Upgrade is a San Francisco-based online lending platform that was launched in 2017. More than $3 billion in loans have been issued from Upgrade’s partners, which include Cross River Bank, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, and Blue Ridge Bank, to over 10 million applicants. Upgrade personal loans have a low borrowing minimum and may be available to those with fair credit, so borrowers who don't have perfect credit may find success with this lender. However, the higher annual percentage rates (APRs), handful of fees, and lower maximum loan amount could be a deterrent, so it’s smart to consider all of your options before making any decisions.
- 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
Loans available to borrowers with less than perfect credit
Lower minimum loan amount
Auto secured loans available
No loans over $35,000
- Origination fee: 2.9% to 8.0% of loan amount
- Late payment fee: $10
- Failed payment fee: $10
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.
- Lower 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 does allow you to use your personal car to secure a loan.
Free credit monitoring is also offered. Credit Health is available to Upgrade borrowers and has various credit-score monitoring tools, though you don’t actually have to be a borrower to use the service.
Cons of Upgrade Loans
- High APRs: 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 lower credit scores will likely have to pay a rate around 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, you might look elsewhere for a better rate.
- Multiple Fees: Origination fees start at 2.9% and may 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 to borrow more $35,000, you’ll have to find a different lender.
Upgrade Personal Loan Rates & Terms
Borrowers with excellent credit and the best financial qualifications can get rates starting as low as 7.99% APR. Getting the lowest rate requires signing up for autopay. Upgrade decides your final rate based on your credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. If you have a lower score, you could pay up to 35.97% APR. 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. That gives you a steady and predictable repayment schedule with a locked-in payoff date if you always pay on time. There are no penalties if you pay your loan off early, either, so if you can, it may be a good idea to pay extra every month toward the principal.
Upgrade also offers a line of credit of up to $20,000 with its Upgrade Card. Like any other Visa credit card, you can use it at stores. Like a loan, it will have a fixed rate and term. Rates are between 6.99% and 29.99% APR.
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. While you aren’t limited to those uses, do note that you can’t use a personal loan to pay for college, investments, and/or illegal activities (of course).
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, unfortunately. Since many fees are percentage-based, the more you borrow, the higher your potential charges. Upgrade notes that four fees may be possible:
- 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.
- 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.
- Failed payment fee: $10 for each rejected check or electronic payment
- 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:
- You can see if you prequalify by checking your rate for free on Upgrade’s website. There is no obligation to accept a loan.
- Review your loan options including your maximum loan amount and rate.
- Accept your loan and sign the loan documents.
- Wait for your funds to arrive electronically to your bank account of choice in around one to four business days.
If you want to get an auto secured loan, you’ll need to have 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.
Upgrade is great for its fixed-rates and low minimum borrowing amount. And while it has fees, they are at least predictable. The online application experience is quick, easy, and meets the needs of a very wide range of personal loan borrowers. It is also a good option for some borrowers with credit scores as low as 580, as they may be able to get a loan at Upgrade even if they can’t get approved somewhere else.
The big drawbacks are the origination fee and higher interest rates for those who don’t qualify with the best credit histories. Overall, if you are looking for a personal loan and fall into the fair or good credit score range, Upgrade may be a good option to consider.
Upgrade. "Upgrade Card." Accessed July 15, 2020.
Upgrade. "Are There Any Fees?" Accessed July 16, 2020.
Upgrade. "What is An Origination Fee?" Accessed July 16, 2020.
Upgrade. "How Long Does It Take to Receive My Money?" Accessed July 16, 2020.
Upgrade. "Which Cars are Acceptable To Use As Collateral?" Accessed July 16, 2020.