Upgrade Personal Loans: 2017 Review

Loans, Personal Loan Reviews, Personal Loans
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4 stars out of 5

NerdWallet rating: 4.0 / 5.0
Good for: Debt consolidation

logo_vertical_green_stripes2xUpgrade may be a good fit if:

  • Your credit score is 620 or higher. Borrowers’ average credit score is 675.
  • You have $1,000 or more left over after paying your bills each month
  • You do not reside in the following states: Connecticut, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont or West Virginia

Upgrade at a glance

Typical APR5.66% - 35.97%
Loan amounts$1,000 to $50,000
Time to funding24 hours after loan approval
Origination fee1% – 5%
Soft credit check with application?Yes

» MORE: Best loans for debt consolidation

Upgrade personal loan review

To review Upgrade, NerdWallet collected more than 30 data points from the lender, interviewed company executives, completed the online loan application process with sample data, and compared the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar product. Loan terms and fees may vary by state.

While Upgrade is new, its co-founder and CEO Renaud Laplanche is well-known in the online lending business. He is the former head of LendingClub, an online lending pioneer that has lent more than $28 billion since 2007. He was ousted in May 2016 due to a loan sale that fell short of business standards, according to news reports at the time.

Launched less than a year later, Upgrade is a competitor to LendingClub offering slightly lower starting APRs and a different underwriting approach. Upgrade’s loans are designed for mainstream appeal across demographics and support a wide range of credit scores and incomes, Laplanche says. By contrast, LendingClub caters mainly to good-credit borrowers with high incomes and well-established credit histories.

To qualify for an Upgrade loan, you’ll need to have at least $1,000 left from your monthly income after your expenses are paid. Upgrade’s attention to this metric, known as free cash flow, is intended to keep people from borrowing more than they can afford by “having a pretty high bar in terms of how much free cash you really have at the end of the month,” Laplanche says. Most lenders reviewed by NerdWallet have a minimum income requirement instead.

Here’s a closer look at features offered by Upgrade:

  • $1,000-a-month requirement: Upgrade estimates your free cash flow based on factors including your income, city and state tax rate, mortgage or rent payment, and the average cost of living in your area, Laplanche says. This helps the lender determine how much you can afford to borrow.
  • Programs for hard times: Borrowers who experience a hardship, like a job loss, may qualify for a temporary reduction of their monthly payment or a permanent loan modification that extends the length of the loan.
  • Plans for helping people improve their credit: Laplanche says Upgrade intends to introduce online tools such as a credit monitoring tool and credit score simulator. Neither feature is live yet.

Upgrade compared with other lenders

SoFi is one of the few other online lenders that considers free cash flow when reviewing applications. Compared with Upgrade, SoFi may be better for people with thin credit files because it doesn’t have a credit history requirement.

Prosper’s credit score requirements and rates are similar to Upgrade’s. However, Prosper has a higher maximum debt-to-income ratio, helpful for borrowers who have significant debt.

Upgrade does not accept co-signers. FreedomPlus and LendingClub are two lenders that do, with credit score requirements similar to Upgrade’s.

How to apply for an Upgrade loan

You can check rates on Upgrade’s website with no impact on your credit score. You’ll need to enter your address, date of birth, income and other details to see individualized loan offers.

To apply for one of the loans, choose the amount and length of the loan you want and fill out the detailed application. Upgrade does a hard credit check before finalizing the loan.

If you want to compare an offer from Upgrade with those from other lenders, you can check rates with multiple lenders on NerdWallet using the button below. NerdWallet will check its lender marketplace and display the loans for which you qualify, so you can compare rates in one place. Checking your rates won’t affect your credit score.

Details about Upgrade personal loans

Minimum requirements

  • Minimum credit score required: 620
  • Minimum free cash flow: $1,000 a month. No minimum income requirement.
  • Minimum credit history: three years
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 40% (excluding mortgage)

Upgrade terms

  • APR range: 5.66% to 35.97%
  • Loan amount: $1,000 to $50,000
  • Loan duration: Three or five years
  • Time to receive funds: 24 hours after approval

Upgrade fees and penalties

  • Origination fee: 1% to 5%
  • Prepayment fee: None
  • Returned payment fee: $10
  • Late fee: $10 after 15-day grace period
  • Personal-check processing fee: None
Before you shop for a personal loan

Personal Loans Ratings Methodology

NerdWallet’s ratings for personal loans award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including soft credit checks, no origination fees, payment options, short time to funding, interest rate caps of 36% and no prepayment penalties. Features are considered for their positive impact on consumers’ credit history and financial health. To ensure accuracy and consistency, our ratings are reviewed by multiple people on the NerdWallet personal loans team.

5 stars out of 5 — Among the very best for consumer-friendly features

4.5 stars out of 5 — Excellent; offers most consumer-friendly features

4 stars out of 5 — Very good; offers many consumer-friendly features

3.5 stars out of 5 — Good; may not offer something important to you

3 stars out of 5 — Fair; missing important consumer-friendly features

2.5 stars out of 5 — Poor; proceed with great caution

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