Upgrade Cards: Which One Should You Get?

There are multiple options, but each card has a different rewards system.
Sara Rathner
By Sara Rathner 
Edited by Kenley Young

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Financial startup Upgrade offers a suite of cards that combine features of credit cards and personal loans, including the following:

Upgrade cards can be used to make purchases in stores and online, just like you would with a credit card. But unlike with normal credit cards, unpaid balances on an Upgrade card are automatically converted to installment plans, where you make equal monthly payments with a fixed interest rate over a set period of time, much like a personal loan.

You can use the cards like personal loans in another way by borrowing against your credit line. To do this, request that funds be sent to your bank account.

Applicants with average to excellent credit (scores of 630 to 850) can be eligible for any of the Upgrade cards. Here's how to decide which one may be right for you:

Popular Upgrade cards, at a glance
Upgrade Select Visa®
Upgrade Select Visa®
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Upgrade's website

Rates & Fees
Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards
Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Upgrade's website

Rates & Fees
Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa
Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa®
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Upgrade's website

Rates & Fees
Annual fee




Ongoing rewards


Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Cash back will be applied to the next month’s balance on your card.

Earn 3% cash back on home, auto and health purchases. Earn 1% cash back on everything else. Cash back will be applied to the next month’s balance on your card.

Sign-up bonus

None, directly from the card itself. (You may be eligible for a bonus by opening an eligible Upgrade account.)



Credit limit

$500 to $2,000.

$500 to $25,000.

$500 to $25,000.


The ongoing APR is 21.96%-29.99%.

The ongoing APR is 14.99%-29.99%.

The ongoing APR is 14.99%-29.99%.

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Credit Lines feature Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) of 14.99% - 29.99% and line amounts ranging $500 - $25,000. The lowest rates require Autopay and the majority of the line amounts will be $15,000 or under. For example, a $5,000 transaction with a 36 month term and a 19.99% APR has a required monthly payment of $187.90. Optional ACH transfers to your bank account, balance transfers, ATM withdrawals, if available, and foreign transactions are subject to fees that, if incurred, will increase your finance charge and APR. Your rate, line amount, and default term depend on maintaining a qualifying credit score, your credit usage history, requested amount, and other factors. The Upgrade Card is unique in that it allows you to obtain a series of closed-end loans which you may access through transactions such as card purchases up to an approved amount. As you repay your balance, additional credit may become available to you up to an approved amount subject to meeting our credit requirements, but your line will not replenish automatically.

As noted above, Upgrade also offers two other credit cards, with different rewards and features: the Upgrade OneCard and the Upgrade Life Rewards Card. Here's what to know about them:

How is the Upgrade OneCard different from the other Upgrade cards?

The Upgrade OneCard functions as a credit card and personal loan in one, just like other Upgrade cards. But it adds in the debit card-like ability to pay off a purchase in full immediately if you have sufficient funds in your checking account, instead of paying it back in installments over time with interest. If you opt to pay now, the money will be withdrawn from the checking account you have linked to the card.

The OneCard’s ongoing rewards are different as well. If you qualify, you can earn:

  • 3% cash back on everyday purchases, which the issuer defines as purchases from convenience stores, drugstores, restaurants and gas stations. Utilities and payments for phone, cable, TV and streaming services also qualify for the 3% rate. (The 3% rate is capped at $500 per year, after which you'll earn 2%.)

  • 2% cash back on all other purchases.

However, you must open an Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus account to earn those rewards rates. You also must do one of the following to maintain a qualifying active account: Keep an average daily balance of at least $2,500; receive direct deposits of at least $1,000 per month; or make at least eight eligible purchases with your Rewards Checking Plus debit card each month. If you don’t, you’ll earn 1.5% cash back.

When it comes to the annual fee, credit limit and APR, the Upgrade OneCard is identical to other Upgrade cards (with the exception of the Upgrade Select Visa®).

🤓Nerdy Tip

Upgrade also offers a secured version of the OneCard — the Upgrade Secured OneCard — for applicants who are working to improve their credit. It has the same benefits and rewards structure as the standard OneCard. Your credit line is secured by the balance in an Upgrade deposit account (up to $5,000). This card is not available for direct application, but qualified applicants can apply for the card when they open an Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus account.

How is the Upgrade Life Rewards Card different from the other Upgrade cards?

The Upgrade Life Rewards Card is similar to the Upgrade OneCard in several ways, including the ability to earn 3% cash back in certain categories and the option to pay for your purchases immediately or over time.

Here’s where you can earn 3% cash back with the Upgrade Life Rewards Card:

  • Gas stations and electric vehicle charging.

  • Grocery stores.

  • Health and beauty purchases, including drugstores, medical expenses, gym and golf club memberships, spas, sporting goods stores and more.

  • Streaming services, cable, satellite and radio.

  • Utilities and phone service.

Other purchases outside of these categories earn 1% cash back. Unlike the Upgrade OneCard, you don’t need to open a Rewards Checking Plus account to earn 3% back in the above categories. However, you will need to open that account and make three debit card transactions to earn a sign-up bonus.

You can pay back purchases over time, with interest, in monthly installments, but you can instead choose to pay your bill in full two days after the statement period ends to avoid interest.

What’s the same

The Upgrade cards are similar in a lot of ways. With the exception of the Upgrade Select Visa®, they offer the same ranges for credit limits and interest rates, though the terms you’ll qualify for depend on factors like credit usage history, credit score and others. All of the cards charge up to 3% foreign transaction fees when used internationally.

They also share a few limitations: You can’t use the cards at ATMs for cash advances, and you'll pay a fee of up to 5% if you transfer a balance onto any Upgrade card.

For all these cards, if you carry a balance, rewards are earned not as you spend, but as you make payments toward your balance. With the Upgrade OneCard and Upgrade Life Rewards Card, you’ll immediately earn rewards for any purchases you choose to pay off now.

What’s different

The cards’ primary differences come down to their rewards programs. The Upgrade OneCard’s and Upgrade Life Rewards Card’s rewards are listed above, while the Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa® is a flat-rate cash-back card, earning 1.5% back.

The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® is a tiered cash-back card, earning 3% back in a wide selection of home, auto and health purchases including:

  • Hardware and home improvement stores.

  • Furniture and appliances.

  • Landscaping and cleaning services.

  • Auto parts, dealership purchases and repairs.

  • Gym memberships, gym equipment purchases directly from vendors and sporting goods stores.

  • Doctor’s visits and pharmacies.

  • Health and beauty services, including spas.

How to decide

Which Upgrade card to choose comes down to how you want to earn and redeem rewards. The Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa® wins for its simplicity thanks to the flat cash-back rate. If you don’t have a major home, auto or health purchase coming up, or you just don’t want to have to pay attention to spending categories, this card could be a good fit.

However, if you’re planning to finance a large home, auto or health purchase, the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® will earn more cash back, making it a contender, as long as you don't mind keeping tabs on bonus spending categories.

The Upgrade OneCard and Upgrade Life Rewards cards are possibilities if you want the option to pay for some purchases immediately without incurring interest. They also feature robust rewards, but as with the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa®, you'll have to be OK with tracking bonus categories. Plus, unlike other Upgrade cards, the OneCard and Life Rewards card come with some additional requirements to optimize their rewards.

If you're able to qualify for any of those Upgrade cards, there's little reason for you to choose the $39-annual-fee Upgrade Select Visa®, which again doesn't earn rewards.

Card images courtesy of Upgrade

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