Imagine being able to use your education and future career prospects as credentials when applying for a personal loan.
Normally, you can't do that because most lenders rely heavily on credit scores and income.
You can improve your chances of getting approved with Upstart, an online lender that uses a unique method of assessing creditworthiness.
It offers personal loans that consumers can use for a variety of reasons.
Whether you’re looking to consolidate other loans, pay an unexpected bill, or meet another expense, a personal loan from Upstart can provide the cash you need.
In this review, learn more about the company's lending practices and how it can help you meet your financial needs.
About Upstart Personal Loans
Upstart offers personal loans to customers using a unique risk assessment strategy. You may be able to qualify for a better deal at Upstart thanks to that fact.
Upstart Personal Loans Pros & Cons
Amount and Duration
Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $50,000 so you can use it to help with expenses both large and small.
Depending on the size of the loan your payback period will be either 3 or 5 years. Larger loans will have a longer payback period.
There’s no prepayment fee, so you can pay the loan back as quickly as you’d like.
Qualification Requirements and Fees
Upstart does not publish minimum requirements for qualifying for a loan, but its unique risk assessment protocol might give you a better chance of qualifying for a loan through Upstart than through another lender.
The only fee you’ll have to pay on an Upstart loan is an origination fee of 2.8% - 8%.
Upstart Personal Loan Calculator
Get Approved Based on Future Potential, Not Just Credit Score
What really sets Upstart apart from other personal loan providers is how the company decides whether to approve your loan.
Most companies will do little more than look at your credit score, income, and debt-to-income ratio before making a decision. Upstart considers those factors as well as your future earning potential.
Research has long shown a correlation between educational attainment and a person’s lifetime income.
College graduates are likely to make more than $1 million more than those that do not attend college over the course of their careers.
When looking at a loan application, Upstart considers your educational attainment. If you’re well educated, you have a better chance of qualifying or securing a low-interest rate.
Similarly, if the field you’re educated in is in high demand and tends to pay high salaries, Upstart takes that into account, even if your current level of income is on the lower end.
Job history matters too
Another factor that the lender considers is your job history.
Most lenders just check to make sure you’re currently employed and make the amount you claimed to on the application. They don’t care how secure your job is or that you’ve held it for the past ten years.
Upstart understands that if you have a secure job that you’ve stuck with for a while, you’re less likely to lose your source of income.
That makes you a much lower default risk than someone who works seasonal jobs or in an industry with high turnover.
If you’re less likely to lose your income, you’re less of a risk for Upstart, so you have a better chance to qualify or pay a lower interest rate.
Because all these extra factors are taken into consideration, you can find a much better deal with Upstart than other lenders. Of course, if your education or job history is less than stellar, you might be better off with a lender who only looks at your credit report.
How Long Does It Take to Get the Money?
Upstart disburses funds the day after you’re approved.
Since most loans are approved the same day that you apply, you can get your loan very quickly. That makes Upstart a great choice for emergencies where you need cash now.
How to Get Approved for a Personal Loan
When you apply for a personal loan the lender will need to research you and your financial life. That research is necessary for the lender to determine how much risk it is taking on by lending money to you.
When you apply for a loan, you’ll need to provide information such as:
- Date of birth
- Proof of identity, such as a driver’s license
- Social Security number
- Annual income
- Proof of income, such as bank statements or pay stubs.
- Verification of employment
It can be annoying to have to provide so much information.
However, the more info the lender asks for, the better. The more a lender knows about the people that borrow from it, the better is able to assess its risk.
If a lender can assess its risk accurately, it can offer lower interest rates as it has a better sense of how many borrowers will default.
Borrowing from a lender that asks for a lot of identifying information will often get you a better deal than a lender that has low application standards.
Improving Your Chances of Qualifying for a Personal Loan
Once you’ve decided to apply for a personal loan there are a few steps you can take to improve your chances of qualifying for the loan.
Lenders always look at your credit score when you apply for a loan, so improving your credit score should be a priority.
Though a long history of on-time payments is the best way to improve your score, there are some short-term steps you can take.
One way is to reduce your credit utilization ratio.
The more debt you have when compared to your credit limit across all your credits cards, the lower your credit score will be. This is because maxing out your credit cards is a red flag to lenders.
Your credit card utilization is calculated each month and utilization history isn’t tracked.
That means that if you pay down your credit card debts, or just don’t use your cards for a month so that they have no balance, your utilization ratio will improve, improving your credit score.
Paying down your credit card balances will also help with your debt-to-income ratio.
The more debt you have compared to your income, the harder it will be for you to find money to pay your bills.
You can lower this ratio by increasing your income or paying off your debts. Either will make you more attractive to lenders.
If you have derogatory marks on your credit report, such as a late or missed payment, you can try to negotiate a pay-for-delete agreement with the lender.
Under such an agreement, you pay the lender what they are owed and they remove the mark from your credit report. Most lenders are primarily concerned with getting their money back and will be more than willing to negotiate with you.
Review your credit report for any errors or mistakes that could hurt your chances of loan approval. Dispute these errors to have them removed.
Personal Loans from Other Lenders
If you’ve decided to apply for a personal loan but don’t want to work with Upstart, consider these other lenders:
Lending Club isn’t a traditional bank.
Instead, it facilitates peer-to-peer personal loans. What that means is that if you borrow $10,000 from Lending Club you might actually be borrowing $100 from 100 different people.
When you apply for a loan, Lending Club will provide the (anonymized) details of your loan to Lending Club investors, who can decide whether to fund the loan.
Anyone can invest in personal loans through Lending Club, so your money will be going to regular people instead of the pocket of a big bank. The downside of this is that it can take longer to get your loan because the funding process can take some time.
When you make your monthly payment, Lending Club divides the payment among the people who lent money to you.
Lending Club offers loans up to $40,000.
Santander Bank offers personal loans ranging from $5,000 to $35,000.
It authorizes loans for a variety of needs, such as loan consolidation, home improvement, or unexpected bills.
All of Santander’s personal loans have a fixed interest rate, so you’ll know exactly what you’ll have to pay each month through the life of the loan.
If you already bank with Santander, you can take advantage of an interest rate reduction. If you enroll in Autopay using a Santander checking account, your interest rate will automatically be reduced by 0.25%. That can yield significant savings over the life of a loan.
Discover is well known for its credit cards, but it also offers banking services, including personal loans.
You can borrow as much as $35,000 with payment plans that last as long as seven years.
That gives you plenty of flexibility to pay back the loan on your terms.
Discover offers a number of benefits for its loans. There is a thirty-day return policy with no penalties or interest.
You also get access to a 100% US-based customer support staff.
Discover’s lending experience allows it to fund loans incredibly quickly.
Most loan decisions are made the day you apply and money can arrive in your account as soon as one day later. If you need money right now, Discover is a good bank to work with.
Your search for personal loans may be difficult if your credit score isn't amazing or you can't get a great rate or loan amount from another lender.
Upstart allows you to use non-traditional approval criteria to secure a better deal on your personal loan.
If you have a strong education, career trajectory, or job history, this lender could be your best choice.