Upstart Auto Loan Refinancing: 2022 Review

Upstart uses nontraditional criteria for loan approval, giving bad- and fair-credit applicants a better chance of qualifying.
Jun 9, 2022

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Our Take

The bottom line:

Best for applicants who would benefit from a more holistic view of their creditworthiness, including criteria like highest level of education and occupation.

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Learn more

on Upstart's website

Pros & Cons


  • Offers pre-qualification with a soft credit check.

  • Works with a network of lenders to find the best offer.

  • Bases loan approval on a wider range of criteria.

  • Customer service available seven days a week.

  • Provides Spanish version of website.


  • Not available in all states.

  • Maximum loan amount is lower than other lenders.

Compare to Other Lenders

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Full Review

Among lenders that offer auto loan refinancing, Upstart is unique in its approach to loan underwriting and approval. While other lenders rely most heavily on an applicant’s credit score, Upstart considers over 1,000 data points for a more comprehensive view of a borrower’s creditworthiness. According to Upstart, this approach, combined with an artificial intelligence platform and predictive modeling, results in approvals for more applicants.

Upstart also works with a network of lenders to match applicants to the best possible loan rate for which a borrower may qualify. To obtain these estimated rates, Upstart does a soft credit check which does not affect an applicant’s credit scores. When an applicant selects an offer and applies, a hard credit check is done.

Upstart stands out for simplifying the borrower’s end-to-end application process, which it says takes six minutes to complete from starting the application to seeing rates. Through integrations with the Department of Motor Vehicles in all states where Upstart offers loans, it can automatically pull vehicle details, such as VIN or license plate number, and existing loan information for auto refinancing applicants. Later in the refinancing process, Upstart also handles the title transfer and disbursement of funds to the borrower, dealership or the prior lender.

Upstart also services the loans it arranges, maintaining a relationship over the life of the loan. Borrowers have access to Upstart customer service seven days a week as well as an online portal.

Upstart may be a good fit for those who:

  • Have a thin credit history. Upstart accepts applicants who have an insufficient credit history to produce a credit score. Factors such as highest level of education or degrees in which an applicant is currently enrolled are taken into account.

  • Want to compare rates and terms. Upstart requests offers from its lending partners and determines the best lender match. Within minutes of submitting their information, applicants see multiple offers with various terms and rates from a single lender.

  • Speak Spanish. Upstart offers a Spanish-language version of its website, and Spanish-speaking representatives are available to assist.

Upstart at a glance

Note that lending platforms like Upstart work with many different lenders, so the information provided is general and can reflect the high or low end available among its lending partners.

Application process
  • Origination fee: None.

  • Personal information needed: Social Security number or ITIN, address, phone, email, date of birth, employment status, employer name, insurance, highest level of education, degree in which you are currently enrolled, primary source of income (including income type), savings balance (checking and savings account), amount in investments, if loan has been taken out in past three months.

  • Pre-qualification available: Yes, but borrower does not see multiple lender offers for comparison. Upstart presents the best lender match, with various rates and terms to choose from. Offers are good for 14 days.

  • Online, in-person or both: Process is 100% online including document upload.

  • Approval speed: After choosing an offer, approval can be the same day if all information can be verified.

  • Funding: 10 business days after loan closing.

  • Minimum FICO credit score: 510.

  • Minimum credit history: Applicants must have a minimum credit score of 510, as reported by a consumer reporting agency. Upstart does accept applicants with insufficient credit history to produce a credit score.

  • Minimum annual gross income: $12,000.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Did not disclose.

  • Bankruptcy-related restrictions: None.

  • States covered: All except NV, IA, WV, MD.

  • Maximum vehicle age: 10 years.

  • Maximum vehicle mileage: 140,000 miles.

  • Other vehicle restrictions: No restrictions.

  • Loan amount minimum: $9,000.

  • Loan amount maximum: $60,000.

  • Refinancing time restrictions: As soon as 30 days after initial loan.

Other loan details
  • Loan terms: 24-84 months.

  • Automatic payment: Offered but not required.

  • Rate discount: None.

  • Greater-than-minimum payments: Yes, and can be made through automatic payment. Surplus is automatically applied to any accrued interest and then directly to principal.

  • Biweekly payments: Yes, and accepted by automatic payment.

  • Late payment fee: Yes, the greater of $15 or 5% of past due amount.

  • Prepayment penalty: None.

  • Co-borrowers allowed: No. Does allow co-owners.

  • Co-signers allowed: No.

  • Payment options: Mailed-in check, online, ACH.

  • Selected payment due date: Yes, both before and after signing loan agreement. Borrowers can also change their monthly payment date through Upstart's online portal, but this does not change the original due date. The payment must still be made within a 15-day grace period from the original due date to avoid late fees.

  • Cash-out refinancing: No.

  • Hardship plans: Yes. Upstart states it may be able to provide alternative payment plans to avoid additional fees or penalties for borrowers unable to pay. Hardship information is provided on its website.

Customer service
  • Assistance provided: Customer support team is available by email and phone seven days a week to help applicants during the application process. Upstart customer support maintains the borrower relationship through the life of the loan. Upstart also provides a Help Center on its website.

  • Availability: Mon-Sun, 6 a.m.-5 p.m. PST

  • Contact options: Phone, email.

Upstart auto loan rates

Lenders set their own requirements, but Upstart’s lowest rates are typically available only to borrowers with good or excellent credit (a FICO score of 690 and above). Borrowers with bad or fair credit won’t qualify for the lowest interest rates.

You can check your credit score before applying for a car loan.

Loan example: According to NerdWallet's auto loan calculator that uses the VantageScore credit model, a borrower with a credit score of 501 to 600, a $10,000 car loan, repayment term of 36 months, interest rate of 12% and $0 down payment would have monthly payments of $332.

To review Upstart, NerdWallet sent a survey requesting more than 60 data points and followed up with company representatives. The information was compared with other lenders that seek the same customer or offer a similar product.

Learn more

on Upstart's website

Frequently asked questions