One thing that’s certain about adult life is that it’s expensive. Paying rent, insurance, food, transportation, technology, and more all add up fast. That’s not including the big life stuff, like weddings, funerals, moving, and home improvements.
Given the cost of managing everything in your life, let’s face it, sometimes you just need extra money. You need extra money and maybe you can’t wait to save and need it now. So what are you to do?
A flexible and low-cost option (compared, for example, to credit cards) is taking out a personal loan. Unlike student loans for school or an auto loan for a car, personal loans can be used for personal reasons.
If you need money for debt consolidation, medical bills, starting a small business, moving, etc., a personal loan can help bridge the funding gap. One lender that offers personal loans is Earnest.
Earnest is an online lender that is best known for its student loan refinancing product. But the company offers personal loans as well.
Personal loans are unsecured loans that are paid back on a fixed repayment term, with fixed monthly payments. Unsecured means that you don’t have any collateral, like a home or car, to back the loan.
As it turns out, Earnest recently revamped its personal loan offerings to make them even more borrower-friendly.
According to the company’s website, “Taking all our learnings from the last five years and the hundreds of thousands of applications that we have received, in 2019 we are refining our personal loans to create an even better way to borrow.”
The company announced lower rates starting at 5.99% APR and said it has streamlined the application process as well as the time it takes for a decision to be made.
Interest rates, fees, etc.
Earnest offers competitive rates compared to other online lenders. Earnest’s personal loan interest rates start at 5.99% APR, and the highest interest rate is 17.24% APR.
Compare that to Avant, which has an APR range of 9.95% to 35.99% for personal loans and charges an administrative fee of up to 4.75%.
The interest rate you get approved for on an Earnest personal loan will depend on your credit as well as your repayment term.
From the chart above, you can see the lowest rate is reserved for the shortest repayment term of three years. On the other hand, the highest rate is for the longest repayment term of five years.
Your interest rate affects the total cost of the loan, so being able to score a low rate and pay off your debt in a matter of years can result in major cost savings.
There are no fees associated with Earnest personal loans and you can borrow between $5,000 to $75,000. Compare that to Avant, which allows borrowers to get loans between $2,000 to $35,000.
If you need more money, Earnest is a good option. On the other hand, if you don’t need that much, Avant might be the better option — Earnest requires borrowers to take a minimum of $5,000.
Pros and cons
Before applying for a personal loan with Earnest, consider the pros and cons first. As noted above, Earnest offers lower rates than some of its counterparts in the personal loan marketplace. But what really sets it apart is that it reviews more than just your FICO credit score, unlike most lenders.
Earnest takes a more comprehensive approach, reviewing things like your education, savings, and earning potential. That way, they’re looking at the whole you and not just a three-digit number that’s supposed to inform your whole financial history. Having a fuller picture of your financial life and financial history, Earnest can offer you the best rate for your situation.
You’ll also receive a decision within five to 10 days, according to the Earnest website. After accepting the terms of the loan, you’ll get the money within one to two business days.
Additionally, Earnest claims that you’ll always have access to a person if you’re in need of help. If you’ve ever searched a website looking for a phone number or desperately wanted help from someone to walk you through a problem, this is a perk.
One of the cons of using Earnest is that there is a $5,000 minimum, so if you just need $2,000 to fix your car, it’s a no-go.
Also, if you need the money really fast, the five to 10 day turnaround can be tough. For example, Wells Fargo says you could receive a decision on a personal loan in a couple of minutes, depending on certain factors.
How to apply for an Earnest personal loan
If you go to the Earnest website, a few clicks will get you a quote in two minutes.
You’ll then need to input some personal information, such as your full name, address, annual income, as well as your Social Security Number.
After that, you can see the rate you’re approved for. If approved and you think the rate is competitive, you can move forward with the application to get an Earnest personal loan.
According to the fine print on Earnest’s website, “When you apply for a loan, we will ask for your name, address, date of birth, and other information that will allow us to identify you. We may also ask to see your driver’s license or other identifying documents.”
Once you receive a decision within the five to 10 day timeframe, you should expect your funds within one to two days. When you have the funds, you can use them as you please for debt consolidation, home improvements, car repair, etc.
After that, you’ll want to manage your monthly payments that will be based on your repayment term. You want to pay back your personal loan and keep your credit in shape.
A personal loan can help you get the money you need but it can also be a slippery slope that leads to even more debt. Make sure getting a personal loan makes sense for your financial situation and all other options are exhausted before taking out a personal loan.