The bottom line: Upgrade offers personal loans plus credit-building tools; you'll need strong cash flow to qualify.
Pros & Cons
Allows co-signed and joint loans.
Offers hardship program.
Offers direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.
Charges origination fee.
Charges late fee.
Compare to Other Lenders
Compare estimated rates from multiple lenders
To review Upgrade, NerdWallet collected more than 30 data points from the lender, interviewed company executives and compared the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar personal loan product. Loan terms and fees may vary by state.
Upgrade personal loans are designed for mainstream appeal, supporting a wide range of credit scores and incomes. The lender gives borrowers access to credit monitoring and educational tools and it’s one of the few online lenders offering a personal line of credit.
Upgrade is also one of the few lenders that emphasizes loan applicants’ free cash flow. While an applicant’s debt-to-income ratio and credit score are important, a spokeswoman says, they don’t account for rent payments and other monthly expenses.
The idea is 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,” says Renaud Laplanche, Upgrade founder and former head of the online lending platform LendingClub.
Loan uses: Upgrade loans can be used for debt consolidation, funding home improvements and other large purchases.
Best for: NerdWallet recognizes Upgrade among our list of best personal loans for borrowers with bad to fair credit.
Pre-qualify with soft credit pull: Upgrade lets you check your rate and offers with a soft credit pull, which does not impact your credit score. If you accept the offer, a hard pull is triggered. Upgrade uses the FICO 9 credit score to evaluate borrowers.
High debt-to-income ratio allowed: Upgrade allows borrowers to have a maximum DTI ratio, which is monthly debt payments divided by monthly income, of 60%.
Line of credit: Upgrade offers a personal line of credit up to $50,000, a unique product among online lenders. The money comes on a Visa card. Advances have fixed annual rates between 6.49% and 29.99% and the maximum repayment term is five years.
Credit health tools: Upgrade offers tools to help consumers understand their credit, including credit monitoring, alerts, a credit simulator and access to free educational content.
Hardship programs: Consumers who experience a sudden 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.
Origination fee: 2.9% - 8%.
How to qualify:
Minimum credit score: 600.
Minimum annual income: None, but most applicants have more than $30,000.
Minimum monthly free cash flow: $800.
Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 60%.
Accepts co-signers who meet minimum credit score requirements.
Unavailable to borrowers in: Iowa, Vermont and West Virginia.
Loan example: For a borrower with good credit, a $25,000 loan with a repayment term of 36 months at 18% would carry monthly payments of $904, according to NerdWallet’s personal loan calculator.
Before you shop for a personal loan
Pre-qualify with NerdWallet
NerdWallet recommends comparing loans to find the best rate for you. Pre-qualifying may get you personalized rates from multiple lenders that partner with us, including Upgrade. Pre-qualifying will not impact your credit.
Apply with Upgrade
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, choose the amount and length of the loan you want and fill out the detailed application. Upgrade does a hard credit pull before finalizing the loan.
on Upgrade's website
Personal Loans Rating Methodology
NerdWallet's ratings for personal loans award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks, no fees, transparency of loan rates and terms, flexible payment options, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus, and financial education. We also consider the number of complaints filed with agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation of any sort for our reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.