Upstart is a lending platform that works with banks to offer personal loans to borrowers by considering more than just their credit scores. The platform has a unique approach using AI to assess applications and provide a fast online application process.
Here’s a quick overview of Upstart:
|Our rating:||⭐⭐⭐⭐ (see how we rated Upstart)|
|Loan amount||$1,000 – $50,000|
|APR||6.4% – 35.99%|
|Loan terms||36 or 60 months|
|Min. credit score||300+|
|Funding time||One business day|
|Requirements||– Be 18 years or older (19 in some states)|
– Reside in the U.S.
– Minimum credit score of 300
– Have a minimum income of $12,000 annually
– Have no delinquent accounts
– Have no bankruptcies
Here’s what we’ll cover in this Upstart review:
- About Upstart
- Upstart rates, fees & terms
- How to apply for an Upstart personal loan
- Compare Upstart with other lenders
- Our take
Want to know how we rate Upstart? Jump to our methodology.
Upstart is an online lending platform that partners with banks to provide personal loans up to $50,000. What sets Upstart apart is unlike traditional lenders that often rely only on credit scores, Upstart takes your work experience and educational background into account.
This approach allows loan applicants with limited credit history or bad credit to have a better chance of getting approved for a loan.
Upstart utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) technology as a part of its lending process. By using machine learning algorithms, Upstart can assess borrower risk more accurately, which allows for a faster and more efficient loan application and approval process.
Upstart’s AI underwriting model considers education, employment, and many other variables to make lending decisions, beyond just traditional credit scores.
You can get a rate quote online in less than five minutes. Check your rate now.
Upstart mainly offers unsecured personal loans that are typically used for credit card refinancing and debt consolidation.
They also offer HELOCs, debt consolidation loans, and credit card refinancing.
- AI-powered approval process: Upstart’s unique underwriting model can benefit borrowers with limited credit history.
- Lower credit score requirements: This is particularly beneficial for borrowers with low credit scores who may struggle to qualify for loans with traditional lenders.
- Flexible loan usage: Loans through Upstart can be used for a wide range of purposes.
- Fast funding: Once approved, funds can typically be received as soon as the next business day.
- Pre-approval: Borrowers can check their rates online in a few minutes and it only triggers a soft credit inquiry.
Upstart’s model offers 43.4% more approvals as compared to a credit score-only mode.1
- Higher interest rates: Loans through Upstart may come with higher interest rates because they cater to borrowers with low credit scores.
- Fees: Borrowers might face origination fees, which can be a drawback, particularly if they require a substantial loan amount.
Who owns Upstart?
Upstart was founded in 2012 by ex-Googlers Dave Girouard, Paul Gu, and Anna Counselman. As for the ownership structure of Upstart, it is initially a privately-owned company.
However, in December 2020, the company went public and started trading on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “UPST.” Although it is now a publicly traded company, the ownership details and the exact distribution of shares among the founders, executives, and other investors are not publicly disclosed.
Upstart’s disruptive approach to lending has gained significant attention in the financial industry and has attracted notable institutional investors, including Rakuten, Third Point Ventures, and Khosla Ventures.
Upstart rates, fees & terms
Upstart’s personal loans have a minimum loan amount of $1,000 and a maximum of $50,0002. The loan amount may vary depending on your credit profile, income, and the purpose of the loan.
Upstart offers two loan repayment options: 36 months or 60 months (three or five years). Your term choice can affect your monthly payment amount and the overall interest y over the life of the loan.
Upstart offers APRs ranging from 6.4% to 35.99%3 for its loans.
Note that one of the main factors in determining your APR is your credit history and, like other personal loan lenders, Upstart takes into account your credit score, payment history, and any outstanding debt.
A higher credit score and a clean repayment history are more likely to qualify you for a lower APR.
Income is another factor in determining your APR for a loan through one of Upstart’s bank partners. A stable and high income can lead to a lower APR, as it indicates a lower risk for the lender.
There are no prepayment fees so you can repay your loan earlier without being penalized.
