|Cash Back Rating:||2.6 / 5|
|Issuer Customer Experience||5.0|
In a Nutshell:
This card offers one of the higher cash back rates you can find in niche categories like home, health and auto purchases. But based on the average person’s spending habits, it’s unlikely to be particularly rewarding in the long term.
Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
Sutton Bank Customer Service Ratings
Other notable features: No fees of any kind, 12-60-month installment plans (depending on your card agreement), instant card number
|Low Interest Rating:||3.0 / 5|
|Rates, Fees, Penalties:||3.3|
|Issuer Customer Experience||5.0|
In a Nutshell:
The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card lets users combine the convenience of a credit card with the low costs and consistency of a personal loan. Better yet, it lets cardholders earn rewards on their purchases, and it’s available to people with fair credit scores.
Introductory Purchase APR
Introductory Balance Transfer APR
No fees of any kind (note, cash advances and balance transfers are not allowed)
Other Notable Features: No fees of any kind, 12-60-month installment plans (depending on your card agreement)
Part cash back credit card, part low-interest financing tool, the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa lets you earn cash back on some of your spending while paying no annual fee and avoiding hidden fees.
You can also borrow against your credit limit with fixed monthly payments and a fixed APR, allowing you to combine the convenience of credit with the predictability and low costs usually associated with a personal loan.
While it may not be a great fit if you want to earn cash back on everyday purchases, the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards can make sense if you want the chance to earn rewards on some home, auto and health and wellness spending while having the option to take out a personal loan against your credit limit.
Indeed, the card’s 3% cash back rate in the home, auto and health categories makes it a frontrunner for best credit card for home improvement purchases. If you have some big car repairs or home renovations on the horizon or if you frequently work on DIY projects or purchase new home gym equipment, the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card’s cash back program and flexible financing options could prove especially valuable.
See related: Credit cards vs. personal loans
Earning cash back
With the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card, you’ll earn rewards when you make purchases in select categories and pay them off. You’ll earn 3% back in the home, auto and health categories and 1% back on everything else you buy.
The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card’s home, auto and health categories are wide-ranging, encompassing nearly everything you’d expect and a few things you might not, from lumber and tools at Home Depot to debt, marriage and personal counseling services.
You can check out the issuer’s site for more detail on what these categories include, but here are few examples:
- The “home” category includes purchases at home improvement stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s and Menards, purchases at furniture and home goods stores like Wayfair and IKEA, spending with housing contractors and more.
- The “auto” category includes purchases at automotive service shops, body shops, car washes, popular car supply businesses like Tractor Supply Co., Discount Tire, Firestone, Tires.com, Mavis Tire and more.
- The “health” category includes purchases at pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS, with dentists, orthodontists, chiropractors, counselors, nursing facilities and more, as well as at sporting goods stores like Academy Sports, Dick’s Sporting Goods and MidwayUSA.com.
The breadth of these bonus categories makes the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card’s cash back program quite appealing, especially since many of the eligible purchases are costly ongoing expenses or big-ticket items. This means the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card could be a smart choice if you’re looking for a credit card for large purchases. After all, getting what amounts to a 3% discount on a costly car repair is nothing to snub your nose at.
Keep in mind, however, that the rewards you earn are not added to your account until you pay off your purchases. This could leave your rewards lagging if you need to carry a balance long-term.
Also, note that spending outside of the home, auto and health categories will only earn 1% back when you pay your purchases off, which is less than the rate offered by most flat-rate cash back credit cards. For example, the original Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards from the same card issuer earns a flat 1.5% back on all purchases as they’re paid off.
Redeeming cash back
One notable downside to the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card is its redemption flexibility. This card doesn’t let you “save up” your rewards. Instead, the rewards you have earned will be automatically applied to your account as a statement credit for each billing period.
This may make the rewards program convenient and hassle-free, but it also means you won’t be able to decide exactly how and when you redeem your rewards or save them up for a splurge.
