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Is the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa worth it?

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While the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa® may not be as well known as some other top cash back credit cards, it is easily one of the most rewarding. In fact, the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa boasts one of the best flat rewards rates out there, albeit with a unique rewards structure and format.

Basically, this card doles out 2.2 percent cash back for each dollar you spend, but the rewards are redeemed as statement credits to your account as you make payments. This can be good news for cardholders who may need some motivation to pay their balances in full so they can avoid paying credit card interest, as well as those who want to be rewarded for responsible use.

The card also offers a generous sign-up bonus and other cost-saving benefits that are worth checking out. But, is the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa worth it? Read on to learn all you can about this card before you decide.

As a reminder: Details of the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa

  • Rewards rate: Earn 2.2 percent cash back after making payment
  • Welcome bonus: $200 after opening a Rewards Checking account and making three debit card transactions within 60 days
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Intro APR: None
  • Regular APR: 14.99 percent to 29.99 percent

When is the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa worth it?

With so many cash back credit cards on the market today, it can be difficult to decide on just one. That said, this card may be well worth the time and effort if any of the following scenarios apply.

If you want to maximize cash back with no annual fee

Because the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa offers 2.2 percent cash back on purchases as you make payments, it offers one of the highest flat cash back rates of all credit cards on the market today. The next closest competitor is the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, which offers a flat 2 percent cash rewards as you make purchases with no annual fee.

While the difference between earning 2.2 percent back or 2 percent back may be minimal, the fact both of these cards come with no annual fee means the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa has a slight edge when it comes to maximizing rewards.

You don’t mind opening a free checking account to earn a bonus

The Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa also comes with a $200 cash bonus when you open a Rewards Checking account and make three debit card transactions within 60 days. While these steps are unusual when it comes to earning a credit card sign-up bonus, this also means this card’s bonus doesn’t require you to hit a specific minimum spending requirement.

By contrast, you can earn a $200 cash rewards bonus on the Wells Fargo Active Cash when you spend at least $1,000 on purchases within three months of account opening.

You want some basic cardholder benefits and protections

The Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa also comes with some generous perks for a credit card with no annual fee. Consider signing up if you want benefits like extended warranties, price protection, travel and emergency assistance and a pay-per-use roadside assistance program.

This card also comes with 24-7 concierge service, which can help you book dinner reservations, find concert tickets or help you with other tasks.

When is the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa not worth it?

While the scenarios above describe situations where the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa is a good deal, there are situations where another card could leave you significantly better off. Consider looking at other cash back credit cards if any of the following applies:

You may want to carry a balance from time to time

If you may want to carry a balance on your card, you should definitely look at other options. For starters, the fact that the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa only gives you rewards as you make payments means you will have to wait to get your cash back each time you carry a balance from month to month.

Second, the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa does not have an introductory 0 percent APR for purchases, and in fact it charges an APR of 14.99 percent to 29.99 percent.

There are plenty of other cash back credit cards that offer 0 percent APR on purchases, balance transfers or both for a limited time. If you need some time to pay down purchases or believe you might during the first year after you get a new card, you’ll probably be better off with a 0 percent APR credit card at first.

You prefer to save up your rewards for something fun

If you prefer to save up your rewards so you can redeem for cash back, gift cards, travel or merchandise at some point in the future, that’s another sign the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa won’t be worth it for you.

After all, this card automatically applies your rewards as a statement credit to your account when you make payments.

You want to earn a sign-up bonus without jumping through hoops

Finally, remember that you have to open a Rewards Checking account and make three debit card transactions within 60 days to earn the $200 bonus on the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa. This added work may not be worth it for you if you don’t want to deal with the hassle — especially if you already have a checking account you want to keep.

Also, remember that many rewards cards offer bonuses of $200 when you spend as little as $500 within three months of account opening. This includes no-annual-fee options like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and Chase Freedom Flex℠.

Should you get the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa?

If you want to earn the highest cash back rate you possibly can and you always pay your balance in full, the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa could work for your needs. This card can also be a good choice if you want to avoid common credit card fees and get access to cardholder perks like extended warranties.

Just remember that you’ll have to open a checking account and make at least three debit card transactions within 60 days to earn the $200 cash bonus this card offers, and that you won’t have any choice when it comes to redeeming your rewards.

The bottom line

As you continue your search for the right rewards credit card, it can help to read over our Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa review. In the meantime, you’ll also want to think over how you typically use credit cards, and whether you are willing to forgo perks like rewards flexibility and an intro APR offer in order to squeak out a slightly higher cash back rate.

Remember that there are other options to consider if you’re on the fence. By comparing all the best rewards credit cards on the market today, you can know for sure which card best suits your needs.

Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer
Holly Johnson writes expert content on personal finance, credit cards, loyalty and insurance topics. In addition to writing for Bankrate and CreditCards.com, Johnson does ongoing work for clients that include CNN, Forbes Advisor, LendingTree, Time Magazine and more.
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