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In 2016, Upgrade, Inc. was founded by a team of financial experts, including the two co-founders of Lending Club, a leader in consumer lending. With years of experience behind them, this team came to realize that personal loans were unnecessarily burdensome – and for many, just plain hard to get. For that reason, Upgrade designed its loans to be affordable and accessible to a wide range of people.

But Upgrade also understands – perhaps better than any lender – that it’s not just about accessibility to money, but that money management plays a large role in a person’s financial stability. As of January 2018, the average credit card balance in America is up nearly 3% to $6,375, while 43% of them carry a balance for two years or longer. To help solve this increasingly widespread problem, Upgrade offers unique credit health tools and articles to guide consumers to better financial habits.

Looking for a personal loan? Compare rates.

Upgrade at a glance

APR range 5.96% — 35.97%
Available loan terms: 36 and 60 month
Loan amounts: $1,000 — $50,000
Time to fund: One day
Origination fee: 1% – 6%
Credit score needed: 620
Income needed: n/a
Best for: Those with a steady income

Full Upgrade personal loan review

Upgrade considers your FICO credit score, individual annual income plus any additional income you’d like to be considered. Your rate will be dependent on your credit history, the amount of money you’re asking for and your desired loan term. For example, a $25,000 loan for someone making $45,000 per year may be offered at a 36-month term with a 13.55% annual percentage rate. With those terms, your monthly payments would be approximately $806.

You’ll also find personal lines of credit from this lender with terms ranging from 12 to 60 months. In the works for the future is a credit card and mobile-friendly token that will pull funds from your personal line of credit. Essentially, the lender is combining lines of credit with the concept of a credit card to benefit the customer. Instead of a high interest rate throwing you into a vicious cycle of credit card debt, you can have a low-interest, fixed-rate credit line with the convenience and ease of a credit card.

Whether applying for a personal loan or credit line, it’s best to have a steady source of income. Eligibility requires a minimum debt-to-income ration of 40%, meaning you’ll need to have sufficient funds left over after all the bills are paid. You’ll also need a credit score of 620 or higher. It can take several days for your application to be approved. However, once approved, you’ll receive funds as soon as 24 hours.

The biggest benefits

  • The credit simulator shows what actions help and hurt your credit score.
  • Free credit monitoring with an up-to-date summary keeps you on top of your credit profile.
  • Email alerts and education articles can guide you toward a better future.
  • Fixed-rate personal lines of credit are lower risk than a home equity line of credit and more flexible than credit cards.

The drawbacks

With a personal loan from this lender, there is an origination fee that’s included in the total amount financed. For instance, if you request a $25,000 loan, the amount that actually hits your bank will come closer to $23,000. (Note: there is no origination fee for a credit line.) With an loan, you are also subject to a $10 late fee. If you don’t have a glowing credit history, you are likely to receive a higher APR. A high APR on top of added fees can make borrowing money a costly endeavor, especially if you have trouble making payments on time. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of your loan terms before completing the application process.

How it stacks up

Not surprisingly, Lending Club is a comparable lender to Upgrade. However, Lending Club’s maximum loan amount is $40,000 versus Upgrade’s $50,000. While their APR ranges and origination fees are roughly the same, Lending Club requires a minimum credit history of three years. Upgrade takes into consideration your credit history; however, there is no set minimum. For those with limited credit history, Upgrade may not be able to offer the exact loan amount you’ve requested. But they will offer the largest loan with which you’ve qualified.

SoFi is a competitive lender with Upgrade as well, offering loan terms up to 7 years and a top loan limit of $100,000. APRs at SoFi fluctuate, but general stay within the same range that Upgrade offers. Plus, SoFi doesn’t charge an origination fee.

Should you apply?

Finally ready to remodel that master bathroom? While you may have considered a home equity line of credit, putting your house up as collateral is a risky move. A line of credit from this lender doesn’t require collateral at all. You get the money you need with the flexibility you want. A credit card can offer similar benefits. But unlike a typical credit card, Upgrade’s personal credit lines come with a fixed rate and fixed monthly payments to help you budget and successfully pay back what you borrowed. If you’re on a fixed income or just need a set monthly payment to keep your checkbook balanced, a credit line could work for you.

The same applies to their personal loans. You get fixed, low rates and equal monthly payments, which is valuable to all borrowers. If you need money and need help managing that debt, Upgrade’s tools and resources may be right for you. It offers a credit simulator, weekly credit score updates and summaries, expert recommendations just for you and a series of educational articles to teach you all you need to know about building excellent credit. The caveat: you don’t have to be a customer to access these resources – you just have to be willing to take advantage of them.

Upgrade is certainly pushing the envelope when it comes to innovating personal lines of credit and making credit health a priority. But for personal loans up to $50,000, this lender works best for those with a fair credit score, a solid credit history, minimal debt and reliable income.

How to apply

Personal loans are not currently available in the following states:

  • Connecticut
  • Colorado
  • Iowa
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia

If applying from Alabama, you must be 19 years of age or older. And if applying from the state of Georgia, the minimum loan request is $3,005.

Apply for an Upgrade loan online with some basic information, including your name, address, birthdate and individual annual income. You’ll receive your qualifying rate, select the offer you prefer and complete the application process. Once approved, you’ll usually receive your funds within one business day.

For an Upgrade line of credit, join the waitlist.

See Personal Loan Offers From Upgrade

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