Upgrade Select Visa Review: Access to Unsecured Credit Lines

Use it like a credit card for purchases, but pay down your balance in equal installments at a fixed interest rate. It's gettable with average credit, but it doesn't earn ongoing rewards.
Sara Rathner Author Avatar
Mar 21, 2024 12:29 a.m. PDT
Edited by
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NerdWallet rating
The bottom line:

It's attainable if you have less-than-ideal credit, and there's no security deposit — but take note of the annual fee, lack of rewards and high interest rate.

  • Qualify with average credit
  • Reports to the three major credit bureaus
  • Annual fee
  • No rewards
Upgrade Select Visa® Image
Upgrade Select Visa®
Annual Fee


Regular APR

21.96%-29.99% APR

Intro APR


Rec. credit score

Annual Fee


Regular APR

21.96%-29.99% APR

  • Annual fee


  • Rewards rate


  • Bonus offer


  • Intro APR


  • Ongoing APR

    APR: 21.96%-29.99%

  • Balance transfer fee

    Up to 5%

  • Foreign transaction fee

    Up to 3%

More details from Upgrade
View Rates and Fees
  • Combine the flexibility of a card with the predictability of a personal loan
  • No touch payments with contactless technology built in
  • See if you qualify in minutes without hurting your credit score
  • Mobile app to access your account anytime, anywhere

Compare to Other Cards

21.96%-29.99% APR
Rates & Fees
28.24% Variable APR
Rates & Fees
10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months
25.64% Variable APR
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Detailed review: Upgrade Select Visa®

The $39-annual-fee Upgrade Select Visa® is the latest addition to the fast-growing card portfolio offered by Upgrade, a financial technology company. Issued by Cross River Bank, it functions as both a credit card and a personal loan. The card can be used for purchases wherever Visa is accepted, but you pay off your monthly balances in installments at a fixed interest rate for a set repayment period.

Available to those with less-than-perfect credit, the Upgrade Select Visa® allows you to access credit lines without having to pay a security deposit like you would with secured credit cards.

There’s a sign-up bonus for new cardholders, but it requires you to open a checking account with Upgrade. Otherwise, the card doesn’t earn rewards, unlike other Upgrade cards. Be mindful of the interest rate, too, as it may be quite high depending on what you qualify for.

In fact, if you have at least fair credit (FICO scores of 630 or higher), you'll be better off investigating other cards within Upgrade's portfolio of products.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Upgrade offers multiple cards, including the Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa® and the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa®. For information on how Upgrade's multiple cards stack up with each other, see the comparison table below.

Upgrade Select Visa®: The basics

Card type: Starter cards.

Annual fee: $39.

Credit limit: Typically $500 to $2,000. Most credit lines will be $1,500 or less.

Sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 bonus when you also open and fund a Rewards Checking Plus account and make three debit card transactions.

Rewards: None.

APR: The ongoing APR is 21.96%-29.99%.

Foreign transaction fee: Up to 3%.

Balance transfer fee: Up to 5%.

Other facts and benefits:

  • No security deposit required.

  • Get preapproved without hurting your credit scores.

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

  • No prepayment penalty.

Which Upgrade Card is right for you?

There are multiple versions of the Upgrade card, and all of them offer hybrid credit card/personal loan features. However, their rewards and other terms differ. Learn more about the options below, and find out which Upgrade card is best for you.

Upgrade Select Visa®

Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®

Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa®



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.

Annual fee




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%.

Upgrade also offers the Upgrade OneCard and the Upgrade Life Rewards Card, which feature different reward structures.

Benefits and perks

Fixed-interest installments

When you make a purchase with the Upgrade Select Visa®, you pay off your balance in the form of a fixed-rate installment loan with a set repayment period. This is different from traditional revolving credit cards, where you must make a minimum payment toward the balance, but can carry a balance indefinitely while it racks up interest.

Depending on the size of the balance and the interest rate, making installment payments can save you on interest compared with carrying debt for a longer period of time.

Sign-up bonus

Earn a $200 bonus when you also open and fund a Rewards Checking Plus account and make three debit card transactions within 60 days of opening the checking account. That’s a generous — albeit high-effort — bonus for a starter card.

