The Upgrade Visa Card can help you pay off large purchases while avoiding deferred interest promotions. If you have excellent credit, you may even end up with a lower APR than traditional credit cards typically offer.
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If you’ve been eyeing a big-ticket item or wondering how to cover upcoming expenses, the Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa® could be an ideal financing option, offering the flexibility of a credit card along with straightforward repayment plans. If you have good credit, you also have a chance at a lower APR and higher credit line than traditional credit cards typically offer.
We’ve broken down the basics of how the Upgrade Card works and what makes it a smart choice for financing your purchases, along with some of the advantages it has over a popular alternative like store financing.
How does the Upgrade Card work?
The Upgrade Card is a unique, fee-free lending tool that combines the flexibility of a credit card with the fixed repayment terms of a personal loan, which should help keep you on track financially. Applicants with good credit may even have the potential for a lower APR than credit cards usually have.
If you qualify, you’ll be offered a set line of credit and APR. You can then use the card to make purchases just like you would with a traditional credit card. Alternatively, you can have funds transferred directly to your bank account with the same terms as when you make purchases (contrast this with credit cards, which tend to charge a higher rate for cash advances).
Each statement period, your card charges or draws are automatically combined into an installment plan of 12 to 60 months, depending on your creditworthiness. You’ll then make fixed, equal monthly payments as part of a plan designed to help you pay off your balance quickly and save more on interest charges than you would if you were making minimum payments on a credit card.
Advantages of financing purchases with the Upgrade Card
The Upgrade Card offers several advantages if you’re looking to pay off your purchases over time and avoid putting down a ton of money upfront. Not only do you have a chance of getting a lower interest rate and higher credit line compared to traditional credit cards, you can also enjoy the predictability of an installment payment plan to keep your repayment efforts on track. This is especially helpful to cardholders who have difficulty paying their credit card bills on time each month.
Some of the advantages of financing purchases with the Upgrade Card include:
- Chance at low interest rate: If you have an excellent credit history, you could qualify for an APR as low as 14.99%, which is similar to other best low-interest credit cards.
- Potentially huge credit line: The Upgrade Card comes with a personal credit line from $500 to $25,000, which could be a lifesaver should you need to finance an especially large expense like furniture or a home repair.
- Check your credit line and APR before you complete the application: With a traditional credit card, you won’t know your credit limit or APR until after you’re approved. The Upgrade Card gives a much better sense of both before you complete your application, allowing you to make an informed decision about how best to proceed and which purchases to prioritize. Plus, you can check your credit line and APR without damaging your score via a hard inquiry.
- Transparency and predictability: You’ll know exactly what you need each month to stay on top of your repayment plan. If you stick to the Upgrade Card’s installment plan, you’ll know your payment schedule in advance and be able to pay off your balance in a timely fashion.
- Convenience and flexibility: You can make purchases with your Upgrade Card online or in-store anywhere Visa is accepted, or you can have funds sent to your bank account. (You can’t, however, use the Upgrade Card to withdraw cash at an ATM.)
- No fees: The Upgrade Card doesn’t charge an annual fee, foreign transaction fees, or cash advance or penalty fees.
- Cash back rewards: Unlike other cash back cards that give rewards when you make the purchase, Upgrade rewards you when you make your payment at the rate of 1.5% on all purchases. The 1.5% is average among other flat-rate cash back cards, and the rewards program incentivizes repayment over spending.
Upgrade Card vs. store financing
Many big-box, furniture, electronics and home improvement stores offer months-long “same as cash” or “no interest if paid in full” promotional plans that promise you a chance to pay off large purchases over time without drowning in interest.
But these promotional offers may be riskier than they sound. Here’s why the Upgrade Card may be a better choice for financing your purchases:
Deferred interest could come back to haunt you
Most store financing offers use a deferred interest model, which means if you’re unable to pay off your balance before the promotional period ends you’ll be charged interest going forward as well as all the interest that accrued since your original purchase date. What’s worse, these financing plans offer little guidance on how much you should contribute each month to ensure you pay off your balance in time. They may even count on you slipping up.
With the Upgrade Card’s installment plans, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to pay off your purchases, how long it will take and how much you’ll pay in interest.
You aren’t limited to one store or purchase
As you might expect, store financing offers are limited to a single store or family of stores, and usually only cover a single large purchase. But what if you need to fund a major project that involves several large purchases across different stores and service providers, like a move or home renovation? You’d have to apply for multiple financing plans, each with its own terms, balance and interest rate. Your credit score may also take a hit from multiple hard inquires.
Using the Upgrade Card, you can finance large projects without juggling multiple promotional offers. All your charges are lumped into a single installment plan, making it easy to understand what you owe and how you’re going to pay it off.
‘Buy now, pay later’ is as tricky as store financing
While shopping around for your new mattress or refrigerator, you may have encountered ads or promotions for “buy now, pay later” plans. BNPL companies like Affirm and Afterpay partner with major retailers to offer installment plans that enable you to pay for your large item in even increments over a time period of your choice. If it sounds a lot like store financing, that’s because it is.
The main advantage of BNPL is more transparency. Sometimes, stores entice you with 0% APR or no-interest financing, and though these do exist for some items, they only last for a limited time. After that promotional period ends, your APR will skyrocket. According to the Affirm page on Walmart.com, you can choose how much you want to pay and for how long (between three and 24 months) when you check out.
The good thing about BNPL, making it especially attractive to younger consumers, is that there is no credit score minimum to qualify. So, BNPL plans won’t affect your score when you apply, but they may still report your payments to the credit bureaus, which will lower your score if you miss your payments.
Make no mistake: BNPL plans do charge APR on most purchases, and that interest can potentially be quite high (for example, Affirm’s APR is between 10% and 30%). If it sounds too tricky, using your Upgrade Card is a safer way to go.
Offering a chance at a lower APR and higher credit line than is typically available with traditional credit cards, the Upgrade Card is a solid option for financing your purchases. Its simple installment plans set it apart as a smart choice for cardholders who could use a helping hand as they work to pay off a balance and stay out of debt long-term.
The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.