A relatively new entrant into the personal loan space, Upgrade offers unsecured personal loans up to $35,000, with annual percentage rates (APRs) that range from 6.94% to 35.97%. While a minimum credit score of only 620 is needed to qualify, we think Upgrade is a better fit for borrowers with credit scores of 680 and above. This is due to the higher range of APRs that borrowers with lower credit scores will likely receive if they apply to Upgrade. One significant disadvantage to taking out a loan through Upgrade is that you will only have the option to pay it off over three or five years. Borrowers seeking a longer term should look elsewhere.
Upgrade Personal Loan Review: Should You Apply?
If you have a good to excellent credit score, we recommend checking your rate on a personal loan at Upgrade. The company offers low starting APRs and high loan amounts of up to $35,000. A drawback to Upgrade is its limited number of available loan lengths; you will only be able to pay off your loan over three or five years. There are, however, no prepayment penalties, so if you want a shorter term than three years, you can always pay off your loan more quickly than the stated term.
Borrowers with good to excellent credit are the most likely to get approved and receive a low APR at Upgrade (in general, a good to excellent FICO credit score is between 680 and 850). Borrowers with credit scores in this range should be able to qualify for a single-digit APR at Upgrade, barring any other issues with their financial situation (i.e., lots of debt, no income, etc.). While you need a credit score of only 620 to qualify at Upgrade, borrowers who have scores just above this score should consider other options in addition to Upgrade. This is because Upgrade’s highest rate is 35.97%, and there are many other lenders that have lower rates than this. For instance, Peerform has similar credit criteria to Upgrade, but offers more favorable rates.
There are two main downsides to Upgrade. One is that every loan comes with an origination fee, of between 2.9 - 8% of the loan amount. This means that if you get a $10,000 loan with a 5% origination fee, only $9,500 will be deposited into your bank account. Lenders such as SoFi, Earnest, Citizens Bank and Discover Personal Loans do not charge origination fees. Another downside is that you can only select a three- or five-year term for your loan. While you can pay off your loan early, with no prepayment penalty, you won’t be able to extend your term to longer than five years. If you need a longer term, we recommend considering Discover Personal Loans, SoFi, Citizens Bank or LightStream.
To be eligible for a Upgrade personal loan, you must meet the following criteria:
- U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
- At least 18 years old.
- Must have a verifiable bank account and email address.
- Credit score of 620 or higher.
However, meeting these will not guarantee that you will be approved for a loan. Upgrade is not available to residents in the following states: Connecticut, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, and West Virginia.
Upgrade Personal Loan Rates, Terms and Fees
Upgrade makes unsecured personal loans with fixed interest rates. Loans are only available in two repayment terms.
|Loan Amount Range||$1,000 - $35,000|
|APR Range||6.94% - 35.97%|
|Loan Terms||3 or 5 years|
|Direct Payment to Creditors||No|
You can only apply for a loan online. To begin the application, you fill out a simple form to receive a rate quote. Upgrade will ask you to provide some information about the loan, including the loan amount and purpose, and about yourself, including your name, address, date of birth, annual income and Social Security Number. You’ll also be required to create an account on the website. At this point in the process, the company will make a soft inquiry on your credit report (a soft inquiry will not affect your credit score).
|Time to Get Funds||1-4 business days|
If and when you receive an initial rate offer, you can then complete the remainder of the application process. As part of the process, Upgrade may ask for documentation to verify your income and identity, such as a copy of your driver’s license, recent pay stubs or W-2 forms (you will be able to see a list of any documents you need to submit in your To-Do List on the company’s website). As the last step in the process, Upgrade will perform a hard inquiry on your credit report (which will cause your credit score to drop by a few points). If you are approved for a loan, you will need to accept and sign the loan agreement and provide the company with your bank account information. You will receive the funds to your bank account within one into four business days.
How Does Upgrade Compare to Other Lenders?
It’s always wise to shop around for a personal loan. Most lenders let you check the APR you’ll qualify for online without affecting your credit score. Here are some other options prospective borrowers should consider, compared with Upgrade.
Upgrade vs. LendingClub
LendingClub and Upgrade are nearly identical in terms of loan amounts, loan terms, fees and rates. That said, there are a few instances where LendingClub is a better choice than Upgrade, and vice versa. If you want to apply jointly for the loan or have your creditors paid directly, LendingClub provides both of these options, while Upgrade does not. LendingClub is also available in more states than Upgrade. In fact, the only state where LendingClub does not operate is Iowa. On the other hand, Upgrade will fund your loan offer faster than LendingClub. That’s because LendingClub is a marketplace lender, which means you must wait for investors to fund your loan. This process can take upwards of one to two weeks. To be eligible at LendingClub, you’ll need a credit score of 640 or higher and a debt-to-income ratio of under 31%. You will also need to be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or on an eligible visa.
- APRs: 6.95% - 35.89%
- Amounts: $1,000 - $40,000
- Terms: 3 or 5 years
- Origination fee: 1% - 6%
Upgrade vs. Prosper
Prosper is also very similar to Upgrade in terms of loan rates, amounts and maturities. Another similarity between the two lenders is that Prosper also provides loans up to $35,000. However, we recommend Prosper if you need to finance a medical procedure, particularly fertility treatments. Prosper partners with healthcare and dentistry providers around the country to offer financing for procedures such as plastic surgery, bariatric surgery and cosmetic dentistry. For fertility treatment, Prosper may be willing to finance up to $100,000 in medical costs with loan terms of up to seven years. You’ll need to check with your medical provider to see if they work with Prosper. To qualify for Prosper, you’ll need a credit score of 640 of higher, a debt-to-income ratio of under 51% and proof of annual income. You will also need to meet certain criteria regarding your credit history.
- APRs: 6.95% - 35.99%
- Amounts: $2,000 - $40,000
- Terms: 3 or 5 years
- Origination fee: 2.41% - 5%
Upgrade vs. Citizens Bank
Citizens Bank has more term options than Upgrade, offering loan lengths of between three and seven years. The maximum APR you can receive at Citizens Bank is also significantly lower than the maximum at Upgrade, but you will need to have good to excellent credit history to even qualify at the bank (you don’t have to be an existing customer, though). Citizens Bank also lets applicants apply with a cosigner or joint applicant, and the bank is open to residents of all states. In most cases, we recommend applicants with good credit history check their rate at both Upgrade and Citizens Bank. The only exception to this is if you plan to use your personal loan to cover home improvement expenses, which Citizens Bank does not allow. If that’s the case, consider other lenders in addition to Upgrade, including as SoFi or Earnest.
- APRs: 6.80% - 20.91% with AutoPay
- Amounts: $5,000 - $50,000
- Terms: 3 to 7 years
- Origination fee: None