Need a Personal Loan? This Company Looks at More Than Your Credit Score

Top view on a student with bunch of overdue bills
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You’ve been Googling ways to alleviate your debt. Many experts suggest refinancing or consolidating.

In the next breath you ask: What’s the best company?

Upon more research, you find there are something like one zillion options, but you keep hearing mentions of Upstart, a non-traditional lending platform.

What’s so special about it? In addition to assessing your ability to pay back a loan based on your credit score, it takes other factors into consideration, like your education and employment history.

“We really customize rates to the individual, meaning we’re [pricing] specific to each person based on the information they’re giving us,” Jungwon Byun, the head of growth at Upstart, said in an email. “You get the rate you deserve — not the rate a pool of people assigned to you deserves.”

So… What Is Upstart?

Upstart is a lending platform that’s striving to change the personal loan game.

Many lenders are stuck in a traditional approach of determining creditworthiness based on your credit history. But Byun explains this leaves out an entire segment of the population — even though they’re totally creditworthy.

“By considering these other aspects, we can bring those people back into the conversation and help them get lower and better rates,” she said.

Before diving too deeply, here are some Upstart loan specs:

Loan amounts $1,000 to $50,000*
Terms Three and five years**
Interest rate 6.72% to 26.38%
APR 9.57% to 29.99%
Origination fee 0% to 8%
Late payment fee The greater of 5% of the past due amount or $15
Credit inquiry? Initial soft inquiry for a quote; if you submit application, hard inquiry
Time to funding Typically a business day
Requirements Listed in Upstart's help section

Who’s Upstart Best for?

Deciding to secure a loan is a personal decision. Upstart tends to be especially helpful for recent grads, who have a short credit history and a mound of student debt.

Byun said she recently spoke to a borrower who graduated with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt and eventually got stuck in credit card debt, too.

“‘When I graduated from school, I had negative net worth and to the world, I had negative value,’” Byun recalled the recent grad saying.

Byun said the young professional secured an Upstart loan and immediately breathed a sigh of relief.

“She said it was an empowering experience for her because finally her education was worth something.”

Is Upstart Safe?

Kelsey Buxton walks through the downtown area of St Petersburg. St Petersburg, Fla.,
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

Anytime you apply for a loan — or even simply request a quote — you have to submit some private information. That’s because these lending companies need to review your credit report and verify the information on your application, which requires some personal information.

This leads us to an important question: Is Upstart safe?

To demonstrate its reliability, we’ve chatted with real people who’ve shared their experiences using Upstart.

Kelsey Buxton, at 26, sat on a $22,000 pile of credit card debt. She couldn’t qualify for other refinancing options, but Upstart gave her a chance, thanks in part to her education and employment history.

Then there was Nick, who reached out to us after reading Buxton’s story. At 27, he had about $26,000 in debt. He took a chance and applied for an Upstart loan. Within 24 hours, the money was in his account.

Additionally, all Upstart loans are made by Cross River Bank, an FDIC-insured New Jersey state chartered commercial bank.

What Are the Upstart Loan Eligibility Requirements?

Upstart has these minimum eligibility requirements:

  • You must have a 620 FICO or VantageScore, or higher.
  • You cannot have any bankruptcies or public records on your report.
  • You cannot have any account sitting in collections or any delinquent bills.

For complete credit requirements, Upstart has more information in its Help section.

There are also a few general requirements. These include:

  • Unless you’re military on active duty, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident living in the U.S. — any state except West Virginia or Iowa.
  • You must be at least 18 years old, or 19 if you live in Alabama or Nebraska.
  • You need to provide a valid email address and a verifiable name, birthdate and Social Security number.
  • You need to have a regular source of income.
  • You need to have a bank account at a U.S. bank and provide a routing number.
  • You need to have a valid email account.

What’s the Upstart Verification Process Like?

woman using her credit card to do online shopping
GCShutter/Getty Images

If you meet these basic requirements, congrats — you can apply for an Upstart loan.

