Upgrade Personal Loan Review

Upgrade personal loan rates don’t require perfect credit history to qualify

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Upgrade
overall rating
2.1

Upgrade is an online financial company that offers access to financial products including personal loans. Upgrade personal loans have a low borrowing minimum and may be available to those with poor or fair credit. However, annual percentage rates (APRs) and origination fees can be high—borrowers with good or excellent credit may find better terms elsewhere.

  • Product Specification
  • Pros and Cons
  • Fees
  • Company Overview
Product Specification
  • APR Range 7.99% to 35.97%
  • Recommended Minimum Credit Score 580
  • Loan Amounts $1,000 to $35,000
  • Loan Terms 36 or 60 months
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Loans available to borrowers with less than perfect credit

  • $1,000 minimum loan amount

  • Auto secured loans available

  • Choose between 36- or 60-month payoff periods

  • Loans funded within one day of verification

Cons
  • High APRs for some applicants

  • Origination fees apply to all loans

  • No loans over $35,000

Fees
  • Origination fee: 2.9% to 8.0% of loan amount
  • Late payment fee: $10
  • Failed payment fee: $10
Company Overview

Upgrade is a San Francisco-based online lending platform that was launched in 2017. It is not a bank, but partners with banks to make personal loans and credit available. More than $3 billion in loans have been issued to over 10 million applicants from Upgrade’s partners, which include Cross River Bank, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, and Blue Ridge Bank. In addition to personal loans, Upgrade offers a personal line of credit via its Upgrade Card, as well as a free credit monitoring app. 

Pros of Upgrade Loans

  • Loans available to borrowers with less than perfect credit: Loans may be available to borrowers with a credit score around 600. Only a handful of national lenders offer loans for borrowers with fair or poor credit, and Upgrade is one of them.
  • $1,000 minimum loan amount: Many lenders start their personal loans at $2,000, but with Upgrade you can borrow as little as $1,000, which is nice if you have a smaller purchase and don’t want to borrow more than you need.
  • Auto secured loans available: If you’re having trouble qualifying for a particular loan amount or getting the rate you want, Upgrade allows you to use your personal car to secure a loan. (Be aware, if you can’t repay the loan, your car could be repossessed.) 
  • Choose between 36- or 60-month payoff periods: When you check your rate, you’ll have the option to choose a faster 36-month payback period or a longer 60-month payback period. While longer loan periods lead to lower monthly payments, the total cost is higher.
  • Loans funded within one day of verification: When your loan is approved and your verifications are completed, your loan is funded within one business day. Funds are typically available in your bank account within four days from the time of approval.

Free credit monitoring is also offered. Credit Health credit-score monitoring tools are available to borrowers and non-borrowers alike.

Cons of Upgrade Loans

  • High APRs for some applicants: Interest rates can reach up to 35.97% APR. That’s more than you pay even with penalty rates on some credit cards, and borrowers with low credit scores will likely pay a rate at the top of this range. Even the minimum APR (7.99%) is at least one percentage point higher than many competitors. If you have great credit, look elsewhere for a better rate. 
  • Origination fees apply to all loans: Origination fees start at 2.9% and run up to 8.0%. Some competitors, like SoFi or LendingPoint, charge lower origination fees or no fees at all. Upgrade also charges late-payment and failed payment fees. 
  • No loans over $35,000: If you want or need a personal loan more than $35,000, you’ll have to find a different lender.

Upgrade Personal Loan Rates & Terms

Borrowers with excellent credit and solid financial qualifications can get a rate as low as 7.99% APR. (Getting the lowest rate requires signing up for autopay.) Borrowers with poor credit can pay up to a 35.97% APR. Upgrade decides your final rate based on your credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Qualifying active-duty servicemembers can get further rate reductions, under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). 

Loans are available in 36- or 60-month terms. There are no penalties if you pay your loan off early.

Upgrade also offers a line of credit up to $20,000 for most borrowers with its Visa Signature Upgrade Card. You can use it like a credit card, but like a traditional line of credit, each purchase has a fixed rate and term. Rates are between 6.99% and 29.99% APR. The card features 1.5% cash back on purchases once paid off.

