Personal Finance
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Upgrade Credit Card Review 2024

Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we may earn a commission from our partners’ links. This content is created independently from TIME’s editorial staff. Learn more about it.

Updated April 3, 2024

The no-annual-fee card_name is unlike any credit card you’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s not a credit card—not really. It’s more of a credit card/personal loan hybrid. That makes for some neat features (and some annoying ones, too).

card_name

Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®

Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®

Credit score
credit_score_needed
APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Annual fees
annual_fees
Welcome offer
bonus_miles_full

Pros:

  • Solid return rate for all purchases
  • Sizable welcome bonus for also opening a checking account
  • No annual fee
  • Possibility of higher credit limits and lower interest rates than some competitors
  • Part of credit limit can be transferred to your bank account

Cons:

  • More fees than some competitors
  • Cash back can’t be stockpiled
  • Carrying a balance is more difficult than with other credit cards
  • No purchase APR grace period—interest starts immediately after a purchase is charged
  • Can’t use the card at ATMs

The card_name boasts that it’ll save you considerable money over regular credit cards. But the way it works is not for everyone. Let’s examine the card_name to help you decide if it’s a good fit for your operating style.

TIME’s Take

card_name

The card_name has a few nice things going for it. Its no annual fee, 1.5% return on all expenses, and ability to deposit your credit line into a bank account make it an interesting prospect for cash-back seekers. What’s more, the card is available to those with low credit scores—but it’s not necessarily a good card to build credit, as it fails to report credit utilization to credit bureaus.

Pros & cons

ProsCons
Solid return rate for all purchases
More fees than some competitors
Sizable welcome bonus for also opening a checking account
Cash back can’t be stockpiled
No annual fee
Carrying a balance is more difficult than with other credit cards
Possibility of higher credit limits and lower interest rates than some competitors
No purchase APR grace period—interest starts immediately after a purchase is charged
Part of credit limit can be transferred to your bank account
Can’t use the card at ATMs

Who is the card for?

The card_name can be a good choice for anyone with fair credit (defined by FICO as between 580 and 669) who has had problems being approved for other rewards credit cards.

This can mean someone who:

  • Is relatively new to the world of credit.
  • Has a lengthy credit history but has made credit mistakes in the past.

With no annual fee and relatively low approval standards, it’s a simple way to earn cash back for your monthly expenses.

This card can also be helpful for those who need extra motivation to pay their credit card bill. The card_name is quite unique in its payment terms: It will examine your balance each month and enforce a firm installment plan to repay your bill. The card helps you to pay back what you owe in a timely fashion to mitigate interest fees—whereas other credit cards, which give you the leeway to make a small minimum payment for potentially decades, may enable bad spending habits.

If, however, your style is that you faithfully pay your bill in full each month, this card likely won’t serve you as well as other rewards credit cards. That’s because many alternative choices have a higher return rate and more valuable ongoing benefits.

Rewards

When you open the card_name, you’ve got the option to earn a bonus_miles by also opening a Rewards Checking Plus account and making three debit-card transactions. That’s a decent bonus for a no-annual-fee credit card.

There are two details that make the card_name’s rewards program unique. Not necessarily good or bad—just different. The card earns a simple 1.5% return for your expenses. However, you’ll actually earn that cash back when you pay off your purchases—not when you swipe. In other words, you won’t get rewards until you’ve repaid Upgrade.

Also, the cash back you earn will automatically be applied to your credit card balance each month. You can’t collect and save your rewards for a specific occasion. This isn’t a big deal (you’re still getting the same value as any other 1.5% cash back credit card). It does mean that you can’t use your rewards balance as a sort of savings account for emergencies, rainy days, etc.

The fine print

The card_name doesn’t charge an annual fee. However, you’ll be charged for balance transfers, foreign transactions, and transfers of funds to your bank account (we’ll discuss that in a bit).

You’ll also pay between reg_apr,reg_apr_type. The low end of this rate, if you qualify for it, is less than on many rewards credit cards. And Upgrade stresses that it’s structured to ensure that you’ll pay less with its product than with a regular credit card. That’s because the card demands that you pay your balance in a timely manner.

