Upstart Loan Review: Low Rates for Recent College Grads

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Updated April 13, 2017

Upstart is an online lender offering unsecured, fixed-rate personal loans. Although it started as a lender targeting recent graduates, it has become a lender that offers loans to a wide range of credit profiles.

The founders of Upstart wanted to provide young adults that might not have a lengthy credit history with a way to lessen their debt burdens. To do this, it came up with an algorithm to determine creditworthiness based on education, career, job history, and standardized test scores. But Upstart is not only targeting young people with a limited credit history. If you have an excellent traditional (e.g. FICO) score, you should be able to find a good deal at Upstart as well.

Upstart is one of the few lenders who don’t focus entirely on your FICO score, which means its slightly more lenient when it comes to qualifying.

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How Do Upstart’s Rates Match Up?

The APR range is 6.37% – 29.99% (the origination fee of 1% – 6% is included in the APR). Upstart is competitive with LendingClub*, (5.99% to 35.89% APR). However, if you have excellent credit, you should consider SoFi instead (read our full SoFi review here). SoFi has very low rates and charges no origination fee.

While the range is large, if you have a decent credit score, you should be able to obtain a loan with an APR less than what you’d normally get with a bank or credit card.

You can see our round-up of the best personal loans here.

Personal Loan Details

Upstart’s minimum loan amount is $1,000, and its maximum loan amount is $50,000.

A 3-year and 5-year term is available.

If you took out a $10,000 loan, and were able to obtain a fairly good interest rate (say, 7.55%), you would end up paying $311.29 monthly.

What Requirements Do You Need?

While Upstart prides itself on taking education, area of study, and job history into consideration, they still require a minimum FICO score of 640. They also look at your debt-to-income ratio, and you need to be in good standing on all of your accounts to qualify. You can’t have any accounts in delinquency or collections.

If you have insufficient credit history, Upstart will take your application into consideration.

There is no minimum income required to qualify, but you do need to have a debt-to-income ratio of less than 50%.

You also need to have a degree from an accredited institution or be graduating within the next 6 months. Otherwise, you must be accepted to a supported bootcamp starting within 3 weeks from when you apply for the loan, and be actively seeking employment upon graduation from the bootcamp.

Having a full time job (or a full time job offer starting in six months), or another source of regular income is recommended.

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The Fine Print: Fees

There are fees associated with Upstart. First, there is a loan origination fee, ranging anywhere from 1%-6%, depending on the grade of your loan. This fee is rolled into the APR.

Next, if you fail to make a payment within 10 days of your due date, you can be charged a late fee, which is the greater of 5% of the past due amount or $15. If you don’t make any payments within 30 days of the due date, Upstart will report your loan as delinquent to the credit bureaus.

If you prefer to pay by check, you will incur a $15 check processing fee.

If your check bounces, or you have insufficient funds in your bank account, you’ll incur a $15 fee.

There is no prepayment penalty.

What Documents Are Needed to Apply?

You’ll need the standard color photo ID, proof of employment, and proof of income. If you have regular sources of income from full time or part time jobs, you can upload your most recent paystubs.

If you earn any bonuses or commission, you need an offer letter that lists target bonuses or a commission structure that lists target commission levels.

If you have rental income, you’ll need your lease, which should show your full name, monthly amount, and lease term.

If you have side gigs (such as income from being an Uber or Lyft driver), you’ll need to have earned a consistent income for six months before Upstart can take it into consideration. If you meet that requirement, you just need to upload the proof of six months of consistent income.

If you’re self-employed and a sole proprietorship, you’ll need a copy of last year’s tax return and this year’s invoices. They’ll look at Line 31 of your Schedule C.

If you’re involved in a partnership or LLC, you’ll need last year’s personal tax returns that show your portion of income and this year’s invoices.

You might need to provide bank statements or proof of home ownership (if you own a home), but this will vary on an individual basis. Once you complete the application, Upstart will notify you of what you need.

Additionally, if you graduated within 4 years of your application date, you’ll also need your standardized test scores, which you can take a photo of, or take a screenshot of online, and a copy of your transcript.

Who Benefits the Most from Upstart?

Upstart is a great solution to those in their twenties who are finding it difficult to obtain a reasonable personal loan elsewhere. Their interest rates are competitive with the other peer-to-peer lending companies, plus they’re willing to lend to those who have thin credit histories, whereas many companies are not.

If you’re a young adult who doesn’t have a lengthy credit history, but has a decent credit score, and are looking to pay off debt (credit card, medical, auto, or student loans), or finance a larger purchase (such as a wedding or travel), then Upstart’s personal loan is a good fit.

Lastly, if you fit this profile and need a loan quickly, accepting your loan before 5pm ET means you’ll have the funds in your account the next business day (unless you’re paying off private student loans). The entire process is efficient and done completely online.

Remember: if you don’t accept the loan, you won’t receive a hard inquiry on your credit report, only a soft one. In any case, borrowers typically have a 45-day window to shop around for personal loans. Credit bureaus recognize that you’re attempting to get the best rate possible, and will count all inquiries during this time as one inquiry.

If Upstart doesn’t sound like the right fit for you, then explore other personal loan offers with our customizable table

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