Upgrade is an online financial company offering personal loans, a checking account you can earn rewards with, a savings account with a competitive APY and several cards to earn more rewards.
What is Upgrade?
The team that founded Upgrade started in other FinTech firms. FinTech is a branch of finance that uses technology to compete with traditional banks and lenders to provide customers with value.
In 2017, Upgrade was launched to make it easier for consumers and borrowers to access credit and find an easier way to do their banking. By 2021, over five million people applied for loans and opened rewards checking accounts with Upgrade.
Upgrade is an American company with its headquarters in San Francisco. The Phoenix location handles service, while the Montreal office handles all the company’s engineering needs.
Upgrade mainly focuses on unsecured personal loans, but they also offer secured personal and auto loans, credit cards, and rewards checking accounts. Upgrade’s personal loans are available in most states except Washington, D.C.
Is Upgrade a Bank?
Upgrade is not a bank but a financial technology company that partners with FDIC-insured banks to offer you a digital banking experience. This means you can access all their services online via their website, but your deposits are held and therefore insured by their partner bank, Cross River Bank, Member FDIC.
As an example, if you want to apply for a personal loan from Upgrade or open a bank account, the whole process is entirely completed online, saving you the time and hassle of going to a physical branch like you would do for a traditional bank.
Upgrade Bank Products and Services
Upgrade may be a good start if you want to try a more innovative way of banking. The best part of Upgrade’s service is that they’re offered online without the need to go into a physical location.
Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus Account
Upgrade Rewards Checking Account offers 2% cashback on everyday expenses and recurring payments and unlimited 1% cashback on every other debit card charge. You also get lower rates on new loans and cards up to 20% if you maintain an active Rewards Checking account.
You can also get a personal line of credit with the Upgrade Card. It is similar to a credit card. However, the payments and interest rates are similar to an installment loan. The Upgrade Card gives you a personal loan’s convenience, affordability, and predictability. Plus, you get a $200 bonus when you open a Rewards Checking account and make three debit card transactions.
Upgrade Premier Savings Account
If you’re looking for a way to get more out of your savings, consider a Premier Savings Account with Upgrade. This type of savings account offers several features and benefits that could help you maximize your financial security and reach your long-term goals.
The Upgrade Premier Savings Accounts comes with a higher interest rate of 5.07% APY as long as your account balance stays over $1,000. It also charges no monthly fees.
Upgrade cards are a popular type of payment card that can be used to purchase items online or in stores. They allow consumers to make purchases quickly and securely without using cash or a credit card. Upgrade Cards are accepted at millions of locations worldwide, including in-store stores, online retailers, and even services like Uber and Lyft. Upgrade offers three different types of cards:
- Upgrade Cash Rewards Card: You can use it wherever Visa is accepted and earn cashback on your purchases and access a credit line.
- Upgrade One Card: Choose whether to pay now or later, and maximize your cashback rewards when combined with the Reward Checking Account.
- Upgrade Life Rewards Card: Access a higher % of cashback rewards when you spend on things like gas, groceries, health, streaming or utilities.
Upgrade’s Personal Loans can be used for various reasons like refinancing credit cards, consolidating debt, paying for home improvements, or other major purchases like a wedding or a trip.
If you choose to get a debt consolidation loan, Upgrade offers a discount rate of 1 to 5 percent for borrowers who make direct payments on the loan and have the lender pay their other debts directly. This percentage discount is relatively rare compared to other personal loans offered by other lenders.
In addition, Upgrade allows you to add a co-borrower when you apply to improve your chances of qualifying for a loan. Unlike a co-signer, a co-borrower will have access to the funds from the loan. For some borrowers, Upgrade may also give you the option of securing your personal loan with your vehicle, also referred to as secured loans. With a secured loan, you can be eligible for a lower rate or even a bigger loan than an unsecured personal loan.
Aside from personal loans, credit cards and checking accounts, Upgrade also has a free service for credit monitoring called Credit Health, which lets borrowers monitor their VantageScore 3.0 credit score. Users can get recommendations for improving their credit score based on simulated scenarios. You can check your credit score any time, along with information on improving your score. This makes it easy to review your credit score before you apply for additional credit.
Pros and Cons of Banking with Upgrade
Let’s review some of the benefits of banking and getting loans with Upgrade:
- Low Fees: Upgrade does not charge minimum balance or monthly fees for their accounts. There are also no costs for applying for a loan.
- Competitive Interest Rates: Upgrade offers low interest rates, meaning you will pay less money back over your loan term. Interest rates vary depending on factors such as your credit score, the type of loan you are taking and the loan term.
- Innovative Features: Financial companies and neo-banks usually offer more innovative features to help you manage your financial life. For example, the credit health feature that allows you to monitor your credit score.
- Mobile App: Access your account anytime from your mobile phone with the Upgrade mobile app.
- Security Measures to Protect Your Money: Upgrade has secure banking protocols and procedures and encrypted data storage solutions to protect your personal data and your money. Also, your deposits are insured by their partner bank, Cross River Bank, Member FDIC.
Here are some of the cons that you may find when using Upgrade:
- ATMs Fees: Upgrade does not have its own ATMs or belong to a shared ATM network. However, each month, it will reimburse up to five ATM fees charged by another institution for withdrawals in the United States. Your account must have been active in the previous month to be eligible for rebates.
- No Cash Deposits: Although Upgrade doesn’t accept cash deposits, money can be deposited through mobile check deposit, direct deposit, or transfers from an external account.
- No Overdraft Protection: Upgrade does not offer overdraft protection like other neo-banks.
Upgrade Fees and Costs
Opening a checking or savings account is free, and they dont charge any monthly fees. Although you will pay ATM fees when you use any to withdraw cash, they will rebate up to five ATM fees per month. Also, there isn’t any overdraft fee, although there isn’t overdraft protection.
Applying for a personal loan or line of credit with Upgrade is free. However, there is a 2.9% to 8% loan origination fee on any personal loan and an interest rate between 5.94% and 35.97%.
If you fail to make a payment on time or have a payment returned, there is a $10 late fee. The personal line of credit through the Upgrade Card has an interest rate between 8.99% and 29.99%.
You can always check your current credit rating for free. It’s easy to access the resources the company offers at no cost to help you understand your credit scores and ways to improve them.
How to Get Started with Upgrade
To get started with Upgrade, navigate to their website and open an account or apply for a loan. After you provide the relevant information (like name, address, date of birth, or income), you will create an account with your email address and a password.
You can log in to your account on their website at any time to review your loan application status or to manage your account and cards online. Or you can download the Upstart mobile app to access your account from your phone anywhere at any time.