Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® card review: A fit for home, health and auto
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Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card overview
The Upgrade Triple Cash Reward Visa® Card, like the Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards, functions as both a financing tool (like a personal loan) and a cash rewards credit card you can use anywhere Visa cards are accepted. However, unlike the original Upgrade card, which earned a flat 1.5 percent cash back on all eligible purchases, the Triple Cash card earns bonus cash back in specific spending categories, including home, auto and health purchases.
While the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Card may make sense if you want to use it to pay down expenses in these categories with equal monthly payments at a fixed interest rate, it may not be the best card for everyday spending since you won’t earn more than 1 percent back on general purchases.
Though the card could prove useful for automotive, household or medical services and emergencies, its otherwise lackluster minimal benefits and potentially high APR mean you should consider other offerings with lower interest rates and higher cash back earning potential.
What are the pros and cons?
- Carries no sign-up bonus, a feature commonly offered by most cash rewards cards.
- Features no 0 percent intro APR offer, and the card’s high-end APR could prove very costly.
- You won’t have much chance at qualifying for a low APR without a good credit score.
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: 3 percent cash back on home, auto and health purchases and 1 percent cash back all other purchases
- Welcome offer: None
- Annual fee: $0
- Purchase intro APR: None
- Balance transfer intro APR: None
- Regular APR: 8.99%-29.99%
Current welcome offer
The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa card does not currently offer a sign-up bonus, which is unfortunate given that most rewards credit cards offer welcome incentives. The card’s lack of an intro APR offer is especially disappointing considering its bonus categories are geared toward spending on big-ticket expenses like car repairs, home renovations and health.
Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa cardholders earn 3 percent cash back on spending in the home, auto and health categories, which includes major expenses such as car repairs and health expenses, as well as 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. Examples of purchases for which you can earn 3% cash back include:
- Auto: car washes, car dealership purchases, auto parts, auto repairs and towing services.
- Home: home improvement stores such as Home Depot or Lowe’s, furniture stores such as Ikea, home repair services, appliances, landscaping and cleaning services
- Health: sporting goods store purchases, spa services, doctor visits, drugstores, home gym and gym memberships
Few competing cards offer rewards in these niche categories, making the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card a solid choice if you spend regularly on auto, home and health purchases. Its wide variety of eligible bonus categories also make it ideal for both costly recurring expenses like counseling and one-off large purchases like an HVAC repair. Take a look at the types of purchases that fall into the Upgrade Triple Cash card’s bonus categories and you’ll quickly realize just how valuable the card could be for homeowners and families.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that you’ll only earn rewards as you pay off your purchases. If you’re planning to make a large purchase and pay it off over time by carrying a balance long term, you’ll have to wait for your 1 to 3 percent back.
How you earn
Unlike the Upgrade Visa Card with Cash Rewards card, which earns unlimited 1.5 percent cash back, the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card only earns unlimited 1 percent cash back on general purchases.
If you spend frequently on home, health and auto expenses like car washes, gym memberships and house repairs, the Upgrade Triple Cash card could be an easy way to earn cash back. But if you don’t have any large purchases for big car repairs, home renovations or health and wellness services already and don’t plan to frequently make purchases in these categories, the card is likely a poor choice.
How to redeem
You can earn unlimited cash back rewards as you pay back eligible purchases. After your next scheduled monthly payment, your cash back will be applied to your account. You don’t have to pick when to redeem rewards because they are applied automatically to your next month’s balance.
Sadly, you don’t have much flexibility when it comes to how you receive rewards with the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Card. That said, though more flexibility is always an advantage, having rewards applied automatically to your balance as a statement credit could allow you to save consistently and predictably.
Other cardholder perks
Despite offering a great cash rewards program and access to a virtual card and Visa Signature benefits, which include travel, emergency and protection services, the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa card lacks many of the advantages that its competitors provide, as there are very few extra benefits. Apart from basic features such as chip technology and account monitoring, there are very few standout features that aren’t already available with most credit cards. Though the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Card doesn’t have an abundance of perks, that can be typical of cards for fair or average credit.
Visa Signature benefits
With Visa Signature Benefits, you receive all the perks of a traditional Visa card, such as Roadside Assistance Dispatch, travel and emergency assistance, as well as price and extended warranty protection services.
- Roadside Assistance: Roadside assistance services are available 24/7 for a fee
- Travel and Emergency Services: Provides access to emergency medical, translation and transportation support when you are away from home
- Price Protection: You might be eligible for reimbursement if you find an item you purchased with your Upgrade card at a lower price in a print advertisement
- Extended Warranty Protection: By using your Upgrade card on eligible purchases, your warranty can be extended up to one year
- Concierge: Visa concierges can assist with entertainment, hotel reservations and travel arrangements
Virtual card access
You can view your temporary virtual card after you are approved by logging into your account online. There is a chance that this temporary card number is different from the permanent physical card number. However, you can use it until the permanent physical card arrives in the mail. For cardholders who need to shop right away, it offers quick access and is compatible with your digital wallet, whether it is Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or any other method.
How much are the rewards worth?
