Upstart Personal Loans Review

Upstart is an online lending marketplace founded by former Google executives in 2012. Instead of a single lender, Upstart is a platform that lets you view and compare loan offers from multiple lenders.

Unlike traditional lenders, Upstart uses factors other than your credit (FICO) score to determine your eligibility for a personal loan. For example, your education and work experience can also be used as qualifiers. Upstart also uses artificial intelligence to streamline the lending process.

Pros

  • Uses factors other than credit score as loan qualifiers
  • Shop multiple lenders in a single location
  • Offers personal loans to borrowers with no credit
  • No prepayment penalty

Cons

  • Charges origination and late fees
  • Can’t apply for a loan with a co-signer
  • Can’t negotiate or extend loan terms
  • High APR for some borrowers

Upstart by the numbers

  • APR range: 6.46% to 35.99%
  • Min-max loan range: $1,000 to $50,000
  • Repayment term range: 3 or 5 years
  • Minimum credit score: 620
  • Minimum gross income: No information provided
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Score:  Better than Most (4 out of 5)

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0% – 8% of the target loan amount.
  • Late payment fee: Either 5% of your monthly past due amount or $15,  with a 10-day grace period.
  • Returned payment fee: $15
  • Paper records fee: $10

Restrictions

  • According to Upstart, “you can use your loan proceeds for almost anything,” including paying off debt, paying medical bills, paying for classes or making a large purchase. However, you cannot use loan proceeds for education purposes in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Washington or Washington, D.C.

Who should consider Upstart personal loans?

An Upstart loan is a good option for people with a good credit history or other positive credit factors, such as a steady income or an advanced degree. If you haven’t established any credit yet, Upstart accepts borrowers with no credit history, so it’s a good option if you have no credit and a personal loan is an absolute necessity.

Upstart personal loans are marketed as a financial product primarily for consolidating debt, such as student loan debt or credit card debt, so it’s a good option if that’s your reason for seeking a personal loan. Nonetheless, Upstart loans can also be used for almost anything. It’s definitely a lender to consider if you need to make a large purchase and want to compare multiple rates with only one soft credit check.

Who should avoid Upstart personal loans?

If you have a poor credit history or your income is irregular, an Upstart loan may be a risky prospect. You could be stuck with a high fixed APR. If you miss a monthly payment, you can expect to pay a substantial amount in late payment fees. Keep in mind that Upstart’s APRs can be as high as 35.99%. Although the company does qualify individuals with no credit for loans, you could pay out substantially in interest over the repayment term of your loan.

You’ll also need to pay an origination fee, which could be as high as 8% of your loan amount. In other words, if you apply for a loan of $10,000, you could end up losing as much as $800 of your loan sum to the origination fee.

How to apply for an Upstart loan

  1. To start the application process at Upstart, just go to its homepage and click the button that says, “Check Your Rate” to start the application.
  2. Fill out the online form, specifying how much you’d like to borrow, the purpose of the loan and your personal information. 
  3. Once you’re finished, select the “Agree, Show Loan Offers” button at the bottom of the form. Upstart will then present you with a range of loan options from qualified lenders and allow you to choose one.
  4. Pick from the list of lenders, or decline all the offers if none of them truly fit your needs. If you pick an Upstart-powered lender, then continue through the online paperwork to finalize the loan offer and receive your funds.

Alternatives to Upstart

Upstart is considered a non-traditional online lender. If you don’t want to use Upstart to get a personal loan, there are several other online lenders and online lending marketplaces available. 

LendingClub

Another non-traditional online option, LendingClub is a peer-to-peer (P2P) lending marketplace. It provides unsecured personal loans of $1,000 to $40,000 with loan terms of either 3 years or 5 years. In addition to personal loans, LendingClub also provides access to small business loans up to $500,000, auto refinancing loans and medical financing loans.

Similar to Upstart loans, LendingClub’s application process takes very little time to complete. Once approved, the funds do take a few business days to hit your account. 

SoFi

While LendingClub and Upstart are marketplace lenders, Social Finance, aka SoFi, is an online personal finance lender that directly provides personal loans. Its personal loans range from $5,000 to $100,000. SoFi is a decent choice if you have an established credit history and a good credit score, as this gives you access to some competitive APRs. Furthermore, buying a personal loan with SoFi makes you a “member” with access to career coaching, member-exclusive events and high-quality financial resources. 

Prosper

Founded in 2005, Prosper Marketplace Inc. was America’s first P2P lending marketplace, funded by a pool of investors who provide the money for Prosper’s personal loans. Borrowers can buy loans for up to $40,000 with fixed 3- or 5-year terms and rates between 6.95% and 35.99% — extremely similar to Upstart. And just like Upstart, Prosper charges origination fees of 2.4% to 5% on loans. After accepting a personal loan offer, you can receive funds in as little as 3 business days.

Michael Rand

Contributing Writer

Michael Rand is a business and personal finance writer based in Beverly, Massachusetts. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Salem State University and spent years producing content for financial services clients as an agency writer. His work has been featured in publications like Interest.com, The Simple Dollar, and PersonalLoans.org.