In this student loan refinance lender comparison, we take a look at Earnest vs. Splash Financial.
On the surface, there are a ton of similarities between these two companies. Both are fairly well known, and both advertise low rates and reasonable loan terms.
However, under the hood, these two lenders are very different. The key differences between Splash and Earnest can have a massive impact on which lender is best for borrowers.
Earnest vs. Splash Financial: The Basics
|Interest Rates||1.88% - 6.25%||1.88% - 5.64%^|
|Loan Terms||5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, and 25 Years||5 - 20 Years|
|Signup Bonus||Up to $500||$150^|
The basic terms and conditions with both Splash and Earnest are very similar. Splash tends to advertise slightly better interest rates, but overall, the numbers are very close.
Neither lender charges loan origination fees, application fees, or prepayment penalties. However, the lack of extra fees isn’t really a selling point as most legitimate refinance lenders avoid these fees.
Finally, both lenders will refinance federal student loans. This option may work for some borrowers, but for others, it would be a huge mistake. Borrowers considering this option should tread carefully.
The Big Splash Financial Advantage
The big advantage to Splash Financial is the variety of funding sources that they have at their disposal.
Even though this variety isn’t readily apparent to the borrower, the consequences are profound. The most noteworthy benefit is that Splash consistently has the best interest rates in many different loan categories. Since this site started tracking rate offerings, Splash usually ranks towards the top in our refinance rate rankings across many different loan types. Additionally, borrowers are more likely to get approved due to the many different funding opportunities.
This combination of excellent rates and strong approval numbers is the reason that Splash currently ranks at the top of our student loan refinance rankings.
For more about Splash, check out our Splash Financial Review.
Where Earnest Has the Edge
One aspect of the business model separates Earnest from all of the other refinance companies.
When making rate and approval decisions, Earnest takes a deeper dive into an applicant’s finances. Rather than focusing on credit score and income, Earnest looks at education level, income potential, savings, and spending habits.
For example, where most lenders don’t care about retirement contributions, Earnest wants to know how much you set aside. Earnest doesn’t require a 401(k) savings to get a loan, but they look more favorably upon the borrowers who do. They figure that setting aside money for retirement is a sign of financial responsibility. These applicants are more likely to get approved and more likely to get a lower interest rate.
When Earnest first entered the market in 2013, it had a well-deserved reputation for having a complicated application. However, as the years passed and the Earnest technology improved, the Earnest application simplified. Applicants can now complete an Earnest application in about 10 minutes, which is comparable to most other lenders.
To learn more about Earnest, check out our Earnest Review.
Picking the Best Lender
Ultimately, the best lender for most borrowers is the one that offers the best interest rate. For this reason, shopping around and rate checking with multiple lenders is the preferred method.
Splash currently ranks first in this site’s lender rankings because they consistently offer the best rate to applicants. However, given the unique approach used by Earnest, many borrowers will find they offer the best rate.
If you are someone who has a limited credit history but excellent spending habits, Earnest might be a good starting point. Most other borrowers should probably start with Splash.