Upgrade Review: Checking and Savings

Upgrade offers a rewarding checking account and two different savings accounts, but you won’t be able to deposit cash.

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Overall bank rating

Upgrade

at Upgrade, Deposits are FDIC Insured

  • Checking

  • Savings

  • Savings

  • Banking experience

  • Overdraft fees

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

Upgrade is a digital-only financial technology company. With FDIC-insured Cross River Bank as its partner, Upgrade offers Rewards Checking, its mobile checking account that can be accessed online and through a mobile app. It rewards you with cash back for purchases made with your debit card, and there are no monthly fees. But you can’t deposit cash. It also offers two different high-yield savings accounts.

Best for: Those who want to earn cash back, high yields on savings and don’t need to deposit cash.

Pros

  • No monthly fees and no overdraft fees.
  • Up to 2% cash back on debit card transactions.
  • Competitive rate on savings.

Cons

  • Cash deposits aren’t accepted.
  • No free ATM network; to get ATM fee rebates, you’ll need to meet some requirements.
  • No overdraft protection transfers.

Full review

Upgrade - Rewards Checking

Checking

Deposits are FDIC Insured

4.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
Monthly fee
$0
Overdraft star rating
4.0/5
Learn more

at Upgrade

Cash back and no monthly fee: The Rewards Checking account from Upgrade has no monthly fee. Rewards come in the form of cash back. You’ll get 2% cash back on purchases at drug stores, restaurants, gas stations and other everyday places, as well as on payments for utilities, phone, streaming services and more. For all other debit card purchases, you’ll earn 1%. Once you earn $500 in rewards with the 2% cash back, you’ll earn 1% on all purchases or payments for the rest of the year.

ATM fee rebates if you meet qualifications: Upgrade doesn’t have its own ATMs or belong to a shared ATM network, but each month, it will rebate up to five ATM fees charged by another institution for making withdrawals. To qualify for those rebates, you’ll need to have met one of the following requirements in the previous month: Your average daily balance must have been at least $2,500, you must have had direct deposits totaling at least $1,000, or you must have made a minimum of eight eligible purchases with your debit card. In the first two months, Upgrade will refund up to five ATM fees whether or not you meet the requirements.

No cash deposits: You can deposit money through mobile check deposit, direct deposit or by making transfers from an external account. Upgrade doesn’t accept cash deposits.

Rate discounts: Rewards Checking account holders can get a rate discount of up to 20% on Upgrade loans and credit cards. (Learn more about Upgrade’s personal loans in our review.)

» Interested in more options? See our list of the best rewards checking accounts

Upgrade High Yield Savings
Upgrade High Yield Savings

Savings

Deposits are FDIC Insured

4.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
APY
3.50%
With $0 min. balance for APY

An add-on savings account with a high APY: Upgrade’s High Yield Savings account is only available as an add-on to the Rewards Checking account. The account pays a highly competitive interest rate, and there’s no minimum balance requirement in order to open your account. There’s also no monthly fee for the account. You can make as many transfers with your account as you want; some banks limit savings transfers and withdrawals to six per month.

» Want to comparison shop? Check out our list of the best savings accounts

Upgrade Premier Savings
Upgrade Premier Savings

Savings

Deposits are FDIC Insured

4.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
APY
3.50%
With $1,000 min. balance for APY

Upgrade also offers a Premier Savings account that also has no monthly fees. While there is no minimum balance requirement for this account, you need a balance of at least $1,000 to earn the competitive 3.50% APY (on days when the closing balance is less than $1,000, the account won’t earn interest). But you can only open this account if you do not already have a Rewards Checking or High Yield Savings account. We did not factor this account into Upgrade's overall institution rating.

Banking experience

3.5

NerdWallet rating 

Upgrade offers live customer service by phone every day: on weekdays from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PT, and on weekends from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. Help is also available on Twitter. And the bank’s mobile app earns high user ratings. Upgrade is a neobank and though it partners with a traditional bank, it does not have branches.

What to know about neobanks: Neobanks can be solid options for consumers who prefer online-only banking. They do have differences to banks:

  • Funds deposited in neobanks' accounts are usually FDIC-insured through partner banks, which will also typically receive customers’ money if a neobank closes, so customer funds are safe.

  • Neobank accounts often have low monthly fees and earn strong rates. However, they may also lack traditional banking features, including in-person customer service and access to personal or cashier’s checks (often required for large purchases, such as buying a home) or wire transfers. (Learn more about neobanks and what they offer.)

Overdraft fees

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

Upgrade doesn’t charge overdraft fees, which is a policy that some other online banks, financial companies and credit unions offer, too. But unlike many other financial institutions, Upgrade doesn’t provide overdraft protection transfers. In most cases, charges that would overdraw the account are automatically declined.

» Tend to overdraw your account? Consider the best banks for overdrafts

Upgrade - Rewards Checking

Checking

Deposits are FDIC Insured

4.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
Monthly fee
$0
Overdraft star rating
4.0/5
Learn more

at Upgrade

Cash back and no monthly fee: The Rewards Checking account from Upgrade has no monthly fee. Rewards come in the form of cash back. You’ll get 2% cash back on purchases at drug stores, restaurants, gas stations and other everyday places, as well as on payments for utilities, phone, streaming services and more. For all other debit card purchases, you’ll earn 1%. Once you earn $500 in rewards with the 2% cash back, you’ll earn 1% on all purchases or payments for the rest of the year.

ATM fee rebates if you meet qualifications: Upgrade doesn’t have its own ATMs or belong to a shared ATM network, but each month, it will rebate up to five ATM fees charged by another institution for making withdrawals. To qualify for those rebates, you’ll need to have met one of the following requirements in the previous month: Your average daily balance must have been at least $2,500, you must have had direct deposits totaling at least $1,000, or you must have made a minimum of eight eligible purchases with your debit card. In the first two months, Upgrade will refund up to five ATM fees whether or not you meet the requirements.

No cash deposits: You can deposit money through mobile check deposit, direct deposit or by making transfers from an external account. Upgrade doesn’t accept cash deposits.

Rate discounts: Rewards Checking account holders can get a rate discount of up to 20% on Upgrade loans and credit cards. (Learn more about Upgrade’s personal loans in our review.)

» Interested in more options? See our list of the best rewards checking accounts

How does Upgrade compare?

Current Product

Upgrade - Rewards Checking

Upgrade - Rewards Checking

Deposits are FDIC Insured

Chime Checking Account

Chime Checking Account

Deposits are FDIC Insured

NerdWallet rating 

4.5

/5
NerdWallet rating 

4.5

/5

Monthly fee

$0

Monthly fee

$0

APY

N/A

APY

N/A

Bonus

N/A

Bonus

N/A

Methodology

NerdWallet’s overall ratings for banks and credit unions are weighted averages of several categories: checking, savings, certificates of deposit or credit union share certificates, banking experience and overdraft fees. Factors we consider, depending on the category, include rates and fees, ATM and branch access, account features and limits, user-facing technology, customer service and innovation. The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.