Fintech Company Upgrade Launches Debit-Credit Card Hybrid

It allows users to pay now with no interest or pay over time with a fixed rate.

Upgrade, a fintech company that offers personal loans, cards and a checking account, has launched a new hybrid card that includes features from both credit and debit cards. The card makes it possible for users to pay for a purchase immediately with no interest or to pay it off over time with a fixed interest rate. However, the card has a lot of fine print to sift through to maximize its benefits.

Key Takeaways

  • Upgrade has launched the Upgrade OneCard, giving both debit and credit card users the best of both worlds.
  • Notably, the card has a fixed interest rate for purchases paid over time instead of a variable rate.
  • Cardholders can also enjoy rewards whether they pay now or later.

About the New Upgrade OneCard

Upgrade started out as a personal loan company but moved into card services when it launched its Upgrade Card in 2019. Technically not a credit card, the Upgrade Card functions more like a personal line of credit with a fixed interest rate and repayment term, helping users avoid the minimum payment trap with a traditional credit card.

On Wednesday, Upgrade announced a new card, the Upgrade OneCard, that takes its unique approach to another level.

With the Upgrade OneCard, users can choose to pay off their purchase now via a linked checking account or to pay it off over time with a fixed interest rate and monthly term.

Rewards

New cardholders can earn a $400 welcome bonus when they open a Rewards Checking account and make just three qualifying purchases on their OneCard or debit card within 60 days of opening the OneCard account.

Regardless of which payment option they choose, cardholders can also earn 3% cash back on purchases at convenience stores, drugstores, restaurants, and bars—including deliveries—and gas stations, as well as recurring payments on utilities and monthly subscriptions, including phone, cable, TV, and other streaming services. All other purchases net 2% cash back. Rewards are earned as you pay back purchases, and there's a cap of $500 in cash back per calendar year for 3% rewards categories.

To qualify for those rewards rates, though, you'll need to open a Rewards Checking account with Upgrade and maintain one of the following in the account:

  • Average daily balance of $2,500 or more.
  • Direct deposits of $1,000 or more.
  • Eight or more eligible purchases with your Rewards Checking debit card.

If you don't meet one of these requirements during a particular statement cycle, or you choose not to open a Rewards Checking account with Upgrade, you'll only earn 1.5% back on all of your purchases.

Other Terms

There's a lot going on with the Upgrade OneCard. Here's a summary of the other terms to keep in mind:

  • Fees: The card doesn't charge any fees.
  • Interest: As previously mentioned, Upgrade offers fixed interest rates, which is rare with traditional credit cards. As of July 2022, rates range from 8.99% to 29.99% APR, depending on your creditworthiness.
  • Credit line: Depending on a variety of factors, your credit limit can be as high as $50,000, but Upgrade says that most credit lines are $25,000 or less, with a minimum of $500.
  • Increased spending power: You can get up to $5,000 in extra spending power if you open a Rewards Checking account and use that as your payment account for the card, maintain a positive balance in the account, and keep your OneCard in good standing.

Too Complicated for Its Own Good?

The Upgrade OneCard has an impressive value proposition: the chance to earn 2% or more back on every purchase with the flexibility to pay now or later, a solid welcome bonus, and a fixed rate when you do need to pay over time.

But Upgrade requires cardholders to jump through hoops, which includes switching your main banking over to Upgrade, to maximize their rewards. If you're happy with your current checking account or don't want to switch to a financial institution that doesn't offer a savings account or other banking products, you're not going to get enough value from the card to make it worth your while.

That's not to say consumers should avoid the card. If you're willing to dig into the fine print to understand exactly what you need to do to maximize rewards and doing so wouldn't be a major inconvenience, the card can beat even some of the best cash-back credit cards on the market.

But take your time to understand what the card requires and whether the extra work is worth it for you.

Article Sources
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  2. Upgrade. "How to Maintain an Active Rewards Checking Account."

  3. Upgrade. "Upgrade OneCard with Rewards Checking to maximize your rewards."