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.

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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.

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Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99%-29.99% APR
Intro APR
N/A
Rec. credit score
630-850 (Average - Excellent)
Apply now

on Upgrade's website

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 Cash Rewards Visa®
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

14.99%-29.99% APR

Regular APR

26.74% Variable APR

Regular APR

21.14% 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

The investing information provided on this page is for educational purposes only. NerdWallet does not offer advisory or brokerage services, nor does it recommend or advise investors to buy or sell particular stocks, securities or other investments.

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 Cash Rewards Visa® 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 14.99%-29.99%.

Foreign transaction fees: None.

Balance transfer fee: N/A.

Other facts and benefits:

  • No security deposit required.

  • Get pre-approved without hurting your credit scores.

  • Pay down balances at a fixed interest rate with equal monthly payments.

  • Use your credit line as a personal loan by requesting funds be sent directly to your bank account.

  • No prepayment penalty, late fees or penalty APR.

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 14.99%-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 Cash Rewards Visa® 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 Cash Rewards Visa®

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 14.99%-29.99%.

The ongoing APR is 14.99%-29.99%.

The ongoing APR is 14.99%-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 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.

Drawbacks and alternatives

Notable limitations on bitcoin rewards

You can’t move your earned bitcoin rewards to a different wallet, and once you sell, you’re subject to a 1.5% transaction fee. Sale proceeds are applied as a statement credit. Also 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 on Purchases for up to 21 months and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers up to 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 16.74%-28.74% Variable APR 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 $200 when you fund an Invest account as well as a Checking and Savings 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. Plus, in the first year, that cash back rate is bumped up to 3% when you set up direct deposit with SoFi.

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.

on Upgrade's website

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.
Frequently asked questions

You can use the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card to make purchases, and then pay back your balance in the form of fixed monthly payments at a fixed interest rate. As you make those payments, you’ll earn 1.5% in the form of bitcoin.

As you make payments on your Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card, you’ll earn 1.5% back in the form of bitcoin rewards. Earned bitcoin rewards are held in a wallet provided by NYDIG, a custody and trading platform. However, you cannot earn rewards in the form of any other cryptocurrency with this card.

The best card for you can depend on what you’re looking for. The Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card is unique because you make payments in equal monthly installments. However, other cards allow you to earn rewards in other cryptocurrencies or redeem rewards in other ways.

Upgrade cards work like a combination of credit cards and personal loans. You can make purchases with the card, but you’ll pay back your balance in the form of equal payments at a fixed interest rate. You can also borrow against your credit line by requesting funds be sent to your bank account. Upgrade offers cards that earn cash-back and bitcoin rewards when you make payments.

Upgrade offers three cards that are available to applicants with average, good or excellent credit. They also offer a card for applicants who are working to improve their credit.