How Much Can You Borrow With Upgrade?

Upgrade personal loans have a $1,000 minimum and $35,000 maximum borrowing limit. According to Upgrade, loans are commonly used to refinance credit cards, consolidate other debts, or finance a home improvement project or major purchase.

The amount you are approved to borrow is based on your personal credit history and other financial factors. You might also qualify for a loan amount or better interest rate by using your personal car as collateral.

If you use your car as collateral, Upgrade will be listed on the car’s title until you repay your loan. If you fall behind on payments, you could lose your car to repossession.  

Upgrade Personal Loan Fees

An Upgrade personal loan comes with fees. Since many fees are percentage-based, the more you borrow, the higher your potential charges. Upgrade notes that four fees may be possible: 

  1. Origination fee: 2.9% to 8% of the loan amount, taken out of the loan funds before they’re disbursed. This fee is higher than competitor origination fees. 
  2. Late-payment fee: $10 if your payment isn’t received within 15 days of the due date. This is a more generous window than other lenders might offer. 
  3. Failed payment fee: $10 for each rejected check or electronic payment 
  4. Title transfer fee: If you use your car to back your loan, a one-time title transfer fee could be charged by your local motor vehicle agency. 

How to Get a Personal Loan From Upgrade

Getting a personal loan from Upgrade is quick and easy. Follow these steps to apply and get your funds:

  1. See if you prequalify by checking your rate for free on Upgrade’s website. There is no obligation to accept a loan and checking your rate doesn’t impact your credit score.
  2. Review your loan options including the maximum loan amount and rate.
  3. Accept your loan and sign the loan documents.
  4. Wait for funds to become available in your bank account, typically within four business days.

If you want an auto secured loan, you’ll need the year, make, model, trim, and current mileage on hand; and make sure the car meets Upgrade’s requirements for type, insurance, clean title, registration, and age (less than 20 years old).

If you’re using the personal loan to pay off your credit card balance, Upgrade will send the cash directly to your credit card account. 

Final Verdict

Upgrade has fixed-rates and a low minimum borrowing amount. And while it has fees, they are transparent and predictable. The online application experience is quick, easy, and meets the needs of a very wide range of personal loan borrowers. It’s also a good option for some borrowers with low credit scores who can’t get approved elsewhere.

The big drawbacks are origination fees on all loans and high interest rates for those without good credit. Overall, if you are looking for a personal loan and fall into the poor to good credit score range, Upgrade is an option to consider.

Methodology

We look at 40 data points from dozens of financial institutions to evaluate lenders for our personal loan reviews. Because a loan’s APR can dramatically impact the total cost you pay, we weight that feature the heaviest. But since a great APR usually requires at least a good credit score, we also give points to lenders who may have a higher potential APR but offer loans to people with less-than-perfect credit scores. 

Along those lines, we favor lenders who allow you to see if you prequalify before applying for a loan, so you won’t harm your credit score just by applying. Origination, prepayment, and late fees all get counted in our assessment. And lastly, we deduct points from the ratings of lenders with restricted access—for instance, those who require you to first have another type of account with them or to join a nonprofit organization.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Upgrade. "About Us." Accessed Nov. 9, 2020.

  2. Upgrade. "Is Upgrade a Bank?" Accessed Nov. 9, 2020.

  3. Upgrade. "What Is an Auto Secured Loan?" Accessed Nov. 9, 2020.

  4. Upgrade. "Personal Loans up to $35,000." Accessed Nov. 9, 2020.

  5. Upgrade. "Upgrade Card." Accessed Nov. 9, 2020.

  6. Upgrade. "Are There Any Fees?" Accessed Nov. 9, 2020.

  7. Upgrade. "What Is an Origination Fee?" Accessed Nov. 9, 2020.

  8. Upgrade. "How Long Does It Take to Receive My Money?" Accessed Nov. 9, 2020.

  9. Upgrade. "Which Cars are Acceptable to Use As Collateral?" Accessed Nov. 9, 2020.