Upgrade Personal Loan Review [2022]: Pre-Approval in Minutes, Funding in a Day

Sick of weeding through poorly-rated lenders? Upgrade might be the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to reaching your financial goals.
Last updated Aug. 17, 2022 | By Matt Miczulski
Upgrade Personal Loan Review

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When there are as many lenders as there are, how do you decide which is right for you? Your first instinct might be to go straight to your bank. After all, if you’re a valued customer, wouldn’t they give you the best deal on a loan? Maybe, but maybe not.

The fact that there are so many lenders out there can be a good thing. It gives you more options to choose from, and this can mean a greater chance of finding one you actually want to work with. And while everyone’s situation is different, we can all likely agree that low interest rates, low fees, yet high reviews make a lender worth considering. Otherwise, why waste your time?

With these considerations in mind, you may want to explore how to get a loan from nontraditional lenders. Upgrade, a financial services startup that specializes in affordable credit products, is one of these alternatives. While the name might not be as well-known, it doesn’t mean Upgrade might not be exactly what you’re looking for in a lender.

But is Upgrade legit? Does it provide the product I need? What do others have to say about Upgrade? By the end of this review, you’ll have all the answers to these questions and more.

Upgrade Benefits

  • Personal loans up to $50,000
  • No fees for prepayment
  • Free credit monitoring and educational resources

In this Upgrade review:

An overview of Upgrade

Upgrade is a San Francisco-based online lending platform that partners with banks to offer personal loans and lines of credit, as well as free credit monitoring and educational tools. Co-founded in 2017 by Adelina Grozdanova and Renaud Laplanche, former leaders at online lending pioneer LendingClub, Upgrade arose out of the belief that an online platform, as opposed to a traditional bank, would not only operate at a lower cost but also provide customers with a better experience.

Although it's headquartered in San Francisco, the company has additional offices in Phoenix, Chicago, and Montreal, and it employs more than 350 people. The fintech company has attracted millions of customers since its inception.

Which loan products does Upgrade offer?

Upgrade offers personal loans and a unique take on a personal line of credit with its product, Upgrade Card — a combination of a credit card and a personal loan.

Personal loan at Upgrade

Upgrade offers unsecured personal loans from $1,000 to $50,000, with the exception of a few states. For instance, in Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,005 and in Massachusetts, it’s $6,400. Personal loans with Upgrade aren’t available to residents of Iowa, Washington DC, and West Virginia. 

Upgrade touts a straightforward and seamless loan application process that consists of checking your interest rate, choosing your loan offer, and receiving your funds within a few business days. Loan APR rates are fixed and range from 6.95%-35.97% (as of Aug. 17, 2022) with terms of 36 or 60 months. To receive the lowest rates available, Upgrade requires you to set up autopay and pay off a portion of your existing debt directly. In other words, if you apply for a loan with the idea of paying off your credit card debt, a portion of the money you receive must be used directly toward your credit card debt for you to receive the best rates.

Each loan will have a 1.85% to 8% origination fee as well (as of Aug. 17, 2022), which is deducted from the total amount you’ll receive. So if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 5% origination fee, you would receive $9,500 in your account. While there is no fee for repaying your loan early, late payments and failed electronic or check payment attempts will incur a fee of $10 each.

There are a variety of things you can use an Upgrade personal loan for, whether it’s paying off credit card debt, debt consolidation, or making home improvements. There are also a few things you cannot use an Upgrade personal loan for, such as post-secondary education (tuition, room and board, supplies, etc.), investments, gambling, and, of course, illegal activities.  

To apply for a loan through Upgrade, you must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or hold a valid visa; be at least 18 years old (unless otherwise specified by your state), and be able to provide a verifiable bank account and valid email address.

Loan amount $1,000-$50,000
Loan term 36 or 60 months
APR (annual percentage rate)
6.95%-35.97% (as of Aug. 17, 2022)

Upgrade Card at Upgrade

The Upgrade Card, Upgrade’s mash-up of a credit card and personal loan, offers a line of credit up to $50,000 and can be used anywhere Visa is accepted. While there is no ATM access with the Upgrade Card, you can transfer cash from your personal line of credit to your bank account free of fees.

The rate and terms that come with the Upgrade Card are fixed, so you can budget for predictable monthly payments. Your APR can range from 8.99%-29.99% (as of Aug. 17, 2022) depending on your credit score and other factors. The terms of this credit line will vary depending on your score and other factors as well.