Card rates and fees
A major upside of the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card is its overall lack of fees. This card comes free of annual fees, foreign transaction fees, monthly fees and any hidden fees. Many cards available with only a fair or average credit score charge at least a nominal annual fee, so this could be a low-cost option if you’re looking to move from middle-of-the-road to good credit.
In what could be either a big plus or a big negative, depending on where you end up, the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card features a wide range of potential credit limits: The card typically offers limits between $500 and $25,000, although some applicants could qualify for a line of credit up to $50,000. Such high potential credit limits are rare, but keep in mind you’ll likely only qualify for the highest limits with excellent credit.
The card also offers a wide range of APRs: You could wind up with an APR of between 8.99% and 29.99%. The low-end APR is terrific, beating out the rate you’ll find on many dedicated low-interest cards, but the maximum APR is exceptionally high.
A card’s low-end APR is an important part of our card rating methodology for low-interest cards, so the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card earns major points there; however, it falls short overall since it lacks a 0% introductory APR on new purchases. This means that if you carry a balance, you can’t avoid paying at least some interest with this card. And if you’re assigned the high-end APR, you may soon be drowning in interest charges, since it eclipses the average credit card APR.
See related: Best 0% intro APR credit cards
Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of cardholder perks bundled with the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card, though it does feature a few decent benefits. Here are the important features you should know about:
- No foreign transaction fees: You won’t pay additional foreign transaction fees when you use your credit card for purchases outside the U.S.
- Contactless card technology: This card comes with contactless technology and upgraded security features.
- Instant card number: Once you’re approved, you’ll get an instant use card number that you can use for purchases while you wait for your physical card to arrive.
- Visa Signature benefits: The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards is available as a Visa Signature card, which means it includes a handful of standard benefits like zero fraud liability and pay-per-use roadside assistance.
Though this card falls a bit short in the perks department, it’s mostly forgivable since its primary function is helping cardholders finance and earn rewards on larger purchases or ongoing expenses in niche categories.
The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card is geared to consumers with fair or better credit (or a FICO score of at least 580), so be sure to check your credit score before you apply to get the best sense of where you stand. Keep in mind that you may not qualify for the best rates at a lower credit level.
Fortunately, you can prequalify for this card online without a hard inquiry on your credit report via the card’s website. If you’re pre-approved, you’ll also get a preview of your credit line and rate, as well as the amount of time you can withdraw funds and your repayment terms.
You can also see if you’re matched with the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card via the CreditCards.com CardMatch tool, which pairs you with cards from multiple issuers that match your credit profile, with no impact on your credit score.
In addition to the robust earning rate of 3% back in popular spending categories, the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card mostly stands out due to the flexibility it offers in how you use it.
- Use the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card as a credit card. You can use your Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card as a credit card and earn rewards on your purchases as you pay them off. If you decide not to pay your balance off in full one month, the remaining balance will automatically convert to a fixed-rate personal loan you pay off via fixed monthly payments.
- Use the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card as a personal loan. Unlike other credit cards that charge cash advance fees when you use them to access money, the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card lets you request funds be drawn from your credit line to a bank account. If your request is approved, you’ll pay back the balance with fixed installment payments and a fixed interest rate.
And while the card does not directly support balance transfers, you can easily make a draw from your credit line and use the money to pay off an existing card balance. This can be a good option if you can’t qualify for a lower-rate balance transfer card or are running out of time on a card’s 0% introductory APR period and want to avoid a high ongoing APR.
The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card does have a few drawbacks to be aware of, which you should consider carefully before you sign up. Major downsides include:
- High potential APR: Remember that the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card charges an APR between 8.99% and 29.99% depending on your creditworthiness. If your credit isn’t very good, carrying a balance on this card or using it to access a loan could become an expensive proposition.
- You can’t use it at an ATM: While you can request the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card to send money from your credit limit to your bank account, you cannot use this card for a cash advance at an ATM. That makes it a poor option for people who need instant, easy access to cash.
