Upstart Upstart
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4.5 5stars

Upstart Review

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Rating:
Bottom Line:
Evaluates financial information, work history and academic performance; allows loans for educational purposes; great choice for students/recent grads without much credit or work history; strong customer service

Full Review:
Upstart was founded by former Google employees and is based in Silicon Valley. Touting the tagline, "You are more than your credit score," Upstart sets itself apart from other personal loan services by considering more than an applicant's financial information and employment history — it also looks at academic performance, which is a boon for students looking to take out a loan but lack the credit or work history required by many loan services. The service also puts an emphasis on providing loans for people looking to attend HTML coding or programming bootcamps, which certainly shows its creators' tech roots. Loans through Upstart are funded by peer investors, but the process is different from peer-to-peer lending companies like Prosper.


Types of Loans Available

Upstart offers unsecured, fixed-rate personal loans in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $50,000 — except for residents of Georgia, Ohio and Massachusetts, who must borrow a minimum of $3,000, $6,000 or $7,000, respectively. Potential APRs range from 9.48% to 29.99%, which is determined based on your FICO score, how many years of credit history you have, your education level, what you studied in school, and your job history. Upstart does not restrict borrowers to using loan proceeds for certain purposes — its suggested uses include paying for medical bills, paying off student loans and credit cards and paying for school and travel.


Qualifying

In order to qualify for a loan from Upstart, borrowers must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident currently living in the U.S. and at least 18 years old with a verifiable name, birth date and social security number. You must have a U.S. bank account and a valid email address. Additionally, you are required to have one or more of the following: a full-time job, a full-time job offer starting in at least six months, a regular part-time job or another source of regular income.


Upstart considers most forms of income, from job wages, rental property income and trust funds to pension or social security payments as personal income. However, any other type of earnings will not be considered. Upstart maintains a full list of its qualifying criteria on its website FAQs, so you can check if you aren't sure whether the money you earn will count.

Something that sets Upstart apart from most personal loan services we've reviewed is that it will take your academic records into consideration if you are applying within four years of graduating from college. The required academic records in this case are standardized test scores (SAT and/or ACT), as well as your transcripts. Applicants attending a business or law school do not need to supply their SAT/ACT test scores. Since many students don't have a lot of credit built up, the evaluation of academic performance can be helpful in providing the boost needed to qualify for a loan.


Application Process

The application process is simple and similar to other personal loan services. You can start by checking your rate, which doesn't affect your credit score. First, it will ask you why you're applying for a loan. Then you will be taken through a quick quote application that asks how much you want to borrow and some personal information — including your education level and details (such as where you went to school and your area of study), employment status, any sources of income outside your job and personal information such as your name, address, whether you rent or own (and how much you pay on rent/mortgage payments each month), how many dependents you have and the amount you have in your savings or investment accounts, if applicable.


Once you've provided all of this information, you can check to see if you qualify and what kind of rate Upstart can offer. If you qualify, you can continue with the application process — which includes providing additional information and documents to determine whether you can be approved for a loan or not. Once you've been approved, you can sign online acceptance forms and receive your funds within a few days. Upstart claims if you accept your loan by 5 p.m. ET on a weekday, you can receive your funds the next day. However, it's important to note that education-related loans are subject to a mandatory three-day waiting period after you accept the loan terms.

If you are not qualified, Upstart will tell you immediately. It may suggest you try one of its partner services, such as Avant. If at any time during the qualification or application process you are denied, Upstart will send a message to your email and post it in your account detailing why as well as providing your credit score on the date of application. You are encouraged to re-apply if your situation changes, and you can even sign up to allow Upstart to obtain your credit information once a month to check whether you qualify. The service promises this won't affect your credit.


Repayment and Fees

Upstart loans have either three-year (36 months) or five-year (60 months) repayment periods. Payments begin 20 to 30 days after the day you receive your loan. If you would like to take out an additional loan after your first, you can do so if you've made on-time payments for six months or more, have no more than one outstanding loan from Upstart at the time of application and owe no more than $50,000 of the principle loan amount. You must also wait at least two months after you finish paying off a previous Upstart loan before applying for a second.


Every loan made through Upstart is subject to an origination fee which will be deducted from the total amount you receive. This fee can range from 3.655% to 8%, depending on your loan qualifications. Other fees include a late fee for payments made more than 10 days after your due date, a $15 check fee if you choose to pay by check and a $15 fee for any ACH transfer or check payment that doesn't go through. The late fee will be 5% of the total amount past due or $15, whichever is higher.

There isn't a penalty or fee to pay your loan off early or make additional payments. You can do so easily through your account dashboard, which is convenient considering some personal loan services require you to call and arrange additional payments or early payoff. Payments are reported to the credit bureaus, so it's important to note this and make payments on time. Upstart requests borrowers to call if they are having trouble making payments to prevent delinquency.


Trustworthiness

The service is accredited with the BBB and has a solid A+ rating with the organization. Upstart has only been around since 2012, but it has garnered a lot of positive attention during that time. Loans are made by Cross River Bank, a federally insured commercial bank in New Jersey. Cross River Bank is accredited with the BBB and has an A+ with the organization.


Customer Service

Upstart can be contacted by phone, email, online contact form and live chat. Phone support and live chat are both available Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. Email support and the online contact form can be used any time, and responses will be received during business hours. Our interactions online and on the phone were pleasant, and our questions were answered promptly. We found Upstart's website to be informative and easy to navigate, with a searchable FAQ section that answered nearly all of our questions. The availability of agents through phone, email and live chat is also a plus.


Conclusion

Upstart's model will certainly appeal to those who have little in the way of credit or work history but need to take out a loan. It offers decent APRs and takes into consideration much more information about a person than a bank or even some other personal loan services would, making the application process feel very personal indeed. The website is laid out well and informative, and the customer support is top-notch. This service is certainly one that students, recent graduates or those with little credit history should consider — although people with a more substantial credit history should certainly try as well.

Apply for Upstart | Compare to other Personal Loan Services

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Service Details

Minimum/Maximum Loan Amount:$1,000* - $50,000 (*$3,000 for GA; $6,000 for OH; $7,000 for MA)
APR:9.48% - 29.99%
Terms Available:36 or 60 months
Required Credit Rating:620+
Secured/Unsecured:Unsecured
Local Branches:No

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