Both Upstart and Caribou are appealing if you want to refinance your auto loan entirely online. They use AI to match borrowers with compatible lenders, boasting speed and ease of use. Upstart is best if you don’t have the best credit, while Caribou is better if you want to apply with a co-borrower.

Upstart vs. Caribou at a glance

Upstart Caribou
Bankrate score 4.0 4.4
Better for 
  • Borrowers who want educational attainment and/or work history factored into their eligibility
  • People whose current vehicle loan has a substantial balance remaining
  • Applicants with a co-borrower
  • Borrowers looking to bundle their loan refinance and add-ons
Loans offered Auto loan refinancing Auto loan refinancing
Loan amounts $3,000-$60,000 $10,000-$125,000
APRs 9.32%-29.99% 5.95%-28.55%
Loan term lengths 24-84 months 24-84 months
Fees None charged unless the vehicle is repossessed Possible $499 processing fee
Minimum credit score 510 640
State footprint 49 states and Washington, D.C. 45 states and Washington, D.C.
Time to funding 1-14 days Varies depending on lender
Autopay discount? No No
Refinancing requirements
  • Vehicle age: 13 years old or newer
  • Mileage: Fewer than 140,000
  • At least 24 months remaining on current loan
  • Current loan must have originated at least one month ago
  • No commercial vehicles, vehicles with second liens, or vehicles with salvage titles
  • Income: At least $2,000/month
  • Mileage: Fewer than 120,000
  •  Additional restrictions may apply, depending on lender

Upstart auto loans

Best for nontraditional eligibility criteria

Bankrate’s view

Launched in 2012 by a former Google executive, Upstart is not a direct lender. Instead, it partners with more than 90 banks and credit unions to offer auto loan refinancing and personal loan products.

It considers factors like your education and work history in addition to your credit score. This may open doors for applicants who may not qualify for a refinance through traditional lenders and other marketplaces like Caribou.

However, Upstart does not permit co-borrowers, which may be prohibitive for some people.

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Pros

  • Flexible eligibility requirements: Upstart looks at your background and employment to determine if you qualify.
  • Range of repayment terms: You can take as little as 24 months to as long as 84 months to repay your loan — though Caribou offers the same options.
  • Generous mileage limit: Upstart considers vehicles as old as 13 years and with up to 140,000 miles.
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Cons

  • No co-borrowers: Co-borrowers and co-signers are not allowed. You can submit paperwork to include a co-owner, but the co-owner will not share responsibility for making payments.
  • High potential APR: The lenders in Upstart’s network have a starting APR of 9.32 percent — much higher than you’d find with competitors like Caribou.
  • Long funding timeline: It may take up to two weeks for Upstart to process your application, find a lender and fund your refinance.

Caribou auto loans

Best for bundling additional products

Bankrate’s view

Established in 2016, Caribou is a much smaller company with a narrower scope. Unlike Upstart, Caribou only offers auto loan refinance. Despite its much smaller size and more specific focus, Caribou may be a better fit for some borrowers. The potential to include a co-borrower on the application may make Caribou a more accessible option for some.

Caribou offers prequalification before processing applicants’ loan applications. If you want to compare rate eligibility before committing, this soft credit check helps you avoid a hard inquiry.

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Pros

  • Bundle with insurance: In addition to refinancing, you can also add additional products like an extended warranty and gap insurance.
  • Co-borrowers allowed: You can add a co-borrower, which may help you qualify for lower rates.
  • Low starting APR: The lenders in Caribou’s network offer a competitive starting APR of 5.95 percent — and the maximum APR of 28.55 percent is still lower than Upstart’s maximum.
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Cons

  • Processing fee: While it may not be added to the cost of your refinance, you could face a processing fee of $499.
  • High minimum refinance: You must be able to borrow at least $10,000 to refinance through Caribou. If you owe less on your current loan, Upstart will be a better option.
  • Limited customer service hours: Compared to Upstart, Caribou’s customer service hours may mean you don’t have access to help when you need it.

How to choose between Upstart and Caribou

Caribou is the obvious choice if you want to include a co-borrower, but you may want to opt for Upstart anyway if you only need to refinance a small amount.

Choose Upstart for flexibility

Maybe you are refinancing your vehicle to remove a co-borrower from your loan, or maybe you qualify for a lower rate. Upstart may be a good place option if you want to refinance your vehicle independently and compare multiple lenders simultaneously.

Upstart is especially good if you have little remaining on your current car loan or if you have bad credit. The lenders in its network accept scores as low as 510. So, while you can’t apply with a co-signer like with Caribou, you may not need one to qualify.

Choose Caribou for co-borrowing

Caribou requires a fair credit score of 640 to qualify for one of the lenders in its network. While this can be difficult for some, it does allow co-signers, which may increase your odds of approval. It may also be able to help you lower your interest rate more than Upstart.

While it is a hefty processing fee, Caribou is fully upfront about the $499 price tag. Other lenders charging a similar fee may not disclose it so clearly before you apply. Most importantly, you may not be charged for it at all. Your lender may choose to pass it off on you—or it may not. Check to see if it will be added to your bill before signing.

Compare more lenders before applying

Both Upstart and Caribou offer different opportunities and benefits for drivers looking to refinance their auto loan. Upstart is a solid choice for borrowers who want to prioritize qualifying independently for a refinance, while Caribou offers a customer focus that hesitant borrowers may especially appreciate.

And if you are matched with a lender through Upstart or Caribou, double-check that it has good ratings and meets your needs. You are never obligated to apply with a lender just because you are matched, and you may be able to find better rates elsewhere.