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Upgrade Review

Sunday, April 14th

2024 Boat Loan Reviews

Upgrade Review 3 Star Rating


3 Star Rating
  • Boat loans from $1,000 to $50,000 (structured as a personal loan)
  • Origination fees from 1.85% to 9.99% deducted from loan proceeds
  • Repayment terms from 24 to 84 months
  • "A+" rated and accredited by the BBB
  • Two lending partners
  • In business since 2017

Established in 2017, Upgrade offers a diverse range of financial services, including rewards checking, personal loans (that can be used to buy a boat), credit cards, and financial education. Headquartered in San Francisco with additional offices in Phoenix, Atlanta, Orange County (CA), and Montreal, Upgrade has successfully served over 2.5 million customers, issuing loans exceeding $24 billion in its initial years.

Basic application process

Working through the boat loan application process through Upgrade is relatively uncomplicated. Kick off by specifying your desired loan amount, ranging from $1,000 to $50,000, and indicating the loan's purpose (for a boat, that would best match "major purchase"). Provide the necessary personal details for yourself and any additional applicants, specifying whether it's an individual or joint application. Annual income details are required, with specific qualification requirements outlined for self-employed applicants.

You'll need a verified account

To access your boat loan rate quotes, create an Upgrade account with your email address and a chosen password. Verification of your identity involves providing your full Social Security Number. (In the event Upgrade cannot locate your credit profile through TransUnion or another bureau, you'll be notified that your loan request was denied.)

Interest rates are high, plus origination fees

We're not over the moon excited about Upgrade's rates and terms for marine loans. You'll find fixed-rate APRs with repayment terms spanning 24 to 84 months. That's pretty standard, but their APRs don't include Upgrade's one-time origination fee of 1.85% to 9.99%, deducted from the loan proceeds. If you don't calculate carefully and account for those fees, you could wind up with a total that doesn't meet what you need to borrow for the boat you're buying.

Best Boat Loans

Two lending partners behind the scenes

Upgrade channels its boat loans through two financial partners, Cross River Bank and Blue Ridge Bank. While Cross River Bank holds a "C-" rating from the Better Business Bureau, Blue Ridge Bank enjoys a more favorable "B+" rating. Upgrade itself maintains an "A+" BBB rating, giving us confidence that this isn't a bad option for loans in general.

Good reputation, especially with those who have low credit scores

With almost 40,000 Trustpilot reviews, Upgrade continues to solidify its good reputation, with 92% of customers awarding the company a 4- or 5-star rating. Although some customers note slightly longer wait times than they expected for loan processing and approval, the majority describe the loan application process as quick, easy, and reliable. Qualifying for a loan with a credit score below 600 is a standout feature, one that resonated positively with customers.

Not bad, but not our favorite

We only feel comfortable giving Upgrade a middle-of-the-road rating. While the lender is definitely reliable and may have options for borrowers with lower credit scores, we can't get past those steep origination fees and high interest rates. Plus, these loans aren't boat-specific: that's not an immediate "no" from us, but with the other drawbacks we mentioned, it's enough to stop Upgrade from getting an enthusiastic "yes" .

Where Can You Get the Best Boat Loans?

For many, nothing compares to the feel of a boat on the open lake or ocean waters. Boating embodies a deep-seated connection with the elements, a sense of adventure, and a unique lifestyle that captivates people around the world. Boats offer a retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, whether you like to escape to serene waters and relax, or explore hidden coves and coastlines.

To help people achieve owning the boat of their dreams, many companies now offer boat loans through online applications. The surge in popularity of online boat loans is dur to a number of factors. All of these can work together to help you qualify for a boat loan sooner and easier than ever before.

The Best Boat Loans Compare Boat Loans Compare Boat Loan Reviews What are the best Boat Loans Best Boat Loan Reviews

