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LAST UPDATED: April 27th, 2023

Based in San Francisco, California, Earnest provides personal and student loans. The business was established in 2013, but with only two years of experience in the industry, it has already expanded to provide services in 42 states.

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The Good

  • Fast, Easy Application
  • Flexible Loan Options
  • Completely Customizable Loans

Fast, Easy Application

Conveniently, the process for applying and being approved for a loan from Earnest is quick and easy. They estimate that it will take you two minutes to get an estimated rate and 15 minutes to apply for a loan. Typically, you'll then hear back from them within 48 hours whether you're approved or not.

Flexible Loan Options

Earnest offers a wide range of loan amounts as well. You can borrow as little as $2,000 or as much as $50,000 from them. This provides a nice selection for a variety of borrowers' needs. Furthermore, if you want to pay off your loan faster than you signed up for, they won't charge you prepayment fees. They make a profit off of your interest rate, not off hidden fees.

Completely Customizable Loans

Perhaps one of the most attractive aspects of Earnest loans is that they are customized. As a borrower, you won't be locked into a one-size-fits-all loan. Your interest rate, loan amount, and length of the term will be determined by your individual situation, financial history, and current needs. Earnest even considers the individual case when they look at your credit score for determining eligibility. You don't necessarily need a minimum credit score to qualify; credit is just one of many factors that Earnest takes into account. Many of Earnest's loan features are just evidence for how much respect this company has for their individual borrowers. Rather than locking their clients into fixed terms, they strive instead to provide a loan that you feel comfortable paying back.


The Bad

  • Rigid Term Lengths
  • Other Limitations

Rigid Term Lengths

As customizable as Earnest's loans are, there is one limitation they have. That is the amount of time you can take to pay off a loan. For personal loans, Earnest requires you to sign up for at least one year to pay it back, but you can only extend that term to three years. For some borrowers (particularly if your loan is higher), three years might not be enough time to pay back in full. It would be nice if Earnest extended these options to a longer amount of time.

Other Limitations

Earnest has several limitations that might dissuade some borrowers from seeking a loan. For example, while many lenders provide same-day approval on applications, Earnest does not. Earnest minimum requirements-such as credit score-also vary from borrower to borrower. Lastly, the company is only available in 42 states, whereas industry leaders provide nationwide coverage. 

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The Bottom Line

Despite having only two years of operation, Earnest has expanded rapidly throughout the U.S. The company has set itself up for success by providing customizable loans, a wide range of possible loan amounts, and individualized approval processes. Furthermore, they are attractive to a lot of clients because they consider more than just a credit score for eligibility. A wide variety of customers would appreciate the loans offered by Earnest. If you live in Earnest's service area and need a loan within $2,000 to $50,000, the company's interest rates are competitive. Furthermore, it's a quick process for getting an estimate before you commit to this company, so it's definitely worth looking into.

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6 Reviews

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Jack Zampolin San Francisco, CA

This company refinances student loans in addition to personal loans. They are, frankly, the best lender out there in nearly every aspect I can think of. The process is so easy, the rates are really low, they got back to me in only a couple of days with a decision. Would highly recommend.

8 years ago

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Bruce Hillsboro, OR

Very happy with the deal they gave me on my loan and allowing a forbearance for me, not so happy that in 4 months i haven't had the right numbers on my dashboard, asking for extra payments, reflecting balances far too low and balances going up after payments. No matter how much I call and complain, its a "hopefully in a few weeks its fixed" answer, its been like 16 weeks and i feel i am throwing money into a random number generator.

6 years ago

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Eric Rice Philadelphia, PA

I applied for a loan with very good credit and very healthy savings. They asked me for a picture ID and a copy of my taxes, then declined my request. They blamed it on income variability and income (I am self-employed) but I really dislike the intense scrutiny, as well as the request for access to your bank accounts and picture ID, and then a weak excuse for declining. I contacted them, and got more weak responses, but I feel that I was redlined. Also, i notice that most of the positive reviews are from Anonymous sources and all seem to follow certain clear story and reasoning patterns. I think they are probably fake

7 years ago

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peter Kew Gardens, NY

Horrible. I applied for $ 2000.00 PL wich I was more than qualified for. After running hard credit inquiry ( 16 FICO points shaved off my score) they kept asking for more and more documents, such as pay stubs, copy od drivers license and so on, including our savings account, and your retirement accounts to confirm your education, employment, salary and financial situation. For what wonder ? I have credit cards with 65K limits and nobody ever asked for such documents.

5 years ago


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Faith L Niles, MI

Very easy to use platform and was straightforward when it came to terms.

10 months ago

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Raheel Chaudhry Johnson City, NY


4 years ago