The Upstart loan verification process is super simple and super quick. Byun explained that Upstart prioritizes speed and efficiency.

“If you think about the traditional banking system, it’s pretty crazy to expect that someone could even make it into a bank in the hours that they’re open,” she said.

Upstart’s online application is open 24/7, and support staff is available seven days a week as well.

Here’s what it’ll look like when you apply for an Upstart loan:

  1. Start by getting checking your rate. That way you’ll know what to expect for terms and rates and won’t waste your time.
  2. If you’re eligible, you’ll see a rate estimate. If you like what you see, submit your application right there.
  3. Upstart will confirm it received your application.
  4. You’ll get an email, likely the same day, that indicates whether you’ve been approved.
  5. Sign your promissory note and other important disclosures.
  6. After signing your promissory note and other disclosures, the funds transfer will be initiated. Within two business days, you’ll likely find the funds in your bank account.

Nick, who took out an Upstart loan to consolidate his credit card debt, applied for a loan on Jan. 8. He was approved, and when he woke up on Jan. 9, the funds were sitting in his account.

Upstart Loans Pros and Cons

In case you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick summary of the pros and cons of Upstart:

Pros:

  • Upstart customizes rates, and yes, it considers more than just your credit score. Other factors, such as your education and income are also taken into account.
  • Upstart is fast and efficient. Because it values customers’ time, the application process is straightforward and, if approved, many see funds within one business day.
  • There’s no prepayment penalty, meaning you can pay off the loan early and save on interest.
  • Upstart offers a number of personal loan types, including loans for debt consolidation, credit card payments, student loans, car loans or loans to start small businesses.
  • Upstart has solid customer service, available via phone or email seven days a week.

Cons:

  • If you’re in the market for a loan with a term greater than five years, you’ll have to look somewhere else.
  • You’ll pay loan origination fees of up to 8% for taking out a new loan.
  • Upstart’s late payment grace period is 10 days, whereas some lending companies offer 15-day grace periods. If you don’t make your payment within that window, you’ll face a late fee of 5% of the past due balance or $15, whichever is greater.

Is Upstart the Best Debt-Consolidation Company to Use?

Which marketplace or lending platform should you use?

We can’t actually answer that for you. Because personal loans are so, well, personal, you should shop around for your best fit.

We did, however, put together a chart to compare Upstart against some of its peer-to-peer lending competitors to help you find what you need.

Upstart vs. Lending Club vs. Prosper vs. SoFi

  Upstart Lending Club Prosper SoFi
Interest rate 6.72% to 26.38% 5.98% to 35.89% 5.99% to 35.99% 5.95% to 14.49%
Term 3 and 5 years** 3 and 5 years 3 and 5 years 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 years
Loan amount $1,000 to $50,000* $1,000 to $40,000 $2,000 to $35,000 $5,000 to $100,000
Origination fee 0% to 8% 1% to 6% 1% to 5% None
Minimum credit score 620 600 640 660
Funding time Typically one business day Typically seven days Typically one to three days Within seven days

Ready for a Personal Loan?

Securing a quote from Upstart is quick and won’t impact your credit score. If your application is approved and you accept your loan terms, Upstart typically transfers funds into your account within a business day.

By refinancing or consolidating your debt through Upstart, you could potentially save thousands over time.

*Your loan amount will be determined based on your credit, income and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will qualify for the full amount. The minimum loan amount in Massachusetts is $7,000. The minimum loan amount in Ohio is $6,000. The minimum loan amount in New Mexico is $5,001. The minimum loan amount in Georgia is $3,100.

**The average three-year loan offered across all lenders using the Upstart Platform will have an APR of 20% and 36 monthly payments of $35 per $1,000 borrowed. There is no down payment and no prepayment penalty. Average APR is calculated based on three-year rates offered in the last one month. Your APR will be determined based on your credit, income and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will be approved.

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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