Banking » Reviews » Upgrade Savings And Checking Account Review (2024)
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Upgrade Savings And Checking Account Review (2024)

Upgrade offers one of the highest savings rates available and a no-fee checking account. However, its banking package is limited
Author: Lorraine Smithills
Lorraine Smithills

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024
The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.
Author: Lorraine Smithills
Lorraine Smithills

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024

The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.

We earn a commission from our partner links on this page. It doesn't affect the integrity of our unbiased, independent editorial staff. Transparency is a core value for us, read our advertiser disclosure and how we make money.

Upgrade

UpgradeLogo
UpgradeLogo
On Upgrade Secure Website

Upgrade

Fees

$0

Our Rating

4.5
4.5/5

Current Promotion

$200 $200 welcome bonus when you start using a new Rewards Checking account and make 3 purchases with Upgrade OneCard

APY Savings

5.21%
On Upgrade Secure Website

Upgrade is a financial technology company, as it has only been operating since 2017. However, this online bank has already established a solid reputation for helping consumers work towards their financial goals. Upgrade has been designed to help customers to make smart financial decisions, whether they want to save for a purchase or pay off debt.

In fact, the company believes that finances and credit should be responsible and affordable. All Upgrades mobile banking, credit and payment products are designed to keep you on track, provide responsible options and offer rewards.

This makes Upgrade accessible for most people. In addition to offering savings and checking accounts, Upgrade has credit cards that are available for those with average credit and personal loans. This allows you to transfer almost all of your banking activities across to Upgrade to help you streamline your finances and get back on track with your money goals.

  • Minimal Fees
  • Highly Competitive Rates
  • Earn Cash Back
  • Product Line Designed to Work in Concert
  • Choice of Credit Card Options
  • No Cash Deposits
  • No Overdraft Protection
  • No ATM Network
  • Limited Account Options

What is required to open an Upgrade account?

You will need to provide your personal details, verify your ID and in some cases, basic financial information.

Is Upgrade worth it for Joint Accounts?

Yes, with minimal fees and cash back on all debit purchases, having a joint account could be highly beneficial.

Is my money safe on Upgrade?

Yes, Upgrade has federal insurance, so you have up to $250,000 in coverage should Upgrade fail.

Upgrade Review

Banking Services
Credit Options
Savings Accounts
Mortgage
Checking Accounts
Government Mortgage
CDs
Credit Cards
Money Market Account
Debit Card
Investing Capabilities
Personal Loans

Upgrade Premier Savings

The Premier Savings account is a fairly recent addition to the Upgrade product line up. This is a well regarded savings account that offers 5.21% APR and attracts no monthly fees. 

Unlike many high-interest online savings accounts, the Premier Savings account has no minimum balance to open the account. However, you will only earn the advertised rate if your closing daily balance of the account is $1,000 plus. If your balance drops below this level on some days, the rate for these days is 0%.

The key features of the account include:

  • No minimum initial deposit
  • You’ll earn a high-interest rate of 5.21% on days when your balance is over $1,000.
  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • Same-day transfers of up to $100,000 available with no fees
  • FDIC or NCUA insurance through Cross River Bank or participating institutions (Upgrade is a financial technology company, not a bank)

Upgrade also offers a high yield savings account that can be opened with your checking account, but this is not available as a stand alone product.

Financial Institution
Savings APY
American Express
4.30%
Marcus
4.40%
Capital One
4.35%
Synchrony Bank
4.75%
Discover Bank
4.25%
Lending Club
5.00%
Ally Bank
4.25%
Upgrade
5.21%

Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus

Upgrade has its Rewards Checking Plus account that is likely to appeal to many people. The account has no monthly maintenance fee, and you can accumulate up to 2% cash-back rewards on your common recurring purchases such as utilities, streaming services and gas stations, with a base rewards rate on all your other debit card purchases.

There is a cap for the higher tier cash back, but after you reach this cap, you’ll earn the base rewards rate on all your payments or purchases for the remainder of the year. Another perk of the account is receiving a rate discount on Upgrade credit cards and loans. 

The key features of this account include:

  • Earn rewards on all debit card purchases and some recurring monthly expenses
  • No monthly maintenance fees or account minimums
  • Account holders will qualify for a rate discount on credit cards and loans
  • Access a high-yield savings account
  • No cash deposits are possible – you’ll need to transfer funds from an external account or use direct deposit or mobile check deposit.

Overall, this is one of the best banking options for a free checking account.

