Upstart Personal Loans: 2024 Review

At a glance

Upstart is best for bad credit borrowers and those with limited credit history

Though Upstart’s APR cap is on the higher side, the lender has one of the most competitive starting APRs at 7.80 percent. Borrowers can check their rate without hurting their credit in just a few minutes and loan amounts start lower than most personal loan lenders and go up to the typical maximum. 

Upstart makes decisions based on more than just the borrower’s credit score — educational and career background are also part of the equation. This innovative approach and lack of credit score requirement make it an attractive option for borrowers who may not qualify with a traditional lender. In fact, Upstart Bankrate’s pick for the best personal loan for bad credit borrowers in 2024.

Upstart personal loan purposes

Upstart’s personal loans feature flexible loan amounts of up to $50,000. This makes its loans ideal for a variety of purposes, from home improvement projects to financing a large purchase. 

Loans from Upstart may also be a solid option for good credit borrowers looking to consolidate debt, thanks to its competitive starting rate. Additionally, the lender’s quick funding timeline and low minimum loan amount of $1,000 may come in handy to cover small emergency expenses, such as a medical bill or a car repair. 

That said, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Washington and Washington, D.C. residents aren’t allowed to use Upstart’s loans to cover education-related expenses.

Where Upstart personal loans stands out

  • Options for low credit borrowers: Upstart doesn’t base eligibility solely on credit score, giving those with a bad credit score or no credit at all the opportunity to get approved. 
  • Low minimum APR: Upstart’s APR range starts out at a competitive 7.80 percent — much lower than the average personal loan rate of about 12 percent.
  • Prequalification available: Borrowers can view their rate before submitting a formal application without hurting their credit.
  • Quick funding: The company touts that loan funds may be available as soon as one business day following approval. 

Where Upstart personal loans falls short

  • Origination fee: Upstart charges an origination fee up to 12 percent of the loan amount, which is subtracted from the balance disbursed to you. This is higher than the industry average.
  • High maximum APR: While borrowers with a limited credit history may have better luck getting approved, they also have the risk of getting offered a high maximum APR.
  • Certain states have higher borrowing minimums: In Georgia, Hawaii and Massachusetts the minimum borrowing amount is much higher than the $1,000 minimum.
  • Limited terms: Upstart only offers two repayment term lengths to choose from: 36 and 60 months. This is highly limited compared to competitors.

Upstart customer experience

Customer support

General support for personal loans is available Monday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Payment support is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. 

The customer service line is unavailable on New Years Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Digital experience

Borrowers can apply for an Upstart loan entirely online or over the phone with the help of a representative. Prequalification is also available through the lender’s website, so borrowers can view their rate without hurting their score. 

Upstart is also one of the few lenders that has a complete list of its set of requirements listed on its website. Plus loans can be managed entirely online through your browser. Upstart also offers a mobile app for account management on iOS, but there isn’t currently one available for Android.

What people are saying about Upstart

Upstart boasts an impressive 4.9 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot with over 45,600 customer reviews as of March 19, 2024. Most borrowers cite the speed and ease of the application process along with great customer support as part of their positive experience. Several of these borrowers have also taken more than one loan with the lender.

Negative reviews mainly focus on getting quoted with high interest rates, having to submit paperwork more than once and receiving a different offer from their original quote. 

How this lender compares

Upstart vs. Best Egg

Upstart and Best Egg have nearly identical loan products, when it comes to repayment terms, funding timelines, rates and amounts. That said, Upstart’s starting APR is slightly lower than Best Egg and so is its minimum loan amount.

Borrowers with an excellent credit score should first consider Upstart to potentially score the most competitive rate. Upstart may also be better if you’re on the other end of the spectrum. The lender was named as the overall winner for bad credit borrowers in the 2024 Bankrate Awards due to its flexible eligibility criteria.

Upstart vs. SoFi

SoFi and Upstart are polar opposites when it comes to terms and eligibility qualifications. While Upstart does offer a lower APR for the most creditworthy borrowers, SoFi has a higher borrowing maximum of $100,000 and repayment terms of up to 84 months. This makes the SoFi a better option for expensive costs, like home renovations and repairs.

SoFi also won best online lender in the 2024 Bankrate Awards because of its best-in-class perks and benefits in addition to a speedy funding timeline. However, if you have bad or no credit and don’t have a co-borrower, it may be easier to get a loan with Upstart.

Do you qualify for an Upstart personal loan?

Like other lenders, Upstart requires borrowers to be at least 18 old, have a valid physical address and Social Security number, in addition to meeting the following criteria:

  • A minimum annual income of $12,000.
  • Have a full-time job, a job offer starting within six months or another source of regular income.
  • Have a verifiable personal bank account with a routing number at a US financial institution.
  • Not be a resident of Iowa or West Virginia.

How to apply for a personal loan with Upstart

Borrowers can apply for an Upstart loan online or over the phone. To apply online you’ll just have to follow three steps:

  1. Get a quote: Determine how much you need to borrow and prequalify online. Make sure you account for any origination fees when running numbers.
  2. Add information and finalize your application: If you’re satisfied with the rates and terms, fill out a formal application. You may need to provide pay stubs and employment information as part of the process.
  3. Review the loan details: Once you receive your approval letter, make sure everything is in order, including your new payment amount and due date. If anything seems amiss, contact Upstart’s customer support line. Upstart disburses the funds as soon as the next business day following approval.

Fees and penalties

One of the biggest fees Upstart charges is the origination fee — which can be up to 12 percent of the loan amount. The origination fee is deducted from your loan funds before you receive them, so it’s important to borrow enough to ensure that you get the amount of money you need.

Upstart charges a late fee of 5 percent of the past-due amount or $15, whichever is greater, if you’re more than 10 calendar days past your due date. There’s also an ACH return or check refund fee of $15. Finally, if you request to switch from getting records electronically to getting paper copies, there’s a $10 fee.

Upstart doesn’t charge a prepayment penalty, so you don’t have to worry about incurring an extra fee for paying the loan off early.

How Bankrate rates Upstart

Bankrate considers 20 factors when reviewing lenders. Credit requirements, APR ranges, fees, loan amounts and flexibility are all taken into account so that ratings are representative of how competitive lenders are for a wide range of credit profiles and budgets. The Bankrate Score for personal loans consists of four categories:

  • Availability: What the minimum loan amounts are, its eligibility requirements and loan turnaround are considered in this category.
  • Affordability: The interest rates, penalties and fees are measured in this section of the score. Lower rates and fees and fewer potential penalties result in a higher score.
  • Customer experience: This category covers customer service hours, if online applications are available, online account access and mobile apps.
  • Transparency: This category is measured by how accessible credit requirements, rates and fees are on the lender’s page. We also considered whether prequalification was available, as all these factors are key for consumers to make an informed decision.

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by lifelayered.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the lender’s website for the most current information.