Upgrade® Card review

Published: June 30, 2020

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Published: June 30, 2020

Partner Offer

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Ratings Policy
Low Interest Rating:
4.2 rating
4.2 rating
4.2 / 5
Rates, Fees, Penalties: 4.6
Rewards: 0.0
Features: 1.0

In a Nutshell:

Since it automatically puts your balance into an installment plan at the end of the month, the Upgrade Card helps you keep your interest payments – and your overall credit card balance – in check.

Learn more about this card

Regular APR
6.99-29.99%

Introductory Purchase APR
None

Introductory Balance Transfer APR
Balance transfers not allowed (however, you can make a draw from your account online and have funds sent to your bank account)

Fees

No fees of any kind (note, cash advances and balance transfers are not allowed)

Penalties

None

Rewards

None

Other Notable Features: No fees of any kind, 12-60-month installment plans (depending on your card agreement)

While there are many credit cards that promise you savings on interest through 0% introductory APRs or a low regular interest rate, the new Upgrade Card offers an innovative feature that may be the ultimate means of minimizing your interest payments: automatic installment plans.

The card automatically puts your balance into an installment plan with a fixed monthly payment. By obligating you to pay off your balance within a 12- to 60-month period (depending on your terms), the Upgrade Card may save you from the temptation of underpaying your balance and the ballooning balance that often results with cards that only require a minimum payment.

See related: Guide to the Upgrade Card

Put your balance into a manageable installment plan

Here’s how the Upgrade Card works: Upon signing up for the card, you’re offered a credit line with installment terms of 12 to 60 months, depending on your credit score. You can then use the card to make purchases as you would with a regular credit card.

At the end of the month, your balance goes into an installment plan with a fixed payment amount. With predictable payments and a plan to pay down your balance, the card puts you on a path to pay off your balance much faster than a traditional credit card.

On Upgrade’s website, they offer the following comparison to show how significant the savings can be. With a 24-month installment plan with the Upgrade card, a cardholder with an 18% APR would pay a little over $2,000 in interest in two years on a $10,000 balance. Meanwhile, a cardholder making the minimum payment on a traditional credit card with the same APR would pay more than $14,000 in interest and would take 28 years to pay off the same balance:

Interest paid with Upgrade Card vs. traditional credit card

The chart below shows the difference in interest paid and time to payoff on a $10,000 balance with the Upgrade Card versus a traditional credit card by a user making a credit card’s monthly minimum payment (assumes an “interest + 1%” minimum payment and an interest rate of 18%, which is close to the average credit card APR).

Upgrade Card Traditional credit card
Time to pay off the balance 2 years 28 years
Interest paid over that time $2,102.71 $14,423.16

Low regular APR (for many cardholders)

Another great benefit of the Upgrade card is its low regular APR. For cardholders with excellent credit, the card charges an APR of merely 6.99%. On the downside, cardholders on the low end of the credit spectrum will need to watch out because the card’s APR also ranges as high as 29.99%.

No penalties or fees of any kind

Besides its low interest rate, the Upgrade card helps you keep costs in check by not bombarding you with unexpected fees. The card doesn’t charge fees of any kind – no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee and no penalty fees.

Easy alternative to balance transfers

While the Upgrade Card does not allow balance transfers, there is an easy workaround if you want to take advantage of its installment payment model to chip away at existing debt: You can simply make a draw from your account online and have the funds sent directly to your bank account, then use them to pay off your existing credit card balance.  This could be a great option if you don’t think you’ll be able to pay off your balance during a credit card’s 0% introductory APR period for balance transfers.

See related: What is a balance transfer and is it a good idea? 

No rewards program or other benefits

The Upgrade Card is a barebones card designed to help cardholders finance purchases while keeping interest payments under control. If you’re hankering for flashy perks or a rewards program, you may want to take a look at other cards that offer 0% introductory offers or low ongoing APRs, since the Upgrade Card doesn’t have much to offer beyond its installment plan feature.

How does the Upgrade Card compare to other low interest cards?

