Are you a college graduate with bad credit? You might be reeling from your student loan debts and other financial hardships in the wake of graduation, but there may be some relief in sight. Personal loans can be a smart way to consolidate debt or pay off high-interest debt in exchange for a lower-interest personal loan rate. But if you have bad credit, most lenders aren’t going to give you a low rate to begin with. It’s that old paradox that college grads run into all the time: you have to have experience to get a job, and you have to have good credit to have access to effective ways to pay off your debt.
But Upstart is changing the way some people, particularly college grads, approach debt repayment. The company evaluates other factors in addition to your credit score, including your work history, where you went to college and what you studied while there. This gives the company a more complete profile of each applicant’s future earning potential. Liberal arts majors may get the short end of the stick here because majors like English and Fine Arts usually aren’t associated with high post-graduation income potential. If you chose a lucrative major like engineering, you may be more a more appealing applicant for the Upstart loan.
The company does consider credit scores in addition to other traditional factors such as what the applicant uses the loan for. Upstart’s borrowing categories focus on typical personal loan uses such as credit card payoff, debt consolidation, tax debts, medical bills and education expenses. Applicants must have a minimum FICO score of 620 and must have a verifiable credit history to apply. Applicants also need to be able to prove that they have steady sources of income, such as a full- or part-time job, and though Upstart doesn’t mention this in the eligibility requirements on its website, consumer reviews indicate that the company does tend to focus on younger borrowers.
Upstart loans are available in amounts ranging from $1,000–$50,000, are available for 3- or 5-year terms and carry fixed APRs ranging from 7.54–35.99%. If approved, applicants receive funds from Upstart quickly, typically within a single business day. Late fees amount to 5% of the payment amount or $15, whichever is greater, and origination fees range from 0%–8% depending on how Upstart grades the applicant’s creditworthiness.
For applicants who are worried that their low credit scores or short credit history might hurt their chances of getting a personal loan, Upstart could present the right loan option. With Upstart’s a higher upper APR (Annual Percentage Rate) range, borrowers with better credit and even those in the 600s may want to shop around for a different option among the personal loan providers out there.
A SoFi personal loan may be a viable alternative to loans from Upstart, and SoFi’s options generally have lower interest rates available. Applicants must use autopay to qualify for these rates, but if they have steady income and manage their finances well, this shouldn’t be a problem. SoFi offers 2-to-7 year loans with both fixed and variable rates ranging from 5.99%–16.99% APR and 5.74%–14.70% APR, respectively with selection of auto-pay. Thanks to these additional options, there’s a bit more flexibility with these loans than Upstart currently offers. If an applicant is willing to sign up for a variable rate loan, SoFi may allow him or her to take advantage of much lower rates than Upstart offers.
SoFi doesn’t list specific income or credit minimums in its eligibility requirements, but the company does have a reputation for being highly selective, according to consumer reviews, possibly because it offers loans in amounts ranging from $5,000 up to $100,000. Applicants who are attracted to Upstart’s additional lending criteria due to a shaky credit history may find that SoFi’s personal loan may not be the right choice.
Like Upstart, an Earnest personal loan goes beyond the black-and-white rigidity of credit score to consider different factors about applicants that make ideal borrowers. Your education may factor in, but the company also focuses on other criteria, such as your history of payment timeliness, savings account balance and income. If you have a good job, a good savings account and little to no payment delinquencies on your credit history, Earnest may be a better option for you than Upstart.
That’s because Earnest’s rates are much more favorable than Upstart’s. Earnest offers 3-, 4- and 5-year fixed-rate personal loans. Rates vary based on the loan’s duration. In addition, Earnest’s personal loan amounts range from $5,000–$75,000. This combination of factors does mean that monthly payments may be much higher with Earnest even though the loans offer better rates simply because applicants have to pay off their loans in a shorter amount of time. If you have a limited monthly income, you may not want to burden yourself with multi-hundred-dollar payments for an Earnest loan.
A Prosper personal loan is available in amounts from $2,000 to $40,000 under fixed 3- or 5-year terms, so these loans equal out with Upstart in regards to their terms. Prosper offers a slightly larger interest rate range than Upstart does, with the lowest rate at 6.95% fixed APR and the highest at 35.99% fixed APR, and requires FICO scores 640 or above for applicants. Overall, Prosper may not be a wise alternative to Upstart, especially if you’re concerned that your credit history isn’t good enough for traditional lenders.
Upstart offers an attractive concept for young borrowers who need to find their financial footing after college. If you’re having trouble finding approval elsewhere or think your education proves you have a bright financial future ahead, Upstart may offer some of the better loan terms you can find. With such a high upper rate range, it’s a good idea to shop around first, especially if Upstart quotes you a high APR and you think your credit score is good enough to allow you to go elsewhere.
It’s also important to carefully consider whether a personal loan, even from an innovative lender like Upstart, is the right option for you. If you’re trying to consolidate and pay off credit card debt, there may be better options out there than Upstart’s personal loan. Applicants with poor credit may find more success with secured loans, which often have lower interest rates but require applicants to submit collateral. A 0% APR credit card with a balance transfer option is a more favorable option than signing up for 3 or more years of 29.99% APR.