Since you earn cash back instead of points, you won’t have to worry about calculating the value of your rewards. As you earn 3 percent cash back in home, auto and health categories, every dollar spent in these categories will earn you 3 cents back. As an example, if you spent $1,000 on home improvement services or purchases from stores such as Wayfair or Ikea, you would earn $30 in cash rewards. With general purchases, you would earn 1 cent back per dollar spend, so a $1,000 spend would earn $10 back.
Rates and fees
The fact that there are no fees associated with the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card is a substantial advantage. Annual fees, foreign transaction fees, monthly fees or hidden costs will never be billed to cardholders. Many unsecured cards available to people with fair or average credit have an annual fee, so this could be an affordable choice if you want to work on your credit score.
However, since it doesn’t have a 0 percent APR introductory offer for new purchases, it falls short when compared to several other cash rewards cards. Your APR might vary between 8.99 percent and 29.99 percent, but your interest rate, credit limit and term are influenced by your credit score, credit usage history, requested amount and other factors. As a result, it will be impossible to avoid paying interest on this card if you carry a balance.
While the card’s low-end APR is terrific, beating out the rate you’ll find on many dedicated low-interest cards, the maximum APR is quite high, surpassing the rate found even on many credit-building and store cards, which are notorious for their high APRs. If you’re given a high-end APR and end up carrying a balance, you may soon find yourself drowning in interest charges. Assuming you have at least good credit, many competing cards offer more reasonable APRs. The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, for example, offers a considerably lower maximum APR as well as 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, then a 16.49 percent, 21.49 percent, or 26.49 percent variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee of 3% then a BT fee of up to 5%, min: $5.
How the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card compares to other cash rewards cards
Those looking to build credit and pay off their balance at a fixed rate every month may find the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card to be an excellent choice, especially considering its upgraded rewards on home, auto and health categories. If you are looking for a credit card that acts as a bridge between a credit card and a personal loan, then this card may be the best option, but there are other alternatives if its reward categories don’t match your spending habits.
Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card vs. Wells Fargo Active Cash Card
Though the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card offers 3 percent cash back in select categories, it does not offer a sign-up bonus or a boosted rewards rate on general purchases, earning just 1 percent back outside of its key spending categories. The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card not only earns unlimited 2 percent cash rewards on purchases, but also comes with a $200 cash rewards bonus once you spend $1,000 within your first three months).
Because the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card offers an intro APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, it might be a better long-term fit for people who need to finance a large purchase in the home, health or auto category, despite its slightly lower rewards rate in those categories. Plus, if you need to pay off debt, the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card may be a better option due to its balance transfer offer.
Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card vs. Citi Custom Cash Card
Using the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, you could potentially earn 2 percent more cash back on some health, auto and home spending than you would with the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards. You’ll earn 5 percent back on the first $500 you spend in your top spending category each month (1 percent after that), as well as 1 percent back on general purchases. The Custom Cash card’s eligible 5 percent cash back categories include select restaurants and grocery stores, travel, fitness clubs, home improvement stores, drugstores, gas stations and more.
Compared to the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Card, this card can also offer more flexibility because you automatically earn cash back in the category you’ve spent the most in each month, as opposed to only earning cash back in set categories year-round. Since you can earn cash back based on your spending habits and its bonus categories overlap with those of the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card, the Citi Custom Cash Card could end up being a more lucrative card in the short and long run. With the card’s generous introductory APR, you may also save more on interest as well.
Best cards to pair with this card
As a cash back card that rewards spending in the home, health and auto categories, the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card pairs well with other cash back cards that either earn more than 1 percent back on all purchases or reward some of your other key spending. The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great example since it offers unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases, as well as 5 percent cash back on Chase travel and 3 percent cash back on drugstore purchases and dining (restaurant, delivery and takeout services).
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card worth it?
Aside from those with fair or average credit, the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card is also ideal for those who are new to credit cards and would like to start with getting an unsecured credit card, as it lends credibility to their creditworthiness by reporting to major credit bureaus. Besides that, the card allows you to build credit, improve your credit score and earn cash rewards all at the same time.
The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card can be beneficial, but that depends entirely on how you use it. If you frequently spend on home improvement, car repairs or personal care (gym, wellness, etc), then the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Card may be for you. With this card, you are able to earn unlimited 3 percent cash back rewards on these categories, which is something that’s hard to find in other cash back cards and may be a great way to supplement your budget.
However, if you don’t spend in auto, home and health categories often, or you want to earn fast cash back rewards but need to carry a balance long-term, then a different card might be a better option. Comparing the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Card to other cash back or balance transfer credit cards is a good way to determine whether it’s the right card for you. For example, the Discover it® Balance Transfer card may better match your needs and allow you to maximize your everyday spending or help you build credit faster.
* To qualify for the $200 welcome bonus, you must open and fund a new Rewards Checking account and make 3 debit card transactions within 60 days of your Upgrade Card account opening. The bonus will be applied as a one-time credit to your account and will not otherwise reduce the amount of your regular monthly payments. The bonus credit will be posted to your Upgrade Card as a rewards credit within 1-2 billing periods following the third debit card transaction on your Rewards Checking account. Your Upgrade Card must be in good standing to receive a bonus.