Our reviewers evaluate products and services based on unbiased research. Top Consumer Reviews may earn money when you click on a link. Learn more about our process.

Upgrade Review

Monday, October 25th

2021 Home Improvement Loan Reviews

Upgrade Review 4 Star Rating

Upgrade

4 Star Rating
  • Fixed-rate loans from $1,000 to $50,000
  • Competitive interest rates
  • Two lending partners
  • Repayment terms from 24-84 months
  • "A+" rated and accredited by the BBB

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.

Best Home Improvement Loans

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.

Where Can You Find the Best Home Improvement Loans?

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.

The Best Home Improvement Loans Compare Home Improvement Loans Compare Home Improvement Loan Reviews What are the best Home Improvement Loans Best Home Improvement Loan Reviews

Home Improvement Loan FAQ

In general, there are four types of financing for home improvement: home improvement loans, which don't depend on having any equity in your home, cash-out refinancing, home equity loans (HEL), and home equity lines of credit (HELOC). The loan that's right for you will be affected by several factors, such as current interest rates, the amount that you want to borrow, and your credit history.
Great question! Both types of loan assume that you've got some equity built up in your property, and you use that property to "secure" your loan. Home equity loans are more like a traditional loan: you get an upfront lump sum and make fixed payments over your repayment term. On the other hand, a home equity line of credit lets you borrow as needed, up to a predetermined limit: your interest rate may be variable, so your payments can increase or decrease over time.
Basically, yes. Your loan is rarely tied to any particular use. Maybe you thought you wanted a new kitchen, but now an in-ground pool sounds more fun. Or, perhaps you planned to upgrade your bathroom, and then all of your appliances died after a lightning strike. No problem! The money is yours to use as you see fit.
That depends. With a traditional home improvement loan, the amount you can borrow will largely be determined by your credit history, current amount of debt, and your income. If you're borrowing against the equity in your home, you may be able to get a loan for up to 85% of your equity. For example, if your home is worth $300,000 and you've got $200,000 left to pay, then your equity is $100,000: you may be able to borrow up to $85,000.
If you need money fast, your best bet is a home improvement loan rather than a home equity loan. With a home improvmeent loan, you could get funds deposited within a day or two of being approved. Any lending tied to the equity in your home takes much longer, often including a (new) house inspection and underwriting. But, keep in mind that home improvement loans often have higher interest rates than home equity loans.
The home improvement loan process is much easier than an equity-based loan, and you'll receive your money much faster - but you're likely to get the best rates and terms with a cash-out refinance (if interest rates now are lower than when you obtained your current mortgage) or a home equity loan. Keep in mind, though, you can get your money with a home improvement loan in just a day or two, while an equity-based loan can take weeks.
It's not impossible. You're more likely to qualify for a home equity loan or line of credit, because your home's value can secure the loan. But, there are also some home improvement loan providers that work with individuals that have less-than-perfect credit.
You can... but unless you've got a 0% APR card with a high credit limit and you can pay it all off within the introductory no-interest period (usually 12-21 months), you're going to wind up paying a lot more in interest. A LOT more. Check out your other options, which are tailored for this type of project, before using a credit card to fund home improvements or repairs!
Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

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:

  • Loan Amount. How much money can you borrow? Some lenders offer loans up to $100,000, while others cap their limit at $35,000 - or lower. Can you get all the money you need from the lender you choose?
  • Loan Terms. How much will you pay in interest for your home improvement loan? How long will you have to repay the total amount borrowed? Are there any origination fees, prepayment penalties, or other costs?
  • Transparency. How much does the company tell you upfront about their loans? Is it easy to get a quote without a credit check? Does the provider tell you how much you should expect to pay in fees, their average interest rates, and their minimum eligibility requirements?
  • Direct lender or referral service. Some home improvement loan companies offer you funding directly, while others have partnerships with lenders and let you compare offers. A referral service is an easy way to compare loans and terms, but you may be spammed for weeks with annoying emails and calls from lenders.
  • Reputation. What do other homeowners have to say about the experience of getting a home improvement loan through the service? Is help readily available from knowledgeable company reps? Has the Better Business Bureau given the provider a strong rating?

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!

The Best Reviews of Home Improvement Loans