It isn’t a secret that personal loans can be great for consolidating your budget or settling your credit card debt. Still, not all lenders offer friendly terms and conditions.
In this article, I will be reviewing personal loans offered by Upgrade, which is one of the most popular fintech companies in the USA. To help you decide if it is the right financing method for you, I will discuss my experience, highlighting the main features, fees, and potential downsides.
- Are Upgrade Personal Loans Available for Everyone?
- Getting Started with Upgrade Personal Loans
- Flexible Payment Schedule
- Who Are the Upgrade Personal Loans Best for?
- Upgrade Loan Amounts and Terms
- What About the Hidden Fees and Costs?
- What Are the Biggest Advantages of Upgrade Personal Loans?
- The Drawbacks of Upgrade Personal Loans
- How Does Upgrade Compare to Other Fintech Companies?
- Upgrade Contact Details
Are Upgrade Personal Loans Available for Everyone?
The first detail that I was interested in is if Upgrade offers personal loans all across the USA. As a fintech company, I didn’t find that they have a physical location.
On the other hand, this financing method is available for all US permanent residents or citizens except those who are living in West Virginia, Iowa, or Washington DC.
Looking at the basics, I was happy to find that Upgrade offers personal loans starting at $1,000 and going all the way up to $50,000.
With that in mind, it is safe to say that this financing method can be used for a variety of purposes, including debt consolidation, home improvement, or any major purchases.
Right off the bat, I was interested in finding if it offers friendly fees and terms.
While most of the conditions are transparent and I wasn’t met with any hidden costs, there is an origination fee which is set between 2.9% and 8%.
In addition to that, the annual percentage rate can go all the way up to 35% for borrowers who have a bad credit history.
Getting Started with Upgrade Personal Loans
Before I get into the details of this financing method, I want to discuss the application procedure. It is straightforward as everything is done through the Upgrade official website.
The first step was to choose the loan amount and a loan purpose, including paying off credit cards, consolidating other debts, investing in a business, financing a purchase, or a home improvement.
One of the ideal features is that checking the rate didn’t affect my credit score.
Once I had completed the information, I continued the application process by filling out all required personal details and sending out the inquiry.
As mentioned earlier, there isn’t a physical location that I could go to and apply in person.
When it comes to who can apply for Upgrade personal loans, there are two main requirements.
The first is to be a permanent resident or a citizen of any state in the USA apart from West Virginia, Iowa, or Washington DC. The second is to have a FICO score above 580.
Flexible Payment Schedule
The main reason why Upgrade is so popular is due to the flexibility that it offers.
Firstly, I could use it for paying off my debt through a fixed monthly payment without worrying about hidden fees or late payment charges.
The second is the ability to finance a major purchase or unexpected expenses without having to deal with complicated refinancing options or using a high-interest credit card.
In addition to that, once I was approved for the Upgrade personal loan, getting the funds to my account took a single business day.
With that in mind, I consider it to be the ideal financing option for people who are in dire need of money.
Once I decided on the loan and checked the APR, the last step was to pick a fixed rate that I would be charged for the next couple of years.
As with any financing method, the longer the timeline is, the lower the monthly payment and vice versa.
Who Are the Upgrade Personal Loans Best for?
A common question is who can benefit from the personal loans offered by Upgrade.
As I mentioned above, apart from those in West Virginia, Iowa, and Washington DC, the answer is anyone who wants to borrow a sum from $1,000 to $50,000.
In my personal opinion, it is the best financing method for those who have a low FICO score and can’t get approved for loans with a lower APR.
In addition to that, it is a great option for people who like online lenders and aren’t all about going to the lender’s physical location.
What Can’t Upgrade Loans Be Used for?
Of course, it is beneficial that Upgrade is a reputable fintech company that is highly recommended by the Consumer Protection Federal Bureau.
While I found the Upgrade personal loans to be adequate for a variety of purposes, the company discloses that the borrowed money can’t be used for certain things.
This includes stock/cryptocurrency investments, gambling, illegal activities and paying off tuition, or covering daily expenses such as groceries and supplies.
Upgrade Loan Amounts and Terms
Before I discuss the fees and charges, it is important to understand the terms that I was able to choose from.
As mentioned above, the minimum borrowed amount is $1,000, while the maximum is set at $50,000.
Still, I found that the max sum is limited to $25,000 in a wide variety of states, including Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The same goes for the minimum amount that I could borrow.
