Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa® card review: A revolving credit line with a strong cash back rate

A smiling man wearing glasses holds his Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa card while using a laptop.Image: A smiling man wearing glasses holds his Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa card while using a laptop.
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This offer is no longer available on our site: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Pros

  • Solid cash back rate
  • No fees
  • Potential for high credit limits

Cons

  • Potentially high APR
  • You don’t receive rewards when you make purchases — only on payments
  • Not a traditional credit card
From our partner

Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa®

3.6 out of 5

From cardholders in the last year

See details, rates & fees

What you need to know about the unconventional Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa®

The Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa® card isn’t a traditional credit card. Instead, it functions like a revolving line of credit. You’ll be billed in equal installments with a fixed APR. Plus, you can earn cash back every time you make a payment.

Take note: While Upgrade offers other cards on its website, you may not be to apply for this particular card outside of sites like Credit Karma.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the card’s key features.

Earn 2.2% cash back on payments

Many traditional rewards cards offer the ability to earn cash back, miles or points when you make a purchase. But with the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa® card, you can earn unlimited 2.2% cash back. There’s a catch, though — the 2.2% rewards rate applies to your payments, not purchases made with the card.

For example, let’s say that you spent $2,000 on the card and pay it back equally over four months. You’d earn the 2.2% rewards rate on the $500 principal payments over those four months, instead of all at once.

While there are no spending category restrictions on cash back purchases, transfers to your bank don’t qualify.

Fixed APR, but your rate may be high

The Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa® has a fixed purchase APR of 14.99% - 29.99%. Since this card isn’t a traditional card and functions like a personal line of credit, you’ll pay off your monthly balance over time in equal payments at a fixed interest rate.

This is very similar to a personal loan and can help you plan out your spending — especially if you’re considering a large purchase.

Potential for high credit limits

This card offers credit lines that range from $500 to $50,000.

A higher credit line can come in handy if you plan to use the card to cover a major purchase, especially if you qualify for an APR on the lower end. You also can apply to prequalify for the card without a hard credit check to see what your rate and credit limit may be.

Note that most applicants receive lines of credit of $25,000 or less.

Other factors to consider about this card

  • Potential sign-up bonus — You can earn a $400 welcome bonus if you open and fund a new Upgrade Rewards Checking Account and make three debit card transactions within 60 days of opening your Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa® account. You might see different sign-up bonus offers on Credit Karma.
  • No traditional card-related fees — While other cards may come with annual fees, late fees and foreign transaction fees, this card has no fees at all.
  • Can’t use card at ATMs — You can’t get a cash advance or use this card at an ATM.
  • Get a virtual card — If you’re approved, you’ll have access to a virtual card, so you can start making purchases right away while you wait for the actual card to come in the mail.

Who this card is good for

The Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa® card may be a good fit for people who want a potentially high credit line with the ability to earn a strong cash back rate and a predictable payment schedule.

But remember that this is not a traditional credit card. So if you’re looking to earn on purchases, not payments, or you want to earn other rewards like points and miles, you may want to consider a more traditional credit card.

Not sure this is the card for you? Consider these alternatives.

  • Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card: People who prefer to earn their cash back upfront may feel this card is a better fit.
  • Upgrade Card: People that like the idea of the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa® but don’t want to be tempted by cash back may prefer this card.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: You may prefer this card if credit card perks and travel redemption options are more your speed.

About the author: Lance Cothern is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. His work has appeared on Business Insider, USA Today.com and his website, MoneyManifesto.com. Lance holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in … Read more.