Earnest Personal Loan Review

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Updated on Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Earnest personal loans: Pros and cons



  • Low fixed APR: Starts at 5.99% for 36-month loans
  • Fee-free:No origination fee, late payment or prepayment penalty means your loan is more affordable
  • Forbearance options: Qualifying borrowers can temporarily pause payments
  • Comprehensive underwriting process: Earnest takes your future earning potential and savings habits into account
  • Benefits to servicemembers: Potential military service deferment and servicemembers’ interest rate cap
  • Higher rates for longer terms: 60-month loans have a 7.24%% minimum APR
  • Minimum credit score of 650: As the lowest acceptable score, these are likely to be given the highest interest rates
  • Slow loan funding: Loan underwriting takes five to 10 days, and funding can take another two business days
  • Higher minimum borrowing limit in California: You’ll have to borrow a minimum $10,000 if you’re a California resident
  • Not available in all states: Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada and Rhode Island residents won’t qualify for an Earnest personal loan

How your Earnest loan can be used

Earnest personal loans can be used for many expenses, including:

  • Credit card consolidation
  • Home improvements
  • Tuition and education expenses for unaccredited institutions
  • Rental security deposit
  • Moving costs
  • Engagement ring purchase
  • Weddings or honeymoons
  • Vacations
  • Medical expenses

Earnest personal loans cannot be used for:

  • Tuition at an accredited institution
  • As business capital to start a business or pay current business expenses
  • To buy or invest in real estate

Who qualifies

Standard requirements

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Have proof of regular income
  • Be a U.S. citizen, have a 10-year green card or a two-year green card with Form I-751 approval or acceptance
  • Be a resident of Washington D.C., or any of the 45 states they service (Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada or Rhode Island residents don’t qualify)

Financial requirements

  • A minimum credit score of 650
  • History of on-time payments
  • Bank account balances with a history of rising
  • Adequate savings to cover two months of expenses
  • No large amounts of non-mortgage, non-student debt
  • No open collection accounts
  • No bankruptcies in the past three years

How Earnest compares to competitors




with AutoPay

Credit Req.

Not specified


24 to 144*


Origination Fee

No origination fee


on LendingTree’s secure website

Lender Disclosure

LightStream is the online lending division of SunTrust Bank.... Read More

*Your loan terms, including APR, may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term length, and your credit profile. Excellent credit is required to qualify for lowest rates. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount. AutoPay discount is only available prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay are 0.50% points higher. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 3.99% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $295.20.

With a starting APR of 3.99% (with autopay) and a high of 19.99%, LightStream offers more affordable terms than Earnest. Lightstream, which is also an online lender, also beats out its competitor with larger loan amounts and a greater variety of terms.

However, Earnest has a more comprehensive underwriting process. LightStream defines excellent credit as having at least five years of credit history, in addition to a robust credit score. Earnest, meanwhile, looks deeper into borrowers’ potential, so a limited credit history won’t necessarily keep you from qualifying for a loan. This can be especially helpful to recent college graduates.




Credit Req.


Minimum Credit Score


24 to 84


Origination Fee

No origination fee


on LendingTree’s secure website

Lender Disclosure

SoFi offers some of the best rates and terms on the market. ... Read More

Fixed rates from 5.99% APR to 20.69% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of January 19, 2021 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

SoFi versus Earnest is a tight race. Both online lenders offer no origination, prepayment or late payment fees. SoFi’s APRs cap out at 20.69% — which is higher than Earnest’s maximum by a few percentage points — through the lender offers a higher maximum borrowing limit and more flexible repayment terms.

SoFi also offers a unique borrow protection program: unemployment protection. Borrowers in good standing who lose their jobs through no fault of their own may have their personal loan payments suspended, as well as receive job placement assistance.

How to apply for an Earnest personal loan

With Earnest, online personal loan applications require a few steps:

  1. Complete and submit an online application. Be prepared to send requested tax documents, bank information and employment and income verifications. Upon receipt of your application, Earnest will send you a confirmation email.
  2. Submit additional requested documentation. If Earnest needs any additional tax, income or other documents, you will be notified by email. You can sign in to your Earnest account to upload the requested documents.
  3. Wait for a loan decision. The underwriting process can take five to 10 business days. Applicants will receive loan decisions via email.
  4. Approve or deny your loan offer. After receiving the loan decision, applicants have seven calendar days to review the terms and approve (or turn down) the loan offer. Loans are funded within one to two business days after acceptance.

FAQ on Earnest

Earnest is an online lender that strives to deliver a fast and personalized low-cost lending solution. The company uses an algorithm to identify qualified borrowers and relies on data, software and online applications to reduce costs and rates.

In addition to personal loans, borrowers can get Earnest student loans and student loan refinancing, including for Parent Plus loans.

As part of the underwriting process, Earnest needs to review bank account transactions and balances. Earnest uses bank account information to verify identity and reduce fraud.

Most applications for both large and small personal loans are underwritten within five to 10 business days. After a loan is approved, borrowers have seven calendar days to review and accept the offer.

Loans are funded within two business days of signing the acceptance.

Earnest offers both autopay and manual pay options. This means borrowers may be able to send checks, wire funds, or set up electronic transfers for payments.

Earnest customer service is available from Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time. A customer service representative can be reached via the Earnest contact phone number or through a form on the website.

Once a personal loan has been approved and is being serviced, borrowers need to contact System & Services Technology by phone. The company is available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central time Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m to 12 p.m. Central on Saturdays.