees are not required, so it’s at the lender’s discretion to waive or negotiate the fee, said Kris Alban, the San Diego-based executive vice president of iGrad.

“It’s always smart to ask for a discount, especially if you have a high credit score and it’s a large loan,” Alban said. “When negotiating, the lender may agree to lower or waive the origination fees if you’ll pay a higher interest rate — meaning they will still make a profit, and you can pay the fees over the length of the loan rather than up front.”

To get the best big picture outlook of whether you’re getting a good deal on your loan, make sure you’re not just comparing the origination fees but also factoring in the interest rate. For example:

  • A $10,000 loan at a 4.99% APR for five years with a 3% origination fee will cost you $11,620 over the life of the loan.
  • The same loan at 5.65% APR with a 1.5% origination fee will cost you $11,652 over the life of the loan.

“Pay attention to both the interest rate and APR,” Alban said. “If they are different, the lender is most likely factoring additional fees into the APR; any origination fee over 4% of the total loan amount is excessive.”

The bottom line

Origination fees are charged by lenders to cover the costs of processing your loan, whether you’re looking for a mortgage, personal loan or student loan. Even though lenders are subject to regulations, be cautious of anything that sounds too good to be true and remember that the absence of origination fees can translate into higher interest rates. “Take the time to read the fine print and completely understand the terms of the loan,” Luethje said.

While you should exercise your ability to price origination fees with different lenders to get you the best deal possible, remember there is no one-size-fits-all scenario. “Make the choice that best fits your needs. If an upfront origination fee hinders your ability to receive a loan but a higher interest rate is a better option, then that might be the best scenario for you as a consumer,” Luethje said.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Barbara Balfour
Barbara Balfour |

Barbara Balfour is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Barbara here

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