Upgrade launched in 2017 and offers affordable online and mobile banking and credit services in all states except Iowa, Vermont and West Virginia. Since then, the platform has made more than $3 billion in credit available to more than 10 million applicants and continues to expand its online and mobile services. Although the maximum APRs are on the high end compared to other online lenders, Upgrade makes loans available to those with poor credit.

Loan amounts, which start at just $1,000, are flexible but capped at $35,000, less than lenders who focus on lower-risk borrowers. Three and five year loan terms are available. Upgrade charges an origination fee between 2.9% and 8% of the loan, and borrowers will encounter a $10 fee if their payment is more than 15 days late or if the payment is not made; there are no discounts for automatic payment. That said, Upgrade borrowers are not subject to a prepayment penalty, so you can lower the overall cost of the loan if you can pay it off early.

Beyond offering affordable personal loans, Upgrade streamlines the lending process with a mobile app that allows borrowers to view their balance, make payments and update personal information. Upgrade’s Credit Heath tool also makes it easy to track your credit score over the life of your loan.

Eligibility: Prospective borrowers must have a minimum score of 580 to qualify for an Upgrade personal loan (average borrower score is 697), making it an affordable option for those with fair credit. Additionally, the lender does not require applicants to meet a minimum income requirement, although borrowers earn an average of $95,000 per year. Applicants must have a maximum pre-loan debt-to-income ratio of 45%, excluding your mortgage.

The lender also considers each applicant’s free cash flow, which demonstrates their likely ability to consistently make on-time loan payments. Ideally, applicants should have a minimum monthly cash flow of $800.

The update increases the accessibility of loans by also allowing co-applicants.

Loan uses: As with most other personal loans, Upgrade loans should be used to pay off credit cards, consolidate other debt, make home improvements, or pay for other major purchases. However, Upgrade stands out from some lenders by allowing borrowers to use personal loan funds to cover business expenses. Plus, Upgrade will pay third-party lenders directly, making debt consolidation more convenient than with some competitive lenders.

There are no specific prohibitions on the use of Upgrade loans other than those already imposed by law.

Response time: Once an upgrade loan is approved, it typically takes up to four business days for the borrower to receive the funds. However, if Upgrade is paying a borrower’s loans directly to a third-party lender, it may take up to two weeks for the funds to clear.


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