LendUp Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Payday loans are a risky endeavor. Coming in at a budget-shattering average interest rate of 400%, once you’re involved in a payday loan, it’s hard to get out.

Besides, if the premise of the loan is that you don’t have enough room in your budget to make it until payday, how will you suddenly have the room next time to pay back the loan amount plus interest? The more payday loans you borrow, the less money you’ll be able to use out of each future paycheck.

But there are times when you might need help, which is challenging if you don’t have an emergency fund or other credit to fall back on. And if your credit score is low, it’s not exactly easy to get inexpensive loans. So if these loans are a necessary evil for some, are there any responsible versions available?

Online lender LendUp would say yes. While the interest rates are in the typical payday loan range, the company touts practices that help customers work their way toward better rates.

Here’s how it works, along with information from other LendUp reviews, and details about the company’s recent legal issues.

The lowdown on LendUp

So what is LendUp, exactly? Describing itself as a “socially responsible lender,” LendUp provides short-term credit to those who might not qualify for prime financial products.

While this isn’t very different from traditional payday lenders, LendUp distinguishes itself by also offering customers ways to improve their financial situation.

  • LendUp offers a 30-day extension on single-payment loans to help borrowers who can’t pay it all back at once.
  • The LendUp Ladder helps borrowers earn points to become eligible for better rates and payment reporting to the credit reporting bureaus.
  • Borrowers can earn these points by paying off their loan, taking financial education courses online through LendUp, referring a friend, and more.

LendUp isn’t available throughout the U.S. Below are the states LendUp works in as of now.

  • Single payment loans and installment loans
    • California
    • Louisiana
    • Missouri
    • Tennessee
    • Texas
  • Single payment loans only
    • Mississippi
    • Ohio
    • Wisconsin
  • Installment loans only
    • South Carolina

There are other states where LendUp has previously offered products but isn’t currently taking applications: Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

LendUp products

LendUp specializes in short-term credit but offers it in a variety of ways. You can use LendUp to get a credit card, a single-payment loan, or an installment loan. The amount you can borrow for a single-payment loan, which is the product that most resembles a payday loan, depends in part on the state you live in. The maximum amount of an installment loan is $1,000.

Credit cards aren’t available to everyone as of right now, though you can be waitlisted by entering your email address on the LendUp credit cards page. And if you’ve already received an offer code from LendUp, you can enter it on the same page to start your application.

As mentioned above, LendUp offers courses to help its borrowers earn points to climb up the ladder towards better interest rates and reporting to your credit bureau, which can help you build your credit score. The LendUp education platform has a variety of videos, with topics including credit building, understanding your rights, the cost of credit and more.

Using the LendUp platform

LendUp has an online platform from which you can manage your loans. This is where you can upload application documents, such as proof of income, check the status of your application, and make payments.

The interface earns mixed reviews from customers. Some LendUp reviews report that applying is fast and easy, while others complain of occasional technical glitches, some of which LendUp might be slow to fix.

It’s important to know that LendUp currently has a notice on its website warning customers of scammers trying to imitate the company. LendUp doesn’t charge money upfront — if you receive an interaction that you’re not sure of, call LendUp at 1-855-2LENDUP or email help@lendup.com.

If you’re using LendUp and need to contact customer service, you can do so via the number listed for your state on the contact page.

LendUp interest rates and fees

Since LendUp doesn’t originate the loans and credit cards they offer, the interest rates will vary. You can check their rates and notices page to see what kind of rates you might be able to get in your state.

The fees LendUp can charge also vary by state. For single-payment loans, fees currently range from $25 to $45 per loan up to a maximum of 25 percent of the amount borrowed.

Fees for installment loans also come in different ranges and with different names. You might see what’s basically an origination fee referred to as an “administrative fee” or a “Credit Access Business (CAB) fee.” The amounts go from nothing at all to $50, or 5 percent of the loan amount all the way up to $24 to $40 per $100 borrowed.

These fees don’t include the interest rates, which also change based on the loan type and the state in which you’re borrowing. The general range sits at an APR of just more than 100% all the way up to more than 1000% on single-payment loans. Installment loans come in at 35% interest rates and up to more than 200%.