- You can’t add authorized users: You must be the only account user on your Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card since it doesn’t allow secondary cardholders or authorized users of any kind.
- You can’t combine it with another style of Upgrade Card: You cannot pair this card with the original Upgrade Card or the Upgrade Cash Rewards card in order to access additional funds or maximize rewards on all your spending. At this point, you can only be approved for one Upgrade card.
How does the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card compare to other low-interest and cash back cards?
Depending on your credit score and how you’re planning to use the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card, you may be able to find a card that offers better overall cash back rates, a lengthy 0% intro APR period or both. Here’s a look at some other cards worth considering:
|Rewards rate||Rewards rate|
0% intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months and 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months (balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening)
0% intro APR on balance transfers and new purchases for first 15 months
0% intro APR for 15 months on new purchases and on balance transfers made within the first 60 days
13.99%- 23.99% (variable)
|Other things to know||Other things to know||Other things to know|
This card carries one of the longest introductory offers on balance transfers out there and a decent introductory offer on purchases as well, so it could be a terrific fit whether you need to stretch out payments on new expenses or chip away at debt. Since there is a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 21 months and a 0% introductory APR on purchases for 12 months (a 13.74% to 23.74% variable APR applies after that), it could easily wind up saving you more than the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card’s fixed-rate financing options. Indeed, even the card’s high-end ongoing APR is lower than the maximum rate on the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card.
This card offers unique flexibility since it automatically earns cash back in whichever category you’ve spent the most in each billing cycle. You’ll earn 5% back in your top eligible spending category (on up to $500 in purchases per billing cycle, then 1% back), as well as 1% back on general purchases. Eligible 5% categories include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs and live entertainment. Since this card’s cash back program adapts to your spending habits and its eligible bonus categories overlap with those of the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card, it could be a more rewarding option in both the short and long term. Plus, you could save on interest with the card’s generous intro APR offers.
The Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card offers 3% cash back in a category of your choice and 2% cash back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases (on up to $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter on 2% and 3% categories). You can choose to earn at the top rate on gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug store and home improvements or furnishings purchases, and switch up your bonus category once per calendar month. The card also comes with an intro APR on new purchases, so you could both finance big expenses in a category like home improvements and earn cash back on those purchases. Depending on how long you need to pay off your purchases and the interest rate you’re assigned, this card’s cash back variety and intro APR offers may give it more long-term value than the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card.
Who should get the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card?
- People with fair credit who want to boost their credit scores with responsible credit use.
- Anyone who spends a lot in home, auto or health categories.
- Consumers who may need a personal loan in the near future.
- People who’ve been denied a balance transfer and can draw on the card’s credit line to pay off debt at a lower ongoing APR.
How to use the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card
- Use the card on all regular spending and bills, but particularly on home, auto and health purchases that earn 3% back.
- Pay your credit card balance in full each month in order to expedite your rewards and avoid interest accruing on your purchases.
- Request a personal loan from your credit limit when you need it, then pay back the loan funds with fixed monthly payments and a fixed APR.
- Use your card to make a large purchase, which you can pay down over time like you would with a personal loan.
- If you have a fair credit score, use the card responsibly to build credit and ultimately upgrade to a more lucrative rewards card
Is the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card worth it?
The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card can easily be worth it, but it all depends on how you use it. If you want to earn fast rewards or you carry a balance all the time, for example, it’s possible a different credit card could work better for your needs.
The ideal customer for the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card is someone who wants to earn cash back in niche categories like home, auto and health purchases but is able to pay their balance in full each month. Consumers with fair credit who want an unsecured credit card can also benefit from this card since it can help them prove their creditworthiness by reporting to the three credit bureaus.
Finally, consider getting the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card if you believe you may need a personal loan in the future. Since this rewards credit card lets you request cash from your credit limit to a bank account, you can use the funds however you see fit, and depending on your credit score, you may be able to qualify for a higher-than-average credit line or a lower-than-average ongoing APR.
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