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Loans

Upgrade personal loan review: Best for those with fair credit who want to pay down debt and learn how to improve their scores

Select's review of Upgrade personal loans, including information on APR, fees, perks, term lengths and loan amounts.

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When you're cash-strapped or deep in credit card debt, an everyday fiasco like a broken water heater or flat tire can be enough to drain your savings and even max out the limit on your credit cards.

Borrowing money shouldn't necessarily be the first line of defense in such scenarios, but sometimes a personal loan can help you get back on track toward financial stability.

Upgrade Personal Loans offer borrowers a quick, easy application process and approvals. Qualifying borrowers with fair to good credit can get rates ranging from 5.94% to 35.97% APR. Upgrade loans can be used for financing emergency home repairs, major purchases or debt consolidation, and you can check your rate for free without any impact to your credit score before you commit.

Select recommends Upgrade in part because of the helpful financial literacy tools. When you take out an Upgrade loan, the company gives you access to a free credit score simulator to help you visualize how different scenarios and actions may impact your credit (similar to CreditWise by Capital One), plus charts that track your credit score over time.

Ahead, we review Upgrade, looking at perks, fees, loan amounts and term lengths.

Upgrade personal loan review

Upgrade Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    5.94% to 35.97%

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation/refinancing, home improvement, major purchase

  • Loan amounts

    $1,000 to $50,000

  • Terms

     24 to 84* months

  • Credit needed

    Fair, good to excellent

  • Origination fee

    2.9% to 8%, deducted from loan proceeds

  • Early payoff penalty

    None

  • Late fee

    Up to $10 (with 15-day grace period)

Terms apply.

APR

Upgrade APRs range from5.94% to 35.97%. Your interest rate will be determined based on factors including your credit, income, work experience and education history. The total amount borrowed and term length also affect your final APR.

Getting the lowest interest rate requires that you sign up for autopay. If you are taking out a debt consolidation loan, you'll also get a better APR when you opt to pay your creditors directly (with at least a portion of your loan), as opposed to receiving a cash deposit to your checking account.

The APR on your loan may be higher or lower, and your loan offers may not include all the term lengths offered by Upgrade. Your actual rate will depend on your credit score, credit usage history, loan term and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan.

Perks

Upgrade loans are fast and easy to secure, and all the funds will arrive to your checking account within one business day of submitting the required documents.

In addition, Upgrade offers a few basic tools to help beginners get a grasp on their financial habits and improve their credit score. They include:

  • Free credit score simulator to help you visualize how different scenarios and actions may impact your credit
  • Charts that track your trends and credit health over time, helping you understand how certain financial choices affect your credit score
  • Ability to sign up for free credit monitoring and weekly VantageScore updates

Fees

All Upgrade personal loans have a 2.9% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted right from your loan proceeds.

Here's an example of what that could look like:

  • Total loan amount: $10,000
  • Repayment term: 36-month term
  • APR: 16.11% APR (12.49% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee)
  • Total amount deposited in your bank: $9,500
  • Monthly payment: $343.33
  • Total paid over life of the loan: $12,359.97

There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. But if you pay late or miss a payment, you could be hit with a $10 late fee if your payment is not received in full within 15 calendar days of the due date. This late charge is assessed once per late payment.

Loan amount

Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $50,000, but not all applicates will qualify for the maximum amount. How much you qualify for will be determined based on your credit, income and other information on your loan application.

Term lengths

Upgrade loans come with repayment terms of 24 to 84 months.

Bottom line

Upgrade Personal Loans offer borrowers with fair to good credit a way to cover major expenses and consolidate debt while offering customers the opportunity to learn about their credit through complimentary tools.

For the best results, understand thoroughly what goes into your credit score and how debt consolidation works before taking out a loan. And before you submit a formal application, check what kind of rate you can get on your loan offer on Upgrade's website.

If you have good to excellent credit and are looking to pay less in fees, LightStream offers personal loans with APRs as low as 3.49% for qualifying borrowers.

Our methodology

To determine which personal loans are the best for consumers with bad credit, Select analyzed dozens of U.S. personal loans offered by both online and brick-and-mortar banks, including large credit unions. When possible, we chose loans with no origination or sign-up fees, but we also included options for borrowers with lower credit scores on this list. Some of those options have origination fees. For loans with no origination fees, check out our best personal loan list.

When narrowing down and ranking the best personal loans, we focused on the following features:

  • Fixed-rate APR: Variable rates can go up and down over the lifetime of your loan. With a fixed rate APR, you lock in an interest rate for the duration of the loan's term, which means your monthly payment won't vary, making your budget easier to plan.
  • Flexible minimum and maximum loan amounts/terms: Each lender provides more than one financing option that you can customize based on your monthly budget and how long you need to pay back your loan.
  • No early payoff penalties: The lenders on our list do not charge borrowers for paying off loans early.
  • Streamlined application process: We considered whether lenders offered same-day approval decisions and a fast online application process. 
  • Customer support: Every loan on our list provides customer service available via telephone, email or secure online messaging. We also opted for lenders with an online resource hub or advice center to help you educate yourself about the personal loan process and your finances.
  • Fund disbursement: The loans on our list deliver funds promptly through either electronic wire transfer to your checking account or in the form of a paper check. Some lenders (which we noted) offer the ability to pay your creditors directly.
  • Autopay discounts: We noted the lenders that reward you for enrolling in autopay by lowering your APR by 0.25% to 0.5%.
  • Creditor payment limits and loan sizes: The above lenders provide loans in an array of sizes, from $1,000 to $100,000. Each lender advertises its respective payment limits and loan sizes, and completing a preapproval process can give you an idea of what your interest rate and monthly payment would be for such an amount.

The rates and fee structures advertised for personal loans are subject to fluctuate in accordance with the Fed rate. However, once you accept your loan agreement, a fixed-rate APR will guarantee your interest rate and monthly payment will remain consistent throughout the entire term of the loan. Your APR, monthly payment and loan amount depend on your credit history and creditworthiness. To take out a loan, many lenders will conduct a hard credit inquiry and request a full application, which could require proof of income, identity verification, proof of address and more.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.