Upstart Personal Loans Review: Get Approved Based on Alternative Data

Upstart Personal Loans Review: Get Approved Based on Alternative Data article image.

At Experian, one of our priorities is consumer credit and finance education. This post may contain links and references to one or more of our partners, but we provide an objective view to help you make the best decisions. For more information, see our Editorial Policy.

Upstart is a peer-to-peer online lending platform that connects you with investors who are willing to fund personal loans. As the intermediary, Upstart determines if you qualify for a loan, decides what rates and fees you'll pay, disburses the loan, collects your payments and then distributes them to the investors funding your loan.


on Upstart's website

Poor - Exceptional

Est. APR

5.40 - 35.99%




Available loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000

Est. monthly payment: $30 to $2,262

Grace period: 15 days

Application fee: $0

Loan Details
  • Loan amounts from $1,000 - $50,000
  • APRs from 5.4% - 35.99% with loan terms of 3 or 5 years
  • Won't affect your credit score
  • You can have funds in as fast as 1 day
  • You are more than your credit score. On Upstart your education and experience help you get the rate you deserve.
High available loan amounts with fast fundingPotentially high origination fees
Doesn't require good credit or a credit historyDoesn't allow cosigners
Funds can be used for educational expenses in most states
Upstart Customer Service
P.O. Box 1503
San Carlos, CA 94070

Experian Review

Upstart distinguishes itself from some of the other online peer-to-peer lending platforms in that it offers loans to those who don't have good credit and doesn't always charge an origination fee. It also differs in how it treats those with average credit or even no credit because it uses a unique underwriting model that can make it easier to qualify for a loan. Additionally, applicants from most states can use the funds to pay for college, which some lenders don't allow.

A Good Option for Middle-of-the-Road Borrowers

Upstart's offering could appeal to a wide range of borrowers, as you may be able to borrow as little as $1,000 and as much as $50,000.

The interest rate you'll end up paying also can vary widely. The low end isn't as low as some personal loan lenders offer. At the high end, Upstart's rates may be higher than the top rate some other lenders offer, but the rates from Upstart are still lower than you may find from some of the personal loan lenders that exclusively focus on borrowers who have bad credit.

As a result, Upstart might not be the best option for those with excellent credit. However, it may be a good fit for almost anyone else—particularly those who have trouble getting approved by other lenders.

Once you take out your loan, your interest rate will be fixed for the lifetime of the loan, which could be either three or five years, and you'll make fixed monthly payments.

Unique Underwriting May Improve Your Loan Offer

Another reason that Upstart may be an especially good option for those with fair to good credit is that it uses a unique underwriting process to review applicants.

In 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) gave the company a "no-action letter," allowing Upstart to test using alternative data to evaluate applicants. Its use of alternative data, artificial intelligence and machine learning means you could have a better chance of getting approved and receiving a lower interest rate with Upstart over other lenders.

Similar to other lenders, Upstart will still consider your credit report and scores, income, outstanding debt, how you plan to use the money and other personal financial information. However, Upstart also considers alternative data, such as which college or graduate school you attend, your major, grade point average, whether you recently graduated, your standardized test scores and your employment history.

In August 2019, the CFPB released the results of a study that compared Upstart's underwriting with a traditional underwriting model. It found that Upstart's use of alternative data and machine learning led to the following:

  • Overall, 27% more applicants were approved for a loan.
  • Borrowers received an average of 16% lower APRs on their loans.
  • Those with FICO® Scores in the 620 to 660 range were about twice as likely to be approved.
  • Young applicants (under 25 years old) were almost 32% more likely to get a loan.
  • Applicants who make less than $50,000 a year were 13% more likely to get a loan.

The use of alternative data is also one reason that Upstart may be able to offer loans to people who don't have enough credit history to qualify for a credit score but are still able to meet the other minimum requirements.

Who Qualifies for an Upstart Personal Loan?

Although Upstart's unique underwriting may improve your chances of getting a loan, make sure you meet the following borrower and credit eligibility requirements.

