Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Review: 3% Back in Unique Categories

Earn 3% cash back on home, auto and health purchases. Plus, a carried balance or loan against your credit limit becomes a fixed-rate loan with equal monthly payments.
Apr 1, 2022

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Our Take

4.4

NerdWallet rating 
The bottom line:

Extra cash back in categories that typically include large purchases, combined with the ability to convert debt into a fixed-rate loan, can make this a helpful card. But there may be lower-interest ways to borrow.

Jump to: Full Review
Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
8.99%-29.99% APR
Intro APR
N/A
Rec. credit score
630-850 (Average - Excellent)
Apply now

on Upgrade's website

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Qualify with average credit

  • No prepayment penalty, late fees or penalty APR

  • No annual fee

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

Cons

  • Potentially high APR

  • No balance transfers allowed

Alternate Pick: 1.5% cash back
Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards
NerdWallet rating 
Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards
Balances convert to fixed-rate loans

The Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards is nearly identical, only it earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases. It's an option for anyone who'd prefer a simpler rewards program, even if that means a lower cash-back rate in some categories. 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

$0

Regular APR

8.99%-29.99% APR

Regular APR

14.49%-24.49% Variable APR

Regular APR

15.24%-25.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

0% Intro APR for 21 months on Balance Transfers and 12 months on Purchases

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 20 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
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Full Review

The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa®, issued by Sutton Bank, is the newest credit card offering from financial startup Upgrade. Much like the Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards, it’s a credit card/personal loan hybrid product that earns cash-back rewards.

The $0-annual-fee Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® earns 3% cash back on home, auto and health purchases, and 1% on everything else. To compare, the Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

You can use the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® in two ways:

  • As a credit card: Make purchases wherever Visa cards are accepted. You can also add the card to Apple Pay or Google Pay. If you don’t pay your credit card bill in full, the remaining balance will become a fixed-rate loan you pay back in equal monthly installments.

  • As a personal loan: You can request funds be sent to your bank account, up to your credit limit. Once your request is approved, you pay back the loan over a set period of time at a fixed interest rate. Note that you can’t use the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® at ATMs for cash advances.

The ability to pay down your balance through equal monthly payments for a specific period of time makes it far simpler to set a budget for debt repayment. However, if you have good or excellent credit, you may be able to qualify for personal loans with lower interest rates. A balance transfer credit card offering 0% APR for a year or more might also be an option.

Nerdy tip: The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® isn't the only card Upgrade offers. The company's portfolio also includes the Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards and the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card. To see how these cards differ, consult our comparison table below.

Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa®: Basics

Annual fee: $0.

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

Sign-up bonus: None.

Rewards: 

  • 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.

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

Foreign transaction fee: None.

Balance transfer fee: N/A.

Other facts and benefits:

Nerdy tip: There are multiple versions of the Upgrade card, which are mostly identical except for their rewards programs. Learn more about the options and find out which Upgrade is best for you here.

Which Upgrade card is right for you?

Upgrade has a portfolio of several cards, all of which feature the same "credit card/personal loan" hybrid functionality. But there are differences in terms of their rewards structures. Here's a closer look:

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 Triple Cash Rewards Visa®

Make fixed monthly payments on a remaining balance

If you don’t pay your credit card bill in full and carry a balance, the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® converts it into a fixed-rate loan with a set repayment time frame, much like a personal loan. You can pay down your loan faster with no prepayment penalty. Your APR and repayment time frame depend on what you qualify for when you apply for the card.

This is different from more common revolving credit cards, where debt can grow quickly, the amount you owe can change and you could theoretically be in debt forever.

More cash back on unique, useful spending categories

The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® earns a respectable 3% cash back in spending categories that commonly include large (and sometimes unexpected) expenses, like home repairs and medical bills. All other purchases earn 1% cash back. Here are some examples of purchases that can earn 3% back:

  • 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.

You’ll earn cash back as you pay down your balance, whether that’s all at once or slowly over time. The cash back is then applied to your next month’s bill like a prepayment. (Depending on your redemption preferences, that could be a drawback; more on that below).

It's available to those with FICO scores of 580 and up

Consumers with poor or fair credit scores have fewer credit card options to choose from, and available cards may require security deposits and charge annual fees. Applicants with FICO credit scores of 580 and above can qualify for the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa®. And since on-time payments are reported to the three main credit bureaus, the card can help you build your credit scores over time with responsible use.

