UPST: Review of trustpilot

I looked through Trustpilot reviews from Q2 (end of March) through Q3-to-date (up to Sept 21). Combing through Trustpilot is not the most rigorous way to estimate how a business is performing but definitely can give us indirect indications.

Here are the findings.

97% of reviews were 5 star. 2% were 4 star ratings. Less than 1% were 3 star or lower. The vast majority of borrowers had rave reviews.

The most mentioned words/phrases/ideas in reviews in order of their highest representation:

  1. “Quick, easy", "fast, minutes, convenient”
  2. “Excellent customer service”
  3. “Transparent, upfront, true, no hidden fee”
  4. “Lowest rate”, “lower APR” than “my bank, credit union” or other lenders
  5. “I’m a customer for life”, “I will be a repeat customer”
  6. “I will be recommending to friends and family”
  7. “Looks at you as a person, not just a score”
  8. “Better than going to a bank”

Below I have examples or details corresponding to the numbered points above.

[1] I thought these two reviews were exemplary of UPST accomplishing its mission statement: to enable effortless credit based on true risk.

UPST finds true risk: “Trust me: Upstart is better than the rest. Let me just say, of all the lenders I’ve researched and used, Upstart is hands down my favorite. Seriously. I, unfortunately, have needed to use many lenders over the years, Lending Club, Upstart, Credit Unions, Firstmark. And, throughout time, I’ve been flat-out rejected by others which are not even as reputable (e.g. Avant, First Main, One Main, Prosper). Throughout that time I have found that Upstart ALWAYS had the best terms (interest rates, payment amounts, etc.) at least for all my applications. This is my 3rd loan with them I’ve used over 8 years (never concurrent, and never immediately back-to-back). I have NEVER missed a payment on ANY credit card or loan, and Upstart still was always willing to give me a chance when other inferior lenders would not. I love Upstart. They’ve always done me well, and I always made sure my autopay paid them the same respects. I even paid off 1 loan 1/2 way through once because I was able to. If you need help, give Upstart a try.”

UPST enables effortless credit: “I’m 72 years of age and have work on Wall Street for 45 years of my life, and I can say without a doubt this was easiest loan I ever experience in my life time. I’ve taking out car loans, personal loans, before- none was this easy, GREAT JOB Upstart!”

Ok, and a couple others I thought were funny to read, but highlights the effortless/automated nature of UPST’s process:
“What a fantastic experience. I have never experienced anything like this ever. These people actually do what they say. There’s No,” Great; thanks for sending that information, now, we just need two more things. Your smartest grandchild’s name and age,. By the way, We must have a licensed therapist to very the Intelligence Quotient of the child, and you wife’s uncle’s blood type."
“I am so use to having to giving my first born, half the farm and 1/3 of my blood to get a loan, but I was literally approved in no time. Well worth the APR”
“Excellent terms, fast & easy like my H.S girlfriend, would highly recommend!!”

[2] Many of them, in fact, were giving shout outs to the call representative by name. In fact, one customer was very happy to have waited 55 minutes just to talk to a representative and praised her specifically! “I waited 55 min to talk to someone, but in the end it was very much worth the wait. I talked to a lady named Lisa, for whom I was able to understand, she was so nice, patient, and helpful…A big shout out to her, Thanks again Lisa.”

[5] This is what I was most interested in. I’ve found there were MANY reviewers who said they were already onto their third or fourth loan, and many were even on repeat loans within the same year!
I wanted to find out, has the repeat customer count increased over time?
I counted up the total number of reviews by each week from Q2 through Q3-to-date, and then counted the number of reviews that said they were repeat customers (table below)

Week  Total Repeats
3/28   78    0
4/4    79    1
4/11   116   2
4/18   71    0
4/25   50    0
5/2    101   1
5/9    85    1
5/16   84    0
5/23   71    1
5/30   99    1
6/6    90    0
6/13   77    1
6/20   51    0
6/27   189   5
7/4    425   19
7/11   591   11
7/18   544   10
7/25   404   9
8/1    434   12
8/8    504   8
8/15   530   14
8/22   418   17
8/29   453   21
9/5    416   7
9/12   485   11
9/19   210   4

The answer was yes. The proportion of reviewers saying they were repeat customers was 0.7605% in Q2, which increased to 2.6414% in Q3-to-date. That’s an over three-fold (347%) increase from Q2 to Q3.