After you submit your pre-qualification, you’ll see a breakdown of your loan details, including the credit line you qualified for, the APR, and how long you have to pay off each charge you put on the card (this is known as a draw length). So, for instance, you may qualify for a $1,000 limit at a 15% APR with a draw length of 24 months. That means you’ll have $1,000 worth of purchasing power, your APR for each transaction is locked in at 15%, and you have 24 months to pay off each charge you make to your Upgrade Card.

While the terms on your existing balances will be fixed, Upgrade notes that the availability of your remaining credit, your interest rate, and how long you have to pay off each future charge (draw) may be adjusted if there are changes to your credit score or changes in the general market conditions.

You can use the Upgrade Card just like you would a traditional credit card; however, with the Upgrade Card, you’ll know exactly how much it will cost each month and when the borrowed amount will be paid off. This is because you’ll lock in a fixed rate and payoff date with the ability to make equal monthly until your balance is paid in full. This can help cut down on the cost of interest. Costs can be further reduced as there are no fees either. No origination fees, no annual fees, no fees when you make a purchase, no late fees, and no prepayment fees for paying your balance off early.

Loan amount $500-$50,000
Loan term Varies
APR 8.99%-29.99% (as of Aug. 17, 2022)

Credit Health at Upgrade

Part of Upgrade’s goal is to help you understand your credit, and one of the ways the company does this is with its Credit Health tools. These tools include free credit monitoring, email alerts concerning fraud or other changes impacting your score, a credit score simulator, and access to a variety of educational resources. There is no impact on your credit score when you use Upgrade’s Credit Health tools.

What Upgrade customers are saying

Upgrade has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) with an average of 4.6 stars based on over 2,000 reviews. If you dig into some of these reviews, you’ll find adjectives like “simple,” “fast,” and “pain-free,” with many people raving about Upgrade’s staff, which one person described as being “of the highest caliber.”

But you can’t rely on just one source of reviews to determine where to get the best personal loan. Head over to Trustpilot, and you’ll find an average 4.7-star rating. With close to 31,000 reviews, again, a majority of people focus on how simple the entire process was and how professional the staff is.

FAQs about Upgrade

What credit score do you need for an Upgrade loan?

The minimum credit score that's likely needed for a loan through Upgrade is 620, which is considered fair credit, though many factors are taken into consideration when determining loan eligibility, including your credit usage and credit history. Borrowers with a limited credit history might opt to apply for a personal loan with a cosigner. If you choose to go this route, just keep in mind that Upgrade will consider both your credit report and your co-applicant's credit report and debt-to-income ratios when determining your eligibility for a loan.

How long does it take for Upgrade to approve a loan?

Once you are approved for a loan through Upgrade, your loan proceeds will be sent within one business day. That said, how quickly your loan funds are available can vary depending on how quickly your bank processes the transaction.

Can you pay off an Upgrade loan early?

Yes, you can pay off your loan before the end of your repayment term without incurring a prepayment penalty.

Is Upgrade a direct lender?

Upgrade is not a bank but rather partners with banks to originate the loans you obtain through Upgrade’s online lending platform. Here are the banks offering loan options through Upgrade:

  • Blue Ridge Bank: Member FDIC
  • Cross River Bank: Member FDIC, issues all personal lines of credit
  • Sutton Bank: Member FDIC, issues the Upgrade Card that allows you to access the personal credit line

Is Upgrade a good loan company?

If you define a good loan company as being highly-rated, with a simple loan process that gets you your money within just a few days, then, yes, Upgrade may be considered a good loan company.

Of course, just as you would do with any lender, take the time to understand the company yourself so you can make an informed decision based on what’s best for you and your situation.

The final word on Upgrade

Just because you’re borrowing money doesn’t mean you have to be at the lender’s beck and call. A streamlined loan process, a first-rate reputation, and the ability to get you your money quickly are some of the most important characteristics borrowers look for as they're researching how to get a loan. This is what most people get when turning to Upgrade.

While Upgrade seems to be a favorable lender in most people’s eyes, it doesn’t mean Upgrade will tick all your boxes. If there’s a specific feature you’re not particularly on board with, there are plenty of other options worth considering. Do your research, compare lenders, and choose the option that best meets the needs of your current situation.

Disclaimer: All rates and fees are accurate as of Aug. 12, 2022.

Upgrade Benefits

  • Personal loans up to $50,000
  • No fees for prepayment
  • Free credit monitoring and educational resources

Author Details

Matt Miczulski Matt Miczulski is a personal finance writer specializing in financial news, budget travel, banking, and debt. His interest in personal finance took off after eliminating $30,000 in debt in just over a year, and his goal is to help others learn how to get ahead with better money management strategies. A lover of history, Matt hopes to use his passion for storytelling to shine a new light on how people think about money. His work has also been featured on MoneyDoneRight and Recruiter.com.