Upgrade Personal Loans Review

Upgrade offers loans up to $50,000 with funding in as little as one business day

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  • Pros & Cons
  • specifications
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Wide range of loan amounts and repayment terms

  • Pre-qualification with soft credit inquiry

  • Quick loan disbursement

  • Secured loans available

Cons
  • Charges origination fees

  • Higher-than-average APRs

  • Not a direct lender

  • Not available in Washington, D.C.

specifications
APR Range
6.95% - 35.97%
Loan Amount
$1,000 - $50,000
Loan Terms
24 Months or 84 Months
Recommended Minimum Credit Score
550
Average Origination Fee
2.90% - 8.00%
Late Fee
$0.00 - $10.00
Why Trust Us
38
Lenders reviewed
40
Loan features considered
1,520
Data points analyzed
112
Primary data sources used
Investopedia collected key data points from several lenders to identify the most important factors to borrowers. We used this data to review each lender for fees, accessibility, repayment terms, and other features to provide unbiased, comprehensive reviews to ensure our readers make the right borrowing decision for their needs.

Pros Explained

  • Wide range of loan amounts and repayment terms: Upgrade offers borrowers loans ranging from $1,000 to $50,000. You can also choose a repayment term ranging from 24 to 84 months, which is useful for those seeking flexibility. 
  • Pre-qualification with soft credit inquiry: With Upgrade, you can get a rate quote and view your loan options by filling out a pre-qualification form. Completing this form will result in a soft credit inquiry, which has no impact on your credit score. 
  • Quick loan disbursement: While some lenders can take several days to disburse loan funds, Upgrade will disburse your money in as little as one business day after your application is approved. 
  • Secured loans available: In addition to its unsecured personal loans, Upgrade also offers secured personal loans. Depending on your credit profile, Upgrade may give you the option of a secured personal loan to improve your chances of qualifying for a loan or to get a lower interest rate. 

Cons Explained

  • Charges origination fees: Certain online lenders don’t charge application or origination fees, which makes Upgrade’s origination fee a significant drawback. This fee can be as high as 8%, and it’s deducted from the loan proceeds before your loan is disbursed. 
  • Can have high APRs: While Upgrade's minimum APR is relatively low, its maximum APR is quite high—over 35%. To put that in perspective, consider that the average APR for personal loans with 24-month terms was 9.41%, as of May 2022. Borrowers with excellent credit might qualify for lower rates from other lenders. 
  • Not a direct lender: While you’ll apply for a loan through Upgrade, the company isn’t the loan issuer. Instead, Upgrade personal loans are issued by its lending partners, Cross River Bank, and Blue Ridge Bank. 
  • Not available in Washington, D.C.: While Upgrade’s personal loans are available in most locations, they aren’t available to residents of Washington D.C. If you live in D.C., you’ll have to work with another lender.

Introduction

Upgrade, Inc. is a relatively new company. Since its launch in 2017, over 15 million people have applied for an Upgrade personal loan or credit card, and the company has issued more than $15 billion in credit to its customers.

It specializes in unsecured personal loans ranging from $1,000 to $50,000, and it has loan terms ranging from 24 to 84 months. Offering loan disbursement in as little as one business day, Upgrade’s loans are a good fit for those facing an emergency or urgent expenses and need funds quickly. 

Upgrade indicates that the weighted average for its customers’ credit scores is 711.

Company Overview

Upgrade was founded in 2017 by a team of fintech executives. Its CEO and co-founder, Renaud Laplanche, previously co-founded Lending Club, a leading personal loan lender. Upgrade’s headquarters is in San Francisco, California, but it also has an operations center in Phoenix, Arizona, and a technology center in Montreal, Canada. 

Primarily focusing on unsecured personal loans, Upgrade also offers secured personal and auto loans, credit cards, and rewards checking accounts. Upgrade’s personal loans are available in most states, with the exception of Washington, D.C.

Types of Personal Loans Offered by Upgrade

Upgrade’s personal loans are generally for people with good to excellent credit. Its loans are primarily unsecured, but it does offer secured loans in some cases. Upgrade’s personal loans can be used for a wide variety of purposes, including but not limited to: 

  • Starting or expanding a business
  • Home renovations
  • Debt consolidation
  • Medical expenses
  • Major purchases
  • Relocation costs

Upgrade’s loans cannot be used for gambling, investing, or college expenses, including tuition or room and board.

Time to Receive Funds

Upgrade offers two disbursement options. The amount of time it takes to receive your funds is dependent on the option you choose: 

  • Bank deposit: If you want your loan funds deposited into your bank account via ACH transfer, the money will be sent to your bank within one business day of clearing the necessary verifications. Upgrade’s loan disbursement time for bank deposits is faster than many other lenders. 
  • Payments sent to creditors: If you are using your loan to consolidate debt and decide to have Upgrade pay off your existing accounts directly, it can take up to two weeks for your funds to clear. 

Upgrade Personal Loan Features

Upgrade has the following standout features: 

Discounts 

You may qualify for the following discounts: 

  • Autopay: Not specified. To take advantage of the discount—and to find out how much it will lower your rate—review your loan options and disclosures after filling out the loan pre-qualification form. 
  • Rewards Checking: If you open an Upgrade Rewards Checking account, you could qualify for a rate that is up to 20% lower when you apply for a personal loan or credit card through Upgrade. 

Joint Applications

Upgrade allows you to apply for a loan with another person, which could help you qualify for more money or a lower rate than you’d get on your own. The company will consider the credit profiles of both you and the joint applicant, and you’ll both be responsible for repaying the loan. To apply with another person, click on the “joint application” option within the pre-qualification form. 