Although it is set at $1,000 for residents of California, if you’re living in Massachusetts, you would need to borrow at least $6,000 or $3,000 for people in Georgia.
The loan’s terms are pretty friendly and something that I was able to choose after evaluating my fixed rate.
Upgrade offers versatile pay-off schedules that are between 24 and 84 months.
What About the Fees and Hidden Costs?
The biggest issue with several personal loan companies is the hidden fees. Fortunately, Upgrade is pretty transparent, and I was informed of everything that they charged me for.
Firstly, I was interested in finding out about the annual percentage rate.
It is set anywhere between 5.94% and 35.97% and directly depends on the credit history, FICO score, and the loan terms that the borrower chooses.
To get the lowest APR, I needed to set up the automatic payments and choose to pay off my credit card debt through the Upgrade financing method.
As mentioned above, I wasn’t too happy about the origination fee set between 2.9% and 8%, given that it is a sum directly taken from the base loan.
While there aren’t any pre-payment fees or title transfer costs, Upgrade informed me that they would charge me certain fees.
This included up to $10 for late payment and the same sum for all the payments that don’t go through due to insufficient funds.
What Are the Biggest Advantages of Upgrade Personal Loans?
First and foremost, I was happy that Upgrade does offer a discounted APR if I set automatic payments.
While I wasn’t able to find that they disclosed an official statement of the discount, I discovered that it was set at 0.5% in my case.
The second advantage is the ability to choose terms and payment schedules that will not put a strain on my budget.
The pay-off flexibility that Upgrade offers is something that I couldn’t find with any other fintech company.
Furthermore, the lender offers a wide variety of educational resources and the ability to monitor my credit score and learn how to improve it.
There is also an intuitive mobile app that is available for iOS and Android devices.
I particularly enjoyed accessing the Credit Health tool and getting information on the due payments.
The Drawbacks of Upgrade Personal Loans
Throughout years of reviewing banks and fintech companies, I wasn’t able to find a single one with no drawbacks.
So is the case with Upgrade that charges a relatively high APR for all people who have a bad credit score set between 580 and 650.
In addition to that, the origination fee is something that Upgrade could certainly do without.
Losing 8% of the borrowed sum right off the bat isn’t the best way to get started, especially if it is crucial for settling a debt or financing a major purchase.
Last but certainly not least is that although Upgrade allows joint applications and co-applicants, I found that they prohibit co-signing.
Thus, if you don’t meet the requirements for a personal loan that this fintech company offers, there is nothing your friend with a high credit score can do about it.
How Does Upgrade Compare to Other Fintech Companies?
One of the most popular lenders is SoFi which does have a few advantages over Upgrade.
The first one is that its minimum APR is similar and set at 6%, the maximum annual percentage rate I would be charged is just around 20%. Much better for people who have a low credit score.
Also, there isn’t any origination fee, and the borrowed sum is set anywhere between $5,000 and $100,000.
Pretty similar is the LightStream, which offers a starting APR of 3% and a repayment schedule of up to 12 years.
Upgrade vs. Marcus
In the end, Marcus is one of the fintech companies that has battled Upgrade since the beginning.
While it does offer a friendlier APR (maximum 20%) and excludes late payment and origination fees, it requires that the borrower has a minimum FICO score of 660.
Upgrade Contact Details
Upgrade could be the best there is, but it wouldn’t be of any importance if they didn’t have good customer support.
As mentioned above, the fintech company doesn’t have a physical location that you can pay a visit to.
Still, their online support is pretty impressive. First, there is an extensive FAQs page on the Upgrade official website that covers most of the common questions.
In addition to that, I tried out their email service at email@example.com and were happy to find that they responded within hours.
Last but not least is the ability to reach Upgrade over the phone. The phone number is (844) 319-3909.
Their customer team is available between 6 am – 6 pm PT from Monday to Friday and 6 am – 5 pm PT from Saturday to Sunday.
Their head office is located at 275 Battery Street, 23rd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA.
I consider Upgrade to be a great personal loan solution for anyone who needs to finance a major purchase or consolidate a credit card debt. Yes, the APR is a bit high, and the origination fee is pretty annoying but other than that, the fintech company offers flexible terms and a wide variety of perks!
Note: There are risks involved when applying for and using credit. Consult the bank’s terms and conditions page for more information.