Earnest features

Here's a breakdown of some of the benefits and drawbacks of Earnest personal loans.

Pros

  • Low minimum APR
  • Accessible to all borrowers
  • Wide range of loan amounts

Cons

  • No mobile app
  • Doesn’t provide loans directly
  • No guarantee of qualifying
Man and woman sitting across from each other and comparing options
kupicoo/Getty Images

Earnest is a loan servicer known primarily for its student loans. Earnest has partnered with Fiona, a lender matching platform, to help borrowers find, compare and choose from qualifying lenders. This means that Earnest does not lend directly. Instead, borrowers fill out an application with Earnest to get matched with lenders they qualify for.

The major benefit of applying for a loan through Earnest is that you only have to fill out one application to see multiple offers. This saves you from having to fill out multiple loan applications and potentially damaging your credit score. Earnest offers a wide range of loan amounts with a very low starting APR of 2.49 percent. Exact loan amounts, APRs and fees vary by lender.

Earnest snapshot 

Loan amount $1,000-$250,000
APR Starting at 2.49%
Minimum credit score Varies by lender
Time to receive funds Varies by lender

Earnest is best for bad to fair credit borrowers

Since Earnest is a lender matching platform, it works with customers of all credit brackets. If you are new to credit or have a low credit score, you may still be able to find a lender through Earnest. If you apply with individual lenders, you will have to submit a new application for each lender to see the actual rates you qualify for with each one. This could hurt your credit score, as loan applications cause a temporary ding to your score, and multiple applications at once can have an even bigger impact. With Earnest, you only need to apply once to see all of your offers, and your credit score won’t be impacted.

Lending terms 

Earnest matches borrowers with lenders offering loans from $1,000 to $250,000. While rates vary by lender, APRs start as low as 2.49 percent. Loan repayment terms range from 6 months to 12 years. While Earnest does not charge any fees directly, the lender you are matched with might. Always make sure to review the terms of a loan offer before signing on.

Once you have submitted a loan application through Earnest, the platform will match you with lenders that you qualify for and that offer the terms you’re looking for. From there, you can compare your offers before making a decision. Since Earnest does not lend directly, the time it takes to receive funding varies.

How to apply for a loan with Earnest

Earnest works with Fiona, a fully online personal loan search engine. In order to apply for a loan through this platform, you’ll start by filling out a basic application form, including the following information:

  • Your credit score
  • Your ZIP code
  • Your loan purpose (home improvement, debt consolidation, major purchase, etc.)
  • Your desired loan amount

Once you have filled out the application, Earnest will match you with lenders you qualify for that meet your specifications. This only takes about 60 seconds. Once you have been matched with qualifying lenders, you can compare offers and choose a lender. From there, you will be directed to that lender’s website to finalize the loan. Finding times vary by lender.

Before choosing a lender through Earnest, make sure that you are aware of the interest rates and fees that the lender charges, as well as any other terms and conditions.

Earnest offers customer service both over the phone and via the live chat function on its website. A customer service representative can be reached via live chat or at 888-601-2801 Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm PST.

How Bankrate scores Earnest

Bankrate score 4.3 Scoring factors
Availability 3.5 Several options are available to meet the needs of most borrowers.
Affordability 4.2 Several competitive options for individuals who qualify
Customer Experience 4.0 Customer service has limited hours, but there is online access

Note that the experience and options you receive when you get a loan through Earnest will partly depend on the lender you choose.