Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card Review: Crypto With a Few Caveats

The card combines features of credit cards and personal loans, and it earns 1.5% back in the form of bitcoin when you make payments on your balance.
Sara RathnerNov 24, 2021

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Our Take

4.7

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: Cryptocurrency credit card rewards are becoming more common, but this card puts up roadblocks that affect the flexibility of your rewards.

Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card

on Upgrade's website

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

8.99%-29.99% APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Qualify with average credit

Cons

  • No new cardholder bonus offer
  • Rewards have limited flexibility
  • No bonus categories

Alternate Pick: Cash-Back Rewards

Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards
NerdWallet rating 

Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards

Credit Card/Personal Loan Hybrid

Earn 1.5% cash back as you make payments on your purchases. Unpaid balances convert to installment plans with equal monthly payments at a fixed interest rate. The annual fee is $0.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$35

Regular APR

8.99%-29.99% APR

Regular APR

22.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

17.39% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

This article provides information for educational purposes. NerdWallet does not offer advisory or brokerage services, nor does it recommend specific investments, including stocks, securities or cryptocurrencies.


The Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card is one of multiple cards offered by the financial startup Upgrade and issued by Sutton Bank. It works like a credit card and personal loan all in one, allowing you to make purchases and then pay down your balance in equal monthly installments for a set period of time with a fixed interest rate.

But that's not its only distinctive trait: The card also earns 1.5% back in the form of bitcoin when you make your monthly payments, another product among a growing trend of credit cards that offer cryptocurrency rewards.

There are some limits on those bitcoin-based rewards, though, and a 1.5% rewards rate itself isn't spectacular. But the key with crypto isn't necessarily the upfront earn rate, but rather the potential appreciation of those rewards later.

Of course, it's worth noting that crypto values can also fall, but for anyone looking to dip their toes into bitcoin, the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card is a low-barrier way — especially when the risk is limited to credit card rewards and not, say, money sitting in your traditional bank account.

Nerdy tip: Upgrade's portfolio also includes the Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards and the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa®. For information on how these cards differ, see our comparison table below.

Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card: The basics

Card type: Rewards, cryptocurrency.

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: None.

Ongoing rewards: Earn 1.5% unlimited cash back in bitcoin when you make payments.

APR: The ongoing APR is 8.99%-29.99%.

Foreign transaction fees: None.

Balance transfer fee: N/A.

Other facts and benefits:

How the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card works

You can use the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card in two ways:

  • As a credit card: Make purchases in stores or online, wherever Visa cards are accepted. Your balance is converted to an installment loan at a fixed interest rate, which you can repay in equal monthly payments over a set period.

  • As a personal loan: Request that funds be sent directly to your bank account. Again, you can pay back the loan in equal monthly installments over a set period and fixed interest rate. Note that you cannot use the card at an ATM for a cash advance.

You earn 1.5% back in bitcoin rewards as you make payments on your card balance. Earned bitcoin rewards are held in a wallet provided by NYDIG, a custody and trading platform.

The ongoing APR is 8.99%-29.99%, and most applicants can qualify for credit lines ranging from $500 to $25,000 (though some may be granted credit lines as high at $50,000).

Which Upgrade card is right for you?

The Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card is one of a collection of cards offered by the financial startup Upgrade and issued by Sutton Bank. Other cards include the Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards and Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa®, which earn cash-back rewards. All three cards are available to applicants with average to excellent credit, while applicants who are working to improve their credit may qualify for a version of the card that doesn’t offer rewards.

The key difference among the cards is their rewards structure. Here's how they stack up:

Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards

Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards
NerdWallet rating 
Learn More

Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa®

Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa
NerdWallet rating 
Learn More

Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card

Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 
Learn More

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.

Earn 1.5% back on all purchases in the form of bitcoin. As you make payments, bitcoins will be purchased on your behalf and held in a cryptocurrency wallet.

Annual fee

$0.

$0.

$0.

Credit limit

Typically $500 to $25,000. (Some borrowers may qualify for up to $50,000.)

