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The Upgrade Card portfolio mixes the best benefits of a credit card as you can build credit and receive up to 3% cash back on qualifying purchases. However, it breaks the traditional credit card mold by letting you repay the balance with fixed monthly payments similar to a personal loan. Here is a closer look at this hybrid credit card and how it might benefit your finances.

Jump straight into Upgrade’s website: Upgrade Cash Rewards Card

Garland Hotel front yard. Credit: Johnny Jet

What is the Upgrade Card?

There are currently four different Upgrade Card versions with different ways to earn cash back. Each product offers set payoffs to repay your balance at a faster pace than a regular credit card.

These products don’t have an annual fee, but a 3% foreign transaction fee applies on international travel. Depending on your creditworthiness, the credit limit is from $500 to $25,000. No upfront security deposit is needed as it’s an unsecured credit card.

You might consider applying for an Upgrade Card for these reasons:

  • Lenient credit score requirements: You can qualify with a fair credit score (580 to 669). This is helpful if you struggle to qualify for the best rewards credit cards, which normally need good or excellent credit.
  • Pay less interest: If you normally carry a credit card balance, it’s possible to pay less interest as you have a fixed payment plan of 24 to 60 months. However, the minimum monthly payment is higher than an unsecured credit card.
  • Multiple draws: Unlike a personal loan with a lump-sum distribution, you can draw from your credit line as you need to borrow money. This flexibility means you only pay interest on your outstanding balance and you won’t need to constantly reapply for new credit.

Jump straight into Upgrade’s website: Upgrade Cash Rewards Card

Upgrade Card Types

There are four different Upgrade Card versions to choose from. Three of them earn cash back on purchases.

Upgrade OneCard

The Upgrade OneCard is the card issuer’s flagship product as you earn at least 2% back on purchases.

You will earn 3% back on these everyday purchases (up to $500 back per year, then 2% back):

  • Convenience stores
  • Drugstores
  • Restaurants and bars (including deliveries)
  • Gas stations
  • Utilities
  • Phone, cable, TV, and other streaming services

All remaining purchases can earn unlimited 2% back.

To earn 3% and 2% back, you will need to open a Rewards Checking or Rewards Checking Plus account through Upgrade and either keep the Pay Now feature linked to your Upgade checking account or maintain an active checking account balance by receiving at least $1,000 in monthly direct deposits.

Your purchases only earn 1.5% back if you don’t satisfy the above monthly requirements. This is still a good rewards rate, as few cash back cards earn 2% back or more on all purchases.

Related: 8 Best Credit Cards For Everyday Spending (Groceries, Gas, & More)

Cash Rewards

The Upgrade Cash Rewards Card earns unlimited 1.5% back on purchases that Visa is accepted locally or online. This is the standard rate for a flat-rate cash back credit card, so you can earn a competitive amount while establishing a credit history.

Your cash back earnings are applied as a statement credit the next month.

Related: The Best Cash Back Credit Card Offers

Life Rewards

The Upgrade Life Rewards Card can be an excellent option for daily purchases as you can earn up to 3% back:

All remaining purchases earn 1% back.

Target and Walmart purchases earn unlimited 1% back as these are general merchandise stores that sell a variety of goods and it’s not possible to determine which products earn 3% back. The 3% back categories earn unlimited bonus cash.

Related: 10 Best Credit Cards for Paying Monthly Bills & Utilities

Upgrade Card

The original Upgrade Card is the entry-level product and is best for building credit. You won’t earn purchase rewards, but you can choose a structured repayment plan to pay back your balance.

Further, it’s an unsecured credit card and can be a step up from a secured credit card with a similar spending limit. For instance, the minimum spending limit is $500 and can be higher with a stronger credit score, annual income, and low debt-to-income.

As this is a no-frills credit card, it might be the easiest to qualify for if you have thin credit. You can see which cards you prequalify for without hurting your credit score.

Additional Upgrade Card Benefits

These extra benefits provide further value to your card membership.

$200 Signup Bonus

New card members can receive a $200 welcome bonus by opening an Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus account and making 3 debit card purchases.

This checking account has no monthly fees or a rewards debit card, and you can receive your direct deposits up to 2 days earlier. You won’t get a checking account bonus unless you open an Upgrade rewards credit card.

Related: The Best Limited-Time Credit Card Offers

Up to 10% Back on Purchases

Upgrade partners with the Dosh rewards shopping portal to award up to 10% back at participating merchants. You will receive the rewards as a cash statement credit. In addition, these rewards are on top of your card’s standard purchase rewards.

Predictable Payments

Paying off credit card debt can be challenging as you will need to make more than the minimum monthly payment to do it quickly and keep your interest costs low. You can also pay a variable interest rate that can go higher or lower.

The Upgrade cards let you choose a repayment term as long as 60 months, depending on bank approval, that you repay with equal monthly payments.

Upgrade Card Pros and Cons

Here are the strengths and weaknesses of this rewards program.


  • No annual fee
  • You can earn up to 3% back
  • Fixed monthly payments are available
  • Low minimum credit score


  • Potentially low spending limit
  • Personal loans can have better rates
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Bonus offer requires opening a checking account

Who Should Apply for the Upgrade Card?

Consider getting the Upgrade Card when you want the flexibility of earning cash back but also want hands-on help with minimal interest charges during the months you need to carry a balance.

It’s also a great option if you have fair credit as you have a chance at earning similar credit card rewards as people with good or excellent credit.


The Upgrade Card collection is a compelling option if you have fair credit as you have more flexibility with repaying your balance over an extended period. It’s also possible to earn cash back and build credit to qualify for the best credit cards as you pay off your balance in full each month.

Jump straight into Upgrade’s website: Upgrade Cash Rewards Card

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