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Upgrade

2022 review

Upgrade provides personal loans and a unique credit-loan hybrid card which could be helpful if you have a lower credit score. It promises speedy 1-day loan disbursement and offers loans starting at just $1,000.

8.0 / 10
Editorial Score
Ginny Dorn
Personal finance and mortgages specialist
April 13, 2022

Overview

Upgrade offers fast personal loan disbursement, with funds hitting your bank account one day after approval. You can borrow as much as $50,000, with a minimum of just $1,000. This makes it a great choice if you need a small loan since much of the competition requires a higher minimum.

The lender offers opportunities to save money, including a 0.5% autopay discount. You can also get a 0.5% Direct Pay discount, which applies only to debt consolidation and credit card repayment loans. Although its rates aren’t the lowest in the industry, Upgrade accepts lower credit scores, making it more accessible. You can easily get preapproved on the website.

The Upgrade Card also provides access to a unique combination of line of credit and installment loan if you have a fair credit score. It requires stable, fixed monthly payments which can help you build your credit. This could be a good option if you can’t get approved for a loan.

GREAT CHOICE 2022
8.0 / 10
Editorial Score
Upgrade
Quick view:
Editorial Score
8.0 / 10
Online Services
Applications, Quote management, etc.
10 / 10
Customer Service
8.5 / 10
Available in all states
9.0 / 10
Available loan types
6.5 / 10
Products
7.0 / 10

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Products & Services

Upgrade offers banking services, like checking accounts, as well as personal loans. It also has an unusual line of credit that is a hybrid between a credit card and a personal loan.

Personal Loans

You can get a personal loan between $1,000 and $50,000. The loans have fixed rates between 5.94% and 35.97%. Terms are available from 2 to 7 years. You can get an Upgrade personal loan for a variety of reasons, like a business expense, large purchase, or home improvement. You cannot use a loan from Upgrade for tuition, room and board, or gambling expenses.

If you want to pay off credit cards or consolidate debt with the loan, Upgrade will automatically include Direct Pay in your offer. With Direct Pay, Upgrade pays your creditor or lender before releasing any remaining funds into your bank account. Upgrade also provides a 0.5% interest rate reduction when you choose this option. This is a unique discount that you won’t find with most debt consolidation or credit card payoff loans.

Upgrade does not work with all creditors and lenders, so if you want the Direct Pay discount, it’s important to thoroughly read your loan offer. However, your loan offer may be contingent on Direct Pay, so if you reject it, you may not get the loan.

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Upgrade Card

The Upgrade Card is a combination of a credit card and installment loan, with amounts ranging from $500 to $25,000. This product has no annual, activation, or maintenance fees. The Upgrade Card could be helpful if you have a lower credit score, as you may get approval with fair credit. However, if you have a higher credit score you might find a credit card with a lower APR and more rewards elsewhere.

You can use the Upgrade card in two different ways. First, you can use it like a regular credit card and make purchases anywhere that accepts Visa. Those purchases have a fixed interest rate and act like installment loans which you pay off entirely each month. You may also choose to carry a balance and make set monthly payments over a predetermined period.

The Upgrade Card can also work like a personal loan when you request funds for direct transfer into your bank account. Then, you make equal monthly payments with a fixed interest rate over a set repayment period. Whichever way you use the Upgrade Card, the ongoing APR ranges from 8.99% to 29.99%.

The Upgrade Card has several options:

  • Cash Rewards – 1.5% cashback on all payments.
  • Triple Cash Rewards – 3% cashback on all home, auto, and health purchases.
  • Bitcoin Rewards – 1.5% in bitcoin on all payments (You’ll pay a bitcoin sale fee each time).
  • Upgrade Card – No cash back, but good if you have a lower credit score in the poor to fair range.

Upgrade requires a minimum credit score of 620 for the Upgrade Card. However, it does note that it requires excellent credit scores for the Cash Rewards, Triple Rewards, and Bitcoin Rewards cards. Although there isn’t a minimum, you’ll need about a 750 or higher.

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Rates and Terms

Personal loan amounts begin at $1,000 and go up to $50,000. This makes Upgrade a good option for smaller loans, as most lenders require a minimum of $3,000. However, some states require larger minimums. If you live in Georgia, the loan minimum is $3,005 and in Massachusetts, it’s $6,400.

Personal loans have fixed interest rates that start at 5.94% and go up to 35.97% APR, higher than competitors’ rates. For example, SoFi’s personal loans range from 5.74% to 20.28%. Upgrade’s personal loans range from 2 to 7 years, which is average.

While the loans don’t have prepayment fees, they do have origination fees that range from 2.9% to 8%. Upgrade deducts the fee from your funds before you receive them. Origination fees are lower for smaller loans and higher for larger loans.

The Upgrade Card’s interest rates range from 8.99% to 29.99%. While many credit cards start at a higher APR, usually around 14% to 20%, they have lower maximum APRs compared to the Upgrade Card. Depending on your credit score, they cap out around 22% to 26%.

You may get approval for $500, up to $25,000. You can choose to access a lump sum and repay it over a set term of 2 to 7 years. You can also use it like a credit card and pay off the entire balance monthly.

