Upstart Personal Loans Review

AI-driven algorithms increase your likelihood of qualifying for a personal loan

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Upstart Personal Loan Review

Upstart Personal Loan Review

Investopedia’s Rating
3.4

Our Take

Upstart can be a good choice for those with less-than-perfect credit or no established credit history. But with Upstart’s high average APRs and origination fees, borrowers with good to excellent credit can likely find better rates elsewhere.

  • Loan Terms
  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Loan Terms
  • APR Range 6.5%–35.99%
  • Loan Amounts $1,000–$50,000
  • Loan Terms 3 or 5 years
  • Recommended Minimum Credit Score No credit history needed
  • Origination Fee 0%–10%
  • Late Fee 5% of the late payment amount or $15, whichever is greater
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Loans can be used for education expenses

  • No credit score minimum

  • Broad range of loan amounts

  • Quick loan disbursement

Cons
  • Average APR given to borrowers is relatively high

  • Potentially high origination fee

  • Not available in all states

Key Takeaways
  • Upstart uses an artificial intelligence (AI) platform to evaluate applicants.
  • Upstart’s platform connects borrowers to its partner credit unions and banks. 
  • All of its personal loans are unsecured, and it offers loans up to $50,000.
  • Upstart also offers small business loans and car loan refinancing.
Company Overview

Upstart was incorporated in 2012 as a platform to connect borrowers with lenders. The company partners with about 40 banks and credit unions and more than 150 institutional investors to offer its loans.

Upstart utilizes an AI-driven algorithm to evaluate applications. According to the company, its AI model results in higher approval rates than lenders that use traditional underwriting methods. Because its algorithm takes into account factors besides your credit score, Upstart can be a good choice for individuals with no credit history or less-than-perfect credit.

Upstart is available in most states, but it does not issue loans to residents of West Virginia or Iowa. 

Upstart is one of several lenders that offer loans for people with less-than-perfect credit. See more of the best personal loans for bad credit.

Pros Explained

  • Can be used for education expenses: Most personal loan companies prohibit borrowers from using loan funds for education-related expenses, such as college tuition or student loan repayment. But Upstart explicitly states that those expenses are permissible uses for its loans.
  • No credit score minimum: Upstart states that its credit score minimum is 300 (which is the lowest possible score), but it may also accept borrowers with no credit history at all. Many lenders require scores that are good to excellent—a score between 670 and 850—so Upstart’s low minimum is a standout feature. 
  • Broad range of loan amounts: While some lenders have maximums of $25,000 or less, Upstart offers up to $50,000 in personal loans. 
  • Quick loan disbursement: Some personal loan lenders can take days to disburse funds after approving your application. With Upstart, most loans are disbursed within one business day. 

Cons Explained

  • Average APR given to borrowers is relatively high: According to Upstart, the average five-year loan originated through its platform will have an APR of 26.57%. That’s significantly higher than the average APR of all personal loans as reported by the Federal Reserve. Borrowers with good to excellent credit can likely find lower rates with other lenders. 
  • Potentially high origination fee: Upstart charges origination fees. Depending on the lender and the borrower’s profile, the fee can be as high as 10% of the loan amount. Not all lenders charge origination fees, so borrowers with strong credit profiles should shop around. 
  • Not available in all states: Upstart loans aren’t available to residents of West Virginia or Iowa. If you live in either state, you’ll have to find another lender to take out a personal loan. 

Upstart’s loan minimums vary by state. 

  • Georgia: $3,100
  • Hawaii: $2,100
  • Massachusetts: $7,000

Types of Personal Loans Offered by Upstart

All of Upstart’s personal loans are unsecured, so there’s no collateral. Loans originated through Upstart can be used for a wide range of purposes, including:

  • Financing a dream wedding
  • Renovating your kitchen or bathroom 
  • Consolidating credit card debt
  • Paying for elective medical procedures
  • Moving to another state

Lenders usually prohibit borrowers from using personal loans for education expenses or student loan repayment. But Upstart allows borrowers to use its personal loans to pay for college tuition or certificate programs, and you can even use the loan to pay off your student loan debt. 

However, loans cannot be used for education purposes in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Washington, or Washington, D.C. 

Since personal loan rates are usually higher than student loan rates, it’s usually not a good idea to pay off student loans with personal loans. Learn more about student loan refinancing and see our best picks to see if you qualify for a lower interest rate.

