Upstart Personal Loan Review

A Broad Underwriting Process Could Get You Lower Rates

We publish unbiased reviews; our opinions are our own and are not influenced by payments from advertisers. Learn about our independent review process and partners in our advertiser disclosure.
Upstart Personal Loan Review

Upstart Personal Loan Review

overall rating
2.3

Upstart is a lending platform that caters to borrowers who are new to credit or are rebuilding their scores. The platform’s underwriting model uses artificial intelligence to assess potential borrowers, taking into account more than 1,600 data points. Unlike traditional lenders, it also asks for a range of in-depth personal data points when deciding approvals, including your academic background and job. Through their underwriting process, Upstart promises applicants a fairer and faster application process that approves applications at a higher clip with lower interest rates than traditional models.

  • Product Specifications
  • Pros & Cons 
  • Fees
  • Company Overview
Product Specifications
  • APR Range 6.76% to 35.99%
  • Recommended Minimum Credit Score 580
  • Loan Amounts $1,000 to $50,000
  • Loan Terms 36 or 60 months
Pros & Cons 
Pros
  • Loans are accessible to borrowers with short credit histories

  • Unique underwriting process helps some borrowers get lower rates 

  • Borrowers can customize their repayment schedules

  • Funds are usually transferred within one day

Cons
  • High APR is among the worst

  • Multiple fees

  • Joint applications aren’t allowed

  • Upstart’s use of nontraditional data doesn’t guarantee lower rates

Fees
  • Origination fee: 0% to 8% of borrowed amount 
  • Late payment fee: $15 or 5% of amount due (whichever is greater)
  • Returned payment fee: $15
  • Paper copy fee: $10
Company Overview

Launched in 2012, Upstart was one of the first alternative lending platforms to openly use nontraditional data to score potential borrowers. Upstart has lent $7.8 billion to consumers, with its partner banks issuing more than 600,000 applicants since its inception.

Upstart Personal Loan Review

Upstart Personal Loan Review

overall rating
2.3

A February 2020 report from lending watchdog and advocate Student Borrower Protection Center suggests that some recent grads who attended minority-serving colleges may be assigned higher APRs than college graduates from non-minority-serving schools with similar applications. Upstart has denied this, noting that it regularly tests its model for bias and that its model generates higher approval rates at lower APRs for graduates of historically Black colleges and universities. 

Pros Explained

  • Funds are accessible to borrowers with short credit histories: Not many lenders with competitive rates cater specifically to borrowers who are new to credit. According to internal research Upstart shared with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Upstart’s lending model leads to more approvals than conventional underwriting models.
  • Unique underwriting process helps some borrowers get lower rates: Upstart’s internal research shows that approved applicants are awarded significantly lower rates, on average. For example, borrowers received 15%-17% lower APRs, on average, when Upstart’s underwriting model was used in place of conventional underwriting models.
  • Borrowers can customize their repayment schedules: Upstart allows borrowers to easily customize their payments and revise payment amounts and repayment schedules over time. For example, you can reset due dates online or tackle your balances more aggressively with quick, unscheduled payments. Also, you can set up automatic bi-monthly payments or split one payment into two. 
  • Funds are usually transferred within one day: Upstart claims that it funds 99% of approved applicants within a day after borrowers have signed their contracts.

Cons Explained

  • High APR is among the worst: The highest APR available from lenders on Upstart’s platform matches the highest rates of other lenders. 
  • Multiple fees: Upstart charges significantly higher fees than many competitors, including a maximum origination fee that’s several points higher than the maximum fees other lenders and lending platforms charge. In addition, if you’re 10 days late paying, you may be hit with a fee of $15 or 5% of your past-due amount, whichever is greater. Lenders like Marcus and SoFi, on the other hand, don’t charge late fees or origination fees.
  • Joint applications aren’t allowed: Unlike some lenders, Upstart doesn’t allow you to use a co-signer to strengthen your application. So, your rates and loan amounts will be based solely on your own credentials.
  • Upstart’s use of nontraditional data doesn’t guarantee lower rates: Since Upstart factors your education and job into its decisions, you may not get lower rates if you don’t have a college degree or an impressive job. Like any lender, Upstart doesn’t detail exactly how it decides your loan amount, term, rate, or origination fee. Therefore, it’s important to shop around for multiple rates to get the best personal loan available.

Upstart Personal Loan Rates & Terms

Depending on your credit history, education, and career credentials, your APR will be anywhere from 6.76% to 35.99%. According to Upstart, the average APR for a three-year term is 25.79%.