LendUp eligibility requirements

Good credit isn’t required for LendUp’s single payment loans. Below are the basic requirements.

  • Being at least 18 years old
  • Proof of recurring income
  • An active checking account that accepts ACH transfers
  • Residency in a state in which LendUp operates

You also need to have a working email address and a valid phone number that can accept incoming calls. Note that active-duty military members and their dependents are not eligible to receive credit via LendUp.

If you apply for a loan and are declined, you can log into your dashboard to find out why.

LendUp reviews on the customer service experience

Although LendUp calls itself a socially responsible lender, LendUp reviews on customer service point to some major room for improvement. The company currently has a C+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). And, thanks to recent legal trouble — more on this below — LendUp has lost its accreditation with the BBB.

The customer service feedback given in LendUp reviews points to large communication issues as well as some technical problems on the website. Some customers giving negative feedback via CreditKarma and the BBB said that it can be difficult to reach LendUp agents via telephone and that the company doesn’t always respond promptly to emails.

Several LendUp reviews complain that the company doesn’t always update information promptly to show repaid loans, and that LendUp sometimes debits an account twice for a single payment.

That said, there are also good reviews in which customers say they’ll use the product again. Some LendUp borrowers acknowledge the high interest rates but say that’s what they expect for this kind of product, as it caters to those who might not eligible for more favorable rates. In fact, some of the positive reviewers say they’ve been using the company for years and plan to continue to do so.

So what about this legal trouble? In September of 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) ordered LendUp to pay $3.63 million for not delivering on the benefits advertised. Violations included not reporting to credit reporting agencies as advertised, misleading customers about the product offerings and interest rates available to them, and reversing interest rates without proper disclosure.

In an interview with TechCruch last year, LendUp CEO Sasha Orloff said the violations stemmed from “legacy issues that mostly date back to our early days as a company. … In those days we didn’t have a fully built out compliance department. We should have.”

Orloff said that the company has since addressed the issues.

Deciding if LendUp’s products are right for you

Based on some of the LendUp reviews, it’s clear there may be risks involved — some of the same risks that exist with many payday lenders. It’s already difficult to get out of a payday loan cycle. That would only be made worse by working with a company that’s not quickly responsive if you run into trouble with your account.

However, LendUp does offer a chance to extend your single-payment loan without going deeper into debt from excessive fees. And if you work to build points and climb the LendUp Ladder, you might be able to free yourself from the initially (very) high interest rates.

Some might also see this as a tool to build credit when their own credit is new or damaged. But if this is the case with you, you might want to consider the much-lower-interest option of a secured credit card. And if your credit score is high enough for traditional personal loans rather than payday loans, that might be a much easier and more seamless process for you.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2018!
LenderAPR RangeLoan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 6.990% APR to 14.865% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 6.255% APR to 12.555% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of September 1, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 6.255% APR assumes current index rate derived from the 1-month LIBOR of 2.08% plus 4.425% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

    To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.See Consumer Licenses.
  2. Minimum Credit Score: Not all applicants who meet SoFi’s minimum credit score requirements are approved for a personal loan. In addition to meeting SoFi’s minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must also meet other credit and underwriting requirements to qualify.
  3. SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Maximum interest rate on loans for residents of AK and WY is 9.99% APR, for residents of IL with loans over $40,000 is 8.99% APR, for residents of TX is 9.99% APR on terms greater than 5 years, for residents of CO, CT, HI, VA, SC is 11.99% APR, and for residents of ME is 12.24% APR. Personal loans not available to residents of MI who already have a student loan with SoFi. Personal Loans minimum loan amount is $5,000. Residents of AZ, MA, and NH have a minimum loan amount of $10,001. Residents of KY have a minimum loan amount of $15,001. Residents of PA have a minimum loan amount of $25,001. Variable rates not available to residents of AK, TX, VA, WY, or for residents of IL for loans greater than $40,000.
  4. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.

Payoff Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.

3 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.

