Earnest Personal Loans Review

Earnest offers personal loans designed for credit card consolidation, home improvements, weddings, unaccredited education programs and security deposits on a rental. Available in 45 states, borrowers with good to great credit can get access to funds, often within one to two business days after signing their agreement.

One thing borrowers will like about Earnest is that all terms, conditions and options are clearly laid out on its website before applying. This eliminates filling out an application for a lender that you are not eligible for in the first place.

Pros

  • Clearly defined approval criteria
  • Forbearance available in payment hardship
  • Mobile app available to make payments

Cons

  • Slower approval process (5 – 10 days)
  • Strict eligibility criteria 
  • Doesn’t directly pay creditors in consolidation

Earnest by the numbers

  • APR range: 5.99% to 17.24%
  • Loan rage: $5,000 to $75,000
  • Repayment term range: 3, 4 or 5 years
  • Minimum credit score: 680
  • Minimum gross income: Not listed
  • Customer satisfaction: A+ rating from BBB

Fees

  • Origination fee: $0
  • Late payment fee: Not listed
  • Prepayment fee: $0

Restrictions

  • No personal loans in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, or Rhode Island
  • No loan options if you’ve had a bankruptcy in the last three years
  • Can’t use personal loans for tuition, business capital, or real estate

Who should consider Earnest personal loans?

People with good credit can consider utilizing Earnest for their personal loan needs. If you fit the eligibility criteria, the company’s loans can be used for a wide array of different purposes. Additionally, Earnest can get you a personalized rate online in two minutes by providing some basic personal information. Those people looking to compare rates quickly will like this perk.

Requirements for approval are laid out but are stricter than many other personal lenders on the market. You will need a credit score of 680 or higher, no bankruptcies in the past three years, a proven track record of on-time payments, and no open collections accounts. If you meet all these criteria, you can get a personal loan through Earnest with rates between 5.99% and 17.24%. These rates are highly competitive with the rest of the industry.

Earnest also has a mobile app that is available to customers for viewing payment history and making payments on a personal loan. Furthermore, if you have trouble making a payment on your personal loan, forbearance is possible to defer payments for a period of time or until you’re back on your feet. 

Who should avoid Earnest personal loans?

Those people who don’t have the best credit may want to avoid Earnest as a personal loan provider. Compared to some other lenders, the company is stricter on the financial requirements for approval. Additionally, Earnest does not service all 50 states. If you live in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, or Rhode Island, you won’t be able to use Earnest as a lender.

Your intended use of the loan may also disqualify you from using Earnest’s services. If you’re looking to pay for accredited tuition, fund a business startup, pay for existing business expenses, purchase real estate, or invest in real estate, Earnest will not approve you for a personal loan.

If you require fast cash, Earnest might not be a great fit. While the company will get you a rate quote in two minutes, final approval takes much longer. The company states it makes most personal loan decisions in 5 to 10 business days. Additionally, the transfer of funds after you sign your documents may take one to two business days. 

How to apply for an Earnest personal loan

The application process for an Earnest personal loan takes place 100% online through the company’s website. According to the company, the process takes about two minutes. 

  1. Log into the company’s website and navigate to the “Get Started” page.
  2. Fill in your information. You will be required to provide your name, address, the amount you want to borrow, your yearly income, and your social security number. Once you complete this, the company will show you your estimated rate on the loan amount you’re looking to borrow.
  3. Wait for final approval. Full approval on the loan will take five to 10 business days.

Alternatives to Earnest

Marcus personal loans

Personal loans up to $40,000 are available through Marcus by Goldman Sachs. The base and maximum APR are somewhat higher than Earnest, though, spanning from 6.99% to 28.99%. Repayment terms are similar, except Marcus does allow repayment out to the six-year mark. Personal loans with Marcus come with no sign-up fees, no prepayment fees and no late fees. Instead of charging late fees, the company tacks on additional interest for missed, short, or late payments.

LightStream personal loans

SunTrust Bank offers personal loans through LightStream, the online lending division of the company. Backed by a bank started in the late 1800s, LightStream offers high-quality and flexible loan options for borrowers all across the spectrum. With Earnest, your only options for repayment terms are three, four, or five years. With LightStream, though, they have options as short as 24 months, as well as repayment terms that extend out to 144 months (12 years).

Those looking for the best rate possible may have good luck through LightStream. The company offers two programs that can help. First, if you enroll in Autopay, you get a 0.50% APR discount. Second, the company offers a rate-beat guarantee where it’ll beat any rate from a competing loan offer by 0.10%, as long as it meets approval criteria.

Discover personal loans

Discover offers personal loans to customers up to $35,000 with repayment terms of three to seven years. This is similar to Earnest except with two additional longer repayment options. While Earnest state it takes five to 10 days to make an approval decision, Discover boasts same-day decisions in most cases. One nice perk with Discover is that you have the option to return all funds within 30 days and pay no interest. If you find you don’t need the money, you may be able to avoid all interest charges. 

Jason Wesley

Contributing Writer

Jason Wesley is a seasoned writer with a passion for writing about banking, tech, personal growth, and personal finance. As a Las Vegas local and area business owner for a decade, he knows the ins and outs of the city better than anyone.