Upgrade is a fairly new banking institution, 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.
Money Market Account
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 4.38% 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 4.38% 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 insured through Cross River Bank (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.
Upgrade Rewards Checking
Upgrade has its Rewards Checking account that is likely to appeal to many people. The account not only has no monthly maintenance fee, but you can accumulate 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.
ATM Fee Rebates Requirements
Although the account has no monthly maintenance fee, there are qualification requirements to receive ATM fee rebates. Since Upgrade does not have its own ATM network, you will need to use third party ATMs, which may incur fees.
Upgrade will rebate up to five ATM fees if you have made eight or more eligible debit card purchases, have maintained an average daily balance of $2,500+ or had direct deposits of $1,000 or more each month.
However, during your first two months, you will receive refunds for up to five ATM transaction fees regardless of if you meet the requirements.
Pros and Cons
Here are the main advantages and disadvantages to consider before opening ana account:
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:
- 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.
App Rating (iOS)
App Rating (Android)
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Does Upgrade offer a free checking account?
Yes, the Upgrade Reward checking has no monthly maintenance fees.
Is Upgrade worth it if I have bad credit?
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.
What's the main reason to skip Upgrade?
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.