Upstart may charge an origination fee, which is deducted from the loan amount before disbursement. This fee can range from 0% to 12% of the loan amount.
If you prefer to receive paper copies of your loan documents, there is a $10 fee for switching to paper copies.
Upstart funds loans as fast as one business day.
- Must be at least 18 years old (19 in some states)
- Must reside in the U.S.
- Have a minimum annual income of $12,000
- Minimum credit score requirement varies by state (typically at least 300)
- Have no bankruptcies or public records on your credit report
- Have no delinquent accounts
Apart from your credit score, Upstart also considers your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, whether you have any bankruptcies on your name, and any delinquent accounts. It looks at the number of credit inquiries on your credit report over the last six months – not including inquiries for vehicle loans, student loans, or mortgages.
You must also have a full-time job (or a job offer that starts within the next six months) with a minimum annual salary of $12,000 as your current income.
Co-signers and co-applicants
Currently, Upstart does not allow co-signers or co-applicants on personal loans. This means that loan approval is based solely on the applicant’s creditworthiness and financial profile.
How to apply for an Upstart personal loan
Start by filling out a quick online form on Upstart’s website to check your personal loan rate. It will ask for personal information, source of income, and the purpose of the loan.
Upstart performs a soft credit check for pre-approval, which doesn’t affect your credit score.
If pre-approved, you’ll receive multiple loan offers to choose from, based on the amount, term, and interest rate.
If you select an offer, you may need to submit additional documentation for verification purposes. They do a hard credit inquiry before final loan approval, which can impact your credit score.
If approved, the loan amount (minus any origination fee) is directly deposited into your bank account, typically within a business day.
Compare Upstart with other lenders
Here’s how Upstart holds up against other lenders:
Upstart vs. Upgrade
Upstart offers unsecured personal loans from $1,000 up to $50,000. These loans can be used for various purposes like credit card debt, home improvements, or major purchases.
Upgrade offers personal loans with the same minimum loan amounts and a limit of up to $50,000, but they also provide other credit products like Upgrade Card (a credit card with a credit line that can be paid down like a personal loan) and auto loan refinancing.
With Upstart, APRs can range from 6.4% to over 35%. The rate depends on creditworthiness, income, and other factors. Upgrade has similar APRs that typically range from 6.99% to 35.97%. Lower rates are usually available to borrowers with excellent credit.
When it comes to fees, Upstart may charge origination fees ranging from 0% to 8% of the loan amount. Also, there are fees for late payments or insufficient funds.
Upgrade charges an origination fee of 2.9% to 8%, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Also has late payment and returned payment fees.
Upstart offers repayment terms of 36 or 60 months (three or five years). Upgrade has flexible repayment terms ranging from 24 to 84 months, offering a bit more flexibility than Upstart.
Upstart requires a minimum credit score of 300 (in most states) and also considers factors like education, employment, and income. Upgrade Typically requires a minimum credit score of 620. Income and existing debt are also evaluated.
In terms of funding time, Upstart usually deposits your money as soon as the next business day. Upgrade takes longer, with loan funds generally becoming available within four business days.
Upstart is known for its AI-driven lending platform which can benefit those with thin credit histories. Upgrade offers a unique product in the form of the Upgrade Card and provides credit health tools and hardship plans.
Upstart vs. LendingPoint
Where Upstart specializes in unsecured personal loans that can be used for various purposes, LendingPoint offers personal loans primarily targeting borrowers with fair to good credit.
Upstart offers loans ranging from $1,000 to $50,000, whereas LendingPoint offers loans between $2,000 and $36,500. Both lenders have similar APRs, although Uptart’s APRs start at 6.4% and LendingPoint starts at 9.99%. Both has a maximum APR of 35.99%.
Now, let’s look at fees. Upstart may include origination fees up to 8% of the loan amount and also charges fees for late payments or insufficient funds. LendingPoint charges origination fees that can go up to 6%. There are also fees for late payments and insufficient funds.
