Upgrade Rewards Checking review
Earn 2% cashback on everyday purchases and 1% back on everything else, but it has severe limitations.
The Upgrade Rewards Checking account has no fees and comes with a Visa debit card that earns 2% on utilities, subscriptions and everyday expenses and 1% back on other purchases. But you can’t deposit cash or checks and you can only get five ATM fees reimbursed a month when you meet specific requirements.
$0 per month
Minimum deposit to open
Michael Benninger is a staff banking writer at Finder. He is a former credit analyst and longtime freelancer whose articles have been published by Intuit, Business Insider and the Los Angeles Times. Michael is passionate about all facets of personal finance and has written hundreds of articles about money management during the past decade.
The Upgrade Rewards Checking account offers up to 2% cash back when you use it at restaurants, gas stations and more — with a limit of up to $500 a year. But there’s no limit on the amount of money you can receive on 1% cashback rewards when you use your debit card on other purchases.
If you spend about $387 a month on groceries, you could earn up to $7.74 back. So in one year, that’s equivalent to earning $92.88 in groceries alone. And if you spend about $250 a month on gas, that’s $5 you’d get back or $60 in a year.
But that’s about all this account has going for it. There’s no way to deposit cash or checks into your account and Upgrade imposes strict limitations on its ATM reimbursements. To be eligible for an ATM reimbursement you’ll need to maintain a balance of $2,500 or have at least $1,000 direct-deposited into your account.
Several other rewards checking accounts provide better ATM access and more ways to deposit funds into your account.
How do I open an Upgrade Rewards Checking account?
Opening an Upgrade Rewards Checking account only takes a few minutes.
- Go to the provider’s site and follow the steps to apply.
- From the provider site and select Rewards Checking then Get started.
- Enter your home address, city, state and ZIP code, then choose Continue.
- Choose whether you plan to use your card in the US or in the US and abroad.
- Enter your email address and create a password, then agree to the terms and conditions and choose Continue.
- Enter your date of birth and Social Security number.
- Answer questions about your employment and income, then select Submit.
To open an Upgrade Rewards Checking account, you must be:
- At least 18 years old
- A US resident
You’ll need to provide the following information when applying for an account.
- Social Security number
- Details from a government-issued ID
What are the Upgrade Rewards Checking account benefits?
The Upgrade Rewards Checking account is insured up to $250,000 and offers these features:
- Cashback rewards. Earn 2% cash back at bars, restaurants, gas stations, drugstores and convenience stores and for food deliveries, utilities and monthly subscriptions, but there’s a limit of up to $500 a year you can receive. You’ll also earn 1% cashback on all other debit card charges with no limit.
- No fees. The Upgrade Rewards Checking account doesn’t charge ATM, overdraft or monthly maintenance fees.
- ATM reimbursements. Upgrade will reimburse any ATM fees you pay up to five times a month. But only if you maintain a minimum daily balance of $2,500 or have at least $1,000 automatically deposited into your account during the same billing cycle as the ATM withdrawals.
- Discounted loans. Get a discounted interest rate on an Upgrade loan if you have an active Rewards Checking account.
- Free domestic wire transfers. There’s no fee for incoming or outgoing domestic wire transfers, though you may pay fees for international transfers.
What should I look out for?
The Upgrade Rewards Checking account has some drawbacks that might be deal-breakers for you.
- Can’t write or deposit checks. Like most online banks, Upgrade doesn’t offer checkbooks or allow you to deposit checks.
- No chat support. Unlike some other online-only accounts, Upgrade doesn’t offer chat support via the company’s website. However, live representatives are available over the phone on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT.
Upgrade‘s ATM network and fees
Unlike most other banks, Upgrade doesn’t have a relationship with any regional or nationwide ATM networks. And although Upgrade doesn’t charge any ATM fees, you may incur a fee from the ATM owner. However, Upgrade will reimburse these fees up to five times each month, but only if you maintain a minimum daily balance of $2,500 or receive at least $1,000 in direct deposits during the same billing cycle.
Compare Upgrade Rewards Checking with other checking accounts
See how other checking accounts stack up based on their monthly fees, ATM networks and minimum initial deposits.
How do I deposit or withdraw my money?
There are a few different ways to move money into and out of your Upgrade Rewards Checking account.
- Direct deposit. Your employer can deposit funds directly into your account.
- ACH transfers. Move money between bank accounts.
- Incoming wire transfers. Accept incoming domestic wire transfers without paying a fee.
- ATM. Withdraw money from your account at any ATM.
- Cashback. Make cash withdrawals from your account at certain brick-and-mortar retailers when making purchases.
- ACH transfers. Use the Upgrade app or website to transfer money to another bank account.
- Outgoing wire transfers. Send outgoing domestic wire transfers without paying a fee.
How can I contact Upgrade?
There are three ways to reach Upgrade:
- Call 844-319-3909 to speak with a support specialist on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org for support at any time.
- Send a tweet to @upgradecredit.