Upstart vs LightStream

Kalicia Bateman
Kalicia Bateman | Contributor

Upstart and LightStream both fall among the top 10 personal loan companies on Best Company, offering personal loans for a variety of needs in all 50 states. 

Applying for a loan with either company is quick and painless, offering same-day approval and loan funding. And, you don't need to worry about getting hit with a prepayment penalty fee if you choose to pay off your loan early.

However, Upstart and LightStream are intended for two very different groups of consumers:

  • Upstart is a good option if you are a young borrower and/or have a low credit score. Through the use of an artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) system, Upstart looks at more than just your credit score to assess borrower risk. Thus, even if you have poor credit, you'll have a better chance of qualifying.
  • LightStream is a good option if you have an excellent credit score (700+) as you could get significantly low rates compared to other lenders in the industry. If you have poor credit, you will likely have a difficult time qualifying for a LightStream loan.

Continue reading for a complete breakdown and comparison of these personal loan companies.

Note: Recent customer reviews for both companies are mostly negative with complaints of poor customer service. 

Upstart logo verified_user
#6 Upstart
7.2 Overall Score
4.3
star star star star star_half
(343)
LightStream logo verified_user
#10 LightStream
6.4 Overall Score
2.3
star star star_half star_border star_border
(100)

Overview

Upstart

Loan Amounts

$1,000–$50,000

Loan Terms

36–60 Months

Min Credit Score

620

Joint Applications

Not Accepted

Time in Business

9 Years

LightStream

$5,000–$100,000

24–144 Months

680

Accepted

8 Years

Ratings

Upstart

Overall Score
7.2 of 10
Review Score
4.3
star star star star star_half
Value for Money
2.7
star star star_half star_border star_border
Quality of Product or Service
2.5
star star star_half star_border star_border
Company Trustworthiness
2.5
star star star_half star_border star_border
Likely to Recommend
3.1 of 10

LightStream

6.4 of 10
2.3
star star star_half star_border star_border
3.1
star star star star_border star_border
2.9
star star star star_border star_border
2.8
star star star star_border star_border
4.4 of 10

Reviews

Upstart

Number of Reviews
343
Review Breakdown
4.3
star star star star star_half
5 star
63%
4 star
23%
3 star
1%
2 star
0%
1 star
13%

LightStream

100
2.3
star star star_half star_border star_border
5 star
31%
4 star
2%
3 star
0%
2 star
2%
1 star
65%

Reviews for Upstart

Helpful Favorable Review

check_circle

Review Source

star star star star star

Craig Orem, UT

Upstart was able to help me and my family when it seemed like we didn't have many options. The whole approval process was much easier than expected and the interest rates were very affordable. Thanks Upstart!!

2 years ago

Helpful Critical Review

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Phillip Pharr, TX

wtf. I Filled out, everything on line supposedly was pre approved and qualified from the web site just need the additional documents. I’m an independent truck driver. Showed them proof of income with deposits from my pay that are direct deposited into my account. These deposits clearly show the company I get paid from with the deposits...bottomline is if they can’t use the documents that they requested or for that matter accept them. Then this sounds like it’s clearly a sham lender! Don’t waste your time with their easy application and approval.

1 year ago

Reviews for LightStream

Helpful Favorable Review

star star star star star

TexasT Sherman, TX

LightStream is my favorite loan company. I have borrowed from them twice and they are the easiest and quickest company I have ever dealt with. If that isn't enough they have the best rates! I will definitely use them again in the future.

1 month ago

Helpful Critical Review

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Nick Massey

They keep asking for more information and each time they want more personal information added to each request. Had I know that they were asking for information that’s not actually required I would have been better off. Now my identity has been stolen and credit compromised! What a nightmare. Beware what you send them!