Top Offers From Our Partners

PNC bank logo

Promotion:
Up to $400 Open a new, select Virtual Wallet product and receive $500/$2,000/$5,000 or more in qualifying monthly direct deposits within 60 days to earn a $100/$200/$400 bonus.
Subject to state availability
PNC Virtual Wallet ® is available in AL, AZ, CA, CO, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, MD, MI, NC, NJ, NY, NM, OH, PA, SC, TX, VA, WI, and WV. Virtual Wallet ® is offered in the state of MO with the exception of the Greater Kansas City area. Product availability may vary based on where you open your account and the Zip code of your primary address.

Chase_logo

Promotion:
$300 New Chase checking customers enjoy a $300 bonus when you open a Chase Total Checking® account and make direct deposits totaling $500 or more within 90 days of coupon enrollment.. Expired on 7/24/2024
Chase Overdraft Assist
With Chase Overdraft AssistSM, you won’t be charged an Overdraft Fee if you’re overdrawn by $50 or less at the end of the business day OR if you’re overdrawn by more than $50 and you bring your account balance to overdrawn by $50 or less at the end of the next business day

UpgradeLogo

Fees:
No monthly fees No monthly fees and no overdraft fees. Plus get reimbursed for ATM fees with an active account 
Rewards:
Up to 2% cash back Up to 2% cash back on common everyday expenses for active accounts with monthly $1,000 direct deposit, and up to 1% cash back for other purchases 
Promotion:
$300 Use Promo Code “AXOS300” for a $300 bonus when you apply for a Rewards Checking account
Up to 3.30% APY
to get the maximum rate (up to $50,000) you'll need monthly direct deposits of $1,500 (0.40% APY), 10 transaction on your debit card (+0.30% APY), average daily balance of $2,500 on Axos Invest Managed Portfolio (+1.00% APY), average daily balance of $2,500 on Axos Invest Self Directed Trading Account(+1.00% APY) and make full monthly payment on loans (mortgage, personal and auto) with Axos account (+0.60% APY).

Promotion:
Up to $4,000 New customers may earn up to $4,000 when they open an eligible HSBC Premier checking account from January 8, 2024 through March 27, 2024 and complete qualifying activities:

• Receive a cash bonus of $1,500 when you deposit or invest $100,000 – $199,999.99

• Receive a cash bonus of $2,000 when you deposit or invest $200,000 – $299,999.99

• Receive a cash bonus of $2,500 when you deposit or invest $300,000 – 499,999.99

• Receive a cash bonus of $3,500 when you deposit or invest $500,000+

• Earn an extra $500 when you set up recurring monthly Direct Deposits totaling at least $5,000 for 3 months
Wealth Products & Advice
Get access to wealth products, insights and advice from an HSBC Financial Professional through HSBC Securities (USA) Inc
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.
Top Offers From Our Partners

PNC bank logo

Promotion:
Up to $400 Open a new, select Virtual Wallet product and receive $500/$2,000/$5,000 or more in qualifying monthly direct deposits within 60 days to earn a $100/$200/$400 bonus.
Subject to state availability
PNC Virtual Wallet ® is available in AL, AZ, CA, CO, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, MD, MI, NC, NJ, NY, NM, OH, PA, SC, TX, VA, WI, and WV. Virtual Wallet ® is offered in the state of MO with the exception of the Greater Kansas City area. Product availability may vary based on where you open your account and the Zip code of your primary address.

Chase_logo

Promotion:
$300 New Chase checking customers enjoy a $300 bonus when you open a Chase Total Checking® account and make direct deposits totaling $500 or more within 90 days of coupon enrollment.. Expired on 7/24/2024
Chase Overdraft Assist
With Chase Overdraft AssistSM, you won’t be charged an Overdraft Fee if you’re overdrawn by $50 or less at the end of the business day OR if you’re overdrawn by more than $50 and you bring your account balance to overdrawn by $50 or less at the end of the next business day

UpgradeLogo

Fees:
No monthly fees No monthly fees and no overdraft fees. Plus get reimbursed for ATM fees with an active account 
Rewards:
Up to 2% cash back Up to 2% cash back on common everyday expenses for active accounts with monthly $1,000 direct deposit, and up to 1% cash back for other purchases 
Promotion:
$300 Use Promo Code “AXOS300” for a $300 bonus when you apply for a Rewards Checking account
Up to 3.30% APY
to get the maximum rate (up to $50,000) you'll need monthly direct deposits of $1,500 (0.40% APY), 10 transaction on your debit card (+0.30% APY), average daily balance of $2,500 on Axos Invest Managed Portfolio (+1.00% APY), average daily balance of $2,500 on Axos Invest Self Directed Trading Account(+1.00% APY) and make full monthly payment on loans (mortgage, personal and auto) with Axos account (+0.60% APY).

