Upgrade Personal Loans Review: Read Before You Borrow

Upgrade is a financial technology company that offers fixed-rate personal loans, auto refinancing, credit and debit cards and other banking products. However, Upgrade is not a bank; partner institutions offer all loans and accounts. 

Should you borrow money from Upgrade? Let’s take a look.

Key Points

  • Upgrade offers loans up to $50,000
  • Your loan funds should be available within one business day after closing
  • Annual percentage rates can be high, ranging from 5.99% to 35.99%
  • Upgrade does not cite a minimum credit score, but indications show that a score between 560 to 620 is needed
  • Upgrade offers an array of cash-back debit cards and a high-yield savings account with a solid 5.07% interest rate on balances of $1,000 or more
  • Upgrade has an A+ BBB rating

Upgrade Review: What You Need to Know

Upgrade offers personal loans from $1,000 up to $50,000. Like most personal loans, these loans can be used for almost any legal purpose, including: 

  • Starting or expanding a business
  • Home renovations
  • Debt consolidation
  • Medical expenses
  • Major purchases
  • Relocation costs

You cannot use an Upgrade loan for gambling, investing, or college expenses, including tuition or room and board.

Upgrade at a Glance 

APR Range8.49% to 35.99%
Loan terms2-5 years, up to 7 years for larger loans
Loan amount$1,000 to $50,000
Minimum credit score requirement560
Time to loan funding0.5% (Based on reviews, not specified on the website)
Overdraft feeN/A
Autopay discount0.5% (Based on reviews, not specified on website)
How to set up paymentsYou can pay through the Upgrade app or website, by ACH payment, or by check. Payments can be made 15 days before or after the due date.
Notable featuresAvailable with low credit scores; joint and secured loans available; uses FICO 9
Pre-payment penaltyNone

Disclaimer: Credit Summit may be affiliated with some of the companies mentioned in this article. Credit Summit may make money from advertisements or when you contact a company through our platform.

How Upgrade Works

Upgrade operates entirely online. There are no physical branches. You can apply for a loan through Upgrade’s website or app. The application process has earned high marks for speed and convenience, and if you’re approved, your loan will almost always be funded within one business day.

Upgrade’s loan partners are Cross River Bank and Blue Ridge Bank. Both are fully chartered commercial banks.

Upgrade does not specify a minimum credit score. Reviews cite figures from 560 to 620. The credit score you need may vary depending on other factors Upgrade considers, but these loans are certainly available to people with fair credit and even at the upper end of poor credit.

Upgrade offers loan terms from two to five years on most loans but will give terms of up to seven years for home improvement loans and loans over $30,000. That’s longer than most personal loan lenders. Long loan terms can reduce your monthly payment but will increase the amount you pay in interest over the life of the loan.

Pro tip: While Upgrade’s loans are accessible even with bad credit, they are not the cheapest. You will pay an origination fee of 1.85% to 9.99%. This will be deducted from the loan proceeds, so you may need to apply for more if you need a specific amount.

Upgrade also charges late fees, and the APR range is relatively high. There is no prepayment penalty, so paying your loan off early is not a problem.

Pro tip: Upgrade will be among your top picks if your credit is fair or at the upper end of poor and you need a personal loan, especially one with a long term. However, if you have good to excellent credit, you will almost certainly find lower rates elsewhere.

What Makes Upgrade Stand Out

Upgrade has several features that many competitors may not offer.

Direct Payments

If you choose Upgrade for a debt consolidation loan, they will pay your loan proceeds directly to your creditors. You’ll never have to handle the money and you won’t be tempted to overspend on something else. You’ll even get a discount!


Upgrade offers several opportunities for discounts.

  • Automatic payments: The discount is not specified on the Upgrade website, but several reviews say it’s 0.5%.
  • Direct payments: If you select the direct payment option on a debt consolidation loan Upgrade may give a rate reduction of 1 to 5 points.
  • Upgrade customer discount: If you have a rewards checking account with Upgrade, you may be eligible for a discount of up to 20% on your loan APR.

Using one or more discounts can turn a reasonably expensive loan offer into a competitive one.

Joint Loan Applications

Upgrade offers joint loans, offering more flexibility than some personal loan lenders. They do not accept co-signers, but a joint application will have the same effect (with the same risks).

Upgrade Card

The Upgrade Card is kind of a hybrid credit card/debit card. It offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and has no annual fee. You may qualify for a line of credit up to $25,000. It is basically a debit card that converts your purchases to a personal loan with a fixed start and end date. It lets you cover emergency expenses without racking up large amounts of credit card debt. This can be a great option for borrowers whose credit scores prevent them from qualifying for a traditional credit card.

To learn more about how the Upgrade Card works, check out this video:

Secured Loans

Unlike many personal loan lenders, Upgrade also offers secured loans. Most Upgrade loans are unsecured, but you have the option of a secured loan, typically with a vehicle as collateral. 

Secured loans receive substantially lower APRs than unsecured ones, and approval is easier, but you risk losing the collateral if you can’t pay the loan. You will have to surrender the title to your vehicle until the loan is paid.

READ MORE: Secured vs. unsecured debt

Uses FICO 9

Most lenders use the FICO 8 scoring model. Upgrade uses FICO 9, which has significant differences.

  • Medical bills in collections have less impact on a FICO 9 score.
  • Collection accounts with zero balance have no impact on a FICO 9 score
  • FICO 9 considers rent and utility payments if they are reported, FICO 8 does not.

People who use rent reporting, those who have medical debt in collections, or those who have paid collections will probably get a higher score from FICO 9 than they would from FICO 8. That may make qualification easier with Upgrade than with other lenders.