Boat Loan FAQ

Boat loans range from $1,000 to as much as $50,000,000. Your ability to qualify for a marine loan is heavily dependent on your financial situation, including your credit history, income and savings/investments, and the age and price of the watercraft you hope to buy.
On luxury watercraft, yes. If you're obtaining a boat loan of $100,000 or more, expect a down payment requirement of 10-20%, depending on the lender you choose. If you're buying a lower-priced boat, your funding will probably be structured as an unsecured personal loan and won't need a down payment.
What do you have in mind? If you're purchasing a million-dollar yacht, your boat loan will require a considerable amount of documentation, including a marine survey, prior to being approved. On the other hand, if you're taking out a loan to buy an inexpensive, used fishing boat, it'll likely be a personal loan that can be used for any purchase.
As long as you've entered your information accurately and you pass a credit check, your loan approval can happen almost instantaneously, though for higher loan amounts it may take a day or two. But, getting the funds for your loan won't necessarily be same-day, especially for more expensive boats that require a marine survey and other paperwork prior to funding.
On some boat loans under $100,000, you could be approved and have the money deposited to your account on the day you apply! On larger loans, expect the entire process to take at least a week or two, because your lender will likely request a marine survey that can take some time to arrange (similar to a home inspection when buying a house and applying for a mortgage).
It always helps. There are a few lenders who will approve you for a boat loan with poor to average credit, but you'll pay much higher interest rates. And, for luxury boats with price tags of $100,000 or more, you typically need a credit score of at least 700 to be eligible for a boat loan.
All boat loans will require a credit check, and further verification may require basic financial documents such as tax returns, bank statements, and proof of income. When buying a bigger boat - in price, size, or both! - your process is likely to include much more extensive paperwork, like a marine survey and a personal financial statement.
The most obvious fee is interest. Depending on the size of your loan, the lender you choose, and your credit history, you could pay as little as 3% or as much as 36% APR. Your boat loan may also come with a one-time origination fee, costs for a marine survey or other paperwork necessary before your loan is approved, and so forth. Be sure to get a fee breakdown before you sign on the dotted line with any provider of boat loans.
Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

One key driver why online boat loans are so popular is the unparalleled convenience they offer. Today's consumer value efficiency and simplicity in their lives. Online boat loans provide a streamlined application process, allowing borrowers to complete the entire transaction from the comfort of their homes. Gone are the days of cumbersome paperwork and time-consuming visits to brick-and-mortar banks or other lending institutions.

Another thing that sets online boat loans apart is the speed of approval and disbursement of funds. Traditional lending often involved lengthy approval processes, causing delays that could hinder the timely purchase of a boat. Online lenders leverage technology to expedite the approval process, letting you receive a quick decision on your loan - and get quick access to your funds.

Securing a boat loan involves navigating through various financial waters, understanding the intricacies of marine financing, and ensuring a smooth sail towards ownership. Whether you're dreaming of a luxurious yacht or a modest fishing boat, here's what you need to know as you explore the world of boat loans.

Boat loans are specialized loans designed to finance the purchase of a boat. They function similarly to auto loans, with the boat itself often serving as collateral to get you a lower interest rate (a secured boat loan). Lenders assess your credit score, income, debt-to-income ratio, and the type of boat you're purchasing when determining your eligibility. A higher credit score usually results in better loan terms, including lower interest rates.

Lenders offer fixed or variable interest rates, and the loan term can range from a few years to more extended periods. Longer loan terms can result in lower monthly payments but may lead to higher overall interest payments. Shorter terms may mean higher monthly payments but lower overall costs. Also, many lenders may require a down payment, usually ranging from 10% to 20% of the boat's purchase price. A larger down payment can lead to better loan terms and increased chances of loan approval.

Beyond the loan amount, you should consider other costs associated with boat ownership, such as insurance, maintenance, storage, and docking fees. These should be factored into your budget to ensure a realistic financial plan.

The boat loan application process involves submitting personal and financial information, including proof of income and credit history. Be prepared to provide details about the boat you intend to purchase, including its make, model, and purchase price. And, if your boat is in the $200K+ range, you'll likely need a boat inspection called a "marine survey" : similar to the inspection that's required on a home prior to qualifying for a mortgage, your lender will want to know that the vessel is seaworthy before approving the purchase.

The good news is that most of this can be done online. You've got an ocean of opportunities out there as you work to get the seafaring vessel of your dreams, and all it takes is a few clicks to find your financing.

What should you look for as you decide where to apply for a boat loan? Keep these things in mind:

  • Loan structure. Is the boat loan set up specifically for boats (which is often more like a traditional auto loan), or is it a personal loan? Personal loans tend to have much higher interest rates. Also, be sure to note whether it's an unstructured (not secured by collateral) or structured (secured by collateral) loan: if you default on your payments, you will lose whatever you used to secure that loan (like the boat itself). Do you need to make a down payment?
  • Rates and fees. How much will your monthly payments be? How long is the loan term? What fees are charged beyond interest (like origination fees, processing fees, and so on)?
  • Available loan amount. How much does the lender let applicants borrow? Is it enough to cover the full amount for the boat you're hoping to buy? How long will it take to get the funds if you're approved?
  • Reputation. What have other boat owners said about the lender? Were there any (unpleasant) surprises at any point of the application process or after the loan was funded? Has the Better Business Bureau given the lender a favorable rating?

Securing a boat loan requires careful consideration of your financial situation, the type of boat you want, and the terms offered by lenders. To help you on your quest, the experts at Top Consumer Reviews have evaluated and ranked some of today's most popular sources of boat loans. By navigating these waters thoughtfully, you can set sail on your maritime adventure with confidence and financial peace of mind.

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