Upstart Personal Loans Review

This lender offers personal loans to borrowers with fair credit or better

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Upstart company logo
overall rating
2.4

Upstart offers personal loans of up to $50,000 to borrowers with fair credit or better. Borrowers with excellent credit may be able to find a lower rate and fewer fees elsewhere, but Upstart offers competitive pricing compared with some lenders who offer loans to those with a fair credit rating. (Keep in mind that not all applicants will qualify for the best rate.) Upstart is also unique in the fact that it considers factors outside of your credit rating, such as your education or job history, when you apply for a personal loan. So even if your credit isn’t in perfect shape, you might be able to qualify for a loan (or perhaps secure a better deal) if your education or job history indicates that you’re a better risk. Our Upstart personal loan review helps you discover the details you need to decide if applying for a loan with the lender is a good fit for you.

Personal loans through Upstart have APRs ranging from 7.98% to 35.99%. The company offers loans through its lending partners ranging from $1,000 and $50,000, though the minimum loan amounts vary by your location. Upstart offers two options for repayment terms: three years and five years. You need a credit score—either from FICO or VantageScore—of 600 or higher to qualify for an Upstart personal loan. The company also considers your debt-to-income ratio, bankruptcies, recent credit inquiries, and past-due activity on your credit report.

  • Product Specifications
  • Pros and Cons
  • Fees
Product Specifications
  • APR Range 7.98% to 35.99%
  • Loan Amounts $1,000 and $50,000
  • Loan Terms 36 or 60 months
  • Recommended Minimum Credit Score 600
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Fast funding potentially as soon as one business day

  • No prepayment penalty

  • Borrowing flexibility in how you spend your loan proceeds

Cons
  • Origination fee as high as 8% 

  • High average APR of 20% on a three-year loan

  • High maximum APR of 35.99%

Fees
  • Origination: 0% to 8%
  • Late payment: greater of 5% of the monthly past-due balance or $5 with a 10-day grace period
  • Prepayment: none
  • ACH Return or Check Refund: $15
  • Paper copies: $10 one-time fee

Pros Explained

  • Fast funding potentially as soon as one business day – In fact, 99% of loan applicants are able to access their loan proceeds one business day after they accept their loans. If, however, you are using your loan to pay for education-related expenses, federal law requires a three-business-day waiting period between the day you accept your loan and funding. 
  • No prepayment penalty – If you want to pay off your loan early, Upstart allows you to do so without penalty. However, as with most lenders, you won’t be able to get a partial refund for your origination fee or interest you have already paid. 
  • Borrowing flexibility in how you spend your loan proceeds – Upstart allows you to spend the funds you borrow for almost any purpose. Some lenders are much more restrictive in how you’re allowed to use the money you borrow.

Cons Explained

  • Origination fee as high as 8% – This maximum origination fee is higher than what a number of other lenders charge. If Upstart does charge you an origination fee of any size, it will come out of your loan before you receive the money you borrowed.  
  • High average APR of 15% on a three-year loan This annual percentage rate (APR) would equal monthly payments of $33 per $1,000 you borrow if you have a three-year loan. 
  • High maximum APR of 35.99% – This maximum APR is higher than some other lenders who offer loans to fair-credit borrowers.

COVID-19 Assistance

Upstart has created a coronavirus hardship program, along with its bank partners, to help customers financially affected by the pandemic. Customers can apply to skip up to two monthly payments without having to worry about late fees or incurring extra interest. Any skipped payments will be moved to the end of the loan.

Types of Personal Loans Offered by Upstart

A feature that helps Upstart stand apart from many other lenders is its borrowing flexibility. The lender advertises that it offers “personal loans for any occasion.” 

Some of the ways you can use an Upstart loan include: 

  • Debt consolidation
  • Medical loans
  • Moving loans
  • Wedding loans
  • Home improvement
  • Business startup or expansion
  • Travel
  • Athletic training

Unless you live in Calif., Conn., Ill., Wash., or Washington, D.C., you can even use an Upstart loan to cover educational expenses or to pay off existing student loans.