Caveats: this is not really that scientific, with lots of confounding factors, but the trend I think is definitely there. Repeat customers is excellent for UPST as there is almost no marketing costs involved and the default risk is even lower due to the known creditworthiness (they had paid off previous UPST loans). So it’s much higher margins.
And many were taking personal loans not just for credit card refinance but for cars – if UPST maintains its branding power/reputation, these borrowers might seek UPST for home lending/other categories in the far future – Keep in mind that the average UPST borrower age is 28 and has an average income of over $86,000. Developing a young/higher income base of borrowers only strengthens the business in the long term.

[6] I unfortunately didn’t count these up, but many reviewers were saying they came to UPST due to word of mouth too.
Example: “When considering a loan, I contacted a friend, that I TRUST, and told him about what I learned from my pre-application process and that it was UPSTART that I was considering using. Low and behold, he had used UPSTART himself, and had only good things to say! That was all I needed to hear.”
Many other reviews were also saying: “My son referred me”, “my daughter referred me”, “a coworker told me”, “my wife got a loan from Upstart and so did I”

Other things to note:
How are customers finding UPST (excluding by word of mouth, which I forgot to count)?
Direct mail was mentioned 36 times
Credit Karma was mentioned 22 times (this includes a plus one for someone mentioning which is Intuit too)
Podcast: 10 times (named podcasts included, Jtrain, honeydew, Wine and Crime, Morbid, Distractible, Busy Philipps is Doing Her Best) ( this podcast listener found UPST’s rate better than their credit union)
Lending tree mentioned 4 times
Nerd Wallet mentioned 2 times
Youtube: 2 times ( “I heard about Upstart while watching a YouTube video on personal finance.”)
Instagram: 1 time ( “I saw Upstart on my IG page for about a month before I applied.”), of note, many other reviewers said they came to UPST due to “social media” which I’m not sure what that breaks down into, like if it includes Facebook or others?

I didn’t expect direct mail to have a higher number of mentions than than Credit Karma. I guess people who go through a mail offer are more happy/more likely to say they came from mail than those who came through CK.

Which bank partners are mentioned by name, and how often? I looked at this only for Q3-to-date (from 7/1 to 9/21). It was interesting that Cross river bank was not mentioned much at all.
Customers bank: 16 times
Kemba credit union: 4 times
FNBO: 1 time
Cross river: 2 times
Apple bank: 2 times
WSFS: 2 times (As I mentioned earlier on the board…, very cool to see someone submit a review the day of press release yesterday - these reviews are definitely instantaneous/real time!)
Drummond bank: 1 time
FFBKC: 1 time

Other tidbits:

  1. I did not really find any reviews written in Spanish.

  2. Surprisingly, there were several folks who used Upstart for their small business. Perhaps a category for Upstart to attack in the far future?
    Examples: “This loan process was quick and easy! I am shocked that it was so simple! I appreciate their approval and ease of doing business. I recommend to anyone else looking for a small business startup loan.” “Just used upstart to get funding for my business. Going through the banks has been a very difficult process, but I was able to apply and get approved within 30 minutes. This process has been so easy and seamless.”
    There was another that took out an Upstart loan to pay for a broken cooler in their flower shop.

  3. There were those that used UPST to finance their car, refinance their car, and even took out two loans (one for personal loan, and one for car purchase).

In closing, we should keep in mind we had discussed before (…) that UPST probably changed their review mechanism for Trustpilot which explains the skyrocketing number of reviews submitted starting from July 1.
Trustpilot isn’t the most scientific way for us to see how UPST is doing, but I think the above certainly gives us some insights.


This is just a staggering amount of work, and so very helpful. Thank you!

You mentioned no reviews in Spanish. As I was reading the review you quoted about the person happy to wait 55 minutes to speak with someone, the phrasing in part of the review made me wonder if the person was not a native English speaker. And that made me wonder if the reason they had to wait 55 minutes was to get someone who could explain a complex issue in the person’s native language.

That’s a lot of supposing, but I wondered about it when I read it and then your comment about no reviews in Spanish made me remember that they were upping their language game and thought that might explain the long wait time.

But really, bravo!