This lender offers an autopay discount on personal loans and the Upgrade Card that reduces your interest rate by 0.5% when you sign up for automatic payments. You can also get a 0.5% Direct Pay discount when you get a loan for debt consolidation or credit card repayment.

Keep in mind that Upgrade charges a $10 fee for payment more than 15 days late. It also charges a $10 fee if you attempt to make a payment from an account with insufficient funds.

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Application Process and Qualifications

Upgrade’s application process is completely online. You start by checking your rates, which does not impact your credit score. You can expect to provide basic personal information, like your name, address, birth date, and email. Upgrade will also ask for the purpose of the loan, how much you want to borrow, income, and monthly debt obligations.

If you choose to complete a full application, you’ll need to provide:

  • A government-issued ID
  • Social security number
  • Employer information
  • Proof of income, like a W2 or pay stubs
  • Verification of home address, like a utility bill

Upgrade doesn’t publish credit score minimums. However, a customer service representative confirmed that it sometimes accepts credit scores even lower than 580 for personal loans, depending on income.

Upgrade notes that its basic Upgrade Card is good for people with improving credit, so credit scores in the high 500s and up could get approval. In general, this lender could be a good option if you have poor or fair credit. However, it’s important to remember that the lower your credit score, the higher your interest rates will be.

Although Upgrade doesn’t allow for cosigners, it does accept co-applicants. Unlike a cosigner, a co-applicant is considered a secondary applicant and can access the funds. This could be helpful if you have a high debt-to-income ratio or poor credit score. With a creditworthy co-applicant, you may qualify for a better APR or larger loan amount.

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Approval Time

You can check your rate in just a few minutes and the application process can take about 15 minutes. Upgrade can approve applications within minutes, although it typically takes 1 to 3 days.

Upgrade advertises loan disbursement within 1 day of approval. However, some factors could cause delays. For example, your bank may be slow to process the transaction. If you’re using Direct Pay to pay off a creditor, the funds may take up to 2 weeks to clear. This is in line with other online lenders, although traditional banks can take much longer for approval and disbursement.

Customer Service

Customer service is available via phone and email. Support hours are Monday through Friday, 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and Saturday through Sunday, 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM Pacific Time. Not all lenders offer weekend support, so Upgrade’s hours of service are an added bonus. However, many fintech (financial technology) companies offer a live chat function, which Upgrade is lacking.

Summary

Although Upgrade has a fairly limited product offering, it makes personal loans much more accessible. It also lives up to its promise to deliver funds quickly. Even if you don’t qualify for a personal loan, the Upgrade Card could be worth considering. You can get approval even if you have a lower credit score and it can help you build credit with set monthly payments.

Upgrade offers up to 1% in interest rate reductions. Most lenders don’t reward you for paying off your creditors directly, so Upgrade’s Direct Pay discount is unique. Still, it’s important to note that Upgrade’s APRs are high and you may find lower interest rates elsewhere. Plus, Upgrade charges origination fees of 2.9% to 8%, which really cut into your loan payout. Many other lenders charge no origination fees.

Ultimately, Upgrade could provide you with the opportunity to get funding if you have a poor or fair credit score. You can easily check your rates online and it also delivers loans fast, which is sometimes the most important factor if you suddenly need cash.

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FAQ

Is Upgrade legitimate?

Yes, Upgrade is legitimate. It has funded billions of dollars in credit for its customers. It’s a Better Business Bureau accredited business with a B+ rating.

Does a loan from Upgrade affect your credit score?

Checking your rates with Upgrade does not impact your credit score, but completing a full application can result in a minor and temporary decrease in your credit score. 

Does Upgrade verify your income?

Yes, when you complete a full application, Upgrade will ask you to provide documentation to verify your income. That could include W2s, pay stubs, or tax returns.

Does Upgrade charge a fee?

Yes, Upgrade charges an origination fee of 2.9% to 8%, deducted from your funds before you receive them. It also charges a $10 late fee for payments that are 15 days late. Plus, it charges a $10 insufficient funds fee if you try to make a payment and it doesn’t go through.

Ginny Dorn
Written by

Ginny Dorn is a freelance personal finance writer. She specializes in credit card debt, personal loans, and mortgages. She graduated from Western Illinois University with a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences.

Pros:
  • Accepts credit scores as low as 580
  • Up to 1% in interest rate reductions
  • Allows joint applications for personal loans
Cons:
  • Charges origination fees between 2.9% and 8%
  • Loans max out at $50,000
  • High APRs on personal loans and Upgrade Card
Bottom Line

Upgrade could be a good fit to pay off credit cards or consolidate debt. It offers a 0.5% interest rate reduction when you allow the company to directly pay your creditors. If you opt into autopay, you could get another 0.5% reduction, which could save you a lot of money on interest over time.

Upgrade could also be a good choice if you want a small personal loan. While most lenders have higher minimums around $3,000, Upgrade offers loans starting at $1,000. However, it’s worth noting that Upgrade charges origination fees while most of the competition does not.