Some people work very hard to stay out of debt. They eschew credit cards, pay in cash (or check or debit card) and keep expenses low. It's a great way maintain fiscal responsibility, but it can result in a credit rating that does not reflect that responsibility. After all, credit ratings hinge upon you actually using credit. This can make it hard to get a loan if you have a large expense or a financial emergency.

Earnest, an online personal loan provider, can offer you several different loan options even if you don't have a well-built credit rating. It considers your entire financial history: savings patterns, investments, employment and potential for growth, such as if you are in line for a promotion or raise. This online lender examines thousands of data points to determine a complete financial picture. SoFi and Upstart also use their own data points to make decisions.

Rather than debt consolidation, the most common reason why people apply for a personal loan, Earnest focuses on loans used for personal or career growth. Getting married, moving to a new place or a new job, or starting or expanding your business are some of the most common reasons for borrowing from this company, although it has a focus on refinancing student loans as well.

The application process is completely online, and the only way you can make payments is electronically. You cannot send checks.

One drawback to this service is that, while it's an online lender, it cannot provide loans in every state. You should check the website to see if you live in a state in which it operates. This is a reflection of state regulations and not the competency or any issues concerning Earnest.

We found the customer support very good. The representatives answered our questions without trying to push us into applying. You can contact them via phone or email.

Earnest is a good choice for an online personal loan if you have a good financial history but do not yet have a strong credit score. It examines your entire financial history, from employment to savings. You should check the website to ensure it can provide loans in your state, however.