2023 Earnest Personal Loan Review
Earnest no longer directly funds personal loans. Instead, the company partners with Fiona — a loan search engine — to offer a marketplace that matches consumers with lenders that best fit their needs. However, if you already have an Earnest loan, the company still provides support through a servicer known as System & Services Technologies.
Here’s what you need to know about finding a loan through Earnest and Fiona’s marketplace:
- Flexible loan amounts: The personal loan marketplace offers loans that range from $1,000 to $250,000, while Earnest was previously only able to offer $1,000 to $250,000 loans.
- Long term loans: Consumers can apply for loans with short repayment terms (minimum of six months) or long repayment terms (maximum of 144 months). Before, Earnest only offered loan terms between 6 to 144 months.
- Fixed and variable rates: Most personal loans come with fixed rates. However, Earnest customers can access lenders that offer both fixed and variable rates.
- Soft-credit pulls: Searching for a lender on Earnest’s platform won’t have an impact on your credit score, as the company only does an initial soft credit pull to assess your financial background. However, if you choose to move forward with a lender, you’ll eventually have to go through a hard credit inquiry, which can cause your score to dip by a few points.
- Best for consumers who are shopping around: If you’re unsure about the kind of lender, terms, amounts and rates you’re looking for, a personal loan marketplace like Earnest and Fiona might help you narrow down your search.
Earnest pros and cons
Earnest’s new approach to personal loans may provide consumers with more options to choose from, but some borrowers may find downsides as well.
Flexible loan amounts
Wider repayment terms to choose from
No impact to credit score
Access to fixed and variable rates
No longer originates personal loans directly
Eligibility requirement unclear since requirements depend on the lender
Current loans managed by third-party servicer
Earnest now offers consumers the opportunity to shop around and choose from flexible loan amounts ($1,000 to $250,000) and terms (six to 144 months). Consumers now also have access to lenders that offer fixed or variable rates, whereas Earnest’s previous personal loan rates were fixed.
You can no longer get a personal loan directly funded by Earnest and, if you are still repaying an Earnest personal loan, your account is now managed by a third-party partner of Earnest, System & Services Technologies. Personal loan eligibility requirements are initially unclear, as they will vary from lender to lender, and you’ll need to create an Earnest account to see which lenders you may be eligible with.
Be sure to shop around for a lender that helps you meet your financial goals and can offer you the best-fitting rates, terms and amounts.
How to get a loan with Earnest
When you shop on the Earnest marketplace, the requirements to get approved for a personal loan will vary by lender. However, there is an initial application process with Earnest you’ll have to complete in order to access the marketplace.
Keep in mind that after you create an account and view your potential lenders, you may receive phone calls, text messages and emails from various lenders following up with you.
Create an account
To access Earnest’s personal loan marketplace, you’ll begin by filling out an initial form. You’ll need to provide your basic personal information, your credit score rating, employment status and income. This information will help Earnest match you with appropriate lenders that cater your needs and credit rating.
After you’ve created an Earnest account, you may be matched with multiple offers from personal loan lenders. You’ll be able to see the loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates (APR) you’re eligible for, as well as an estimated monthly payment. This prequalification process will have no impact on your credit score.
Apply with the lender
Next, you’ll choose a lender and complete the official application for a personal loan. Lenders typically ask for your basic information, employment status, income and whether you rent or own a home. You’ll need to verify your information with the lender by providing documents like tax returns, pay stubs and a government-issued identification.
You’ll need to go through a hard credit inquiry — which may cause your credit score to go down by a few points — and, if you’re approved, you’ll receive an official loan agreement from the lender. After you’ve signed, the lender will deposit the money into your account.
If you have a low credit score or don’t have much of a credit history, you may find it difficult to get approved for a personal loan. You can boost your chances of getting approved by doing things like improving your credit score, checking your credit report for errors and practicing healthy financial habits.
Alternative personal loan lenders
Since Earnest no longer originates its own personal loans, you may want to consider other lenders that offer large loan amounts such as BHG Money, LightStream and SoFi.
|LendingTree’s rating||4/5||4.5/5 (Read review)||4.6/5 (Read review)|
|Minimum credit score||660||Not specified||680|
|APRs||11.96% - 24.91%||7.49% - 25.49%||8.99% - 25.81%|
|Loan amount||$20,000 - $200,000||$5,000 - $100,000||$5,000 - $100,000|
|Repayment term||36 to 120 months||24 to 144 months||24 to 84 months|
|Origination fee||2.00% - 4.00%||None||None|
|Funding timeline||Receive funds within five business days||May receive funds within same business day||May receive funds within same business day|
|Bottom line||BHG Money has a slower funding timeline compared to LightStream and SoFi, but it also offers much larger loan amounts and a lower credit score requirement. This lender also has flexible repayment terms (up to 120 months).||LightStream charges no fees and offers one of the longest loan terms on the market (up to 144 months). This lender also offers an autopay discount. Unfortunately, Lightstream doesn’t allow consumers to prequalify for a loan.||SoFi doesn’t charge its customers any required fees. It also offers an autopay discount and unemployment support if you fall on hard times. This lender has a high minimum loan amount and fast funding.|
How we rate our lenders
To come up with our star rating for personal loan companies, LendingTree considered 22 data points across three categories:
- Accessibility: We paid attention to whether lenders offered loans to nontraditional borrowers, as well as those without excellent credit scores. We also checked if lenders offered soft credit pulls, and whether they were transparent about eligibility criteria other than credit scores.
- Rates and terms: We wanted to know if lender rates, terms, amounts and fees were not only transparent, but competitive.
- Repayment experience: We based this category on lenders’ reputations, customer support availability and unique benefits.
The data points reflect every step of the process to shop and apply for, borrow and repay personal loans. A five-star lender, for instance, has flexible eligibility requirements, offers you the chance to prequalify without commitment and supports you in zeroing your balance.
The 22 data points, culled from the lenders themselves, determine the overall rating. We score lenders consistently, sometimes awarding partial points, so that you can make apples-to-apples comparisons when shopping around.
LendingTree isn’t paid for conducting these reviews, and lenders don’t have control over their content. With our reviews and ratings, we aim to give our users the objective and exhaustive information they need to make the best possible decisions.