No Physical Branches

Upgrade operates entirely online and does not have brick-and-mortar branches. Applications must be submitted through Upgrade.com. If you prefer face-to-face customer service when it comes to personal finance, you should look for another lender.

Pros and Cons of Upgrade

Like all lenders, Upgrade has advantages and disadvantages. See which factors matter the most to you.


  • Wide range of loan amounts. You can borrow from $1,000 to $50,000.
  • Flexible repayment terms. You can pay up to 15 days before or after your assigned payment date.
  • Prequalification with soft credit inquiry. You can prequalify with no impact on your credit.
  • Fast funding. Get your money within one business day of approval.
  • Accessible with impaired credit. Upgrade does not cite a minimum score, but loans may be available to borrowers with scores as low as 580.
  • No pre-payment fees or penalties. You can pay your loan off early if you want to.
  • High-yield savings account. If you’re looking to build an emergency fund, Upgrade’s APY is one of the best available.
  • Cash-back cards: Upgrade’s debit cards offer unlimited 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase with no annual fee
  • Sign-up bonus: You can earn a $200 bonus when you open a Rewards Checking Plus account and make 3 debit card transactions


  • Charges origination fees. You will pay from 1.85% to 8% of your loan amount, deducted from the loan proceeds.
  • Personal loan rates are higher than average. If you have good credit you can probably get a better deal elsewhere.
  • Upgrade isn’t a direct lender. You will be borrowing from a partner bank, not from Upgrade.
  • Upgrade loans are not available in Washington, D.C.

How to Apply for an Upgrade Personal Loan

There are some basic requirements for an Upgrade loan. Most other lenders will have the same ones. You must:

  • Be at least 18 (19 in Alabama and in some other states)
  • Have a verifiable bank account
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

 To apply, follow these steps:

  • Fill out the pre-qualification form. This will involve a soft credit check, which has no impact on your credit.
  • Review your loan options. If you get an offer from Upgrade, compare it with offers from other lenders and see which is the best deal for you.
  • Complete the entire application. This will involve a hard creit check, which could have a small impact on your credit.
  • Submit documentation. Upgrade will tell you what’s required, but you can expect to be asked for proof of employment and income.
  • Wait for approval. You should have a decision in minutes.

Pro tip: Note that Upgrade has an income verification process. The company will verify the numbers you report on your loan application, so be honest and don’t exaggerate.

If your loan is approved, you should have the money within one business day.

Can I Refinance a Personal Loan With Upgrade?

Upgrade does not offer refinancing for personal loans. You could include a personal loan in a debt consolidation package, achieving the same result.

The Upgrade App

Upgrade’s mobile app is available for both Android (version 6 or later) and iOS (version 9 or later). 

The app is designed to manage the entire range of financial products available through Upgrade, including rewards checking, bill payment, and other conventional banking services.

Pro tip: If a loan is the only Upgrade product you’re using the app is still worth downloading – it’s free – but you won’t be able to use all of the functions. You can check your loan balance, select payment dates, and make payments.

The Upgrade mobile app has excellent reviews, with the iOS version getting 4.8 of 5 stars from about 30,000 reviews on Apple’s App Store and 4.6 of 5 stars from 15,000 reviews on Google’s Play Store.

Is Upgrade Trustworthy?

Any time you provide personal details to a financial institution, there is some risk of a data breach: even highly secure systems (like Equifax) have experienced breaches.

The risk of a data breach at Upgrade is low. The company has a rigorous privacy policy and information security systems comply with all regulatory standards.

What Customers Say About Upgrade

Upgrade is accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and has an A+ rating, indicating a high degree of responsiveness to complaints. Customer reviews on the Upgrade BBB page are generally positive, with 4.49 of 5 stars from 2,863 reviews.

Upgrade responds to all complaints on the BBB site and most are marked as resolved.

As with any lender that doesn’t have a physical location, it can be tough to resolve a problem because there’s no way to handle the issue in person.

Upgrade has a very positive reputation on Trustpilot, with 4.5 of 5 stars from 39,000 reviews, 81% of which are five-star. Not all of these reviews apply to Upgrade’s loans — all of Upgrade’s products are included — but reviews of the loans are mainly positive.

Many negative reviews are from people who failed to qualify for loans, although some deal with customer service issues.

The Bottom Line

Upgrade is a highly credible lender offering personal loans and car refinancing loans. Upgrade is willing to work with borrowers who have low credit scores. There’s a wide range of loan amounts, and funding is fast, but there are also notable fees and the APR range is high.

If your credit score is relatively low, Upgrade deserves a place on your list of potential lenders. If your credit is good, very good or excellent, you will almost certainly be able to find a better deal elsewhere.


What are Upgrade’s Interest Rates?

Interest rates on Upgrade’s loans range from 8.49% to 35.99%. Your rate will be based on your credit score and other factors that Upgrade uses to assess your creditworthiness.

Does Upgrade do a Hard Credit Pull?

You can pregualify with Upgrade with only a soft pull on your credit report, which will not affect your credit score. If you apply for a loan, there will be a hard pull and your credit score could be affected.

Is Upgrade Secure?

Upgrade’s data security systems comply with all federal laws. Any time you give personal information to a financial institution there is some risk of a breach, but the risk with Upgrade is low.

What’s the Difference Between Upgrade and Upstart?

Upgrade and Upstart offer similar services, targeting borrowers with fair to good credit scores and offering personal loans up to $50,000. But each has different perks, products, annual percentage rates and repayment terms.

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