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This lending platform looks beyond your credit to get you a loan based on your work experience and education.
finder.com’s rating: 4.2 / 5.0
Founded in 2012 by former Google employees, Upstart is a peer-to-peer lending company that looks at more than just credit score to determine if you qualify for a loan. But while you can borrow a large amount without firmly established credit, you’ll still want to keep an eye out for fees, which can quickly increase the cost of your loan.
Aliyyah Camp is a publisher helping folks compare personal, student, car and business loans. Prior to joining Finder, she ran her own personal finance blog and wrote for numerous finance sites. Aliyyah earned a BA in communication from the University of Pennsylvania. She regularly attends industry conferences to stay in the know about market changes that can affect consumers. When she's not helping people with their personal finances, you can find her at the movies or going for a run outdoors.
What makes Upstart unique?
Upstart caters to recent college graduates. Unlike many other personal loan lenders, it considers factors like education and work history when making a loan decision. But don’t worry: A college degree isn’t required. Provided you meet its eligibility criteria, you may be able to borrow with Upstart.
What is Upstart?
Upstart is an online lending platform that allows borrowers to quickly apply for a personal loan of up to $50,000. Its loan terms last between 3 or 5 years. Depending on your credit history and full application, your APR may be on the higher end of its advertised range, which can be anywhere from 4.68% to 35.99%.
Upstart charges an origination fee of 0% to 8%. The origination fee is deducted from your loan amount. For example, if you borrow $10,000 and have an origination fee of 5%, you will receive $9,500. Your monthly repayment will depend on how much you borrow and the APR you receive. Your state may also have an impact, since the minimum loan amount may be $6,000 in Ohio or $7,000 in Massachusetts.
According to Upstart, its average applicant
Is a college graduate
Earns approximately $93,206 a year
Has a credit score of 689
Upstart’s average personal loan
Lasts three years
Has an APR of 17%
Has monthly payments of about $35 per $1,000 borrowed
What are the benefits of an Upstart personal loan?
Holistic approval process. Thanks to its artificial intelligence technology, Upstart’s application process focuses on factors like work history and SAT scores rather than just credit. Your overall profile will be given a grade, which then determines how much you can borrow and your interest rate.
Low interest rates. Upstart offers competitive APRs for their loans, sometimes below eight percent. However, it may still charge an APR up to 35.99%.
Quick application. Because a percentage of its loan approval process is automated, it only takes a few minutes to apply and receive your estimated rate.
Fast turnaround. Upstart processes its application quickly. Some borrowers receive their loan funds within one to two business days.
Available in most states. Upstart offers loans in every state except West Virginia and Iowa.
What to look out for
High origination fee. This lender’s origination fee can go as high as 8%. Since it’s deducted from your loan funds before you receive them, so be sure to account for that when you apply.
Low debt-to-income ratio required. Upstart accepts a max debt-to-income ratio (DTI) of 18%, while most lenders allow up to 30%.
Debt consolidation may be difficult. While Upstart does offer debt consolidation loans, you might have a hard time meeting its DTI and credit score requirements.
Cosigners aren’t accepted. Upstart doesn’t allow you to apply for its personal loans with a cosigner. If you don’t meet the credit requirement on your own, you may want to consider a different lender.
Case study: Rhys’ experience
Rhys Subitch Writer/Editor
Upstart was my first venture into personal loans. I was in a pinch and needed to get funds to pay the remainder of my taxes before April 15 rolled around. After applying online and being accepted on the evening of April 9, the funds hit my account two days later.
Keeping up on payments has been easy enough so far using Upstart’s autopay feature. The clean dashboard makes it easy to see how much I’ve paid off, how much is left and where I can edit my recurring payments.
As easy as it’s been to manage the loan, I’m looking forward to paying it off early — especially since I won’t have to pay any extra fees.
Compare more online personal loan options
Updated September 16th, 2019
What does the Internet say about Upstart?