FreedomPlus Disclosures

  1. All loans available through FreedomPlus.com are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loan and rate terms are subject to eligibility restrictions, application review, credit score, loan amount, loan term, lender approval, and credit usage and history. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Loans are not available to residents of all states – please call a FreedomPlus representative for further details. The following limitations, in addition to others, shall apply: FreedomPlus does not arrange loans in: (i) Arizona under $10,500; (ii) Massachusetts under $6,500, (iii) Ohio under $5,500, and (iv) Georgia under $3,500. Repayment periods range from 24 to 60 months. The range of APRs on loans made available through FreedomPlus is 4.99% to a maximum of 29.99%. APR. The APR calculation includes all applicable fees, including the loan origination fee. For Example, a four year $20,000 loan with an interest rate of 15.49% and corresponding APR of 18.34% would have an estimated monthly payment of $561.60 and a total cost payable of $7,948.13. To qualify for a 4.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan of $15,000 with a term of 24 months, and qualify for at least two of the following discounts: (1) add a co-borrower who has sufficient income; (2) use at least fifty percent of the loan proceeds to directly pay off existing debt; or (3) show proof of having at least forty-thousand dollars in retirement savings – contact FreedomPlus for further details.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

5 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.

LendingPoint Disclosures

  • Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates (“APR”) may vary based upon LendingPoint’s proprietary scoring and underwriting system’s review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 6% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon LendingPoint’s final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. LendingPoint makes loan offers from $2,000 to $25,000, at rates ranging from a low of 15.49% APR to a high of 34.49% APR, with terms from 24 to 48 months. The loan offer(s) shown reflect a 28 day payment cycle which is being offered as a courtesy as many of our customers are paid on a biweekly schedule and thus this may better align the loan payment dates with your actual income receipt schedule.

6 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.

LendingClub Disclosures

All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage & history. The APR ranges from 6.95% to 35.89%*. The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6% of the original principal balance and is deducted from your loan proceeds. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at the time of application. The average origination fee is 5.49% as of Q1 2017. In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,025 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months. Borrower must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or be in the United States on a valid long term visa and at least 18 years old. Valid bank account and Social Security number are required. Equal Housing Lender. All loans are subject to credit approval. LendingClub’s physical address is: LendingClub, 71 Stevenson Street, Suite 1000, San Francisco, CA 94105.

†Per reviews collected and authenticated by Bazaarvoice in compliance with the Bazaarvoice Authentication Requirements, supported by anti-fraud technology and human analysis. All reviews can be reviewed at reviews.lendingclub.com

**Based on approximately 60% of borrowers who received offers through LendingClub’s marketing partners between January 1, 2018 to July 20,2018. The time it will take to fund your loan may vary.

7 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

  1. Earnest does not lend in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, or Rhode Island.

8 Important Disclosures for Avant.

Avant Disclosures

* The actual rate and loan amount that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and other factors. Funds are generally deposited via ACH for delivery next business day if approved by 4:30pm CT Monday-Friday. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

** Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33

* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

* Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification and review process. You may be asked to provide additional documents to enable us to verify your income and your identity. This rate includes an Autopay APR reduction of 0.5%. By enrolling in Autopay your payments will be automatically deducted from you bank account. Selecting Autopay is optional. Annual Percentage Rate is inclusive of a loan origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. All loans made by WebBank, member FDIC. Please refer to Upgrade’s Terms of Use and Borrower Agreement for all terms, conditions and requirements.

** Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank via ACH within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes this transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days.

7.73% – 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upstart

6.26% – 14.87%1$5,000 - $100,000

Visit SoFi

6.99% – 35.97%*$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upgrade

5.99% – 24.99%2$5,000 - $35,000

Visit Payoff

4.99% – 29.99%3$10,000 - $35,000

Visit FreedomPlus

5.99% – 18.99%4$5,000 - $50,000

Visit Citizens

15.49% – 34.49%5$2,000 - $25,000

Visit LendingPoint

6.95% – 35.89%6$1,000 - $40,000

Visit LendingClub

6.99% – 18.24%7$5,000 - $75,000

Visit Earnest

9.95% – 35.99%8$2,000 - $35,000

Visit Avant

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Published in Credit & Debt, Review