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Monday, October 25th
Upgrade got its start in 2017, designed to offer exceptional value through combining rewards checking, affordable home improvement loans, credit cards and financial education. In its first four years, Upgrade saw more than 15 million people apply for a credit card or loan. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, with additional offices in Phoenix and Montreal.
No surprises in the application process
The quote process for getting a home improvement loan with Upgrade is simple. Start by entering your desired loan amount, from $1,000 to $50,000, as well as the loan purpose (consolidate debt, make a large purchase, and so on). From there, you'll need to indicate if your application is individual or joint, and provide the corresponding name, address and birthdate of anyone who will be included on the loan documents.
Read the details if you're self-employed
On the next page, you're asked to specify how much you make in a year and any additional annual income. Be sure to click on the FAQ in the text that pops up if you are self-employed: your documentation requirements will be a little different from those who get W2 income.
Verify identity to get loan offers
Finally, to get your personalized rate quotes, you'll need to create an Upgrade account with your email address and desired password, and then enter your full Social Security Number to verify your identity. If Upgrade can't locate your credit profile through TransUnion or another bureau, you'll get a message saying that they can't offer you a loan at this time, and a PDF with the notification of your loan request denial.
Origination fees taken out of loan proceeds
So, let's say you bite the bullet and provide all of the necessary verification info to get a home improvement loan quote through Upgrade. What can you expect? Generally speaking, all loans through this provider have fixed-rate APRs with repayment terms anywhere from 24-84 months. Those APRs include a one-time origination fee of 2.9-8%, which is deducted from the proceeds of your loan. In other words, if you request a $10,000 home improvement loan and you're charged an origination fee of 5%, you'll get $9,500 deposited to your bank account.
One-day turnaround for funds
Once your loan is approved, you should see the funds in your bank account within one business day, though it may take your financial institution a few more days to finalize the transaction. How does Upgrade get it done so quickly? Unlike many of the home improvement loan platforms in our review that operate as a referral service with lots of lenders in the network, Upgrade uses just two financial partners for all their funding: Cross River Bank and Blue Ridge Bank. Having a two-lender-only system means that you won't have to jump through any extra hoops of (re)applying after being matched with a financial institution (which is one of the downsides of using a referral platform for your home improvement loan).
A+ from the Better Business Bureau
At the time of this evaluation, Cross River bank had a "C" rating from the Better Business Bureau, while Blue Ridge had a more favorable "A" rating. Upgrade itself enjoys both accreditation and an "A+" from the BBB, making us confident that they're overseeing the home improvement loans made by their two lending partners, regardless of each bank's standing.
Clients love this service
And, Upgrade customers seem to agree: with more than 13,000 independently verified reviews, 94% of them give this lender a 4- or 5-star rating. While a handful of clients reported longer-than-average wait times (both for loan processing and for getting in touch with the customer service team to request help), the vast majority describe the home improvement loan process at Upgrade as quick, easy, and trustworthy.
New service building a good reputation
Upgrade is an all-around solid option for getting a home improvement loan. Although they're a little bit newer than some of their competitors who've been in the industry for a decade or two, that's no reason to worry that your home improvement loan isn't in good hands if you choose Upgrade. Thousands of clients have already used this lender to get the money they need, and we're sure you can too.
If you're looking to finally renovate that kitchen straight out of the 70's, or build on the extra bedroom you need, chances are good that you don't just have the cash sitting around to get it done. Most homeowners use a home improvement loan to access the funds required to turn their house into a "home sweet home" .
There are several types of financing that can be used to make improvements or repairs. These depend on a variety of factors: the amount of equity you have already built up in your property, your credit history, and the amount of money you need.
If you have little equity in your home - in other words, you haven't made many payments on your mortgage yet, and you didn't put down much money at closing - you'll most likely use a home improvement loan to fund your projects. These loans are based on your overall credit history; the higher your credit score and the lower your debts, the better rates and terms you'll get.
On the other hand, if you've built up equity in your home, you'll be able to access three other types of home improvement loans: cash-out refinancing, a home equity loan (HEL), and a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Each type has its ins and outs, and not every loan type is appropriate for a particular borrowing need. For example, a cash-out refinance is great if you can reset your mortgage at a much lower interest rate - but it also comes with closing costs (which can sometimes be rolled back into the loan amount). HELOCs let you take money out as-needed, but interest rates can be higher than some home equity loans and are often adjustable: your payments may increase in the future.
As you can see, choosing a home improvement loan leaves you with some research to do. While considering your options, here are some guidelines to help clarify which service you should use:
TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the best options for home improvement loans available today. We're confident that this information will help you get the money you need for your next big project!
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