If you're getting serious about paying off your debt, the first thing you probably did was sit down and make a spreadsheet listing all your loans (some people have a couple dozen!) along with their interest rates.
If you have a lot of loans, your interest rates are high, or if the total dollar amount is large, it can make a lot of sense to consolidate at a lower interest rate.
Earnest is one of the better-known non-bank, non-federal companies that provides this service. They also offer personal loans that are unrelated to their core student loan business.
Earnest is an especially good option for those with high incomes or high anticipated incomes but who have a limited credit history. They offer solid rates and a variety of repayment options, and look beyond your credit score when deciding creditworthiness, but do not accept cosigners.
This is why we include Earnest on our list of the Best Places To Get A Personal Loan. Also, we highly recommend that you always shop around for a personal loan. There are a lot of lenders and options, and quickly comparing them can be difficult. Check out Credible to quickly compare your loan options in minutes.
- One of the best personal loan options for borrowers with excellent credit
- Earnest doesn't entirely rely on your credit score for approval
- Very competitive rates
Earnest's Personal Loans
Earnest offers personal loans ranging from $5,000 to $75,000.
You're likely eligible if you are a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident with a credit score of 680 or above, have not declared bankruptcy within the last three years, have no open collections accounts, and have consistent income.
Personal loans are given for a specific reason; they're not like a credit card which you can use for anything.
Earnest loans must be used for credit card consolidation, home improvement, a wedding (I for one really don't recommend this though!), a security deposit for a rental apartment or house, or tuition for unaccredited programs like a coding boot camp or midwife school.
Tuition for accredited programs (you would get a student loan for this), business startup costs, and real estate are explicitly disallowed.
What Makes Earnest Different?
Earnest's approval process is pretty different from traditional banks. While you're applying, you link your bank accounts (the same way you do for Mint or Personal Capital) so they can take a look at your income, savings, and payment histories. That sounds odd, but the granularity allows them to consider making large loans to people without a long credit history, since they don't rely entirely on a credit score.
They also take into account future income potential — again, helpful if you're just starting out but in a field where you will probably make a fair amount of money.
The expanded criteria mean that some people will find it easier to qualify at Earnest than at other personal loan refinancing companies. If you've been turned down elsewhere, but have good income and can demonstrate good financial behavior, your odds might improve with Earnest. On the other hand, you can't use a cosigner here, so that income and responsible financial behavior will have to be all your own!
While this shouldn't influence your final decision too much, it's worth noting that Earnest has a clean, snappy modern interface; the site looks great and is just a pleasure to click around. The web interface makes it extremely easy to schedule extra payments, move your due dates around, and the like — and it offers nice visualizations of your loan's future that include the amount of interest you will pay if you stay on schedule.
Earnest allows re-refinancing; if interest rates go down, or if you want to switch from a variable to a fixed interest rate, you can reapply after six months of on-time repayments.
Is There Any Concerning Fine Print?
Earnest personal loans are a pretty straight forward product. They don't charge any origination fees or "anything-else" fees. They have competitive rates and fees.
This is very similar to the student loan refinancing product. Check out our Earnest student loan refinancing review here and learn more.
While you should compare terms offered across a variety of lenders, Earnest is generally a solid choice.
It is especially so for those that like its flexible loan terms, might be able to take advantage of early repayment options, and are willing to trade better potential loan terms in exchange for Earnest taking a good long look at your bank accounts' history.
Earnest Personal Loans Review
- Rates and Fees - 80
- Application Process - 90
- Customer Service - 80
- Products and Services - 75
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here and here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.