Upgrade Personal Loans: 2021 Review

Our Take
5.0
TalkFinance rating
The bottom line: Customizable loan features and discount opportunities make Upgrade a strong option for fair- and bad-credit borrowers.
Jump to: Full Review

on Upgrade website

MIN. CREDIT SCORE

560

EST. APR

5.94 - 35.47%

LOAN AMOUNT

$1,000 - $50,000

Pros & Cons
  • Allows secured and joint loans.

  • Offers a wide range of repayment terms.

  • Offers a 0.5% rate discount for setting up autopay.

  • Offers significant rate discount for checking account customers.

  • Offers rate discount with direct payment to creditors on debt consolidation loans.

  • Charges origination fee.

  • No co-signed loan option.

Compare to Other loans
TalkFinance rating
TalkFinance rating
TalkFinance rating
CHECK RATE CHECK RATE CHECK RATE
EST. APR

5.94 - 35.47%

EST. APR

4.99 - 19.63%

EST. APR

3.99 - 19.99%

LOAN TERM

2 to 7 years

LOAN TERM

2 to 7 years

LOAN TERM

2 to 7 years

MIN. CREDIT SCORE

560

MIN. CREDIT SCORE

680

MIN. CREDIT SCORE

660

Full Review

Upgrade personal loans are designed for mainstream appeal, supporting a wide range of credit scores and incomes.

The lender differentiates itself with features like rate discounts for having payments sent directly to creditors on debt consolidation loans. It also boasts secured and joint loan offerings, reasonably fast funding and a wide range of repayment terms.

Upgrade is best for borrowers who:

  • Have fair or bad credit (689 or lower FICO).

  • Want to secure the loan or add a co-borrower to their application.

  • Are consolidating credit cards and other unsecured debts.

  • Need help building credit.

Affordability

 

 

 

  • Offers rate discount for autopayments.

  • APRs are low compared to similar lenders.

  • Charges 2.9% - 8% origination fee.

  • No prepayment fee.

Loan flexibility

 

 

 

  • Offers secured and joint loans.

  • Approval may take a few days.

  • Loan may be funded within one day of approval.

  • Offers repayment terms between two and seven years.

  • Loans not available in IA, WV and Washington, D.C.

Transparency

 

 

 

  • Soft credit check to pre-qualify.

  • Reports payments to three credit bureaus.

  • Website includes comprehensive FAQ and financial education.

  • Rates and fees are disclosed in the footer of the lender's product page.

Customer experience

 

 

 

  • Offers multiple customer contact channels and seven-day support.

  • Fully online application and approval process.

  • Offers mobile app to manage loan.

Key terms to know about personal loans

Annual percentage rate

 

Origination fee

 

Debt-to-income ratio

 

Soft credit check

 

Where Upgrade stands out

Discount for direct payments on debt consolidation loans: Upgrade offers a rate discount of 1 to 5 percentage points for borrowers who get a debt consolidation loan and have the lender directly pay their other debts. This discount is rare on personal loans, and 5 percentage points is a hefty slash compared to discounts offered by other lenders.

Pre-qualify with soft credit pull: Upgrade lets you check your rate and offers with a soft credit pull, which does not impact your credit score. If you accept the offer, a hard pull is triggered. Upgrade uses the FICO 9 credit score to evaluate borrowers.

Credit building tools: Upgrade customers can sign up for free credit score monitoring, a credit score simulator and personalized tips to build credit. Some other lenders offer free credit score monitoring, but additional tools are relatively rare.

Existing customer discount: The lender says it may reduce your personal loan APR by up to 20% if you're an active customer of its Rewards Checking account. That discount could bring a 30% APR down to 24%, for example.

Joint and secured loans: Upgrade allows applicants to add a co-borrower to improve their chances of qualifying for a loan. Unlike a co-signer, a co-borrower will have access to the funds from the loan.

Applicants can use a vehicle as collateral on a secured loan. The lender will consider the value of the vehicle on your application, which could lead to a lower rate. If you secure a personal loan and fail to repay it, the lender can seize the collateral.

Hardship program: Consumers who experience a sudden hardship, like a job loss, may qualify for a temporary reduction of their monthly payment or a permanent loan modification that extends the length of the loan.

This option can be helpful in a pinch, but extending your loan’s repayment term without getting a reduced rate can cost more interest overall.

Where Upgrade falls short

Moderate funding time: Unlike some of its competitors that boast instant approval and same-day funding, Upgrade may take a few days to approve a loan application. According to the lender, about half of all applicants will see the loan funds deposited in their account the day their application is approved.

Origination fee: Upgrade charges an origination fee, which isn’t uncommon among online lenders. At 2.9% to 8%, Upgrade’s origination fee is high compared with other lenders, though. Your origination fee is calculated in your annual percentage rate.

How to qualify for an Upgrade loan

  • Minimum credit score: 560; borrower average is 678.

  • Minimum annual income: None; borrower average is $78,000.

  • Minimum number of accounts on credit history: Two accounts.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Less than or equal to 75%, including mortgage and calculating in your new personal loan.

Loan example: A three-year, $10,000 loan with a 23.4% APR would cost $389 in monthly payments. You’d pay $4,004 in total interest on that loan.