Upstart doesn’t offer the widest range of terms: You’ll get a choice between a three-or five-year term. However, Upstart doesn’t charge a prepayment penalty, so you can pay off your balance early if you can afford it.

Credit provided through the Upstart lending platform is funded by lending partners like Cross River Bank. The credit profile Upstart creates from nontraditional data increases your chances (in some cases) of getting funding from its partners, and can influence the interest rate you get.

Upstart offers funding for a variety of purposes. While the rates and repayment lengths are the same for all loan types, the average amount of each loan type may differ. The average Upstart home improvement loan amount is around $8,983.59, while the average for medical loans is around $5,598.43.

How Much Can You Borrow With Upstart?

You can borrow anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000, depending on your credit history, income, job, education, and other factors. 

However, applicants in some states may have higher minimum amounts:

  • Massachusetts: $7,000
  • Ohio: $6,000 
  • New Mexico: $5,100 
  • Georgia: $3,100

Upstart allows you to use your funds “for any occasion,” including to pay for a wedding, home improvement project, finance a medical procedure, or pay off your credit cards.

Upstart Personal Loan Fees

Like most online lenders, Upstart doesn’t charge a prepayment fee. However, it does charge several other fees, including: 

  • A 0% to 8% origination fee 
  • A late fee of $15 or 5% of the amount that’s overdue (whichever is greater)
  • A $15 returned payment fee
  • A $10 fee for paper copies of your consent forms

Upstart’s maximum origination fee is especially notable since it’s several points higher than the maximum origination fees charged by many lenders.

How to Get a Personal Loan from Upstart

The application process is entirely online and, according to Upstart, you can check your rate within minutes. Click on “Check your rate” on Upstart’s personal loan page. In addition to being asked for the usual financial information and how you plan to use the proceeds, you’ll be asked to share more personal details, such as:

  • Where you went to school
  • What year you graduated 
  • What you majored in
  • The company you work for 
  • Your current job title
  • Loans you’ve taken out in the past three months
  • How much you earn at your job(s)
  • Your savings and investment account balances

Upstart will perform a soft credit check (which doesn’t affect your credit score) and use its underwriting model to assess your creditworthiness. If you accept the rate you’re offered, Upstart will then pull your credit report again (this time leading to a hard inquiry on your credit report) and process your application. Upstart will also analyze your income, credit history, and other factors when setting your available loan amount.

If you accept Upstart’s offer by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on a weekday, your money may be deposited in your account as soon as the next business day.

Funds for educational-related purposes will take an extra three business days to process.

Final Verdict

Upstart offers applicants a unique opportunity to use personal data, such as education and job history, to bolster their applications and secure competitive loans that they may not otherwise have been able to get.


Depending on your credit history and personal background, you may be able to secure a lower APR than you’d get from another lender or get approved for a loan that other lenders refused to fund. However, don’t accept an offer through Upstart until you compare the offer you get to offers from other lenders. Some offers you get through Upstart could have exceptionally high APRs and fees, so you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible for you. 

Methodology

We look at 40 data points from dozens of financial institutions to evaluate lenders for our personal loan reviews. Because a loan’s APR can dramatically impact the total cost you pay, we weight that feature the heaviest. But since a great APR usually requires at least a good credit score, we also give points to lenders who may have a higher potential APR but offer loans to people with less-than-perfect credit scores. 

Along those lines, we favor lenders who allow you to see if you prequalify before applying for a loan, so you won’t harm your credit score just by applying. Origination, prepayment, and late fees all get counted in our assessment. And lastly, we deduct points from the ratings of lenders with restricted access—for instance, those who require you to first have another type of account with them or to join a nonprofit organization. 

Notes: Your loan amount will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your application. Not all applicants will qualify for the full amount. The minimum amount in MA is $7,000. The minimum in Ohio is $6,000. The minimum loan amount in NM is $5,100. The minimum loan amount in GA is $3,100.
If you accept your offer by 5 p.m. 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 wait period between acceptance and funding in accordance with federal law.
The full range of available rates varies by state. The average three-year term offered across all lenders using the Upstart platform will have an APR of 25.16% and 36 monthly payments of $37 per $1,000 borrowed. There is no down payment and no prepayment penalty. Average APR is calculated based on 3-year rates offered in the last 1 month. 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.
When you check your rate, we check your credit report. This initial (soft) inquiry will not affect your credit score. If you accept your rate and proceed with your application, we do another (hard) credit inquiry that will impact your credit score. If you take out a loan, repayment information will be reported to the credit bureaus.

 

Article Sources

The Balance 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 .
  1. CFPB. "An Update on Credit Access and the Bureau’s First No-Action Letter." Accessed July 19, 2021.