Promotion:
Up to $4,000 New customers may earn up to $4,000 when they open an eligible HSBC Premier checking account from January 8, 2024 through March 27, 2024 and complete qualifying activities:

• Receive a cash bonus of $1,500 when you deposit or invest $100,000 – $199,999.99

• Receive a cash bonus of $2,000 when you deposit or invest $200,000 – $299,999.99

• Receive a cash bonus of $2,500 when you deposit or invest $300,000 – 499,999.99

• Receive a cash bonus of $3,500 when you deposit or invest $500,000+

• Earn an extra $500 when you set up recurring monthly Direct Deposits totaling at least $5,000 for 3 months
Wealth Products & Advice
Get access to wealth products, insights and advice from an HSBC Financial Professional through HSBC Securities (USA) Inc
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.

Pros and Cons

Here are the main advantages and disadvantages to consider before opening ana account:

Pros
Cons
Minimal Fees
No Cash Deposits
Highly Competitive Rates
No Overdraft Protection
Earn Cash Back
No ATM Network
Choice of Credit Card Options
Limited Account Options
Product Line Designed to Work in Concert

Upgrade accounts typically have no monthly maintenance fees or overdraft charges. This means that you don’t need to worry about meeting waiver requirements or paying money each month.

Both the deposit accounts and lending products have highly competitive rates, particularly when compared with traditional banks. 

For example, the savings accounts offer up to 16 times the national average savings rate.

Unusually, you can earn cash back on your debit card and regular purchases. Depending on the spending category and whether you’ve exceeded the cap, you can earn up to 2% cash back. 

If you regularly use your debit card, this could add up to significant amounts over a calendar year.

Unlike many online banks, Upgrade has a choice of several credit cards, so you can find the ideal card for your preferences and circumstances. For those who are considering a personal loan or a credit card, Upgrade can be a perfect fit.

The Upgrade product line has been designed to work together to help you achieve your financial goals.

Upgrade does not have any physical branches, so it cannot accept cash deposits. If you do receive cash, you’ll need to pay the funds into another account and then transfer the money across to your Upgrade account.

If you have lots of cash transactions each month, this may prove to be inconvenient.

Unlike many banks, Upgrade does not offer overdraft protection. 

So, you cannot arrange an automatic transfer if your account should slip into the red.

Upgrade does not have its own ATM network, so you are likely to incur fees when you use third party machines. 

While it is possible to get a rebate for some of your fees , you will need to meet the offer requirements.

If you like to have a choice of checking and savings accounts, you may find the Upgrade product line a little limited.

Upgrade Credit Cards

Upgrade  has a variety of credit card options. These include:

  • Cash Rewards Visa: The Upgrade cash rewards card allows you to earn cash back on your purchases, which is applied to your card balance the following month.
  • Triple Cash Rewards Visa: The Triple Cash card offers a higher rate of cashback with a tiered structure weighted towards auto, health, and home purchases. However, there is a base rate for all other purchases. Your cash back is applied to your card balance the following month.
  • Bitcoin Rewards Visa: This card offers rewards in the form of Bitcoin. You’ll accumulate rewards on all your purchases. Upgrade will purchase Bitcoin on your behalf and it is held in a cryptocurrency wallet.
  • The OneCard: This card has a tiered reward structure weighted towards everyday purchases when you open your Upgrade Rewards Checking account and meet the appropriate requirements. If you don’t hold a Rewards Checking account, you’ll receive a base rewards rate on all purchases.
  • Life Rewards: This card has a tiered reward structure weighted towards groceries, utilities, streaming, health purchases and gas and electric vehicle charging. Your cash back is accumulated and applied to your card balance.

These cards are issued by Sutton Bank (member FDIC) and are available for those with average to excellent credit. However, while you can use your card to make purchases as you would with a standard credit card, your unpaid balance will be automatically converted to an installment plan.

This means that you’ll make equal monthly payments over a set time with a fixed interest rate as you would a personal loan. This makes the cards a hybrid credit card and personal loan product.

Upgrade Loan Products

Upgrade has various personal loan options with a minimum amount of $1,000 and a maximum loan amount of $50,000. However, the minimum loan amounts may vary in some states.

The personal loans have a fixed interest rate and are unsecured, so you don’t need to worry about providing any collateral. You can use the loan funds for almost anything, with a few exceptions. These include:

  • Investments
  • Post secondary education
  • Gambling of any form
  • Illegal activities.