Time to Receive Funds

Personal loans from Upstart may be a good fit for borrowers who need fast access to the funds they borrow. Upstart reveals that 99% of approved applicants receive their loan proceeds one business day after they accept their loans. The lending platform does note that you’ll need to accept your loan by 5 p.m. EST (excluding weekends and holidays) for this fast funding timeframe to be possible. There is also a three business-day waiting period, required by federal law, if you plan to use your loan proceeds for educational purposes.

Upstart Personal Loan Features

Online Application

Upstart makes it easy for applicants to apply for a personal loan online, no doubt because it’s the only option available. Borrowers who prefer to apply for loans over the phone or in person may not be happy with this limitation.

Second Loan

Even if you already have a personal loan through the Upstart platform, you may be able to take out a second loan. To qualify for one, you will need to satisfy the following criteria: 

  • Your last six monthly payments must have been made on time.
  • You have no more than one outstanding loan with Upstart.
  • The total of both the first and second loan cannot be higher than $50,000.

Soft Initial Credit Inquiry

As do many other lenders in the personal loan space, Upstart allows you to see if you prequalify and check your rate with just a soft credit inquiry. Such a credit check does not damage your credit score; indeed, it doesn’t even appear on credit reports viewed by lenders, though you can see soft inquiries when you check your credit personally. If you accept your rate and decide to move forward with an official loan application, Upstart will then perform a hard credit inquiry, which could potentially impact your credit score temporarily. 

Apply for an Upstart Personal Loan

When you’re ready to apply for a personal loan through the Upstart platform, you will complete the following steps. 

  1. See if you prequalify – Upstart lets you check your loan eligibility by filling out a short online application with your personal information (name, address, etc.), educational background, income and savings information, and how much money you want to borrow. 
  2. Application and credit report review – Within five minutes the platform will let you know whether you qualify for a personal loan and, if you do, your estimated interest rate. 
  3. Accept your rate – If you are happy with the rate Upstart offers you, you will have the option to accept it and move forward with a full loan application. 
  4. Fill out the loan application – You will provide additional information to Upstart, such as employment verification, academic credentials, bank statements, etc. A hard credit inquiry will also take place at this point. 
  5. Loan approval – Once your loan is officially approved, you will need to review the final terms and disclosures and electronically sign your loan documents.
  6. Receive your funds – Once you accept your loan, you should receive the funds within one to three business days, depending on the purpose of your loan.

Can You Refinance a Personal Loan With Upstart?

Upstart allows borrowers to use personal loans obtained through the platform for "almost anything," including refinancing other debts. Upstart specifically notes that you can use your loan proceeds for the following purposes: 

  • Paying off credit cards
  • Paying off student loans
Verdict

Upstart loans are worth considering if you have less-than-perfect credit. Additionally, people who need to access their loan proceeds quickly might benefit from a personal loan through the Upstart platform. The ability to take out a second loan through Upstart, if you are eligible, may also be beneficial to some borrowers. 

However, it’s important to note that borrowers with good credit or better might be able to find a better deal elsewhere. Some personal loan lenders may offer lower interest rates, fewer fees, and larger loan amounts than you can find with Upstart. 

Perhaps the best news is that Upstart makes it easy for you to compare your loan offer to deals you may be able to find from other lenders. Simply complete the prequalification process on the Upstart website to discover your rate and see if the platform gives you the best offer for your situation. 

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of personal loan lenders. We collected over 25 data points across more than 50 lenders—including interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms—to ensure that our content helps users make the right borrowing decision for their needs.

Article Sources

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  2. Upstart.com. "We’re here to help." Accessed May 4, 2020.

  3. Upstart. "What fees am I charged?" Accessed September 30, 2020.

  4. Upstart.com. "What fees am I charged?" Accessed May 4, 2020.

  5. Upstart.com. "A Smarter Personal Loan: Footnote Three." Accessed September 30, 2020.

  6. Upstart.com. "What can I use the loan proceeds for?" Accessed May 4, 2020.

  7. Upstart.com. "A Smarter Personal Loan: Footnote Five." Accessed May 4, 2020.

  8. Upstart.com. "Can I apply for a second loan?" Accessed May 4, 2020.