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Upgrade cards: A card with a credit line that works like an installment loan

It’s not your typical credit card, offering a fixed APR and flexibility to those with fair or better credit.

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The Upgrade Card can be a great solution if you’re looking for the fixed monthly payments of a personal loan but the spending flexibility and potential rewards of a credit card. Each time you tap into your line of credit, you get a fixed APR and a payoff period of up to five years. It makes repayments easy to budget for while letting you spend when and where you need to.

But if you want to consolidate your debt, look elsewhere: You might end up paying more than if you went with a traditional debt consolidation loan or balance transfer credit card.

Upgrade cards: How they work

The Upgrade Card is a line of credit that operates like a credit card. Use the card online or at retail locations where Visa is accepted. You can also borrow funds and send them to your bank account, though you might pay an ACH transfer fee.

However you choose to use the line of credit, you’re limited to the maximum amount you’re approved for — between $500 and $25,000.

There are no draw fees or prepayment penalties, which helps cut costs. Each draw, or group of draws, turns into a fixed-term loan with fixed monthly repayments — similar to a personal loan, and making it easy to budget. Your interest rate, credit limit and term length depend on several factors that include your credit score, credit history and loan amount.

Pay down your balance by making equal payments each month debited directly from your bank account.

5 cards to choose from

All five Upgrade cards come with no annual fee and have a purchase APR of 14.99% to 29.99% variable.

NameRewardsBest for
Cash Rewards1.5% cash back on paymentsThose who want a flat reward program
Triple Cash Rewards
  • 3% cash back on payments for home, auto and health purchases
  • 1% on everything else
Big spenders at home, auto and health retailers like Home Depot, Tractor Supply Co. and Walgreens
Life Rewards
  • 3% cash back on payments for gas, grocery, health, streaming and utility purchases
  • 1% on everything else
Category spenders on gas, grocery, health and streaming and utilities like Shell, Kroger and Netflix
Upgrade OneCard
  • 1.5% cash back on everyday purchases
  • Reward Checking account holders earn 3% cash back on everyday purchases; 2% on everything else
  • No interest on Pay Now purchases
Everyday spenders; categories include drugstores, dining and utilities like CVS Pharmacy and Taco Bell
Upgrade CardNoneThose who want to improve their credit

Compare Upgrade credit cards

1 - 3 of 3
Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®
Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®
Up to 1.5% cash back
14.99% to 29.99% variable
$0
Unlimited 1.5% cash back on payments
Upgrade Card
Upgrade Card
None
14.99% to 29.99% variable
$0
Credit lines from $500 to $25,000 for people with fair credit scores over 600.
Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards
Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards
Up to 3% cash back
14.99% to 29.99% variable
$0
A hybrid a credit-loan card with rewards. Earn 3% back on eligible home, auto and health purchases and 1% back on all other purchases.
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Where the Upgrade cards shine

The Upgrade Card is in a class of its own, providing the flexibility of a credit card but the predictability of a personal loan. This hybrid option makes budgeting easier and expands your spending options.

It also stands out for:

  • Potential cashback rewards, depending on the card selected
  • No minimum draw amount
  • No origination fees

Where it falls short

The Upgrade card comes with a few drawbacks:

  • The Upgrade Card doesn’t have ATM access
  • Bank account deposits can take up to four business days
  • Interest rates may be higher than a personal loan

Is the Upgrade card a credit card?

Kinda — the Upgrade is a hybrid of a credit card and a personal loan. While you can spend it like a credit card, and it gives you access to funds like a credit card’s cash advance, its payment terms are different from a traditional credit card.

Unlike a credit card’s variable interest rate that can increase with the prime rate, the Upgrade card uses an installment loan payment system. That means you pay down your balance at a fixed rate and term, like a personal loan. Equal monthly installments make it easier to budget than with a credit card bill.

How to qualify

All cards require that you meet the following criteria:

  • Valid email address
  • Verifiable bank account
  • At least 18 years old
  • US citizen or permanent resident

The application process also requires financial and personal documentation that includes:

  • Recent pay stubs
  • Employment information, including salary and income
  • Recent bank statements
  • Personal contact information, including an email address
  • Social Security number and date of birth
  • Government-issued ID, like your driver’s license or passport
  • Your credit score may also determine which card type you qualify for.

    Card TypeCredit scoreFICO score
    • Upgrade Cash Rewards
    • Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards
    • Upgrade Life Rewards
    • Upgrade OneCard
    Good to excellent670 to 850
    Upgrade CardFair to excellent580 to 850

    How to apply

    It takes minutes to see if you qualify for an Upgrade Card. The application will ask you for basic information and permission to do a hard pull on your credit history. After you submit your application, including uploading any requested documentation, you should receive a decision within minutes.

    If you’re approved, you’ll have instant access to your credit line. Sign in to your online account and create a virtual card to use it immediately, wait for the physical card to arrive or have the funds sent to your bank account. Transfers can take one to four business days to complete.

    How to maximize your rewards

    Get more out of your Upgrade card by doing a little bit of legwork before applying, including:

    • Apply for the right Upgrade card. Analyze your spending habits and choose the Upgrade card that rewards you the most for where you shop. For example, a home and auto DIY enthusiast may benefit more from the Triple Cash Rewards card, whereas a frequent home cook may choose the Life Rewards card.
    • Nurse your credit score. Get your credit score in tip-top shape before pulling the trigger, such as lowering your credit utilization ratio and checking for errors in your credit report. Your credit score plays a significant role in eligibility and your potential interest rate on your new Upgrade card.
    • Take advantage of welcome offers. Shop around for welcome bonuses for signing up. For example, you could earn $200 if you open an Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus account with your Upgrade Cash Rewards Card.
    • Alternatives to the Upgrade Card

      If a credit card–personal-loan hybrid doesn’t fit the bill, consider a traditional credit card or a personal loan.

      Cashback credit card

      Shop around for a traditional cashback credit card that rewards you for your purchases.

      Keep in mind that most credit cards have high APRs. If you’re able to, pay your balance before the due date to maximize your rewards and avoid accumulating interest.

      Personal loan

      If a fixed monthly payment catches your eye, but you don’t need the line of credit features, a low interest rate personal loan may be a better option. Keep in mind that personal loans may have origination fees, typically ranging from 1% to 8% of the loan amount.

      And since it’s considered closed-end credit, you can’t make multiple draws, borrowing money as you need it. Instead, banks approve one loan amount, and you’ll make payments until everything is paid back.

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