Upstart Personal Loans: 2022 Review

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.

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Upstart personal loans at a glance

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

Time to fund after approval

Loans not available in Iowa.

Your loan amount will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will qualify for the full amount. Minimum loan amounts vary by state: GA ($3,100), HI ($2,100), MA ($7,000), NM ($5,100), OH ($6,000). The full range of available rates varies by state. The average 5-year loan offered across all lenders using the Upstart platform will have an APR of 25.05% and 60 monthly payments of $25.80 per $1,000 borrowed. For example, the total cost of a $10,000 loan would be $15,478 including a $804 origination fee. APR is calculated based on 5-year rates offered in June 2022. There is no down payment 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. This offer is conditioned on final approval based on our consideration and verification of financial and non-financial information. Rate and loan amount are subject to change based upon information received in your full application. This offer may be accepted only by the person identified in this offer, who is old enough to legally enter into contract for the extension of credit, a US citizen or permanent resident, and a current resident of the US. Duplicate offers are void. Closing your loan is contingent on your meeting our eligibility requirements, our verification of your information, and your agreement to the terms and conditions on the website.

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.

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 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.

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

  • 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  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, work contracts, tax returns or other documents. 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.

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.

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 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.

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:

An affordable loan has low rates and fees compared to other similar loans and may offer rate discounts.
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.
Loan flexibility
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
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.

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

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