With Upgrade’s Rewards Checking Plus account, if you direct-deposit $1,000 per month, you’ll earn cash back when using your debit card:

  • 2% cash back on up to $500 per year (then 1%) in spending at convenience and drug stores, gas stations, monthly subscriptions, restaurants, utilities and phone services.

  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.  

Prequalify without affecting your credit score

You can see whether you’d qualify for the card, along with the terms you’d get (such as credit limit and APR), without dinging your credit scores by a few points. It’s only after you complete the application process that you’d be subject to a hard credit inquiry, which can affect your credit scores.

Available to those with FICO scores of 580 and up

Applicants can qualify for the Upgrade Select Visa® with a FICO score of 580 and higher, making it an option for consumers with poor or fair credit, or those who are newer to building credit.

Drawbacks and considerations

Annual fee

The Upgrade Select Visa® has a $39 annual fee, which isn’t charged all at once. You actually pay it over the course of 12 months in equal, interest-free installments.

That’s not a terribly high fee for an unsecured starter credit card, and the installment payments can make it even easier to handle — but it’s certainly something to keep in mind. If you’re open to a secured credit card that doesn’t have the personal-loan-like feature, there are a number of no-annual-fee options. And unlike the annual fee on the Upgrade Select Visa®, a security deposit is refundable.

High interest rate

The ongoing APR is 21.96%-29.99%, which is on par with other starter credit cards — but it can be quite high compared with other types of loans. According to the Federal Reserve, the average interest rate for a 24-month personal loan is 12.35%, as of November 2023. Depending on what you qualify for, a personal loan may be a lower-interest way to borrow.

If you have good or excellent credit, you may also qualify for a credit card with a 0% APR promotion that can spare you from interest charges for a year or more. This could be an option for a major purchase you plan to pay back over a set period of time.

Sign-up bonus requires an additional account

Earning the sign-up bonus isn’t as straightforward as spending a certain amount on the card within the first three to six months. You need to take the extra steps of opening a Rewards Checking Plus account with Upgrade and using your debit card three times. While that’s not exactly moving mountains, it certainly involves more effort to meet all the requirements to get the bonus.

No rewards

Unlike other cards in Upgrade's portfolio, the Upgrade Select Visa® won’t earn rewards on your spending. But you may qualify for those other Upgrade cards, depending on your credit scores and other financial information. Since you can prequalify without affecting your credit scores, you can comparison shop among Upgrade’s entire card portfolio (or with another issuer entirely) before making your decision.

Other starter cards earn rewards, including the Discover it® Secured Credit Card, which has a $0 annual fee. It earns 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter (then 1% back after you reach that limit), and 1% back on everything else. It requires a minimum security deposit of $200, but Discover will begin to review your account after seven months to see if you’d qualify to graduate to an unsecured card, at which point you’d get that deposit back. Plus, there’s a welcome bonus for new cardholders: INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.

Alternate Pick: Cash-Back Rewards
Qualify with fair credit

Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no annual fee. Pay down your balance as a fixed-rate installment loan.

How to decide if it's right for you

The Upgrade Select Visa® could be an option if you need access to credit but are wary of carrying high-interest credit card debt indefinitely. The personal loan feature of this card is compelling, but you may be able to qualify for an installment loan at a lower interest rate, so it’s worth shopping around.


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

Upgrade, a financial technology company, offers several Upgrade cards that work as credit card/personal loan hybrid products. You can use the card to make purchases as you would with any other credit card, but you pay down your balance in equal installments at a fixed interest rate for a set period of time.

Upgrade cards offer credit limits of $500 to $25,000, but your credit limit varies based on your personal financial situation.

Upgrade cards can be used to make purchases just like credit cards, but you can pay off the balance in the form of a fixed-rate installment loan for a set period of time. Depending on how much you owe and what interest rate you’re charged, this can cost you less over time compared with revolving credit card debt.

The Upgrade Card is a product that combines features of a credit card and a loan.

You can use the Upgrade Card like a credit card wherever Visa cards are accepted.

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