Upgrade Review

Upgrade at a Glance

Loan typesUnsecured personal loans
Loan amount$1,000 to $50,000
Repayment terms3 or 5 years
APR6.87% to 35.97%*
Minimum credit score 620
Best forCovering large expenses such as credit card debt

Visit Upgrade

Overview

Upgrade is an online lender founded in 2016 by Renaud Laplanche and Soul Htite, who were both previously co-founders of Lending Club. Laplanche’s reputation in Silicon Valley was strong enough to attract $60 million in financing for Upgrade from many of the prominent venture capitalists who had backed him with his previous projects. Upgrade offers personal loans of up to $50,000 for purposes such as paying off credit card debt, financing a home improvement, or making a large purchase. It differentiates itself from the likes of Lending Club through features such as free credit monitoring and financial-education resources.

Best For?

Upgrade’s loans are aimed at tech-savvy Americans who need personal loans to cover large expenses. Its free educational tools, including a credit-health tracker, aim to make it easy for people who have had a loan application rejected to build up their credit score and achieve success with their next application. Upgrade accepts loan applicants from all states except Connecticut, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, Vermont, and West Virginia.

Loan Feature

Upgrade offers one type of loan: fixed-rate personal loans ranging from $1,000 to $50,000, and with repayment of either 3 or 5 years. In addition, it offers its credit-health tracker free of charge, and without any commitments. Users can access the tool at any time for a summary of their latest credit report and an explanation of the key factors influencing their credit score. The tool also includes a useful credit score simulator, where users can input hypothetical scenarios such as repayments on their credit card balance or an increase on their credit card limit, and find out what the impact of these scenarios will be on their credit score. And most importantly of all, users can access the tool as many times as they wish – without their credit score being affected.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Quick online application -- can get pre-approved in just minutes.
  • Everything takes place online; no need to sit down in person and go over your entire financial history.
  • Credit health tracker makes it easy for rejected applicants to improve credit score and receive approval on subsequent attempt.
  • Upgrade only uses “soft” credit card checks, which means your credit score won’t be affected, no matter how many times you apply.
  • If you are denied a loan, you will receive a message explaining why.

Cons

  • Origination fee can reach up to 6% of loan amount.
  • Applicants are required to have free cash flow (monthly income minus expenses) of at least $1,000, making the loans unattainable for some people.
  • Self-employed individuals are required to supply a lot of documentation to prove they meet free cash flow requirements.
  • Upgrade won’t fund certain expenses such as college tuition or investments.

The Application Process

The entire application process takes place online. To begin, just enter the loan amount you wish to apply for, and the purpose of the loan. You will then be taken to another page and asked to fill out a few personal details, including:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Monthly income
  • Social security number

Shortly after completing the form, you’ll receive an email informing you whether or not you’ve been approved for a loan, along with the interest rate. If you are denied, you’ll receive an explanation of why this was the case. If you accept your loan offer, the funds will be sent to your bank account within 1 business day of all the necessary verifications, and will typically be available within 4 business days, depending on how quickly your bank processes the application. 

As mentioned above, the key requirements are at least $1,000 free cash flow per month, and that the loan be used for specific purposes such as paying off credit card debt. Upgrade is strict on these requirements. It estimates free cash flow based on the applicant’s income, the cost of living in their area, city and state tax rates, and any mortgage or rent payments that are part of the applicant’s monthly expenses.

How Much Can You Borrow?

Applicants can request loans of as low as $1,000 and as high as $50,000. The final loan amount depends on a number of factors, including credit score and free cash flow. A minimum credit score of 620 is required for approval. As Upgrade only offers unsecured loans, borrowers aren’t required to put up any collateral.

Repayment Term

Loans have APRs ranging from 6.87% to 35.97%. For the lowest rates, applicants must agree to automatic monthly repayments. All loans have an origination fee of 1-6%, which is deducted from the loan amount at the beginning. Applicants can choose from repayment terms of either 3 years (36 months) or 5 years (60 months). Monthly repayments depend on APR, origination fee, and loan duration. For example, a $10,000 loan with 36-month term and 18.61% APR (including a 6% origination fee) requires monthly payments of $342.70. Late payments can result in penalty fees or in Upgrade increasing the cost of your loan.

Privacy & Security 

All loans are made by WebBank, an accredited member of the Federal Deposit Insurance, Corporation, which is a US government corporation providing deposit insurance to depositors in US banks. Upgrade promises to protect all applicants’ personal information from unauthorized access and use, and its security measures comply with federal law.

Help & Support

Upgrade has an A rating from the Better Business Bureau for its customer support, with BBB rewarding it for overwhelmingly positive online reviews. Upgrade’s website stands out for its educational resources, with dozens of informational pages and of course the free credit-tracking tool. Customer support can be reached by email at contact@upgrade.com, or through the Support button which can be found at the bottom-right of each page on the website.

Summary

Upgrade was founded by two of the people behind Lending Club, one of the pioneers in the world of online lending, and it is aiming to fill some of the remaining gaps not covered by most of the existing players in the market, including a lack of support for rejected loan applicants. The main point of difference between Upgrade and many of its competitors is its free tracking tool and simulator, which allows borrowers to understand and improve their credit score in order to secure better terms on their next loan. Upgrade’s service is quick, easy to use, and transparent. The service is most beneficial for borrowers with credit scores hovering around 620 and with a preference for doing things online and without delays.

Physical Address

Upgrade, Inc
275 Battery Street, 23rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111


*Loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 6.87%-35.97%. All loans have a 1% to 6% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36 month term and a 17.97% APR (which includes a 14.31% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your bank account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.28. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,358.22. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. All loans made by WebBank, member FDIC.

Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank via ACH within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes this transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days. All loans made by WebBank, member FDIC.

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