April 12, 2021 4:00 PM PT

Upstart Personal Loan Review

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Upstart offers personal loans for fair-credit borrowers. Before applying, find out if it's reliable, how it affects credit, and who gets approved.

5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Higher approval odds for low credit borrowers
  • No prepayment penalties
  • Can pay creditors directly
  • High origination fees
  • Higher starting APR
  • No cosigners allowed

Bottom Line

Good option for "fair-to-good credit" borrowers who need to consolidate debt

If you've struggled to build good credit, getting a personal loan can feel out-of-reach.

Upstart aims to make credit approval easier and more accessible. But can you trust their AI to get you a good APR?

Find out if you're a good candidate for Upstart below. Plus, see whether they charge for paying off loans early and how it compares to SoFi and LendingClub.

What Is Upstart?

Upstart is an online personal loan marketplace for borrowers and investors. It brings together people who need money with those who have money and want to invest it.

Upstart stands out from traditional lenders because it uses artificial intelligence to match borrowers with lenders.

The AI approval process is a nice feature because it's more forgiving to low-credit borrowers. It allows some borrowers to get approved who otherwise wouldn't if a lender looked only at their credit score and debt-to-income ratio.

How Upstart Works

Upstart offers unsecured personal loans (i.e., no collateral) from $1,000 to $50,000 with terms of 3 to 5 years. Borrowers can check their rate online without affecting their credit score because it's only a "soft" credit inquiry.

After completing your application online, Upstart will approve or deny your loan in 24-48 hours. You can choose to receive your funds directly, or Upstart will pay your creditors if you're consolidating debt.

Upstart usually funds the personal loans within one business day after approving your application. If you're using the funds for educational purposes, you'll receive the funds in 3 business days.

Upstart offers higher APRs than many other lenders, so pay attention to the cost. The rates start at 7.86% and go up to 35.99%.

Who Is Upstart Good For?

Upstart is a good option for borrowers with fair-to-good credit who want to consolidate debts.

If you have decent credit, you're in good shape to get a lower APR.

But if you have a lower credit score, you may still qualify for a loan if they think you have good earnings potential. Upstart bases this on your education and work history, in addition to your credit.

If you need fast access to the funds and don't mind paying an origination fee, Upstart could be a great choice.

Keep in mind: Upstart does not currently offer loans to people residing in West Virginia or Iowa. Review the full list of eligibility requirements before applying.

Who Isn't Upstart Good For?

If you have excellent credit, you may pay lower fees or get a lower APR elsewhere. Upstart's interest rates are higher than many other lenders because of the clientele they serve.

It's worth looking into other lenders first to see if you're a good fit. If not, Upstart is a great backup. Just beware of the cost.

How to Apply for an Upstart Personal Loan

Applying for an Upstart loan is simple. The entire process is online and takes a matter of minutes.

  1. First, get a rate quote on their website. You'll provide your desired loan amount and your email.

  2. Upstart will then send quotes to your email address. This won't hurt your credit since Upstart doesn't make a hard inquiry on your credit report.

  3. Once you get the rate quote, you can decide if you like it.

    They may offer two options - a three-year term and a 5-year term. Decide which payment fits within your budget while paying close attention to the loan's full cost, including the origination fee and total interest costs.

    All Upstart loan offers include a fixed interest rate - they don't offer variable rates.

  4. If you want to move forward, you'll provide Upstart with your Social Security number, bank account information and verify that all information you've provided is accurate.

  5. Then, Upstart will pull your credit (this is a hard inquiry) to finalize your loan.

    The funds are sent to your bank account (often by the next business day) if everything checks out.

Who Is Eligible for an Upstart Personal Loan?

Upstart has some flexible guidelines for its personal loans, but it comes with a tradeoff - higher interest rates and origination fees.

Upstart requires a 600 credit score, but its AI system may allow a lower score if you have a high income, a high level of education, and/or a good job.

If your other qualifying factors are great, Upstart may even approve borrowers with a lower credit score.

Upstart isn't very specific about the other requirements they need, but they are specific about what they won't accept, including:

  • Excessive debt-to-income ratios
  • Recent credit delinquencies
  • Excessive inquiries on your credit report
  • Recent public records, such as a bankruptcy or foreclosure

If you have 'average or even fair' credit, Upstart is a good option as most other personal loan lenders won't accept it.

What Are the Fees and Penalties?

Upstart charges pretty hefty origination fees. This makes up for the risk they take accepting lower credit scores than most lenders.

Origination fees are 0% - 8% on average, depending on your loan amount, credit score, and your risk of default. The riskier your loan, the more your origination fee will be.

Other Upstart fees include:

  • Late payment fee: 5% of the past-due amount or $15, whichever is more
  • ACH return or Check refund fee: $15 per check that fails or is returned due to insufficient funds
  • Paper copies fee: $10 (one-time) if you withdraw eSign consent and request paper copies

Upstart also does not charge an early payment fee (also called pre-payment). However, you are also not entitled to a refund of the origination fee you paid.

Pros & Cons

All personal loans have their pros and cons. It helps to understand them so you can make an informed decision.


  • Approval doesn't rely solely on credit score - their AI system looks at other factors that may make you eligible.
  • No inquiry on your credit report unless you finalize the application.
  • Usually receive funds in as little as one day.
  • No prepayment penalty.
  • They pay creditors directly if you're consolidating debt.


  • Most borrowers pay an origination fee.
  • The starting APR is higher than most other lenders.
  • You can't have a cosigner.

How Does Upstart Compare to Other Personal Loans?

Upstart is just one of many personal loan options available today. But how do they compare?

SoFi offers larger personal loans up to $100,000, but only to good credit borrowers. SoFi offers longer terms, too - borrowers can choose terms from 2 to 7 years, and their APRs start at 5.99% - 21%.

Unlike Upstart, SoFi charges no fees, and you can have a cosigner. If you set up autopay, you may also get a discounted rate.

Payoff is an online personal loan for credit card consolidation only. Unlike Upstart, which you can use for any purpose, Payoff is only for credit card consolidation, so it has limited use.

If you need to pay off credit cards, Payoff offers loans from $5,000 - $40,000. To qualify, you'll need at least a 640 credit score and a max 50% debt-to-income ratio.

Bottom Line

If you need a personal loan and have good credit or decent credit but stable employment and/or a high-level education, Upstart may be a good option. They only offer two terms, and the rates are somewhat higher than other lenders, but they are a good option if you don't qualify for any other personal loan.


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