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Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa benefits guide

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Nowadays, more lenders are realizing that consumers want added flexibility with their borrowing options. Recently, we’ve seen various lending products incorporating installment payments, lower interest rates, flexible repayment options and other features that create hybrid loan products.

The new Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa® combines features of both a personal loan and a traditional rewards credit card. Here’s an overview of the rewards and other benefits it offers.

Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa benefits

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: 2.2 percent cash back after making payment
  • Welcome offer: $200 after opening a Rewards Checking account and making 3 debit card transactions within 60 days
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 14.99 percent to 29.99 percent

Rewards

You’ll get 2.2 percent cash back on all purchases with your Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa. When you make your monthly payment, your rewards are credited to your account the following month. However, if you miss a payment, the rewards may not be credited to your account.

Although there’s not much flexibility in how you can redeem rewards, the cash back rate is still one of the highest out there for most flat-rate cash back credit cards.

Welcome bonus

Most personal lines of credit and installment loans don’t offer a welcome bonus, but this card does. To earn it, you must sign up for an Upgrade Rewards Checking account and make three debit transactions within 60 days of opening your account.

Predictable payments and lower fees

You can pay your Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite card balances off in equal monthly installments of 24, 36 or 60 months. This approach could help you pay off your balance faster due to lower interest fees.

However, if your balance gets high, this means your installment payment could also get higher. Unlike a traditional credit card, you won’t have the option to make smaller minimum payments.

Another great feature of the card is the potential to get a much lower interest rate. If you have good-to-excellent credit and opt into autopay, your interest rate could be as low as 14.99 percent variable, which is quite competitive in the world of credit cards. On the higher end, your APR could go up to 29.99 percent variable.

Finally, we should note that you’ll end up paying less in fees with this card. The Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa charges no annual fee, late payment fee, ATM fee, foreign transaction fee or penalty APR.

Application and instant use

Unlike many credit cards, you can apply for Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa online with just a soft pull on your credit. Once your application is approved, you’ll get a virtual card number that you can start using right away. You don’t have to wait for a physical card to start making purchases and earning rewards.

Additional perks and benefits

The card offers the following perks on top of its rewards rate, installment payment options and welcome bonus:

  • $0 fraud liability
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Travel and emergency assistance
  • Pay-per-use roadside assistance
  • 24/7 concierge service

How to maximize the Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa

We like this card for its refreshing take on lending: it offers predictable payments like an installment loan with the flexibility, rewards and perks of a credit card.

However, it might be best if you have a good credit score and are planning a large purchase that can be divided into installments. And if you can meet the requirements for the welcome bonus, you can apply it directly to a large purchase and reduce its cost.

Of course, you could use this card for several smaller purchases. But your balance would grow right along with your minimum installment payment, which will most likely be much higher than a regular credit card’s minimum payment. If you’re not careful, small purchases can add up. And if your interest rate is on the higher end, you could end up with a much larger monthly payment than anticipated.

The bottom line

The Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa can be a good option if you want to break up a big-ticket item into installments and earn rewards at the same time. Just be wary of the card’s wide APR range, and consider other options if you have a low credit score.

Written by
Aja McClanahan
Personal Finance Writer
Aja McClanahan is an author, blogger and speaker on personal finance and entrepreneurship. Aja is the author of "How a Mother Should Talk About Money with Her Daughter."
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