Time to Receive Funds

Upstart boasts quick disbursement times. It takes just a few minutes to apply online, and you usually receive a decision within minutes. Personal loan funds may be transferred the next business day as long as you accept the loan terms by 5:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday (loans used for educational purposes are subject to a three-day wait period). 

According to the company, 99% of personal loan funds are sent within one business day after signing the loan agreement. 

Borrower Requirements

To qualify for a loan from Upstart, you must meet the following criteria: 

  • You must have a valid U.S. address and Social Security number
  • You must be 18 years old
  • You must have a full-time job, a full-time job offer with a start date within six months, a regular part-time job, or another source of income
  • You must have a credit score of at least 300 or an insufficient credit history to generate a credit score

Residents of West Virginia or Iowa aren’t eligible for Upstart’s loans. 

Upstart Personal Loan Features

Upstart uses AI-driven algorithms to review loan applications. Its AI platform considers other factors besides credit scores, such as education and employment, to determine borrowers’ eligibility for a loan. As a result, borrowers without established credit histories or less-than-perfect credit may be more likely to get a loan through Upstart than with other lenders. 

Upstart also has educational tools and calculators customers can use to better manage their finances. And the company operates an affiliate program. Those with websites, blogs, or other social media platforms can promote Upstart and earn 1% of each funded loan.

Before taking out a personal loan, use our personal loan calculator to estimate your monthly payments and see how much you’ll pay in interest over time.

Co-Signers and Co-Applicants

While some lenders allow co-signed or joint applications, Upstart doesn’t offer that option; you must qualify for the loan on your own.

Can You Refinance a Personal Loan With Upstart?

If your credit or income has improved since you took out a loan, you may consider refinancing your debt to get a lower rate. Unlike some lenders that allow borrowers to refinance and adjust the terms of an existing loan, Upstart doesn’t have a specific option for personal loan refinancing. 

However, borrowers can take out a second Upstart loan and use it to pay off existing debt. 

You can qualify for a second loan through Upstart if:

  • You've made on-time payments for the six previous consecutive months. 
  • You have no past-due payments.
  • You have no more than one outstanding Upstart loan.
  • You have no more than $50,000 of outstanding principal.  

Customer Service

Customer support is available through phone or email seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. ET. 

  • Phone: (855) 438-8778
  • Email: support@upstart.com

Customer Satisfaction

Upstart has a strong reputation among customers. On Trustpilot, it has a 4.9 (Excellent) TrustScore based on over 39,000 reviews. And in the 2022 J.D. Power U.S. Consumer Lending Satisfaction Study, Upstart was ranked 7th out of 22 lenders, with an above-average score.

Applying for an Upstart Personal Loan 

Upstart has a pre-qualification tool you can use to check your eligibility and view available rates. The pre-qualification process takes just a few minutes, and it doesn’t impact your credit. 

If you decide to proceed, you can select your desired loan term and loan amount and complete an application online. The application will prompt you to enter your contact information, Social Security number, and income. Upstart will also ask you to consent to a hard credit check.

It usually takes just a few minutes to receive a decision. If you accept the loan terms, loan funds are usually released within one business day. 

While Upstart has a loan pre-qualification tool, your actual rate may be different based on your credit history and other factors. When you submit your application, Upstart will perform a hard credit inquiry, which can affect your credit.

Alternative Personal Loan Lenders

  Upstart Happy Money  Rocket Loans
APR Range 6.5%–35.99% 7.99%–29.99% 8.42%–29.99% 
Loan Amount  $1,000–$50,000  $5,000–$40,000  $2,000–$45,000 
Loan Terms  3 or 5 years  24–60 months  36–60 months 
Recommended Minimum Credit Score  No credit history needed  640  Not disclosed 
Origination Fee  0%–10%  0%–5%  1%–7% 
Time to Receive Loan  1 business day  2 business days  Same day 

Final Verdict

Upstart stands out from other lenders with its AI-driven platform, low credit score requirements, and available loan amounts. Borrowers without established credit histories or lower credit scores who have struggled to find lenders willing to work with them may find that they have a better chance of getting a loan through Upstart. 

However, Upstart’s APRs can be high, and origination fees can be as high as 10%. For borrowers that have good credit, Upstart’s loans may be too expensive, and they may be better off shopping around. You can get quotes from leading personal loan lenders that offer lower-than-average APRs, and some shopping around could save you some money.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of personal loan lenders. To rate providers, we collected hundreds of data points across more than 40 lenders, including interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms, to ensure that our reviews help users make informed decisions for their borrowing needs.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
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