Upgrade is a direct personal loan lender that aims to increase access to low-cost loans while helping customers learn how to build their desired financial futures. The lender improves accessibility to loans through a 100% online platform where users can apply in minutes and get approved, even with less-than-perfect credit. Further, it offers a lineup of credit health tools to help borrowers improve their credit. Users can check their credit score anytime, receive personalized recommendations and keep a close eye on their credit score as they work to improve it. With each on-time payment, they can track how their score is going up.
Upgrade by the numbers
- APR range: 6.98% to 35.89%
- Min-max loan range: $1,000 to $50,000
- Repayment term range: 36 or 60 months
- Minimum credit score: 620
- Minimum gross income: Not specified
- Better Business Bureau grade: A+
- Origination fee: 1.5%-6%
- Late payment fee: $10
- No loans for post-secondary education expenses, gambling, investments or illegal activities.
Who should consider Upgrade?
Upgrade personal loans are a great option for borrowers who have less-than-perfect credit. This can include borrowers who are building credit for the first time and those who are recovering from past mistakes. Upgrade serves as a middle ground between prime lenders and payday loans. While payday loans often have APRs around 400%, small loan amounts and very short repayment periods, Upgrade offers large loans with reasonable APRs and long repayment periods. This gives many borrowers a chance to take out a loan, repay it comfortably and build (or rebuild) their credit.
Upgrade personal loans are best for those with fair credit scores who may be having trouble getting approved with other lenders and need someone to give them a chance.
Additionally, Upgrade is good for those who want support on their path to better credit. All users who are approved for a loan through Upgrade get access to its comprehensive credit monitoring and management system.
Who should avoid Upgrade?
While there are certainly some compelling reasons to give this lender a try, a thorough Upgrade loan review reveals several drawbacks to consider.
If you’re on a tight budget, you may want to consider a lender who offers personal loans with no origination fees. Upgrade’s origination fees can cost up to 6% of your loan amount and will be subtracted before you receive the proceeds. Additionally, Upgrade’s time to funding can be up to four days; borrowers who need quick funding should look elsewhere for speedy deposits.
While it’s great that Upgrade extends its offers to people who have credit scores that fall on the lower end of the spectrum, the system is also geared toward subprime borrowers. If you have good-to-excellent credit, you may be able to find a lower-cost personal loan from a lender geared more towards prime credit borrowers.
How to apply for an Upgrade personal loan
The process for applying for an Upgrade personal loan is fairly straightforward and can be completed online. Here’s how to complete the application:
- Visit Upgrade’s website and provide the following information; desired loan amount, loan purpose, name, address, date of birth and annual income.
- Create an account by providing an email address and password.
- Upgrade will then perform a soft credit check to check your eligibility and see if you are prequalified. This will not affect your credit score.
- If you do prequalify, you can review the personal loan offers and decide which one is best for you. If you choose to move forward with one, a hard credit inquiry will be performed.
- If you are still approved and agree to all the terms, you can accept your offer and receive your funds in your bank account within four business days.
Alternatives to Upgrade
Although an Upgrade loan review can spell out the pros and cons of using this lender for personal loans, there are alternatives to consider when shopping for your next personal loan.
Best Egg is a personal loan lender that offers loans from $2,000 up to $35,000 with fixed APRs ranging from 5.99% to 29.99%. Terms range from 36 to 60 months and origination fees can cost as much as 5.99%. Best Egg’s loan amount, APR range and origination fee ranges all end a bit lower than Upgrade’s. This lender also caters to those with less-than-credit so it’s worth getting quotes from both to see which offers the best deal.
Personal loans through Prosper are also very similar to Upgrade. They range from $2,000 up to $40,000, have fixed APRs from 6.95% up to 35.99%, origination fees up to 5% and terms of 36 or 60 months. Due to the similarity between Prosper and Upgrade, either lender could fit the bill for borrowing with imperfect credit. However, Prosper does not offer the credit-building support that Upgrade does.
If you need to borrow more than the $50,000 that Upgrade offers and have good to great credit, consider Lightstream. LightStream offers loans up to $100,000, has no origination fees and APRs as low as 4.29% with automatic payments. While excellent credit is required, the lender allows applications with cosigners to boost chances of application approval. With a maximum loan limit double that of Upgrade, LightStream is a lender to throw on a shortlist when financing large purchases, like home improvement, pools, solar panels, medical bills and more. Backed by banking giant, SunTrust (now merged with BB&T to form Truist), LightStream is poised to offer fantastically low APRs on