1 month ago

The Final Word

When choosing between Upstart and LightStream, it is important to take a look at your credit score and credit history, as this will have the largest impact on whether or not you'd qualify for one company or the other. Also consider the following:

Peer-to-Peer Lender vs. Direct Lender

Upstart is a peer-to-peer lending company, connecting borrowers with private investors rather than large banks or financial institutions, while LightStream is a direct lender, underwriting and funding loans in-house.

Peer-to-peer lending can be a better option for borrowers with bad credit or minimal credit history because the company connects you with private investors rather than large banking institutions that generally only take credit into account when making lending decisions.

However, there is increased speed and efficiency with direct lenders since they do all loan processing, underwriting, and funding in-house. But, direct lenders generally have strict qualification requirements that may be difficult for low-credit borrowers to meet.

Loan Rates and Terms

Upstart and LightStream differ in the rates, loan amounts, and loan terms that they offer:

Upstart vs. LightStream
  Upstart LightStream
APR range 8.27%–35.99% 2.49%–19.99% (with AutoPay)
Minimum credit score 620 680
Loan amounts $1,000–$50,000 $5,000–$100,000
Loan terms 36–60 months 24–144 months

Upstart and LightStream are intended for two different groups of consumers. If you have an excellent credit score (700+), LightStream would be the better choice for you, as you could get much lower rates and more favorable loan terms. But, if you have a lower credit score, you may not qualify for a LightStream loan and might find success with Upstart instead.

More than anything, it is important to consider your personal needs and finances when choosing a personal loan provider.

Minimum Credit Score

From the chart above, you can see that Upstart and LightStream's minimum credit score differs widely.

Yes, LightStream could be a great option for your personal loan needs, but it may be difficult to qualify for a loan even if you have a credit score of 680. Thus, you will likely need an excellent credit score of 700+ not only to qualify, but to receive the lowest interest rate available.

Upstart, on the other hand, has a much lower credit score requirement and takes other factors into account when determining your eligibility for a loan, including your income, education, and employment history.

Fees

Neither Upstart or LightStream have a prepayment penalty fee, allowing you to save on interest by paying your loan off early. LightStream doesn't even have an origination fee or late fee, while Upstart has both.

With an Upstart personal loan you will be charged an origination fee of 0 to 8 percent of your loan amount. And, if you make a late payment, you will be charged a 5 percent or $15 late fee (whichever is greater).

Joint Applications/Cosigners

Upstart does not accept joint applications or cosigners, but LightStream does accept either.

Applying for a personal loan on a joint application or with a cosigner can increase your chances of approval if you have a low credit score, as well as get you a lower interest rate than you might get otherwise.

Even if you have low credit, there could be an opportunity for you to qualify for a LightStream personal loan if you apply with a creditworthy cosigner. However, you may find that it is difficult to find someone who is willing to cosign your loan, and it may not be worth the time and effort when you could apply and qualify for a loan elsewhere on your own merits.

Loan Purpose

An Upstart loan can be used for whatever purpose you choose.

However, a LightStream loan must be used for the stated purpose in your application. You can still use your loan for multiple purposes such as credit card debt consolidation, home improvements, medical expenses, etc, but you must use it for the purpose specified in your application. This can be limiting if you were hoping to use your loan for multiple purposes or to have some wiggle room if other expenses came up, but it can also ensure that you don't borrow more than you need, saving you more money on interest.

Customer Reviews

On Best Company, Upstart has upwards of 340 reviews, while LightStream only has upwards of 80 reviews. Thus, it is difficult to make a fair comparison since there is such a large disparity in total reviews for each company.

Upstart reviews are majority positive, with 86 percent of customers rewarding the company 4 or 5 stars. However, it is important to note that the majority of these favorable reviews are outdated and more recent reviews (2019, 2020, and 2021) are mostly negative. From more recent reviews, it appears that customer service has diminished with many customers complaining of lack of communication and poor overall customer support.

Similarly, the majority of recent LightStream reviews are 1-star. Customers outline bad experiences with customer service as well as difficulty being approved.

Top Choice

Upstart Logo
Upstart

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