Is Upstart Legit?

Andrew Reyes
A phone is open to the Upstart app.

Upstart is a financial organization that partners with various financial institutions to offer personal loans to consumers. With a unique loan approval process completed by artificial intelligence (AI), Upstart looks into more than a consumer’s credit score and also analyzes income and other risk factors to determine eligibility.

As of March 2020, Upstart had originated over $6.7 billion in credit to consumers and 70% of these loans were fully automated through a streamlined process. Whether you need a personal loan to pay for a vacation, consolidate your credit card debt, or cover unexpected medical expenses, understanding the pros and cons of Upstart can help you determine if it’s the right lender for you.

Table of Contents

Pros and Cons

Before you apply for a personal loan with Upstart, review the pros and cons of the automated loan processing company.



  • Receive funds quickly: Once you’re approved for a personal loan and you complete the application process, you’re likely to receive funding within one business day.
  • Only available in select states: Upstart offers loans in all states except Iowa or West Virginia so these residents are not eligible to apply for personal loans through the company.
  • No minimum credit history: While you must have a minimum credit score and income to qualify, there’s no minimum credit history criteria.
  • High origination fees: Origination fees can be as high as 8% for some borrowers, which is higher than most personal loan providers.
  • No prepayment penalty fees: If you pay your personal loan off early, you’re not susceptible to a prepayment penalty fee.
  • Potentially high annual percentage rate (APR): Depending on your qualifications and how the AI loan processing system rates you, your APR may be between 7% and 35.99%.
  • Late and returned payment fees: If your payment is late, you’re charged $15 or 5% of the amount that’s past due and you must pay $15 for every payment that’s returned.

Upstart Personal Loan Essentials

The Upstart AI-powered loan processing system ensures you meet the financial organization’s personal loan criteria before providing information on your loan terms. To qualify, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old and live in the U.S. in a state that Upstart services.
  • Have a valid Social Security number, email address, and permanent street address.
  • Have a full-time job or a job offer for full-time employment that begins no later than six months from your application date.
  • Have a credit score of at least 620.
  • Have a valid bank account based in the U.S.

The system analyzes your financial situation and looks into your credit history, score, current earnings, length of employment, and education when calculating your eligibility and loan terms. When developing personal loan terms, Upstart offers a:

  • $1,000 to $50,000 loan amount.
  • 7% to 35.99% APR.
  • Three- or five-year loan term.
  • 0% to 8% origination fee.

While there are no prepayment penalty fees with an Upstart personal loan, if you make a late payment, you’ll be charged $15 or 5% of your late amount, whichever is higher. You’ll also pay a $15 returned payment penalty fee if your payment isn’t completed successfully.

Upstart Review

Before deciding if an Upstart personal loan is right for you, consider who the company caters to and the loan approval process.

Who Is Upstart for?

Upstart is best for borrowers who have a moderate credit score or a credit history that isn’t extensive. Since Upstart considers other financial factors, such as your debt-to-income ratio and salary, it’s best for borrowers who are in good financial standing with steady employment.

The loan application process is completed entirely online so the company caters to technologically savvy borrowers who are comfortable using the website. You should consider a personal loan through Upstart if you meet the company’s eligibility requirements and need money for:

  • Home improvements, such as a new roof or updated kitchen.
  • Debt consolidation, including credit cards or student loans.
  • Major purchases, such as furniture or a vehicle.
  • Educational expenses, including tuition or textbooks.
  • Personal expenses, such as medical bills, vacations, or relocation.

How Long Does It Take to Get Approved?

When you complete the online loan application process, you’ll receive instant approval or denial for an Upstart personal loan. If you’re approved, the company may provide you with a few different loan options with various terms so you can choose the one that’s best for your financial situation.

As with all lenders, Upstart must abide by the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). This legislation requires the company to provide you with all pertinent information regarding the fees and financial responsibilities related to your personal loan. If you accept the loan and complete the application process, you should receive funding directly in your bank account within one business day.

How to Apply

You can only apply for a loan with Upstart online. First, visit the Upstart website and answer preliminary questions about your job and financial situation. The site provides you with the potential rate and term you qualify for.

Choose the loan option that’s right for you and click “Continue.” You’re prompted to complete the loan application by providing additional information about yourself, including your contact information, bank account information, and Social Security number.

After your loan application is approved, you must sign the paperwork provided by Upstart. In most cases, you’ll receive the loan amount in your bank account within one business day.

If you’re lacking a credit history or have a mediocre credit score, you may still qualify for favorable personal loan terms through Upstart. If you decide to apply, review the loan terms and repayment responsibilities carefully before signing the loan documents.

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