Minimum borrower requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident living in the U.S. with a verifiable Social Security number (active-duty service members can live outside the U.S.)
  • Be at least 18 years old, or at least 19 if you live in Alabama or Nebraska
  • Have a valid email account and personal U.S. bank account
  • Have a regular source of income, such as a part- or full-time job; have an offer to start a job within six months; or have been accepted to one of the partner coding bootcamps

If you are a current or previous Upstart borrower, you may qualify for a second loan if you've made at least six consecutive payments on time and don't have more than $50,000 in outstanding debt.

In addition to the borrower requirements, you need to meet some credit requirements, including:

  • Have a FICO® Score or VantageScore® that meets lender requirements (if you're scorable)
  • No bankruptcies on your credit report
  • No currently past-due accounts on your credit report
  • No more than six hard inquiries on your credit report (inquiries from student, auto and mortgage loans don't count)

Even if you get preapproved for a loan offer, Upstart will check your credit before sending your loan and may revoke the offer if it finds your credit score drops by more than 25 points or you no longer meet the requirements.

How to Apply for an Upstart Personal Loan

The Upstart loan application and funding process takes place entirely online and will have you create an account, indicate how much you want to borrow and select a loan purpose.

You'll also need to share your personal information, including details about your academic and employment history, and agree to a soft credit check, which lets Upstart review your credit to verify your information and help determine if you qualify for a loan.

If you prequalify for a loan and accept an offer, you'll then have to verify your bank account. You may also have to verify other information by uploading supporting documents, such as pay stubs, tax forms or school transcript. You may also need to call Upstart for additional verification.

Once your application is approved, you can view your final disclosure forms and sign the promissory note.

Fast Rate Checks and Funding

In addition to distinguishing itself from other lenders with its unique underwriting, Upstart uses automation to verify applicant information.

While some companies may take a few business days to review your information, Upstart approves about 70% of applications with a fully automated process—meaning no human involvement is required.

If you accept your loan offer before 5 p.m. Eastern time during a business day, Upstart will initiate the loan disbursement the next business day. Upstart says about 99% of its personal loans get sent to applicants the next business day. If you plan on using the money for educational expenses, however, there's an additional three-day waiting period.

Does Upstart Charge Any Fees?

Before you accept a loan from Upstart, review the terms carefully to see if you'll have to pay an origination fee. The fee can range from 0% to 10% depending on your creditworthiness and will be deducted from your loan disbursement. It's important to account for these fees when borrowing because if, for example, you borrow $10,000 with an 8% fee, the amount you'll actually receive is cut down to $9,200.

The origination fee is the only potential mandatory fee, but Upstart does charge a late payment fee if your payment is more than 10 days late. There's also an ACH or check return fee if you don't have enough money in your account to cover your payment and a fee for requested paper copies of your records.

Upstart does not charge a prepayment fee, and you can save money by paying off your loan early. However, you won't receive any of your origination fee back.

Additional Info*

Loan amount: $1,000 - $50,000Origination fee: 0% - 10%
Estimated APR: 5.40% - 35.99% (fixed)Late fee: The greater of 5% of the unpaid amount or $15
Loan terms: 36 and 60 monthsPrepayment fee: None
Funds received: 1 - 4 business days after accepting your loan terms

Personal Loan Calculator

The information provided is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial advice. Experian cannot guarantee the accuracy of the results provided. Your lender may charge other fees which have not been factored in this calculation. These results, based on the information provided by you, represent an estimate and you should consult your own financial advisor regarding your particular needs.

Good for Applicants With Average Credit

If you have average credit, or no credit at all, it's worth going through the quick rate-check process with Upstart to see if you're offered a loan. Particularly if you have trouble getting approved elsewhere, you may be able to get a loan or a lower rate from Upstart. However, Upstart's higher origination fees and interest rates may mean it's worth checking your rate with other lenders first, especially if you have good to excellent credit.