Upstart Review: Read This Before You Apply (2019)

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This article has been reviewed and deemed factual by our content auditor with 8 years of banking experience.

Article Approved By Banking Expert

This article has been reviewed and deemed factual by our content auditor with 8 years of banking experience.

Upstart Review: ★★★★★
Why? “Because Upstart considers factors most lenders ignore” as per our editor.

After reading this Upstart review, you’ll learn what it takes to get approved for that loan you need and how to get your cash as fast as one business day after approval–all with little to no fees (and great customer support).

If you’ve had trouble getting approved for a loan in the past, don’t beat yourself up.

Most lenders use a strict (and outdated) set of criteria to determine credit worthiness.

This criteria that doesn’t take into account you, the individual. Oftentimes, they just look at your FICO score.

What is a FICO score? A FICO score is a three-digit number lenders use to predict how likely you are to repay them if they grant you credit. They determine this number by evaluating your credit reports and other proprietary factors.

But the truth is, traditional lenders use what we feel is an outdated lending model.

Here’s why: because most Americans have never defaulted on a loan yet still pay bloated interest rates, or don’t qualify for prime lending rates. And that’s not right. The purpose of this Upstart review is to equip you with the facts you need to make a smart loan decision.

Insert Upstart: an online lending company that’s trying to change personal lending, by using other factors to determine your credit worthiness. Compared to credit card rates, average Upstart borrowers save as much as 23% on interest rates–and that’s just the beginning.

Like their slogan goes: you’re more than your credit score. We agree wholeheartedly.

What Is Upstart?

Founded by in 2012 by former Google employees, Upstart is an online lending software service based in Palo Alto, California.

Upstart looks at the “big picture” of you, not just your credit score.

They do this by using non-traditional variables to determine credit worthiness.

It was created because only 45% of Americans have access to prime credit, even though 83% of Americans have never defaulted on a loan, yet still get charged enormous interest rates. Terrifying, I know.

It’s why we wrote this Upstart review.

How Do Upstart Loans Work?

Upstart has two big qualifying factors you need to pay attention to.

1. Have a fair to average credit score before applying.

This is at a minimum. To maximize your chances of approval, get your score up to at least an 620 at a minimum.

The simple way to do this is to pay your bills on time every month and don’t use too much credit–30% is ideal. As per their website:

Borrowers on Upstart must have a minimum FICO or Vantage score of 620 as reported by a consumer reporting agency. Note, we do accept applicants with insufficient credit history to produce a FICO score.”

2. You must have an annual income of $12,000 or more.

This income can come from one or a number of sources, ranging from a full or part time job to disability, retirement or social security.

The higher your income, the better.

RELATED: Want to save a lot of money on shopping? Read our Honey review.

Other factors exist. But to save you time we’ve only included only the most critical in this Upstart review.

How Do Upstart Loans Work?

Unlike traditional lenders who determine your creditworthiness based on your FICO score, Upstart is going to look at your education, employment history and other non-traditional variables to see if you qualify for a loan. Another cool feature about Upstart is that they constantly improve your loan–daily, in fact–based on your loan repayment/delinquency data.

RELATED: Learn how to get 10% to 20%+ cash back in our Paribus review.

Upstart loans work through a combination of artificial intelligence and machine learning. These systems work to expand people’s access to affordable credit (i.e. not payday loans or other predatory loans, as these come with extremely high interest rates). We’ll be covering how Upstart rates compare to others later in this Upstart review.

Types Of Upstart Loans

Upstart offers a plethora of options for folks seeking a loan. Popular options include:

  • Upstart Debt Consolidation Loans
    • This is best if you’re looking to consolidate any kind of debt, like credit card debt, student loan debt or other debt consolidation types.
  • Upstart Personal Loans
    • This is the loan type you’d go for if you’re looking to pay for medical expenses, pay back taxes, finance your wedding or get a vacation loan.
  • Upstart Car Loans 
    • This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you’re looking to purchase a new or used car, you’d want an Upstart auto loan.
  • Upstart School Loans
    • Like the previous loan options, this one is pretty self-explanatory, too. If you’re looking to finance any kind of education–college, approved courses, or other types of formal education–you’d opt for an Upstart school loan.
  • Upstart Business Loans 
    • This isn’t an actual category, but an option you’d fill in under the “Other” category. What’s so neat about Upstart is that you can request a loan for virtually any purpose under this “Other” category, whether it’s to help family or start a new business.

For the sake of space, we haven’t included all the types of loans you can get in this Upstart review.

Visit their site to see all the options, because there’s a lot of them! Once you select your loan type and amount you’d like to borrow, you’ll be asked to enter your personal information, like your full name, date of birth, income, education level, savings, and information on any other loans you’ve taken, if applicable.

Upstart Vs. SoFi Vs. Earnest

Upstart isn’t the only lender in town (although it’s our favorite so far). Here’s how Upstart stacks up against its major competitors, SoFi and Earnest. We’d be remiss to exclude competitors and their rates in this Upstart review, so here’s how they stack up against SoFi and Earnest.

  • Upstart loan: 8.89% to 35.99% APR
  • SoFi loan: 6.99% to 18.24% APR
  • Earnest loan: 5.74% to 16.49% APR

Upstart Review FAQ

As an added convenience, here are answers to some of the most popular questions users have about Upstart.

Their website is surprisingly easy to navigate and their customer service is available around the clock for any other questions you may have, so head over there if we left something out.

Upstart customer service number:
650-204-1000 (local) or
1-855-438-8778 (toll-free)
6:00 AM PST to 5:00 PM PST
Monday through Sunday

Upstart mailing address
Upstart Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 1503
San Carlos, CA 94070

Upstart loan fees:
Upstart fees vary. These are the ones you’ll want to know:

Upstart origination fees:
One-time fees deducted from your loan before being delivered–can be anywhere from 0% to 8% of your loan amount.

Upstart late payment fees:
Fees accessed if you don’t pay within 10 days of your due date–will be either 5% of the loan or $15 bucks.

Upstart returned check fees:
These are $15 per occurrence, and happen if your payment doesn’t go through.

Upstart paper record fees:
These may or may not be assessed, but don’t worry too much about them. This is if you decide to request a paper copies of your records, in which case they may charge you $10 bucks, one-time.

Brian Roberts

Brian Roberts

Editor at CarefulCents
Featured in The Washington Post and published in Entrepreneur, Forbes, Business Insider, Time, Inc., CNBC and others.
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