Earnest Personal Loans is a good place to go for a loan if you’re working on building a credit history, have a decent income, and are financially reliable. The company, which offers personal loans and student loan refinancing, uses software and algorithms to take a more granular look at lenders instead of just focusing on their credit score.
If you haven’t had loans or credit cards before, your credit score can be low, even if you’re otherwise financially stable. Earnest attempts to look beyond this one number and evaluates a borrower’s full education, employment, and overall financial profile.
Co-founded by CEO Louis Beryl, a former partner at a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley, and COO Benjamin Hutchinson, who was most recently Head of Commercial Finance at BBC, Earnest first launched a personal loan product in Boston in March 2014. The company has its headquarters in San Francisco.
Here’s an in-depth look at how Earnest started and why it might be a good fit for you.
Who are Earnest personal loans best suited for?
Lucia Villar, GM Head of Personal Loans at Earnest says: “Earnest’s personal loans are best suited for the client that is financially responsible and looking to take out a personal loan to fund a big (or small) life moment, like a home improvement project, wedding, big move, or even consolidating credit card debt.”
Earnest’s data-driven approach to lending enables a holistic understanding of each applicant so they can offer rates and features that put the client first.”
Earnest is a good fit for borrowers who:
- Are new to credit.
- Have an excellent credit score (generally above 720).
- Have a high income.
- Save money on a regular basis and maintain a retirement savings account.
- Do not carry a lot of debt
- Have enough income to cover expenses and a low debt-to-income ratio.
- Have no delinquencies or defaults.
What was the impetus to launch Earnest?
“Founder and CEO Louis Beryl started Earnest after experiencing first hand the challenges of qualifying for decent interest rates on his student loans when he attended graduate school,” explains Villar. “Despite his strong education and employment history, as well as good standings in credit and savings, he was offered only double-digit rates from private lenders.”
His mother refinanced her home to lend him the money he needed, and he spent years paying her back. Frustrated by this experience, Beryl set out to create a better alternative for financially responsible people explains Villar. “He launched Earnest with the goal to democratize access to credit and tackle the current information asymmetry between borrowers and lenders. Earnest’s data-driven approach to lending enables a holistic understanding of each applicant. So they can offer rates and features that put the client first.”
How do Earnest’s loans work?
To see if you qualify for a loan from Earnest, you apply online and receive a fairly quick answer about your eligibility.
Earnest’s student loan refinancing will consolidate as many of your existing student loans as you’d like at a lower rate, with the option to choose between a fixed or variable rate. The company will refinance a minimum of $5,000 of eligible student loans up to $500,000.
To be eligible, you must be a graduate and have work, or be within six months of graduating and have a job offer in hand.
Earnest offers one, two, and three-year personal loans between $2,000 and $50,000, which can be used for several purposes, such as consolidating credit card debt, taking a vacation, paying for a wedding or home improvement and more.
Here are the major things Earnest takes into consideration when deciding your eligibility for a personal loan:
- Do you have a job or do you have a full-time job offer?
- Have you enough savings to cover a month or more of normal expenses?
- Do you spend less than you earn and do have increasing bank account balances?
- Do you carry large amounts of non-student, non-mortgage debt?
- What is your payment history like?
- Are you regularly paying for late, overdraft, or insufficient funds fees?
- Do you have recent bankruptcies or accounts in collections?
What are Earnest’s rates and fees?
Earnest does not charge origination or prepayment fees. Fixed rates for personal loans have very low APRs (with autopay), according to the company’s website. For current rates, visit Earnest.
Which states does Earnest operate in?
The company currently lends in 45 states. It does not yet offer variable rate loans in Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas or Utah.
If Earnest isn’t yet lending in your state, you can create a user profile on their site and you’ll be at the top of the list when Earnest begins offering loans in that state.
What is Earnest’s application process like?
The application process is done completely online and is fairly extensive. The form asks for basic data about your education, loan purpose, and employment history. Applicants can have the site pull information from their LinkedIn profiles to speed up the process.
1.) Select the term of the loan
2.) Select the purpose of your loan. Note that if you allow the site to connect to your LinkedIn profile, you can go through the process more quickly.
3.) Answer questions about your education.
4.) Answer questions about your employment.
5.) Connect Earnest to your checking account and fill out information about your financial situation.
6.) Wait for a response, which should come quickly.
How does Earnest compare to other lenders?
Earnest uses an online dashboard that provides tools to control and customize their loan payments. Borrowers can adjust their loans by payment, amount, and loan duration at any time and see how it affects the remaining payments. The changes can be one-time or recurring. It’s up to you.
Even though almost every aspect of the loan is handled online, the company prides itself on customer service. Earnest’s Client Happiness team personally handles any service questions or issues for the life of your loan. The company believes lending should be as transparent as possible, according to its website. They explain that, if you ever have any questions, Earnest is “only a call, chat, or email away.” There are no third-party call centers involved.
Earnest and the power of data
Earnest uses data that many other lenders don’t. This includes your savings patterns, investments, and career trajectory. The company looks at a bigger financial picture than a simple credit score, which can give some borrowers more opportunity to get a good loan. Find out if you qualify for a loan from Earnest today.
However, Earnest is not the only personal loan around. Make sure you compare the rates you get with other leading lenders before agreeing to a loan. SuperMoney makes it easy to find out the best rates and terms available from leading lenders. Fill out one form and compare prequalified offers from several lenders. It’s fast and it won’t hurt your credit.
Heather Skyler writes about business, finance, family life and more. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Newsweek, Catapult, The Rumpus, BizFluent, Career Trend and more. She lives in Athens, Georgia with her husband, son, and daughter.