Upstart offers two loan terms of either 36 or 60 months. LendingPoint provides repayment terms ranging from 24 to 60 months.
When we compare eligibility, Upstart requires a minimum credit score of 300 in most states, and factors in education, employment, and income for loan approval. LendingPoint typically requires a minimum credit score of 585, making it accessible for those with lower credit scores.
Funding times are similar for both Upstart and LendingPoint, who both disburse funds as soon as the next business day after approval.
Upstart is known for its AI-based credit decision process, which can be beneficial for borrowers with limited credit history. LendingPoint has a fast and easy application process, with a focus on serving borrowers who may not qualify for loans from traditional banks due to their credit scores.
Upstart Vs. Wells Fargo
Upstart is a lending platform that works with banks to offer unsecured personal loans and it is known for its AI and machine learning models. Wells Fargo is a traditional bank that offers a variety of financial products, including unsecured personal loans.
Upstart provides loans ranging from $1,000 to $50,000. In comparison, Wells Fargo is a bank that offers personal loans ranging from $3,000 to $100,000, providing a higher maximum loan amount than Upstart.
Upstart’s APRs can range from around 6% to over 35%, depending on various factors including creditworthiness. Wells Fargo offers competitive APRs, often ranging from around 5.74% to 24.49%. Rates are generally lower for Wells Fargo customers with good credit and a strong banking relationship.
In terms of fees, Upstart charges origination fees ranging from 0% to 8% and may also have fees for late payments or insufficient funds. Wells Fargo typically does not charge origination fees or prepayment penalties, making it a more cost-effective option for some borrowers.
Upstart has two repayment terms, three years or five years (36 months or 60 months). Wells Fargo provides more flexible repayment terms, ranging from 12 months to seven years.
While Upstart typically requires a minimum credit score of 300 in most states, among other factors like education and employment history, Wells Fargo generally requires a good to excellent credit score for approval. Existing Wells Fargo customers might find it easier to qualify.
Funding times are different, as Upstart typically makes funds available as soon as the next business day after approval. Wells Fargo may offer same-day funding for existing customers, but the process can take longer for non-customers.
Upstart is known for its innovative use of AI in assessing creditworthiness, which can benefit borrowers with limited credit history. Wells Fargo is a traditional bank that offers the advantage of a comprehensive range of financial services, including lower rates for existing customers.
Upstart is an online lender that makes it very easy for borrowers to apply for a personal loan. Using AI, they have a different approach to most other lenders and this opens the door for borrowers with lower credit scores to qualify for personal loans of up to $50,000.
We found the process fast and easy, but the fees may not be worth the benefits. If you really need to build up your credit score and you can afford the fees, it might be a good option for you.
One other benefit is the fast funding – typically within one day4 – which is good for people looking for an entirely online loan application process.
Upstart reviews & transparency
Customers have praised Upstart’s responsiveness and clear communication throughout the loan application process. Transparency seems to be a key focus and they are quite clear on their loan details, including interest rates, fees, and repayment schedules.
Information on loan terms is not difficult to find on their website and we’ve found their customer response to be responsive (replied to an email inquiry in less than an hour). They also have a comprehensive resources area on their website, including a loan calculator.
Upstart offers customer support through phone, live chat, and email. They also have a support section on their website with FAQs and resources that can help customers with common questions and issues. We found it quite easy and straightforward to get the information we needed.
As a customer, their phone support is quite good, especially if you have urgent or complex inquiries. Customers generally report positive experiences with knowledgeable and friendly representatives. However, during peak times, some users have reported longer wait times.
Overall, we feel that Upstart’s customer service is reliable and responsive, with a particular emphasis on the quality of phone support. Like with many service providers, the response time and effectiveness can vary based on the complexity of the issue and the support channel used.
Is Upstart a credible lender?
Yes, Upstart is a credible lender with over 2.8 million customers to date. It’s a publicly-traded company known for using advanced AI technology to assess creditworthiness, and it has a strong reputation for its innovative approach to personal lending.
Is it hard to get a loan through Upstart?
