Upstart Personal Loans: 2023 Review
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The bottom line:
Upstart personal loans offer fast funding and may be an option for borrowers with low credit scores or thin credit histories. Upstart is a solid financing choice for large purchases.
Pros & Cons
- Accepts borrowers new to credit.
- Fast funding.
- Option to change your payment date.
- Option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.
- Offers free financial education.
- May charge origination fee.
- No joint, co-signed or secured loans.
- No mobile app to manage loan.
- Only two repayment term options.
Compare to Other Lenders
3 to 5 years
3 to 5 years
Min. credit score
Min. credit score
Compare estimated rates from multiple lenders
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Full Review of Upstart
Upstart personal loans are a fast but somewhat inflexible financing option. Approval and funding times are some of the fastest among lenders; however, Upstart doesn’t offer joint, co-signed or secured loans. The online lending platform also has only two repayment term options.
Upstart differentiates itself from other online lenders with its underwriting model. The company uses artificial intelligence and nontraditional data — like college education, job history and residence — to qualify borrowers. More traditional lenders, like banks, focus almost exclusively on a borrower's credit report, debts, income and assets.
» COMPARE: See your bad-credit loan options
Table of Contents
Upstart personal loans at a glance
Minimum credit score
6.50% - 35.99%.
$1,000 to $50,000.
3 or 5 years.
Time to fund after approval
Loans not available in Iowa.
Where Upstart personal loans stand out
Alternative data use: Many personal loan lenders review primarily credit and income information to make an application decision, but Upstart includes details like college major and work history in borrower evaluations. The lending platform says its nontraditional underwriting model helps approve more borrowers and provides lower-rate loans than lenders that review credit scores only.
Fast funding: Upstart says borrowers receive an instant approval decision after applying. Once approved, the company says it funds loans as fast as one business day. Few of Upstart’s competitors boast instant application approval.
» MORE: Fast personal loans
Soft credit check to pre-qualify: Upstart offers pre-qualification on its website, so borrowers can check their rate without undergoing a hard credit pull. This feature is common for personal loans.
Change your payment date: While a borrower's original payment due date can't be changed, Upstart allows payments within 15 days before or after the due date, effectively allowing unlimited changes to payment dates.
For example, if your loan is due on the 8th of the month and you move your payment date to the 10th, your payment won’t be late because it’s within the due date’s grace period. However, if you move your payment date to the 25th, it will be late and you may be charged a late fee.
Free financial education: Upstart offers financial education about personal loans and building credit on its blog. The company occasionally features borrowers and explains news events that affect personal loans and credit. There’s also a personal loan calculator on Upstart’s website that can show you how the rate and repayment term affect monthly payments and interest costs.
Where Upstart personal loans fall short
Limited repayment terms: Borrowers can choose a three- or five-year repayment term. Those same terms are offered by a few other online lenders, but they’re inflexible compared with lenders with as many as five or six repayment term options. The more repayment terms you have to choose from, the more control you have over monthly payments and interest costs.
Origination fee: Some lenders that use Upstart’s online lending platform charge an origination fee, which is common with personal loans, but the fee reduces your total loan amount. Be sure the loan is enough to cover your expense once the fee is applied.
No mobile app to manage a loan: Some online lenders have mobile apps where borrowers can make loan payments, view their payment history and see their latest credit score. Upstart doesn’t offer these features.
No co-signed, joint or secured loan options: Adding a co-signer, co-borrower or securing a loan can help borrowers who may not otherwise qualify get a reasonable rate on a personal loan. Upstart offers unsecured loans only.
How to qualify for an Upstart personal loan
Most lenders have minimum requirements to qualify and some have financial requirements or recommendations to qualify.
To apply for an Upstart loan, you must:
Be a U.S. citizen.
Be at least 18 in most states.
Have a valid email account.
Have a verifiable name, date of birth and Social Security number.
Have a full-time job or be starting one within six months.
Have a bank account.
Upstart doesn’t disclose many of its borrowing requirements but says it uses over 1,000 data points to determine whether you qualify, and it considers more credit types and income sources than many of its competitors.
Here are some basic requirements to qualify for an Upstart loan.
Minimum credit score: None; Upstart says it considers applications from borrowers with all types of credit. It may approve borrowers with insufficient credit history to produce a FICO score.
