Upstart Personal Loans: 2024 Review

Upstart uses a nontraditional underwriting method to help more borrowers qualify and get a low rate, even with imperfect credit.
Annie Millerbernd
By
Last updated on August 9, 2023
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed
Kim Lowe
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed

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Our Take

4.5

NerdWallet rating
The Nerdy headline:

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 choice for financing large purchases.

Jump to:Full Review
Upstart
Upstart

Est. APR
7.80-35.99%
Loan amount
$1,000 - $50,000
Min. credit score
None
on Upstart's website
on NerdWallet

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Accepts borrowers new to credit.
  • Fast funding.
  • Option to change your payment date.
  • Option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.
  • Seven-day customer service availability.

Cons

  • May charge origination fee.
  • No joint, co-signed or secured loans.
  • No mobile app to manage loan.
  • Only two repayment term options.
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Full Review of Upstart

Upstart is an online lending platform that connects borrowers with banks and credit unions to fund personal loans. Loans offered through Upstart 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.

» MORE: NerdWallet's picks for best bad-credit loans

Table of Contents

Upstart personal loans at a glance

Minimum credit score

None.

APR

7.80% - 35.99%.

Fees

  • Origination: 0% to 12%.

  • Late fee: 5% of the unpaid amount or $15; whichever is greater.

  • Returned check fee: $15.

Loan amount

$1,000 to $50,000.

Repayment terms

3 or 5 years.

Time to fund after approval

1 day.

Loan availability

Loans available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

  • The full range of available rates varies by state. A representative example of payment terms for a Personal Loan is as follows: a borrower receives a loan of $10,000 for a term of 60 months, with an interest rate of 21.58% and a 9.84% origination fee of $984, for an APR of 26.82%. In this example, the borrower will receive $9016 and will make 60 monthly payments of $275. APR is calculated based on 5-year rates offered in December 2023. There is no downpayment and no prepayment penalty. 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.

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 applicants than lenders that review credit and finances 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.

Soft credit check to pre-qualify: Upstart offers pre-qualification on its website, so borrowers can check their potential loan offers without undergoing a hard credit pull. Because there’s no impact to your credit score, you can pre-qualify with multiple lenders to find the best offer.

Change your payment date: While borrowers cannot pick their initial due dates, they can change the date one time every 12 months during repayment, as long as the new payment date is within 15 days of the original due date.

Transparency and customer service: Upstart’s website includes information such as borrowing amounts, rates and terms that can help a prospective borrower easily assess the loan before pre-qualifying. The website includes a FAQ, and customer service representatives are available to answer questions seven days a week.

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 to 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 and is included in the loan’s annual percentage rate. However, Upstart’s maximum origination fee of 12% is comparatively high. Borrowers can choose to have the fee taken from the loan before funding, reducing the loan amount, or added to the loan amount and repaid as part of the loan.

For example, a 12% origination fee on a $10,000 loan would either reduce the loan amount to $8,800 or increase it to $11,200.

No mobile app to manage a loan: Upstart doesn’t have a mobile app where borrowers can make loan payments, view their payment history and see their latest credit score. Mobile apps are a common offering, especially from tech-forward lenders.

No co-signed, joint or secured loan options: Upstart offers unsecured loans only. Adding a co-signer, co-borrower or securing a loan can help borrowers who may not otherwise qualify get a personal loan.

Do you qualify for an Upstart personal loan?

Upstart’s nontraditional approach to underwriting means there are few credit-related requirements to get a personal loan. Upstart says those with all types of credit profiles and income levels may qualify.

To be eligible for an Upstart personal loan, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

  • Be at least 18 in most states.

  • Have a valid email address and Social Security number.

  • Have a full-time job or be starting one within six months.

  • Have a bank account at a financial institution with a routing number.

  • Have no bankruptcies in the last 12 months.

  • Have no current delinquent accounts on your credit reports.

  • Have fewer than six hard inquiries on your credit report in the last six months, excluding student, auto and mortgage loans.

Here are the lender’s basic requirements to qualify for a personal loan. (Meeting these requirements doesn’t guarantee approval.)

  • Minimum credit score: 300 in most states, however, the lender says it accepts applicants with insufficient credit history to produce a FICO score.

  • Minimum annual income: $12,000. This lender accepts income from employment, alimony, retirement, child support, Social Security payments, disability benefits and self-employment.

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 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 process may take longer to complete than other lenders’ because it involves more questions about employment, education and income.

Here are the steps to apply for an Upstart loan.

  1. Pre-qualify on Upstart’s website. Choose “Check My Rate” and then “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.

  2. Preview loan offers and choose one. If you pre-qualify, you’ll be shown multiple offers including the loan amount, rate, repayment term, monthly payment and an origination fee if one is included. Choose the offer with affordable monthly payments and reasonable interest costs.

  3. 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, tax documents and pay stubs. Gather these before you apply to speed up the application.

  4. 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.

Check rates at Upstart

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 provide slightly more flexible loans than Upstart but have specific minimum credit score requirements. If you’re a fair- or bad-credit borrower looking to consolidate debt or finance a midsize home improvement project, these lenders are worth comparing.

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.

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.

Upstart vs. LendingPoint

Like Upstart, LendingPoint can fund loans the same day or next day after approval, which is similar to Upstart’s funding time, but it also offers a mobile app and credit-building features.

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.

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:

Category

Star rating

Affordability

Underwriting

Loan flexibility

Transparency

Customer experience

Overall

  • Affordability (30%) An affordable loan has low rates and fees compared to other similar loans and may offer rate discounts.

    Underwriting and eligibility (25%) The lender reviews borrowers credit reports and credit history, and tries to understand their ability to repay a loan, before making a final application decision.

    Loan flexibility (20%) A flexible loan is one that lets users customize terms and payments. That means offering a wide range of repayment term options, allowing the borrower to change their payment date, offering loans in most states and funding it quickly.

    Customer experience (15%) A good customer experience can include a fully online application process, financial education on the lender’s website and a customer service team that’s available most of the time and can be reached multiple ways.

    Transparency (10%) A transparent lender makes information about the loan easy to find on its website, including rates, terms and loan amounts. Transparency also means allowing users to pre-qualify online to preview potential loan offers and reporting payment information with the major credit bureaus.

Ready to apply? Click the button below and head to Upstart's website to pre-qualify.

on Upstart's website

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Methodology

NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 35 technology companies and financial institutions. We collect over 50 data points from each lender and cross-check company websites, earnings reports and other public documents to confirm product details. We may also go through a lender’s pre-qualification flow and follow up with company representatives. 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. Our ratings award fewer points to lenders with practices that may make a loan difficult to repay on time, such as charging high annual percentage rates (above 36%), underwriting that does not adequately assess consumers’ ability to repay and lack of credit-building help. 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.

NerdWallet does not receive compensation for our star ratings. Read more about our ratings methodologies for personal loans and our editorial guidelines.

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