You might not have heard of Uplift yet. But if you like to travel and you're a fan of increasingly popular buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) lenders, you probably will soon.
Uplift has been combining both of these things—travel and BNPL loans—since 2014, but it's rapidly poised to grow as travel picks back up again after pandemic restrictions. According to a January 2021 company press release, it plans to handle more than $1 billion in transactions over the next 18 months.
Learn how Uplift’s installment plans work, which fees it charges, its interest rates, and what the purchase process is like.
How Does Uplift Work?
Uplift offers one product: installment loans with term lengths from three months to two years for purchases made with its travel partners. Uplift teams up with some of its partners to provide special travel offers, such as 0% APR loans.
To use Uplift, you'll add your travel purchases to your cart and then apply for a loan through Uplift at checkout.
You can use Uplift to purchase only travel you participate in, either alone or with other people. You can't use Uplift to pay for a trip someone else is taking without you.
Is There a Minimum Purchase Size When Using Uplift?
Yes. The minimum you can borrow is $100.
Is There a Maximum Purchase Size When Using Uplift?
Yes. The maximum you can borrow is $25,000.
Do Products Bought with Uplift Ship After First Payment?
You're only able to make travel-related purchases with Uplift, so you won't really receive any products in the mail, per se.
You can complete your travel before you finish paying off the loan, but you'll need to apply for the loan at least a few days before you plan to travel in order for the charge to be processed. Don't rely on Uplift if you need to travel today.
Can I Use Uplift To Pay Bills?
No. Uplift works for travel purchases only.
Is There a Credit Limit?
Uplift loans don't have a set credit limit since each loan is a separate product. You can have more than one loan, but each one is considered on a case-by-case basis.
Uplift does not offer prequalifications or rate checks. Instead, the only way to know whether you're approved for a loan is to apply for it during the checkout process. You don't have to accept the loan terms if you don't want to, and Uplift only does a hard credit check if you accept the loan.
Does Uplift Affect Your Credit Score?
Not all BNPL lenders will check your credit, but some do. Here's where Uplift stands on the issue.
Does Uplift Check Credit?
Yes. When you apply for a travel loan during checkout, Uplift will do a soft credit check to see if you're eligible for financing and check your identity.
If you're approved and you click "proceed" with the loan, then Uplift will do a hard credit check. This one can ding your score by a few points but remains on your credit report for 12 months, in some cases.
Does Uplift Report Your Activity to Credit Bureaus?
Yes. Unlike some other BNPL lenders, Uplift reports your payments to the credit bureaus. This means you can use Uplift loans to help build credit as long as you make on-time payments.
What Credit Score Do You Need To Use Uplift?
Uplift declined to say what credit score is required for approval. But in general, the better your credit score, the better your chances of approval.
In addition to your credit score, Uplift considers other factors when you apply for a loan, such as the timeline of your travel.
If Uplift denies your application, it will send you a letter explaining why.
Does Uplift Charge Interest?
Yes, Uplift charges 0% to 36% APR and uses simple interest rather than compound interest. The average rate for loans is 15% APR, though travel partners such as Allegiant and Carnival offer 0% promotions, according to a company representative.
Generally, the more creditworthy you are, the better the rates you may qualify for. If you have good credit, Uplift may be a cost-effective way to get a loan. But if your credit score isn't the greatest, an Uplift loan with a 36% APR can be quite expensive.
For example, the average credit card interest rate for people with bad or fair credit was 23.87% in May 2021, according to The Balance’s research. If you opt for a personal loan instead, it'll be cheaper still—the average interest rate on a 24-month personal loan was 9.46% as of February 2021, according to the Federal Reserve.
Does Uplift Charge Fees?
Yes, a small number of loans may have a 2% origination fee that’s rolled into the loan. However, Uplift doesn't charge prepayment penalties or late fees.
Is Uplift Safe?
Yes. Uplift is trusted by some of the largest companies in the travel industry, so you should feel confident that your purchase is as safe as anywhere else.
However, using services like Uplift may cause you to overspend, especially if you have good credit and can qualify with ease. Also, Uplift’s BNPL program may tempt you to make purchases that throw you off track for your long-term goals, like saving up for a house or an emergency fund.
That said, Uplift can be a good choice if you absolutely need to travel and you're confident you can pay back what you borrow. If you need to travel for your last chance to see a family member, for example, Uplift absolutely can be a good option because of how it splits up payments over time. It can also be a good choice if you can qualify for 0% APR financing and you're looking to build credit, too.
Who Accepts Uplift?
As of 2020, Uplift partnered with more than 100 travel brands, including:
- Royal Caribbean
- Southwest Airlines
- Universal Orlando
- United Airlines
- Secrets Resorts & Spas
Because its travel partners are pretty diverse, Uplift can offer financing for hotel stays, cruises, airline tickets, rental cars, and attractions.
How To Use Uplift Online
There's only one way to use Uplift:
- Visit a travel partner, which you can find listed on Uplift's directory.
- Choose which purchases you want to make and add them to your cart.
- When checking out, select "Uplift" from the payment options.
- Enter in your information, such as your name and the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- If you're approved, Uplift will show you a range of payment plans to choose from.
- Pick which plan you like, and then complete your purchase.
Unlike some BNPL lenders, Uplift does not offer an app or a way to make purchases at non-partner stores with a digital card number.
How To Use Uplift In Stores
Since Uplift is focused on one area—travel purchases—you can generally only use it online. You may be able to use it in certain offline cases, too, such as through Uplift's travel advisor partners or call centers.
How Do Returns Work When Using Uplift?
If you request a refund from the merchant or if your trip is canceled, a few things can happen.
Your ability to get your money back is always subject to the merchant's own refund policies. A merchant can choose to deny your refund if it's outside of the scope of the merchant’s cancellation policies, so you should read these carefully before you make a purchase. If the merchant allows refunds, you'll either get a credit or voucher you can use for future travel, or the merchant sends a cash refund to Uplift.
If the merchant opts for a cash refund, Uplift will credit your loan with the amount of the refund. It can take up to 90 days for this to happen, so you may still be paying on your loan for quite some time after it's canceled. If that refund wipes out your balance and there's still money left, Uplift will refund you the remaining money.
But—and this is important—if the merchant gives you a voucher for future travel, you still must pay back your Uplift loan. You can use this voucher to book travel later and it'll likely be paid off by then, but it can be a bummer to be paying for travel that you can't use yet.
Uplift recommends sending to firstname.lastname@example.org a copy of the email that confirms your refund.
How Do I Pay Uplift?
If you're in the United States, you have two options for how to pay:
- Debit card
- ACH transfer from your bank
If you're in Canada, you can pay using these two methods:
- Direct debit from a bank account
- Visa or Mastercard virtual debit card
When you sign up for your loan, Uplift will ask you to link your payment method and sign up for autopay. You don't have to agree to autopay, but it's always a good idea to do this for any debt so that you don't miss any payments. Otherwise, you'll need to remember to log in each month and make your payment.
Uplift is also unique in that it requires monthly payments. In comparison, many other BNPL lenders require biweekly payments.
What Happens If I Don’t Pay Uplift?
Uplift doesn't charge late fees, but there are plenty of other reasons why you'll want to make your payments on time.
If more than 30 days pass since your last payment, your Uplift loan will continue to accrue interest, making it more expensive to pay off. Uplift may blacklist you from getting another loan through them again and may also report your late payments to the credit bureaus, which can damage your credit score.