Typically $500 to $25,000. (Some borrowers may qualify for up to $50,000.)

Typically $500 to $25,000. (Some borrowers may qualify for up to $50,000.)

APR

The ongoing APR is 8.99%-29.99%.

The ongoing APR is 8.99%-29.99%.

The ongoing APR is 8.99%-29.99%

Benefits of the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card

Available to applicants with average credit

If you have fair credit, you simply don’t have as many rewards credit card options as those with good or excellent credit do. And other cards offering crypto rewards — like the BlockFi Rewards Visa® Signature Credit Card and SoFi Credit Card — require at least good credit to qualify. That makes the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card a compelling alternative for applicants who are interested in earning crypto rewards while they build their credit history, especially since on-time payments are reported to the three main credit bureaus.

Bitcoin rewards

Bitcoin is considered to be one of the first cryptocurrencies, and it’s the most popular one. The Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card offers a way to buy bitcoin a little bit at a time without spending additional money to do so. This is helpful for anyone who wants to allocate credit card rewards toward testing the bitcoin waters.

Predictable monthly payments

With more traditional revolving credit cards, you must make at least a minimum payment each month, but the total amount you owe can vary significantly depending on how much debt you have and what additional charges you made to the card. That can make it difficult to budget for credit card payments. The Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card converts an unpaid balance into a personal loan, with a fixed interest rate and fixed monthly payments over a set period of time. You can prepay any amount any time with no penalty.

Nerdy tip: While the terms on your existing balances won't change, Upgrade notes that they might be adjusted for future draws, depending on things like changes to your credit scores, market conditions and overall interest rate hikes.

Additional unique features

When applying for the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card, you can find out what terms you’d qualify for without a hard credit pull. Hard pulls can temporarily ding your credit scores — not helpful for anyone who’s trying to build their credit. A hard inquiry is completed only once you agree to the terms. This isn’t a common feature, though there are other credit cards that offer a pre-qualification process without the hard credit inquiry.

You also get instant access to your card upon approval, in the form of a virtual card with a temporary number that you can use until your physical card arrives.

Drawbacks and alternatives

Notable limitations on bitcoin rewards

You can’t move your earned bitcoin rewards to a different wallet, and you must hold your bitcoin for at least 90 days before selling. Once you sell, you’re subject to a 1.5% transaction fee. Sale proceeds are applied as a statement credit. If you want a bit more flexibility, the BlockFi Rewards Visa® Signature Credit Card puts up fewer roadblocks. There are no lock-up periods, and once your earned rewards are deposited into your BlockFi account, you can withdraw the funds or trade for another cryptocurrency. Note that selling bitcoin earned on rewards cards like these could result in capital gains taxes.

Potentially high interest rate

Depending on your financial situation, you may qualify for an interest rate on the high end of the possible APR range. If you have good or excellent credit, a card with an introductory 0% intro APR offer could be a better bet for financing a large purchase. The Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card offers 0% intro APR for 18 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, and then an ongoing APR of 12.99%-24.99% Variable APR. Intro APR extension of up to 3 months with on-time minimum payments during the intro and extension periods.  A personal loan could also be an option if you qualify for more favorable terms than the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card offers.

No sign-up bonus

The Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card has no sign-up bonus for new cardholders. If a welcome offer would sweeten the deal for you, the SoFi Credit Card would deliver with this bonus: Earn up to $100 when you open and fund a SoFi Money and a SoFi Invest account after getting approved for the SoFi Credit Card (See Terms). You’ll also earn 2% cash back when you redeem rewards as cryptocurrency into your SoFi Active Invest account.

Should you get the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card?

If you plan to make a large purchase or carry credit card debt and want the ease and convenience of equal monthly payments at a fixed interest rate, the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card offers that with a side of oh-so-trendy bitcoin rewards. Other crypto cards have fewer limitations, however. And if bitcoin isn’t your main concern, you may qualify for a card with a generous 0% APR period instead.

Frequently asked questions