Upstart is accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and receives an A+ rating. Reviewers give it three stars, and it only has 19 complaints filed against it. And while some applicants complain about not being approved for a loan, many are pleased with Upstart’s customer service and their overall experience.
It does even better on Trustpilot. Over 4,000 borrowers rate it as “excellent,” and it earns an impressive 9.9 out of 10. Borrowers are happy with customer service and the easy application process.
To qualify for a personal loan from Upstart, you’ll need to meet a few eligibility requirements:
Credit score of at least 620 (580 in California)
Regular source of income or an offer of employment that starts within 6 months
No bankruptcies listed on your credit report
US citizen or permanent resident
At least 18 years old (varies by state)
You may also need to provide your college transcript, SAT scores and pay stubs.
Residents of West Virginia or Iowa are currently unable to apply for a personal loan from Upstart.
How do I apply?
When you’re ready to apply, follow these steps to get started:
Click the Go to Site button to be redirected to Upstart’s website.
Select your reason for borrowing and click Check Your Rate.
Enter your loan amount and enter some details about yourself, including your date of birth and highest level of education.
Enter your email address and password to create an account.
Read over Upstart’s terms and click Agree and See Your Rate to submit your application.
It should only take about five minutes to complete Upstart’s application. If Upstart is unable to verify your information, you may be asked to provide your Social Security number. If preapproved, Upstart will provide instructions on how to finalize your loan request. If you aren’t approved, you can apply again within 30 days.
I got a personal loan. Now what?
Once you have your loan, it’s time to consider your repayments. You can make your payments biweekly or monthly, and there’s no prepayment penalty if you choose to make a payment before the due date or repay your loan entirely before the end of the loan term. And if you run into financial trouble, you can work with Upstart to find a new payment plan.
Contact Upstart if you think you may be unable to make your payment on time. If you are late, Upstart may charge a fee of either $15 or 5% of the late payment amount. If your check bounces, you may also be charged a $15.
The story of Upstart
In 2012, Dave Girouard left his job as President of Enterprise at Alphabet Inc. to found Upstart with a team of former Google employees. He decided to build a platform that would forgo the traditional means of evaluating credit by considering things like education and location.
Upstart has placed a strong emphasis on creating technology to streamline the application process and employs more data scientists than underwriters. It’s a constant work in progress because its software is constantly learning from customer’s behaviors. But this means that over one-third of Upstart loans get instant approval.
Upstart loans could be particularly useful to a borrower who has higher education a history of repaying debt on time. But rates and terms for Upstart loans can vary greatly, and although it boasts fast approval, you still aren’t guaranteed a loan. You should always read up on your options before making a decision, and if possible, compare similar lenders to see where you can find the best deal.
Frequently asked questions
Yes. Upstart is a legitimate lending platform and employs several protocols to make sure your information and money is safe online:
FDIC insured. Loans are funded by Cross River Bank, an FDIC-insured New Jersey–chartered commercial bank.
Site encryption. Upstart encrypts personal and banking information on its website so no information is exposed, even if compromised by an outsider.
Upstart uses your financial information, credit score and educational background — among other factors — to determine your APR.
Upstart funds its own loans except in Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada and Nebraska, where Cross River Bank is responsible for funding Upstart’s loans.
When Upstart checks your credit, it will make sure that you don’t have more than six inquiries on your credit report in the last six months — excluding those for mortgages, vehicle loans and student loans. It will also make sure you don’t have any bankruptcies, accounts in collections or delinquent or public records on your report.
No. Upstart doesn’t allow extensions. However, you can request an alternative payment plan.
Personal loan ratings
★★★★★ — Excellent
★★★★★ — Good
★★★★★ — Average
★★★★★ — Subpar
★★★★★ — Poor
We analyze top personal loan providers and rate them one to five stars based on factors that are most important to you. These factors include: rates and fees, customer reviews, loan amounts, loan processing and borrower experience.
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