Personal Finance

Upstart Review: Open to Borrowers with Fair to Average Credit

Need funding but having a hard time getting a personal loan? Upstart aims to solve that problem and make the process easier, too.

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Need personal loan but don’t have the best of credit? Upstart aims to solve this problem with it’s unique, AI-driven platform.

At some point, there’s a good chance you need access to quick funding. However, for those who are new to credit, or who have average credit, it can be tough to get an unsecured loan.

Now, a company like Upstart can help you get the funding you’re looking for. Here’s what you need to know about Upstart and what it offers.

What is Upstart?

Upstart prides itself on being on the forefront of the “future of credit” by offering an approach to lending that uses artificial intelligence and an updated credit model. In general, Upstart focuses on borrowers who are relatively new to credit, as well as those with credit considered average.

Upstart offers unsecured loans between $1,000 and $50,000, available in three- to five-year terms. Personal loans from Upstart can be used for a number of purposes, including:

  • Debt consolidation
  • Home improvement
  • Medical expenses
  • Weddings
  • Moving
  • Vacations

In addition to offering personal loans for a number of purposes, Upstart also offers a way for you to refinance your student loans.

Upstart Personal Loan Features

As you consider whether to use Upstart for a personal loan, don’t forget to consider the features available. Here are some of the features that might be attractive for borrowers:

  • Fast funding: For personal loans, Upstart can provide funding as soon as one business day.
  • Fixed-rate loans: Your rate is based on credit score, work history, and education history, along with a few other qualifications.
  • Automated loan process: The loan process with Upstart is largely automated, with 61% of loans being fully automated.
  • Easy application: Upstart’s application process is quick and easy, with the ability to check your rate with a soft credit pull within five minutes.
  • No prepayment penalty: You can pay off your Upstart loan faster without having to worry about prepayment penalties.

The dashboard is easy to use, once you do have an Upstart loan, making it simple to track your progress and stay on top of your loan.


While there is no prepayment fee, Upstart does charge other fees when you get a loan. Depending on your situation, you might be charged an origination fee, which can be up to 8% of the amount you borrow. Before you agree to the terms of an Upstart loan, make sure you check to see if you’ll be charged an origination fee.

In addition to an origination fee, you might also be subject to a late fee. Upstart charges 5% of the past due amount or $15, whichever is greater.

Finally, interest rates on Upstart loans range from 8.89% to 35.99% APR. The interest rate you end up with depends on your credit score, income, employment, and other factors.

How to Sign Up

Filling out an application for Upstart is fairly quick and easy. You provide information about the amount you want to borrow, the purpose of the loan, your personal identifying information, education level, income, and what you have in savings. You also need to share how you prefer to make payments and whether you’ve tried to get a loan in the last three months.

In order to qualify for a loan with Upstart, you need to meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • At least 18
  • Have a U.S. bank account
  • Show a regular source of income
  • Be willing to provide documentation of your identity
  • Have a minimum credit score of 620
  • Make at least $12,000 a year

If you don’t currently have a source of income, though, if you can show a job offer letter, you might be able to qualify for a loan.

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Upstart can connect to your bank account to set up automatic recurring payments. Additionally, you need to provide bank account information so Upstart can deposit money into your account.


Like most other lenders, Upstart uses bank-level encryption on its website and claims to use best practices when keeping your personal information private. You can access a secure website to monitor your loan account progress and see where you stand.

Mobile Support

Upstart doesn’t offer a mobile app for iPhone or Android. However, the website is accessible from your mobile device. The mobile version of the app is fairly easy to use, and you can fill out an application and get a rate check fairly easily. However, it will be easier to read if you have a large smartphone or a tablet.

Customer Service

Upstart has an online Help Center that allows you to enter a question or topic and search the database. You can also get answers to common questions in list format. Upstart does offer customer service by phone, 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific time, Monday through Sunday. You can also reach Upstart through email.

Upstart Pros & Cons

  • Relatively low credit score — Minimum credit score of 620 allows those with average credit to qualify.

  • Quick access to funds — While there’s a three-day period for education loans, other personal loans can be funded in as little as one business day.

  • Multiple factors considered — Credit score isn’t the only thing considered when you apply for a loan or get a rate quote. Your employment history, education level, and other items also go into the decision.

  • Soft credit pull — Upstart does a soft credit pull to give you a potential rate and doesn’t do a hard pull until you’re ready to finalize your loan.

  • Loans for multiple purposes — In addition to offering loans for personal purposes, Upstart also offers student loan refinancing and education loans for grad school and bootcamps.

  • Potential fees — While you might not have to pay an origination fee, some loans do require that you be charged up to eight percent of what you borrow. Additionally, there’s a late fee.

  • Limited repayment options — You can repay your loan early, but your only two choices for repayment terms are three years or five years.

  • High upper interest rate — Unlike some of the other personal lenders, Upstart has an APR that goes up to 35.99%, making the loans fairly expensive for some borrowers.


While Upstart can be a good choice for some borrowers, it’s also important to explore alternatives. Some alternatives to Upstart, like SoFi and Earnest, have lower interest rates and don’t charge origination fees. However, the required credit score to qualify is higher, so if your score is only average, you might not be able to get a loan. Avant is another personal loan alternative that offers similar rates to Upstart, and for those with a similar credit profile.

Other alternatives also include P2P loans. You can apply for loans through Lending Club and Prosper and see potentially better rates. However, it might take longer to get funding when you use P2P lending, so be aware of the timeline.

Compare loan rates between Upstart and other personal loan providers to see if you can get the best rate and other terms.

Related: The Best Online Personal Loan Rates and Offers

Who is it For?

Upstart is designed to help those with fair to average credit, and those who are relatively new to credit get personal loans. If you’re looking for an unsecured loan and haven’t been able to qualify with other lenders, Upstart might be able to help you get the funding you’re looking for.

Bottom Line

Upstart can help those with credit scores as low as 620 get qualified for a personal loan. However, your credit inexperience might come with a cost, with an interest rate of up to 35.99% APR. Upstart does offer competitive rates for those with good credit that meet other qualifying factors.

Upstart is a solid offering for borrowers who need quick funding and who are willing to pay a potentially higher interest rate if they wouldn’t otherwise qualify for some of the other personal loan offerings.

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Miranda Marquit

Miranda Marquit

Miranda Marquit is a nationally-recognized financial writer and money expert. She has contributed to NPR, Marketwatch, Yahoo! Finance, U.S. News & World Report, FOX Business, The Hill and numerous other publications. Miranda is an avid podcaster and writes about money and freelancing at her website, []. She lives in Idaho and loves reading, board games, travel, the outdoors and spending time with her son.

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