One of the attractive things about Upgrade loans is that the application process is incredibly straightforward. There are no clear restrictions about who can borrow, but you do need to have a bank account, be aged 18 or older and a U.S citizen.

How To Apply For Upgrade Loan?

You can apply online via the Upgrade website. You’ll need to complete an application, which includes providing some personal details and income information.

At this stage, Upgrade will only use a soft credit pull to determine your eligibility and estimate your rate. If you accept the offer, it will initiate a hard pull on your credit. Once approved, you can expect the funds in your bank account within four working days.

Just be aware that an origination fee may be applied to your loan, which will be deducted from your loan proceeds. Additionally, there are late fees applied to your account if the payment is not received within 15 days of your due date.

Upgrade Customer Service

Since Upgrade is an online only establishment, there is no access to branch support. However, Upgrade does offer live customer support seven days a week.

It is available 5 am to 6 pm PT on weekdays and 6 am to 5 pm PT on weekends. You can also access the customer support team via social media or using the app.

This level of service is confirmed by Upgrade’s consumer review scores. For example, Upgrade has an Excellent score on Trustpilot, with many customers praising the helpful representatives and the ease of use. However, some people have reported delays on funding and card issues.

Upgrade Banking
App Rating (iOS)
4.8
App Rating (Android)
4.6
Contect Options
phone/email
Availability
5 am to 7 pm PT on weekdays
6 am to 5 pm PT on weekends

How to Open an Upgrade Account

Upgrade has designed its account opening process to be quite straightforward and easy. You can complete the entire process online using the Upgrade website.

  1. Click the Button: Whether you want to open a checking or savings account, you’ll need to find the apply button on the product page. Once you click this, you can start the application process.
  2. Set Up Your Account: The first step is to set up an account with your email address and a password. At this stage, if you already have an Upgrade account, you can simply log in.
  3. Complete the Application: This is fairly standard for all online bank account applications. You’ll need to provide your full name, address, phone number, and Social Security Number. Depending on the account, you may also need to provide some basic financial information.
  4. Verify Your ID: To comply with federal regulations, you will need to verify your identity to open an Upgrade account. You can do this by providing a copy of your driver’s license, passport or state issued photo ID.
  5. Await Approval: Upgrade will provide an approval decision quite quickly, which then allows you to set up funding options and wait for your new debit card to arrive.

FAQs

Yes, the Upgrade Reward checking has no monthly maintenance fees.

Upgrade could help you to work on your credit, as it offers budgeting tools and free access to your credit report, similar to Chime. Just be aware that if you have bad credit, you are unlikely to qualify for credit products.

If you like the idea of a choice of several types of checking or savings accounts, you may find the Upgrade product line a little lacking.

How We Rate And Review Savings Account: Methodology

The Smart Investor team has conducted an in-depth analysis of savings accounts offered by banks and credit unions tailored to the needs of savers. Our review focused on four key categories, with specific considerations for savers, and here's how we rated them:

  • Savings Rates and Terms (40%): We thoroughly examined the interest rates provided by financial institutions, along with any unique terms and conditions attached to their savings accounts. Higher scores were awarded to banks and credit unions, offering competitive rates, reasonable minimum deposit requirements, and minimal fees, ensuring savers get the best value for their money.
  • Savings Account Features (30%): This category assessed the array of features designed to cater to savers' needs, including fees, minimum deposit requirements, mobile app functionality, ATM access, and withdrawal options. Financial institutions providing a diverse range of features and convenient banking solutions received higher ratings in this category, reflecting their commitment to meeting the specific needs savers.
  • Customer Experience (20%): The ease of account opening, the responsiveness of customer service, the usability of mobile apps (thoroughly tested by our team), and the bank's policies for assisting customers were evaluated in this category. Banks and credit unions offering seamless account opening processes, efficient customer service, and user-friendly digital platforms were rated higher, ensuring a positive banking experience for  savers.
  • Bank Reputation (10%): We considered the reputation of each financial institution, incorporating ratings from trusted sources such as JD Power, TrustPilot, and local Better Business Bureau reviews. Higher scores were awarded to banks and credit unions with positive reputations and satisfied customers, reflecting their reliability and trustworthiness.

By weighing these categories appropriately and focusing on factors relevant to savers, our review provides valuable insights to help residents of the state make informed decisions when selecting a savings account.

