New Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Card: 3% Back on Home, Auto, Health

If you carry a balance or borrow against your credit limit, the debt converts to a fixed-rate loan.

Sara RathnerApr 21, 2021
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Upgrade — a financial startup that launched the Upgrade Card in October 2019 — is expanding its credit card portfolio.

The new Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® operates similarly to its predecessor, in that it's a credit card/personal loan hybrid product. But the difference is that this new card has a tiered rewards program offering 3% cash back in specific spending categories. (The original Upgrade Card earns 1.5% back on all purchases.)

Here's what to know about the new card.

Rewards structure

The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® earns 3% cash back in these broad spending categories:

  • Home: Includes hardware and home improvement stores, furniture, appliances, landscaping and cleaning services, and home repairs.

  • Auto: Includes auto parts, purchases at car dealerships, car washes, auto repairs and towing services.

  • Health: Includes gym memberships, home gym equipment (purchased directly from the vendor, not from a retailer like Amazon or Target), sporting good store purchases, health and beauty services, spas, pharmacies and doctor’s visits.

All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

With both Upgrade cards, which are issued by Sutton Bank, cash back is earned as you pay down your balance. The earned cash back is applied to your next month’s bill, like a prepayment.

Upgrade opted to deviate from more common spending categories like grocery stores and restaurants, selecting these categories based on where their customers spend more and what they told Upgrade they wanted.

"We tried to pick categories that are relevant today still, but aren’t going to go out of fashion when we go back to work and the pandemic is behind us," says Upgrade co-founder and CEO Renaud Laplanche.

Indeed, the list includes potentially pricey purchases like home appliances or unexpected car repairs, which may lend themselves to a credit card that also functions like a personal loan.

Nerdy tip: At this point, you can carry only one of the Upgrade cards, so it’s not an option to optimize by using the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® for spending within the 3% categories, and the Upgrade Card to earn 1.5% on everything else.

How the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® works

Much like the Upgrade Card, the $0-annual-fee Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® is something of a cross between a credit card and a personal loan product.

You can use it to make purchases online or in stores, then pay your balance when the bill comes. If you opt to carry a balance, your debt is converted to a fixed-rate loan with equal monthly payments. You can also request to have funds sent to your bank account, effectively borrowing against your credit limit.

The ongoing APR is 8.99% - 29.99% APR. Your interest rate, credit line and loan terms will depend on factors including your credit scores, credit history and requested loan amount. You can see what terms you’d qualify for before accepting, and without affecting your credit score, which is rare among credit cards.