The Upgrade Card is not one of our top-rated credit cards. You can review our list of best credit cards for what we think are better options.
Full Review of Upgrade Card
No fees to obtain or use the card
Predictable monthly payments
Useful alternative to balance transfer offers
1.5% cash back on all payments
Most applicants won’t qualify for the maximum credit line
No grace period
- No Fees to Obtain or Use the Card: While some credit cards charge annual fees, setup fees, and monthly fees, the Upgrade Card doesn’t charge any fees at all. That includes no foreign transaction fees or prepayment penalties.
- Predictable Monthly Payments: When you put charges on your Upgrade Card, they’re turned into an installment loan. You’ll repay the loan with fixed payments over a loan term of 12 to 60 months. You’ll have a predetermined monthly payment and fixed APR, so you can plan ahead and create a budget. You’ll also know exactly when you’ll pay off the amount you borrowed.
- Useful Alternative to Balance Transfer Offers: For people who can’t qualify for the best balance transfer cards because of their credit, the Upgrade Card could be a good alternative. While the Upgrade Card technically doesn’t allow balance transfers, it does have an easy workaround: You can draw money from your account online and deposit it into your bank account. Once that money is in the bank, you can use it to pay off your existing credit card debt. Going forward, you’ll make payments on the Upgrade Card balance.
- 1.5% Cash Back Rewards on All Payments: It's unusual for a card designed for those with little credit history or bad credit to offer cash back but the Upgrade Card recently added this valuable benefit. Rather than paying cash back on new purchases Upgrade incentivizes on-time payments by awarding the cash back at the time of repayment.
- Most Applicants won’t Qualify for the Maximum Credit Line: While the Upgrade Card offers credit lines as large as $50,000, most applicants won’t qualify for that much. According to the company, the majority of credit lines are for $20,000 or less. Your APR, credit line amount, and loan term will depend on your credit, credit usage history, and the credit line you requested.
- No Grace Period: With traditional credit cards, you typically have a grace period—the time between when your billing cycle ends and your minimum payment is due. In most cases, if you pay off your statement balance before the grace period ends, no interest will accrue. However, the Upgrade Card doesn’t have a grace period. All of your purchases will start accruing interest right away.
This Card is Best For
Motivated to create positive credit history
If your credit isn’t perfect and you’re looking for an alternative to subprime credit cards, the Upgrade Card may be a good option for you. It offers the flexibility and convenience of a credit card but the lower costs and predictable payments of a personal loan.
There are no fees, and you’ll repay your charges over 12 to 60 months. By having a fixed repayment term, you’ll be committed to repaying your debt by a set deadline, and you may pay less in interest than you would with a traditional credit card.
Rewards Earning Details
The Upgrade Card now awards unlimited 1.5% cash back rewards on payments made to the card each month. It's a subtle difference but having rewards tied to payments rather than purchases helps create an ongoing incentive for cardholders to pay as much as possible and pay on time—both good things for those building credit. Rewards are made in the form of statement credits and don't involve other redemption options. Still, the presence of a significant cash back rewards component to a card that is targeted toward those with less than perfect credit is a very significant product feature.
Because the Upgrade Card isn’t a standard credit card, it doesn’t offer the usual benefits you might expect from credit cards. However it does allow you to add your Upgrade Card to Apple Pay or Google Pay, and you can use it at contactless terminals.
The Upgrade Card is issued by Sutton Bank and is licensed by Visa. As a small, privately held, community bank, Sutton Bank was not rated in the 2020 J.D. Power Credit Card Customer Satisfaction Study.
Upgrade was launched in 2017 and specializes in personal loans and personal lines of credit. Since its inception, it has issued $3 billion in credit to customers. The company introduced the Upgrade Card in 2019, so it’s a very new financial product.
Upgrade’s customer service team can be reached by calling 844-558-5687 Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time.
The Upgrade Card doesn’t offer the usual security features typical of a credit card. For example, it doesn’t have account monitoring or fraud alerts, so you’ll have to be diligent about your own account security. If your card is lost or stolen, contact customer service right away to freeze your account.
If you’re afraid of running up a credit card balance, the Upgrade Card can be a useful alternative to a traditional credit card. The card automatically puts your charges into an installment plan with fixed monthly payments, so you’ll pay off your balance within 12 to 60 months. Depending on your credit, you may qualify for a lower APR than you could get with a regular credit card.
While the Upgrade Card doesn’t offer any other standard benefits it does now provide a solid cash back rewards program, which is a significant feature improvement. As you build good credit, there may be other cards to consider down the road that offer benefits that are becoming standard across the industry.
For example, you may qualify for a card in the future that provides useful benefits like auto rental insurance, lost luggage coverage, or roadside assistance. Many traditional credit cards now also waive foreign transaction fees, which can be quite desirable when traveling overseas. In the meantime, the Upgrade Card can be a great place to start your credit journey.