Here’s how it works: When you open the card, you’ll receive two things based on your creditworthiness (in addition to APR):

  • A credit line of up to $50,000 (though Upgrade says the vast majority will receive less than $25,000).
  • Loan terms between 12 and 60 months.

At the end of the month, Upgrade will create an installment plan with fixed APR to help you pay off your credit card. As an example, let’s say you’ve got an $8,000 balance on your card with 22% APR and a 24-month term limit. The card_name would charge you $415.03 per month, and you’d pay $1,960.61 in interest.

On the other hand, an $8,000 balance on a regular credit card that allows you to make a much smaller minimum payment would cost you many, many thousands of dollars more. In short, the card_name forces you to make considerable monthly payments, prodding you to stay out of debt.

One frustrating note: The card_name doesn’t offer a purchase APR grace period. That is, once you swipe your card, you’ll begin accruing interest that same day. Almost all other credit cards offer a grace period between 20 and 25 days, so this is a big downside of this product. It also means that you can never pay off your balance in full and avoid being charged interest on purchases.

Features

The card_name advertises potentially high credit limits and low interest rates. While your exact terms depend on your credit profile, this card has the potential to trounce the competition in these two areas.

For example, rewards credit card interest rates as low as 14.99% are virtually unheard of—particularly for a card that welcomes those with “fair” credit scores.

Additionally, this card allows you to effectively liquidate credit by simply transferring part of your credit limit to your bank account. This is very similar to a cash advance, except there are no fees for doing it. You will however, start accruing interest from the moment of the transfer.

The freedom to deposit money from the card_name into your bank account can be an excellent help when you need cash for an upcoming expense or you’d like to pay off other credit cards with higher interest rates.

What could be improved

The card_name doesn’t report your credit utilization to credit bureaus. Credit utilization accounts for a whopping 30% of your credit score, so responsibly low balances on this card won’t move the needle to help you build positive credit history. The card will report your timely payments, however, which is the biggest factor of your credit score (35%).

Also, you can’t use the card_name at ATMs—something most other credit cards allow for a fee. Yes, you can easily transfer funds to your bank account to get cash, but you’ll still need your debit card while you’re out and about if you need cash in a pinch.

Card alternatives

card_name
card_name
card_name
Welcome bonus
bonus_miles

SPECIAL OFFER: Unlimited Matched Cash Back. Offer ending soon.

bonus_miles
APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Annual fees
annual_fees
annual_fees
Credit score
credit_score_needed
credit_score_needed
credit_score_needed

Bottom line

The card_name has almost a parental relationship with its cardholders.

It won’t allow you to rack up debt and irresponsibly spin your wheels by making just the minimum payment. It maps out your payment strategy to get you out of the hole quickly. Whether you consider this lack of payment flexibility a pro or a con depends on your perspective.

card_name

Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®

Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®

Credit score
credit_score_needed
APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Annual fees
annual_fees
Welcome offer
bonus_miles_full

Pros:

  • Solid return rate for all purchases
  • Sizable welcome bonus for also opening a checking account
  • No annual fee
  • Possibility of higher credit limits and lower interest rates than some competitors
  • Part of credit limit can be transferred to your bank account

Cons:

  • More fees than some competitors
  • Cash back can’t be stockpiled
  • Carrying a balance is more difficult than with other credit cards
  • No purchase APR grace period—interest starts immediately after a purchase is charged
  • Can’t use the card at ATMs

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Is it hard to get approved for an card_name?

It’s not hard to get approved for the card_name. Even those with fair credit (in the FICO score range of 580-669) can possibly be approved. Plus, when you apply for the card, Upgrade won’t perform a hard credit inquiry unless they approve you.

What is the credit limit for the card_name?

Upgrade stipulates that the maximum credit limit for the card_name is $50,000. However, it states that the majority of cardholders will be approved for a credit limit between $500 and $25,000.

What is the difference between Upgrade and a credit card?

The card_name blends a revolving credit line with a standard personal loan. The big difference between Upgrade and a regular credit card is that you’re forced to pay back your balance in a timely manner. Your debt is effectively turned into a personal loan with fixed monthly installments and a term limit between 12 and 60 months.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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