Upgrade Rewards Checking Disclaimer ¹ Rewards Checking Plus customers who set up monthly direct deposits of $1,000 or more earn 2% cash back on common everyday expenses at convenience stores, drugstores, restaurants and bars – including deliveries – and gas stations, as well as recurring payments on utilities and monthly subscriptions including phone, cable, TV and other streaming services, and 1% cash back on all other debit card purchases. 2% cash back is limited to $500 in rewards per calendar year; after $500, customers earn 1% cash back on all eligible debit card purchases for the remainder of the year. Rewards Checking Plus accounts with less than $1,000 in monthly direct deposits 60 days after account opening will earn 1% cash back on common everyday expenses and 0.50% cash back on all other eligible debit card purchases. Some limitations apply. Please refer to the applicable Upgrade VISA® Debit Card Agreement and Disclosures for more information. ² There are no overdraft fees or annual fees associated with Rewards Checking Plus accounts. Third-party institutions may charge you a fee if you use their ATM/network or if you use your Upgrade VISA® Debit Card internationally. Please refer to the applicable Cross River Bank Checking Deposit Account Agreement and Upgrade VISA® Debit Card Agreement and Disclosures for more information. 3Early direct deposit requires set up of recurring electronic direct deposit from your employer, payroll, or benefits provider and is limited to direct deposits under $5000. Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing in which we receive notice of impending direct deposit, which is generally up to two days before the scheduled deposit date. 4Active Accounts with a monthly direct deposit of $1000 are eligible for additional benefits on Rewards Checking Plus such as additional cash back rewards and more. See the Active Account page for more information.

Savings Accounts Reviews

Picture of Lorraine Smithills

Lorraine Smithills

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
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Up to $400 Open a new, select Virtual Wallet product and receive $500/$2,000/$5,000 or more in qualifying monthly direct deposits within 60 days to earn a $100/$200/$400 bonus.
Subject to state availability
PNC Virtual Wallet ® is available in AL, AZ, CA, CO, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, MD, MI, NC, NJ, NY, NM, OH, PA, SC, TX, VA, WI, and WV. Virtual Wallet ® is offered in the state of MO with the exception of the Greater Kansas City area. Product availability may vary based on where you open your account and the Zip code of your primary address.

Chase_logo

Promotion:
$300 New Chase checking customers enjoy a $300 bonus when you open a Chase Total Checking® account and make direct deposits totaling $500 or more within 90 days of coupon enrollment.. Expired on 7/24/2024
Chase Overdraft Assist
With Chase Overdraft AssistSM, you won’t be charged an Overdraft Fee if you’re overdrawn by $50 or less at the end of the business day OR if you’re overdrawn by more than $50 and you bring your account balance to overdrawn by $50 or less at the end of the next business day

UpgradeLogo

Fees:
No monthly fees No monthly fees and no overdraft fees. Plus get reimbursed for ATM fees with an active account 
Rewards:
Up to 2% cash back Up to 2% cash back on common everyday expenses for active accounts with monthly $1,000 direct deposit, and up to 1% cash back for other purchases 

Promotion:
$300 Use Promo Code “AXOS300” for a $300 bonus when you apply for a Rewards Checking account
Up to 3.30% APY
to get the maximum rate (up to $50,000) you’ll need monthly direct deposits of $1,500 (0.40% APY), 10 transaction on your debit card (+0.30% APY), average daily balance of $2,500 on Axos Invest Managed Portfolio (+1.00% APY), average daily balance of $2,500 on Axos Invest Self Directed Trading Account(+1.00% APY) and make full monthly payment on loans (mortgage, personal and auto) with Axos account (+0.60% APY).

penfed personal loan

APY on Daily Balances
0.15% APY on daily balances of less than $20,000 or 0.35% APY on daily balances of $20,000 up to $50,000
Get paid up to 2 days early
Set up direct deposits and get your paycheck up to 2 days early

Promotion:
Up to $4,000 New customers may earn up to $4,000 when they open an eligible HSBC Premier checking account from January 8, 2024 through March 27, 2024 and complete qualifying activities:

• Receive a cash bonus of $1,500 when you deposit or invest $100,000 – $199,999.99

• Receive a cash bonus of $2,000 when you deposit or invest $200,000 – $299,999.99

• Receive a cash bonus of $2,500 when you deposit or invest $300,000 – 499,999.99

• Receive a cash bonus of $3,500 when you deposit or invest $500,000+

• Earn an extra $500 when you set up recurring monthly Direct Deposits totaling at least $5,000 for 3 months
Wealth Products & Advice
Get access to wealth products, insights and advice from an HSBC Financial Professional through HSBC Securities (USA) Inc
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.

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