Upstart is an online lending platform that was founded back in 2012 by former Google employees. Upstart has a comprehensive approval process that takes into account everything from credit score and schools attended, to employment history, degrees being studied for, and more.

Upstart could be the loan company of the future, as they use many processes that you won't find elsewhere and are always working towards change and improvements.

Upstart Review

About Upstart Credit Union

Upstart Credit Union have a lot of good things going for them, but there are also a few issues here that may be cause for concern. To learn more about Upstart Credit Union, keep reading.

Basic Information

  • Address: 2 Circle Star Way, San Carlos, CA 94070-6200
  • Web Address: http://www.upstart.com/
  • Date of Founding: 2012
  • Contact Number: (855) 438-8778
  • Opening Hours: 06:00 AM – 05:00 PM
  • BBB Accredited? Yes.

The Company

As you might expect for a company that was founded by former Google employees, Upstart is high-tech and innovative. Alongside its student loans and other customer-centric services, which are discussed in more detail below, Upstart also offer a wealth of services to banks and other companies through their business-to-business arm.

Upstart have been raising funds to grow the business since they were first founded, with the last major round of investment coming just a year or two before this review was first penned. The fact that they are constantly trying to pump money into the company could be cause for concern, as it suggests they don't have a strong financial backing, but it's actually a good thing as it shows that they are still trying to grow and improve.

They are always looking for ways to improve their systems and their support, and that's something that you can't always say about companies in this sector. Kudos to Upstart and its founders for taking chances and trying to become bigger and better for its customers and its investors.

The Services

The advanced tech that Upstart have introduced into their systems include a machine learning program that allows them to automate the application process. This makes it quicker, while also being incredibly effective. On the one hand, the customer doesn't have to wait as long or jump through as many hoops. On the other hand, the company can reduce the amount of time that it spends going through this process, while also reducing staff costs.

Its goal is not just to be effective and to gain a better understanding of its customers, their financial situation and their intent, but also to provide those customers with better access to money they need, and to give them better information when they need it.

The Prices

Upstart are a private company, not a non-profit. This means that they still look to make a profit and there are still fees to pay, penalties to incur, and more. That doesn't make them more expensive, it just doesn't make them cheaper. In many ways they are similar to the likes of WSFS and Wells Fargo, to name just a couple.

The Employees

Upstart have over 50 employees and have grown steadily over the last few years. They are based in California and have many of the principles of Google at their heart, which means they foster a good working environment and tend to have very happy employees. We have encountered few complaints in this regard and employees past and present typically say that Upstart is a great place to work.

The Reviews

There are mostly good reviews for Upstart and we have only encountered a handful of bad ones. For the most part, we're happy to dismiss these bad reviews as they concern things that really don't warrant a 1 out of 5 or a 1 out of 10 rating. Many of them have complained that Upstart weren't willing to give them a prolonged grace period or deferment after they encountered issues and wanted a few months without payments.

But if it's not in the contract and it's clearly not offered at the outset, why would you expect it to be offered later? We're always on the company's side with these things. If you buy a house from someone, everything goes smoothly and then you get angry at them 6 months down the line because they wouldn't come in and fix your sink, whose problem is it? By all means give a company a good review if they go above and beyond to help, but don't label them “terrible” because they wouldn't do you a favor.

Upstart Reviews

Our Upstart Credit Union Review

Now that we have looked at what others have to say about Upstart, it's time for our own review of this California based company.

The Good

Unique Eligibility Requirements

Upstart’s unique underwriting process is incredibly progressive, incorporating all kinds of unique and high-tech elements. Most other companies look solely at credit score and income and tend to rely too heavily on the famous FICO score. Upstart are different. Their eligibility requirements include school and job history, taking into account experience, income, degrees, attendance, and more. They still look at credit scores as well, but this is just one of the things that they take into account.

Refinancing Options

Upstart offers many services based around loans, including private student loans and student loan refinancing. The latter of these may actually be one of the best we have encountered, although it's far from perfect.

Excellent Customer Service

Upstart takes pride in providing excellent customer service and there are few genuine complaints in this regard. We have found them to be very professional and helpful at all times and these thoughts are mirrored by their many thousands of customers.

Minimum Loan Requirement: $1,000

You will struggle to find loan requirements that go as low as Upstart, as it is possible to loan just $1,000 with this company. Many other companies require at least $5,000-$10,000 minimum and this makes life difficult for customers looking for the bare minimum. It's also worth noting, however, that there are minimum loan requirements in certain states, and companies in these states have to stick to those rules, so it's not always their fault. Still, it's not an issue that Upstart or their customers will face.

The Bad

Origination Fees

One of the biggest issues that we have with Upstart are the fees that they charge. Many companies will not charge fees, but that's not the case with Upstart. You will pay the following:

  • Any monthly payments that are more than 10 days late will incur a 5% charge or $15
  • One time origination fee that is 1-6% of the total loan amount

Fixed Interest Rates Only

While most other companies offer both variable interest rates and fixed interest rates, Upstart only offers fixed interest rates, which could be a turnoff for prospective borrowers. It certainly limits options and will be a concern over long-term loans, but if you prefer fixed interest loans it is not going to be an issue.

No Cosigner

Upstart does not offer a cosigner option for prospective borrowers. If an individual has a low annual salary or is unemployed post-graduation, getting a loan from Upstart may be challenging. They do tend to be more accepting than other companies and you may be accepted even if you have a poor credit score (because this is not the only thing taken into consideration) but this is still a concern.

Difficult to Qualify

Being eligible for Upstart’s student loan refinancing program can be difficult, and requirements, such as a minimum 640 FICO score and a max of $50,000 in outstanding debt, can be unattainable for recent graduates.

They Lack Transparency

Upstart is not all that transparent with information, and it can be difficult for prospective customers to find the information they need in order to make informed decisions. To receive any information about their student loan refinancing programs, borrowers must verify their identity—a requirement rarely seen with other refinancing companies that we have reviewed.

The Bottom Line

There are many things to love about Upstart, including their unique underwriting process that takes into account a variety of different factors and that they are always looking to progress and incorporate technology. However, they lack transparency, charge origination and late fees, only offered fixed rate loans, and don't allow cosigners. We are very excited about what they can do and think they will be the perfect company for many, not to mention a company of the future. But, there are those who will be better off elsewhere and that's why Upstart get a solid 3 out of 5 as opposed to a 4 or 5.