Upgrade Personal Loans: 2021 Review

Upgrade’s personal loan stands out for its many consumer-friendly features and discounts.
Annie MillerberndAug 12, 2021

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Our Take

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: Customizable loan features and discount opportunities make Upgrade a strong option for fair- and bad-credit borrowers.

Best Personal Loan for Fair Credit

Upgrade

on Upgrade's website

on Upgrade's website

Min. Credit Score

560

Est. APR

5.94 - 35.47%

Loan Amount

$1,000 - $50,000

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Allows secured and joint loans.
  • Offers a wide range of repayment terms.
  • Offers a 0.5% rate discount for setting up autopay.
  • Offers significant rate discount for checking account customers.
  • Offers rate discount with direct payment to creditors on debt consolidation loans.

Cons

  • Charges origination fee.
  • Charges late fee.

Compare to Other Lenders

Upgrade
Prosper
Upstart
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Est. APR

5.94 - 35.47%

Est. APR

7.95 - 35.99%

Est. APR

4.37 - 35.99%

Loan Term

2 to 7 years

Loan Term

3 to 5 years

Loan Term

3 to 5 years

Loan Amount

$1,000 - $50,000

Loan Amount

$2,000 - $40,000

Loan Amount

$1,000 - $50,000

Min. Credit Score

560

Min. Credit Score

600

Min. Credit Score

580

Compare estimated rates from multiple lenders

Compare Rates

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Full Review

Upgrade personal loans are designed for mainstream appeal, supporting a wide range of credit scores and incomes.

The lender differentiates itself with features like rate discounts for having payments sent directly to creditors on. It also boasts secured and joint loan offerings, reasonably fast funding and a wide range of repayment terms.

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Discount for direct payments on debt consolidation loans: Upgrade offers a rate discount of 1 to 5 percentage points for borrowers who get a debt consolidation loan and have the lender directly pay their other debts. This discount is rare on , and 5 percentage points is a hefty slash compared to discounts offered by other lenders.

Pre-qualify with soft credit pull: Upgrade lets you check your rate and offers with a , 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.

Credit building tools: Upgrade customers can sign up for free credit score monitoring, a credit score simulator and personalized tips to build credit. Some other lenders offer free credit score monitoring, but additional tools are relatively rare.

Existing customer discount: The lender says it may reduce your personal loan APR by up to 20% if you're an active customer of its Rewards Checking account. That discount could bring a 30% APR down to 24%, for example.

Joint and secured loans: Upgrade allows applicants to add a co-borrower to improve their chances of qualifying for a loan. Unlike a co-signer, a co-borrower will have access to the funds from the loan.

Applicants can use a vehicle as collateral on a secured loan. The lender will consider the value of the vehicle on your application, which could lead to a lower rate. If you secure a personal loan and fail to repay it, the lender can seize the collateral.

Hardship program: 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.

This option can be helpful in a pinch, but extending your loan’s repayment term without getting a reduced rate can cost more interest overall.

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Moderate funding time: Unlike some of its competitors that boast instant approval and same-day funding, Upgrade may take a few days to approve a loan application. According to the lender, about half of all applicants will see the loan funds deposited in their account the day after their application is approved.

Origination fee: Upgrade charges an origination fee, which isn’t uncommon among online lenders. At 2.9% to 8%, Upgrade’s origination fee is high compared with other lenders, though. Your origination fee is calculated in your annual percentage rate.

Loan example: A three-year, $10,000 loan with a 23.4% APR would cost $389 in monthly payments. You’d pay $4,004 in total interest on that loan.

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.

You can apply on Upgrade’s website by entering a loan amount and purpose on the lender’s personal loans page. You’ll be asked for further information to pre-qualify first. If you’re shown any offers, you can accept one to continue the loan application process.

on Upgrade's website

Personal Loans Rating Methodology

NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 30 lenders. We collect over 45 data points from each lender, interview company representatives and compare the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar personal loan product. NerdWallet writers and editors conduct a full fact check and update annually, but also make updates throughout the year as necessary.

Our star ratings award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks to pre-qualify, competitive interest rates and no fees, transparency of rates and terms, flexible payment options, fast funding times, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education. We also consider regulatory actions filed by agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We weigh these factors based on our assessment of which are the most important to consumers and how meaningfully they impact consumers’ experiences.

This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate most financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for our star ratings. Read our editorial guidelines.