While the Upgrade Card’s installment payment model could make it easier for you to pay off your balance quickly, you could still pay a significant amount in interest, especially if you’re offered the card’s high-end APR. While traditional credit cards can’t compete with the Upgrade Card’s low-end APR, many offer a long 0% introductory period that can give you months to chip away at your balance without paying any interest. Here’s a quick look at some of our favorite cards that carry relatively low APRs and 0% intro APR offers:

 

Chase Slate

Chase Slate

BankAmericard Credit Card

BankAmericard® credit card*

Citi Diamond Preferred Card

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Regular APR

16.49%-25.24% (variable)

Regular APR

12.99%-22.99% (variable)

Regular APR

14.74%-24.74% (variable)

Introductory APR (new purchases)

0% for 15 months (16.49%-25.24% variable thereafter)

Introductory APR (new purchases)

0% for 15 billing cycles (12.99%-22.99% variable thereafter)

Introductory APR (new purchases)

0% for 18 months (14.74%-24.74% variable thereafter)

Introductory APR (balance transfers)

0% for 15 months (16.49%-25.24% variable thereafter)

Introductory APR (balance transfers)

0% for 15 billing cycles for balance transfers made in first 60 days (12.99%-22.99% variable thereafter)

Introductory APR (balance transfers)

0% for 18 months (14.74%-24.74% variable thereafter)

Fees and penalties

  • No annual fee
  • $0 balance transfer fee for transfers made in the first 60 days (5% or $5 thereafter, whichever is higher)
Fees and penalties

  • No annual fee
  • 3% or $10 balance transfer fee (whichever is higher)
Fees and penalties

  • No annual fee
  • 3% or $5 balance transfer fee (whichever is higher)
Other things to know

  • No rewards program
  • Includes free credit score, fraud protection and purchase protection
Other things to know

  • No rewards program
  • Earn cash back with BankAmeriDeals card-linked offer program
    • Includes free credit score and credit education, zero fraud liability and overdraft protection (if you link an eligible Bank of America checking account to your credit card)
    Other things to know

    • No rewards program
    • You can apply for a Citi Flex Plan to borrow against your available credit limit at a fixed rate
    • Includes extended warranty, personal concierge service, purchase protection, Citi Entertainment and Citi Easy Deals

    Chase Slate

    Along with its 0% APR for 15 months on both new purchases and balance transfers (16.49%-25.24% variable thereafter), The Chase Slate shines thanks to $0 balance transfer fee for the first 60 days of account opening (then $5 or 5%, whichever is greater). If you have a larger balance to transfer, this could potentially save you hundreds of dollars, since in most cases you’ll save more with a no-balance-transfer-fee card than the extra interest you’ll pay with a shorter introductory period.

    BankAmericard Credit Card

    This card offers a very long 0% introductory period on new purchases: You’ll get 18 billing cycles to finance your purchases without paying any interest (14.49%-24.49% variable APR thereafter). If you’re confident in your ability to pay off your purchases within that time, this could be a better option than the Upgrade Card, since installment plans have some amount of interest built in. Balance transfers are also an option, with the card offering a 0% APR for 18 billing cycles for balance transfers made in first 60 days (14.49%-24.49% variable thereafter) and charging a pretty standard balance transfer fee of 3% (or $10, whichever is higher).

    Citi Diamond Preferred Card

    With one of the longest introductory offers on balance transfers available, this card could be a good choice if you need a lot of time to pay down debt. It charges a balance transfer fee of 3% or $5 (whichever is higher), so you’ll have to do the math to see which option (balance transfer fee or shorter 0% APR period) makes sense for you. If you don’t need to transfer a balance and just want to finance a larger purchase, this card is a great option, offering 18 months of 0% interest on new purchases (14.74%-24.74% variable thereafter). If you’re confident in your ability to pay off your new purchases within a year and a half, you could save a significant amount in interest compared to the Upgrade Card.

    See related: Best credit cards with no balance transfer fee

    Why get the Upgrade Card?

    • You have a hard time staying on top of monthly payments.
    • You want the convenience of paying with credit without the risk of your balance getting out of control.
    • You want to finance a purchase with a low interest rate.

    How to use the Upgrade Card?

    • Use the card online or at retailers – anywhere Visa is accepted.
    • Set your installment payments to automatically debit from your bank account, for the ultimate low maintenance.
    • Prepay your account at any time with no penalty.

    Is the Upgrade Card worth it?

    For cardholders who have a difficult time keeping credit card balances under control or worry about the risks of opening a credit card, the Upgrade Card is an excellent option for financing purchases while keeping payments manageable.

    *All information about the BankAmericard credit card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. This card is no longer available through CreditCards.com.

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