The difficulty of getting a loan through Upstart varies based on the applicant’s credit profile. Upstart’s AI-based approach considers factors beyond credit scores, like education and employment, making it potentially more accessible for those with limited credit history.
Does Upstart give instant approval for personal loans?
Upstart offers a fast approval process, but not instant. After a quick online application, borrowers may receive a pre-approval within a few minutes. However, the final approval and loan processing involve additional steps and verification, which take some time.
What is the downside to Upstart loans?
The downside to Upstart loans includes potentially high interest rates for borrowers with lower credit scores and origination fees that can add to the cost of borrowing. Additionally, they only offer unsecured loans, which might not suit everyone’s needs.
Does everyone get approved for Upstart?
No, not everyone gets approved for Upstart loans. Approval is based on various factors including credit score, income, employment history, education, and debt-to-income ratio. Applicants with insufficient credit history or other risk factors may be denied.
How much of a loan can I get from Upstart?
Upstart offers personal loans ranging from $1,000 to $50,000. The exact amount you can borrow will depend on your credit profile, income, and other factors considered in the loan approval process.
Why would Upstart deny my loan?
Upstart might deny a loan for reasons like a low credit score, insufficient income, high debt-to-income ratio, or unstable employment history. Each application is evaluated on a variety of factors, and not meeting certain criteria can lead to denial.
Is taking a loan from Upstart a good idea?
Taking a loan from Upstart can be a good idea if it meets your financial needs and you get favorable terms. It’s especially appealing for those who might benefit from Upstart’s unique credit assessment model. However, it’s important to compare loan terms, interest rates, and fees with other lenders and consider your ability to repay the loan.
To come up with our star ratings for personal loan lenders, SmarterrMoney.org considers 20 data points across three categories:
- Accessibility: We paid attention to whether lenders offered loans to nontraditional borrowers, as well as those without excellent credit scores. We also checked if lenders offered soft credit pulls, and whether they were transparent about eligibility criteria other than credit scores.
- Rates and terms: We wanted to know if lender rates, terms, amounts, and fees were not only transparent but also competitive.
- Repayment experience: We based this category on lenders’ reputations, customer support availability, and unique benefits.
The data points reflect every step of the process of shopping and applying for, borrowing, and repaying personal loans. A five-star lender, for instance, has flexible eligibility requirements, offers you the chance to prequalify without commitment, and supports you in zeroing your balance.
These 20 data points, obtained from the lenders themselves, determine the overall rating. We score lenders consistently, sometimes awarding partial points so that you can make accurate comparisons when shopping around for loans.
SmarterrMoney.org isn’t paid for conducting these reviews, and lenders don’t have control over their content. With our reviews and ratings, we aim to give our users the objective and exhaustive information they need to make the best possible decisions.
- As of December 31, 2021, and based on a comparison between the Upstart model and
a traditional credit-score only model. The APR calculation compares the two models
based on the average APR offered to borrowers up to the same approval rate. The
hypothetical credit-score only model used in Upstart’s analysis was developed in
connection with the CFPB No Action Letter access-to-credit testing program and was
built from a traditional credit score only model trained on Upstart platform data. APR for
the scorecard was averaged for each given traditional credit score grouping. ↩︎
- Your loan amount will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other
information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will qualify for the full
amount. Minimum loan amounts vary by state: GA ($3,100), HI ($2,100), MA ($7,000). ↩︎
- The full range of available rates varies by state. A representative example of payment
terms for a Personal Loan is as follows: a borrower receives a loan of $10,000 for a
term of 60 months, with an interest rate of 18.44% and a 8.64% origination fee of $864,
for an APR of 22.88%. In this example, the borrower will receive $9136 and will make
60 monthly payments of $257. APR is calculated based on 5-year rates offered in
March 2023. Your APR will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain
other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will be approved. ↩︎
- If you accept your loan by 5pm EST (not including weekends or holidays), you will
receive your funds the next business day. Loans used to fund education related
expenses are subject to a 3 business day. ↩︎