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Upstart: 2023 auto loan review

2023-05-08 00:00:00

At a glance

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Bankrate Score

  • Availability
    Rating: 4.3 stars out of 5
  • Affordability
    Rating: 3.4 stars out of 5
  • Customer Experience
    Rating: 4 stars out of 5
  • Transparency
    Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
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About Upstart

  • Moneybag

    Loan amount

    $9,000 to $60,000

  • Credit Good

    Min. credit score


  • Rates

    APR from

    Varies by state

  • Funds available in

    14 days following promissory note

Best for borrowers lacking credit history 

If you are looking to refinance but have poor credit due to a lack of history or other complications, Upstart is a great option. While Upstart will still work with those boasting strong credit, its structure specifically benefits those on the poor credit spectrum. The rates and terms it offers factor in a person's income and education. The fully online approach is also ideal for those who feel comfortable making financial choices online and prefer online communication.

Upstart pros and cons

Before you refinance with Upstart, consider the whole of what it has to offer.


  • Checkmark

    Smarter rate approach

  • Checkmark

    Fully online experience

  • Checkmark

    Cars eligible up to 120,000 miles


  • Close X

    Not available in every state

  • Close X

    No co-borrowers

  • Close X

    High minimum loan amount

Upstart is an online lender that was established in 2012. It uses AI technology to determine risk rather than more traditional underwriting criteria. Drivers looking to refinance their loans will be measured on factors such as income and education instead of just their credit score. This unique approach allows drivers with poor credit to still have a chance at good rates.

Through its website or app, drivers are able to see potential rates in minutes.

Do you qualify?

Upstart has a few requirements to keep in mind if you wish to refinance.

Your vehicle must:

  • Be less than 10 years old
  • Have under 140,000 miles
  • Be an insured, personal use car

Your current loan must have:

  • An outstanding balance of $9,000 to $60,000
  • Been initiated at least one month ago
  • Have at least 24 months remaining

Upstart versus Caribou

Much like Upstart, Caribou gives borrowers the ability to refinance entirely online. A refinancing loan with Caribou is great for a hesitant borrower as they can get answers through online customer support. Additionally, the lender offers prequalification, which can add a layer of confidence for borrowers who are unsure of their creditworthiness. See our full Upstart vs. Caribou comparison for more help deciding.

Upstart versus RateGenius

RateGenius carries a slightly higher minimum loan amount of $10,250 versus the $9,000 Upstart minimum. This minor difference can make Upstart the preferred lender for those financing a less-expensive vehicle. Neither lender requires perfect credit but RateGenius offers an extra perk. Borrowers can sign off with the help of a co-applicant — likely to improve rates for those lacking credit history. 

What we like and what we don’t like

Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of Upstart auto loans.

What we like

  • Smarter rate approach. Upstart measures more than just your credit score, factoring in your work experience and education alongside your credit history. And if you don’t have a credit history, it will still consider you.
  • Fully online experience. Upstart has a seamless online application along with an app. You won’t need to visit a physical location to complete the loan process.
  • Cars eligible up to 120,000 miles. Unlike many lenders, Upstart allows you to refinance vehicles with high mileage. The usual cutoff is 100,000 miles, so Upstart is a good choice for cars that have made a few road trips.

What we don't like

  • Not available in every state. Upstart does not offer loans in Maryland.
  • No co-borrowers. Although you can have a co-owner and still receive refinancing, Upstart doesn’t allow for a co-borrower on its application.
  • High minimum loan amount. You will need to finance at least $9,000 to qualify. Other lenders have lower minimums — usually $5,000 to $7,500.

How to contact Upstart 

Although Upstart ranks fairly low with the Better Business Bureau, it does offer support seven days a week by phone or email. It also has an extensive, searchable online help center available for applicants. Upstart representatives can be contacted Monday through Sunday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.

Auto loan types offered

Upstart specializes in auto loan refinancing — which means you won’t be able to buy a new or used car with one of its loans.

Auto loan refinancing

  • Amounts: $9,000 to $60,000
  • Terms: 24-84 months
  • APR: Varies by state

 Upstart’s AI system will match you with a new rate and term to help reduce your current monthly payment. 

How to apply for a loan with Upstart

Upstart boasts a simple online application process that can provide a few quotes based on the borrower’s goals. Although the process starts with a soft credit pull for prequalification, a hard credit inquiry will happen if you accept a quote and continue with the application.

Features and perks

A major bonus that comes with Upstart refinancing is its loan-matching software. It expedites the financing process by removing the need for time-consuming human involvement and aims to match you will the right lender for your needs. 

Fees and penalties

Upstart does not enforce any fees for borrowers unless the vehicle is repossessed.

How Bankrate rates Upstart

Overall score 4.0
Availability 4.3 Upstart offers a high maximum loan amount but has mileage and vehicle age restrictions and is not available in every state.
Affordability 3.4 Upstart has a very reasonable maximum APR and does not charge fees unless the vehicle is repossessed. However, it's maximum APR is quite high.
Customer experience 4.0 Upstart offers a range of customer service options, including person-to-person assistance seven days a week. It also has an app and an autopay option.
Transparency 4.5 Upstart both allows prequalification and hosts most of its rates and fees — or lack thereof — on its website.


To rate lenders that specialize in auto refinance loans, Bankrate considers 16 different factors. These factors range in consideration from the loan amount, disclosed APR and acceptance criteria. Each lender holds a score based on four categories

  • Availability: This accounts for loan amounts, vehicle restrictions and availability in each state.
  • Affordability: Primarily, this section covers expected APR, acceptance criteria, discounts for autopay and the number of fees. 
  • Customer experience: This category includes online access, support availability, funding timeline, option for automatic payment and app availability.
  • Transparency: Here prequalification and disclosure of rates and fees are accounted for.
Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the lender’s website for the most current information.
Written by
Rebecca Betterton
Writer, Auto Loans and Personal Loans

Rebecca Betterton is a writer for Bankrate who has been reporting on auto loans since 2021. Through her writing, Rebecca aims to provide clarity and accessibility to the automotive loans industry as the cost to finance new and used vehicles continues to climb due to steep inflation.

Edited by Editor, Personal Loans, Auto Loans, and Debt