Joint Applicants Are Different from Cosigners.

Both cosigners and joint applicants can help you secure a loan or more favorable terms. However, they function differently from each other. Co-applicants have more rights than co-signers; they share access to the funds and full responsibility for the loan.

Secured Loans

In some cases, Upgrade may contact you after you submit your application to give you the option of applying for a personal loan that is secured by your vehicle. Dubbed secured auto loans, these personal loans use your car as collateral. Opting for a secured loan may help you qualify for a larger loan amount or lower rate than you’d get with an unsecured personal loan. 

While using your car as collateral can help you get better terms on a loan, there is some risk involved. Your car secures the loan, so if you fall behind on your payments, the lender can seize the vehicle and sell it to recoup the money they lent to you.

Mobile App 

Upgrade has a mobile app that customers can use to check their loan balances, make payments, and even review their credit scores. It’s available for both iPhone and Android users. 

Apply for an Upgrade Personal Loan

To be eligible for an Upgrade loan, you must be at least 18 years old (19 in Alabama and in some other states), have a verifiable bank account, and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. 

To apply for a personal loan, follow these steps: 

  • Fill out the pre-qualification form: The pre-qualification form will ask you to enter your name, Social Security number, desired loan amount, the reason for borrowing, and income. It will prompt you to agree to a soft credit inquiry and Upgrade’s terms and conditions. 
  • Review your loan options: Based on your credit and submitted information, Upgrade may provide you with multiple loan options. Review the offers and choose the loan that meets your needs. 
  • Complete the full application: To move forward, you’ll have to complete Upgrade’s full application and undergo a hard credit inquiry. Upgrade will ask for your current rent and mortgage payments, employer information, and permission for a credit review. 
  • Submit documentation: You may be asked to submit supporting documents, such as W-2 forms, pay stubs, or other proof of income. 

Upgrade will review your application and documentation and notify you once it’s made a decision. Once your loan is approved and you’ve signed the loan agreement, Upgrade will disburse the loan, so you could receive the money as soon as the next business day. 

Can I Refinance a Personal Loan With Upgrade?

Upgrade doesn’t offer personal loan refinancing. 

Customer Service

Upgrade’s customer service team is available via phone, chat, or email. 

  • Chat: The chat function is available during Upgrade’s business hours. 
  • Phone: 844-319-3909
  • Email: support@upgrade.com

Customer support is available Monday through Friday from 5:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. PST, and on Saturday and Sunday from 5:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. PST. 

Customer Satisfaction

Upgrade has a strong reputation for customer satisfaction. On TrustPilot, Upgrade receives an “excellent” rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars based on over 20,000 reviews. In several reviews, customers highlight the ease and speed of its loan application process. 

Upgrade was not ranked among the top lenders on J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Consumer Lending Satisfaction Study, a study that examined and rated personal loan lenders based on customer satisfaction, consumer trust, and ease of use. 

Account Management

Once you’re approved for a loan from Upgrade, you can manage your account online through its customer portal. When you’re logged into the customer portal, you can also update your contact information, change your banking details, track your progress, sign up for automatic payments, and make one-time payments. 

How Upgrade Compares to Other Personal Loan Companies

Upgrade boasts quick loan disbursements and a wide range of available loan amounts. However, its APRs are higher than what you’d get with many other lenders, especially for borrowers with very good or excellent credit. It also has high origination fees and isn’t available nationwide. 

If you’re comparing lenders, here’s how Upgrade compares with SoFi, another popular personal loan lender:

Upgrade vs. SoFi

Upgrade and SoFi are two online lenders that offer loan terms up to seven years. However, there are some major differences between the two companies: 

  • While Upgrade’s maximum loan amount is $50,000, SoFi allows borrowers to take out loans for as much as $100,000. 
  • Unlike Upgrade, SoFi doesn’t charge any late fees or origination fees. 
  • SoFi customers are eligible for unemployment protection and can modify their payments and get job placement assistance.
  Upgrade SoFi 
Loan Amounts $1,000 to $50,000 $5,000 to $100,000
Loan Terms  2 to 7 years  2 to 7 years 
APR  6.95% to 35.97% (as of July 2022) 6.99% to 22.23% (includes autopay discount, as of July 2022)
Origination Fee  2.9% to 8.00%  $0
Late Fee  $10  $0 
Unemployment Protection Available  No  Yes 

Read our full review of SoFi personal loans here.

Final Verdict

If you need cash quickly, Upgrade’s personal loans might be a useful solution. It offers loan disbursements in as little as one day, which can be useful for covering unexpected costs. For borrowers with less-than-stellar credit, Upgrade allows joint applicants and also offers personal loans that are secured by your car. Adding a joint applicant or choosing a secured loan could increase your chances of qualifying for a loan. 

Customer reviews are generally strong and highlight Upgrade’s convenience and easy application process. However, its rates and fees can be quite high, and borrowers with good credit may be able to find lower rates by shopping around and comparing offers from other top personal loan lenders. Before signing a loan agreement, be sure to review Upgrade’s loan disclosures and fees so you know exactly what you’ll have to repay. 

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of personal loan lenders. To rate providers, we collected over 25 data points across more than 50 lenders, including interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms to ensure that our reviews help users make informed decisions for their borrowing needs.  

Our full personal loans methodology, including our data collection process and weighted data points, is available for review.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
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  5. J.D. Power. "Pandemic Put Lenders to 'Digital Test,' J.D. Power Finds."