Minimum annual income: $12,000; Upstart accepts income from employment, alimony, retirement, child support, Social Security, rentals, trusts, pensions, disability and scholarships. You only have to disclose a non-employment income source if you want Upstart to consider it on an application.
Before you apply
Check your credit. You can get your free credit report on NerdWallet or at AnnualCreditReport.com. Doing so will help you spot and fix any errors before you apply.
Calculate your monthly payments. Use a personal loan calculator to determine what APR and repayment term you’d need to get a loan with affordable monthly payments.
Make a plan to repay the loan. Review your budget to see how the loan’s monthly payments impact your cash flow. If you have to cut other expenses to repay the loan, it’s better to know that before you borrow.
Gather your documents. Upstart may require proof of income, which can be a W-2 or pay stub, as well as proof of address and a Social Security number. Having these documents handy can speed up the application process.
How to apply for an Upstart personal loan
Upstart’s pre-qualification involves more questions about employment, education and income, so it may take longer to complete than other lenders’ processes.
Here are the steps to apply for an Upstart loan.
Pre-qualify on Upstart’s website. Choose “Check My Rate” on Upstart’s website and then select “Personal Loan” to start pre-qualifying. Enter your desired loan amount and loan purpose, plus some personal information like your name, address, email address and phone number. You’ll then add information about your income sources and how much money you have in your bank and investment accounts. Finally, you’ll set up an account and check your rate. There’s no hard credit pull at this stage.
Preview loan offers and choose one. If you pre-qualify, you’ll be shown several offers with different rates and terms. Upstart says borrowers can change the loan amount and see different rates and terms. Choose the offer with affordable monthly payments and reasonable interest costs.
Submit an application. Once you’ve chosen an offer, you’ll submit a formal application, which may require proof of income, such as a W-2, work contracts, tax returns or other documents. Gather these before you apply to speed up the application.
Make a plan to repay the loan. Upstart reports payments to all three major credit bureaus, so on-time payments will help build your credit score, but missed payments will hurt it. Setting up automatic payments and keeping an eye on your budget are two ways to manage your loan payments.
Compare Upstart with other lenders
Personal loan lenders offer different rates, loan amounts and special features, so it pays to weigh other options. The best personal loan is usually the one with the lowest APR.
Upgrade and LendingPoint offer solid rates to borrowers with imperfect credit. Both lenders’ minimum credit score requirements are in the bad-credit range.
» MORE: Compare personal loans
Upstart vs. Upgrade
Upgrade personal loans are a standout option for consumers looking to consolidate debt. Unlike Upstart, Upgrade will directly pay other creditors on debt consolidation loans and discount your rate for using the feature.
» MORE: Best debt consolidation loans
Upgrade may take a day or two longer than Upstart to fund a loan. Upgrade’s personal loans are more flexible than Upstart’s, offering more repayment term options and the ability to get a joint or secured loan.
» MORE: Upgrade personal loan review
Upstart vs. LendingPoint
Like Upstart, LendingPoint personal loans are a solid choice for large purchases. LendingPoint can fund loans the same day or next day, which is similar to Upstart’s funding time, but it also offers credit-building features, including tips to build credit.
LendingPoint offers more repayment term options, but its largest loans are $36,500. If you need a smaller loan with more flexible terms, LendingPoint is worth considering, but for a larger expense such as a home improvement project, Upstart is the better option.
» MORE: Best home improvement loans
How we rate Upstart personal loans
NerdWallet writers rate lenders against a rubric that changes each year based on how personal loan products evolve. Here’s what we prioritized this year:
Ready to apply? Click the button below and head to Upstart's website to pre-qualify.
NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 35 financial institutions. We collect over 45 data points from each lender, interview company representatives and compare the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar personal loan product. NerdWallet writers and editors conduct a full fact check and update annually, but also make updates throughout the year as necessary.
Our star ratings award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks to pre-qualify, competitive interest rates and no fees, transparency of rates and terms, flexible payment options, fast funding times, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education. We also consider regulatory actions filed by agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We weigh these factors based on our assessment of which are the most important to consumers and how meaningfully they impact consumers’ experiences.
This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate most financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for our star ratings. Read more about our ratings methodologies for personal loans and our editorial guidelines.