It offers other hard-to-find features

The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® comes with consumer-friendly benefits that are especially helpful to applicants with fair credit and those who are applying for the card with a specific large purchase in mind.

You can see what credit line you’d qualify for without initiating a hard pull on your credit report, thus avoiding the temporary ding to your credit scores. A hard inquiry is completed only once you agree to the terms. This feature is rare among credit cards, but some newer cards, like the Apple Card, have a similar preapproval process. And, as with the Apple Card and a handful of others, you also don't have to wait for the Upgrade Card to arrive in the mail to use it. You'll get immediate access to a virtual card you can use until the physical one arrives, which isn't a common feature.

Drawbacks and alternatives

Can’t be combined with the Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards

At this point, you can have only the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® or the Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards — not both. That means you can’t optimize by using the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® for purchases that would earn 3% back and the Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards everywhere else to earn 1.5% back. So if you’re going to carry only one of these cards, choose which you value the most: higher rewards and slightly more effort, or a lower rewards rate with greater simplicity.

You could instead pair the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® with a revolving credit card that earns more than 1% back on all purchases. Use the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® for home, auto or health purchases (or any large purchases you’d want to pay back over time), and switch to a card like the $0-annual-fee Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer for everything else. It earns 2% cash back on all purchases (1% as you buy, 1% as you pay).

Other loan options may offer better terms

The ongoing APR is 8.99%-29.99%, so the interest rate you may qualify for could be quite high. Depending on your credit history and other financial factors, you may qualify for a personal loan with more favorable terms.

Another option for a planned upcoming large expense would be a credit card offering 0% APR on new purchases. The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card offers 0% intro APR for 20 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 15.24%-25.24% Variable APR.

The card doesn’t allow for balance transfers

You can’t use the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® for a balance transfer in the traditional sense. However, you can circumvent this by requesting a loan against your credit limit, using the funds to pay off a debt on another credit card and then paying down the loan over time.

If you have good or excellent credit, though, a balance transfer credit card offers a no-interest promotional period, which can save you money while you pay down debt. The previously mentioned U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card is a balance transfer card. Another option is the BankAmericard® credit card. Pay 0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles on purchases, and on any balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24%-23.24% Variable APR.

You can't 'save up' rewards

Cash back that you earn with this card will be automatically applied toward your next month's balance. That means that — unlike with most other rewards credit cards — you can't bank your cash back until you're ready to spend it.

The card isn't available everywhere

Residents of Iowa, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C., are not eligible to get the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa®.

The user interface may be lacking

Some Upgrade customers have compained that the issuer's website and app are neither user-friendly nor intuitive. The issuer has acknowledged certain "known concerns" and says it's working on improvements.

NerdWallet's list of the best rated credit cards may have other options for you to consider.

Should you get the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa®?

The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® can be quite helpful when you want to earn a solid cash-back rate on specific purchases and have the ability to pay a large balance down over time. This is especially the case for those who qualify for a low APR. But the APR may be too high for applicants with poor or fair credit, which is something to keep in mind. And those with good or excellent credit may qualify for personal loans or credit cards with no-interest promotions.

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
What is the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa®?

The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® is a credit card/personal loan hybrid product. You can make purchases with the card and pay off your balance in full, or carry a balance and pay it back as a fixed-rate loan in equal monthly payments. You can also borrow against your credit limit like a personal loan.

Is Upgrade a good credit card?

The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® earns 3% cash back in spending categories that can be quite expensive, like home repairs and medical bills. Plus, you have the option to pay a balance back over time in the form of a fixed monthly payment. However, you may qualify for a lower-interest personal loan or a credit card that charges no interest for new purchases or balance transfers.

What credit score do you need for Upgrade?

You can qualify for the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® with a FICO credit score of 580 or higher.

Does Upgrade do a hard pull?

You can see what loan terms you could qualify for without a hard pull on your credit reports. If you agree to those terms and continue with the credit card application, there will be a hard pull.

How do you use an Upgrade Card?

You can use the card wherever Visa cards are accepted. You can also request funds be sent to your bank account, similar to a personal loan, in an amount up to your credit limit.